Friday, January 20, 2017

Words of counsel

To the Most Wonderful Family in the Whole World!!

This letter will be a little different than my other letters.  Dad and I have been concerned about the state of the world around us, especially in the church, and we would like to share our ideas with you.

We have been concerned about different people we know who have left the church.  Some make a wrong choice (like Word of Wisdom, morality, etc.) and feel embarrassed to go to church and then just get out of the habit.  Others start questioning the doctrine and go to sources outside of the church much of which has been written by former members.  They then try to convince others of their newfound belief or unbelief.  This latter group is what concerns us the most.

There isn't anything good that can come from reading anti-Mormon literature.  It only plants seeds of doubt and I think that it comes directly from Satan.  It doesn't make any sense to us when someone has a question that they read that stuff instead of the scriptures.  You can find the answers to just about every question in the scriptures.  There isn't any need to go searching elsewhere.  Please stay away from it just as you would tobacco, alcohol or drugs.  It can be just as harmful to you, maybe even more so.

Jacob referred to people who "sought for things that they could not understand" as "looking beyond the mark."  Emily and I were talking on Sunday about global warming and as I was telling her some facts and figures from a paper I was reading she said, "Mom, you can find anything on the internet to back up your opinion so it is hard to know what is really truth." (Or she said something like that.)  That is really true.  One thing for certain is this:  The scriptures don't change and they are true!

I think that Mosiah chapter 4 is really powerful.  I really like verse 9 which starts out, "Believe in God..."  That is a phrase that Grandpa Sonderegger called a "three-word sermon."  The rest of that verse is powerful as well as verses 10, 19, 20, and 30.  Verse 30 is especially powerful.  I hope that you will read them.  
Dad and I don't want to lose any of our family.  Grandma Benson said to me one time many years ago, "You have to be on your guard 24 hours a day."  That is really true.  I hope that you don't mind this letter but as we see more and more people leaving the church, and people we know, we felt like we needed to warn our family.  We love you all very much.

Mom and Dad

Brazil with Shelley (Dad)

Dear Family,

     Seems like I wrote yesterday but it has been 2 and 1/2 weeks ago.  We picked Shelley up on Wed, Dec. 21st at the Guarulhos International Airport.  It is 30+ miles from where we live.  I hadn`t driven to the airport yet, so it was an experience.  Going down Avenida Francisco Morato was no big deal, it was crossing the Pinheiros river.  Just before you get to the bridge, you have 3 choices, a bridge on the left, one in the middle (which you can't see until it's too late) and a right on to the Marginal Pinheiros highway going south.  So at the bottom, our three lanes became 8 lanes with nobody in any particular order or line.  It reminds me of Black Friday at WalMart, each one to their self.  So I wedged in, got across the bridge and made an immediate right turn to get on the Marginal.  Then it was just a matter of following the signs and GPS to the airport.  Shelley came into Terminal 3 on United.  We got there early as we made good time and the traffic wasn't horrible like it usually is.  We were sure happy when Shelley came out of customs (alfandega) and she was glad to see us.  I didn't realize leaving the parking garage that you needed to validate your card (actually, I found out later I didn't need to) so we had to have someone clear the barrier gate for us to get out, go back around and pay (again).  Driving is a chore, but not as dangerous as you would think as it gets jamm
ed up so you really are never going really fast.  I ended up doing more driving while Shelley was here than I have in the previous six months.  We took Shelley to meet a lot of people at the office and then we went to the Ferreira Stake building for a Christmas party for the Brazil Sao Paulo West missionaries.  We had some entertainment and some good food.  Shelley met a sister from Uruguay who is serving here, so that was a lot of fun for her to speak Spanish.  

