Saturday, December 10, 2016

Letter from Mom

Dear Family,

How are you all doing?  We are pluggin' along down here.  This week has been a little slow for me.  Dad has been busy getting everything ready to make aIl of the purchases for our Petrolina project.  (I just lost my email and now I have to start over.)  It will be good to have that up and running finally.  

For some reason, this week my Portuguese is really bad!  Last Sunday I couldn't understand much of anything and the week before I understood almost everything.  That is frustrating!  It is very difficult to learn a new language at my age.  I really don't like to pray in Portuguese because for some reason, it feels like I'm not really praying.  I did offer a prayer, in Portuguese, last week at the beginning of our Fast Offering meeting.  Elder Costa was presiding!  That was a little nerve wracking to pray, in a different language, in front of a General Authority.  I had a feeling all day that I would be asked.

Last week at the temple I really got thrown into the lion's den!  That is exactly what we used to do in Rexburg when we would get new people and we were short handed.  I had just begun to study the veil when the supervisor came in all panicked and wondered if I could help in Initiatory.  I said that I could probably read it so she had me read it to her and then said, "Perfect."  That was my training.  We were busy.  Right after that I was on the 10:30 session and I didn't need the card.  After the session they needed more help in Initiatory and we were busy again.  At the end I started to look around the booth and took notice of the curtains, wallpaper, chair, etc. and it looked just like the Rexburg Temple.  It felt like I was home.  It was a good feeling.  I decided that that is how the temple should feel home.

Dad and I, the Harris' and Sister Cox went to a choir concert on Sat.  It was Christmas music and they were really good.  Most of the music was unfamiliar to me but it was still very enjoyable and the choir was very good.  They are a professional choir.  Their men's arrangement of "Ave Maria" was gorgeous.  After the choir we went to a shopping mall to see their Christmas decoration display.  We went last year and I was expecting the same thing but it was totally different.  The mall is 5 stories high and the decorations go from floor to ceiling!  It is incredible.  They kind of reminded me of our yard and you'll understand why when you see the pictures.  :)

I hope that you all have a very good week.  We are glad that little Jakey is recovering from his surgery.  For those of you who don't know, he had to have his adenoids removed.  They were swollen and causing a lot pressure on his inner ear and causing hearing loss which was affecting his speech development.  He also was getting sick a lot.  Hopefully this will help him.  He is so cute and I felt so bad that he had to go through this.  Good thing he is little and probably won't remember it.

We love you all very much.  


1.  Harris', Sister Cox and us at the concert
2.  the frieze above the stage
3.  It was a small hall but the choir was really good.
4. Decorations-see what I mean about our yard?  :)
5. more
6.  5 stories high

1.  more squirrels
2.  more
3.  In the sleigh
4.  the outside 

It was fun.

Letter from Dad

Dear Family,

We started at the temple the day after Thanksgiving.  Mom went on a session and did about everything else.  Thank goodness we have some things memorized in Portuguese already from our time in the Rexburg Temple.  President Silva was on the shift (temple pres.).  He is such a good man.  He is the second Brazilian member who lives and works in Salt Lake but was called to come home and be the temple president.  He too makes you feel like a million dollars.  We got to know a number of great people.  It felt wonderful to be back in the temple working.

Sunday Mom drove out to Petrolina with Shirley Cox who wanted to go along.  I was pretty nervous about her going but she was needed and had no choice really.  I will let her recount her experiences of the day.  Along with my coworker Brother Julio Sales Souza, we got an Uber taxi and headed out to the Guarulhos International Airport.  It took a little over an hour to get there.  We had a short stop in Salvador (Bahia), just a small place of 5 million.  It was really enjoyable to see the city from the plane.  We flew part way up the coast and the ocean was gorgeous.  We got to Petrolina around 4:30 p.m. 

President Teixeira picked us up in his pick-up (a real nice one) and as we were headed to the hotel he asked if we would like to go see some of the plantations.  Julio was totally amazed at the green plantations of the desert as we were coming down.  Anyhow, we checked into the Ibis Hotel and then went driving around the plantations.  There are all kinds of fruits planted and they are watered through irrigation with the water being pumped from the Sao Francisco River.  The reservoir is the largest in South America and you can easily see it on Google Mays when you are looking at northeastern Brazil.  They grow more mangos here than anywhere in the country and are also famous for their seedless table grapes.  We buy them from Pao de Acucre all the time and the plastic container says "Petrolina".   The majority of the vineyards looked really well taken care of but a few weren't.  Pres. Teixeira has two friends, brothers who are showing him the tricks of the trade in growing grapes.  I think he plans to do it too.  The amount of money they make is unbelievable, just as was seeing thousands upon thousands of acres of plantations.  We even went by a few juice factories that work in the area.  Petrolina is pretty much run by one family, the Coelhos.  One of them is a Brazilian Senator, another the mayor, and on and on.  But they have done a lot of good for the city and done many upgrades to the infrastructure there.  Many of the landowners hire people to watch over their vineyards (I've heard that somewhere before) and they sit on their motorcycles watching over everything.  Pres. Teixeira said that on shipment day, the airport runway is covered with planes and trucks.  One other thing that makes the vineyards in Petrolina unique is that they get 2 harvests a year instead of 1 like everywhere else.

