Sunday, December 4, 2016

October 1 - 31, 2016

Pictures provide a simple chronological history for our mission so that is mostly what you will see. The work is going well here in Vitória and the missionaries have settled into this transfer (October 22nd) much better than the previous transfer. We generally have aabout 135 missionaries in the mission with about 40 of those being sisters and about one-third of the missionaries from outside Brazil. Our Brazilian missionaries are a blend of raised-in-the-church and recent converts which provides helpful perspective for both. Each day we are reminded that this is the Lord's work, it is an important work and we are grateful to be a part of that work here in Brasil. 
This is how we watch General Conference - streamed to the laptop in our apartment so  we can listen to the sessions in English. During conference, out time (Brasilia Standard Time) was just three-hours ahead of Mountain Daylight Time.  However, by the first Sunday in November, we would "spring-forward" and the United States would "fall-back" making it five hours difference.

This is a foto of Cleiton dos Santos Oliveira with Elder Burkinshaw and Sisters Dodge and Sister Albrecht, who taught him and his family.  Although the other members of the family were not baptized, they attended the baptismal service.

Moroni e Victória present a special musical number for Cleiton´s baptims.

Primary in the Vitória ward focused on Sunday-dress with this amazing origami!

Elder Rodrigues (from Fortaleza, CE), trainer, and Elder Thierry (from Sumaré, SP), new missionary, boarding the transfer bus we rent to take missionaries to the rodoviária (bus station). They will be serving in the Campos Zone this transfer.

The assistants to the President, Elder Lugarani (Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina) and Elder Conde (São Paulo, SP) in front of the Mission Home. They provide initial orientation for the new trainers while new missionaries are trained by President and Sister Young and the mission secretaries (Elder and Sister Burkinshaw).

Sister Missionaries getting their belongings off the bus. Each new missionary receives a new pillow(not an easy thing to pack in their suitcase).  Left to right: New trainer Sister Albrecht (Cleveland, OH); new missionaries Sister Cruz (Macapá, AM) and Sister Silva (Rio Largo, AL); and New trainer Sister Jube (Provo, UT).

Old Mission logo.

New Mission logo.  Elder Burkinshaw did some great computer graphic work with an idea from President and Sister Young based on the teaching of Elder Russell M. Nelson: 
"Missionary work should begin and end with our minds focused on the blessings of the holy temple. Missionary work is all about gathering people out of the world, ennobling them, and enabling them eventually to dwell with God forever.  This is His divine desire. Simply summarized, God wants His children to return home to Him. What else would you expect from a loving Father? Missionaries have a solemn responsibility to act on God’s fondest hope—that His children will return home to Him. If we will help Him, He will help us." 
(June 2014 New Mission Presidents Seminar)
New vertical mission logo. The warrior with sword has been replaced with the São Paulo temple. This is the first of many booklets where the logo is used.

Close-up of the new vertical mission logo.
Sister Burkinshaw makes between 25 and 50 booklets a month using the logo. The booklets are for weekly statistical reports for President and the Assistants, monthly statistical reports for mission presidency and stake and district presidencies, booklets for new missionaries, and for the missionaries going home.

Lunch at Subway - Elder Burkinshaw, Elders serving in the Vitória ward: Elder Passos (Belém, PA), Elder A. Oliveira (Natal, RN) and Elder Soares (Limeira, SP).

Lunch at Subway for two sets of sisters in on a p-day. Left to Right Sister Jenson (Kalamazoo, MI), Sister Cruz (Macapá, AM), Sister Jube (Provo, UT) and Sister Chavez (Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia).
Lunch at Subway with Sisters from the Maruipe Ward - Left to right: Sister Araújo (Brasília, DF), Sister Dodge, (Murfreesboro, TN) and  Sister Burkinshaw.

Baptism of eight-year-old Isabelle, in the Vitoria Ward.  Sister Burkinshaw played the piano for the baptismal service.

Isabelle's baptism was followed by the convert baptism of Sandra Regina Dias.
Left to right: Elder Lugarani (Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina) 
and Elder Conde (São Paulo, SP).

Choir practice with the Young Single Adults for an upcoming Christmas fireside at the home of Bispo Jocimar. Sister Burkinshaw was at the piano. Elder Burkinshaw gets to join in, even though he is not a young adult anymore as well as Irmã Renilsa e Bispo Jocimar.