     Thursday:  Took Shelley on the Metro to the Pinacoteca Museum (Brazilian Art and fabulous).  It is the 19th ranked art museum in the world.  Shelley really enjoyed that.  There is a lot of Brazilian History in the art so that made it interesting.  We walked through a beautiful park across the street from Estacao da Luz (train station I traveled to many times).  We are having a turn of the century (19 to 20) painting done of the train station.  We walked through that so Shelley could see it.  It is a beautiful old building that has been restored.  Then we went on the Metro to MASP, another huge art museum on avenida Paulista.  There are paintings from Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir, Picasso and many others.  Shelley liked seeing all of those, but I was surprised that she knew numerous painters and their style of art, so she enjoyed it more than I did.  We ate in the restaurant in the basement of MASP which is really, really good food.  There was an exibit of art and photos of Sao Paulo on that same floor and many were of the time when I served here, during the military dictatorship.  It was a great day.  Elder and Sister Harris were also with us and that was great.  

    Friday:  A lady named Nilza who lives here at Vertentes took us on a city tour for almost 5 hours and only charged us for free.  I had seen most of it but Paula and Shelley hadn't.  I still enjoyed it a lot.  We went to the Itaim Bibi/Jardins area, the rich area of the city.  We went to a hotel that looks like a boat.  It is really nice inside and costs a lot to stay there.  The view of the Jardins neighborhood was spectacular.  We stopped at Praca da Se and went into the huge cathedral there.  It looked like they had refurbished it since I was last there.  We were also right at the center point of the city and one of the most dangerous areas for tourist to go to.  You have to be on your guard and not look like a tourist.  It was daytime which is much safer.  Nilza pointed out many buildings to us and their history.  It was really interesting.  She dropped us off at the Mercado Municipal which is a huge market in the centro.  You can't believe all the small stores inside the building and everything being sold.  It kind of made me think of Christ in the temple.  It was really crazy in there with wall to wall people.  We each got a huge pastel (pie with meat, cheese, etc. inside).  Shelley and Mom couldn't finish their's.  Mine was shrimp and was really good.  Then we just headed back.  We went down through one area which is nothing but fancy stores for the elite and wen went by the Lambourghini (sp?) as numerous othe' went r car lots of the expensive brands.  It was a good day.

Saturday:  We went out to Embu das Artes so Shelley could get some things.  Only about half the shops were open because of the 24th, but there was plenty to choose from.  Shelley got some really things that she will enjoy as well as others.  Harris' went with us which was fun.  We drove and we park at the same lot as it is close to Embu and is in an area where you can get back to SP easily.  We checked on our painting and it will be ready.  We always visit with the owner, Osmar, a really great guy.  He calls me Sonderegger and recognizes my voice every time so we have a good friendship.  He loves the missionaries and not just because we are purchasing things.  He gives us a 20% discount on anything.  When we got back to the apartment, shortly thereafter, we got a visit form SueEllen Yamaguchi, our Portuguese teacher from the MTC.  She married a fellow who we had met before.  Her father came also.  He was the last of his family to join the Church and was very opposed to his family joining.  The missionaries ended up staying in an apartment at his home as long as they kept quiet about the Church, but once the right missionary showed up, that elder had a way to open the father's heart and he was baptized.  Before that he would on Sunday ask the family to go fishing with home but they always went to church instead.  He is now the stake patriarch.  They sang us a Christmas card, singing two songs.  SueEllen the first and her father the second.  We've never had a Christmas card like that.  SueEllen has a professional voice and has performed and has won in voice competitions.  Her father sang beautifully also.  It was very touching and very special and very unexpected.  After that we drove to McAllisters for our Christmas Eve dinner which was beyond wonderful.  Brother Passey found some hams that reminded us of home.  It was great.  After, we sat around and brother McAllister who is here in Brazil for 4 years with the legal dept. of the Church, led a discussion on the Christmas story in Matthew and Luke and It was awesome all the different insights that were brought up.  I want to do that for next Christmas.

