Saturday, February 4, 2017

A new assignment...

Dear Family,

      The Lord works in mysterious ways and this time, it involves us.  We had a meeting with Elder Bassett of the Seventy and the Brazil Area Presidency.  Elder Bassett told us that we are being tranferred to the Brazil CTM (MTC) to work with new missionaries in any way we are asked to.  They have a tremendous need for couples to serve there and it has been a real overload for those currently serving.  So, hopefully we can go help.  We will let you know as things develop.  At this time, we are still scheduled to come home on April 28th and that will not likely change.  Brother Doug McAllister who is the chief legal counsel for the Church in Brazil came and visited with me for a while.  He serves two times a week at the MTC and he has been visiting with Elder Bassett about our assignment.  He just wanted to reassure me that we could do it.  Mom wasn't here when he first came.  We talked about a lot of things and when I showed him the exercise program for missionaries that I designed over a year ago, he got teary-eyed and said, "Your calling isn't a coincidence."  He said how nice it would be to have it in Portuguese and I went click, click and up came the program in Portuguese and then he couldn't talk.  I clicked again and showed him my email today from Leandro Luna, a professional trainer and the son of President Valter Luna who I baptized.  Leandro had promised me that he would go through my program and correct any errors in Portuguese and send it back to me.  So, he sent it back this morning after more than a month, the morning we had our meeting with Elder Bassett.  Brother McAllister told me that this could be a blessing to the missionaries for generations if they could be trained to take care of themselves while in the MTC for six weeks that they would be prepared for the mission field.  So many missionaries struggle with emotional issues relating to their mission and I know from experience that exercise can solve quite a lot of their anxieties and worries.  So anyway, we hope to be able to do some good out there.  Please pray for us.  This is scary, just like any new calling in the Church, except this seems a lot scarier for some reason.  There has to be some important reason for us to be there for a short 12 weeks because it would have been a lot easier just to stay where we are.  We pray that we can quickly see what the Lord would have us do.  He is already preparing us in ways that we could not foresee.  Stay tuned.

Love You All, 

Elder Sonderegger

​Amada Família,

     Well, we keep learning a little more.  Excuse me for being excited and nervous at the same time (all nerved up as we say).  ​We had our last fast offering fund meeting and Elder Costa was presiding.  When mom and I came in the room, he looked at us and said, "Did you have a meeting this morning?"  "Yes, we did."  "Everything ok (and gave us a thumbs up)?"  "Yes" and we gave him a thumbs up back.  Then we went right in and let Elder Bassett know that we will serve where we are asked to serve.  I mentioned to Doug McAllister this morning the physical challenges that I have as well as the ones that mom has and he finally said, "Some times you have to take a leap of faith."  I know that is true and so we will do it.  I think the Lord sent Doug around the corner at the right moment to visit with me.  He is such a solid, good, spiritual man and I would confide anything to him.  We have really grown to love him and his sweet wife.  We will still get a P-Day, just not sure when.  Elder Bassett called Ozaní Farías the youngest DTA in the Church and asked him to arrange a car for us.  That will be nice most of the time.  A lot of times the bus gets you where you want to go faster.  Elder Bassett as well as Brother McAllister told us that the temple and the MTC are the most spiritual places in São Paulo and that we would feel the spirit right when we walk through the door of the MTC.  I know the spirit makes a huge difference in how we grow and progress.  I have been amazed reading Jordan's emails from the MTC in Provo and how he has grown so much spiritually.  You can read it in his letters.  Elder Correa the Brazil Area Executive Secretary put his arm around me (I had some business with him) and said, "Congratulations my friend."  I said to him, "I guess you already know."  He nodded and said, "Not everyone can serve out there.  Everyone here in the office has great confidence in you.  You are supposed to serve there for a reason."  That humbled me to the core and it did mom too when I related that to her.  Well, here we go, another adventure.  I guess it is time to really work on our faith.  As Nephi said, "If God had commanded me to do all things I could do them."  We will just go and do.

