Sunday, March 27, 2016

Weeks of March 1 - March  20, 2016

This past three weeks would best be described with three words, renew, acquire and meet. We have spent many days the last two weeks renewing the vistos (visas) of Estrangheiros (Non-Brazilian missionaries), acquiring CPFs (Cadastro de Pessoas Físicas) for all Estrangheiros to comply with recent changes in Brazilian health insurance and participating in a Mission Tour with our visiting authority, Elder W. Craig and his wife Sister Jan Zwick.

Missionaries from outside Brazil are required to have a visa.  Missionaries from the full-member Mercosur countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela) simply apply for a visa with very little paperwork.  Missionaries from associate member Mercosur countries (Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Suriname) have a slightly more complex application process. Missionaries from Portuguese-speaking countries (Mozambique, Angola, Portugal, and Cape Verde) have less-stringent requirements for their visa.  The missionaries from the United States have the most rigorous requirements for visa renewal presumably because the process for Brazilians to obtain a US visa is likewise quite rigorous (reciprocal orneriness).  So Sister Burkinshaw already has a spectrum of procedures for missionaries renewing their visas but beginning in 2016 for missionaries who entered Brazil after January 1, 2015, their visa renewal process has been revised.  It seems like each time we take missionaries to renew their visas, we discover yet another nuance to the visa rules and regulations.  However with experience and the help of some of the kind agents at the Polícia Federal (Federal Police) who administer the visa renew process, Sister Burkinshaw says it seems to get a little easier each time.

All Brazilians have two forms of identifications.  The first is the RG (Registro Geral or General Record) which is issued by each of the 22 Brazilian states similar to the way we use a drivers license as a photo ID.  The second form of identification is the CPF (Cadastro de Pessoas Físicas or Physical Person Registration) which is issued by the national government and is therefore somewhat like a Social Security Number.  Apparently because of changing regulations for health care in Brazil, all foreigners who have health care coverage are now required to have a CPF.  So in addition to visa renewal, we are also helping all foreign missionaries obtain their CPF.  It is a process that unfortunately takes several hours but we try to incentivize the missionaries by offering lunch at McDonalds which they all enjoy.  

A selfie at the Praca (park) in downtown Vitória as we wait for four sister to arrive who were delayed by a late bus.  Notice we are still smiling despite having to sit in the heat for an hour+!!
Our four beautiful sister who were on time. Sister Schell, Sister Visser, Sister Gonzalez and Sister Richards.

Our second group of missionaries for CPF's enjoying lunch at the nearby McDonalds. Starting on the left Elder Toldeo (Chile), Elder Haymore (USA), Elder Andersen (USA), Sister Jenson (USA), Sister Perez (Mexico), Sister Bundersen (USA) and Elder Fabián (Peru).
The Mission Conference was March 7-11 with Elder W. Craig Zwick and Sister Jan Zwick. We joined the Mission Presidency on Tuesday evening for dinner with the Zwick's at Outback Steak House. On Wednesday there was a Mission Leadership Council with training from Elder and Sister Zwick. Thursday was the all-day Mission Conference for the three northern zones in Colatina and Friday was the four southern zones Mission Conference. The major theme was Simplificar (Simplify), Intensificar (Intensify) and Testificar (Testify). Elder Zwick shared a pattern of teaching he received from President Boyd K. Packer which was teach simply, in as few words as possible, a single gospel principle [P], share an example [E], use a scripture to share the doctrine [D] and testify [T] and then stop. Don't continue with another example or add another principle - just END - less is more i.e. less teaching can be more effective.  It is actually a powerful pattern for teaching. We have been preparing a PEDT each day during individual study time and sharing it with each other during companion study. Elder Zwick gave the missionaries 10 minutes to prepare and then called on several companionships to share their PEDT.  We enjoyed the training and the spirit the Zwick's brought to the mission.

Elder Burkinshaw having lunch with the Assistants both Brazilians - Elder Vercoza in the middle and Elder Portillo (who returns home this transfer) on the right.
Sister Burkinshaw posing with a group of sisters during lunch. From left to right Sisters Gonsalez, Bunderson, Vieira, Martins and Castilho.

The missionaries are always anxious to get pictures during Zone meetings or in this case Mission Conferences. Sister Burkinshaw, Elder Burkinshaw and Elder Pedro who is from Maceio and knows Marcio Yabe who Elder Burkinshaw taught 41 years ago in Lins, SP. You can see Elder Zwick on the stand visiting with a couple of the Elders.
Elder T. Santos and Elder Burkinshaw.
Lunch during the Friday session of the Mission conference. These meetings are planned down to the minute, but adjustments always have to be made for little problems that occur.  About 10 minutes before lunch, the air conditioner quit working (we had someone working on it), the video equipment was being problematic and lunch had not yet arrived. But since only we and President Young knew the schedule, it was transparent to everyone else. 
In addition to the ongoing needs that our experience in the mission office creates we are able to maintain a daily/weekly routine in a country that is experiencing major political challenges and still see the work of the Lord move forward. We have also seen the lives of the missionaries who have served in Vitória and their converts stay firm and grounded in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We are still walking every morning, but Sunday. This was on a Saturday and we usually connect our Saturday walk with a trip to the store, today the store of choice is Sam's Club, a four miler.
Our walks provide beautiful sunrises, this one is on the point at Praia do Camburi. 
Brasil continues to experience some significant political problems. This demonstration took place on March 13th on the bridge that connects Vitória and Vila Velha. There were about 100,000 people who participated. The demonstration was peaceful and respectful.
Almoço (lunch) at Dayane's house (the beautiful return mission in front just below Sister Burkinshaw).  The two young men on the left (with the new baby and with the red shirt) were missionary companions who taught Gustavo (at the back) when he was baptized.  Gustavo has also served a mission.  It was a very fun Almoco.
(Left to right) Sister Castilho and Sister Sandes who are the Sister Trainer Leaders with a new sister convert and another recent convert (young man) who is performing the baptism.  Brother Salles on the right is a wonderful ward mission leader.

Three of our Sister Trainer Leaders of who will be going home this transfer standing just outside the Mission office. From left to right Sister Castilho (who goes home in April), Sister Sandes, Sister Carvalho and Sister Sergio.  
Sister Sandes was concerned she didn't have a picture with us so we took this one after church today. This is the missionary sign-thumbs up to the work of the Lord.

Avante Vitória!

Elder and Sister Burkinshaw