Monday, June 8, 2015

Week of June 1-7, 2015

On Monday we took the missionaries out for almoço (lunch) because transfers were this week.
Lunch with the Teófilo Otoni Missionaries.

The Sister missionaries living next to us were both transferred and now we have two elders in their place.  
Transfer night at the Rodoviária (Bus Station).  Members from both branches come to say goodbye to the Sisters who are being transfered.

  The Sisters left for Vitória on Monday evening and the new elders arrived on Wednesday morning.  Sister Burkinshaw couldn’t resist doing a little cleaning in their apartment before they arrived. Before the week was out, she had purchased an ironing board, some bowls and few other odds and ends for them.  Elder Nascimento is from São Paulo and Elder McKay is from Logan.  We fed them several times until they were able to get food at the grocery store.  We’ll miss the sisters but they have been replaced by some equally great young men.

 We made a number of visits to members in the Teófilo Otoni Branch this week including many of the leadership.  The Relief Society President and her husband, the Young Men President, are great people with a wonderful family.  They recently moved here from Nanuque, which is the other city included in our District.
On Friday afternoon, we were able to watch the funeral service for Elder L. Tom Perry via the internet on  We particularly enjoyed Elder Oaks story about Elder Perry wanting to pass through "the veil of death" at least one day before President Packer.
On Friday evening, we met with Presidente Marcio of the Ipiranga Branch to discuss the plans for Sister Burkinshaw's English class for both members and non-members.  Following the meeting, the youth were playing volleyball so we joined in for a few minutes.  Sister Burkinshaw twisted her right wrist, which is still tender at this writing, but hopefully it will improve soon.  We have a great group of youth that faithfully attend seminary every evening at the Church from 6:30-7:30pm.
Youth Volleyball following seminary on Friday evening.  Elder Burkinshaw is serving.

 Saturday is always a busy day because most people are at home that day.  We went out with Elder Daniel (from São Paulo) and his new companion, who just arrived here on Wednesday, Elder Oliveira.  They guided us to the homes of a number of church members in the Bairro (neighborhood) of Alta Bela Vista.  As you can see from the pictures, the Bairro is well-named (Alta means High).  Since this area is so hilly or mountainous (depending on your perspective) many of the homes are built into hills with concrete steps climbing to the homes.  Per the iPhone Health app (which seems to be more accurate than the FitBit), we walked about 13 miles, climbed 137 stories vertically taking about 30,000 steps.  And most of that was in the rain, but fortunately we had one umbrella for Sister Burkinshaw! ;-)
Sister Burkinshaw with Elders Oliveira and Daniel, as the clouds roll in.

Elder Burkinshaw with Elders Oliveira and Daniel, after the rain (note they are wet).  The steps in the background are just one set of many we walked that day.

   While the walking was rigorous and the weather a bit problematic, the blessing came in being able to visit some of the very sweet families of members that are rarely visited because their homes are so difficult to reach.  Here is one of them.  It is always very enjoyable to be with these young elders.  As the rain came and it got a little slick and probably a little dangerous, particularly for us old people, Elder Oliveira would break into song with a hymn or We'll Bring The World His Truth.  They have such a good attitude and are so diligent it is inspiring!

Edivaldo da Silva Family
As we work to update the membership records of the two branches here, we find that at least 50% of all families have the surnames of Barbosa, Costa, Ferreira, Gonçalves, Oliveira, Santos, Silva or Souza.  And since the convention is to have two surnames which can come from either the father or the mother and in no specific order, family history becomes more challenging.  Sunday, we were pleased to see that a number of families that we have visited in the past two weeks were there for our meetings.  
President Uchtdorf said in this past conference, "many of the things you can count, do not count.  Many of the things you cannot count, really do count."  That definitely describes missionary work.  Although ultimately we want to bring the people of the world to Christ through the gate of baptism, which is something you can count, there are many events that bring a person to the point they are ready for that step.  In our district meeting the district leader did they training from PMG on Finding People to Teach.  One of the stories included was a good reminder that most people have many contact experiences with both members and missionaries before they are ready to accept baptism.  We've included the story for you to enjoy:
"Much to my surprise, I was called to labor in the same mission where my older sister had served a year earlier. After a few months in the mission field, I was transferred to one of the areas where my sister had served. Upon learning of my transfer, my sister wrote and asked me to visit a family that she and her companion had taught. She expressed the love and closeness she had with the Norman family and how disappointed she was when they discontinued investigating the Church.

My companion and I located the Normans and were warmly received by them. They accepted our invitation to again hear the restored gospel. I’m not sure what the difference was this time, but they were fully ready to accept our message. The entire family was baptized and confirmed.
After this experience, I wondered about other former investigators my sister had worked with. I thought, “If it worked for the Normans, maybe it will work for other people she taught as well.” I decided to write my sister about the idea of contacting other people she had taught. She went through her journal and sent me the names of other former investigators in the area.
My companion and I spent the next week contacting these people. To our delight, almost half of them accepted an invitation to hear the restored gospel again. Several of this group were baptized and confirmed."
Avánte Vitória!
Elder and Sister Burkinshaw

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