Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Last Sunday in Brazil

Dear Family,

Well today was our last Sunday in Brazil.  It seems really weird!  The time all of a sudden just zoomed by.  When we got to church, well after R.S. for me, I found out that we were to bear our testimonies in Sacrament meeting!  I had a feeling that we would be asked but I was hoping we wouldn't.  :)  I said something really wrong but I was able to correct it.  I said, "Eu sei que Jesus Cristo livre."  Which means "I know that Jesus Christ is free!"  I caught myself and changed it to "vive" which means "lives."  It is so hard trying to speak in another language.  I thought that I would have been speaking fluently halfway through our mission but, and I know that this will sound strange, I haven't had that much opportunity to speak Portuguese with other people.  I have been sitting at a computer almost every working day of our mission with not much interaction with other people.  There are many  people working at the Area Office who speak English.  Quite often when I say something to someone in Portuguese, they respond in English so I haven't had much practice.  I have still tried to say something to someone in Portuguese everyday.

I had a neat experience last week.  I have helped prepare the monthly fast offering meeting where the committee, which includes the Area President Elder Costa, discusses the problems that Brazil has with being self-reliant.  Last week Elder Costa wasn't there and so Elder Aidukaitis came in his stead.  He is really funny and the atmosphere was very relaxed.  Half of the time everyone was smiling or laughing.  Of course, I didn't know exactly what was going on so when they smile, I smile and when they laugh, I laugh!  

Last year I helped write letters to many of the stake presidents and bishops that had problems with very low donations and where the ratio of active adults/active adults donating was very low.  This year I decided to write to all 305 stake and district presidents each month with words of encouragement and with personal experiences.  Last month I received 115 replies, which was unheard of!  This month I had heard from about 90 by the time of our meeting.  

Last month I wrote about the time when we had lots of medical bills from when Lynn was sick and at the same time Pres. Benson asked the members of the church to increase their fast offering donation.  We decided that we could increase our donation by $5 a month even though we didn't have an extra $5 a month.  We had a bill from Primary Children's Hospital for around $766 and we didn't know how we were going to pay it.  About two weeks after we paid our increased fast offering, we received a two checks from our insurance for a travel reimbursement totalling about $775.  That was a testimony to us of the "windows of heaven" being opened.

This month I wrote about how I always paid our tithing first but for a long time I would wait to pay our fast offering until the deacons came to collect (which they don't do here because it is dangerous and the people live too far away from each other) and how many times on Fast Sunday I didn't have enough money to pay our fast offering and would have to have the deacons come back the next week.  Finally, I learned that if I wrote out the fast offering check at the same time I wrote out the tithing check we would have enough money to pay it.  The interesting part is that I found that I always had enough money to pay the Lord AND enough to pay all of our bills and other expenses.  Before we always came up short.  I wrote that the Lord's law of finance is very different from the world's law of finance.

I also encouraged the stake and district presidents to offer a challenge to their members to pay the Lord first and then experience the "windows of heaven" open up to them.  I have had many very special replies to my letter (I have saved them) and many of the presidents said that they are going to give that challenge to their members.  They thanked me for my letters of encouragement and inspiration.  So getting back to my meeting, Fernando mentioned my letter to Elder Aidukaitis and I was able to share more of the details with him and he got the most pleasant, reverent expression on his face that I got a little teary eyed.  He looked like he was getting a little teary as well.  He thanked Dad and I for our service here.  It was a very special experience for me.

In case you didn't know it, the church operates on the tithes and offerings that come mostly from the people who live in Utah, Idaho, Arizona, California, and Alberta.  It is because of the generous donations of people who have strong roots in the church that people in Brazil and other areas are blessed.  One time at the beginning of our mission, Fernando asked me if I had anything to add to the meeting.  The DTA (Director of Temporal Affairs) was presiding and I asked him, "If the donations in Brazil are here (I made a line with my hand) and the expenses for the members (housing, food, medical, utilities, etc.) are here (the line was much higher), where does the extra money come from?"  I already knew the answer.  He squirmed in his seat as he said, "From the members of the church in the United States."  We have been working very hard to change this in Brazil.  It will take a lot of time though.  If the members of the church in the US, mainly the intermountain US, stop paying their tithes and offerings there would be many, many people throughout the world who would have even more suffering than what they are already experiencing.  I have a strong testimony of paying tithes and offerings.