Home teaching recent convert Renata da Silveira Cardoso, her husband Paulo, her mother Mayara and her daughter Mayra.  We showed and discussed "Mans Search for Happiness."
In Brasil, home teaching visits usually involve treats and they were delicious!  There was Guananá, which Elder Burkinshaw loves but has only been drinking on special occasions and a special cake that tasted as good as it looks!

Sister Burkinshaw, Elder Burkinshaw and Elder Douglas Fernandes Gonçalves who is from the Ipiranga Branch in Teófilo Otoni.  Elder Gonçalves received his mission call to the São Paulo West Mission and since he lives in a mission district, he came to Vitória to be set-apart by President Young. Elder Gonçalves will be an outstanding missionary!!

Apartment hunting with Sister Chavez (Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia) and Sister Jenson (Kalamazoo, MI) in Estrelinha. Sister Burkinshaw's frown was knowing that Sister Young would not be happy with the cement stairs and no handrail. This is a challenge as these kind of stairs are everywhere in Brasil.

Sister Chavez, Sister Jenson and Elder Burkinshaw on the street in Estrelinha.  The potential apartment had some fatal flaws so the Sisters will keep looking.

Elder and Sister Burkinshaw used their early morning walk to apartment hunt close to the mission office. Since we will not be getting a couple for the office we have begun looking for a place for Elders to live near the office. 

We continue to walk 4+ miles early each morning to start off our day.  This is a new beach we found tucked away among the houses on the Ilha do Boi.

Another beach area we saw during our walk on the Ilha do Boi.
Another morning walk view of the ocean.  When the tide is high and there is a strong wind, the waves become pretty intense and splash up on to the path we walk.

This is a sunrise behind the granite monument at the Curva do Jurema about one-half mile from our apartment.  This is where our morning walk begins.

Morning walk sunrise. One of our regular walks takes us down a rock pier near where these boats are anchored.

Saturday morning bike ride down Praia do Camburi. Our apartment is in the far background. It is about a five mile ride one-way. We have loved having access to the Vitória bike rental that the city installed in June.

In a recent Sunday Gospel Principles lesson we studied the "Postmortal Spirit World". In the "For Teachers" section it was suggested that to help class members or family members understand the differences between paradise and spirit prison, consider drawing a vertical line in the middle of the board (or on a piece of paper), making two columns. At the top of one column, write State of the Righteous (Paradise) and at the top of the other column, write State of the Wicked (Spirit Prison). Ask class members to describe each state in the spirit world, based on their reading in the lesson manual and scriptures. At the conclusion of that activity this question was asked: "How are conditions in the spirit world similar to conditions in this life?". 

One thing that is similar is "missionary work". While temple work must be done here on the earth, missionary work exists here on earth as well as in the postmortal spirit world. 

"According to the prophet Alama, the righteous spirits rest from earthly care and sorrow. Nevertheless, they are occupied in doing the work of the Lord. Joseph F. Smith saw in a vision that immediately after Jesus Christ was crucified, He visited the righteous in the spirit world. He appointed messengers, gave them power and authority, and commissioned them to 'carry the light of the gospel to them that were in darkness, even to all the spirits of men' (D&C 138:30)....In the spirit prison are the spirits of those who have not yet received the gospel of Jesus Christ. These spirits have agency and may be enticed by both good and evil. If they accept the gospel and the ordinances performed for them in the temples, they may leave the spirit prison and dwell in paradise."

A reminder of the missionary work that needs to be done and the need will continue well into the next life. No wonder the prophets have counseled "every member a missionary" and continue to counsel members young and old to prepare to serve a mission. We are grateful to have answered that call. Missionary work is the LORD'S WORK and it is a WORK OF MIRACLES.

Avante, Avante para Vitória!

Elder and Sister Burkinshaw

Sunday, October 2, 2016

September 1 - 30, 2016

This month we provide another picture post with a short message.  Our most frequent interaction with the young missionaries come when they visit the Office on P-Day, when their lunch appointments fall through or when new missionaries arrive or depart (chegadas e saidas).  Besides those interactions, are our visits to member homes, attendance at Church meetings, and Sister Burkinshaw's piano/organ playing for weddings and choral performances. And there is always our walking/biking excursions for exercise early each morning which helps with the daily grind of sitting at a desk and attending to the administrative issues of the mission.  It is a good life and we are everyday grateful for the opportunity to serve the Lord here in Brasil. If it seems like we go to Subway a lot, we do. We have made it a standing invitation for the missionaries in the area that, if their lunch appointment falls through, they can join us for lunch.  Subway provides something different for them and is close to the office so it works well for both of us. So here's what our month looks like:

