Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Week of June 15-21, 2015

The week has gone quickly.  We spent Sunday evening with the family of Ronaldo and Paulinha for two-year-old Pérola’s (Pearl’s) birthday party.  There were a dozen members of the branch there as well and as you can see, she had a great Minnie Mouse birthday cake.
Pérola’s with her mother and Minnie Mouse Birthday Cake.

We enjoyed a nice P-day with cleaning, writing the blog and ended with a family home evening at the home of Marcelo and Rosimeire and their three teenage children. They had invited a non-member friend and two newly baptized members to participate as well as the four missionaries assigned to the Teófilo Otoni Branch.  Sister Rosimeire gave a message from the Liahona and Sister Burkinshaw brought chocolate chip cookies, which, as always, were a big hit.  Everyone seemed to enjoy the evening and it was a great way for this faithful family, who serve as the Young Men President and Relief Society President, to teach and encourage the new members.  Following the FHE, we went to the Elder’s apartment to install their carbon monoxide monitor.  It made for a late night but it saved us from having to walk another 5 km (3 miles) the next day. Even so, we still walked an average of 8.03 miles with 40 vertical floors per day last week.

FHE at the home of Marcelo and Rosemeire with friends, new members and missionaries.
Tuesday we rode the bus over to Nanuque in the late afternoon and stayed at the Panorama hotel which overlooks the Rio Murcuri (Mercury River).  The hotel is clean, the breakfast is good and the best part is a warm shower with good water pressure, so I always feel like my hair gets washed and rinsed well.  As we have previously mentioned, the traditional Brazilian chuveiro (electrically heated shower head) uses gravity flow so you can perhaps appreciate why the Panorama Hotel’s shower experience is special.  The gravity flow comes from the caixa de agua (literally water box) which is a small plastic tank on the top of the roof that provides gravity water pressure for the house. On hot days outside, we actually have hot water in the kitchen sink for the first few minutes.

Chuveiro (shower head which heats gravity-fed water) for showers.
Blue water tank (caixa de agua) on the roof which provides water pressure for the house.
 We had zone meeting on Wednesday morning in Nanuque directed by Elder dos Santos and Elder W. Santos, who are the zone leaders.  They had called us on Tuesday afternoon to request that we present a 30 minute discussion on getting referrals from members and non-members.  We used ideas from Elder Clayton Christensen’s book “Everyday Missionaries” and Elder Russell M. Nelson’s conference talk “Ask the Missionaries”.  Sister Burkinshaw introduced our topic and showed a short video clip of the First Vision.  The Brazilian Elders afterwards told her she did a great job, but she interpreted it as kind encouragement, which she appreciated.  The rest of the discussion focused on making inquiries to understand what peoples questions really are.  Following our presentation, the balance of the time was spent on why it was important to ask for references and creative ways to encourage people to provide references.  Every week in district meeting we read through the list of “Remember This….” items on the last page of Preach My Gospel.  One of those items is…. “Pedir referências a todas as pessoas!” (Ask for referrals from everyone!)   At one point during the training, we played a variation of the game “murder” using a hand shake.  Everyone was to walk around and greet each other with a handshake.  The “murderer” was to use his pointer finger and place it on the wrist of the person he wanted to murder.  It was fun and actually worked well.  The point of the game, besides helping everyone remain alert, was to teach that we do not know who may have a “golden contact” and we therefore need to ask everyone, even investigators and non-members if they know someone who may be interested in the message of the restored gospel.  After Zone meeting, we took four of the Teófilo Otoni Elders out for lunch, which they loved. 
Zone Meeting Activity to illustrate the importance of working in unity.

