Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Week of July 20-26, 2015

  With transfers last week, this week we had Zone Meeting in Nanuque.  The mission has a special rate with the Aguia Branca (White Eagle) bus line, which runs from Vitório to Teófilo Otoni through Nanuque but it only runs once a day from Teófilo Otoni to Nanuque (8:30pm to 11:30pm) and returns only once a day (4:00am to 7:00am).  Fortunately, as a senior couple, we get an exception to ride over on the Rio Doce bus line, which runs at a variety of times.  So we left on Tuesday afternoon at 3:45pm and arrived about 6:30pm.  The young missionaries sleep in the apartments of the other missionaries but fortunately we are rent a hotel room.  When we arrived at the hotel we learned that President and Sister Young had arrived also for a surprise visit.  We had a nice visit with them at breakfast the next morning. The Zone leaders also had a heads up as they walked by the hotel just as the Young's were checking in, so President Young actually went out with them on visits tuesday evening. They kept the secret well and it was fun to see the missionaries faces as President and Sister Young walked into the church.  
Zion Meeting, Nanuque.  President and Sister Young participating in the activity.

   The Zone conference was well done with the focus on baptizing with training from the scriptures and Preach My Gospel. In Doctrine and Covenants 20:38  "
The duty of the elders, priests, teachers, deacons, and members of the church of Christ--An apostle is an elder, and it is his calling to baptize." We were reminded that the young missionaries purpose is to "Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end."
   The Zone leaders did an interesting object lesson activity.  They blind folded one of the AP's and one Elder was assigned to give a message of the first principles and ordinances of the gospel (faith, repentance, baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost) while everyone else had another worldly message. Each began trying to persuade the blindfolded AP to come to them and the circle slowly closed in on him.  As the circle became smaller, the voices became more animated, each trying to convince him that they were right.  The "First Principles and Ordinances" Elder had a difficult time even getting close to the Elder, simulating the situation of the world today:  "  For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it."(D&C 123:12)  After the activity, the blindfolded elder shared his experience and said he actually felt like crying.  He also said that because of his association with President Young, his voice was the clearest, although in this case it was not the correct message. It was a good reminder of our need to be clear, consistent and persistent in our teaching.

Representing an investigator, a blindfolded missionary is surrounded by others, each with a worldly message to persuade them but only one has the saving message of baptism.
As the activity progresses, the voices grow louder and more insistent that they are correct. Elder Burkinshaw on the right with the worldly and vain message of physical appearance.
The shorter Elder on the right, with his hand up to his mouth, was teaching faith, repentance and baptism.  He was having a hard time getting close enough to be heard.

   After Zone meetings with took several of the Elders out for lunch and then did apartment inspections.  We have fixed most of the things in the apartments and made needed purchases so they actually looked pretty good.  President Nascimento (a counselor in the district presidency) usually drives us around, but he had to be in Teófilo Otoni on Wednesday so we road the bus over to Serra with the Elders.  It was a nice day so they ride was pleasant enough.

On the bus from Nanuque to Serra dos Aimorés to inspect the Elders apartment
We met up with President Nascimento later that afternoon to finish our inspections in Nanuque.  We had a few minutes in between houses so he took us to the tallest hill in Nanuque to see a beautiful view of the city.  The "pedra" is the largest hill in the area and is made of granite.  We parked at the bottom and walked up.  As we were walking down a couple of cars were driving up.  One of the cars made it, the other did not and had to back down and turn around. The pictures of course do not do the hill justice.  After inspections we picked up President's wife from work and went to their home for dinner.  His wife Bruna gave Sister Burkinshaw another Brazilian cooking lesson while President Nascimento taught Elder Burkinshaw how to make Suco. They assured us that the juice would help Sister Burkinshaw sleep and it worked great.

Starting our walk up the "Pedra" (The Rock which is a granite hill).
President Nascimento did a great job as our photographer.
Great picture from the top of the "Pedra" looking down on the city.  We stay at the Nanuque Panorama hotel which is to the right of the river below.
The golden sunset from the "Pedra" overlooking the city of Nanuque.