Love You,

Elder Sonderegger

From Dad

Bom Dia Queridos,

     While we are excited to be less than 13 weeks from coming home, we also are already missing a lot of people here who we have grown to love.  It feels like we are happily coming home to family but sadly leaving family too.  So, to help alleviate those feelings, we are excited that we will have the chance to be volunteers in the Pathway Program at BYUI.  We will be able to work with Brazilian students enrolled in Pathway.  The first time I told the director of Pathway here in Brazil, Silvio Guimaraes, that we wanted to volunteer, he didn't say anything at first but gave us a big hug.  They need volunteers really bad.  As he comes to Rexburg relatively often, we will get to see him and that will be awesome.  

      Just want to say to my wonderful mother-in-law, congratulations and a very happy birthday.  We love and miss you very much and hope to have some fun activities with you when we return.  I could hug you every single day for the influence you had and still have on Paula.  She radiates the same goodness that you taught her and that you have always shown to everyone.  You have a big heart and are always thinking of others.  I think in this day and age it is rare to find someone as special as you and I am certain that our Heavenly Father is so proud that you have always been on His team.  Thank you for just being you because that means everything to me and to Paula and all our family.  You are #!.  As I would say in Portuguese, "Não tem igual quando fala de voce!"

     As I have translated many, many missionary recommendations, I have been totally amazed at the strength of the young people whose lives I get to know a little.  So many of them have come from any of these situations:  Parents who abandoned them years ago; parents who show them no support; adopted by their grandparents because they were not wanted; have all kinds of health issues, are recent converts who already feel the need to serve; live with an aunt or uncle or brother or sister because they have no place else to go; have been told never to come home again; some don't know who one or both of their parents are; and many more.  Yet they choose to serve willingly and faithfully.  For many, many of them, the money they receive each month from their mission president for living expenses is the most money they have ever seen.  Many have never had an opportunity to have a paying job because there were none to be had.  Some give up their position in a university to serve a mission with no guarantee that they will have it back when they return.  A very few of them have quite prestigious jobs that pay well and they give that up to go on a mission.  You can't just go to a university here.  There are only a certain % of openings every year to fill and so they have to score very high on the nationwide entrance exam.  In the USA, if you don't get admitted to one university, chances are there are many more opportunities waiting for you.  Not here.  So I am really impressed with the faithfulness of these young people.  That doesn't mean they all turn out to be great missionaries.  Some go home early as they can't handle the work for a variety of reasons.  We always hope that their families, bishops and stake presidents will be at the airport with open arms to let them know that someone cares.  

      We had a holiday on Wednesday, Jan. 25th.  They have tons of holidays here.  We went to the downtown São Bento Area at 7:30 a.m. to look at some fabric.  Several went with us but then they kind of went their own way and Paula and I were left alone which was fine.  We had fun.  Paula got us there by bus and by two of the Metro lines, the yellow and then the blue.  A year ago we wouldn't have dared to do that.  Paula bought some fabric and something else way cool that we won't reveal until you come eat a Brazilian meal with us.  It is really cool.  Paula was then ready to go home but it was only around 9:30 a.m.  I knew about where we were as I could see the Arantes (BANESPA) building which was patterned after the Empire State Building but made of cement (tallest cement only building for many years) and only about 38 stories high.  So, with our bearings straightened out by talking to two Federal Policemen, we headed for the Mercado Municipal which is a really awesome and enormous building.  There they serve the biggest sandwiches you have ever seen.  The favorite is made of mortadella, a kind of baloney and it is at least 4" of meat or more on a humongous french roll.  It would easily do for 2-3 people but the tradition is to eat it by yourself.  What is this leading up to?  We didn't get one as we hate mortadella.   There are numerous small restaurants/cafes/bars, fruit stands galore, fish and meat markets, spices, sausage of all kinds and then some hanging up all over, huge vats of all kinds of nuts and on and on.  We even found cheddar cheese.  The brand was "Sun Valley", but it was made here in Brazil in the state of Minas Gerais.  It was too expensive.  Actually, we didn't buy anything but it was fun looking.  We then wandered around some more.  The street Rua São Bento is a closed to traffic street where I got all my missionary books bound in 1973.  The shop was owned by Alfredo Nardi and he loved the missionaries cause we all got books done by him.  It would be hard now to find someone with the expertise to bind books like he did.  It may be a lost art.  We walked by the Cafe Girondino (one of SP's oldest) and I was going to walk past it but Paula said, "Lets go in and get an omelette."  So we did and it was wonderful.  We got talking to the waiter and he gave us a little book about the history of the cafe.  Then we walked a short way, got on the METRO and headed home never getting lost once.  It will be really nice when the METRO extends to Morumbí right by the temple and then one more station past here to Vila Sonia.  It will be so much easier for people to get here all the way to the temple without having to take a bus or drive a car.  They are working really hard on it at the present time.  Probably because of the new mayor who is really a go getter.  He is a people person and everybody really likes him which is very unusual here to like a politician.  

