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
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!
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.