Sunday:  We went to Ibiuna.  Shelley played the organ for sacrament meeting as well as accompanying the youth and Paula and I in singing Away in a Manger in Portuguese.  It went well.  There were only 25 in attendance and they were the regulars.  We had a small Christmas gift for each of them (Tabernacle Choir Christmas DVD) and they were pleased  We went back home and had our Christmas which was much better than last year.  Shelley was here and we had some presents to open which was nice.  Thanks for all the kindness and the candy.  It was fun for all three of us.  It was great to call and talk to everyone and see the excitement of the grandchildren.  There is nothing quite like Christmas.  It just baffles me how many people in the USA get so offended over Christmas.  I can't understand the logic.  Christmas is because of Jesus Christ.  That is why we have it.  You can't take Christ our of Christmas.  He is the gift and always will be.  I sometimes think that most people don't really get what the atonement is and the gift of being resurrected both physically and spiritually if we choose to do so.

      Monday:  We left for Foz do Iguacu (Iguacu Falls) today.  We arrived the early afternoon.  Very hot and muggy.  We had a fellow waiting for us to drive us to our hotel holding up a card that said, "Ferron Sonderegg".  Not too bad compared to some.  Our hotel was clean and had air conditioning.  It wasn't fancy but all our tours were done through them and it made it real easy.  We hadn't planned to, but we went the Three Frontiers (Tres Fonteiras) where the Iguacu and Parana rivers meet.  Paraguay is on one side, Argentina another and Brazil the other.  They had that area fixed up really nice on the Brazilian side.  Paula and I had seen it from the Argentina side in 1993.  Then we went back and walked up to the White Buffalo Churrascaria.  It was just ok, nothing special and somewhat of a disappointment.   Half the meat was too tough to eat, but glad that some was good.  We just kep ordering what was good.

     Tuesday:  Today we went to the Brazilian side of the falls.  When our driver let us off at the main entrance to Iguaçu Park, there were thousands of people there.  I couldn't help but think, "Why was I so blessed to grow up in the gospel.?"  The line to get in went forever with hundreds and hundreds of people.  I walked over to a park security guard and asked if there was a line for people over age 60 (A fila prerferencial).  He pointed to a place and said, "Right over there", and then looked at me and said, "Elder, Elder," and then "Elder" with a big smile.  I had at first thought he was just reading my name tag but then he said, "I'm a member."  He was really nice and even came and visited with us when we came back.  Instant friend.  A Brazilian couple who we had never met before went to the line with us.  They are Adriano and Andrea Rodrigues from São Paulo (Ipiranga Area).  They became friends and watched out for us the whole trip.  More about them later.  We did a lot of walking on a path and could see the many, many individual falls (275 of them).  You get a pretty good perspective of the falls from the Brazilian side but not up close.  A small part of the falls are on the Brazilian side.  We walked out onto a very crowed walkway that went clear out to where you can see the main falls, The Devil's Throat.   We got soaked from the water blowing toward us as the falls kind of creates its own wind.  It was a blast.  Had to push, pull and elbow to get to the end and then to come back.  It was just gorgeous standing out there and feeling the power of the falls.  There was a bird sitting on a rock by the falls, soaked, and was still there an hour later but seemed fine.  I guess he was enjoying the scenery or fishing.   The elevator to go back up to the top had an eternal waiting line so we just climbed all the stairs, quite a workout.  Saw a big black and white spotted lizard walking around the grounds looking for tourist food.  We went back on the bus and ended up waiting a long time for our driver to come get us.  Adriano got a migraine and Mom had some ibuprofen and we gave him some for which he was grateful.  I think part of the problem was he got dehydrated.  When we got back to the hotel we found a little Chinese place and ate there.  It was pretty good and a ton of food which we couldn't eat it all.