We got to the chapel and got set up and visited with Pres. Oliveira, a counselor and irmao Salviano who is the quail expert.  We were pleasantly surprised at the turnaround in their attitudes which had been very much about "entitlement" with not much thought about understanding the Church Welfare Program.  We went into the chapel and some of the 29 families were already there.  I could feel a little tension in the air as we came in so I went around and shook hands with most of them.  We began our meeting just like a sacrament meeting.  After a hymn and prayer, Pres. Teixeira got up and really outlined the program and how it was a pilot program and how everyone needed to be committed to work hard.  His attitude was positive and inspirational which we were glad of.  Fernando Souza, our boss, had gone up there a few month ago and laid down the law and so things changed.  I spoke for 20 minutes using Pres. Uchtdorf's talk, "Providing in the Lord's Way" from General Conference 2011.  One big difference in the welfare program is that we have learned that the way of the Lord is very different than much of the world.  His way is "The more you give, the more you have/receive whereas the world's way is the more you give the less you have.  I read in I Kings 17:10-16 the story of the widow of Zarephath and the prophet Elijah.  I found it interesting that she was the one in need, but she was the one who was asked to give.  We talked about that and how the law of the fast is for everyone, rich and poor, old and young, men and women, etc.  I asked them, "If there is someone here who doesn't need the blessings of the Lord, will you please stand up."  Of course nobody did (I was relieved) and then I explained how our fast offering blesses others and that as we bless others, we also end up receiving many blessings in many different ways.  

Then Julio did a wonderful power point presentation on all the details and particulars of the project and he did a wonderful job in explaining and answering questions.They have to sign a contract (accord) that protects them as well as the Church.  It took some time for the Legal Dept. of the Church to get that hammered out and right.  Each family will be getting a small brooder, a set of cages, an incubator, and 50 quail.  In addition, the Church will provide feed and vaccinations during the first 6 months.  The people are ready and willing to go to work.  We had a question/answer session that was good.  One thing we encouraged them to do was to involve their children and grandchildren in teaching them the value of work.  It will bless their children/grandchildren's lives. 

One couple came up and asked if they could get a picture of me with them.  Mom and I had visited them and they are such a sweet family.  We were really impressed with their 16 year old son and his desire to serve the Lord.  I talked to many others.  One fellow had lived in the USA for 15 years and LaVell Edwards had once come up to him and asked, "What sport do you play?"  He thought this fellow was a Polynesian rugby player.  He fits that description pretty well.  All his children live in the United States except for one who is in Japan.  That would be hard.  We had a nice visit.  Who would have thought you could find someone like that in Petrolina, Pernambuco, Brasil.  The members got in a line outside one of the offices and went in and signed their agreement with Julio.  They were all very excited when they left.  We finished around 10:30 p.m. and then went straight to the hotel without any dinner.  We just didn't have time.  Fortunately, I had a few crackers so we dined on them and bottled water.  By the way, it is super hot in Petrolina and it is that way the entire year.  We are really excited to see this get going and I will be getting things ordered this week.  One thing I failed to mention is that the refugee crisis in the middle east and elsewhere has made it so the Church has had to cut back on budget for other countries.  So the evil of others does have an effect on people all over the world.

It had been stake conference in Petrolina that day and we had been asked a couple of weeks earlier to speak, but we couldn't change our airline tickets.  President David Lisonbee and his wife Bianca had been the main speakers.  President Lisonbee was one of my favorite missionary buddies and we worked and lived together for quite a while in SP.  I felt really bad that we didn't get to see them at stake conference.  As we went to get in line on Monday morning at the airport, standing in line were the Lisonbees.  They had not been able to get a flight out on Sunday.  Well, we had a great reunion even though for a short while.  They are great people.  They invited mom and I to come to their mission in Salvador and speak to the missionaries.  We will see if that is possible.

We had a good flight home until we were just getting close to SP.  The pilot came on and said, "We can't land yet in Guarulhos because of weather and we are in line with other planes, so we'll just cruise around up here for a while.  And we did for about 25 minutes.  I was enjoying the scenery and we flew over Campinas.  I thought maybe we would land at Viracopos Int. in Campinas, but we didn't.  All of a sudden our plan dropped and there was a loud boom.   Everybody on the plane was screaming.  I didn't but my heart came clear out of my body I think, at least in my throat.  But then we were fine and we landed safely without further incident.  We did have a lot of turbulence going down through the clouds, but I am grateful we were protected.

I say that because the day before, the Chapacoense soccer team crashed just minutes from the Medellin,Columbia airport into a mountain side, killing I think 71 people with just six survivors.  You have probably heard or read about this.  The team comes from a tiny place in the state of Santa Catarina and is the pride of the state and for much of Brazil as they are an underdog who rose up to the top division here, a fairy tale story without a fairy tale ending which was supposed to happen at the tournament in Columbia.  One of the team's officials was a member of the Church.  Three players survived but with horrific injures, one having a leg amputated and the others with broken everything and numerous surgeries.  A flight attendant and two other fellows also survived.  It gave us a sick feeling to read all about it and see the pictures of the plane which broke up completely.  How anyone survived is unbelievable.  It will take some time for the club to get put back together.  I remember as a young man in high school when the plane of the Marshall University football team returning to Huntington, West Virginia crashed short of the airport in a wooded area killing everyone on board.  You may have seen the movie "We are Marshall" with Matthew McConaughey.  The nation and soccer teams all over the world are rallying to help the survivors and the community.  