     We also had a training meeting for all the missionaries worldwide at the Morumbí chapel.  All the missionaries of the São Paulo West Mission were there (Pres. Thomas and Sis. Thomas - Ellen Mathias).  It was a wonderful meeting of quite a group of leaders.  Elder Oaks, Elder Bednar and Elder Anderson was there.  I had the thought that it could very easily happen that Elder Bednar could be the prophet some day and I want my family to know that would be just wonderful for me.  The last letter I received from Elder Bednar in 2004 was signed - Love, David.  He is a great apostle and extremely intelligent and knowledgeable in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  After the meeting, I talked to one of the guards, Isaac.  I have given him many things to read about the Church.  I had been thinking about him the whole meeting and there he was after the meeting at the guarita.  I walked across and I said to him, "Some day Isaac, you and your family will be members of the Church and you will be blessed by the Lord to have just one job.  Then you will be able to enjoy your family more.  He works two jobs,24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year without a break, ever!  Not even Christmas.  How would you like that.  He told me it is what he has to do to support his wife and two daughters and that he is ok with it.  I really feel humbled by his attitude.  I couldn't do it.  He was not offended and I even told him that I am praying that all that will come to pass.  Many times in the Church, we make the mistake of thinking that if we are not helping people get baptized or that when people we talk to about the gospel don't get baptized that somehow we have failed.  That is not true.  We are seed planters.  The Lord is the one who knows when people are ready and some people take way longer than others.  Keep planting the seeds and sharing the gospel with everyone.  That is really important.  It doesn't matter when they get baptized nor who baptizes them.  Keep trying!

      We saw a cute show at Shopping 3 Cinema on Paulista on Friday night about a dog that keeps being reincarnated.  It was a good show and reminded me of all the dogs we have had.  I went to our morning temple shift and as usual had a great time.  No matter how my day or week is going, every time I go to the temple I come out feeling wonderful.  Mom's back was really bothering her so she stayed home today.  She seemed better when I got home.  In the 12:00 session I got to be both leader and follower and that is a challenge in English.  But it all worked out well.  A young missionary came up to me at the end of the session and I turned and said to him, "I know you.  I'll talk to you after."  So we visited in the hallway.  I asked where he was from and he said "Petrolina".  I replied, "I have been to your home and met you and your whold family there in June and in December, I had my picture taken with your parents."  It was a cool experience.  Had good visits with a number of temple workers today.  Worked at the office on projects, missionary recommendations, etc. 

     Saturday, Mom and I went to Ibirapuera Park on the bus all by ourselves.  We ran into "Vondo", the follow who carved our Nativity Set.  He was all smiles and recognized us immediately.  At one point he asked me, "I have someone named Ferron on my list of customers, do you know who that is?"  Ha Ha!  Ya I kind of do know.  I asked him if he would be willing to carve a camel for us as an extra piece and he said he would.  We are excited about that.  He has had 10 or more orders because of the missionary couples and he was really pleased.  He is a great fellow.  We then went to the Museu Afticano.  It is a wonderful museum and we were really impressed with the hundreds upon hundreds of displays, artwork and pictures.   It is a history of the people of Africa in Brazil.  They have had a huge influence and made a huge impact on this country.  The really tragic part of the history however is that there were between 3.5 and 5 million slaves who were kidnapped (rounded up like animals) and shipped to Brazil.  They were treated like animals with iron collars around their necks and legs.  Families were broken up and they were put with people from different tribes so that they could not understand each other (different tribes, different dialects).  It was heart-wrenching to see that part of the history.  Even former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso made some very bold statements about the shame that the country will always bear because of the treatment of slaves.  Feijoada came first from the influence of these slaves.  They were given the worst parts of a pig or cow and these they cooked in with their black beans and rice.  It is now the national dish and many of you have eaten the feijoada Paula makes.  Slavery ended in 1888 without a civil war or bloodshed by a government enacted law.  It has been called "The Golden Law,"  

