Friday, April 14, 2017

Letter from Dad

Tuesday, February 21, 2017  

Dear Family,

      Today we went to the Sacolão Supermarket a few blocks away from the office to get a pastel.  Mom had a bauru pastel (ham and tomatoes and cheese inside) and I had one of those and one with hamburger and cheese inside.  I will miss them.  A lot of the couples and sister Cox came with us which was nice.  We also took the time to buy some fruit and vegetables there.  We bought a really funny looking fruit called Pitaia (or Pitaya) also known as Dragon Fruit.  It pretty much tasted like dragon's breath.  No wonder every Brazilian I asked about it said, "I've never tried it."  As we walked back, there was a narrow area to walk through on the sidewalk.  Mom and Sister Cox went through and a young modestly dressed girl was waiting for me and I motioned her to come through.  I couldn't help but wonder how could she possibly hear the gospel message.  She had a special spirit about her.  You see so many wonderful people and as I have talked to numerous ones, they are all searching for truth and just can't seem to find it.  I have the feeling all the time of, "How do we teach 30 million people here in SP with a handful of missionaries?"  Then about two blocks later as we approached the temple, an older sister with her daughter came by me and I could tell they were members.  I stopped them and asked if they were.  The mother immediately addressed me as "Elder" something I will miss hearing.  Her daughter was obviously suffering from some type of cerebral palsy as her speech was slow and measured and she had some loss of muscle control, but I could understand her perfectly.  She served a mission in the Brazil Belem Mission at the mouth of the Amazon River.  We visited and then I moved on.  I got a little teary-eyed just thinking about their faithfulness, walking a long way to the temple,  in their Sunday best with extremely hot weather, with who knows what challenges in life, but with a countenance that radiated goodness and purpose.  I will miss these people very much.  

     We recently went to the restaurant on P-Day, Templo da Carne (Meat Temple) over in the Italian part of town.  The full name of the restaurant is "Marcos Bassi, Templo da Carne".  Several years ago I wanted to cook some tri-tip Brazilian style.  I went to YouTube and happened to come upon the teaching videos of Marcos Bassi.  I learned how to cook a really good tri-tip roast on the grill.  Uncle Byron taught me what spice is the best for tri-tip and believe me, it is the best (Pappy's).  I was telling the head waiter all about Marcos Bassi and he was blown away that an American knew who Marcos Bassi was.  A couple of minutes later, here he came and took us back to the kitchen to meet everyone and take pictures.  We had a great time.  They were also cooking palm hearts (palmito) in tin foil over the grill.  The took one off, sliced it open and cut out some pieces and it was really delicious.  Our meal was off the charts:  Palm hearts with olive oil, garlic, salt and butter; fraldinha (flank steak) cooked on a very long skewer and such tender and tasty meat; potato wedges; and their special rice dish.  They cut off the meat on your plate and then take it back to the grill.  They came by three times.  Later, the head cook and manager brought out a large platter of roasted white and purple onion wedges and caramelized lamb.  It was so good we could hardly believe how good it was.  The best is that they didn't charge us a dime for it and all because I learned how to cook tri-tip watching Marcos Bassi.

      Well, pretty much everyone in the building knows about the Casal Sonderegger that returned to work in welfare instead of the CTM (MTC).  We came back here because we weren't given much if anything to do.  No matter what we asked about, it had already been delegated to someone else.  There was no apartment available for us either.  We have so much to do to button up our projects as well as starting two more that I felt like we got jerked out of the soil and thrown away.  With no more necessary detail than that, we are back where we can do the most good.  We were welcoming back with open arms.  Everyone came and hugged us and were very glad to see us come back.  Elder Correa the Executive Secretary with whom we are good friends, said that Elder Costa was not surprised that we came back.  He also did not think there would be that much to do but as the request came from the CTM, he decided to see it through.  We aren't mad or upset with anyone.  I had a good visit, very positive with President Grahl of the CTM.  He is a really great man.  He understood and hadn't realized that we weren't keeping busy.  We are just grateful to be back.  If this experience served any purpose, it would be that we feel fortunate to have what we have here in our office.  