Had an MRI on my foot but won't know anything for a week or more.  We went to a Christmas Choir Concert in downtown Sao Paulo on Sat. the 3rd of Dec.  They sang beautifully.  The small room had great acoustics.  I will let Mom tell the rest.  We enjoyed it.  We were in what was the best part of the city when I served here.  There are still good things to find like the Altino Arantes building which was the tallest all cement building in the world, modeled after the empire state building.  But much of the old downtown is in ruin or abandoned.  There is graffiti everywhere and I mean everywhere.  Some 30 story buildings have it spread all over the walls all the way to the top.  Very sad to see this remembering what it was like.  Lots of crime and prostitution in the area and you have to watch yourself.  We caught a bus (electric) and within 5-6 minutes we were in a whole new world as we went over to Higienopolis to the mall where they have the most incredible Christmas decorations.  Higienopolis is like being on another planet and there are really rich people living there.  The mall is made up of a class of people you never see on our side of the city.  Way too high for us as well as the prices of everything.  But the decorations were awesome.  Just us, the Harris' and sister Cox went.  We aren't having any luck with getting anyone to accompany us.  I slipped and fell down in the bus which hurt and was embarrassing, but I survived a bruised bottom and bruised ego.  Hope all of you have a great week.

Love You Much,

Elder Sonderegger (Dad)

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Brazilian Thanksgiving...

Dear Family,

It was good to be able to talk to some of you during Thanksgiving last week.  I can't believe that it has already come and gone.  Two Thanksgivings away from home and family isn't very easy.  I am already looking forward to next year when we will be able to be with some of you.  Our group of missionaries were together and we had a very nice meal.  I was able to contribute more this year than last.  Last year we had just barely arrived in Brazil and my kitchen wasn't set up completely yet and I really didn't know how to cook down here as things are just plain different.  This year I made an apple pie and candied yams, well sweet potatoes.  Sweet potatoes aren't nearly as good as the yams.  They just look so blasé.  We did have a nice time.

Dad has gone up to Petrolina today to help get our project started.  He will be back home tomorrow night.  Julio went with him.  It was much better to have a Brazilian go with him than me.  Julio is very good with these kinds of technical things.  Dad is speaking on the spiritual side of the project with Julio is getting into the nitty-gritty part of it.  It just might scare some of the people off because of all of the details surrounding it.  The stake president said that he didn't want any "Lamans and Lemuels" on this project.  In other words, no complainers!  I thought that was a cute way of saying it.

I went out to Ibiuna today and Sister Cox went with me as we're not supposed to go alone and I wouldn't want to anyway.  I think that she was impressed with our branch.  I had a really good day today out there on my own.  I understood one talk a little and the other one a lot.  I understood most everything he said.  Plus I understood most of the announcements today.  I read a paragraph in our Sunday School lesson and made a comment on it.  I made a comment in Young Women and then I had a choir practice with the youth.  It went really well.  I am teaching the girls how to sing alto.  They have never done it before and they are sounding really good.  The boys, on the other hand, are struggling with the melody!  We are singing "Away in a Manger" out of the hymn book.  I am also hoping to sing "The Eve of Christmas Morning" that was written by my friend Heidi Pyper.  It is beautiful.  I sang part of it for them today and they really liked it and they want to sing it.

Well not much else has been happening since Thanksgiving.  I hope that you are all doing well.  I sure love you all very much.  I am attaching some pictures.  They really decorate for Christmas down here.  I've included some pictures from one of the malls.  It is a very cute display.  One thing very different down here verses back home in the USA is that they can still display the Nativity without being threatened with lawsuits so you see them all around.  It is very refreshing.  Hope you all have a very good week.


1.Thanksgiving setup
2. my place-our hostess really goes out of her way to make things nice.
3.  The appetizers
4.  Need I say more?  :)
5. View from the 25th floor before our dinner
6. Interesting flower 

1. Santa at the beach
2.  Dad at the mall
3. Santa resting
4. Swimming!
5. Coconut juice

Friday, November 25, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving from Dad

Dear Family,

     I hope all of you are doing well and are excited for Thanksgiving.  We will be having dinner at The McAllisters apartment on the 25th floor with all the other missionaries.  The McAllisters are here for four years and Doug is in charge of the Brazil Area Legal Department.  They previously spent 4 years in the Phillipines doing the same thing.  They do get to travel home occasionally but eight years away from your family would be quite a sacrifice.  They are really good people.  Sister McAllister is a great cook and she loves to decorate all fancy and it is fun to go there.  We have quite a marvelous view from their living room.  It is hard to be away during holidays that we celebrate always with family, but we will survive.  