I have been blessed by teaching English classes and mainly to non-members.  Once in awhile I have been able to sneak something into my lesson about a principle of the gospel.  Brazilians don't get offended if you talk about religion.  We always started our class with prayer and everyone took turns.  I told them that the Lord hears all the sincere prayers of all people.  They were not offended at all to pray or to listen to a prayer that was different from the way that they pray.

We had our last Sat. activity yesterday.  We went to a nice park that had some trails through the forest and it also has a section of food trucks.  Pres. and Sister (Ellen Mathias) Thomas have been wanting to take us there for a long time so we went yesterday and then they couldn't go with us.  Several of the other missionaries came along and it was fun.  We had a new couple arrive yesterday morning from the US and then even came!  We had a nice time together.  Dad and two of the other missionaries and Julio, from our department, went to a soccer game last night.  I guess that the game was quite the experience, one that Dad wishes he hadn't had!  Apparently, there was tons of swearing and other things so I was glad that I didn't go even though I wouldn't have understood the swear words!  :)  

Well our mission has been an adventure that's for sure!  Am I glad that we came?  YES!  Will we serve again?  I think that we will serve from home in the future.  There is plenty of the Lord's work for us to do right there.  With both of our bad backs, and in particular Dad's entire body, it has been a trial!  We have both had lots of pain and have had a hard time finding any relief from it.  That gets old real fast!  At home we have better access to get the relief we need.  We have very fond memories of our time here.  I wish that more of you could have come down to see us.  We are so glad that Shelley was able to come down.  We have done lots of fun things, as you well know, things that I never dreamed we would ever be able to do.  Wherever we went or whatever we did Dad always took literature to give away.  He gave out two pass along cards yesterday.  We will never know if anyone who was a recipient of those items will ever investigate the church or not but I really think that someone will.  

It was sad to say goodbye to everyone at church today.  We got lots of hugs and had lots of pictures taken.  On a side note, Sister Neill F. Marriott and her husband were at our ward today.  She was here for some training meetings.  They served here several years ago as mission presidents.  She was so swarmed with people getting their pictures taken with her that I didn't get a chance to meet her.

I have attached some pictures and I will send a few more emails with more.  I love you all very much and glad that we have had your love and support while we have been gone.  Thanks for all of you who have written to us.  It helps getting a word from home.  See you in a few days!!!


1.  My Relief Society
2.  The chapel next to the temple
3.  Walking home from church-we live in the apartments with the slanted box things on the roof.
4.  This is an empty car dealership across from the church.  Notice the blanket on the left side of the steps.  A man lives under there.  :(
5.  The Temple from across Avenida Francisco Morato

1 and 2.  Monkeys at the park
3.  A cool looking butterfly
4.  A private school kitty corner from us.  I think this is like a Jr. High. Schools are very different here.  Most grade schools don't have playgrounds or anything extra.
5.  (I don't know why it won't rotate) One of our garden projects sits in between these two high rise apartments.  Sister Manetta doesn't get much sunshine but she works hard on her plants.
6.  These two cars have been sitting on the road for as long as we've been here and haven't been moved.  The van has had the side mirror broken off.  They don't have the same kind of laws down here as what we do, or if they have them, they don't enforce them!

1.  It is very common to see these big water tanks on top of homes and buildings.
2.  Our bus stop from our corner looking to the right.
3.  The temple from our corner looking to the left.
4,  Looking up to our gate from the corner.  I've seen people sleeping in the dirt down on the right before.
5.  Looking at our courtyard from the parking garage.  Notice the two ladies sweeping.  You see people sweeping sidewalks, parking lots, gutters, etc. everyday-by hand!
6.  Another view of our courtyard

1.  Our bus stop from our apartment
2.  wall mural along a street-This kind of graffiti (art) is fun to look at.  Most of the graffiti, and there is TONS of it,  is terrible and makes everything look dirty!
3.  There were lots of turtles in the lake at the park
4.  An interesting piece of artwork in the park.
5.  On our day at the park.
6.  A little key making shop across from us.  There are lots of little shops like this all around where we live.  We can find just about everything we need very close by.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Howdy from Mom

Dear family,

Well here it is less than two weeks until we are home!  I can say now that we'll be home next week!  Boy, where has the time flown?  On Nov. 2, 2015 eighteen months seemed like a very long time and now it is almost over.  We have had many good experiences while we've been here and we have been able to do a lot of fun things.  I hope that we have made a difference to the people we have worked with, both in the office and out in the field.  

