Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Trip pictures

Here are some pictures of our trip.  Our plane from Porto Alegre to Santa Maria was small! The group of men on Dad's left were three bishops in the Cruz Alta Stake.  The man standing is Pres. Arides, a counselor in the Stake Presidency, and the other man I think is the Stake Young Men's President.  His wife passed away suddenly two weeks earlier.  The couple and lady with us is Pres. Arides mother and brother and sister-in-law.  His brother is the one who asked me lots of questions about my heritage.  The next picture is of the Arides family.  They were really nice and their kids are so cute!

Here are some pictures of Gramado and our tour there.  It was fun. 
 They have snowmen figures all over town. 
 Inside the chocolate museum they had these cute chairs. 
The Steam Museum-the train is a replica of a wreck in France
The displays were neat in the museum
The huge cathedral in Canela, near Gramado

The tram we rode to the Caracol Waterfall.  Notice the little snowmen on top.
Caracol Falls
Blowing glass demo
Hot furnace
Small world 
Black Lake

St. Gallen restaurant
typical stores in Gramado
Round a bout with Christmas decorations
"Gaucho"  I really did see several men dressed like this down there.  It is like a completely different world.
Porto Alegre Temple
The Alojamento where we stayed

Rio Grande do Sul trip - from Mom

Hi all,

I know that Dad wrote two long emails about our trip.  I will just add a few comments and some pictures.  First of all, many of the really neat experiences that he talked about with the members we visited mostly went over my head because of the language.  It's a good thing that he wrote about them so that I would know!  He told me some of the things but sometimes he forgets to translate as he gets caught up in the moment.  I'm glad that he has had some of these experiences.  I could tell that the members were very special people and I could understand quite a bit.  I just don't get everything.  It is kind of like if you only heard every 8th word of a conversation, you kind of know what is going on but you miss all of the connecting details.

It was very cold down there to say the least!  I got sick again maybe because I was so cold for three days.  By the time we got to Gramado I got warm as we had a heater in our room.  My feet were so cold on Sat. that I didn't know if I would ever get warm.  When I saw people wearing winter boots I was wishing that I had a pair down here!  I was warmer when we stayed in Cruz Alta with the Stake Presidents parents.  They had a big iron stove in their kitchen that they had turned on and that was very nice!

I could understand quite a bit of what they were saying.  When I couldn't quite make out the words I would just smile if they smiled, laugh when they laughed, etc.!  It is really hard for me down here because of the language barrier.  I thought that I would be fluent by now because I have been studying for a year and a half but I have a hard time to find native people to speak to.  I know that sounds strange, but where we work we don't have a ton of interaction with other Brazilians and then when I do try to speak with someone (and I do try to talk to someone most days) they want to practice their English!  Oh well.

Back to our trip.  We did two training meetings and we spoke in two sacrament meetings.  I have to read my talks but I hope that they get my message.  I have really grown to appreciate my ancestors while we have been down here.  I have shared their experiences many times while we've been here.  The people are really in awe when they learn that my ancestors joined the church in 1832.  President Arides brother was very intrigued and while we were having dinner he asked me tons of questions about my heritage.  It was neat.

Gramado was fun but I got sick on our first day there.  I got a bad sore throat and headache, etc.  We still had a good time.  It is an interesting place.  Sometimes I almost felt like we were in Jackson.  I was glad that we were able to attend the Porto Alegre Temple.  It is small but very beautiful.  One thing I wanted to do while we were down there is to find the Southern Cross constellation.  I went outside in the parking lot at the temple grounds just before we went to bed and was looking when I heard some noise.  I looked over by the garbage dumpster and there was a couple making out!  LOL!!

I hope you are all doing well.  We miss all of you very much and think about you often.  We would be very happy if we even heard from you!  :)  Thanks to those of you who have written to us and sent pictures.  We appreciate it a lot.

