Sunday, June 12, 2016

May 1 - June 12, 2016

While our work in the office helps keep the mission running smoothly, it is fairly mundane. Our greatest enjoyment comes from personal interactions with the very dedicated young missionaries and with the members of the Maruipe and Vitória Wards. Our post will mostly consist of pictures, but pictures are worth a thousand words so we hope you enjoy them.  

With two of the beautiful young women at the Maruipe Wards New Beginnings.  Sister Burkinshaw always accompanies the special choir presentations.

With Gabi, a Laurel in the Maruipe Ward.  She is a faithful member despite having no family who are members of the Church like many of the first generation members here in Brasil.  Forty years ago during Elder Burkinshaw´s first mission, there were about 50,000 members in Brasil.  Now there are more that 50,000 baptized each year in Brasil.

Here we are with the Cordeiro family following a special family almoço (lunch).  The two brothers on the left (Edoriedson with white hair and Ewerton with dark hair) are married to two sisters (Khristiane e Katia).  We are hometeachers for Edoriedsons family.  

The week of May 28-June 4, with the approval of President Aidukitis of the Brasil Area Presidency, we had the opportunity to meet Chelsea and Jenny (and Jenny's room mate Megan) in Rio de Janeiro to see some of the sites and then take them to Vitória to see more sites.  We did more extra-curricular activities during this week than we have in the previous 14 months here in Brasil and it was great.  Here are pictures of some of our activities.

The view from our room in the JW Marriott hotel on Copacabana Beach.  Notice the lines in the sand, which are soaker hoses that keep the sand easier to walk on and cool.  The designs in the sidewalk are thousands of small black and white rocks set in mortar.

Elder and Sister Burkinshaw arrived the afternoon before the girls so we could pick them up when they arrived early the next morning from the US.  Here is our obligatory beach selfie!

This is the rock point where Copacabana and Ipanema beaches meet.  It is also where the biggest waves come in and attracts surfers.

Megan and Jenny tried surfing for about an hour.  Since they hadn't slept the night before on the flight down, they were pretty tired after paddling against the surf to get into position.

Here you can see a large wave in the distance with at least 6 surfers.  It was fun to watch but you can bet it is a lot of work to paddle out for perhaps two minutes of surfing.

One of the more impressive sandcastle sculpture that we saw along Copacabana Beach.

This is Avenida Princesa Isabel (see the statue) who was the daughter of Dom Pedro "The Magnanimous", the last ruler of the empire of Brazil (1825-1891).  He planted trees from his residence to the beach so his daugther would have a cool path without direct sunlight. Their home (castle) is at the end of the trees, at the bottom of the hill in the background.

On Sunday morning we picked Chelsea up from the airport and then attended the Rio Comprido Ward.  Appropriately, their third-hour joint meeting was on missionary work!

This is the Rio Comprido Ward meetinghouse.  The chapel with a cultural hall is on the top level and the classrooms and offices are on the bottom level.  It is at the foot of a favela called Prazeres (Pleasures) named for the predominant profession practiced there:(

Elder and Sister Burkinshaw from the hills near the Rio Comprido meetinghouse.

Cristo Redentor is perhaps the most familiar landmark in Rio de Janeiro and Brazil.  Located on Corcovado, a granite mountain overlooking the entire city, the 125 foot statue was dedicated in 1931 with a small chapel in the base for religious ceremonies.

The city of Rio de Janeiro and Guanabara Bay from Corcovado.

From Pão de Açucar (Sugarloaf mountain) you can see Corcovado in the distance. 

Because many Brazilian cities are built on granite hills, there are always large concrete and stone stairways (escadaria) built for access.  The Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón took one of these stairways and created the world-famous Selarón steps as a tribute to the Brazilian people.  

Here are Jenny, Chelsea and Megan on the Escadaria Selarón which was created from 2000+ tiles collected from over 60 countries--one of the famous landmarks of Rio.

As we went through the Tijuca Forest , we thought we had seen something in the trees so we took a quick picture evidencing the silhouette of what appeared to be a monkey.
We stopped and behind the foliage of this tropical Atlantic rain forest (the world´s largest urban rain forest - 7% of the Rio´s area), we again spotted a face looking back at us.
Finally we captured an open view of a howler monkey, which was once native to the area but has recently been reintroduced, along with the capuchin and marmoset monkeys. 

Another of the wildlife native to the area are the beautiful little yellow saffron finch sometimes call the "canário do telhado" or roof canary.  We often see them as we walk along the beach in Vitória as well.

One of the many lizards we see on the granite rock that is so predominant all along the coast here in Brazil.  We often see lizards on the walls and ceilings of the homes we visit. 

This is Pão de Açucar or Sugarloaf Mountain, another familiar site here in Rio de Janeiro.  These granite monoliths are very common along the coast of Brazil.  In the early days of the sugar cane trade in Brazil, the sugar was shaped in conical molds for shipping, similar to the shape of the mountain and hence the name.

Another view of Corcovado with Christ the Redeemer statue visible from Pão de Açucar at sunset.  You can see how the statue is visible from almost everywhere in the city.

Guanabara Bay at sunset from Morro da Urca (Urca Hill).  The trip to the top of Pão de Açucar begins with a cable tram ride to Morro da Urca and then a second tram to Pão de Açucar.