We have an apartment of Sisters who live close to the Mission office. They often come over on P-day to pick up their mail instead of waiting for it to be delivered through the Zone Leaders which can take 4 to 6 weeks. From left to right Sister Vieira (Maranhão), Sister Guillen (Cuzco, Peru), Sister Lacerda (São Paulo), Sister Albrecht (Cleveland, OH).
Elder M. Silva (Fortaleza) and Elder Castro (São Paulo) pose with the sign in front of the door to the Mission Office, a popular photo shoot for our missionaries. 
Elder Tedeschi (Porto Alegre) and Elder M. Silva (Fortaleza) pose in front of the sand picture in the mission office following lunch at Subway.
At the Vitória airport for the August 30, 2016 Transfer with departing Sister Vianculo (Mozambique) and Sister Vieira (Maranhão) before their flight home. They served faithfully with an impressive work ethic as well as love for the people.  They will be missed!
Departure of Elder Y Gonçalves (bright orange tie - President Young described him as one having a pure heart) and the group of newly arriving missionaries from the CTM (MTC).
At the Jardim da Penha chapel, where departing missionaries receive autosufficiência (self-reliance) training before they depart, we took a last photo with Elder B. Machado (Florianópolis), who served with us in our early days in Teófilo Otoni.  We love him dearly!
After a P-Day lunch at Subway, we pose for the traditional mission office photo.  Sister Dodge (Murfreesboro, TN), Sister Alchrecht (Cleveland), and Vitoria Zone Leaders: Elder Eufrasio (São Paulo) and Elder Costa (Recife).
Our current Assistants to the President, Elder Lugarani (Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina) and Elder Conde (São Paulo) after their weekly meeting with President Young and before lunch at Subway!
Our line of hungry missionaries at Subway.  Elder Silva (João Pessoa - one of our Teófilo Otoni alumni), Elder Hendrickson (Nibley, UT - also a Teófilo Otoni alumnus), Elder Session (Longmont, CO), Elder Lugarani (Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina), Elder Fernandes (Cabo Verde) and Elder Conde (São Paulo).
Lunch at Subway with Elder Aguiar and Elder G Moreira. Elder Aguiar earned his lunch by reviewing Sister Burkinshaw´s Portuguese translation of the Mission newsletter. He, like many missionaries, learned English listening to music and watching subtitled movies. 
Subway Lunch with Sister Dodge (Murfreesboro, TN) Sister Albrecht (Cleveland, OH), Sister Martins (São Paulo) and Sister Tavares (Belém).
After renewing visas at the Polícia Federal located in the Shopping Praia da Costa mall, we took these Sisters to lunch in the food court.  They are Sister Chopin (Nuevo Laredo, Mexico), Sister Martins (São Paulo), Sister Ochoa (Veracruz, Mexico), Sister Ferretiz (Tamaulipas, Mexico), Sister Jube (Provo, UT) and Sister Oliveira (Campo Grande).

The Happy Meal toys were not lost on these Sisters.  Gatinha (little cat) in Brazilian context is a pretty girl and they do look pretty cute!
Of course we always finish lunch with an ice cream treat (a McFlurry) complements of Elder Burkinshaw's experience as a young mission with President James E. Faust.
A beautiful sunrise on one of our 5:30am walks along the beach in Vitória.
On Saturday mornings we combine exercise (rental bikes) with our P-Day shopping for peanut butter and hard taco shells.  It is nice to have a Sam's Club close!
One of the familiar paths we walk several times each week which takes us under the Terçeira Ponte (bridge) which goes from Vitória (an island) to Vila Velha.
The Middle Beach (Praia do Meio), another familiar part of our morning walks.
During a morning walk to Ilha do Frade (a small island neighborhood) which has a duck pond in the center, Elder Burkinshaw herded the ducks off the road. Everywhere we go, we walk so we are sensitive to the very real danger of being a pedestrian in Brasil.
Our friends, the ducks (patos) back in their safe and secure pond.
We don't usually walk at night, but there was a harvest moon on P-Day (Sat, Sept 17) so we took a little walk for a picture and some ice cream at the McDonald's across the road.
One P-Day morning, we took a cab across the bridge and walked 7 miles along the beaches in Vila Velha.  Fortuitously, there was a Fioretto ice cream store at the end, which serves a sundae called the Suave (Soft) Bahia - warm coconut pudding on the bottom with vanilla ice cream and topped with whipping cream and toasted coconut - a heavenly treat!
Sister Burkinshaw spends most third hours playing the piano for Primary as they prepare for their Sacrament Meeting program in November. 