Wednesday:  Today we bused out to the Itaipú Dam, the second largest hydroelectric plant in terms of electricity produced in the whole world.  It supplies 80% of Paraguay's electricity and 15% of Brazil's, so it is really important.  We drive around the bottom of the dam and then across it.  HUGE!!!  I had a great conversation with a Brazilian fellow who was 74 years old.  We talked about a lot of things and after we had talked a while he looked at me and said, "You were born in Brazil, right?"  He must have had a little doubt and I let him know I was from the USA.  He wondered why I spoke Portuguese and so that really opened up the conversation, it always does.  We stopped at a viewing area and then as we got back on the bus, a young boy about 14 all of a sudden passed out and had a seizure.  It was scary, but there were medical people there to handle it.  He was so pale and couldn't stand up.  He started looking better after he drank something and then he went in an ambulance to get checked out.

     After that we went to the "Bird Park" and it was awesome.  We saw every kind of bird there that you can imagine.  I am really glad we took the time to go.  We went into a huge and tall cage with dozens of Araras (Macaws).  There were three different kinds, the reds, navy blues and the turquoise.  The purpose of going in was to hear all the noise they can make and they did not disappoint.  What a racket they made.  One flew down and to the other side and about knocked my hat off.  The flamingos were really funny.  They stand in all sorts of strange positions on one let or even with their legs bent and kneeling.  There was a long mirror on one end of their open living area and many of them were enjoying looking at themselves in that mirror.  Really funny.  We saw some South American owls, buzzards and eagles and falcons.  There were just too many different species to list them all or even remember them.  

     Then we went to the Argentine side of the falls.  We had to make a big loop, cross a huge river and then the driver collected our passports and took them in for approval.  We were approved.  We got to the parking lot and then walked a mile to start down through the jungle to the river sitting on benches in an open truck bed.  The jungle is so thick you can't see in very far.  We reached our destination and then started down to the river boats.  At the last minute we decided to go on the river boat up to the falls.  So glad we did.  It was a huge boat with probably 30 people in it.  We motored up the Iguaçu River and then over to one side of the falls.  We got really wet and then the boat turned around and did it again and we were soaked to the bone.  Everybody laughing and screaming.  It was fun.  Then, the boat went back and around to a larger part of the falls and I don't know what is more than soaked, but that is what we got.  We may as well have jumped into the river.  We loved it and were glad we chose to do the boat ride.  We docked and started up the trail/stairs to the top.  Parts of the falls are so beautiful with lush vegetation everywhere.  If I ever could imagine what the Garden of Eden was like, that would be it.  The plants were so green and blended with the rushing waters of the falls.  We then took a very long walk on a walkway across the river and over some small islands and to the brink of the Devil't Throat.  That is the main falls and wow, there is so much water coming over.  You are standing right on the edge of it all getting soaked (again) and loving it.  The sound of the falls is so loud and you can feel its power under your feet.  We stayed for a while as we will never get back.  Shelley took tons of pictures and she stayed out by the edge even longer than we did.  While we waited on a bench close to the falls, two fellows came up and asked me if I was a BYU football fan (Had my Y hat on).  I said yes and we visited with them a while.  They are students at BYU and served their mission together in Argentina a couple of years ago and decided to come back for a visit.  Funny how many people you meet in far away places.  We got something to eat, using our pesos and then waited for a little train that took us back to the beginning.  It was a wonderful day.  Shelley got so sunburned that we went to a Farmácia and got her something for relief.  Mom got sunburned but not as bad and I did but no pain, just burned a little.  We ate at a little our of the way cafe and had Lasagna.  The guy sitting across from us was from Switzerland (Zobrist was his last name) and knew exactly where all the Sondereggers were from.  We had a nice visit.

Thursday:  I was indisposed today, not feeling so great so I didn't go with Mom and Shelley.  They went to a beautiful Mosque and the Buddhist Temple.  Then we took off for the airport.  I got frisked again as always because of all my body metal (hip, neck, back, shoulder).  Sets off the alarm every time now.  I have the frisking routine down pat.  Got back to São Paulo, hailed a taxi and headed to home sweet home.  Nice to go but nice to be back too.