One thing for sure is that Dad has given out lots and lots of church related materials to people wherever we have gone.  I have been very proud of him for doing that.  With my language barrier I have not been able to do that although I have talked to a few people.  I have used some gospel related stories a few times in my English class.  People down here don't seem to get offended if you happen to mention your religion in any kind of setting.  I have been impressed by that.  It was very refreshing at Christmas time to see the Nativity displayed all over the city, in public areas as well as private ones.  I hope that that never changes down here and I wish that the US would take a lesson from the Brazilians on the subject of religion.  Brazilians just don't get offended by someone else's religion.

We've been very busy these last few weeks.  I just wish that we would have been that busy during our entire mission.  We found out a few days ago that we have a replacement couple coming in July or August.  We are very happy about that and so is Fernando.  They are from Sandy and we have already been in touch with them and will meet with them before they come down.  They have relatives in the Rexburg/Idaho Falls area so will be coming up.  I'm glad that they will be able to keep our projects going and start new ones.

One of the problems that we faced when we arrived was that we weren't replacing anyone as there hadn't been a missionary couple in the welfare dept. down here for a long time and Fernando was new and was still learning his job.  Things are in place now so the transition should be much easier for the Andersons.  

We went on an assignment last week to Ribeirao Pires to a school for the mentally disabled.  They have a large garden to help supplement the meals for the students.  They need additional supplies to keep it going.  We are hoping that we can get it all written up this week and get it on the books before we leave. 

We went to Juquitiba to deliver some tools one day as well.  That might have been the week before.  Time is running together for me now.  :)  Man, did we ever see a humble dwelling.  I don't think you could call the one structure a house.  I've never seen anything like it.  The second house was falling apart, literally.  One end had broken apart from the rest of the house.  It was boarded up so that no one could enter that section.  The ward had started to build a new house for the sister and her children but had only poured the footings.  I think that Lloyd and Bruce would have died when they saw the footings.  Think of a snake and that is about how straight it was.  When I say that they are building a house, it is something about the size of our family room and basically four brick walls and a roof.  It won't be much but hopefully it will be solid and safe for that family.  

We are truly blessed in the US.  I think that I am going to be in a bit of a cultural shock when we get home!  One thing that we learned in the MTC is that the US is not the real world!  Brazil is a great place but well below what we are used to back home.  When people come here from Africa or Haiti or someplace like that they think they are in heaven because it is so much worse where they are from.  We are truly blessed.

We have had a few fun activities the last few weekends.  One thing we did the Sat. of conference was to go visit a cemetery in the morning and take pictures for Billion Graves.  Cemeteries are very interesting down here.  Sadly, people had come in and removed many of the names and dates from the tombs.  We didn't have prior permission to take pictures so we were only allowed to take a few but hopefully it will help someone.  Anything you do down here practically takes an act of congress to get an okay for it!  And we thought WE had red tape!  I'll never complain again!  (I hope I remember that.)

We also visited the Sacred Art Museum a few weeks ago.  They had some beautiful relics and they had items dating back to the late 1500's.  Yesterday was a fun day.  We went to the Aquarium in the morning and then we got together with most of the other couples and had a Mexican dinner.  It was really good and then we sang songs afterward and had a lot of fun.  I felt like this group really bonded yesterday.  I really haven't felt that with this new group of missionaries so I was happy to feel that last night.  I am going to really miss them and the association we have had with everyone.

I hope that everyone is doing well.  I can't wait to see you all.  I am thankful we have been able to FaceTime often.  That has helped keep us going.  Thanks for all of your encouragement during our difficult times.  I love you all very much.  See you soon.


1.  Items from the Sacred Art Museum
2.  ditto.  This was very old.
3.  Tomb at the cemetery
4.  Interesting
5.  I thought of Gary when I saw this one!  Don't get any ideas!
6.  Another one for Gary.

1.  This was of Dad teaching the missionaries of the Sao Paulo South mission.
2.  Dad doing his demonstration
3.  Pretty good for being almost 65 and having a broken body!
4.  stingray 
5.  HELP!
6.  Giant bats!

