Hi Dear Family,
We had a good experience last week at the Praia Grande chapel. There were three members who came representing their families: Gabriel Tomaz, Cassio Nascimento and Julio Antunes. Irmão Cassio is new to the project so we had him fill out a little different questionnaire. When I asked Júlio about his garden he said, "Well, I am saving $R 100.00 a month (about $31.00 dollars) and that is a lot for me." He was also happy that they could go get something to eat any time they wanted without going to the story. Gabriel when I first met him seemed a young fellow who had no get up and go and very lazy. But he surprised me with his answer. He said, "The other night I was cooking in the kitchen with my mother and I thought I needed some other spice. Then I remembered we had it in our garden and I just went out and got it and added it in." He then said something very special. "Our family is a lot closer now that we work together in the garden. It makes a difference in the spirit we have in our home." We were very happy to hear those things. Gabriel wondered if they could get a little more topsoil, but that is all anyone has asked for. They seem pleased with what they have been given. We then went over the "Steps to a successful garden" which we put together with pictures and ideas. They seemed to enjoy that as well as visiting about some of their challenges with insects, fungus, weather, etc. That little instruction book has been sent out to all the 18 regional welfare directors of Brazil as well as an article from several years ago about families all over the world who plant gardens even when they have little space or land.
Júlio and I went to LeRoy Merlin (like Home Depot). It is my favorite store here. We bought a bunch of seed packets, garden tools, and hoses for irmão Cássio. He is a very positive fellow and I think he will do well. Had a great visit with Júlio. Júlio Sales Souza is one of the finest young men we have ever met. He is so talented and such a hard worker. He can solve about any problem very quickly. He just has a really good business sense. We have used many of his ideas. We will miss him tremendously. He speaks good English but we spoke in Portuguese most of the time. Fernando Souza and I then went down to Mongaguá where brother Cassio lives. A very, very humble home it was. We were excited to leave everything with his wife even though he was not there. We then went to a business and ordered 150 cinder blocks so he can build a garden area. The soil is poor and so we have soil and manure hauled in and they fill up their raised garden beds. I called Cássio the very next day and asked him if he liked the surprise when he got home. He did and was very excited. I imagine it felt like Christmas morning to him. When I called again to see if the blocks had arrived he said, "No, but I am outside right now getting my garden ready." That is a really good sign of things to come. We could see the ocean and some huge waves there in Mongagúa. Very gorgeous.
Paula and I and the Harris' went out to Embu das Artes to get our painting. Osmar Finco the owner met us there at the shop. When I call him on the phone he always recognizes my voice and says, "Hello Sonderegger." We have struck up a great friendship. He has told me a lot of his life experiences. The painting is a size that originally was over $R2200.00 (700 dollars). He quoted me a price of R$1840.00. Well when we got there, the painting was almost boxed up, just needing the cover screwed on it and it is a really beautiful picture. Can't wait to show it to you all. With it all boxed up and with a nice handle to carry it like a suitcase, the final cost was $R1670.00. I felt like he bent over backwards to give us a good deal and all because of our friendship. I never once asked him if he could lower the price. He talked about a couple of missionaries he remembered but said he has forgotten most of them. He then said, "But I won't ever forget you Sonderegger." We are FB friends too. I asked him if he had ever been given a Book of Mormon and he said he hadn't. I was shocked. After 30 years not a single missionary ever gave him a Book of Mormon. Que isto, puxa? I just happened to have one with me as well as the book by Elder Ballard (can't remember the name in English) and a copy of the March Liahona (Ensign). Paula reminded me to show him the picture of Diane and Chris and their family on page 8. So we did and he was so excited that he wrote down under the picture, "A filha e família do Sonderegger." (the daughter and family of Sonderegger). We got our picture taken with him. We felt sad to leave and Paula told me, "I got tears in my eyes when we left because he has become such a good friend." We won't forget him. We are excited to see our own family but we will be leaving a family here too. I look forward to the day when time, distance, and cost are no longer factors. Tomorrow we fly to Rio for three days and two nights. Please pray for us. Rio is a beautiful city but can be dangerous. We will be with tour guides in a car or bus most of the time. We should be fine but pray anyway. We know you do. Mom almost walked right in front of a bus on Saturday and I yelled really loud and she jumped back. It scared me. The Lord has protected us many times here and in many ways.
Com muito carinho e um forte abraço,