     For a couple of weeks I have been reviewing a missionary candidate who is struggling with being bipolar and as well as from depression and other challenges.  She currently takes 7 different medications, 5 of which a missionary cannot take in the field because they are not all accessible in different areas of the country.  For a long time I have thought that someone struggling with being bipolar really goes through a lot of suffering.  It seems so unfair that someone could be bipolar and I have shed a lot of tears for a number of people in my life who deal with this all the time.  I visited with the Area Executive Secretary as well as Ivan Tramontina and Elder Burke (Dr. Burke) and it was decided that it would be best with all the possible complications for this sister, to stay at home and serve in her own stake.  I was asked to contact the stake president and I am glad I had that opportunity.  He had already indicated that he felt that the sister would need to serve at home.  We had a great discussion and I expressed to him how sorry I was that she could not serve a regular full-time mission but that I was very happy that she would have an opportunity to serve in her stake.  The sister is fluent in sign language and she will be able to help many in her own city.  I have found that in the Church it is not our position or the supposed importance of our calling that is important.  What is important is that we understand that all service for the Lord has to be done, whether it is temporal or spiritual or a combination.  Brother Orivaldo who comes and empties my garbage can every day is doing work that has to be done.  Is he a lesser member of the kingdom?  Is he not loved just as much by God as is a stake president somewhere.  Our individual service is different and some of it obviously carries more responsibility, but it is all important.  It all matters.

     President Queiroz, counselor in the SP Temple Presidency, set mom and I apart as temple officiators.  We will be working the Fridaymorning shift from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  A lot of missionaries come from the CTM (MTC) on Friday morning so we will be helping many of them.  We have missed so much working in the Rexburg Temple.  President Queiroz is Brazilian but he lives in Salt Lake where he has a cleaning business.  He is a sweet, tender-hearted man.  He made us feel like we were the only people in the temple.  He not only set us apart but gave us each a blessing.  He gave the blessings in Portuguese, although his English is very good.  Mom understood almost every word and I know that her Portuguese will jump to a new level in this calling.  President Queiroz blessed us both with the protection of heavenly angels as we serve in the dangerous city of São Paulo.  Although we are always cautious, it gave us a sense of well-being and peace.  We have been able to attend sessions in the temple here, Campinas, Porto Alegre and Manaus in the Amazons.  We love the temple and look forward to starting this Friday.  We always feel at peace when we are in the Lord's House.

     A couple of weeks ago Elder Salsbury and I went to Guarujá down on the coast to play some golf with Brother Ronald Gunn.  He is 71 years old, an American and a Brazilian citizen and has lived here for 45 years.  We went to a gorgeous golf course just a 1/4 mile from the ocean.  He had really nice clubs for us.  I had some Cleveland clubs that we almost brand new.  Hadn't played for a while so it took some time to get things going.  We each had a caddie which was fun to talk to them.  My caddie knew the course and he knew my game and gave me good advice.  The majority of golf words in English are used here too.  I started not feeling too well around the 9th hole even though we were drinking lots of water, plus by right foot was not being kind to me.  We didn't have carts and we just walked, which is fine if all your body parts are cooperating.  It was so hot and humid and that is a recipe for disaster for me because I sweat so much.  Don will remember what happened to me in North Carolina.  So after 13 holes I had to go back to the clubhouse.  I felt bad to quit and I felt awful physically, but I am glad I got to play as much as I did.  It was fun.  It took me a day to get rehydated and feeling better.  Ron took us to a really nice seafood restaurant and for the first time in my life I ate mussels and they were really good.  We also had a big fish fried in butter sauce that was good.  Ron then took us for dessert at his home(s) on an exclusive hilly part of the island.  He has three nice homes there and they were pretty fancy.  Ron however never comes across as thinking he is of the upper crust.  He is a really wonderful man and he shared some special spiritual experiences he has had.  When I told him about Shelley finding Sondereggers in Uruguay, he said, "That needs to be published."  He got all teary-eyed.  He had shelves of golf trophies and I can tell you that I have never played with anyone with his skill level.  My jaw fell on the ground watching him hit the ball so far and so effortlessly.  His brother Alf writes a publication called the Brasulista which is for missionaries who served in Southern Brazil.  I have been reading that for several years.

     Mom was so excited to see My Fair Lady and it turned out to be an excellent production.   I got a little emotional a couple of times watching Henry Higgins and thinking of someone else, someone very special who played that part.  We enjoyed it all.  The majority of the main characters have studied voice and/or acting in London.  It was fabulous and it was fun to talk to the Brazilians around us about it.  Mom told several that her father had played the part of Henry Higgins and they thought that was neat.  

      We went to a devotional with Elder and Sister Renlund of the Twelve with all the people who work here.  It was great.  One thing he told was about a good friend in another country who once said to him, "We don't like having Americans tell us what to do."  That was when he was in the Seventy.  He said that since that time he has tried hard to never come across as an American, but as a representative of Jesus Christ.  Later in the day, I ran into him and his wife as well as Elder and Sister Costa and their security guards.  I stepped back to get out of the way but Elder Costa came over and put his arm around my shoulders and said to the Renlunds, "This is our famous coach who has won many awards and we are so glad he is here in Brazil."  I think my face turned red as I felt embarrassed but nonetheless, I felt good that someone thought I was useful.  I have known Elder Costa since 1995 when I met him at the home of Rick Bangerter in Bountiful.  That is also where I first met Elder Mazzagardi too.  Rick baptized sister Costa and she got excited when I told her of my relationship with Rick as a missionary.

     Our garden projects with the Torres family and Sister Manetta are doing well still.  It is making a difference in their food budget.  They have become good friends.  Sister Manetta gave us a bag full of frozen balls of dough with different things inside them like cheese, chicken, ham, etc.  They are called salgados.  