      That was our trip and we had a great time seeing one of Nature's Seven Wonders of the World, Iguaçu Falls.  Never seen so much water except in the Amazons.  I was able to write our appreciation to Adriano and Andrea in a hardback copy of the Book of Mormon that I had with me.  They were really happy and we had a big hug.  We plan on getting together with them here in SP.  Really sweet people.  We don't always have a spiritual experience on a daily basis because we do a lot of work that isn't all that exciting, but it is work that still needs to be done.  When we do get chances to talk about the gospel, we always do, always.  Funny how I can talk to anyone here about the gospel.  It is easier in Portuguese than in English for some reason.  I guess the people are just more open here.  I don't really know.  

Love You All, 


Happy New Year from Mom

Dear family,

It has been a while since I last wrote.  Sorry about that.  I'm afraid that today I am going to overload you all with pictures!  Sorry about that as well.  As you know Shelley was able to come and spend Christmas and New Year's with us.  That was a wonderful treat.  We had a great time.  We were sorry to see her off at the airport on Tuesday night but it won't be long until we will be home again.

Right now our work is very slow as it is vacation time for a lot of people, including Fernando, so it is pretty quiet around the office.  Brazil has a law that you have to take your vacation time all at once.  Fernando won't be in the office for the entire month of January so we will have to really scrounge around to try to find something to do.  Luckily Dad has his missionary recommendation translations and I am helping with the family history reports.

We had a really good time with Shelley taking her around Sao Paulo and then to Iguacu Falls.  It is reported that when Eleanor Roosevelt saw Iguacu Falls she said, "Oh poor Niagara!"  It has recently been added to the Natural Wonders of the world list.  It is really beautiful.  There are either 275 or 276 individual falls that make it up.  Shelley said that to really see the falls you have to see it from the Brazil side as most of the falls are in Argentina.  But to experience it you have to be on the Argentina side and go on the boat ride.  They said that we would get wet and I don't think we would have been any wetter if we had gone and jumped into a swimming pool fully dressed!  It did feel good though as it was about 93* and with the humidity it felt hotter.  Dad's levis didn't ever dry out completely that day!

I hope that all of you are well and I hope that you will all have a very happy new year and be able to achieve your desires.  I am going to send a bunch of pics and it will have to be in several emails.  I hope you don't mind but I wanted to share some of this with you.


1.  at the Pinacotec museum
2.  I didn't know that Jakob had his picture displayed in Brazil!
3.  The Luz train station
4.  Jaca fruit (Jack fruit in Hawaii)  It can weigh up to 70 lbs.
5.  The oldest park in Sao Paulo
6.  These plants grow wild down here and get huge.  We use them as house plants back home.


1.  The Unique Hotel in Sao Paulo.  It is shaped like a boat.  Kind of reminds us of home.  :)
2.  The three frontiers where the Iguacu and Parana Rivers come together.  On the left is looking at Argentina; on the right is looking at Paraguay.
3.  The Paraguayan side.
4.  The Argentine side.
5.  The Brazil side.

From the Brazil side looking to the Argentine side.  Most of the falls are on the Argentina side but you have to see it from the Brazil side.​

​This is the Brazil side of the Devil's Throat.

This is the Devil's Throat from the Argentina side.

Devil's Throat.  It is amazing!​

1 & 2.  The Itaipu Dam.  The second largest dam in the world.  It is made of cement, boulders and dirt.  The reservoir holds enough water that every person on earth could have 4,000 liters!
3.  A Toucan at the bird park.  It just flew right behind Shelley.
4.  Interesting tree at the bird park.
5.  At the beginning of the falls.
6.  Another look.

1. You get wet on the boardwalk!
2.  On the Argentine side heading down to the river for the boat ride.
3.  View from the boat.
4.  We saw lots of these lizards around!

1.  The last thing we did at Iguacu was see the Mosque.  Sadly, they had a funeral earlier that day and we saw the family come out very shook up.  
2.  Shelley had a friend!  It had it's tongue or whatever it is, out and went clear up her leg.  She must have tasted sweet!