     I remember when Elder Helvecio Martins and his son Marcus along with their families came to our home in Rexburg.  Elder Martins was the first general authority of African heritage in the Church.  We had the fortune of visiting with Elder Sitati of Kenya at our SP office when we first arrived.  Such a kind and gracious man.  Elder Martins as I was starting up the stairs asked me, "Brother Sonderegger, explain to me the revelation on the priesthood and why we could not have the priesthood for so many years."  Yikes.  I wasn't quite prepared even though I had studied and taught things on my mission.  I gave what i felt was the correct answer.  Elder Martins and Marcus (who has been the SP North Mission President) both smiled and Elder Martins said, "No, that is not the answer.  The answer is that we don't know why.  Only the Lord knows."  He told me that long before he received the priesthood that he knew absolutely that the Church was true and that was good enough for him.  He had the faith that he would receive the priesthood in the Lord's time.  He was totally shocked the day he received a call from a dear friend in Salt Lake telling him about the announcement.  He sat down and wept.  What tremendous faith.  When President Kimball visited Sao Paulo to talk about the building of the temple, as he sat on the stand, he looked down and saw then brother Martins and motioned for him to come to the stand.  Elder Martins thought, "The prophet must be motioning to someone else.  Why would the prophet want to talk to me?"  Finally after motioning several times, President Kimball turned to Elder Faust and said, "Go tell brother Martins that I want to talk to him."  So Helvecio finally came up and knelt by the prophet.  President Kimball with his sweet smile and loving countenance looked into brother Martins eyes and said this, "Brother Martins, all that the Lord expects of you is to be faithful.  If you are faithful, all the blessings of the gospel will be yours."  Elder Martins is one of the kindest men I have ever met, so loving, so caring and so humble.  I wish he were still alive as I would love to visit with him again.  I am sure he is doing a great work on the other side of the veil.  Great, great faith from a man who had every reason to never join the Church.

     On Sunday, Jan. 29th, we drove our car up to the Perdizes Ward where I served 45 years ago, same ward, same chapel.  Elder and Sister Harris went with us as they are assigned to that ward and we asked if we could visit.  I met the bishop and told him that I had served there and he looked at me and said, "I wasn't even born then."   After Sacrament Meeting had already started, a fellow came over and said, "Who are you?  Are you the mission president?  We are wanting to know."  So I told him that my wife and I were serving a mission here in Brazil.  The bishop called me up to bear my testimony.  This was the ward where I first met Leonel Sa Maia (who lives in Provo and who I ran into last Sunday).  Several members remembered Leonel.  One woman and one man, brother Caverni were members in the Perdizes Ward at the time I served there.  I only remembered brother Caverni's parents as he was 8 years old at the time.  In Sunday School, the sister who taught the wonderful lesson came to Brazil many years ago from Lebanon.  She and her family were persecuted and their lives in danger for being Christians, so they fled to Brazil.  She told of her brother who died and how the Lord told her in the Celestial Room of the SP Temple that it was his time to return home.  When her brother's son was married in the SP temple, she was sitting there for the ceremony and kept thinking how sad that her brother could not witness his son's wedding.  The sealer and the young man told her that her brother had been sitting right next to her during the ceremony.  She was quite emotional as she related this sacred experience.  I visited with her after.  Such a wonderful sister with a powerful testimony.  When I worked in Penha, my next to last area, the member lady we lived with and who cooked awesome meals for us had come to Brazil from Syria at age 18.  Her name was Amine Barbara.  She was like a third grandmother to me and she is the one who made the beautiful temple tie for me.  When I got transferred, she said to me, "Elder Ferron, I will never get to go to the temple so you wear this tie when you attend and please think of me."  All these years later I still think of her and what a kind woman she was.  She used to be really ornery with the most of the elders, but everything changed the day I told the other three missionaries that we needed to buy her a dozen roses.  A little kindness made a huge difference.  She spoiled me like I was her own child.  She is the only woman I gave a big hug to when I was transferred as that was against the rules.  But who doesn't hug their grandma?

     We had a great day at that ward.  We had a really good week.  A cashier at the supermarket who is always so nice to us said that she would accept some reading material about the Church.  I think we can handle that pretty easily.  I love my Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ and I know they love all their children, brothers and sisters here on the earth.  So grateful to have a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ, independent of anyone else's testimony.