      So I won't go insane, I still workout twice a week at Just Fit which is on the corner of our apartment complex.  I have met a lot of people there and many have been members who pretended they weren't at first just to see what I would say to them.  In each case, I began telling them why we were in Brazil and eventually they all smile and say, "I'm a member too."  Some of the lifting techniques I have seen here pretty scary and sometimes I go correct them.  Some listen and some don't, just like at BYUI and Ricks.  The ones who listen always smile after they understand the difference in technique.  I can no longer demonstrate the heavy lifts with weight and mostly just walk them through it.  

     Lastly, the branch in Ibiúna gets better every week.  We are learning names and helping wherever we can.  Mom is working with the YW and helping them practice some Christmas music for the branch program.  I go with the YM.  It is obvious who has parents who have taught them how to work.  Work seems to be something of an afterthought with some of them, so it is a challenge.  Our branch president  and his wife and seven children are really really special people.  They are so unselfish in their service.  President Gilberto owns a car repair shop and his children work with him in the Ipiranga area of São Paulo.  You can see that they understand the meaning of hard work.  Last week, one of the boys, Gleison was in a wreck that could have been fatal.  His brother's girlfriend was driving (she is a really neat girl and will soon be getting married to Gleison's brother Gilberto Jr. who served a mission in Japan.).  They got caught in a downpour and lost control of the car.  It left the road and turned up on it's side but didn't roll over.  I asked Gleison what he did when he realized they were out of control.  He said, "I asked Heavenly Father to protect us and He did."  Gilberto Jr. was driving right behind them and he told me he felt so helpless watching it all happen.  But, it all worked out.  That is the second accident of someone in the branch in two weeks.  The other was a special family too.  They are stalwarts in the ward.  Their car had part of it missing, but none of them got hurt.  Well, once again I have rambled on so I will close.  Wishing you all safe travel and a very Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Love e um forte abraço,

Elder Sonderegger (Dad)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dear Family,

I can't believe that it is already Thanksgiving week!  Where has the time gone?  This year I've been a little more homesick now that the holidays are coming on.  I guess that I just have to push forward and be very grateful for FaceTime!  I hope that all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving this week.  The missionaries will be getting together for our dinner on Thurs. afternoon.  I'm sure glad that we have a good group here.  It would be hard to be all alone and we know that there are some American senior missionaries in other parts of the country who will be alone.  I am thankful that we are in Sao Paulo and we have friends here.

Yesterday we had a wonderful experience.  We went to see My Fair Lady with a group of missionaries.  I'm sorry that they all didn't go.  We had a wonderful time.  There were seven of us who went.  The theatre was wonderful and it is in an area of the city that is very ritzy to say the least!  The stores in the mall next door were of this caliber...Gucci, Channel, Louie Vuitton, etc., etc!  We saw a necklace in a window that was only selling for only $30,000!   Most of the stores were ones I've never heard of before, probably because I've never been to Paris or New York!  It was elite.  There are several malls like that here in Brazil.  In fact, there are more Tiffany stores in Sao Paulo than there are in New York City!

Back to the play.  In case you are wondering, yes it was in Portuguese!  Also if you are wondering how they translated "The rain in Spain...", it went like this, "As tropas atras do trem trotando."  Which translates to......"The troops behind the train are trotting!"  😂😂😂  It was a very good production even if I didn't understand every single word.  The set was wonderful as were the costumes, wigs, etc.  They had a screen or panel or something of a newspaper that they would lower and the action would continue in front and the set would be changed behind so that there wasn't any downtime for set changes.  What's more is that they did it in complete silence!  I am really glad that we went.  I decided to splurge and pay a little more and get good seats so we were on row 5 in the middle.  It was fantastic!

Another thing that happened this week is that we got set apart to become ordinance workers in the Sao Paulo Temple!  We will be working on Friday mornings and we start this week.  I have taken sisters through the veil in Portuguese in Rexburg several times!  I can almost make it clear through myself in Portuguese.  This will help my Portuguese.  I'm excited.  At first I didn't really want to do it but Dad talked me into it.  I guess that I was a bit nervous having to do it all in Portuguese.  Dad wanted to work in the temple because we just don't have enough to do during the week and it makes the time move rather slowly.

I drove to Ibiuna today for our church.  Dad will be gone up to Petrolina next Sunday and I still need to go to church out there so I drove today for practice.  The traffic isn't too bad on Sundays, thank goodness.  Sister Cox is going to go with me next Sunday as I can't go alone.  I started song practice today for a Christmas number.  Also today it was the Primary program.  I think that there are 8 children in the Primary and the three oldest boys did all of the speaking parts.  One other reason that I need to go out there next week is that we pick up three people to take them to church and I don't want to let them down.

I hope that you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I will be missing all of my family this week.  That goes for all our our extended family as well.  It is hard to be so far away from all of you but I am thankful for this opportunity to serve the Lord even if it hasn't quite been what we had thought it would be like.  I love all of you very much.  Tell your families hi from us.  Our time is going by quickly.  We'll be home before you know i!


1.  The group.  Harrises, Burkes, Sister Cox and Dad  
2.  no explanation needed  :)
3.  The stage front 
4.  The theatre
5.  The Burkes, Sister Cox and us.  Our other friends were sitting up in a box on the side.