1,2  Do you all remember this place?  It is in Rio Claro at Valter Luna's house.  Remember when we were eating watermelon here?
3.  Dad with Valter and Marta
4, 5.  Vampire chair at the Unique Hotel library
6.  Dad and Shelley on balcony of Unique Hotel looking towards Ave. Paulista.

1.  I love all of the Nativity displays down here.  You see them all over and not just in churches.
2.  Cathedral Se in the center of the city.
3.  This restaurant was built around this tree!
4.  This cathedral is very popular for weddings here.  Almost all of the celebrities get married here.  There is a two year waiting list and it is very expensive.  The altar is made of partial gold or gold leaf.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Another week gone by...

Dear Family,

     We hope this Christmas Season finds all of you doing well.  We hope that we will always have the right to celebrate Christmas as a sacred and holy reminder of the Savior Jesus Christ, his teachings and his example as well as the glorious day when He will come again.  We look forward to that time when peace will once again reign upon the earth.  That is certainly something worth fighting for.

      Junior and Adriana Mazzagardi have been called as mission presidents and will begin serving the first of July.  He sent me a message just as soon as President Eyring told him that it was all right to let people know.  He received the call from Elder Anderson.  They will do such a great work.  They have had many trials in their lives and they are prepared to help others with different challenges and troubles.  They lost twin girls and at the same time Adriana was fighting throat and tongue cancer, something only old men who chew and smoke get.  The stories of her recovery and healing are too long to relate, but I can tell you this, she is a living miracle as nobody survives what she went through.  She is missing part of her tongue but she speaks just fine.  In 2011 when I went to see her treatment center that she runs using horses as the medicine for kids with a variety of challenges, she said, "Look Ferron, my tongue is growing back and tongues aren't supposed to do that."  Yes she is a living miracle and now we know why.  They will be tremendous.  Adriana's mother was kidnapped in the city of Jundiai a few weeks ago.  The people drugged her and then coaxed her into giving them R%5000.00 (about 1500 dollars).  They then left her on her doorstep thank goodness.  She was moved a short time after to live in the USA (Utah).  She has six children living there, so she will be in good hands.

     We have had good experiences working here in the temple.  Our session leader, brother Luz is just a young man.  I have all the respect in the world for him he is such a kind and Christlike fellow.  He was a little concerned about putting me on a session and I assured him that I was just fine and not to worry.  The session went really well.  At the end, I was changing back and forth from Portuguese to English and back and it wasn`t easy, but I didn`t make any mistakes.  Lots of American missionaries from the MTC in that session.  

     We went to a movie at the Shopping Center 3 on avenida Paulista.  For the first time in a while a few more couples went.  We saw the movie "The Arrival" and it was pretty good.  There is a Mrs. Cheneys Cookies in the mall and we usually get a cookie but they loose a little from what we traditionally enjoy.  But not too bad.   We had a strange thing happen on the bus on the way home.  Only sister Cox, Paula and I were on it.  A really strange fellow got on and he was wild-eyed and just roaming all over and doing strange things.  Everybody had their eye on him.  He didn't pay but nobody said a word as I think they were in no way going to say anything to him.  He parked himself right in front of Paula and I less than arms length, but he never looked at us or said anythiing.  I was all geared up to do a body slam and that is the truth.  In no way was he going to touch Paula or sister Cox.  He finally got off at avenida Brasil and ran out in front of traffic and then to a garbage bin where he began to scream and throw garbage everywhere.  Everyone was relieved that he got off.  It was a little scary.  There was a lady with a cane, poorly dressed and a sad look about her sitting by sister Cox.  She had a bandage around her arm and had obviously just been to the dr.  Sister Cox said a few words to her and the lady smiled back.  The rest of the way, she had such a sweet look about her kind of like she was really happy that someone (sister Cox) had spoken to her.  As we got up to get off, I reached into my pocket and took out all I had which was only about $R 40.00 (12.00 dollars about) and I wish I would have had more.  I just tapped her on the shoulder, took her hand and she could tell there was some money there.  She gave me the happiest look.  She had never asked for anything, but I felt it was the right thing at that moment.  I said to her, "Se eu tivesse mais, eu daria," which means "If I had more, I would give it to you."  It was just a good feeling and I know it didn't solve her situation, but for one night, she knew somebody cared.  We have had those experiences often.  It reminds me of what king Benjamin teaches us about the poor.

