Monday, July 6, 2015

Week of June 29-July 5, 2015

This week several members of the branches, including the wife and the mother of one of our branch presidents went on the Nanuque District Caravana (Temple Trip) to the São Paulo Temple.  Sister Burkinshaw therefore invited Presidente Marcio and his son João Pedro for lunch at our home, which made them our first dinner guests other than the Elders living behind us.  As usual, Sister Burkinshaw outdid herself with salsa chicken over rice, black beans and corn on the cob, most of which we bought the previous Saturday at the open air market (feira).
Lunch with João Pedro, Presidente Marcio and Elder Burkinshaw
You will notice that I’m in a non-white shirt because the Elders and I spent the morning doing service at the home of some elderly members (we have to be careful about how we use the word “elderly” since Elder Burkinshaw is now 60 years old and therefore “elderly” is defined as someone older than us ;-).  Anyway, these wonderful members, who were some of the first to join the church here in Teófilo Otoni back in 1990, have a small back yard (quintal) with banana, lemon, avocado and other trees.  Since this is winter with many deciduous trees, they were knee-deep in leaves, so our task was to gather the leaves and then weed what was beneath.  Our Elders definitely know how to work so in just a couple of hours, we had at least 20 bags of leaves gathered with the rest of the area weeded and raked.
Irmã (Sister) Léa loves to visit and is always telling funny, sarcastic stories.  So, I reciprocated with my latest Brazilian piada (joke). 
“There is an attorney and a politician in a burning building but you only have time to save one of them – what would you do?  Would you go to lunch or to the movies?”
She and Irmão (Brother) Antonio Carlos and the Elders all laughed (attorneys and politicians are as well-loved in Brazil as in the States) and we had a great time visiting. 
Irmã Léa has emphysema and therefore has trouble breathing so at the end of our project, we gave her a priesthood blessing, in which she was promised that her mission on the earth was not yet finished and the Lord still had work for her to do.  She then asked us to give Irmão Antonio Carlos a blessing, which we did.  It was a tender time for all and we departed with a spirit of gratitude for the Lord’s spirit and blessings and a few tears.
As we left the house on Wednesday morning, Sister Burkinshaw was wearing her red flower-print skirt so we couldn't resist taking a photo of her with the beautiful flowers growing here.  If we weren’t missionaries, she could be a model!

The beautiful flowers of Brasil!
Sister Burkinshaw couldn’t resist taking a few other pictures of the beautiful flowers along our walk that day.
More of the beautiful flowering trees we see every day.
As we expand our efforts northward in Teófilo Otoni, our traveling increases as well as tracked by the Apple Health App below from last Wednesday.  The interesting thing is that we're sure the Elders are walking more than we do because we're always running into them all around town.  By our calculations, we are doing at least the equivalent of one 75 mile Philmont trek per week (and the BSA allows 12 days rather than 7 days) although our back pack probably weighs more like 20 pounds rather than 50.

Our walking and vertical climb stats for Wednesday, July 1, 2015
We have learned that while the GPS on the iPhone can map the shortest two-dimensional route, it does not take into account the third (vertical) dimension nor the quality of the road so the Philmont analogy seems appropriate. On Saturday, we had a 45 minute walk from the home of one member to another, so we chose the "shortest" GPS route and here's what our "walk" looked like.
The "shortest" GPS route through the mato (jungle).
The "shortest" GPS route doesn't take vertical climb into account. ;-)
We observed that Futebol (soccer) is popular everywhere, even in the mato. 
To get around a buracão (big hole) where the road, terraced into a hillside had washed out from the rains, we crossed by walking up the path leading to the homes above the road.
Although this may look like an obstacle course, it is actually a very clever way to use old tires and save the expense for cinderblock, as well as increasing dexterity!
We actually did make it to the desired members home but when we told them about the route we had taken, they suggested it was dangerous because of both the wildlife and the people who live in the nearby favelas (shanty towns).  And we had a great visit with a very sweet, single mother who seemed genuinely encouraged by our visit.  Her 8-year-old daughter was quite fun to visit with and told us all about the 4th grade at her school.  We are trying to make contact with all of the members and update their addresses and phone numbers and invite them to our meetings and activities.
We have a special activity planned for Friday.  We ordered a copy of "Meet the Mormons" (Conheça os Mormons) which has a Portuguese sound track - David Archuleta even sings "Glorious" in Portuguese.  At church, all the members have received flyers and we have posters around town with the information about the movie.
Conheça of Mormons poster for our combined branches activity.
The members seem to be excited about this.  We are looking for a popcorn popper we can rent for the evening to have outside after the movie as we will show the movie in the chapel/cultural hall and the District President sent out a letter last week reminding the members not to eat in the chapel.  We figure any popcorn we can't clean up outside can be eaten by the animals.  
We send our love to all.  As we missed the July 4th holiday we felt a deeper appreciate for the freedom's we enjoy in the States and are keenly aware of the promises and warnings given in the Book of Mormon in Ether 2:10-12 which says: 
10  For behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands; wherefore he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be swept off; for it is the everlasting decree of God.  And it is not until the fulness of iniquity among the children of the land, that they are swept off.
11  And this cometh unto you, O ye Gentiles, that ye may know the decrees of God—that ye may repent, and not continue in your iniquities until the fulness come, that ye may not bring down the fulness of the wrath of God upon you as the inhabitants of the land have hitherto done.
12  Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written.
We also reflected this week on the teachings of President Packer with his passing.  At times I have forgotten that he was a big part of the new scriptures.  I am so very grateful for them and the ease with which we are able to study because of them.  President Packer has always been a favorite of Elder Burkinshaw's and we have many books in which his talks have been printed including a very large collections in our online "Talk Library". 

Avánte Vitória!

Elder and Sister Burkinshaw  

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