1.  Some of the buildings near the J.K. Iguatemi Mall
2.  More of the area.  I think that at least one of those buildings has a heliport on the top.  A whole lot of the wealthy people go to and from work in helicopters down here.  The apartments around this area sell for over $2 million apiece, not the buildings, the individual apartments! 
3.  With the high end shopping around this display, it could easily be made of gold!  😂

Friday, November 18, 2016

November 15, 2016

Dear Family,

It's been a couple of weeks since I have written so I thought I'd better repent!  Today is actually another holiday in Brazil.  Man, I've never seen so many holidays as what they have here.  What is even more interesting is that when a holiday falls at the beginning or ending of the week people take what they call "bridge days."  So like today, Tuesday is a holiday, tons of people took Friday off as well as Mondayor maybe just Monday as their bridge days.  The office was pretty quiet yesterday!  If a holiday falls on a Thursday, most people will takeFriday off as a bridge day.  Brazilians love their holidays!  You should see the traffic when a holiday is approaching...unbelievable!  It usually takes about 1 1/2 hours to get to the coast but on a holiday it can take up to 7 hours!  

I think that we have started into the rainy season again.  It is getting more and more humid and the days are getting warmer.  Dad really sweats a ton down here and he gets pretty miserable.  One of our sister missionaries who left in July, Sister Zaugg, sweat even more than Dad does.  I always felt bad for her as she was almost constantly drenched!  I'm glad that it isn't as bad for me.  I get hot and sweaty but at least not drenched.  One thing for sure is that my skin is really soft down here.  I haven't had to use hand lotion one single time down here.

Two weeks ago was a holiday and we went, as a group, up to Campinas and went to a session in the temple.  Dad has been through that one a few years ago but this was my first time.  It is really beautiful, well actually, ALL temples are beautiful!  The secretary of the temple was a friend of ours when we lived in Campinas 20 years ago.  We got a royal welcome!  She had tears running down her cheeks and we both got long, tight hugs.  It was really neat to see her.  She was the Primary president and I was called to be her counselor for 1 month.  Her husband passed away a few years after we left and so she has raised her 5 sons as a single mom.  They have all turned out to be great young men.  One of them is currently her bishop!  Her name is Gisele Vaz.

We've been working on our Petrolina project, trying to get all of the details in place as Dad and Julio will be going up there for some meetings on the 27th of this month.  There are legal issues that have to be addressed and agreements that have to be made up and then signed.  It is really very complicated.  I think that they people are getting very excited about it finally happening after four years of planning.

I teach an English class once day a week and I really enjoy it.  I teach a more advanced class.  It helps me have something more to do during the week.  We've been working on prepositions as they are really confusing to the Brazilians.  Portuguese prepositions are a killer for me as well!  I make lots of mistakes with them.  I am actually learning a whole lot of English grammar myself!  Just before Halloween I dressed up like a witch and we did all Halloween things.  I even showed them a picture of Gary as a zombie!  They really thought that was funny!  To end my lesson we watched a video of Act 4, scene 1 of Macbeth...the witches, "Double, double, toil and trouble."  After that we read it aloud and I think they liked that.  We will end our class on Nov. 30th and then start up again the first of Feb.  Normally they would go until the end of May, but we will finish our mission at the end of April/first of May so it will be a little short.

Today most of the missionaries went on a walking tour of one part of the city to see the graphic art graffiti.  This kind of graffiti is different as it is really art.  Probably the majority of the buildings, walls, stores, signs, bridges, etc. are covered in graffiti and believe me, it is not pretty.  Most of the graffiti is made up of strange symbols and it is everywhere!  It makes you sick.  It just looks dirty.  They used to paint graffiti on the temple wall/fence but the grounds people would have it painted over before daylight so no one ever saw it.  The perpetrators finally quit so it is one of the few places you see where there isn't any graffiti.  We didn't go today as Dad has a very sore foot.  He hurt it over two months ago and it isn't getting better.  He is just trying to tough it out until we get home and he can go to a Podiatrist.  We are going to go see a matinee of Dr. Strange.  I think that we've been to more movies down here than we've been to for several years back home!  It's been kind of fun.

I've attached a few pictures of the Campinas Temple and the surrounding city.  It has really grown since we were there 20 years ago.  Campinas has about 1 1/2 million people but only 4 stakes.  There are other cities much smaller that have double the stakes.  I don't know why Campinas has a smaller LDS population than other cities of similar size or smaller.  I know that there are a lot of wealthy people that live up there.  One of them is Carlos Martins who is a member of the church and was our Stake Pres. when we were there 20 years ago.  He started a language school and then franchised it.  He sold it a couple of years ago for around $750 MILLION dollars!!  We used to do our laundry at his house!  He was also very wealthy back then.

I sure love you all very much.  You are in our prayers everyday.  We have a very good family.  Hope you all have a very good week.


1.  Campinas Temple
2.  Our group
3.  Us
4.  Campinas
5.  cute flowers around the temple

November 11, 2016

Hi all,

This is a quick one.  I just wanted you all to know that I just bought tickets to see "My Fair Lady" down here....IN PORTUGUESE!!  I am really excited!  It doesn't matter that I won't understand every single word but I know the story and I will be thinking of Dad the whole time.  I even splurged and bought the VIP tickets so that we could get a good seat.  The "old people" down here (over 60) get their tickets for half price and free public transportation fare.  Can't beat that!  So our tickets ended up costing around $44 each and we have spent that much to see a Jazz game up in the rafters!  The theatre is in a very high end section of the city.  The apartments in that area sell for well over 1 million dollars apiece and that is in US dollars and not Brazilian Rais.  Anyway, I am excited.  There are a few of the other missionaries who are also going so it should be fun.