Missionaries in the Nanuque Zone
 12 Brazilians, 1 Peruvian and 3 Americans.
On Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning we inspected the apartments, made repairs and purchased replacement parts and furniture for the missionary apartments with help from President Nascimento, who is the first counselor in the Nanuque District presidency and has a car.  We repaired or replaced many leaking faucets and drains, restored electricity to one of the apartments (it had been intermittent for more than a week) and installed the carbon monoxide monitors in all of the apartments.  Since President Nascimento seems to know almost everyone in Nanuque, he helped us find the right people to help with these repairs and the best price for new fans, ironing boards, microwaves, etc.  We were running the whole time, trying to finish before our bus departed for Teófilo Otoni.
Even Superman duct tape can't keep this drain from leaking! - one of may repairs made.
Time for a new ironing board (tabua de passar roupa)
On Wednesday evening, while Elder Burkinshaw and President Nascimento were meeting a repair man at one of the apartments, Sister Burkinshaw got a Brazilian cooking lesson from Bruna, wife of President Nascimento.  I finally know what is in the food we have been eating in people’s homes as well as at the Brazilian restaurants.  The Brazilian’s are amazing cooks and everything is made from scratch.  It was delicious and I enjoyed the lesson and practicing my Portuguese.  (we forgot to take pictures – darn!)
When we got back to Teófilo Otoni, we had time to drop off a package for President Nascimento, drop off our suitcases at the apartment, grab a quick bite to eat and walk to the Centro (downtown).  The owner of an English school, whose brother is a member, asked us to help his advanced English students with their accent and with interpreting unique phrases.  It is fun and gives us another way to meet and help people understand who we are and what we do as missionaries.  After the English class we went to the church to do the sign-ups for our English classes which begin next week.  We also delivered some invitations for interviews with the District Presidency this weekend and returned in time for Sister Burkinshaw to assist with the last of our current English classes.  It was a long two days.
We had a particularly special experience as we accompanied two of the Elders to teach a man, Irmão (Brother) Franklin who was baptized recently in Belo Horizonte but lives part-time in Teófilo Otoni where his consulting business is located.  He spends most of the week traveling, assisting smaller cities apply for government health care grants.  He is preparing to receive the Aaronic Priesthood and wanted to understand more about the Sacrament.  The Elders reviewed the mechanics from a sheet we had prepared from the Gospel Principles manual.  Sister Burkinshaw then shared a quote from Sister Esplin (October 2014 General Conference) in Portuguese “Os portadores do Sacerdócio Aarônico representam o Salvador ao preparar, abençoar e distribuir o sacramento. Quando um portador do sacerdócio nos estende a bandeja com os emblemas sagrados, é como se o Próprio Salvador estendesse Seu braço de misericórdia e convidasse cada um a partilhar dos dons preciosos de amor liberados por Seu Sacrifício Expiatório — dons de arrependimento, perdão, consolo e esperança.” (English: “Aaronic Priesthood holders represent the Savior when they prepare, bless, and pass the sacrament.  As a priesthood holder extends his arm to offer us the sacred emblems, it is as if the Savior Himself were extending His arm of mercy, inviting each one of us to partake of the precious gifts of love made available through His atoning sacrifice—gifts of repentance, forgiveness, comfort, and hope.”  We then shared a short video on the Sacrament entitled "Always Remember Him". Sister Burkinshaw closed by sharing another quote from Sister Esplin’s talk:  “The more we ponder the significance of the sacrament, the more sacred and meaningful it becomes to us. This was what a 96-year-old father expressed when his son asked, “Dad, why do you go to church? You can’t see, you can’t hear, it’s hard for you to get around. Why do you go to church?” The father replied, “It’s the sacrament. I go to partake of the sacrament.”  It was a great discussion as Irmão Franklin had many questions and is an honest seeker of truth. 
He also had some questions about the order of the creation, which is an interesting topic.  We identified the four stories of the creation, three from scripture (Genesis 1-2, Moses 2-4 and Abraham 3-5) and one in the temple.  We have been studying from the new Institute manual “Jesus Christ and the Everlasting Gospel” the lesson on Jehovah as the creator and one of the readings was Elder Russell M. Nelson's “The Creation” (April 2000 General Conference) which outlines the creation day by day connecting the teachings from the four revealed accounts of the creation accounts (Genesis, Moses, Abraham and the Temple Endowment).  We formatted it in our "talk library" format and will share a copy with him at our next lesson.