Guaranbara Bay from Pão de Açucar with the tram cables in the foreground.

Megan, Jenny and Sarah from Pão de Açucar with Guaranabara Bay in the background.

Jenny, Chelsea with Sister and Elder Burkinshaw from Morro da Urca with Guaranabara Bay in the background.  It had been a very warm day and it had finally begun to cool off.

At the Restaurante Timoneiro we had moqueca, a fish stew unique to the state of Espirito Santo (Holy Ghost).  Vitória residents are known as Capixabas and while moqueca capixaba was a common staple there100 years ago, now it is a wonderful treat.  It was delicious!

Another picture at Restaurante Timoneiro with photos of Vitória in the early days.  The area where our apartment and the mission office is located was originally underwater but was recovered by hauling thousands of tons of granite rock into the area in the 1940s.

The top of Morro do Moreno (Hill of the Dark-Skinned) is one of the higher spots overlooking Vitória and a popular hiking destination but is actually located in Vila Velha, the city to the south of Vitória.

Partway up our climb to the top of Morro do Moreno.  The girls wore their swimming suits so they could take advantage of the beach after our climb.

Elder and Sister Burkinshaw may be a bit older but we led the climb up the sometimes steep trail to the top of Morro do Moreno!

Here at the top of Morro do Moreno, you can see the Terceia Ponte (Third Bridge) that joins Vitória and Vila Velha and the bay leading to the economically important Vitória port.

Another view of the Terçeia Ponte (built 26 years ago) and the city of Vitória.  Note the hills and how high the neighborhoods are built into the hills.  It provides insight into why knee problems seem to be a common ailment for our missionaries.

In the foreground is the Ilha do Boi (Ox Island) and the Ilha do Frade (Friar Island) which are some of the more upscale neighborhoods in Vitória.  Our morning walks often include one of these two neighborhoods.  In the distant background is the the city of Serra (Mountain) which is aptly name. 

Jenny was apparently excited about the view from Morro do Moreno!

Here is a view looking opposite the Vitória side of Morro do Moreno to Vila Velha (Old Village) which, as the name implies, is a much older settlement than Vitória.  Vila Velha also has some wonderful beaches and a majority of the people who work in Vitória live in Vila Velha which gives some insight to why the Terçeia Ponte bridge is so crowded during rush hour.  This is where we went after our hike to enjoy the beach.

Some of the beautiful beach areas in Vila Velha.

We rented a car and drove about two hours into the interior of the state of Espirito Santo to see the famous landmark Pedra Azul (Blue Rock).  This unique granite monolith turns different colors depending on the direction of the sunlight.  This area is also the source of the mineral water sold in greater Vitória under the label "Pedra Azul."

The girls with Pedra Azul in the background.

Back in Vitória, here is one of the beautiful sunrise vistas during our morning walk that makes it just another day in paradise!

One Saturday we were riding bikes on the north side of the Praia do Camburi and for the first time we witnessed Kite Surfing.  Here´s a 15 second videoclip of some amazing talent.

Elder Almir Pereira is a remarkable missionary who was disowned by his family when he joined the Church.  He now serves as an Assistant to President Young.  For his birthday, the sister missionaries (knowing Elder A. Pereira loves cockroaches) made him a unique bolo de barrata (cockroach cake).

Elder A. Pereira and Elder Verçoza made a brownie cake for Elder Burkinshaw´s 61st birthday and delivered it to the mission office.  So we took them to Subway for lunch and returned to devour the cake (we did save a couple of pieces for Pres. and Sister Young).

The story of Elder A. Pereira who was the trainer from Elder Braga illustrates the power of the gospel in an individual´s life.  Elder Braga, also the only member in his family, came into the mission field only to recognize that he had not resolved all the issues necessary to qualify as a representative of Jesus Christ.  With no family support, he returned home to settle those matters and about six months later returned to re-assume the honored title of Elder and minister of the Lord.  Elder Verçoza, Elder A. Pereira´s most recent companion and assistant to the president was released to become Elder Braga´s trainer highlighting the fact that the Lord directs the details of our lives.  

We are so grateful for this opportunity to be in Brazil working with these missionaries as well as President and Sister Young. The Gospel of Jesus Christ blesses lives. Elder Russell M. Ballard recently said:

“No one passes through this process of mortality without challenges of some kind or another,” .... He asked that if at any time things became difficult and [we] started questioning, “Would you pause and let your mind go to Gethsemane? … Would you allow your mind to see the greatest hero, the greatest friend, the most important person in all of our lives, kneeling in supplication that He would have the capacity to do what Heavenly Father had sent Him to do? That somehow through His Atonement, He could lift the sins of all those who would come unto Him on condition of repentance. That through Him and His Atonement, we would all be able to carry the burdens that life might present to us.” 

During our most recent new missionary training meeting, Elder Braga shared his testimony upon returning to the mission field.  We felt the truth and promise of the Atonement, and it makes us every grateful to be able to serve in a small way in this life-changing work.  

"...Jesus answered... Fear not: believe only, and [w]e shall be made whole." (Luke 8:50)

Avante Vitória!!!

Elder and Sister Burkinshaw