     We sure love Elder and Sister Harris.  They are the most positive, fun and outgoing people.  We love to do things with them.  Elder Harris and I went to LeRoy Merlin's (like Home Depot) to buy some plantar supports for sister Manetta.  I thought he might want to get out of the office and he did.  We had a nice visit.  Vitor Souza said he would go put the supports on the planter as he has some tools and I don't.  

      Our Christmas devotional was wonderful.  A man and woman did two musical numbers (Christmas music) on the harp and flute.  It was beautiful.  Elder Costa spoke to us and one thing that really stuck out to me was how many times he said the words, "Follow the words of the prophets and apostles."  We had lots of good things to eat after.  I imagine there were 200 people there, all who work in the Church offices here.  Brother and Sister Schioser were Santa and Mrs. Claus.  I reminded them that since they live in our building, that they needed to leave a few extra presents.  They had decorated everything really Christmasy and it was nice with Christmas music playing the whole time.

    I had an MRI on my foot which continues to swell up and be difficult to walk on.  I took the results to an orthopedic surgeon.  He said that since I have such a huge bunion on my right foot that it has mis-aligned the bones in my foot.  There is also a tear in the plantar plate tendon.  He knew right where I would hurt after seeing the MRI and he knew what would hurt.  He recommended that I try some orthotics made to fit my foot problems.  So I went to a place called Pes Sem Dor (Feet without pain).  They have state of the art equipment to measure every possible problem in your feet.  I was really impressed with the fellow who worked with me.  He showed me the pressure points on my feet where he had taken readings and how they compared to normal.  They were clear off the charts for being abnormal.  But, I think and he thinks that the orthotics will make a huge difference.  I said to him, "You like doing this kind of work don't you."  He replied, "I do as I get a lot of joy out of seeing people get rid of their pain."  I should get them next week.  They are made to fit in Sao Bernardo do Campo by a computerized machine that does the tooling of the orthotic.  Julio Sales Souza took me there and so I took him out to dinner afterword.  We spoke Portuguese on the way over and English on the way back.  He likes to practice.

      We had one of our most cherished weekends last Saturday and Sunday when we drove out to the city of Rio Claro, about three hours away.  We stayed at the home of Valter and Marta Luna.  I taught and baptized Valter in 1972.  The way he has lived his life has brought me a lot of happiness.  He has been a bishop in three different wards and is a counselor for the second time in a stake presidency.  He has worked for CorningWare of Brazil since age 21.  He just worked himself up in the company and has done will.  He once told me he has even been to a BYU football game (Well that makes him official doesn't it?).  When he was in college he attended a class in which a student began degrading the Church.  Valter stood up and said, "I am a Mormon so be careful what you say as I know what is the truth and what isn't"  The fellow sat down and Valter had the respect of his classmates from then on.  We went around seeing a few places I had known on my mission.  Saw the old building we rented for a chapel.  Now there is a large new chapel on the other side of that building.  The old train station which no longer functions was a great memory.  I left there many times to go into Campinas or SP.  Once we got up late and the train was leaving at 6:00 a.m.  We couldn't get there on our bikes as there was nowhere to leave them, so we ran and I kept saying, "Hurry up elder."  We bought our tickets as the train pulled out and we jumped onto a moving train without getting hurt (don't try that ever).  Another time the train was so full we had only the area between where the cars hooked together to sit on.  There was a little floor, just enough for 4 missionaries to lay on and we were so tired we went to sleep (The train jolting us awake every 3-4 minutes).   The best was to stop by sister Neide dos Santos, now 86 years old.  She is the sweetest lady and has always been.  She used to make the most wonderful cakes and always had some for the elders.  Once when I had a terrible high fever, I stayed at her home during the day and she took care of me.  She was so kind and treated me like a son.  You couldn't do that now in the world we live in, but you could then and I so appreciated her kindness to me.  It was great to give her a giant hug and tell her how much I love her.  She uses a walker, but is in good health.  So great to see her.