1.  Wombat-I don't think I've ever seen one of these.
2.  Having fun!
3.  This Polar bear seemed very nervous.  It kept walking back and forth over and over again and then it went swimming and did the exact pattern over and over.  It was fun to watch but we all felt a little bad for it.
4.  Moray eel with glowing eyes.  Creepy!
5.  Polar bear swimming
6.  A pretty house near the aquarium.

Friday, April 14, 2017

April 11, 2017

 April 11, 2017

Bom Dia Todo Mundo,

      Well, less than 3 weeks and not too trunky.  We have too much to do I think and that is good.  Júlio, Paula and I along with Sarah, age 10 and Vitor age 5 (Júlio's children) went to visit our three families in Juquitiba.  Júlio took two of his four because he wanted them to start to gain an appreciation for what they have, not what they don't have.  It not only opened their eyes but ours have also been opened.  These are three very special families, all active in their little branch.  Júlio and I had gone to the LeRoy Merlin Store to buy tools and garden seeds.  We even bought a post hole digger for one family as they would like to build a fence around their garden.  I purchased some Church reading materials for two of the families as they have nothing they can study.  I gave the sister with six children the New Testament and Book of Mormon Illustrated Stories for children to her and she was really happy.  They also got a couple of bags of candy including some gummy worms which most kids love.  If we can just get the stake and branch to get on the ball and get her little house finished.  Based on what we saw today, the foundation did not look good at all.  I am hoping that if the branch will supply the materials (not talking about thousands of dollars here) that maybe Fernando will hire a mason to come in and get things done and done right.  It was kind of a sobering experience but at the same time, you could see the hope in their eyes when we showed up with all the tools and seeds.  Júlio said, "I don't think they planned on us getting back here so soon."

     The 3rd family has a fairly nice home, not fancy but a nice home by standards here.  They have a large property with a small lake and even a swimming pool.  They sold all their property in Osasco which is a huge mostly rundown suburb of SP and bought the new property.  There are a lot of fruit trees like banana, manga, plum, orange, avocado and others.  There are some fish in the lake.  The challenge there is that the brother has been unemployed for two years and his wife is a public school teacher which means a very low and poor salary.  It is common for a school teacher to not be paid anything for several months or more.  Her husband has been doing odd jobs like painting and even taking a scythe and a weed whacker and cleaning up people's places in the country.  He has been a bishop and their son is coming home soon from the Brazil Recife Mission.  The sister's father lives their and had a bad fall.  So they have some challenges.  They are willing to work and they just need some help to get a garden going.  Tools are expensive here - simple tools like shovels, rakes, hoes, etc.  The hoes are gigantic.  I wish I could bring one home.  We will go back out next week with what they need.  

      Sarah, Júlio's daughter who is 10 is going through a rough time.  She is currently getting counseling because she has been bullied so much at church, yes, at church.  The kids have made so much fun of her that she cries when she is getting dressed in the morning for fear of not being dressed right for school.  Her teachers absolutely love her, both in school and at church.  She is really smart and has such a loving and sweet personality.  We gave her our framed picture of the Savior that has the scriptural quote from Alma 37:37.  We also gave her and Vitor a bag of candy.  We really enjoyed our little trip with them.  We are hoping that maybe we can make a difference for Sarah even after we return home.  We are not going to let go of this challenge.  Júlio was telling me that they love American pancakes with maple syrup.  They have had some people bring back maple flavoring for them so we gave them a big bottle of maple syrup today that we had.  The other day Júlio came around the corner and said, "The Dows asked me what I wanted them to bring me from the US and I said 'peanut butter'.  What does creamy and chunky mean?"  So we talked about that.  He asked them to bring chunky.  We love a lot of people here and it will be hard to say goodbye even though we miss our own family and friends so much.  That's just the way it is at the end of a mission.  

