Sunday, January 31, 2016

Weeks of January 11 - January 30, 2016

We send our love to all from Brazil. We still love starting every day with an early morning walk along the beach in Vitória. Sister Burkinshaw says she always wanted to live by water so this has been an added blessing of serving a mission here in Vitória.

Sunrise (about 5:50am) from Ilha do Boi in Vitória.
One Saturday morning (P-Day) we saw a triathalon (ride, run, swim) on the Ilha do Boi.  Notice the water truck (left) which waters plants and grass on days that it doesn't rain.
We regularly see rowers on our morning walk along the beach.  By the way, Vitória beaches are pristine without the problems you may have heard in Rio de Janeiro.
Things are going well in the Escritório da Missão (Mission office). We feel like we understand the workings of the mission now, have things somewhat organized and are truly enjoying serving the young missionaries. They truly have a light, optimistic outlook on life (especially missionary work) and are so appreciative of all we do to make things run smoothly for them. A few examples:

We have tried for several months to get the Teófilo Otoni Elders into a new home. They have been in the same house for 11 years, which was working well until the last half of the year when they started having water leak into the house from a neighbors drain, which we were never able to repair, hence the relocation.  After several attempts to rent a new apartment (a multi-step process with many forms and documents required which makes it a very long and complicated process), we finally closed a contract on a very nice apartment.  Unfortunately, the proprietor did not tell us the electricity had been disconnected.  Normally, we just leave the power on in the name of the proprietor or the last renter since the process in changing the name on the electricity bill requires multiple notarized documents and several hours waiting in line.  And this time, they required a notarized copy of the Church's original charter (1967 in São Paulo) and the Procuration of the Mission President giving him authority to act on behalf of the Church.  Then we had to send these documents to a city 11 hours north of Vitória.  When we told the Elders it would take 10 days (i.e. no refrigerator, lights, fans or heated showers) the district leader, Elder Dias, responded happily that it would be no problem and they would make it work.  In the end, they met the family who lives in the apartment above them and they offered a live extension cord and any other help they needed.  The Elders are now teaching that family.

Elder Burkinshaw, Elder Cardoso and Elder Fernandes at the Praia da Costa Mall in front of the McDonald's ice cream stand just before enjoying a McFlurry. 
We had an Elder and a Sister come in on the bus from outlying areas in the mission to renew their Brazilian visa - one from Cabo Verde and one from Mozambique.  Sister Burkinshaw has to complete a detailed form and then schedule online an appointment with the Polícia Federal at the nearby Praia da Costa Mall.  When they come in, we treat them to lunch in the food court before their appointment and then afterward, Elder Burkinshaw loves to take them for a sorvete (ice cream) treat.  While we would love to introduce them to Braums ice cream (Vitória is not within the 300 mile radius of Tuttle, OK ;-)  they do have a McDonald's ice cream stand.  They are always so appreciative and the Elders offered a verbal thank-you while Sisters prepared a nice thank-you note.  This is a manifestation of one of the key traits that President and Sister Young have tried to engender within each of the missionaries, GRATIDÃO (gratitude)!

A poster of the Christ-like virtues emphasized in the Brazil Vitória Mission.
Since we work all day and evening in the mission office, we don't have many opportunities to teach but we were recently assigned to five families to home teach so we leave the office early when we make visits or go on Sunday afternoon.  Our families are a mix of new members and established multi-generational members.  We are reminded of how much you come to love those you serve. All of them are a blessing to the growth and spirit of the ward.  Speaking to full-time missionaries but counsel applicable to us all, President Russell M. Nelson, said, “... you can always have you as a convert... You should be rock solid, absolutely true and faithful all of your lives.” (Pres. Russell M. Nelson—Provo MTC 22-01-2016).  We are also very impressed with the young adults in the wards, many who are returned missionaries and have a great attitude and provide special strength to the wards. Many serve in the youth program and teach not only in word, but by example.  These young adults remind us of the story that President Monson recently shared again in General Conference about the establishment of the BYU Jerusalem Center.  "In order to obtain the permissions needed, the Church had to agree that no proselyting would be undertaken by our members who would occupy the center.  After that agreement had been made, one of the Israeli officials, who was well acquainted with the Church and its members, remarked that he knew the Church would honor the no-proselyting agreement. 'But,' he said, referring to the students who would attend there, 'what are we going to do about the light that is in their eyes?' "  President Monson then continued, "May that special light ever shine within us, that it might be recognized and appreciated by others." (Be an Example and a Light, General Conference, October 2015).  We recognize and appreciate the light that shines in these young adults and the love they show to us.