This has made me think even more of Dad today with it being Nov. 11th.  I can't believe that it has already been 9 years since he departed from us.  I think about him often.  We were blessed to have such a good example for our family.  I am so proud of our mother/grandmother/great-grandmother also!  She is a remarkable woman and I think about her everyday.  She is a great 'living' example to our family.  I hope that I can be more like her.

Well love to all,

November 7, 2016

Dear Family,

       I realized that I am writing a book for an email that maybe you don't have time to read so I will be shorter, at least for me.  Just had a sweet experience in the temple cafeteria.  When Paula and I sat down to eat, we could hear singing and we noticed a cute little 3 year old girl sitting with her father and just singing away.  You can buy candy bars by the cash register, so I got up and bought one and took to her.  I asked her father if that was ok and he said yes.  I told her the candy bar was for her singing and that I hoped she would keep on doing it.  She had a big smile as did the other temple workers sitting nearby.  Speaking of the temple, since we need more to do, we will probably begin serving on the Friday morning shift.  President Silva who is Brazilian but lives and has a business in Salt Lake was happy to have us.  So we are excited for the opportunity.  We have missed the Rexburg temple very much.  Friday morning is when the missionaries at the MTC in SP come to the temple, so that will be exciting.  There were 28 American missionaries in the session we attended last Friday.  I got to talk to quite a few of them in the dressing room.  When they found out I had served here 45 years ago, they were all amazed.  I told them that when they get homesick, just go to work and things get better.  They have it a lot easier now than we did.

     Mom talked about going to Ibirapuera Park here in SP and the Legos Art.  It really was interesting to see all that could be done and the creativity.  Before we went in, we saw a feira which I thought probably wasn't a fruit and vegetable feira.  So we went over and the first place we saw was a lot of wood carvings.  Mom has been looking for a Nativity Set made in Brazil (not made in China) and there it was.  I talked to the fellow who does the carvings, Vando, and he will do ours in a different kind of wood and stain.  They are really neat.  There were four couples who ordered one and Vando was so happy to get some work as he has been looking for more work.  It will take him a little over a month and all done with hand tools which he showed us.  I wondered how long he had been doing carvings and he said since age 11.  Then he said something you don't hear every day.  He said, "I decided to support my family by doing an honest days work.  There is so much dishonesty here and I didn't want to follow that route."  We are excited.  I gave him a small booklet about raising a family in our day and age.

     We went to the 1932 Revolution War monument after seeing the Legos.  It was just across the street.  It looks a lot like the Washington Monument, not quite as tall but still 236 feet of Italian marble.  Italy sent 4 ships of Italian marble to Brazil as a gift to build the monument.  Sao Paulo is an Italian city in many repects as so many immigrants came here.  1932 Revolution happened when Sao Paulo got upset over the President, Getuliio Vargas who began taxing the state heavily and doing away with jobs.  So the state of SP and Minas Gerais put a volunteer army together and began fighting the armies of the federal government.  There is a large area under the monument, all in beautiful marble where many of the volunteer army who died are buried, including the first four students who were killed and became symbols of the revolution.  Minas Gerais eventully turned against SP and soon the war was over.  Even though Sao Paulo lost, it began a process of writing a new constitution which was made with mostly Paulistano influence.  So Sao Paulo lost the battle but won the war as they got all the liberties they had hoped for.  The military policeman was really a neat fellow.  I made friends with him and bought a book about the war from him which I had asked about.  We talked about a lot of things.  He was armed and had his bullet proof vest on, but he was really a good fellow.  As we were leaving he grabbed me and said, "We need to take a picture."  So we did.  He asked me a lot about the missionary program of the Church and how it worked.  I got him to autograph my book.

     One cute story (but true) he told us was about "elephant fruit", a real fruit.  Brazil's emperor put some coins in the leaves of the fruit which grew around the coins and then he would send them to Portugal with a letter saying, "We even grow our own money in Brazil."  During the 1932 war, they fought a trench war like in WWI.  At one point, someone played the Brazilian national anthem and all the soldiers came out of their trenches unarmed, stopped fighting and saluted.

      We went to the Campinas Temple about 45 miles away from SP.  It sits on a hill and it is gorgeous.  We went into the office to see sister Gisele Vaz who we knew from our ward in Campinas in 1996.   Paula was her counselor in the Primary.  We got to know the family (five cute boys, all grown up now) and her husband Ayrton.  He passed away from cancer at a young age.  When Gisele saw us, she about screamed in the temple and she came running, grabbed us both and just cried and hugged us.  She is several inches shorter than Paula, red hair and a ball of fire.  She just kept looking at us, hugging us and crying.  We felt really loved and we love her.  All the Brazilians in the office area couldn't help but see all this and they thought it was great.  We plan on doing something with her before we go home.  We will take Shelley there to see her.  I am sure all our children remember Gisele and her boys, especially Vinicius who used to come play at our apartment.  We then spent a fortune (it was worth it one time) to eat at the Coco Bamboo restaurant, all seafood.  It was some of the very best food we have ever had.  Everything we ate was a shrimp dish and it was so good.

