Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Week of July 20-26, 2015

  With transfers last week, this week we had Zone Meeting in Nanuque.  The mission has a special rate with the Aguia Branca (White Eagle) bus line, which runs from Vitório to Teófilo Otoni through Nanuque but it only runs once a day from Teófilo Otoni to Nanuque (8:30pm to 11:30pm) and returns only once a day (4:00am to 7:00am).  Fortunately, as a senior couple, we get an exception to ride over on the Rio Doce bus line, which runs at a variety of times.  So we left on Tuesday afternoon at 3:45pm and arrived about 6:30pm.  The young missionaries sleep in the apartments of the other missionaries but fortunately we are rent a hotel room.  When we arrived at the hotel we learned that President and Sister Young had arrived also for a surprise visit.  We had a nice visit with them at breakfast the next morning. The Zone leaders also had a heads up as they walked by the hotel just as the Young's were checking in, so President Young actually went out with them on visits tuesday evening. They kept the secret well and it was fun to see the missionaries faces as President and Sister Young walked into the church.  
Zion Meeting, Nanuque.  President and Sister Young participating in the activity.

   The Zone conference was well done with the focus on baptizing with training from the scriptures and Preach My Gospel. In Doctrine and Covenants 20:38  "
The duty of the elders, priests, teachers, deacons, and members of the church of Christ--An apostle is an elder, and it is his calling to baptize." We were reminded that the young missionaries purpose is to "Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end."
   The Zone leaders did an interesting object lesson activity.  They blind folded one of the AP's and one Elder was assigned to give a message of the first principles and ordinances of the gospel (faith, repentance, baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost) while everyone else had another worldly message. Each began trying to persuade the blindfolded AP to come to them and the circle slowly closed in on him.  As the circle became smaller, the voices became more animated, each trying to convince him that they were right.  The "First Principles and Ordinances" Elder had a difficult time even getting close to the Elder, simulating the situation of the world today:  "  For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it."(D&C 123:12)  After the activity, the blindfolded elder shared his experience and said he actually felt like crying.  He also said that because of his association with President Young, his voice was the clearest, although in this case it was not the correct message. It was a good reminder of our need to be clear, consistent and persistent in our teaching.

Representing an investigator, a blindfolded missionary is surrounded by others, each with a worldly message to persuade them but only one has the saving message of baptism.
As the activity progresses, the voices grow louder and more insistent that they are correct. Elder Burkinshaw on the right with the worldly and vain message of physical appearance.
The shorter Elder on the right, with his hand up to his mouth, was teaching faith, repentance and baptism.  He was having a hard time getting close enough to be heard.

   After Zone meetings with took several of the Elders out for lunch and then did apartment inspections.  We have fixed most of the things in the apartments and made needed purchases so they actually looked pretty good.  President Nascimento (a counselor in the district presidency) usually drives us around, but he had to be in Teófilo Otoni on Wednesday so we road the bus over to Serra with the Elders.  It was a nice day so they ride was pleasant enough.

On the bus from Nanuque to Serra dos Aimorés to inspect the Elders apartment
We met up with President Nascimento later that afternoon to finish our inspections in Nanuque.  We had a few minutes in between houses so he took us to the tallest hill in Nanuque to see a beautiful view of the city.  The "pedra" is the largest hill in the area and is made of granite.  We parked at the bottom and walked up.  As we were walking down a couple of cars were driving up.  One of the cars made it, the other did not and had to back down and turn around. The pictures of course do not do the hill justice.  After inspections we picked up President's wife from work and went to their home for dinner.  His wife Bruna gave Sister Burkinshaw another Brazilian cooking lesson while President Nascimento taught Elder Burkinshaw how to make Suco. They assured us that the juice would help Sister Burkinshaw sleep and it worked great.

Starting our walk up the "Pedra" (The Rock which is a granite hill).
President Nascimento did a great job as our photographer.
Great picture from the top of the "Pedra" looking down on the city.  We stay at the Nanuque Panorama hotel which is to the right of the river below.
The golden sunset from the "Pedra" overlooking the city of Nanuque.