      That night after we ate three kinds of pizza, we just sat around and had a good visit.  Paula asked Marta, "So what made you decide to stay active in the Church and not fall away like so many?"  Marta said it was because she had a testimony and because of Valter.  Paula then turned and asked Valter the same question.  With tears in his eyes (and mine too), he said, "I can explain that easily.  A young missionary named Ferron Sonderegger came to my home and taught me the gospel and I have known it was true ever since."  It was a very special and unexpected moment.  Valter is such a good man.  He was just 11 years at the time.  We were having no success and I told my companion, "Well, let's go do a little tracting."  That never works, but within a couple of homes it did.  Sister Rita Luna invited us in and we taught them the first discussion and they accepted it.  Later, Valter's father Valter took the discussions.  He did not join the Church until many years later.  Valter Sr. and Rita passed away this past year within 9 months of each other.  Rita had Alzheimers the last year.  They were great people.  Their passing has been hard on Valter and Marta and their family.  They have three children, Danilo works for some big company in Switzerland and he lives there with his family.  Liliana lives in Curitiba with her family.  Leandro lives in Rio Claro where he is a personal trainer with 500+ clients.  They have the cutest little boy, Thomas who we got to know.  I remember in 1996 when I rode to Rio Claro with Valter from Campinas and I had Liliana on my lap.  She was just little.  I was teary-eyed the whole way just thinking about the family and how special it was to have Valter's little girl sitting there with me.  We skyped with all three of them on Sunday and Liliana told me she remembered that time.  Liliana had a very special sacred experience with her grandparents after they passed away. They are all married in the temple.  

     On Sunday, we went to the stake center for the Brazil Multi-Stake Conference (all of Brazil was tuned in).  Valter gave a short talk and then the meeting began.  Sister Cardon (the daughter of Elder Harold Hillam) spoke and she did it all in Portuguese and very good Portuguese.  Elder Costa, an area authority Seventy from Argentina spoke also and his Portuguese was really good with a little Spanish thrown in.  I think he was a hit with the members as he said many sweet things about the Brazilian members.  Elder Costa, The Brazil Area President then spoke from our chapel across the street here in SP.  He is such a wonderful man.  Then it was Elder Holland's turn.  He had been in Brazil a few months ago and admittedly said he didn't speak Portuguese except a word or two.  Well, he gave the first part of his talk in Portuguese and it wasn't easy for him but he did it without any notes.  He bore a powerful testimony of the Savior and gave the last part of his testimony, mostly in Portunol, a language which Shelley, Brandi and McKenzie would understand.  It was a great conference.  A number of people came up to me afterward and said, "Thank you elder for baptizing Brother Valter.  He is such a great man in our stake."  I talked to a few people I knew clear back in 1972, but most have passed on or moved away.  We had dinner and then headed home.  It was hard to say goodbye.  I hope Valter and Marta will come visit us and we can take them to Yellowstone.  Going to see them was such a highlight, such a special occasion, such a blessing and miracle.  We made it home safely in spite of a number of drivers who were practicing for a Formula I. race.  

      Merry Christmas to all of you.  Our release date is April 28th.  Time is going pretty fast and we still have a lot to do here.  We along with you love Our Savior Jesus Christ and more than ever, at this time of the year, our hearts and minds are turned to Him.  May we all try to be more like him in the coming year.

Much Love e Feliz Natal,