      I am finally over the pneumonia cough and have more energy.  My right foot still hurts a lot and I can't seem to figure out how to get better.  I went to an orthopedic surgeon and basically he told me, "Your foot is hurting,  You should see a doctor."  Uh, ok, I will try to do that since you aren't much of one.  Anyway, keep me in your prayers at it has been hard to walk on for three months.  Paula is feeling good although she has had some stomach issues since Manaus.  She has been better this week.  Please keep her in your prayers.  We miss you all and you are in our prayers.  We have less than 6 months left.

Love You All e um forte Abraco,

Elder Sonderegger

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Update from Mom - 10/30/16

Dear Family,

Well another week has passed.  Wednesday makes one year since we left on our mission!  I can't believe that it has been that long.  The time that we were home still counts towards our 18 months as we continued to work from home the whole time.  I'm kind of glad as I have been missing my family a lot lately.  I've really done quite well, I think as far as being homesick, but once in awhile it really hits me.  Still I haven't had too many tears, actually, hardly any until a few days ago when Emily texted me to tell me that she will be spending Christmas with Evan and McKenzie.  That brought on the tears and I was at the office and I tried to not show that my eyes were all welled up with tears.  Luckily, I'm kind of hidden behind my cubicle.  :)  I am really thankful to have such a wonderful family who looks after each other!  That goes for my extended family as well (brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins).  I love you all very much.

Last week we got to work on our Petrolina project.  There are a lot of details to work out.  On Wed. we had a conference call with the leaders up there and went over the basics of what was approved.  Dad and Julio are going to fly up there in a few weeks to go over everything with everybody involved and in great detail.  There isn't another project like this is the whole church and so it is going to be scrutinized very carefully by our office, the Area Presidency, and from headquarters in Salt Lake City and it will be monitored for the next two years, at least.  I sure hope that it will be a success.  We will be able to help get it started  and then someone else will have to finish up with it.

We had an interesting experience at church today in our little branch.  There wasn't any water in the building so they could only have Sacrament meeting.  We've been there three times now and this is the second time that there hasn't been any water!  Hopefully it won't happen so often in the future.  Everyone was happy to see us again.  Last week was Stake Conference so we stayed here and went to our Morumbi ward.  

You all know that one of our challenges here on our mission is staying busy.  It has been especially hard on Dad.  There aren't too many things that he has suggested to Fernando that has been accepted and that has been very difficult for him.  Well, today our lives got busier!  We have both been asked to serve in the Young Men/Young Women presidencies!  They are lacking leadership in those areas and the branch president is hoping that we can be an influence on the youth and their leaders to teach them how to live the gospel.  It will be especially challenging for me because of the language but I think I am getting a little better at that.  At least in my Duolingo I just made it to 20% fluent! (That is only after 1 1/2 years working on it almost everyday!)

Yesterday we had a fun day.  We went to Ibirapera Park (like the Central Park of Sao Paulo) and went to "The Art of the Brick" display.  It is art all made out of Legos.  It was really fascinating!  I have some pictures to share.  The artist is American and used to be a lawyer but wasn't happy.  He always wanted to be an artist and he loved playing with Legos so he switched professions and now he takes his display all over the world.  If it ever comes to an area near any of you, you should go and see it.  It was really neat.  We also went to see the monument dedicated to the war between the state of Sao Paulo and the country of Brazil, similar to our Civil War but not as long or as deadly.  It was very interesting.

I have been able to be a little busier at the office lately and that is nice.  I also love teaching my English class.  Last week I did my whole lesson on Halloween and I even wore a witches hat!  You see a little bit of Halloween decorations down here now.  By the way, Christmas decorations are going up like crazy now!  Anyway, back to my class.  I showed them a picture of Gary from the Zombie walk last year.  They really liked that!  I ended with showing them a video of the three witches from Macbeth and then we read that scene to give them reading and pronunciation practice.  I watched lots of videos of that scene and most of them were pretty bad.  I found one from the Royal Shakespeare Academy (England) that was superb!  The witches were just plain creepy, not at all like the witch on the Wizard of Oz.  You should watch it.  Ian McClellan (in his younger days) plays Macbeth.  He is Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings movies.  It was fun and I think that my class likes me.  I try to do a lot of speaking and pronunciation practice each week and one point of grammar or a spelling rule.

I hope that you all are doing well.  I have some of your names on the prayer roll down here.  Lynda and Don I sure hope that you can get your house sold soon.  Your names are on the prayer roll and you are in my prayers.  I love you all very much and pray for all each day, multiple times.  Have a good week.


1.  Lego cello
2.  Man in chair
3,  The swimmer
4.  Man and woman holding hands.  (and yours truly)
5.  Dedicated to Gary!

1.  Letting your inner self come out.  
2.  Jimi Hendrix  (dedicated to Lynn)
3.  Pele (dedicated to our soccer playing grandkids!)
4.  Mona Lisa.  It looks really cool from a distance.
5.  Playing area.  Some people never grow up.  :)
6.  Dedicated to Shelley  :)

1.  T-Rex made with over 80,000 Legos
2.  Obelisk monument of the war 

1.  Mosaic inside the tomb/monument.  There are three mosaics that liken the birth, crucifixion and resurrection of the Savior with the war.  I know that seems weird, but somehow it all made sense.
2.  2nd mosaic
3.  3rd mosaic
4.  The marble inside the tomb was from Italy.  It was beautiful,
5.  Looking down at kind of like their version of the unknown soldier.
6.  A close up of the obelisk.