     Last Tuesday, April 4th, we were invited to teach our exercise program to all the missionaries of the São Paulo South Mission at the Botanical Gardens of São Paulo.  President and Sister Broadbent are from Boise.  They are great people.  As there were 170 missionaries there, the class was a lot bigger than I am used to.  I wish in retrospect that I would have divided it into a sisters only class and then 1-2 classes for the elders to make the groups more manageable.  But it went pretty well.  I told them that missionaries use the excuse, "I have no time to exercise."  So, I had them do 'burpees' for 1 full minute and they about died.  I then said, "You all have 1 minute a day."  They were surprised how hard 1 minute of exercise could be.  You can do burpees right in your apt. with no special equipment.  Showed them how to do bodyweight squats correctly as well as what the most common mistakes are when people do them, like pushing your knees straight forward as you attempt (and it is only an attempt cause it won't work) to squat.  About half the group was very engaged and half were off in la la land.  But with a class that size, it is near impossible to monitor and keep everyone's attention.  Many came up after and thanked me for the demonstration.  We met one girl from Midway, Utah, so we had a good visit with her.  I was impressed with the leadership as they were great organizers of the games they were doing and had people moving back and forth in their groups with no hitches.  They all seemed to have been trained well, most likely by President Broadbent.  

      Mom had her English class on Wed. again.  I always go shoot a few baskets for 30 minutes and then pick her up toward the last 10 min. of her class.  They all think it is neat that I come to escort her home every Wed. without fail.  I don't like her to be alone at that time.  But we have certainly been protected by the Lord, numerous times.  There have been times when we absolutely knew we had extra protection.  The students are really great and they love mom.  Half are members and half aren't.  They are all really special people whom we will miss.  They have given us a couple of rides home because it was raining.  Eles são gente boa/fina.

     We went on Friday night with Sister Cox, Harris and Sharmauds to the best pizzeria I have ever been to here.  It is called Margharita Pizzeria not far from Rebouças and Avenida Paulista.  It is a really cool looking building inside and out.  It can seat a ton of people.  On the way, I had purchased a really nice Palmeiras soccer shirt for around $15.00 dollars with the original price of $40.00 dollars.  When the waiter saw it he asked me, "Voce é Palmeirense."  (Are you a Palmeiras fan?).   I told him I was and asked if he wanted to know why.  He said he did.  I said, "Well, when I was a 20 year old missionary, I lived right next to the old stadium, Parque Antártica, so I decided that was who I would cheer for."  I told him who my favorite player was and that pretty much cemented the friendship as well as being served very well all night.  The pizza was like heaven.  Paula and I had a half and half pizza.  Half was 4 cheeses and the other was cheese and prosciutto (Italian Ham).  It was to die for with heavenly crusts.

     Saturday we had a really wonderful time.  I was able to get a car and we took Harris' to the Campinas Temple to the 10:45 session.  We left about 8:30 a.m.  I had set it up so that we could attend with Junior and Adriana Mazzagardi (new mission president of the Brazil Vitória Mission), Aledir and Cristine Barbour (former mission president and president of the SP Temple and whom we stayed with), and Valter and Marta Luna (1st counselor in the Rio Claro Stake Presidency and whom I baptized in 1972 - yes, I am proud of that as he is the only living baptism whom I know to be active.)  Valter's son and daughter-in-law and grandson Thomas (about 2) came also.  We had such a great time with them.  They are all very special people in our lives and always will be.  I think that Barbours will be coming to Rexburg to see their grandson Lucas graduate from BYUI.  We hope so.  I think that Lunas will come to visit soon also as Valter has finally retired from working for 45 years for Owens Corning ware. We ate at a very good churrascaria, Montana Grill in Shopping Iguatemí.  Best meat I have had at a churrascaria but not quite as good as Templo da Carne.  Sunday we gave as a present to Leo and Deborah an activity book for sacrament meeting.  They are expecting their first in a month or less.  Leo is in the bishopric and Deborah is the organist and translates during the meeting for the American sisters.  Great, great people.

     Well, maybe one more letter.  We have so very very much to do still.  The Petrolina project is actually progressing and they have started putting together their cages instead of standing around complaining and waiting for us to arrive and do it all for them.  They are learning and so are we.  Can't wait to see those cages full of birds.  It will be soon.  See you all at noon on Saturday, April 29th at the I.F. Airport if you can come.  We speak in our ward at 9:00 a.m. the next day.  Hope we can stay awake during our talks.

