Monday, June 15, 2015

Week of June 8-14, 2015

Our week started out a little rough as we received word Monday that cars would not be available for senior missionaries in Brasil.  While we understand the need to manage scarce resources, we were still disappointed.  The premise in sending us to Teófilo Otoni, in the most elevated and distant part of the mission, was that we would have a car so now we’ll have to reassess and prioritize what we are doing because it isn’t physically possible to maintain our current schedule without a car.  “Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength and means provided…” (D&C 10:4)  When we were set apart as missionaries by President Bell, he said that our assignment would not be easy and his words have proved to be prophetic.  
   As we were sitting in one of the branch correlation council meetings one of the sisters asked what our responsibilities here in the branch were.  The branch president responded they are here to “provide peace and wisdom”, I guess you don’t need a car for peace and wisdom.  We are getting to know several of the taxi drivers pretty well.  Elder Burkinshaw tips well so they are happy to pick us up and transport us to random mountains in town.  On Tuesday night as we were walking home a driver going by rolled down their window and started calling to us.  It was one of our favorite taxi driver’s, on his way home for the day, asking if we wanted a ride home.  We were planning to walk, but decided he was there, why not.  When Jeff went to pay him he declined saying he was happy to give us a lift—he is a great guy and we enjoy our association with him.  
   Wednesday Jeff received a special birthday present for his 60th birthday – 60 letters from our children and friends from around the world.  Chelsea put the letters together and e-mailed them in the wee hours of the morning.  When Jeff got up early and checked his e-mail about 3:00am, there was the compilation.  He spent the next three hours reading them – it was quite special and we feel very grateful for the blessings that have come in our lives.  That evening, Sister Andreia, who teaches seminary from 6:30-7:30pm every weekday evening except Monday (FHE), had made a cake and all the Seminary students and others at the building surprised Elder Burkinshaw.  It was greatly appreciated and made for a fun end to the day.  In thinking back on his decade birthday’s Jeff realized he was in Brazil for his 20th; Casper WY for his 30th; Houston TX for his 40th; Ponca City OK for his 50th and here in Brazil again for his 60th.  He has spent many birthdays in Bartlesville, but never a decade birthday.
60th Birthday:  Cake and Guaraná with the Costa Family at the Church.  Andreia teaches seminary, their son João Pedro is 15, and the father, Marcio, is the Branch President.
Seminary students and missionaries at Elder Burkinshaw's 60th Birthday and Presidente Marcio's 46th Birthday.
   We had some nice visits this week.  One was to stop back by a family’s home that Sister Burkinshaw, the Sister missionaries, and a couple of the young women tracted out and taught a lesson to during one of the youth missionary activities.   The sisters had left the “Plan of Salvation” booklet and so I felt we should check back with them and I wanted Elder Burkinshaw to meet them since they are just a little older than we are.  Since my Portuguese is still somewhat limited and the sisters had not left there contact information for the new Elders I wanted to make sure they were interested before turning them over to the younger missionaries. They remembered our visit and agreed to have the Elder’s come teach a lesson. They have a great spirit in their home. We turned the “reference” over to the Elder’s and let them know we would be happy to tag along on their first appointment.  The missionary discussions are taught by the younger missionaries and we are there to help support when they need us.
   It was our turn this month to feed the Elder’s and since the Zone leaders were here for the day, which makes eight Elders, we decided to take them out for lunch since we don’t have 10 plates in our apartment on which to eat.  We have bought the basics for the kitchen, but since there is only two of us we bought a four piece place setting of dishes and our pots and pans are designed for a small group at best.  Lunch was good and the Elder’s seemed to enjoy it.  They pile their plates up with the typical Brazilian food and although I wonder how sometimes, they always finish it off!! Next month hopefully we can have them to the apartment for a little more American cuisine. Of course American or Brazilian for Elder Burkinshaw we still provide Guaraná, which looks a lot like cerveja (beer), but it's not!
Lunch with the missionaries in Teófilo Otoni and the Zone Leaders from Nanuque.
   Friday was Brazil’s Valentine’s Day (Dia dos Namorados).  The Elder’s quorum president planned a nice activity at the church—dinner and a dance.  It was fun.  Although Jeff is reminded in these settings that his “slang” Portuguese isn’t there yet.  When they get joking around and telling stories it is pretty hard to know exactly what is going on.  It is also good we are “Senior” missionaries because the activity didn’t get started until 9:00pm and we definitely didn’t make it back to our apartment before 10:00pm.  We did have the Brazilian version of Stroganoff, Chicken (Frango) Stroganoff, which was delicious.  I need to have somebody write down some of the recipes for me so we can make them at home.
Dia dos Namorados dinner and dance at the Church with Julianna (YW Pres) and João.
Sunday we made a couple of visits with the Relief Society president in one of the branches.  As I associate with and watch this faithful sister I am amazed.  She was born with a curved spine and only stands about 4½ ft.  We were to meet her at the church at 5:00pm as Jeff had a meeting from 3-5pm via Skype.  She arrived about 4:00pm and had already been out making visits since about 1:00pm. She uses the buses as much as she can and does the rest on foot.  She washed up a little, stretched out on one of the cushioned pews in the chapel for 30 minutes and was ready to go again at 5:00pm.  We caught a ride up to the top of one of the hills and made our way down making a couple of stops at member’s homes.  After we finished we called a taxi to take her home as it was dark and she had had a long day.  I have to admit I reflected on how easy it is to jump in a car and drive around to make visiting teaching visits in the States. As always the important thing with visiting teaching is to do it!  For others to feel loved they need to know we are interested in them and what is going on in their life, visiting and home teaching provide that opportunity.

Avanté Vitória
Elder and Sister Burkinshaw

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