Love You,

Elder Sonderegger

From Mom

Dear Family,

How are you all doing?  I always feel badly when I hear that some of you have been or are sick.  I always pray for my family every day, actually, multiple times each day!  I love you all more than you could ever know.  I miss you all very much.  We don't have too much time left.  There are definitely some things that I will NOT miss about Brazil, i.e., the zillions of motorcycles that weave in and out of traffic and honk constantly, the humidity, the pollution, etc.  There are definitely some things that I WILL miss about Brazil, i.e., the people, the beauty of this country, the fruit, the zillions of things to do here in the city!  It has been good.  We are going to work hard to the end and do the best we can,

We have made a lot of good friends down here, both Brazilians and the other missionaries. One of our favorite couples, the Harris',  moved to St. George before they came down here so we will get to see them when we go visit Diane and Chris.  They are a lot of fun.  Shelley had fun with them while she was here.

A week and a half ago I went downtown to a 7-story fabric store.  Actually the building is 12 stories and about 7 of them are full of material.  I found some really nice white material so that I can make me two blouses when I get home.  I just can't find anything that fits me well so I am going to start sewing again.  I bought 2 meters of each and it is 60" wide and it cost around $6 or $7!  I couldn't help it and I went back last week and bought some more stuff!  The store is on a street called 25th of March and on any given day there might be over 1 millions shoppers on it!  It is crazy but fun!  I might even go back one more time.

Dad went back with me, plus several of the other missionaries, last week and then we walked over to a very famous building in the city called the Mercado Municipal.  It is basically one gigantic produce section of a grocery store, plus restaurants.  They have lots of very different looking kinds of fruit down here.  It is very colorful when it is all displayed.  We haven't tried all of it but we need to get brave and try more.  I'm just not quite sure how to eat some of it.

Our work is just kind of the same.  Dad translates missionary recommendations and has been working to get everything ordered for our Petrolina project.  I can't believe how long it takes for some of these things!  I teach an advanced English class on Wed. afternoons and then I am teaching a sister from our Morumbi ward one on one.  I also am helping with the family history department.  The church has a record of every ward and stake in the church and how many people are submitting names for temple ordinances.  I have looked up our own home ward plus Mom's ward and some others to see how they compare to the wards in Brazil.  I think the church is really trying to push family history all over the world.  Anyway, I help make the Brazil report.  I do the Fast Offering report each month but that doesn't take too much time.  We also work in the temple one day a week and that helps.  Some weeks I get pretty busy when all of the reports have to be ready at the same time, but I'd much rather have too much to do than not have enough.

I am going to suggest an activity for our senior missionaries down here to go to one of the cemeteries down here and photograph the headstones and then transcribe them.  Cemeteries are very interesting places to visit down here.  They are very different from ours back home.  There are several of the missionaries who are very interested in family history so that might be something they would enjoy doing with us.  Anything we can do to keep busy is good for us.

Well I'd better go.  I sure love you all very much.  The pictures I sent are of the fabric store and of the street.  It was not as busy when I took this picture.

Have a good week.


Here are a few more pictures.
1.  A view of the Mercado Municipal
2.  Another view of the Mercado
3.  Interesting artwork-all made of toast!
4,  A close up of the bread art.

Time Flies...

Dear Family,

     Trying to catch up on my letters and I am getting way behind.  We took Shelley to the Campinas Temple while she was here and did initiatory work.  At the desk, I saw an older fellow (not as old as me) sitting at a desk.  I asked him, "Are you brother Ribeiro?"   He said, "Yes, I am."  "Well, when you were a little boy I used to take you on splits with me while I was serving in Campinas."  He jumped up and came over and we had a nice visit.  His father Elezio was the branch president and later became the stake president.  There were only two small branches in Campinas at the time: One in the centro and one at the castelo.  The chapels are still there but have been remodeled and enlarged.  We then took Shelley to eat at a Brazilian buffet in the Parque Dom Pedro Shopping Center (Dom Pedro was the emperor of Brasil).  That place was beyond  huge.  The food court had at least 30 options and that didn't include the other restaurants like Outback and Applebees and lots of Brazilian ones.  We then drove over to see the old (and they are very old and ugly) apartments where we lived in 1996.  Everything from there out to the freeway is brand new with really nice homes and high rise apartments where there was nothing or poor areas.  It made me wonder where the poor had gone to live.  Then we went down to Parque Taquaral and walked around a little bit and walked down by the lake.  Shelley could remember a lot even though she was just 7 years old.  