Love ya all,

Ferron/Elder Sonderegger

Letter from Dad

Dear Family,

          Today was a lesson in humility for me.  It also made me think about pride and ingratitude.  Julio and I drove out to the city of Juquitiba, or I should say to three homes in that area.  The area is very run down and a lot of poverty is evident.  The first house we went to took a while to find as the numbers on the houses or fences are not in any kind of recognizable sequence.  We talked to a lot people asking if they knew the family.  We finally found the Moraes family.  Only the wife and her mother were home.  A more humble home I had not seen..  They have essentially nothing.  I can't explain how poor they were.  But they were happy to see us and we talked about the possibilities of them starting a garden and sister Moraes seemed pleased.  They did have some fruit trees.  But there is no yard, just weeds, tall grass, bare dirt, and junk everywhere.  I told Julio that even when you are poor you can still keep things cleaned up.  I have seen women sweeping their dirt floors and no trash in sight.  The second home nobody was there.  The house was fairly large and quite nice with a swimming pool.  We are not sure what their situation is and won't make any judgement until we sit down with them.  There was a sign on the entrance that said, "Watch out for the vicious dog, a boxer."  Kind of glad they weren't home.  The third house was the worst and I will try to describe it and the family situation without giving any names.  The sister has six children, all with different fathers.  She is trying to get her life together and she is an active member.  The home was some cement walls sitting on a very steep hillside.  One side of the house is literally caving in and they cannot use that part anymore.  The sewage runs out of a pipe coming out from the house and goes straight downhill.  We had to step over that.  The two children who came out - well, let me just say that I wanted to scoop them up in my arms and take them home with me.  They have nothing as far as material wealth and nothing to do most of the day.  We shook their little hands and appreciated their little smiles of joy that someone came to see them.  Again, garbage everywhere because there is no garbage collection for such a poor family.  I have never seen an empty lot in Rexburg or Madison County that looked so awful.  Because the house is in a state of total collapse, the priesthood quorums are building a small house for the family.  Very very small.  Not as big as my family room and has to house seven.  Only a small foundation has been poured.  Now they will start putting up the brick and cement walls.  It is taking a long, long time because the only day the brethren can come is Saturday, so it is a slow process.  I am going to see if something can be done to get it built right now.  The garden will need to be a terraced garden and it will take major work just clearing out dead plants and garbage.  I remember after an earthquake in Central America when President Hinckley visited and seeing a picture of him holding a small child.  With great emotion he said, "I am going to make sure that these children have a little something sweet to eat."  I feel the same and plan on taking some groceries and a couple of bags of candy to them.  Something as simple as a piece of candy makes a huge difference in the lives of a little child.  If it brings a smile to their faces and a feeling that someone out there loves me, then it will be more than worth it  I have never had an experience quite like to day.  I think I need to be a lot more grateful for my blessings than I am.  I can't wait to get back out there.  Julio and I will be Santa Claus in April for them.  

     Our trip to Rio was incredible.  We did a ton of stuff in just two and a half days.  Our flight was 37 minutes and we landed at Santos Dumont Airport by the city center.  That is where I first set food on Brazilian ground, Santos Dumont Airport.  Our guide took us to Pao de Acucre first (Sugar Loaf) and we went on the tram.  It is a huge piece of granite sticking straight up like a loaf of bread.  The views of the bay, the city, the beaches, the ocean and the Christ statue were wonderful.  We drove past Roberto Carlos' home in an exclusive area.  He is actually a very popular figure in many countries of the world.  He was the heart throb when I served here and is around 76 years old now.  Rio is a hundred times worse for traffic than Sao Paulo which I wouldn't have believed had I not experienced it.  Everything is so crowded and packed tight.  We drove up the winding roads to the Cristo Redentor statue that overlooks the city (Christ the Redeemer).  We drove most of the way up, then some stairs and then either the elevator or the escalator.  There were hundreds upon hundreds of people and it was standing room only and difficult to maneuver.  The statue is really awesome to see as our the views of the city.  You could see Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, Maracana Stadium (Once seated over 200,000 for a soccer game), the airport, the ocean and the incredibly huge mountains all around the city.  We then went to our hotel, The Golden Tulip Rio Copacabana ( a large chain in Brazil and other countries).  It was really nice with a great breakfast and clean rooms.  We lucked out and had a king size bed.  We could step out the front door, walk a very short distance and be on the beach.  It is fun to watch the waves and walk down the beach.  The only problem was all the cemetery bikinis.  Just had to focus on the ocean.  I forgot to say that coming down the mountain from Cristo Redentor, we stopped on a winding street with old old buildings and went to a restaurant.  I wasn't too sure about what the food would be like but we had a really good Bahian shrimp dish and some frango a passarinho.  Frango a passarinho is random chicken pieces that they just take a meat cleaver and start chopping the whole chicken (dead already of course) and dip those pieces in garlic powder and then fry them.  They are really good even though there are no recognizable pieces.  