Hometeaching (left to right) Dayane Gomes (a recently returned-missionary and our guide), Almira da Silveira (who joined the church two years ago) Paulo and Renata Cardoso (Renata was baptized last week) and daughter Mayra (baptized in December).
Our missionaries are not perfect, but where they fall short, the Spirit compensates.  This past week, President Young asked Sister Burkinshaw if it would be possible to identify among those baptized, how many were families.  Sister Burkinshaw replied, "Even going back through the fichas (baptismal recommends) or photos of the fichas (which is how the missionaries send them to her by e-mail) one at a time to extract the information would not provide a complete list because the missionaries often do complete the information on marriages or children for converts.  (With the help of the Spirit) I become aware of that as I am putting the information in the system and try to connect family membership when I can, sometimes it has been months, but the name and information comes making it possible to connect the memberships." The spirit of Elijah is at work here in the mission. " is necessary in the ushering in of the dispensation of the fulness of times,....that a whole and complete and perfect union, and welding together of dispensations, and keys, and powers, and glories should take place...." D&C 128:18.

We have enjoyed two special events during the month of January.  One was the world-wide broadcast for Missionaries held on Wednesday, January 20th.  We were able to view it from the mission office while the other missionaries gathered to centrally located chapels to watch the broadcast together.  The theme was "Teach Repentance and Baptize Converts". The emphasis on teaching repentance is needed. Change is a part of accepting the Lord's standards as opposed to the world's. It is a process for sure, but there must be a solid understanding of the need to repent and the role of the Savior in that process. What follows is a few of the thoughts from Elder Neil L. Andersen which Sister Burkinshaw included in the newsletter for this next transfer.

Elder Neil L. Andersen—Missionary Broadcast, 20 Jan 2016
“The most important thing we do is testify of the Savior and invite all to come unto Him....Always keep His name on your lips and be prepared to testify of Him when the opportunity comes for “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in Heaven.” (Matt. 10:32)....We testify of Christ when we TEACH the DOCTRINE OF CHRIST....the doctrine clearly stated in the missionary purpose which is:  ‘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.’....Your first responsibility is to help lift people in their understanding of the Savior´s Atonement. (how do you do that PMG says) ‘As your understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ grows, your desire to share the gospel will increase. You will feel, as Lehi did, the ‘great....importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth’ (2 Nefí 2:8)....Be careful not to move too quickly from your powerful witness of faith to the challenge of baptism without sufficient teaching about REPENTANCE....Repentance is critical to faith in Jesus Christ.”

This past Sunday we were asked to do a fireside in one of the wards on missonary work. Elder Burkinshaw put together a PowerPoint presentation that was very well received. The chapel was full and we were reminded again of what good people these are, and that they are anxious to learn and do their part to build the Kingdom. We provided some interesting statistics of the churches growth worldwide and the growth here in Brazil. Elder Burkinshaw ended on a personal note with the stories of two of his own baptisms 42 years ago in São Paulo. Several years ago when Facebook was becoming popular (we were not on Facebook yet) we got a call one day from a couple of our daughters who said someone from Brazil wanted to visit with Elder Burkinshaw. They connected on the 30th anniversary of Brother Yabe's baptism.  As we participate in the baptisms the missionaries are having here we are reminded of the joy that comes in watching them "baptize converts".  How appropriate that the scripture we go to when we think of that joy (D&C 18:15-16) not only reminds us of "the worth of a soul", but teaches that "...the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh wherefore he suffered the pains of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him... how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth!" (D&C 18:10-16 - the exclamation point is in the scriptures). Sister Burkinshaw couldn't help but remember hearing many times in her home growing up the song "O That I Were an Angel" spoken of in Alma 29:1 "O that I were angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!" We are so grateful to be here in Brazil and a part of this work!!

Fireside Presentation:  English       Portuguese

Poster prepared by the Laranjeiras ward for the missionary fireside held on January 24th.
Elder Carvalho, Elder T. Garcia, Ward Mission Leader, Presidente Osorio (Mission Presidency Counselor), Sister and Elder Burkinshaw in front of the Laranjeiras Chapel following the Fireside.

Avante Vitória!

Elder and Sister Burkinshaw

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