Sunday, January 4, 2015

Happy New Year 2015

I am catching up on posting to the blog, so there are lots of things to share.

December 11 - Happy Birthday Heidi

All the Elders and Sisters in our missionary district came to our apartment to celebrate Heidi's birthday.

December 14
Ken was called to serve as Branch President of the Gramado Branch of the church here.  He chose two of the established brothers here as his counselors, Brother Toni Pimentel and Brother Luis Machado, and kept the executive secretary that had been with the previous branch presidency, Brother Ronaldo Oliveira.  The call came at the busiest time of the year for a branch president, when all the members need to be interviewed for tithing settlement.  The branch was split at the same time so half the members are now in another branch, making it easier to do the interviews.
The Sisters in our missionary district decided we all needed to have matching tee shirts, so they bought us all matching Gramado tee shirts and wrote all our names on the back.

The District President (like a stake president) for the Gramado District is a dynamic young man, Antonio Nunes.  He just graduated from a local university and invited us to his graduation ceremony.  It was an interesting event and was a lot of fun.  Here are some pictures of the ceremony.

 You can see some of the strange looking caps and gowns they use.


 They had all the graduates dress up as  super heroes.  President Nunes was Superman. They showed on a big screen the picture of each person in his super hero outfit while he was coming forward to receive his diploma and cap.

 The Directors of the University were in strange looking caps, one in white robes and one in red robes.
 This lady was the master of ceremonies.
They had the valedictorians of each college give the challenge to all the graduates in that college.

 This is the symbol for the University.

 Before they received their diplomas the graduates did not wear their caps.  As they received their diplomas the director would put their caps on their heads, and they would then wear the cap during the rest of the program.  Their caps had furry trim around the top.
 This lady sang the Brazilian national anthem.
After each graduate received the diploma and cap he/she would get a picture taken with the dean.

 President Nunes and his wife Elise.

For one of our p-days we went with the two Egbert couples to Mini Mundo (Mini World), which is a little park here in Gramado with lots of miniature sized displays of different places in Germany.  The man who built this was a German hotel owner who wanted to make a place for his kids to play that could teach them about Germany.

 This is supposed to be a building on fire with the fireman putting out the fire.  He even has water coming out his hose.

There was a miniature airport with Mini Mundo Airplanes.

There was a place to kiss the bears, so the Egberts tried it out.

I had to have my picture taken with the beautiful witch that was wandering around the park.  She later gave each couple a Hydrangea plant to take home.
 In the park they have recycling waste bins of all different types.
 Sometimes while our wives were going through the shops we were able to get a little rest.
 There are many different types of hydrangea plants in the park.  Hydrangea is the city flower of Gramado and they are everywhere, adding to the beauty of this place.


We participated in the Christmas party with the Petropolis branch, which before the division was a very small branch meeting in a school in Novo Petropolis.  Here are pictures of the party.

We also participated in a Christmas party for the Gramado branch.
Heidi organized a group of Relief Society Sisters to perform the "Twelve Days of Christmas" with words made up in Portuguese about relief society.  It was a smashing hit. 

On one street in the center of town here in Gramado they have reindeer that are painted by different artists each year.  Here are samples of what they look like.

In Canela, the town next to Gramado where the Egberts live and serve, there is a beautiful big stone cathedral.  Here are pictures of the outside and inside.


The LDS chapel in Canela is just a couple blocks from the cathedral.

On Christmas Eve the missionaries serving in the Porto Alegre temple, along with the temple president and matron, came to Gramado to spend the night.  We all went out to a fondue dinner.
This is Elder and Sister Denney, temple missionaries.  They spent the night in our apartment.
 This is the temple president and matron, President and Sister Warthen.
 This is the first counselor in the temple presidency and his wife, President and Sister Brehm. 
This is Elder and Sister Anthony, temple missionaries.
There were three courses for the dinner, first cheese fondue with lots of vegetables and bread to dip; second this meat and a hot piece of granite to cook it on with lots of sauces to put on it; third was chocolate fondue with lots of fruit to dip in it.

 This was the live entertainment we had at the restaurant.
 This is our group in front of the restaurant.
After dinner the Warthens were staying in a unique hotel, with rooms made out of old wine storage vats.  They wanted to show us so we went by to have a look.  The rooms are three stories and are very rustic. The first floor had a sitting area, kitchenette, and bathroom.

The second floor was the bedroom.

The third floor was a sitting room with windows all around for a beautiful view.
This is President and Sister Warthen.
Christmas day we were invited to a member's house for a big Christmas dinner along with the four sister missionaries serving here in Gramado.
We had lots of yummy desserts.  Heidi made the brownies with coconut and M&Ms.