At the Nascimento's home where Bruna and Sister Burkinshaw have all the ingredients for chicken stroganoff.  We also learned how to prepare maracujá juice - a great dinner.
   So I don't forget and because I'm sure you are all wondering I did finally find some really good walking shoes.  It has only taken me three months, but they are great!  They are not the most attractive, but they get the job done.  This week Elder Burkinshaw is taking a couple of the Elder's out for lunch and to shoe shop for them as all three need a good sturdy pair of shoes.  Elder Burkinshaw has lost the feeling in a couple of his toes, which being the inquisitive person he is did a little research and diagnosed it as Morton's neuroma.
Sister Burkinshaw's very functional, if not the most stylish, shoes for walking the streets and hills of Teófilo Otoni.  (Note Elder Burkinshaw's pedicure skills are improving) 
      We had our first four students complete Level 1 of our English class this week.  They received a certificate and were very pleased with their efforts.  The English classes are going well.  We have gotten to know several members of the community quite well.  We always have an opening and closing prayer for each class, in English of course.  On Thursday we had a man offer to do the prayer who is not a member of the church.  He did a wonderful job and as I opened my eyes one of the Elders looked at me and smiled.  We had all felt the spirit to the sincere prayer that was offered.  It is interesting how the Lord provides his witness in small ways to his children.  When he is ready to seek truth he knows how to pray to get answers as he learned from English class at the church.
Elder Hendricksen and Sister Burkinshaw with the first Level 1 English class graduates, Rayssa, Sheila, Ana Clara and Laurinha, proudly showing their certificates.
   They did another youth activity on Friday evening with relay games.  Elder Burkinshaw was doing training on the computer so Sister Burkinshaw functioned as the resident photographer.  The youth had a great time and we enjoyed a nice cold soda pop afterwards.

Here they balance a broom while racing up and down the parking lot.  Sister Burkinshaw almost got bopped on the head by an unbalanced broom but Andreya saved her! 
The shoe relay.  Two of the young men and Elder McKay.
   Saturday morning we hurried to make some visits and and then had lunch at the home of the Ipiranga Branch Relief Society President so we could be prepared to assist with three branch activities, the first starting at 2:00pm.  Unfortunately two of the three activities didn't take place and the third, a Relief Society bread-making activity, wasn't well-attended.  With limited transportation, it's difficult to get the older members out for activities even though there is a need and desire for socializing and building unity.  Perhaps if all members were fantastic home and visiting teachers, that would be sufficient to fulfil everyone's need for a friend, but as in many other places, home and visiting teaching doesn't get a lot of priority.  Sister Julie B. Beck, while serving as the General Relief Society President, was asked what she would tell the sisters of the church about serving.  Her response was we need to focus on those we serve and "get over yourself" which is a growing and maturing experience.

Sisters Eva, Joana and Andreyinha demonstrate making bread from scratch for a Relief Society meeting on Saturday.

   We experience many small miracles every day, miracles of protection for this old missionary couple and miracles of connecting with people whose hearts have softened and are anxious to feel the joy of the gospel in their lives again.  We are impressed at how small acts in the service of the Lord's children reminds these wonderful members of the testimony that has sometimes laid dormant for a long time.  When love and kindness and truth are shared, the Spirit is present and reminds us all that we are beloved children of a loving Father in Heaven.  We are continually inspired by the faithfulness of the young missionaries and the core group of members that walk "With Faith in Every Footstep".  Verse three of that hymn states:

   If we now desire to assist in this work and thrust in our sickles with might, 

   If we will embark in the service of God to harvest in fields that are white,
   Our souls may receive the salvation of god--the fulness of his light,
   That we may stand, free of sin and blame, God's glory in our sight.

Speaking in the October 2013 General Conference, President Henry B. Eyring gave the following advice "To My Grandchildren":

   "I have seen why the Lord can say that when sins are forgiven, He can remember them no more.  By the power of the Atonement, people I know well and love, became new, and the effects of sin were wiped away. My heart has been filled with love for the Savior and the loving Father who sent Him.

