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 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.
we had a really wonderful time. I was able to get a car and we took Harris' to the Campinas Temple to the session. We left about 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. 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 on at the I.F. Airport if you can come. We speak in our ward at the next day. Hope we can stay awake during our talks.
Love ya all,