Love to all,

August 28, 2016 - from Dad (part 2)

Dear Family,

This is the rest of our Rio Grande do Sul trip.  On Monday we had another churrasco with President Peixoto and all his family at his parents home where we stayed.  Southern Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina know how to do meat.  If you want really good meet, come down here and we'll take you to a churrascaria.  If you can't come, go to Tucanos at the Gateway Mall in SLC or in Provo.  There is also a really good one in the City Creek Mall but super expensive.  Pres. Peixoto's father and brother took us back to the airport in Santa Maria.  It is a small airport with very few flights coming in, less than I.F.  But we did see some small fighter jets as the Brazilian Air Force share the airport with the city.  They were doing some training flights.  We got to Porto Alegre which is a big airport and our transportation to Gramado was waiting with a sign with our names.  We had to wait for another flight to land so those people could go with us.  By the time we got to Gramado, it was past 8:00 p.m.  We were supposed to go to the "Noite Italiana" to eat but nobody was there to pick us up.  I finally had the hotel get a hold of the tour agency and they sent a fellow right over.  He was about as personable as a fence post.  The restaurant was a block and a half away.  We could have just walked if anybody had let us know that.  Some times communication here is non-existent, but you get used to it.  The food was really good with several kinds of pasta including lasagna, also some roasted chicken and ribs that were great, fried polenta ( I love it, Paula hates it) and some great desserts.  I just had arroz doce (sweet rice) for dessert, kind of like rice pudding.  I could eat it all day.  Elder Mazzagardi's wife Elizabeth made some for me back in 2011 that was heavenly.  We got back to our room which was heated and with a comfortable bed and hot shower.

Gramado is like going to another planet.  You just wouldn't believe it.  All the buildings, businesses, homes are built with German architecture.  With lots of pine trees everywhere (even Idaho White Pine by the thousands were imported) and being up in the mountains around 3000 feet in elevation, we got a little homesick.  The pines were planted by the German immigrants to make Gramado as much like the Black Forest as possible.  The city didn't take off until the Germans arrived.  They had the know how and the persistence to stay there during the cold winters (snow occasionally).  The average high in June is 62 degrees and the low 45 degrees.  A humid 45 degrees really feels a lot colder.  There are about 600 hotels in Gramado and they are all really nice.  That's quite a few for a city of 31,000. There are also numerous restaurants of every kind with fondue places being very popular.  The shops are so numerous you couldn't get to all of them in a month.  Besides that, they are super expensive.  They have shops that you would find in the most expensive areas of New York, London, Paris and LA.  They were mostly way out of our price range, but it was fun to look.  There was one shop with dozens of imported cuckoo clocks from Germany, many hand carved and very expensive.   The Hotel Saint Andrews is a high luxury hotel at $900.00 a night.  The inside looks like a palace.  I posted a lot of Gramado pictures on Facebook that you may love to look at.

