Weeks of December 14 - December 25, 2015
|Somebody went to a lot of work to prepare for a very nice evening. The individually wrapped bread (on the back right) is Brazilian fruit cake which is a very popular gift.|
|Amazing Christmas spread at the Maruipe Ward Christmas Devotional.|
|Lots of ward members enjoying the food and a little picture taking in front of the Christmas tree.|
|Elder and Sister Burkinshaw dressed in Christmas red posing in front of the food.|
Experience One: About three weeks ago Sister Burkinshaw finally received a response back from São Paulo with confirmation that one of our Elders from Bolivia needed to leave a few weeks before our December 29th transfer or before his Brazilian visa expired. The faithfulness of this Elder was evident when Elder Burkinshaw called to inform him and his response was "Sério?" (Seriously?). He was anxious to see his family again and be home for the holidays, but at the same time he felt his time in the mission was being cut short two weeks and he wasn't quite finished with what he wanted to accomplish. As he came to the mission office for his final interview with President Young we held back a few tears as he reminded us of a couple he had worked with who were not yet baptized and he asked that we not forget them. The couple married after this Elder committed them to do so, but are still working through some issues.
D&C 64:9-10 is appropriate here. "Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive on another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin. I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men. The missionaries never seem to have trouble seeing people through the eyes of the Savior Jesus Christ whose name they wear. President Uchtdorf in April 2012 said, "This topic of judging others could actually be taught in a two-word sermon. When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following: STOP IT! It's that simple. We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children. God is our Father. We are His children. We are all brothers and sisters." This young Elder had that kind of love!!
Experience Two: There are always problems with the housing for missionaries. We have a sister from Hawaii serving in the mission who is the cutest, sweetest missionary. A week ago we received the following e-mail from her. "Good morning! So I am writing this email to say that the toilet here in Ancheita does not flush correctly. The water pressure is wrong so we use a water bucket to flush. Also the shower head fell out of the wall completely. Luckily the water falls nicely out of the wall so we are able to still take a shower." That was the e-mail. Remember in Brazil that hot water comes from the shower head so the water coming "nicely out of the wall" is cold! Our missionaries just handle the challenges that come and patiently wait for some help. Knowing Sister Wheeler it wasn't hard to hear her sweet voice in this email and appreciate the tone with which it was sent. Needless to say Elder Burkinshaw made a quick call and got someone over there as quickly as possible, even with that effort it was several days before the problems were resolved.
Experience Four: Mission audit, something that only happens every three years. The outcome, it is a miracle that missions all over the world stay fairly financially stable with the constant turn over in unpaid missionaries who need about four months to understand what is happening financially in a mission. We came away with a list of things that we should be doing, although we are not sure how we find the time to do them all. One suggestion was to use our accounting contact in the São Paulo office more, who, by the way has 13 other missions who need the same help as well as three young children, a wife (who probably doesn't see him very often), is a young bishop and is going to night school to finish his accounting degree. We were told that most mission offices have four or five people (please contact us if you have a desire to serve a mission in Brazil!!!). After a few days of struggling with possible solutions to the challenges we face keeping things going, we counseled with President Young and it was decided we would continue with just the two of us and do the best we could. (The next audit will come after all of us have been released.) We will put things in order the best we can and continue to pray that the Stake Presidents will find local members who can serve as Church Service Missionaries with Missionary Apartments. It continues to be a very humbling experience, but a constant reminder that the Lord provides when needed.
Experience Five: We had two Elders come into Vitória this past week, one an American and one Brazilian. The Brazilian had to check in with the Brazilian equivalent of the draft to continue his deferment while serving a mission. The American is new having just arrived in the mission last transfer. He is from Texas with a wonderful Texas accent. We took them to lunch and Elder Lake, the American elder, said he told his parents if they wanted a humbling experience, go on a mission and learn a foreign language. While we concur that is true we are also amazed at the abilities of these young missionaries to learn the language. We have another one of our American Elders who has been here two transfers (twelve weeks) who will be a trainer this week - that is miraculous!
Christmas Week. The packages just keep coming and coming and coming. The challenge is when they arrive so close to Christmas it is't possible to get them out to the missionaries in time for Christmas. Because of Stake and District conferences this month President and Sister Young had to hold Zone meetings early so most of the Christmas packages had not yet arrived, but they are here now. However, every few days we have one of Santa's elves stop by the office to pick up the missionaries' packages. This Christmas elf came into Vitoria (from Colatina) on the bus and stopped to pick up a few packages on his way home via the bus.
|A closet full of Christmas Packages for the Missionaries.|
|One of our Christmas Elves, we are so thankful for their service to the missionaries.|
2015 Burkinshaw Family Christmas Nativity
2015 Christmas Caroling
Christmas morning we took an early morning walk on the beach and then prepared dinner for us and the two elders that are serving in the ward we are assigned to. The dinner was delicious and since we had the Bartlesville elders over to our apartment for dinner Christmas 2014 and to talk to their families it all felt very familiar, although we are pretty sure it was much colder in Bartlesville last year than our very warm 92°F on Christmas day. We are ever thankful for our air conditioner (which is only in the bedroom) that can keep our small apartment cool enough to be comfortable.
|Elder Burkinshaw with the Maruipe Elders. Elder Sessions left and Elder Chaves right.|
|Elder Chaves opening his package that arrived Christmas Eve from a faithful Bishop.|
|Elder Chaves, left, working his magic with the Selfie.|
|Elder Burkinshaw once again working his magic at the bus station. (His is the one in a suit on a very warm afternoon - because of the holiday travel we immediately changed tickets.)|
Elder and Sister Burkinshaw