We also were invited to Kassandra's house that night for another Christmas dinner.  They have a cute little dog that we love to play with. His name is Pimentinho.
This is Kassandra's daughter Angelique with Pimentinho dressed up. 
Just after Christmas we had transfers and our District Leader, Elder Seidmann and his companion, Elder Collect, an American, were transferred.  We were really close to them and had them stay with us a few nights when they needed to be in Gramado early.  We took them out to dinner on their last night here and then took a group of Elders out for ice cream just before they left.

Between Christmas and New Years we received a call from President Nunes saying that nine members of a family from Sao Paulo were in town to see the big show, but they could not find a hotel (no room at the inn).  He asked if we could take four of them in to sleep at our house.  So we had guests that night, two on our sofa bed and two in our spare room.
We were invited to Kassandra's house for New Years Eve dinner.  She went all out with the decorations, especially the centerpieces.  Kassandra runs the bed and breakfast where we spent the first two weeks here.  She is a dear friend now and helps us with many things.

New Years day we started out with a Missionary District Meeting. These are all the missionaries in our District.
These two sister missionaries just arrived this week and work in the Gramado branch.  They are gung-ho and already have a baptism planned for this Sunday.
After our District Meeting the four Egberts came with us in our car to see the sights.  The first stop was Lago Negro, the beautiful lake close to our house.  Sister Ann Egbert started out in the luggage space and then Heidi took that special seat since there are only five seats in the car.

 Lago Negro is a much visited tourist spot here in Gramado with swan and pirate paddle boats.  I walk from our apartment each morning and do a jog around the lake.  It is a very beautiful place to jog.

On one edge of the lake there is a little grotto with statues of Mary, one black and one white, along with a nun.

After the lake we went to one the portals at the entrance to the city of Gramado.
We then decided to drive down to valley below Gramado and Canela.  It is a beautiful area with farm lands, flowers and jungle.

We came to a place where there is an eco park, and a restaurant called Berga Moto.  We checked out the buffet and decided to stay for lunch.  We ate out on a porch surrounded by beautiful jungle. That was the best food we have eaten in Brazil!

Heidi liked the unique mirror in the ladies room, and the reindeer out in front.

After eating we went for a quarter mile hike through the jungle up to a beautiful waterfall.

We have been adding to and updating our apartment.  We added the palm tree, mirror, Christmas tree, Christmas pillows and a rug in our living room.

 We had to purchase these cabinets for the kitchen since there was no storage space there.
 We made a shelf using large soda bottles and purchased the water filter, the toaster, and the blender.
 We had no place to store our books, desk supplies and miscellaneous items, so we purchased this black storage cupboard.
We take these stairs up to our second floor where we have our master bedroom and a guest bedroom along with two full bathrooms.
 In the master bedroom we purchased the two bedside lamps and two "prayer rugs", soft white furry skins.
 We also purchased this checkered cowhide rug.
 There are no closets in our bedroom so we added some cloth covered hanging racks for each side of the fireplace.
In Heidi's bathroom she found a pretty hanging rack for her towel.
 This is the view from our bedroom down the hall to the other bedroom and into Heidi' bathroom.
 For our guest room we purchased another cowhide checkered rug.  The twin bed has two mattresses, so when we have guests we take the top mattress off and put it on the floor so two people can use the room.
 This is our only armario for our clothes so we use the guest room for our dressing room.
 This a look down the hall toward the master bedroom with the second bathroom on the left.
 These are the stairs going up to the third floor.

 On the third floor we have a large storage room where we keep our suitcases and other stuff we don't use on a regular basis.
There is a balcony out this door that overlooks the hotel next door.

We also have a large jetted tub on the third floor.
We took the two sister missionaries from the Petropolis branch to visit an investigator family that lives about an hour's drive away from Gramado, way out in the countryside.  There is one 17 year old girl in the family who is a member having been baptized a couple months ago when she was staying with her uncle in Canela.  On the way back we stopped in Novo Petropolis and visited the Labyrinth Maze made from plants.  We were able to finally find the middle of the maze and get our pictures on the platform.

Sister Rocha would really like to meet Canyon after her mission.

There are so many beautiful flowers here in Gramado, we just love it.  I think people here like the color of the flowers, so lots of them paint their houses purple like the flowers.  Courtney, you would love it here.

We love the hydrangea (Hortencias in Portuguese) flowers so much we have them always in our apartment.



  1. Wow, that looks like a beautiful birthday cake for Mom! What great memories you are building there!

  2. That is a lot of pictures!! You have sure been busy, busy, and it looks like you find time to enjoy the scenery while you are there as well!!