We had a great breakfast Tuesday morning.  I counted 67 choices.  The juices are wonderful, many kinds of breads and cakes and sausages, eggs, etc.  I am getting hungry thinking about it.  We then got on our tour bus and went sightseeing all day in the cities of Gramado and Canela.  We stopped at a nice little tourist trap and I bought me a nice leather coat.  I had to get the biggest size they had.  Mom got a few little Christmas things too.  We went to the Steam World where they had numerous exhibits of all kinds of full size to miniature size machinery run by steam.  It was really clever and very interesting.  We went to a chocolate store and yes, we indulged.  Chocolate stores every corner and in the middle.  Everything you could ever want.  We may retire here (ha ha).  We went to Canela and saw the cathedral there.  The tower is really tall, over 350 feet.  We went to the crystal factory and watched a demonstration of several men making things.  The oven they use is 1200 + degrees.  They were doing glass blowing which was fun to see.  Everything was off the charts as far as cost.  We went to Mini Mundo (Small World) where a German man began making all kinds of miniature exhibits of things like Neuschwanstein castle, the Ipiranga Museum in São Paulo, scenes from Germany and Switzerland,etc.  They are built to a 1:24 scale.  It was awesome to see.  Lots of moving trains and lots of sounds.  We went to see the Cascata Caracol (Snail Falls) and it was beautiful.  We went on the tram and that was fun.  The tram came from Switzerland.  We were with two newlywed couples in our car and we had fun talking.  Later, I gave one of the couples a pass along card about raising a family in today's world.  I hope they will call and get the book.  We went to the Black Lake which is a manmade lake and was gorgeous.  We walked around it.  There were people out peddling their swan and pirate boats and having a great time.  Families, young couples and old couples everywhere.  The Germans put a big curve in the lake so you can't see it all and it gives the impression that it is much bigger than it is.  We ate at a churrascaria for lunch and it was one of the best I have eaten at and was way cheaper, maybe because it was in Canela and not Gramado.  We went to a store that had all kinds of sausages, cheeses, wine and juices as well as beer and lots of kinds of jam.  There was so much more we could have seen like the Harley Davidson showroom and Snowland.  Maybe we will have to go again at Christmas.  That night we were supposed to go to Swiss night and we did, but we made a huge mistake.  Because we ate churrasco, by the time we got through a tiny bit of fondue - the first course, we were full and ready to leave.  We didn't even make the meat and dessert rounds.  We just couldn't do it.  I was embarrassed and assured the waiter it wasn't because we didn't like it.  That night, mom got eaten alive by mosquitoes that somehow invaded our room.  We swatted them several times in the night which didn't make for a very restful sleep.

Wednesday morning after breakfast we went with a fellow to see the Itaimbezinho canyon about two hours east of Gramado.  I had seen a picture of it 45 years ago in Brazil and thought it would be neat to go see.  We went because I had long forgotten about it but saw a picture, the same one, on the internet.  It was a gorgeous and deep canyon.  We had a little picnic and then headed for home.  The fellow who took us was blonde-haired and blue-eyed but was a descendant of Palestinians.  He said that he knew that many Indian tribes of the Americas originated from the people of Samaria.  I don't know how he knew that, but it was certainly interesting to us.  When we got to the hotel (Hotel Kaster), we took a walk downtown and window shopped.  We did stop in a gaúcho shop and we bought a leather tripod seat that is cool and wasn't overly costly.  The fellows in the shop had on their gaúcho gear and we got some pictures.  We then went across the street and decided to eat light, no meat, sick of meat.  We got a caesar salad and some split pea soup in a bread bowl.  It was nice to go meatless for a change.  In the morning, we played pool until it was time to go.  I left a Book of Mormon in the room and wrote a challenge in it to whoever finds it.  I did tell the two maids that they were welcome to take it as I was leaving it on purpose.  The people at the hotel really treated us well the whole time we were there.  Gramado is a really neat place and is worth it to go.

We got to Porto Alegre in the early afternoon and were dropped off at the airport.  So we had to get a taxi.  I talked to a fellow about taking us to the Mormon temple and he said he knew where it was because he lived not too far from there.  I told him that I needed him to pick us up again in the morning for our flight back to São Paulo.  He agreed to take us.  We had a real nice visit all the way to the temple.  Went by the Gremio stadium which seats around 50,000 soccer fans.  The temple is gorgeous and it was fun to come up the road and all of a sudden there it was.  We stayed at the alojamento (temple housing).  President Arides had arranged that for us.  We met his sister in the store (garments, church books, dvds, etc.).  We ate some pasteis in the kitchen and then hurried to get to the 4:30 session.  There were only seven in the session, but we enjoyed it very much.  We met the Mathis couple who serve in the temple.  They had us over for ice cream and cookies.  They talked a lot about the young missionaries who just expect the Church to pay their way, never giving saving for a mission a second thought.  That is what I see when I do the translations of the recommend forms.  Very few do anything to prepare financially.  As Elder Ballard said in 1998, " If I have a fear, it is that the principle of sacrifice may be slipping away from us.  If being a member of the Church becomes too easy, testimonies will become shallow, and the roots of testimony will not go down into the soil of faith as they did with our pioneer forefathers."  Mom has given quite a few talks about her ancestors and their sacrifices.  They had nothing when they came to Utah, but they got busy and worked to make their own way.  There wasn't a place to go ask for a freebie, they just worked.  Some day, I think the Church may have to cut the aid off and challenge the missionaries to forge their own path.  They would surely be better prepared missionaries.  I could talk about the things we see here, but now isn't the best time.  Our taxi driver came a few minutes early.  We got talking about the Church again.  He kept talking about the Mormons which led to an opportunity to tell him the full name of the Church and who Mormon was.  He got all excited and said, "So was he the one who put the record together.?"  I told him yes and placed a Book of Mormon on his front seat which I had already written in.  He was astounded that I had given him the book for free.  His comment was, "I am going to start reading it today.  I can read when I don't have people in my taxi."  Gave him a big abraço and hoping he will read and know that the Book of Mormon is true, every single verse, every single word.  I love having missionary experiences.  It is never, never, never scary to talk to people or give them a book or a card or an invite.  I do it every chance I get and I know it is what we need to do.  Had a great flight back to São Paulo and we are glad to be back to our little home away from home.  We love you all very much and pray the Lord's blessing to always be with each of you.