   "That great blessing has come by encouraging people I care for to go to the Savior for relief from pain, a relief only He can give. That is why I urge those I love to accept and to magnify every calling offered them in the Church. That choice is one of the great keys to family happiness." 
   We would love to have each of our children and their families living in these two branches to lend extra valiant hands to the work here. We feel very blessed that each of you are serving in your wards faithfully and enjoying the blessings and understanding that comes from that service, as you extend to others the love of our Heavenly Father and of His Son, as manifest in the great and eternal atonement.
Avante Vitória

Elder and Sister Burkinshaw

Monday, July 20, 2015

Week of July 13-19, 2015

Every six weeks the mission receives new missionaries and missionaries that have completed their service go home.  In addition, other missionaries are transferred to other areas to keep the work in each are fresh and active.  This past Wednesday was transfers and two Elders from Teófilo Otoni were transferred out (Moreira and Nascimento) and two new Elders were transferred in (Machado and Silva).  Since often times, this is the last time we will see these missionaries, all the missionaries and many of the members go to the bus station (rodoviária) to see them off.

Elder Nascimento, who lived in the apartment behind us, was transferred to Terra Vermelha.  He was a great missionary and had been a member of the Church 2 years when he accepted the call to serve as a missionary.

Branch President of the Ipiranga Branch Marcio Costa in a round-robin handshake with Élderes Moreiera and Nascimento who are being transferred and his son João Pedro. You can see cookies in Sister Burkinshaw's hand on the right as a going away present.

The six Teófilo Otoni Elders and members of the two branches who came to see Élderes Moreira and Nascimento off as they are transferred to other parts of the mission.
The missionaries have mixed emotions on being transferred as they leave behind friends and associates they may never see again, but anticipate the great opportunity to meet new friends and have a fresh start in the Lord's work.  And each transfer will demonstrate the revelation granted to President Young as the missionaries go where they are needed and discover why they have been sent where they are transferred.  It is an inspired process.
Elder Machado, who replaced Elder Moreira, wasn't feeling well when he arrived and seemed quite tired.  It's an 11 hour overnight bus ride from the mission headquarters to Teófilo Otoni and it was another 6 hour overnight bus ride to the mission headquarters for him from his area in Campos where he began his journey with Elder Silva.  Thus, we weren't surprise they were tired.  But the following day, he had a high fever so the other missionaries called us and we took him to the local clinic where they diagnosed him with Dengue Fever.  They gave him a prescription for medications to keep him hydrated and relieve the associated joint pain, which we filled before taking him back to their apartment. Mosquitos are the vector for Dengue so we try to avoid them but this is a tropical climate with all the conditions to breed mosquitos.  Fortunately it has been drier than normal in Teófilo Otoni and we haven't had any problems with the missionaries here.  Fortunately, Elder Machado was feeling better within a couple of days, which is generally what happens with proper care.  He demonstrated great courage and devotion and we had to remind him, more than once, that it is better to rest now rather than going out and ending up worse.
Transfer predications.  One of those fun things the Elders like to do.  We all make a prediction of who is going (vai) or staying (fica).  Nobody got them all, maybe next time.  

We spent some time this week with a young man here who had joined the Church in São Paulo, served a worthy mission and then came home and made some bad choices, which resulted in his ending up outside the Church.  It has been more than a decade and he described how hard his life had been without the guidance of the Holy Ghost and the anchor of the Gospel.   We have observed his efforts to regularly attend Church meetings and that led us to visit him in his very humble home, which he said was the first visit he had received for many years.  We were touched as he described his deep desire to again feel the Spirit and feel the Lord's approbation.  It was a reminder that even though the world seems to condone any type of behavior, true peace and happiness comes from living true to the standards of the Gospel.  We shared Elder Christofferson's "Divine Gift of Repentance" conference talk with him, where we are reminded that "...whatever the cost of repentance, it is swallowed up in the joy of forgiveness."  We found Elder Christofferson's description of our times even more accurate than in 2011 when he gave the talk.  We left this man's home with great hope for him and appreciation for the loving gospel principle of repentance. Helping this man must surely be one of the reasons we are here in Teófilo Otoni.
Friday, Presidente Marcio Costa and his wife Andreya organized a youth activity at the Church where we assisted.  Queimado ("burned" - a Brazilian version of slaughter ball) was a favorite activity, as was musical chairs and the "forehead to mouth" cookie eating challenge.  We just watched the musical chairs, but did provide the music.  We connected the ipad up to President Marcio's car radio and played "Everything is Awesome" from the Lego movie, it was a great song for musical chairs.  Here's a few pictures:
Rayassa blowing the ping pong ball, Franklin is on the back table. ou have to run to the other end of the parking lot and get water in a cup to bring back, fill the cup full enough to get the ping pong to float on top and then blow the ball to the next empty cup.  Very fun.