      On Saturday Paula and Shelley went to Ibirapuera Park but came back after a short time (they ate at Taco Bell) because everything was closed down.  We had a fun party and food at the Salsbury's apt. with all the couples.  We played some fun games including Escravos de Jó (Slaves of Job).  Everybody had a hard time with it except Mom and I and Shelley and Elder and Sister Shumway who have also played it for years.  Somebody was going to use forks instead of spoons and I said, "No way."  I could imagine how many forks stuck in people's arms and hands there would have been.  Mom and Shelley banged pans at midnight like everybody else was doing (at our apt.).  Lots of fireworks all night long and lots of honking.  The next day we went to church in our Morumbí Ward so Shelley could meet all our friends there.  Shelley again got asked to play for Sacrament Meeting and she was pleased.  It was really cool to hear Bishop de Valois announce that "Sister Shelley Sonderegger will accompany on the piano.  She is the daughter of our dear couple Elder and Sister Sonderegger."  The meetings were all really good today although there weren't too many there because of the holiday.

     On Monday we drove down to Santos.  We started on the easy highway, Bandeirantes which is a straight shot down and through a few long tunnels.  Halfway we ran into a 15 mile long log jam of traffic.  We got re-routed on to the old highway Anchieta with it's numerous curves and steep hills.  It took forever to get to Santos, about an extra two hours.  Then in Santos we kind of got lost but finally made it to the Estuário Restaurant.  We ate and then went back up the hill and it took a long time but not quite as long as going down.  Tuesday was hard to see Shelley leave but we were so glad that she could come and that we had a great time full of adventures never to be forgotten.  Seeing Shelley leave was like seeing her and all our kids leave, not real fun, but that is life and we each have to make our own way in life.

      The past two weeks have been kind of a waste of time as I got a lung infection again. AAAAAHHHHHHHH!.  I can't win.  The day I felt the worst I walked up to the Leforte Hospital and got my test results and then went around trying to get an appointment to see a Dr. about them.  Is it just me or is it normal for everyone to want to know right now what the result was so you can get on some medication to get well???  The hospital called and let me know that I had an appointment in two weeks to see the Dr.  That doesn't work.  I told them I could be dead in two weeks and what was the sense of having an exam without getting the results and some medication to get well right now.  I told them to forget it and I would find my own Dr.  I really had no idea which way to turn.  Turns out that Paula was teaching sister Abdo English lessons.  She mentioned my predicament and sister Abdo said, "I'll call my husband and he can go to your apt."  I knew that her husband was a doctor and he is a good friend.  I thought he was a specialist in a hospital somewhere away from our area.  He is in his 70's and still has a small practice of general medicine right out of his home.  He drove up to the Vertentes and came to our apartment.  He went over some things and looked at the exam results and immediately said, "You need to be on an antibiotic."  I told the doctor that over a week ago and he said NO!  Dr. Ricardo Abdo is really a great fellow.  He was very interested in my health history in Brazil and all the times I have had bronchitis or pneumonia here.  Basically, the air here in SP is not good for me.  But what can you do?  I'm not coming home again until it is time to come.  He told me I had the blood pressure of a 15 year old and that made me feel good.  So, Paula and I walked down the hill (a real steep one), got my medicine and started back on the get better trail.  Dr. Ricardo refused to take any payment.  He said, "I never charge the missionaries and that includes the old ones (that would be me)."  At the drugstore, there was a lady standing outside begging people to please buy her some diapers.  We looked at each other and decided to do it as the Lord had just blessed us with a "No Charge" from the doctor.  So now, we had an opportunity to help out someone too.  We got a pack of 60 or more.  She was very happy and kept saying, "God bless you."  There is never a single day here that you don't see or run into someone in dire need.  Anyhow, I am getting better day by day.