Love you all a bunch,


August 28, 2016 - from Dad (part 1)

Dear Family,

Hope you are all doing well.  Sorry to hear about all the forest fires and the smoke.  I hope they are soon over with.  We had a memorable trip to the state of Rio Grande do Sul, the southernmost state in Brazil.  We flew to Porto Alegre (2.5 million people) and then to Santa Maria, the closest airport to where we were going.  As usual I set off all the alarms, but at least I told security that was what would happen.  So now I get searched every time.  When we got to Santa Maria, Presidente Arides a counselor and Bishop Traje were there to pick us up.  They were so kind and did so much for us.  We talked for two hours on the way to the city of Cruz Alta.  It was like we had known each other forever.  Bishop Trage said, "We did.  In the preexistence".  We told stories and asked questions back and forth.  We passed lots of fields of oats which they trade back and forth with soy beans.  Brazil is one of the largest exporters of soy beans.  We saw many grain elevators but mostly they store oats and soy in them.  The landscape was full of Parana Pine trees and other pine trees.  It reminded us a little of southern Idaho with rolling hills and fields everywhere.  The difference was the occasional palm tree.  From Cruz Alta we traveled to the city of Ijui, a city of about 80,000.  It is a really peaceful place.  We stayed at the home of President Arides and his wife Rose.  They have four children, the oldest is a girl aged 14 and the baby boy is 11 months and cute as can be.  We have decided babies all cry the same.  They certainly don`t cry in Portuguese here, they just cry.  We had fun playing games with him.  They had a great big meal fixed for us.  Their house is big and really nice.  President Arides has a distributorship of furniture and travels all over Brasil.  He has worked really hard to get where he is at.  We came in his SUV.  I finally got to try what Shelley has been telling us, some mate which in Brasil is called chimarrao (pronounced She Ma Hone).  It is a green tea that everyone in the south drinks, Southern Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay.  I actually kind of liked it even though it seemed like I was sucking in a bale of hay.  It is incredible to see people walking everywhere with their cuia and bomba (a gourd and a silver drinking straw/tube).  President Arides passed his around the next day to the other bishops and that is what everybody does.  I asked him if they didn't get sick drinking from the same straw and he said that never happens.  Not sure if that is true or not.  Besides the gourd, they carry a thermos of very hot water and they drink all day long.  I don`t think I would like it that much.  We went to one of the bishop's little ranch/farm out in the beautiful countryside.  He had a nice garden and some animals, including chickens.  While we were there, we started brainstorming about possible projects for the stake.  We had an incredible conversation and you could feel the spirit.  Toward the end, I said, "Maybe the stake could set up their own booth at the outdoor market and sell some of the produce."  President Arides said, "I was just thinking the exact same thing."  It was a good experience to share our thoughts and learn from each other.  We went back and had lunch and then took a nap.  It had warmed up a lot during the day, in the low 70s.