Elder Burkinshaw still has the arm for "Queimado" (Brazilian slaughterball) 
Musical chairs was another favorite activity for the youth.
Douglas Gonçalves, a priest in the branch, captures his cookie!

Elder Burkinshaw was very good at this activity and the cookie was good too!!
Newly arrived Elder Silva concentrates on getting the cookie from forehead to his mouth!
On Sunday, following excellent talks by Elders Machado and Chaves, Sister Burkinshaw spoke in the Teófilo Otoni Branch and with Elder Burkinshaw as her interpreter.  However, she began in Portuguese and she closed with her testimony in Portuguese.  Her talk was entitled "Teaching in the Church" and was very well received.  She started out the week with a longer talk but as we practiced, she continued to refine it into a talk that addressed the specific needs here in the Teófilo Otoni and Ipiranga Branches.  Later on that day, the Relief Society President and the Elders Quorum President wanted her to know that they had aligned their lesson schedules and implement a calendar, so her efforts appear to be yielding fruit. A couple of good conference talks on Teaching in the Church are Elder Dallin H. Oaks, October 1999, titled “Gospel Teaching” and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, April 1998, “A Teacher Come from God”.  Sister Burkinshaw particularly related to Elder Holland's telling of the prophet Jeremiah's experience with teaching in a difficult situation.  "Jeremiah vowed, in effect, never to teach another lesson, whether that be to an investigator, Primary child, new convert, or—heaven forbid—the 15-year-olds. “I will not make mention of [the Lord], nor speak any more in his name,” the discouraged prophet said." (Very similar feeling when the branch president asked me to speak, even doing it using translating is difficult and frustrating.) "But then came the turning point of Jeremiah’s life. Something had been happening with every testimony he had borne, every scripture he had read, every truth he had taught....Even as he vowed to close his mouth and walk away from the Lord’s work, he found that he could not. Why? Because “his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.”  That is definitely the feelings of these missionaries trying to do the best they can in a foreign tongue.

After Church, we were invited for almoço (lunch - the major meal of the day in Brazil) at the home of Carlos, Nadja and their three children along with the Elders who serve in the Teófilo Otoni Branch.  They served feijoada (black beans and pork) which is a favorite here. Sister Nadja always prepares the food so it looks like a work of art and along with the feijoada and rice, she served a tomato, carrot and onion salad as well as fried bananas and orange slices.  Carlos is a returned missionary and Nadja teaches Relief Society.  Their home, while humble, is always neat and orderly, their children (9 year-old Thales, 7 year-old Karla and 2 year-old Anna) are always fun to visit with (and they love Nighty Night and Mr. Potato Head on Sister Burkinshaw's iPhone) and there is always a peaceful spirit there. The first picture is Anna using the phone for selfies.
Anna Selfie. She is a cutie!
Karla, Carlos, Nadja, Anna and Thales Gonçalves - an exemplary family
 It was raining when we left the house and Sister Burkinshaw loves to see the missionaries walking in the rain and singing Primary songs as they go.  These young men are an inspiration and an example of all that is good in the world today.

Elders Daniel, Machado, Oliveira and Chaves sharing umbrellas and singing in the rain!
We feel very blessed by our associations here in Teófilo Otoni.  We send our love to all!!