Saturday and Sunday were busy days with a visit from the District Presidency.  We cleaned the building Saturday morning, picked up groceries for the meals and spent the evening at the church reviewing individual ordinance summaries and taking photos of the members who came for interviews.  President Nascimento’s wife Bruna came with him and they spent the night at our home.  They had forgotten their air mattress so we borrowed the two extra single mattresses from the Elders who live just behind us.  We got home about 10:30pm had a bite to eat and visited so it was midnight before we got to bed.  The men had a 7:00am meeting at the church on Sunday morning.  They presidency spoke in both of the branches and then did some more interviews finishing up about 4:30pm making it a long weekend.  We pray the interviews provided the needed love, appreciation and enthusiasm for the leadership, the brethren preparing to receive the Melchizedec Priesthood and the members working to prepare for their temple endowment or renewing their recommends.  
Bruna, President Nasimento’s wife, came over planning to teach me how to make Brazilian chicken stroganoff, but because of the language barrier we didn’t quite figure that out until I was already making spaghetti with her for our dinner.  We borrowed the district presidents car to drive to and from the apartment on Saturday evening while the brethren were doing the interviews.  I definitely felt like a teenager again as the car and area were new to her and because we usually walk, and a lot of the streets in Teofilo Otoni are one-way, it turned out to be quite the adventure.  When we got to our apartment she pulled in and then decided to back out and park the car by the side of the house.  The problem was she couldn’t figure out how to get the car into reverse - good thing I was raised on a farm and had lots of experience with a manual transmission.  We drove the wrong way on a  one-way road, but luckily there was no traffic at the time.  When we got back to the church she almost hit a tree while backing into the parking spot and we exited the car laughing like a couple of teenage girls.  I was definitely grateful to be back safe and sound.  We enjoyed the weekend and hope it was a positive experience for the members who were able to participate.  It was Father’s Day in the States yesterday so we received several calls from the kids wishing Elder Burkinshaw a Happy Father’s Day, which was nice.  Although Mother's Day is the same day as in the states, Brazilian Father's Day is  in October.
On Saturday evening while the interviews were going on, the Ipiranga Branch Primary had an activity to make bread and then eat the bread with hot chocolate while watching a video. It was a little cooler Saturday evening so the hot chocolate was very timely.  In Brazil, milk is sold in containers which don't require refrigeration.  Elder Burkinshaw and I enjoyed both the Pão (bread) and the chocolate quente (hot chocolate).
Primary children making pão (bread) with the Primary Presidency
Pão enchido com goiabada (bread filled with guava jelly) from the Primary Activity.
Leite Integral (whole milk) which does not require refrigeration until it is opened.

One final experience from Sunday was the Sunday School lesson taught be Elder Moreira, our district leader.  This week's lesson was on the blessings of work and he used a particularly inspiring YouTube video entitled Missionary Work and the Atonement which uses clips from talks by President Eyring and Elder Holland along with video clips of the Savior’s life.  The principle taught was that gaining salvation is work for missionaries, investigators and I might add members.  Although Elder Holland’s words were directed to mission presidents, it was a powerful message of the “work” the Savior did for our Salvation and that it should require our best work as well even though our part cannot really be compared to His.  Our Elders are great and we appreciate the work they do!
Our cleaning is done for the day.  As Jeff was finishing the bathroom, which he cleans each week, I decided next week we will video him doing it and share the video at our next zone conference to show the Elders how it’s done.  We will title the video “A solução para a poluição é dilucição" (The Solution to Polution is Dilution).  The weather is supposed to be in the 70’s this week, which for us will be great.  I noticed on Saturday and Sunday that the Brazilian’s had coats on—I wonder how long it takes to get acclimatized?

Avanté Vitória
Elder and Sister Burkinshaw

No comments:

Post a Comment