Week of May 11-17, 2015
We had a good planning day on Monday. Jeff and I both read Chapter 8 of Preach My Gospel, How Do I Use Time Wisely. During our training at the MTC we learned that this was the first chapter written for PMG and the primary purpose for which they wrote PMG. One of the scriptural references seemed particularly applicable to our situation, it is in Jacob 5:11-13, 61-64, 74-75. Although I won’t include all of the verses I’d like to include the phrases that particularly caught our attention and are applicable to our situation here in Teófilo Ontoni. In verses 12 The Lord of the vineyard said, “watch the tree, and nourish it, according to my words.” And in verse 13 “…it grieveth me that I should lose this tree and the fruit thereof.” In verse 61 is says, “…call servants, that we may labor diligently with our might in the vineyard, that we may prepare the way,….vs. 62 “…let us go to and labor with our might…”. And in vs. 74 “And thus they labored, with all diligence…” and vs. 75 “….And blessed art thou; for because ye have been diligent in laboring with me in my vineyard, and have kept my commandments, and have brought unto me again the natural fruit, that my vineyard is no more corrupted, and the bad is cast away, behold ye shall have joy with me because of the fruit of my vineyard.” We continue to see and feel the Lord’s love for these people and continually see many “Tender Mercies” in the work here, these are such good people. There is work to do in Teofilo Ontoni and there are some amazing people to work with. We are excited to work with them and to see the tree in this part of the vineyard be nourished that the saints may have a Stake of Zion in which to draw strength from.
Jeff and I came up with a good daily schedule that will work for us, adapted the key indicators to align with what President Young wants us to do as Senior missionaries in this area and wrote some goal setting options for our weekly planning meeting. So hopefully we have captured the training in Chapter 8 of PMG and by doing so will be effective with our time.
Tuesday we prepared for our trip to Vitoria and spent time studying. We boarded the bus at 8:20pm in Teofilo Otoni and arrived at the bus station in Vitoria at 7:20am the next morning. The bus ride wasn't as bad as the last time mostly because we knew what to expect. We didn’t really get much sleep. Needless to say we were happy to arrive at the hotel in Vitoria around 8:00am, get some breakfast and stretch out for an hour or so before starting on the things we needed to get done.
We went to both Wal-mart and Sams Club Wednesday to pick up things we have not yet been able to find for the house in Teófilo Otoni. Some of our best finds were: a spray mop with washable pads, Hersheys chocolate syrup, peanut butter (it’s Peter Pan brand so we will see how it tastes), a crock pot, a duvet cover for our bed and a can opener. We are excited to put a few of these things to good use like the mop, crock pot and duvet cover. We looked all over both Wal-mart and Sams for chocolate chips to make cookies for district meeting next week, but no luck. We did find a large Hershey's candy bar which we will chop up in pieces, it will be interesting to see how the cookies turn out because the ingredients are all just a little different and we will be cooking them in a propane oven.
I've got my Hershey's syrup, I'll be fine!!
We stayed in a hotel right on the beach here in Vitória which has been great for me especially. I love the beach and they have a long lighted walkway, it probably stretches 10 miles. There are a ton of people out walking, skating, and riding bikes. The breeze coming off the water is nice. There is a lot of traffic noise so there are only a few spots where you can hear the waves, but it’s still nice.
Beach front in Vitória.
We spent Friday with the office Elders, Elder Olsen and Elder Carvalho taking care of administrative things that needed to be done in Vitória. We picked up several items from the mission office that we needed: missionary English manuals, Portuguese bible, My Family Tree booklets etc. We were hoping to get our Brasil Vitoria mission backpacks, but the order they had placed was delayed so hopefully we will get one of those at or before the next transfers in June. We were able to get registered, receive our Brazilian identity cards and get a permanent cellphone plan rather than the pre-pay plan we have been using (which has been very expensive and inconvenient). We also got a CPF (Cadastro Pessoal Física) number which is the equivalent of a social security number required to make purchases (anything over a certain amount) in Brazil and to purchase things online and have them sent. As Jeff was applying for the CPF number we found out that still has one from when he served his mission here the first time in 1974 and it is still good she was still in the system (41 year ago that's a pretty impressive system) so we just had the lady helping us give us a copy of it and we were good to go. In trying to figure out why he had a CPF number as a young missionary the only thing that we could come up with was that he had served as the branch president for six months in Lins.
We were able to get to know the office elders better and take them out for lunch which they seemed to enjoy. They did tell us that being in the office they had watch what they ate and we're starting to do that more earnestly this week, although after seeing the available food choices they said they weren't going to worry about it until tomorrow. I was impressed because they both still made good healthy choices. They were great and a huge help.
Elder Carvalo and Elder Olsen
Teófilo Otoni is starting to feel more like home and we definitely love the people here. As I was visiting with Elder Olsen, who served in Teofilo at one time, I asked him what he thought we could do to make a difference here. He commented that just be excited about the work and being excited about church. Having loved President Eyring’s October 2013 conference talk “To My Grandchildren” we will use that message to share with the members. Pres. Eyring said: "I urge those I love to accept and to magnify every calling offered them in the Church. That choice is one of the great keys to family happiness.
We arrived back in Teófilo Otoni Saturday morning at about 8:00am, unpacked, took a nap and then prepared for the day. The Ipiranga Branch held a special activity where members shared original poems and prose. It was actually quite impressive with many youth as well as adults participating.
The pressures at every stage of life can tempt us to reject or neglect calls to serve the Savior. That can put us in spiritual peril for ourselves, our spouse, and our families. Some of those calls may seem unimportant, but my life, and my family, was changed for the better by my accepting a call to teach a deacons quorum. I felt the love of those deacons for the Savior and His love for them." Great talk to review for all of us serving in the church. Also a great story of our serving and putting covenants first in our lives is taught in a new video just released by the Church History department about the temple caravan from Manaus to São Paulo in 1992. The link to the English version is here: https://history.lds.org/article/manaus-brazil-temple-caravan?lang=eng. Jeff had put it on the Ipad for the sisters to watch this morning while they were using our computer to write home. I didn't know that, but came into the kitchen to find them with tears flowing and had to look to see what was causing them. It really is an amazing story.
|At the Vitória Rodoviária (bus station) ready for the all night 11-hour ride back to Teófilo Otoni.|
Youth and Missionaries at Branch Activity
Sister Eva getting her award, a hug from one of the branch presidency, and a kiss
from daughter-in-law, Sister Costa (the branch president's wife).
The grand prize winner was Irmã Eva, the mother of Presidente Marcio. She gave a wonderful poem about how the Savior's love is at the center of all love, reminiscent of 1 John 4:19 "We love him, because he first loved us." She's not only an excellent poet but she also is an excellent cook. She made an outstanding cake which she shared with us last week and on Sunday she made a potato salad (maionese) that was exceptional and of course sent some extra home with us. Interesting note: the chapel turns into the cultural hall by drawing a curtain which puts the podium and sacrament table out of view and the pews as you can see from the picture can be moved around as needed.
We went to the Teofilo Ontoni branch on Sunday. Jeff had the opportunity to speak and I got to play the organ so that was fun at least for me and I'm happy to play the organ because it will be a little while before I'm ready to speak in church, at least in Portuguese.
Avante para a Vitória! (D&C 128:22)
Elder and Sister Burkinshaw