Avánte Vitória

Elder and Sister Burkinshaw

Monday, July 13, 2015

Week of July 5-12, 2015

Bom dia (Good day) to all from Teófilo Otoni.  We hope you are all doing well and enjoying the summer.  We enjoy seeing the pictures of your activities and pray daily for your protection with travels and fun!  We have had another busy week here and continue to enjoy our winter.  The temperatures have been in the high 70°F’s during the day and the low 60°F’s at night which is perfect. 

We decided one day this week to take a picture of our morning walk and evening walk along the major east-west thoroughfare through the city, Avenida Luis Boali Porto Salman (most of the roads are named after a person and as we explained in a previous blog, they generally have two surnames and two given names).  The avenida is split by the Rio Todos os Santos (All the Saints River) with one way traffic on either side.  Since we arrived in Teófilo Otoni, the city has been developing a nice sidewalk along each side of the river. Quite often we walk with the Elders that share one of the apartments formed by dividing the former home of a Church member.  The sidewalk is completed, at least from downtown (Centro) to our street and the city has completed cleaning all the leaves along the path so it’s looking good.  Many people come to exercise (walk and run) both in the morning and in the evening along the sidewalk and there is a protected zone along the road for bikes.

Morning and evening along the sidewalk along the Rio Todos os Santos.
Elder Burkinshaw is accompanied by Elder McKay and Elder Nascimento
We had two very long walking days this week as we visited members on the east side of town.  The Centro or downtown is generally flat but as you move in any direction toward the bairros or neighborhoods where people live, there are very large hills or morros.  One of our visits was to Sister Claudia, whose son has scoliosis and will likely require an operation in the bigger city of Belo Horizonte.  Her home is near the top of the bairro of Frei (Friar or Monk) Dimas.  The climb is about 25 stories up a very steep road but fortunately it is paved with asphalt.  Following the visit, we descended to the bairro of Concordia to visit another member and the shortest way was down the concrete stairs seen in the picture below.  

Escadas (stairs) from Frei Dimas bairro to Concordia
   After our second visit, we spent time trying to find small paper bags for the pipoca (popcorn) for our Friday evening showing of Meet the Mormons.  After visiting with several members to identify contacts for renting popcorn machines and then visiting vendors in the Praça (park) we finally got some guidance on who might sell the bags.  After a lot of walking that day, we finally found the bags.  However, we still had to go to the Supermercado (supermarket) to get the popcorn, oil, cups and guaraná.  Unfortunately, not one store had everything we needed so while Sister Burkinshaw taught the English class, Elder Burkinshaw took a taxi to get the rest of the items needed for the activity.  Thus, we walked a lot and we spent quite a sum on taxi fare as well.  But in the end, we got everything wee needed to prepare refreshments for our activity on Friday.

This weeks walking statistics highlighting big days on Thursday and Saturday.
Weekly average was 90 miles and 350 floors - more than we want ;-) 
   Here in Brasil and elsewhere, members provide at least one meal a day for the missionaries to minimize full-time missionary expenses.  Since their meal calendar for the second Friday of each month was empty, we feed the six Elders here in our city.  In Brasil, it is common to eat a light breakfast and a snack in the evening but to have the main meal of the day at lunchtime, called almoço.  This week Sister Burkinshaw decided to cook her first truly authentic Brazilian meal, chicken stroganoff.  Using a recipe from one of the members and combining it with another on-line recipe, she prepared a delicious lunch.  The recipe is printed below or your can go to  Just so you know, she didn't use the white wine cited in the recipe.  We served the stroganoff over rice with batatas palhas (fried potato strings) and it was delicious. She also made brownie fudge sundaes from ingredients she has been able to find here in Brasil.  Although she still has not found white corn syrup, she did discover that a can of creme de leite (sweetened condensed milk) and a hershey's dark chocolate bar makes great hot fudge.  The Elders ate it all up quickly and jokingly wished they'd had time for a nap after lunch, but being the dedicated missionaries they are, they went back to work.  