At the Nascimento's home where Bruna and Sister Burkinshaw have all the ingredients for chicken stroganoff.  We also learned how to prepare maracujá juice - a great dinner.
   So I don't forget and because I'm sure you are all wondering I did finally find some really good walking shoes.  It has only taken me three months, but they are great!  They are not the most attractive, but they get the job done.  This week Elder Burkinshaw is taking a couple of the Elder's out for lunch and to shoe shop for them as all three need a good sturdy pair of shoes.  Elder Burkinshaw has lost the feeling in a couple of his toes, which being the inquisitive person he is did a little research and diagnosed it as Morton's neuroma.
Sister Burkinshaw's very functional, if not the most stylish, shoes for walking the streets and hills of Teófilo Otoni.  (Note Elder Burkinshaw's pedicure skills are improving) 
      We had our first four students complete Level 1 of our English class this week.  They received a certificate and were very pleased with their efforts.  The English classes are going well.  We have gotten to know several members of the community quite well.  We always have an opening and closing prayer for each class, in English of course.  On Thursday we had a man offer to do the prayer who is not a member of the church.  He did a wonderful job and as I opened my eyes one of the Elders looked at me and smiled.  We had all felt the spirit to the sincere prayer that was offered.  It is interesting how the Lord provides his witness in small ways to his children.  When he is ready to seek truth he knows how to pray to get answers as he learned from English class at the church.
Elder Hendricksen and Sister Burkinshaw with the first Level 1 English class graduates, Rayssa, Sheila, Ana Clara and Laurinha, proudly showing their certificates.
   They did another youth activity on Friday evening with relay games.  Elder Burkinshaw was doing training on the computer so Sister Burkinshaw functioned as the resident photographer.  The youth had a great time and we enjoyed a nice cold soda pop afterwards.

Here they balance a broom while racing up and down the parking lot.  Sister Burkinshaw almost got bopped on the head by an unbalanced broom but Andreya saved her! 
The shoe relay.  Two of the young men and Elder McKay.
   Saturday morning we hurried to make some visits and and then had lunch at the home of the Ipiranga Branch Relief Society President so we could be prepared to assist with three branch activities, the first starting at 2:00pm.  Unfortunately two of the three activities didn't take place and the third, a Relief Society bread-making activity, wasn't well-attended.  With limited transportation, it's difficult to get the older members out for activities even though there is a need and desire for socializing and building unity.  Perhaps if all members were fantastic home and visiting teachers, that would be sufficient to fulfil everyone's need for a friend, but as in many other places, home and visiting teaching doesn't get a lot of priority.  Sister Julie B. Beck, while serving as the General Relief Society President, was asked what she would tell the sisters of the church about serving.  Her response was we need to focus on those we serve and "get over yourself" which is a growing and maturing experience.

Sisters Eva, Joana and Andreyinha demonstrate making bread from scratch for a Relief Society meeting on Saturday.

   We experience many small miracles every day, miracles of protection for this old missionary couple and miracles of connecting with people whose hearts have softened and are anxious to feel the joy of the gospel in their lives again.  We are impressed at how small acts in the service of the Lord's children reminds these wonderful members of the testimony that has sometimes laid dormant for a long time.  When love and kindness and truth are shared, the Spirit is present and reminds us all that we are beloved children of a loving Father in Heaven.  We are continually inspired by the faithfulness of the young missionaries and the core group of members that walk "With Faith in Every Footstep".  Verse three of that hymn states:

   If we now desire to assist in this work and thrust in our sickles with might, 

   If we will embark in the service of God to harvest in fields that are white,
   Our souls may receive the salvation of god--the fulness of his light,
   That we may stand, free of sin and blame, God's glory in our sight.

Speaking in the October 2013 General Conference, President Henry B. Eyring gave the following advice "To My Grandchildren":

   "I have seen why the Lord can say that when sins are forgiven, He can remember them no more.  By the power of the Atonement, people I know well and love, became new, and the effects of sin were wiped away. My heart has been filled with love for the Savior and the loving Father who sent Him.

   "That great blessing has come by encouraging people I care for to go to the Savior for relief from pain, a relief only He can give. That is why 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 would love to have each of our children and their families living in these two branches to lend extra valiant hands to the work here. We feel very blessed that each of you are serving in your wards faithfully and enjoying the blessings and understanding that comes from that service, as you extend to others the love of our Heavenly Father and of His Son, as manifest in the great and eternal atonement.
Avante Vitória

Elder and Sister Burkinshaw

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