The Vitória Ward Choir sang for Stake Conference presided over by Area Seventy Moroni B. Torgan, the highest ranking Latter-day Saint politician in Brasil.  Sister Burkinshaw was the accompanist with our dear friend, Pedro Caldas, on the violin as they sang "I Heard Him Come", "Faith in Every Footstep" and "We'll Bring the World His Truth".

Vitória Ward Bishop Domiciano invited us into his office the Sunday after stake conference and presented us with this bag of goodies as thanks for helping with the choir. The chocolate represents two of the major chocolate makers in the area, both are excellent.

Sister Burkinshaw is always happy to play the piano - definitely the international language.

Elder Burkinshaw enjoying the OBRIGADO - THANK YOU!

Sister Burkinshaw and cellist Jéssica Vianna (who performs with the Symphony Orchestra of the State of Espirito Santo) play for a wedding in the Vitória Chapel.  Sister Burkinshaw thinks Elder Burkinshaw should learn to play the cello so they can play duets together!

Jéssica Vianna plays cello for the symphony and is an amazing cellist.  As the wedding was an hour late starting, she and Sister Burkinshaw had plenty of time to play together making it a very enjoyable evening for them as well as those waiting in the chapel.

Sister Burkinshaw and Jéssica Vianna, musicians par excellence.

The happy couple!  They are married civilly at the chapel and travel the following day to the nearest temple (São Paulo or Campinas) to be sealed!  

A "tudo azul" (all blue) picture with our dear, sweet friend Dayane Gomes. 

Elder Burkinshaw took a group selfie with Elder Passos and Elder Andrade and several of the wonderful youth of the Vitória ward between Sacrament Meeting and Sunday School.

Sister Vieira and Sister Albrecht after Gospel Principles class with recent converts Marcelo Santos and Elizabeth Kester de  Andrade (they are married, but many married Brasilian couple do not use the same last name - it makes family history work a little more difficult) their 9 year old son Ykaroh Kester Santos was also baptized, but in primary when we took the picture. They have two more girls who were also both in primary.

Sister B. watched as Elizabeth picked up one and then several tithing envelopes (in her hand) from the dispenser near the  clerks office.  It is inspiring to watch new members embrace teachings that have the power to bless their lives now and in the eternities.

José is an older man who comes to Sacrament Meeting most Sundays asking for money. The members are always kind to him and we wonder if he isn't drawn by the spirit he feels.

As we walk in the mornings and walk to the mission office and walk back home in the evening, we are always reflecting on what is going on in the mission particularly during these last few months of our service.  We have started to read the Book of Mormon together in Portuguese and individually in English looking at the theme and examples of obedience and the blessings it brings.  We have concluded that our mission has given us the opportunity to see, in a short period of time (2 years), many of the truths we have learned during our lives (61+ and 57+ years).  It is like reading the Book of Mormon to the end of Mormon and then reading Ether which seems to be a condensed version (30 pages) of everything learned in the previous 487 pages.  

Four major interrelated themes are illustrated in the lives of people over and over again.
1.  God favors the righteous 
2.  Israel is scattered but then gathered again
3.  The Lord delivers the righteous from the wicked
4.  Opposition in all things but returning to theme 1, the righteous eventually succeed.

This repetition of themes is remniscent of the musical device called a fugue where a few short themes or melodies are interwoven to create a memorable presentation.  Perhaps the most familiar example is that of Bach's Fugue in G minor which is sometimes called the "Little Fugue".  Here is a great video that actually provides a visual as well as musical presentation of these interwoven themes.

We close with some lyrics from Rob Gardner's oratorio "Joseph Smith: the Prophet" inspired from the writings of the prophet Jacob in 2 Nephi 9:

O how great the goodness of our God!
O how great His wisdom and His mercy!
O how great His works, His wondrous plan,
O how great the love of God!

The older we get, the more we see the Lord´s hand in every part of our life and the lives of those we love and serve by sharing the Gospel.  The themes are repeated time and again because they are critically important to our current and future success and happiness.

Avante Vitória!

Elder and Sister Burkinshaw