Sunday, January 10, 2016

Weeks of December 27, 2015 - January 10, 2016

2015 has come and gone. We enjoyed the Holidays but, although we were able to FaceTime often and visit with everyone, we still very much missed our family. We ended 2015 with two new adventures. The first was transfers on the 29th. Transfers are always an adventure, but this was unique as it followed the new guidance from the Brethren to have no transfer meeting.  It is an evolving process as we figure out how and when to perform tasks that were normally done at the transfer meeting. The new format for transfer day makes it much more "tranquilo" (a word Brazilians use often for when things are good and relaxed).  We now have to figure out how and when to distribute materials, letters, packages, etc. and the missionaries will have to figure out how to submit the "original" baptism and confirmation records (fichas) in a timely manner.  Once again, some great missionaries went home, but we also welcomed some equally great missionaries
Sister Burkinshaw's peanut butter cookies and candy which make up the best part of lunch for the departing missionaries. (It is hard to find paper tablecloths here.)
Departing missionaries and their companions.  Left to right, Sister Jenson (companion), Sister Alós returning to Argentina, Elder Portillo (companion), Elder Perez returning to Las Vegas and Sister Montenegro returning to Columbia.
Sister Alós, Sister Burkinshaw and Elder Burkinshaw.
Lunch at the new missionary training meeting.  Elder Dial (new missionary from West Jordan) and his trainer Elder Soria, Elder Perez our outgoing assistant to the president and Sister Barra who will be training Sister Ferretiz (new missionary from Mexico).
This transfer took place on the Tuesday after Christmas so shortly thereafter we had another major holiday with New Years which gave us our second adventure for the week. President and Sister Young invited us to come to the Mission Home at 9:00pm for goodies, games and to watch the fireworks. The mission home is across the street from Praia do Camburi (Camburi Beach) where they placed two barges just offshore from which the launched the New Years fireworks shows.  The mission home is on the 12th floor so it provide a perfect location to watch the show, which was about seven minutes long.  This was shorter than in previous years, from what we were told by others, but the Brazilian economy is going through what the U.S. economy did in 2008-09 and so that may have resulted in a shorter program.  Nevertheless, the fireworks were very impressive and there were tens of thousands of people there on the beach to watch the show.  The main beach highway was closed for about 2 miles to facilitate all who wanted to watch.  There were several live bands along the beach as well.  Here's a short video of what we saw.   

Our adventure came with getting to and from the mission home from our apartment which is a little over three miles away. For our arrival, we were finally able to get a taxi, a very aggressive taxi, who took us around the back way and dropped us off a block from the Mission home. Going home was a little different. We walked the three miles, two miles of the walk was making our way through the throngs of people still celebrating the New Year--there was a definite contrast. Our walk home at 12:30pm however allowed us to start the New Year getting plenty of exercise and although a little warm, it wasn't too bad. We enjoyed dinner at Outback Steak House (we ate chicken) on New Years Day and spent some time preparing spreadsheets for the Mission for the coming year. 

The Assistants and a friend in the office preparing for Zone Leader Training. This picture of the Saviors baptism is actually quite amazing. The texture is sand, very appropriate for Vitória.
This past week, the office has been much quieter, meaning not as many visitors, but still plenty of work. We had a very sweet experience with President Young on Monday. After visiting for an hour about some challenges in the mission, we ended by watching a youtube video produced by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. We had seen it during the holidays, but it took on new meaning after our discussion. We have included it here in case you missed it (Infant Holy, Infant Lowly). The final words of the song are "Christ the babe was born for you." Elder Burkinshaw later shared the messianic scripture from Isaiah 61:1 "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek, he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;" 

On Thursday after Zone Leader Training we had several of the Elders stop in the office. We had a little more time with the Nanuque Zone Leaders as their bus does not leave Vitória until 9:30pm, a bus ride that is very familiar to us. We had a nice visit with them since Elder Conde, a new called Zone Leader who had previously served in Teófilo Otoni which allowed us to catch up on the families in the Ipiranga Branch. It was great to hear how everyone is doing. Just a quick story about the other Zone leader, Elder Garcia. We happened to read a post from his companion who just went home that illustrates the kind of missionary he is. The post reads as follows:  "Miracle - James 5:16-18 'The prayer of a righteous man availeth much' - even more so when a whole stake prays together! We have been passing through a drought in our city - it's been months since it rained. The city has discussed rationing water, and the water had already been shut off a few times during the week. Last week, all the members of the Church in Nanuque were invited to fast on Saturday, asking the Lord to send rain. After lunch my companion and I opened our fast together. Elder Garcia then shut all the windows in our house, he said we needed to show our faith that God would send rain! When we woke up on Sunday morning, it was cool and cloudy, the usual bright sun was nowhere to be found. It had rained! And continued to rain throughout the day. Truly a Miracle!"  Our missionaries have great faith and are doing a great work here in the Vitória mission.
Sister Burkinshaw, Elder Burkinshaw, Our Nanuque Zone Leaders Elder Conde (served in Teófilo Otoni) and Elder Garcia (from Porto Alegre) who will be going home with our February Transfer.
By Friday we had most of the Christmas packages delivered to the Zones so we have the storage closet back as well as the room where we have the safe and the file cabinets. It is nice to have the space back, but more importantly it is nice to know the missionaries have finally received their Christmas gifts. Just a word of counsel to anyone reading this with a missionary in the field:  Send the package early if you want it to be in the hands of your missionary by Christmas. In missions it is a time consuming process to get packages to the outlying areas.

Storage Closet shelves and cart filled with Christmas packages -
this was half of them the other half were in the file cabinet room
Almost everything delivered. We received two other packages the next day.
Having settled into a routine of sorts, I am amazed at how natural our Saturday morning walks have become. It always includes a stop a one of the grocery stores to pick up our weekly groceries. This morning we walked down to the Praia do Canto and stopped at São José (grocery store) on our way home. If we don't have too much, we just carry the groceries home.  They do deliver so sometimes we just pay the $R10 and have them deliver them. It is about four mile walk so work out pretty well. It is quite a nice grocery store as you can see from the pictures. 

One of our favorite grocery stores about 2 miles from our apartment.
Elder Burkinshaw checking out at the São José supermercado on Saturday morning (our P-Day).
Our baptismal service today after church reminded us of Sawyer's (Elder Vaclaw's) e-mail when he spoke of "piecing together an eternal family one person at a time" through baptism. For the family of Renata, first her mother was baptized about two years ago, then a few weeks ago, her daughter Myra was baptized.  Then today she was baptized connecting three generations - so great!!  Elder Burkinshaw felt honored to be invited to perform the baptism, something he has not done in Portuguese for 41 years, but he did great.  Besides performing proxy baptisms in the temple, which he has done often over the years, this was the first living baptism he has performed since Chelsea was baptized 18 years ago.  This sweet sister, Renata, got a little emotional as she was walking down the stairs into the font and one couldn't help but reflect on what an amazing blessing this ordinance is in a person's life.  Also baptized today was the young man who was in the mission office with the assistants earlier this week.  He is part of a group of several friends who have joined the Church this past year.  They are an amazing group of young men and surely the Lord is continuing to prepare an even larger missionary force here in Brazil.  We are so grateful to be a very small part of the work here.

Renata, her husband Paulo, her mother and Elder Burkinshaw prior to the Baptismal service.
Three generations of the Cardoso Family are now members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The entire Cardoso Family.  We hope that Paulo will soon join the others as a member.  Although we have visited their home several times, we are now their home teachers and look forward to helping them progress towards the Temple.

Avante Vitória!!

Elder and Sister Burkinshaw

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