At night around 6:00 p.m. we went to the chapel and got our power point all set up.  We were glad to have someone there from the stake who could help us do that.  Paula gave her talk which is about our experience with raising our fast offering when President Benson asked us to.  We didn't have the money, but we did it because we were asked to.  We raised by $5.00 which was a lot at that time with all our hospital bills from Lynn's surgeries and treatments.  A secretary in the accounting dept. at Primary Children's looked up our account and said "Oh, someone came in and ;paid one of the bills."  To this day I have no idea who did that, but it was a blessing.  A couple of weeks later, we got two checks we weren't expecting from our insurance that paid everything else off.  I know the Lord blessed us.  That was Paula's message which she gave all in Portuguese.  She does really well.  I had a couple of cordless microphones which I used to get the members to comment as we went through the power point rather than speak from the pulpit.  It worked really well.  My Portuguese was really good (it isn't always).  That may sound strange for someone who has been speaking it for 45 years, but some days your brain gets fried.  I know the Lord helped us as the message went over really well.  We had thought that it was to be just a leadership training, but all the wards in Ijui were invited, so we had a packed house.  Later, two sister missionaries gave us a little note thanking us for coming and for teaching the principle of the fast.  Later, I happened to turn that note over and in reality, it was an invitation on one side and their note on the other.  The invitation said, "On August 20th, the Sondereggers are coming to speak to us all the way from Sao Paulo, so don't forget.  You won't want to miss them."  Wow, we had no idea.  But we did get treated like celebrities and that is very humbling to say the least.  

On Sunday, we spoke in sacrament meeting in bishop Traje's ward.  He requested that I tell the story of President Monson and Lynn.  So I gave my talk with no notes.  After all the meetings, we met with sister Juliana, the whole reason for our trip in the first place.  She is the sister who has been living in extremely poor conditions, no toilet, no running water, leaky roof, no glass in the windows and on and on.  Her husband ran out on her because her daughter Ana has severe health issues and needs a lot of treatment and surgeries, so he took off.  She also has a litle boy. Bishop Traje said in an email to me, "Sister Juliana is a full tithe payer and she pays her fast offering every month."  That sealed the deal for us.  We knew we would make down there. The bishop and the priesthood quorums built her a very small house which had all the things she was not used to having.  We visited her there on Saturday.  The house is the size of a very small living room, but it is a mansion to her.  Her neighbors who are not members live in poor conditions, the worst we have ever seen.  We visited there also.  Bishop Traje is such a good man, he knew the names of every single one of those people even though they aren't members.  He treats everyone as if they were members in his ward.  I had told bishop Traje several months before that I would help out Juliana as the bishop said they were low on funds.  I told him we would make it down there even if we had to buy our own plane tickets.  Well, I eventually talked to our department head about doing a training down in Cruz Alta and he agreed to send us.  When Juliana came into the bishop's office with us and the bishop, we gave her a sack of candy for the kids and when I gave her the money, she began to weep and weep.  When she could finally talk, she said, "It seems iike every time I have some financial problems, the Lord blesses me in some way"   She had some unpaid bills she needed to take care of.  A humbling experience.  She later asked me to give a blessing to her daughter Ana, which president Arides and I did.  Once again this was a humbling experience.  Ana is kind of a naughty, pouty little girl, and she wasn't real happy.  I reminded myself to just let it go as who wouldn't feel that way as a 7 year old with such poor health and so many trials at such a young age.  Juliana cried all the way through the blessing.  After, I told her that often the blessing is just as much for the mother as the child receiving the blessing.  Juliana is an example of the Lord's promises to those who pay their tithes and offerings.  We wish we could help more people that we do as so many are in need.  She has never been one looking for a handout, but she was certainly in need and we saw it first hand.  I wish all my family could have been there at her home and at the church.  We said our goodbyes to bishop Traje.  It was very emotional.  I hope we see him again in our missionary efforts.  He is something else, a great man.