      An elder from Africa on arriving at the CTM and seeing all the food available and that he could eat as much as he wanted, broke down and cried.  We take a lot of things for granted and food a plenty is one of them.  Brother Braga at the CTM often goes shopping for missionaries who come with one pair of old shoes or one or two white shirts, one dress, a pair or two of garments, a suitcase that saw better days years ago, etc.  Often or even almost always, the missionaries coming from humble circumstances turn out to be great missionaries.  I am not saying you have to be poor to be humble.  In the case of successful missionaries who come from better off or well to do families, it is because their parents have taught them the value of WORK!  The missionaries who struggle the most with being here are almost always those who don't know how or won't try to WORK.  Give your children and grandchildren things to do.  I am so grateful that my parents always had a list of chores for me to do when I got home from school.  After school my day was (1) Do my chores; (2) Get my studies done; (3) Go play.  I learned to work fast.  The quicker I got my work/studies done, the more I got to play.  I wasn´t perfect by any means and had my bad days, but I did learn to work.

     The other problem that we see with the missionaries is that many of them feel like having "a really hard test/trial in life" should never happen.  Teach your children that "It is ok to have hard things to overcome in life".   It is ok to take hard classes in school.  Hard things are hard for a reason.  They allow us to grow, or to shrink.  I like Ether 12:6 which says, "...................., for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith."   Having faith and fortitude to overcome things is a lifetime activity.  You never know when hard times will come.  Looking back, the Teton Dam Failure was a really hard time for thousands of people, no fun at all and I doubt any of them would say, "Boy, that was a lot of fun.  Let's do it again."  But, they could tell you countless positive experiences and lessons which helped shape their lives.  To see people replanting a garden on their lot a couple of weeks after the flood with a ruined home and not knowing what was to come was inspiring to witness.  In D & C 136:31 we read "My people must be tried in all things, that they may be prepared to receive the glory that I have for them, even the glory of Zion; and he that will not bear chastisement is not worthy of my kingdom."  It is ok to have hard trials, to pass through them with some difficulty, and even endure some your entire life."  That takes a lot of faith.  Faith may be the most difficult of all the principles, doctrines and teachings to learn to have without question.  At least it has been for me.  Joseph Smith once described himself:  "I am like a huge, rough stone rolling down from a high mountain; and the only polishing I get is when some corner gets rubbed off by coming in contact with something else..............Thus, I will become a smooth and polished shaft in the quiver of the Almighty."  As grandma Sonderegger truthfully said, "You don't get strong by lifting marshmallows."  I think that is a great quote.

      The last thing I wanted to share is a quote from Elder Neal A. Maxwell published in 1981.  Elder Maxwell was so brilliant and a true apostle of the Lord in every way.  I always loved to hear him speak.  You had to listen closely and carefully.  He had a command of the English language like few others.  Like many, many people both in and out of the Church, mom and I are concerned about the day and age we live in and what we see happened all over the world as law and order and the pillars of truth are being gradually torn down.  Our society is drowning in the consequences and Satan is having his way.  Here is the quote:  
"Moreover, Latter-Day Saints need to remember that we who live now are being called upon to work out our salvation in a special time of intense and immense challenges - the last portion of the dispensation of the fullness of times during which great tribulations and temptations will occur, the elect will almost be deceived, and unrighteous people will be living much as they were in the day of Noah.  It will be a time of polarization, as the Twelve fore saw in their declaration of 1845.  Hardness of heart in many will produce other manifestations of hardness and coarseness.  Civility will be one casualty of these conditions and a lower capacity to achieve reconciliation, whether in marriage or between interest groups, will be another.  My prayer is that we will heed the warnings of the prophets and apostles who are now on the earth as well as in times past.  The prophecies are coming to pass.  They are so clear a dead man could see them coming.  I pray that Our Heavenly Father will bless each of you as you seek to know His will, and I pray that the Savior will not be long in coming.

Love You All, 


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