Sunday, December 13, 2015

Weeks of November 16-December 13, 2015

November 17 was the largest missionary transfer we have experienced so far, as 15 elders and 4 sister entered the mission and 12 seasoned elders departed.  As such, more than half of our 129 missionaries (about 80 of them) changed areas and living quarters.  Generally, President Young finishes the transfer board sometime Saturday afternoon.  We then interleave a spreadsheet of previous assignments with new assignments to come up with a list of what bus tickets are necessary to bring the transferring missionaries into the central city of Vitória and another list of tickets needed to take the missionaries to their new areas. The tickets are then purchased late Saturday evening and then Sunday evening we call the Zone Leaders to advise who needs to come to Vitória for the transfer meeting and whether they will need to bring their belongings or not.  They will not know their new assignment until the Transfer Meeting on Tuesday afternoon at 2:00pm when President Young announces over the pulpit who is going where.  The departing missionaries come to Vitória early on Monday to participate in a self-reliance class to prepare them for going home and preparing for the rest of their lives.  We use Monday to prepare for the Transfer Meeting by bringing all the letters, packages and proselyting materials to the chapel and also printing the agenda and list of missionary assignments for the transfer.  Tuesday morning, we meet the new missionaries as the arrive at Vitória airport and take them to the mission home for training and lunch.  Then we finish setting up the audio-visual equipment for the Transfer meeting.  After the transfer meeting, we load the missionaries into a double-decker bus and take them to the Vitória bus station (rodoviária) to catch buses to their new areas.  By the time it is over, we breath a sigh of relief and crash at our apartment.  On Wednesday we then start preparing for the next transfer in 6 weeks.

Here are some the the Brazilian Elders who were going home about the same time the new missionaries were arriving.

Sister Young, Sister Burkinshaw, Elder Benicius, who is returning to home to São Paulo, and Elder Burkinshaw.

Elder Rosário, who is returning home to São Paulo, with Sister and Elder Burkinshaw.

Elder Alves, who is returning home to Alagoas, with Sister and Elder Burkinshaw.

Elder Moreira who served with us in Teófilo Otoni and is returning to Recife.

Elder Ramos, who is returning to home to Fortaleza, with Sister and Elder Burkinshaw.

Elder Kuan, who is returning home to São Paulo, with Sister and Elder Burkinshaw.
Three of our departing missionaries with six of our newly arrived missionaries at the Vitória Airport.
On the Friday of transfers, we had the opportunity to assist a couple who wanted to join the Church but were not yet married, a frequent situation here in Brazil.  We met them at a nearby Cartório, which is like a commercial notary public where all kinds of transactions are validated.  There they were married civilly by a judge and Elder Burkinshaw served as a witness.  The next day, they were married at the André Carloni chapel just north of Vitória. Life has not been easy for Wenderson and Inés but they are trying to do the right things.

Elder Burkinshaw signing as one of the marriage witnesses with Wenderson and Inés watching.
Wednerson and Inés with Elder and Sister Burkinshaw following the Civil Marriage ceremony.

Wenderson and Inés with Bispo Jocimar Pinto at the André Carloni meetinghouse
The following week was Thanksgiving.  We visited Sams Club in Vitória to purchase a turkey roast and some "Cheesecake Factory" cheesecake for desert.  It made for a much more familiar Thanksgiving dinner than Elder Burkinshaw remembers during 1974 and 1975 when serving in São Paul.

Thanksgiving dinner, 26 November, 2015.

President and Sister Young had one of their daughters, Anika and her husband John Zito and their children visit them from Billings, MT.  Their oldest daughter had turned 8 years-old and so they had the baptism and confirmation on the Friday evening of Thanksgiving weekend there in the Jardim da Penha meetinghouse.  The bishop of the ward, his family and the missionaries in the area attended.  It will be a very memorable baptism for the Young´s granddaughter.

After the Baptismal Service for President and Sister Young´s granddaughter.
As Christmas approaches, Elder Burkinshaw received an early Christmas present.  Since September, when our case with Sister Burkinshaw´s iPhone, and the Missions petty cash card and wallet was stolen, he has had to pay the utility bills with cash at several different banks.  Not only has this been time-consuming but also somewhat insecure because of the need to carry large amounts of currency.  However, last week the new petty cash card and bank account arrived in the mail.  They were sent via SEDEX 10, which is the equivalent of overnight insured mail.  However, it took more than 10 days to arrive and had us worried we would be waiting until the New Year.  Afterwards, it took another week and many hours on the phone with Church computer support to get through the firewall to the bank´s website so we can pay the bills on-line again.  But we are now back paying utilities via the internet. Merry Christmas early Elder Burkinshaw!

The new debit card, token (SecureID) and account for the Mission petty cash account.  Merry Christmas Elder Burkinshaw!
We are assigned to attend the Maruipe Ward and so we take every opportunity to support the activities of the Ward.  We recently attended the Young Women in Excellence program on a Friday evening.  One of the sweet returned sister missionaries from the ward, Dayane Gomes, is a counselor in the YW Presidency.  Here is Sister Burkinshaw with Dayane in front of the display in the cultural hall.

Dayane Gomes and Sister Burkinshaw at the Maruipe Ward Young Women in Excellence display.

Sister Burkinshaw is called upon regularly to play the piano and organ and the Vitória Ward asked her to play for their Primary program in Sacrament meeting.  This involved several practices on Saturday afternoons and after the block of meetings on Sunday.  The program was held on the second weekend of December and turned out great!  After the program, many of the children gave her hugs and thank yous and she even received a Christmas basket full of chocolates!

Sister Burkinshaw with two of the Primary girls who gave her a hug and a Christmas basket for playing the piano for their Primary program in Sacrament meeting.

Sister Burkinshaw and the Vitória Primary following their program in Sacrament Meeting.  They were amazed when Sister Burkinshaw told them that if her 22 grandchildren were there, it would more than double their numbers!

As we prepare for Christmas here in Brazil we are ever grateful for the life of the Savior whose birth we celebrate. We are continually reminded of the blessings that His birth has brought into our lives as well the people here in Brazil and around the world. We join our voice with those of the angels who exclaimed, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

Avante Vitória!

Elder and Sister Burkinshaw

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