We had a churrasco at Pres. Arides parent's home and it was great.  We had already tasted his mother's cooking, a cake she had baked and it was awesome.  When we arrived, I told sister Alves that she was the queen of cakes and brother Alves that he was the king of churrasco.  Bother Alves turned to his wife and said, "He even knows all the right things to say in Portuguese."  We said our goodbyes and were off to Cruz Alta to speak in sacrament meeting there at 4:00 p.m.  We stopped along the way to finally meet the stake president, president Peixoto.  He is a highway patrolman and was on duty.  He talked to us and hugged us like we were his long lost family.  I asked him what caliber his pistol was and he said it was a .38.  Then, he took me back through their office area and showed me his .357mag pistol.  He was very proud of that.  When President Arides let us off at the chapel in Cruz Alta, as we were saying goodbye, he put his head on my shoulder and just cried.  He did not want us to leave.  He an his sweet family will forever be in our memories.  We love those people in Ijui.

We gave our sacrament talks and they went well.  We then had a 15 min. break and had some cake and tea (some herbal tea) and then it was time again for another training session.  I had been really worried about going south as I have been battling pneumonia and Paula has been sick as well.  I started feeling sick the first night and I told the Lord that we needed our full energy to do all the visits, talks and training sessions.  "Heavenly Father, we just need thy help or we won't be able to do this."  Well, it all worked out and we felt good those three days.  The chapel was clear full again.  We both felt that our training session was better than the night before.  I know without a doubt who it was that helped us make it through and teach the message we were sent to give.  When I challenged the members to raise their fast offering by 1 Real per month (about 30 cents), and talked to them about the law of sacrifice and how their offering would bless others, maybe even their own relatives, and that the Lord would bless them in ways they could not imagine, they began nodding their heads.  They did not take offense to the message, even in these hard times they are going through.  They realized just as the widow who gave her all, that the law of the fast is for everyone, rich or poor.  The Lord makes no distinction between an honest offering from the rich or the poor.  He showers His blessings upon his dilligent and faithful children.  My Portuguese was as good as it could be that night and I know the Lord helped the right words come into my mind.  The message came out the way it was supposed to.  I asked the Lord to give me the right words and He did.  A sister came up right after the closing prayer and told us that she and her husband had wanted to have children for many years but with no success.  Their hearts were broken.  I told her that there are many in the Church who don't have children, some times because they are single and some times because of other problems.  She didn't ask for a blessing, but she wanted us to know for some reason.  I assured her that we would put her name in the temple in Sao Paulo and that she would be in our prayers.

e had a wonderful time at the Peixoto family home.  They are an older couple who have been in the Church for many years.  We had a lot of fun visiting with them.  At one point, the name of president Brassanini came up.  They were dumbfounded when we told them he lived in our stake, in the same ward as Gary.  He has been a mission president and the Porto Alegre temple president.  Brother Peixoto said, "What a small world it is in the Church."  Brother Peixoto had a big Rottweiler dog, so we felt protected.  He is 72 and another brother who is 76 were helping me with our luggage.  They refused to let me or Paula lift anything.  That pretty much is a summary of how the members treated us.  I do hope we can go back some time and see them all again.  Such a great feeling of love in such a short period of time.  That is what the gospel of Jesus Christ does, it unites us.  One thing I mentioned in my talk was the idea that patriotism is really important and we should love our countries.  "But it doesn't matter tonight that I am an American and you are Brazilians.  What really matters tonight is that we are all sons and daughters of the living God who loves us.  The gospel of Jesus Christ turns us into one people, His people."

Love You All,


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Oh, we just went to the big deal.

Hi Everyone,

I guess it is high time that I wrote again.  The trouble is that we talk to all of our kids each week and sometimes more than once, and then I forget to write.  Well things are about the same for us as it has always been.  Very slow!  It is has been kind of discouraging for us the whole time we have been here.  We are still trying to get our Petrolina project up and running.  We had no idea that there were so many steps to follow.  One thing is that it wasn't made very clear to us, even from the MTC, what the guidelines were for starting projects.  What we have found is that the church will provide up to $100 per person for the project if it is an approved project.  Well the Petrolina project, as they presented it to us, was over $800 per person so obviously the church was never going to approve that!  

