Monday, July 20, 2015

Week of July 13-19, 2015

Every six weeks the mission receives new missionaries and missionaries that have completed their service go home.  In addition, other missionaries are transferred to other areas to keep the work in each are fresh and active.  This past Wednesday was transfers and two Elders from Teófilo Otoni were transferred out (Moreira and Nascimento) and two new Elders were transferred in (Machado and Silva).  Since often times, this is the last time we will see these missionaries, all the missionaries and many of the members go to the bus station (rodoviária) to see them off.

Elder Nascimento, who lived in the apartment behind us, was transferred to Terra Vermelha.  He was a great missionary and had been a member of the Church 2 years when he accepted the call to serve as a missionary.

Branch President of the Ipiranga Branch Marcio Costa in a round-robin handshake with Élderes Moreiera and Nascimento who are being transferred and his son João Pedro. You can see cookies in Sister Burkinshaw's hand on the right as a going away present.

The six Teófilo Otoni Elders and members of the two branches who came to see Élderes Moreira and Nascimento off as they are transferred to other parts of the mission.
The missionaries have mixed emotions on being transferred as they leave behind friends and associates they may never see again, but anticipate the great opportunity to meet new friends and have a fresh start in the Lord's work.  And each transfer will demonstrate the revelation granted to President Young as the missionaries go where they are needed and discover why they have been sent where they are transferred.  It is an inspired process.
Elder Machado, who replaced Elder Moreira, wasn't feeling well when he arrived and seemed quite tired.  It's an 11 hour overnight bus ride from the mission headquarters to Teófilo Otoni and it was another 6 hour overnight bus ride to the mission headquarters for him from his area in Campos where he began his journey with Elder Silva.  Thus, we weren't surprise they were tired.  But the following day, he had a high fever so the other missionaries called us and we took him to the local clinic where they diagnosed him with Dengue Fever.  They gave him a prescription for medications to keep him hydrated and relieve the associated joint pain, which we filled before taking him back to their apartment. Mosquitos are the vector for Dengue so we try to avoid them but this is a tropical climate with all the conditions to breed mosquitos.  Fortunately it has been drier than normal in Teófilo Otoni and we haven't had any problems with the missionaries here.  Fortunately, Elder Machado was feeling better within a couple of days, which is generally what happens with proper care.  He demonstrated great courage and devotion and we had to remind him, more than once, that it is better to rest now rather than going out and ending up worse.
Transfer predications.  One of those fun things the Elders like to do.  We all make a prediction of who is going (vai) or staying (fica).  Nobody got them all, maybe next time.  

We spent some time this week with a young man here who had joined the Church in São Paulo, served a worthy mission and then came home and made some bad choices, which resulted in his ending up outside the Church.  It has been more than a decade and he described how hard his life had been without the guidance of the Holy Ghost and the anchor of the Gospel.   We have observed his efforts to regularly attend Church meetings and that led us to visit him in his very humble home, which he said was the first visit he had received for many years.  We were touched as he described his deep desire to again feel the Spirit and feel the Lord's approbation.  It was a reminder that even though the world seems to condone any type of behavior, true peace and happiness comes from living true to the standards of the Gospel.  We shared Elder Christofferson's "Divine Gift of Repentance" conference talk with him, where we are reminded that "...whatever the cost of repentance, it is swallowed up in the joy of forgiveness."  We found Elder Christofferson's description of our times even more accurate than in 2011 when he gave the talk.  We left this man's home with great hope for him and appreciation for the loving gospel principle of repentance. Helping this man must surely be one of the reasons we are here in Teófilo Otoni.
Friday, Presidente Marcio Costa and his wife Andreya organized a youth activity at the Church where we assisted.  Queimado ("burned" - a Brazilian version of slaughter ball) was a favorite activity, as was musical chairs and the "forehead to mouth" cookie eating challenge.  We just watched the musical chairs, but did provide the music.  We connected the ipad up to President Marcio's car radio and played "Everything is Awesome" from the Lego movie, it was a great song for musical chairs.  Here's a few pictures:
Rayassa blowing the ping pong ball, Franklin is on the back table. ou have to run to the other end of the parking lot and get water in a cup to bring back, fill the cup full enough to get the ping pong to float on top and then blow the ball to the next empty cup.  Very fun.

Elder Burkinshaw still has the arm for "Queimado" (Brazilian slaughterball) 
Musical chairs was another favorite activity for the youth.
Douglas Gonçalves, a priest in the branch, captures his cookie!

Elder Burkinshaw was very good at this activity and the cookie was good too!!
Newly arrived Elder Silva concentrates on getting the cookie from forehead to his mouth!
On Sunday, following excellent talks by Elders Machado and Chaves, Sister Burkinshaw spoke in the Teófilo Otoni Branch and with Elder Burkinshaw as her interpreter.  However, she began in Portuguese and she closed with her testimony in Portuguese.  Her talk was entitled "Teaching in the Church" and was very well received.  She started out the week with a longer talk but as we practiced, she continued to refine it into a talk that addressed the specific needs here in the Teófilo Otoni and Ipiranga Branches.  Later on that day, the Relief Society President and the Elders Quorum President wanted her to know that they had aligned their lesson schedules and implement a calendar, so her efforts appear to be yielding fruit. A couple of good conference talks on Teaching in the Church are Elder Dallin H. Oaks, October 1999, titled “Gospel Teaching” and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, April 1998, “A Teacher Come from God”.  Sister Burkinshaw particularly related to Elder Holland's telling of the prophet Jeremiah's experience with teaching in a difficult situation.  "Jeremiah vowed, in effect, never to teach another lesson, whether that be to an investigator, Primary child, new convert, or—heaven forbid—the 15-year-olds. “I will not make mention of [the Lord], nor speak any more in his name,” the discouraged prophet said." (Very similar feeling when the branch president asked me to speak, even doing it using translating is difficult and frustrating.) "But then came the turning point of Jeremiah’s life. Something had been happening with every testimony he had borne, every scripture he had read, every truth he had taught....Even as he vowed to close his mouth and walk away from the Lord’s work, he found that he could not. Why? Because “his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.”  That is definitely the feelings of these missionaries trying to do the best they can in a foreign tongue.

After Church, we were invited for almoço (lunch - the major meal of the day in Brazil) at the home of Carlos, Nadja and their three children along with the Elders who serve in the Teófilo Otoni Branch.  They served feijoada (black beans and pork) which is a favorite here. Sister Nadja always prepares the food so it looks like a work of art and along with the feijoada and rice, she served a tomato, carrot and onion salad as well as fried bananas and orange slices.  Carlos is a returned missionary and Nadja teaches Relief Society.  Their home, while humble, is always neat and orderly, their children (9 year-old Thales, 7 year-old Karla and 2 year-old Anna) are always fun to visit with (and they love Nighty Night and Mr. Potato Head on Sister Burkinshaw's iPhone) and there is always a peaceful spirit there. The first picture is Anna using the phone for selfies.
Anna Selfie. She is a cutie!
Karla, Carlos, Nadja, Anna and Thales Gonçalves - an exemplary family
 It was raining when we left the house and Sister Burkinshaw loves to see the missionaries walking in the rain and singing Primary songs as they go.  These young men are an inspiration and an example of all that is good in the world today.

Elders Daniel, Machado, Oliveira and Chaves sharing umbrellas and singing in the rain!
We feel very blessed by our associations here in Teófilo Otoni.  We send our love to all!!

Avánte Vitória

Elder and Sister Burkinshaw

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