     Antonio Guerra picked us up at our apt. on Saturday the 14th of Jan.  He took us out to his new home in the small city of Louveira (actually between Louveira and Itatiba).   It is an exclusive area that is enclosed and has 160 gorgeous homes with open yards which was nice to see.  They have armed guards at the entry gate.  We ate and visited and just enjoyed breathing fresh air for a change.  It was really humid as this is the rainy season.  They have a small swimming pool but I didn't think I should go in and Mom didn't have a swim suit.  They have lawn which is not a common sight to see.  They have these two funny looking chickens that go around eating the bugs in lawn all day long which controls them.  They were really funny little birds but effective.  We went out in the country to a pasteleria (they make little pies with many different choices of what filling to put in them).  I had two and they are so good.  On Sunday, we went to Church at the small branch in Louveira.  The rented building sits next to the Evangelical Church and boy were they noisy.  The minister yelled his entire message as if somehow the yelling helps the message penetrate the soul.  The branch had to change their sacrament meeting some time ago because the noise was too much.  Paula and I were the speakers in sacrament meeting along with a high counselman.  Paula talked about her ancestors and the 'sacrifices' they made to join the Church.  She talked about the spiritual experiences they had that helped them gain their testimonies of the gospel, never to let go of them.  She did it all in Portuguese and it was great.  I talked a little about John Watkins and also a lot about the latter days we live in and that the Lord is hastening his work.  There are so many good scriptures in Matthew 24, D and C 29 and 45.  Also, the talks of Elder Ballard and Elder Cook from the last General Conference are very timely for our day and age.  I would encourage you to listen and/or read them soon.  We met an older couple there who have been members for 50 years.  We then had a hamburger churrasco and Carol Mazzagardi came and ate with us.  It was nice to see her again.  Elder Mazzagardi is improving from his fall.  They put 13 screws in his back, but he is walking a mile or more daily and is getting better.

      The only other thing besides checking our gardens, doing reports and translating missionary recommendations was that on Sunday, we went to church at the Morumbí Ward again as the rains have been coming down so hard for days (all day and night) that we felt it was dangerous to get out on the highway to Ibiúna.  The last time we came home from there we started hydroplaning and it was scary.  As the 5th ward was coming out of sacrament meeting and as we were going in, I about fell over because I ran into someone I have not seen for many, many years.  It was Leonel Sá Máia.  I recognized him and my face probably showed it and he looked at my missionary tag and said, "Elder Sonderegger, you are here."  As a missionary, I lived with three other missionaries plus Leonel and Aparecida Januário in an apartment in São Paulo right next to the Palmeiras soccer stadium (best team in Brazil then and right now).  They had both serves missions and were a little older.  You all know how missionaries do dumb things and take pictures of it.  Well, I have a picture of me holding Leonel on one arm and Aparecida on the other arm.  They are clear off the floor and I have my hands locked so they wouldn't fall.  They aren't big guys, but still about 140-150 lbs. each.  Crazy thing to do.  It was Leonel who took me to the bus station in SP when I was transferred from Perdizes to Araçatuba in the interior.  Then at the end of my mission, I got transferred to the Penha Ward in the city and Leonel was the ward mission leader.  I remember going to his parents home and eating with them.  I told all that to Leonel and he was amazed that I remembered. I told him that he was my hero as a missionary and had been such a great example.  He gave me the biggest hug I have had in a long time and I him also.  He was just visiting and currently lives in Provo which I did not know.  I look forward to seeing him in the US.   Hope you all have a great week.  We are down to 95 days believe or not (less than 14 weeks).

Love You All,

Elder Sonderegger

P.S.  We are working on writing up a step by step "How to start a garden project" for the new couple that hopefully will come and take our place.  The "Gardening Tips" handout that we made with pictures will hopefully get used by the self-reliance dept.  Maurício Araújo the dept. head took it cheerfully and plans on sending it out to the 18 Brazilian Regional Self-Reliance Directors.  He made us feel really good and was so accepting.  It may have helped that our MTC Portuguese teacher, Suellen is his sister-in-law.  It was refreshing to have something we did get utilized without any imaginary barriers thrown in.  I am seriously thinking about taking the exercise program I designed for the missionaries and which is sent out to individual missionaries many times weekly and writing a book and seeing if it could be sold at Deseret Book.  It would include a program for before the mission, during the mission and after the mission.  All the missionaries who have used it have loved it and say it is a life saver to them.