We have had to make some drastic cuts to the project, all of which the leaders are not very happy with as they were "promised" by a different missionary couple (Brazilians) basically the world.  We got stuck in the middle of it all and so now we are the bad guys.  We are hoping that they will be grateful for the things that the church will provide.  We haven't even dared to tell them all of the cuts that we've made, just given them a general idea.  We should know maybe next week if the Area Presidency will approve it or not.  We already have a preliminary approval from the church welfare office so hopefully the Area Presidency will give their okay.  We'll keep you posted on this saga.

We are starting another garden project in the Northeast.  A missionary couple from Nevada is up there and had contacted Fernando about a project so we are working with them.  They aren't really welfare missionaries but I think that they are self-reliant missionaries, which is pretty close.  Anyway, with this project we are following all of the right steps and in the right order!  You can't believe how much quicker this one is moving along!  It does help that it is a small project as far as money is concerned, but nevertheless, it will be approved next week!  We won't have to go up there as this couple will take care of everything.

We have two new couples serving with us, replacing some of the couples who have finished their missions.  The new people are really nice.  We will be getting one more couple this month and then we will loose the Hales at the first of Sept.  We are sad about that.  They are really neat people and we really do love them a lot.  It is just a constant turn around here.  We go for a few months intact and then someone goes home and someone new comes along.  We really like all of the new people.  

We go on outings with all the missionaries and it is fun.  This morning we went to a "feira" which is a farmer's market.  It was fun and we bought some fruit, some exotic.  I have attached some pictures of some of the fruit and the area we were in.  The apple-type fruit is actually cashew.  You can see why the nuts are so expensive,  only one per fruit.  We bought some star fruit.  We had some a while back but I don't think it was ripe enough.  I'll let you know how this tastes.  There are lots of strange looking fruits and vegetables down here that we have never seen or heard of before.  Some of them are very good.  I haven't dared to try them all.  :) 

Our outing last week was really fun.  WE WENT TO THE OLYMPICS!!!!  We really did!  There was a soccer venue here in Sao Paulo and we were able to get tickets for everyone plus the new mission president and his wife and daughter (Ellen Mathias from the Playmill with me!).  We had a blast.  I don't know anything about soccer but it was fun just being there.  We saw Canada vs. Zimbabwe (Canada won) and then Germany vs. Australia (tie).  It was the first round women's tournament.  Who knows, one of those teams could be the gold medalist!  Germany was ranked 2nd behind the US and now the US is out.  Our seats were on the first row on about the 20 yard line.  It was awesome!!

Next week we are going down to the south to do some training about fast offerings and look for another project.  We were supposed to go in June but Dad got sick and we had to reschedule.  The trouble is, is that Dad has been sick ever since.  He actually got pneumonia and has been down for a good two weeks.  (He went to the Olympics anyway but that kind of set him back.)  He is starting to feel better now but gets very tired easily.  

Anyway, back to our trip to the south.  We are going to stay down there for a few extra days and do some sightseeing.  We will go to the Porto Alegre Temple one evening and we are going up to a little German city called, Gramado.  The other missionaries went there last December but we weren't able to go as we had just barely gotten here.  It will be fun, but it will be a little chilly.  They are still in winter down here.  It will be nice to breathe some clean air for a change.

We are going to do another fun thing next month.  The Burkes, Sister Cox, and us are going to Manaus to visit the Amazon!  We got permission from the Area President's office so we have booked our trip.  It should be a lot of fun.  We will do a city tour one day and then a 3-day tour of the jungle and the rivers. We will also be able to attend the Manaus Temple while we are there.   I'll be sure to send some pictures when we get home.

Well I hope that everyone is doing well.  We think about all of you often and miss you all very much.  Any of you thinking about visiting Brazil?  It is a very neat country!  We love you!

Mom and Dad/Paula and Ferron