Chicken Stroganoff
 There are variations on the original recipe– and this Brazilian version of Stroganoff is one of them.  Serves: 4
  • 2.2 pounds (1 kg) boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • 2-1/2 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 pound (about 450 g) fresh common white button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • ¾ cup heavy cream (sour cream, plain or Greek yogurt, or coconut milk can be substituted for the heavy cream)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped
  • I also added 1 pkg. cream cheese (Sister Burkinshaw)
  1. Pat the chicken breasts dry, cut into 2-inch cubes, and season with salt and pepper. In a large stainless steel pan, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Pan-fry the cubed chicken in batches so that it is browned on all sides, then let rest on a plate or bowl after pan-frying.
  2. Lower the heat to medium and add 1 tablespoon of oil and the onions, cooking and stirring occasionally until they are soft (approximately 3 minutes). Add the garlic and cook until soft and fragrant, about 1 minute. Return chicken to the pan!!! Pour in the wine and let cook until it has been almost completely absorbed. Stir in both the tomato sauce and the chicken stock/broth. Cook, partially covered, over medium-low heat for 40 – 45 minutes.
  3. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add the mushrooms and cook until the they are browned and cooked through. Remove from heat and reserve.
  4. When the chicken is cooked, remove from the heat and fold in the mushrooms, heavy cream, mustard, and parsley. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper, if necessary.
  5. Serve the Chicken Stroganoff with white rice and shoestring potatoes. Or, as a variation, serve with your favorite pasta. And don’t forget those shoestring potatoes!
Our happy, well-fed Elders after Sister Burkinshaw's almoço of Chicken Strogonanoff and Brownie Fudge Sundaes
   Following lunch for the Elders, we watched Elder Packer's funeral and then popped enough popcorn to fill 120 bags for the Meet the Mormons night at the movies activity at the Church.  Elder Burkinshaw got a routine going so it only took a couple of hours using our propane stove.

The popcorn factory for Friday's activity at the Church
  Our night at the movie went well and we had about 80 people attend including several non-members and investigators.  We had hoped for more, but there are always schedule conflicts so we were grateful for those who came and brought their family and friends.   "Meet the Mormons" is a great movie (available now on NetFlix) and since we will be here next year on July 10th, and we didn't put a year on the posters, we are savings them for next year and we will do another missionary activity on July 10, 2016.  We have decided our next activity we will do a "bolo" (Brazilian cake) pot-luck for the refreshments which will involve more of the members and be much easier for this old missionary casal (couple).  

The Teófilo Otoni chapel set up for movie night "Meet the Mormons"

Our wonderful members and friends enjoying refreshments after the movie.

   Sister Burkinshaw forgot to include this picture last week, but it is definitely noteworthy, not because she is getting any younger and wanted to share her picture (although that should be one of the blessings the Lord includes with willing missionary service don't you think?), but because she found someone here in Brazil to cut her hair.  With each passing week getting a hair cut became more of a priority as we are outside everyday and with the scarcity of hairspray as well as the heat (even during the winter) it was needed.  Sister Young, the mission president's wife told us she cried after her first hair cut in Brazil so it was a little scary.  After looking at people's hair she finally asked a sister from the branch who cut her hair.  She was kind enough to set her up with a lady that actually comes to the house, which means she doesn't have to walk to get her hair cut, it was great!!.  The stylist did a great job and we scheduled her again for the first of August on a preparation day.

Last picture.  We noticed yesterday at church that a couple of our missionaries had the same tie on. They actually both bought their tie at different times in the same store in Nanuque which is three hours west of here and part of our Zone.  They have been companions the past six weeks.  Elder Moreira (left) has been our District leader.  We have transfers this week so we are losing two of our Elders.  Elder Moreira called us Sunday evening at 10:00pm to tell us that he and Elder Nascimento will be transferred.  He also reported that Sister Burkinshaw was being transferred (joke).  It only took a few seconds before we could hear him and the other three elders in their apartment start laugh.  We do enjoy these Elders!!  We are glad Sister Burkinshaw will not be transferred - Elder Burkinshaw does not want a new companion!

Elders Moreira and Chaves with their matching ties - very colorful!

Avante Vitória!

Elder and Sister Burkinshaw

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