    Friday we got on a 14 passenger van with a multi-lingual guide (she was great) and headed to the city of Petropolis.  Petropolis sits up in the mountains which are as big as anything on the Wasatch Front, they just start at sea level.  It is cooler up there and so that is where the emperor of Brazil, Dom Pedro II built his palace and stayed half the year.  His life was very sad toward the end.  He and his family were at the palace and a group of men came and told him he was needed in Rio now (this was in 1889, one year after slavery was abolished in Brazil.  When the family arrived, the military put them on a ship and sent them to Portugal to live in exile.  They never saw Brazil again, a country they so loved and had governed for so long.  They were not allowed to take any of their possessions with them.  He died a couple of years later.  Dom Pedro II visited Salt Lake City and I believe he had an appointment with one of the members of the quorum of the twelve.  You can look it up online.  He was very intelligent and spoke 7 languages fluently and was always learning about new scientific discoveries.  We also went to the Crystal Palace, a garden area which was shipped over in pieces from Italy and then put together in Petropolis.  During our time there we got to know an older couple from Salvador.  The wife seemed just a little older than me but her husband was 88.  He was having a hard time walking and they got a wheel chair for him.  The guide was going to push it and I said, "You"  So I did all day and got to know this couple very well.  I even pushed him up a steep cobblestone driveway without any problem.  It was a lot of fun being with them and getting to know them.  They called me "Elder" all day.  We stopped at a chocolate store and they insisted on buying all our chocolate which was a little embarrassing but so kind of them.  It was a great day and we came away with a better appreciation and understanding of Brazilian History.

     On Saturday the main thing we did was go to the beach and then to the Arpoador Fortree, a large fort with 14" guns built to defend the harbor.  It is just a tourist site now but well kept with interesting displays.  The guns are still there and they fired 440-500 lb. shells.  We saw the shells.  They would make a pretty good hole in you.  Actually, you would disappear.  We then got to realize a dream of mine by going to the restaurant by Ipanema Beach called the Garota de Ipanema.  Yup, that is where Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes wrote the words and music to "The Girl from Ipanema".  It was a number 1 hit all over the world and Frank Sinatra made it famous by singing it with Tom Jobim at Carnegie Hall.  The real girl from Ipanema is still alive and has celebrity status here in Brazil.  I have listened regularly to Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes music for years.  Many of you have heard his music but didn't know it.  He was responsible for the Bossa Nova music.  The food was really good and a little band came by and played the song for us at our request.  We caught an earlier flight back to SP which was nice.  I met a really tall dignified white haired fellow who spoke perfect English.  He went to high school in the States and got his law degree from Harvard.  I told him we were Mormon Missionaries and he said, "I thought so.  We do a lot of work for the Church."  We had a great visit.

     Monday night we had a great FHE with Fernando and his wife, Ivan and his wife and two daughters, Julio and his wife and four children and Antonio, Vania and Jr. Guerra.  I gave a lesson from a talk by Elder Helvecio Martins and everyone participated.  We then played the thimble game and everybody loved it, especially Julio's young children.  They really got into it.  They had been really shy.  Mom made congo bars and they were a hit as always.  Of course they all have been invited to come visit us and go to Yellowstone. 
      Paula made Julio and I a peanut butter and honey sandwich today for our trip to Juquitiba and Julio said something that we thought was funny.  He took one bite of the sandwich and said, "Boy, your wife makes the best food."  I think he thought that Paula had made the peanut butter and honey herself and somehow made this super delicious sandwich.  Paula laughed pretty hard.  Sure love you all.  Less than a month to go, but we sure have a ton of stuff to do.  President Broadbent of the SP South Mission has asked me to come present my exercise program to all his missionaries next week at the Botanical Gardens here in SP.  Should be fun.

Love You All,