Thursday, February 4, 2016

2016 - Are we making a difference?

We started attending the Petropolis Branch in December.  On the first Sunday in January Ken was called as the Branch President of the Petropolis Branch, which meets in a school in Nova Petropolis, a town about 35 kilometers from Gramado.  We drive over there regularly to visit the members and to attend our meetings on Sunday.  It is a small branch, with about 55 members of record.  We are enjoying the opportunity to work with this branch and to help it grow.  The first Sunday we attended church in Nova Petropolis there were 13 people in Sacrament Meeting.  We have been doing lots of visits to the members homes and have also been blessed with several families moving into the branch. The last three Sundays we have had 43, 40 and 32 members in Sacrament Meeting.  When we have an average attendance of 35 for a month, the church will rent a house for us to use for meetings.  

When we first started meeting in Novo Petropolis we did not have any other missionaries assigned to the branch.  On the Mission transfer of  January 5th, two Sister Missionaries were transferred to work in our branch, Sister Nieznanski from Lehi, Utah and Sister De Paula from Sao Paulo.  The picture below is of them at the center of the green maze in the central park of Nova Petropolis.  

We have started collecting pictures of the members of our branch to put on a picture board.  Here are the ones we have so far.  Brother Joao and his three kids, Gustavo, Rebeca and Harissa.  Joao is our branch mission leader. They moved into the branch in December
Wagner and Renata with their two daughters Rebecca and Teodora.  They moved into the branch in January. Wagner is a counselor in the Elders Quorum, and Renata is a counselor in the Primary.
 Leonidas and Rosimeri and Leonidas' mother Gessi, and his children:  Lucas, Gabriela and Samuel.  This family just moved into the branch in December.  Leonidas is a counselor in the Mission Presidency,  Rosimeri is our Young Women President, and Lucas is our Young Men President. Lucas just returned in January from his mission.  Gessi teaches in Relief Society.
 Long-time members Isabel and Jorge. He plays the keyboard for our meetings, and she directs music.  Irma Isabel is also our Primary President.
 Verlise and her 14 year old son, Gustavo.  Your can see that they are German decendants.
 Irmao Nadir is the oldest member of our branch at 75, and a jolly old fellow we like to call Santa Claus.
 Irma Maya is our Relief Society President.
Gustavo is our Elders' Quorum President, and his wife Ana is a counselor in the Relief Society.  The dog is named Ruffus.
Everaldo is a recent convert that is inactive now, and we are working to try to activate him.

We are always surprised at how labor intensive everything is here.  Below is a garbage truck collecting trash.  They usually have two or three young men that ride on the back of the truck and jump off to get the garbage that people leave in sacks beside the road.  The minimum wage here is equivalent to about $10 per day.

We have seen very few lawn mowers here.  People usually have someone with a weed-whacker who comes to cut their grass.  We see men cutting the grass with weed-whackersd along the main roads and in huge parks.
We took the Sisters to lunch in Nova Petropolis at a sandwich shop where they serve huge sandwiches they call "Xs", pronounced "shees" (like cheese).  One of the Sisters had chicken hearts in her sandwich.  The other Sister had a stroganoff sandwich, Heidi had a chicken sandwich, and I tried the hamburger sandwich.  They put lots of things in them like lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, eggs, peas and corn.

The temple in Porto Alegre was closed for a couple of weeks in January.  There is an American couple, the Miners, who work in the temple,and who came to spend three days with us in Gramado during the time when the temple was closed.  We had a lot of fun showing them around.  They knew one family in the Gramado branch, the Santos, whom we took them to see while here.
 We also took them to see the different chocolate stores here in Gramado, which is famous for its chocolate..  Here they are at the Chocolate Gramadense store downtown Gramado.
Christmas goes from the end of October until the middle of January, so when the Miners were here we were still able to show them the Christmas lights and decorations.

Vanessa and Ricardo Nacarado, and Vanessa's mother  (visiting from the north), came over to play Qwirkle with us one night for family home evening.  We do a lot of things with Vanessa and Ricardo, as they are like our family in this area.
 Vanessa's mother was here for the sealing of Vanessa and Ricardo in the Porto Alegre Temple.

We are always amazed at the bright colors people use to paint their houses.  Here are some examples.

Irma Maya has a busy humming bird feeder in front of her house, 
 Gustavo and Ana live on a small farm, owned by Ana's father, Leonidas, located in the countryside about six miles from Nova Petropolis.  Gustavo raises small quail-like birds that lay small eggs.  Here is Gustavo holding one of his birds.
Irma Isabel has a beautiful house and a cute dog in Nova Petropolis.   
 She has one room of her house decorated with her Lady Bug collection.
Here's a funny car that someone decorated with a beer barrel to advertise his toy store.
 The construction of the condo next to our place is progressing to the second floor.
There is an immigrant park in Nova Petropolis with a re-creation of a small German village from the late 1800s.  Here is a picture of the old church.
In the hotel beside our condo they have a nursery dubbed the "Copa Baby"!
Gramado has two entrances with beautiful gates to the city.  Below are the two gates.
The sisters were able to baptize a young girl, Julia, whose parents are not members because they are not married.  Julia's older siblings were already baptized last year, but she was not yet old enough.