Sunday, September 20, 2015

Week of September 14 - September 20, 2015

      Working backward this week as sometimes it is easier to start with today's happenings and then reflect over the week. It is Sunday morning and as we had breakfast this morning about 7:30am, we noticed runners on the bridge outside our balcony.  They apparently ran from the Vitória side to the Vila Velha side and back continuing to the finish line at the Bomberios (Fire Station) just down the street from our apartment building.  What we didn't think about, until we went down to meet our taxi to go to church, is that they had closed our road.  We use a phone app called Easy Taxi which uses the GPS to call a taxi and then follows them on GoogleMaps.  After about ten minutes of watching the taxi try to work it's way around the road to our apartment, we finally called him and determined a location close by that we could meet without interference from the run. Surprisingly we still made it to church with ten minutes to spare. 

Vitória to Vila Velha 3° Ponte (Third Bridge) Fun Run just below our Apartment Building.
   Saturday was preparation day and we enjoyed a break from the office, but unfortunately not away from the phones.  Because of a problem with my Outlook e-mail this week, we discovered that we could log into our e-mail from the internet at the apartment.  That was particularly good because we were able to take care of a missionary apartment rental contract without having to go into the office.  However, there are always "emergency" calls from the missionaries on our secretary phones.  We are trying to train the missionaries as to what really constitutes an emergency and what is a convenience.  We stop answering the phone after we go to bed, and so the missionaries have been learning to plan better. President Young has our personal cellphone numbers which we do answer. 

   We read about a Mexican restaurant here in Vitória, so we decided to give it a try on our P-Day.  We got our laundry and cleaning done early and took a taxi across town to "Jalapeños" restaurant.  Sister Burkinshaw had a burrito, and Elder Burkinshaw had a combo plate with rice, guacamole and chicken stuffed with cream cheese and jalapenos. Because they don't have monterrey jack or cheddar cheese, it wasn't quite what we expected.  But the peppers were hot, which was nice (for Elder Burkinshaw).  So we will stick with Brasilian food with a little American/Mexican at home, tacos and fajitas (Sam's club kits) with homemade salsa, but for the next 18 months, no cheese!

P-Day lunch at Jalapeños Restaurant - an outdoor setting but fortunately we had a cool breeze.
   The other part of our P-Day lunch excursion was a trip to Wal-mart on our way home.  Per the GPS, it was only a 20 minute walk but, as we have sometimes discovered, the GPS is not 100% accurate, so after 20 minutes of walking in a circle trying to find the pedestrian trail across one of the bridges, we just used EasyTaxi to call a taxi for a relatively short ride.  WalMart is a well-known landmark for the taxis, so we arrived there without any problem.

Walmart in Vitória (courtesy of Google Maps streetview)
   The end of the week was much quieter than the first of the week. It was quiet enough that we felt like we were actually able to catch up on a few things so we actually left the office early, about 7:00pm and had dinner at Shopping Vitória (the Mall) and did some shopping. The week began with our making arrangements for an unusually large number of what are called "emergency" transfers or transfers in between the normal transfers which occur every six weeks, occasioned by the arrival of new missionaries and departure of missionaries who have completed their mission service and return home.  With an emergency transfer, some missionaries returned home for health reasons and it creates a domino effect of other transfers.  We are responsible to arrange all the transportation for these missionaries, whether by plane, which we're able to arrange on-line or bus, which requires a 20 minute taxi trip to the rodoviária (bus station).  Because it has to be done quickly and before the transfers are announced to the missionaries, it becomes quite hectic.  President Young interviews those who must return home early and advises them of the change and then we call and advise the other missionaries in the chain of transfers.  It is actually nice that all the missionary companionships have cell phones because when Elder Burkinshaw was a missionary in Brasil 41 years ago, the process was literally a chain that began with the first missionary to be transferred carrying the transfer notes to each successive missionary.  Sometimes it would take a week to complete.  Now it only takes a day to complete all the transfers.  We are sensitive to the challenges of those who must return home without completing the full-term of their calling, particularly those who don't have parents who are members or are active.  Sister Burkinshaw prepares the same missionary certificate and a nice book for each of those going home, whether early or at full term.  There are several sites with help for early returning missionaries.
   We love our association with these young missionaries, who are truly an inspiration. Several months ago in Teófilo Otoni, we had planned to take Elder Nascimento out for pizza for his birthday but unfortunately, the week before, he was transferred.  This week, Elder Nascimento, from São Paulo, had to come into the office on Tuesday for supplies and we were able to take him and his companion, Elder Aguayo, from Ecuador, to Dominos for a belated birthday celebration.  We told Elder Aguayo that Uncle Tony served in Ecuador back when there was one mission that was made into two.  We had a nice visit and learned there are now five missions in Ecuador and a temple.  It was a great blessing to spend time with these two dedicated missionaries.

A belated birthday celebration for Elder Nascimento who served with us in Teófilo Otoni (right) and his companion Elder Aguayo, who is from Ecuador.  Dominos is a missionary favorite!
   These young missionaries are also very kind to us. After talking to one of the Brazilian missionaries on the phone the other day about teaching supplies that he needed, he told Sister Burkinshaw that her Portuguese was coming along great!  It was a very generous assessment but much appreciated.  And Elder Carvalho, who had been the mission financial secretary, came by on Friday and gave us each a special chocolate candy, a Mãca de Amor (apple of love) which was delicious. It was at the end of a very long day and such a sweet gesture, literally!!

Elder Carvalho's sweet chocolate gift to us, a Maçã do Amor (Apple of Love).
   Because our days can be quite hectic, we really look forward to our 5:30am walk along the beach each morning.  This will likely be the only time in our lives that we will live so close to the beach and it is beautiful and quiet at that early hour.  Here are a few pictures we took this past week, including the small and the large birds eating the seeds left by another early walker.  We thought the grandkids would especially enjoy the pictures.

The coastline from our walking path with the bridge from Vitória to Vila Velha in the background.
Our small winged friends along the path of our morning walk.
Our larger bird friends that accompany us on our morning stroll along the beach.
   We are grateful for the opportunity to serve in such a beautiful place.  We see great progress each week and are reminded that the harvest is great but the laborers are few. It is an honor to be a part of this great work along with our nephews Yuri Burkinshaw (Atlanta, GA), Austin Vaclaw (Milan, Italy) and niece Lisa Burkinshaw (Bakersfield, CA).

Avante Vitória, 
Elder and Sister Burkinshaw

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