Thursday, December 10, 2015

Year End Approaching and the Beginning of Summer

Since Halloween and Thanksgiving are not celebrated here in Gramado, the Christmas celebration starts on October 30th and goes until January 17th.  Gramado is a tourist town and goes all out with the decorations and lighting.  On opening night the city has a big lighting ceremony.  Elder and Sister Hale had just completed their mission as the Executive Secretary of the MTC in São Paulo and came to Gramado as part of their tour of Brazil.  They stayed with us the night of the lighting ceremony, and we went out to dinner at Carlitos, our favorite fondue restaurant, then downtown for the big ceremony. 

The next day we took them down to the airport in Porto Alegre, since we had to be there for a sealing of a young couple from our branch, Lizi and Rodrigo Feodoroff.  The famous gaúcho statue is on the main road just outside the airport.
After the sealing we went to a big modern shopping center close to the temple and had dinner at the food court there.  There are no shopping centers in Gramado, and this one is very much like a U.S. shopping center.

As you know by now, we love the flowers here.  Hortencias (Hydrangeas) are one of our favorites, so we always have fresh ones in our condo.  Here are some more pictures showing the variations of colors that we are able to find.  November and December are the months when they are in full bloom, but we were able to find them all year round.

Three of the branches in our district, including our Gramado Branch, put on a dance and pizza night for the youth.  Here are some pictures of the youth at the dance.

One P-day we took the Sister Missionaries working in our Gramado Branch, Sister Lorenzo and Sister Vera, to the Caracol waterfalls.  This is such a beautiful place to visit.

We have a couple in our Branch, Jared and Jaine Nacarado, that have been living together for the past five years, but they were not married.  With help from the Sister Missionaries, Jaine decided she wanted to get baptized, so the Sisters helped them get their civil marriage done, and then we had a religious ceremony at the chapel that Ken conducted.  After the ceremony everyone was invited to a big buffet dinner at a restaurant. The Sisters were in charge of arranging flowers for the ceremony

The construction of the condominium next door is progressing.  They use a lot of skinny little trees to hold up the weight of the second floor concrete.

 We have district meeting once a week with the Elders and Sisters in our district.
 We took a drive through the conntry side outside of town and saw this man plowing with a team of oxen.
 We are always fascinated with the colors the Brazilians paint their houses.

The countryside around Gramado is very beautiful.

 They still use oxen and horses for transportation.  We see them regularly.
Gramado being a tourist town, sometimes when we are downtown there will be parades or people in costumes passing by.

 We have our condo decorated for Christmas.

During the Christmas season Gramado does a huge play, called Natal Luz,  three nights a week with fireworks and a pageant.  The tickets are pretty expensive, so we just watched one night from the sidewalk.  There are busloads of tourists that come to town on these nights to watch the play.  The title of the play this year is Eu Sou Maria (I am Mary).  As a pre-dominately Catholic society, they put more emphasis on Mary than they do on Christ, even at Christmas.

Ken was released at the end of November as the Branch President of the Gramado Branch, and we were asked to work with the Petropolis Branch, which is about 35 kilometers from Gramado.  We will stay in our Condo in Gramado and just travel back and forth regularly to Novo Petropolis. We saw this beautiful full moon one night on our drive home from Novo Petropolis.
 We took the Elders from Canela to Novo Petropolis one day to visit members there.  They are the Zone leaders here and have been asked to work at least one day a week in Novo Petropolis.  Here they are at the center of the green labyrinth in the center of Novo Petropolis.