Saturday, November 29, 2014

Update from Gramado

Life is always pretty busy here on our mission.  We always have many things going on with inactive members to visit, people needing rides, district meetings, zone meetings and meeting with the active members.  The time seems to just fly by and a week is ending when we thought it was just beginning.  We wouldn't have it any other way. 

We thought you might be interested in some of our activities like grocery shopping and filling the car with gas.  This is the grocery store we use most as it is just a few blocks from where we live.  It is called National and is owned by Wal Mart. To see the pictures more clearly just tap on the first one and see them on full screen then scroll through them all.
 Inside the store looks pretty much like an American store.

 One thing that is different is the milk, shown below next to the bread.  It is sold in one liter boxes and does not need refrigeration before opening.

 You might recognize some of the brand names like Oral-B and Colgate in the toothpaste section.
Below is a picture of the gas station we use a lot.  The price is for one liter, so you can see that gas is more expensive than in the U.S.  R$3.08 per liter would work out to about $4.54 per gallon at the current exchange rate.  They still pump the gas for you here so you don't have to get out of your car, unless you are paying with a credit card and you have to go inside to pay. The R$ 2.82 price is for a liter of diesel. 
We have also been doing a lot of shopping at a store called Pro-Lar.  It is a four story variety store with things like pots & pans, dishes, tools, desk supplies, clothes, rugs, fishing and hunting gear, electrical appliances, linens, plastic shelves and boxes, etc.

Buildings here a mostly made from cement and brick.  Following are a couple of pictures of buildings under construction. The top one is a billboard showing what the building will look like when it is finished and the second one is want is looks like now.  The bottom one is an apartment building that is going up.

 The houses are usually pretty small but there are some mansions here as well.  People like to paint there houses in bright colors.

A lot of the houses are build on cement supports, which they will fill in at some point and build more rooms downstairs.  Some of the supports don't look too strong and would surely fall down if they ever had an earthquake here.  This first house is even missing some of its supports under the porch.

Some of the mansions have long driveways with a gate out front and, because the vegetation is so thick, you cannot even see the houses.

Any place there is not a building the vegetation grows very thick like a jungle. 

Because Gramado is mostly on top of the mountains we also have some beautiful views of valleys around us.

The current sisters here in Gramado are Sister Cuaycal from Ecuador, Sister Ramos form Rio de Janeiro, Sister Peixoto from Sao Paulo, and Sister Rocha from Maceio. 

Gramado is known for all the Hydrangeas (Hortencias in Portuguese) that they have around the city.  They are just starting to come out in full bloom and are magnificent.  They are lining the main road coming into the city.

 There are several types of Hydrangeas here with a couple shown in this photo.
There was a couple, the Egberts, that were just finishing their 23 month mission in Gramado and Canela when we visited this area in April of 2013.  After they had been home for about a year they missed being here so much that they decided to come back and spend another six months here on tourist visas rather than trying to get missionary visas again.  Yesterday was a Zone meeting and they came for it and spent the rest of the afternoon with us giving blessings and doing a little shopping.  We are great friends with them and try to get together whenever we can.  This is just outside our front door.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Missionary Life is Wonderful

We are keeping so busy that time just seems to fly by.  We have been doing a lot of visiting with inactive members, some of whom we really love and feel we can get them back into activity. As we drive around this beautiful town we see such beautiful sights.  It is hard to capture them in pictures.  Because Christmas is going strong here we see a barrage of Christmas decorations. This is the Saint Peter Cathedral in the center of Gramado, and it and all the surroundings are fully decorated for Christmas.
These are statues of the twelve apostles just outside the church. 
This tree is inside the cathedral. 

The street in front of the cathedral is loaded with decorations.


The street to the side of the cathedral has a whole line of reindeer that have been individually decorated by different people.


 We have four sister missionaries that work here in Gramado.  This Tuesday was transfer week so on our P-Day Monday we found out that three of the four were being transferred to other locations and we had all of them over for lunch and, of course we had to teach them to play Qwirkle. Here are the pictures of the four and around our table for lunch and Qwirkle. 

Sister Alves is from Brasilia, Sister Aidukaites is from Virginia, Sister Lorenco is from Fortaleza, and Sister Cuaycal is from Ecuador.  Heidi made a delicious Brunswick Stew for our farewell lunch.

They have a street here that they tried to make look crooked like Lombard Street in San Francisco. It is hard to see in this picture but it curves back and forth all the way down the hill.
Some interesting things we have noticed here:
  • The town of Gramado is small enough that the are no stop lights, only traffic circles, like the one in the picture above.  Not everyone obeys the rule that the person in the intersection has the right of way, and so they try and force themselves in and make everyone else wait for them.  If you are not aggressive and get right out in the circle they will keep coming from other sides and not let you in. It is really fun to be in a town so small that they don't need street lights.
  • Houses are painted in lots of bright colors and mostly are small.  We have also seen some neighborhoods where there are mansions and others where all we can see is the front gate and a driveway winding into the thick vegetation.  We can only imagine what the houses look like back in those areas.