Sunday, January 8, 2017

November 1 - December 31, 2016

It is the end of the year and we have much to be grateful for. We have been in Brazil for 21 months now. Although difficult at times our experience has given us a great love for the country, especially for the people. We have grown to love the Brazilian "abraço". Our love for the missionaries has grown as well and the eternal friendships we have developed with these dedicated young men and women. We have made it through another transfer! For our Christmas video this year the kids put together a video using the primary song "The Family is of God". As our amazing seven children with their spouses and our grandchildren sang, we were reminded of the powerful doctrine taught in this Primary song and also how grateful we are to be involved in sharing that message here in Brazil. 

On the day of transfers (every 6th Tuesday), we arrive about 7:20am at the Vitória airport to greet the missionaries arriving from the CTM (Centro de Treinamento - Missionary Training Center) in São Paulo and load them on a bus to take them to the Mission President`s home where they receive their initial training.  Here´s a quick selfie before the missionaries arrived.
President Young greeting the new missionaries as they arrive. The missionaries hardly sleep because they have to pack and then depart the CTM at 4:30am to travel to the airport in São Paulo departing at 6:30 and arriving in Vitoria about 7:45am.
Elder Merrill (Gilbert Arizona) is greeted by Sister Young. Elder Merrill's mother had sent Elder Burkinshaw an e-mail with a couple of questions and mentioned they were anxious to get a picture of him from Brasil, so Elder Burkinshaw sent one  on our ride to the President`s home.
New missionary training with President and Sister Young.  The President`s home has a beautiful view of the the beach in Vitória (the city is an island) and the Terçeira Ponte (Third Bridge - there are two others) that connects the island with the mainland.
Our Thanksgiving lunch, Subway turkey sandwiches, with Elder Dial (West Jordean, Utah) and Elder Lighten (Riverton, Utah). Elder Dial had done such a great job in assisting with the rental of a new apartment in the Ibes neighborhood of Vila Velha, that he more than earned this holiday lunch!
Sister Burkinshaw played the piano (again) for the civil wedding ceremony the precedes the temple sealing and it happened to be on the evening of Thanksgiving (although Brasil doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving) in the Cariacica Stake Center. The building looked great! The couple was sealed the next day, we were fortunate enough to see them at the São Paulo Temple the next day!
Elder and Sister Burkinshaw at the São Paulo Temple, Friday November 25, 2016. When Elder Burkinshaw served in São Paulo 42 years ago, President Spencer W. Kimball announced that the temple would be built but this was his first opportunity see it.

We were in São Paulo to meet our son John (who also served a mission in Brasil - Porto Alegre Sul) and his wife Emily who came to visit us.  We began our trip by taking some pictures and then participating in a temple session, our first since April 2015.
Following the temple session, we took a quick selfie with the Angel Moroni in the background!
While in São Paulo, we stayed at the Sheraton Hotel in Novo Brooklyn which was very nice.  Here´s a picture of Sister Burkinshaw on Satuday morning before departing for our next adventure - Iguaçu Falls!
We arrived at Iguaçu Falls early Saturday afternoon and it was warm there and the humidity for all the water vapor generated by the Falls made it quite toasty.
Although not immediately visible, we were in a cloud of atomized water from the Falls in this picture.  It was hard to keep your eyes open because it was so wet.

This video of the Iguaçu Falls is quite impressive but only includes perhaps a quarter of the water falls which we saw and even though we had authorization from the Brasil Area Presidency to visit, we had to stay on the Brasilian side.  There are more falls and different vistas from the Argentina and Paraguay sides as well. IIguacu Falls is one of the seven wonders of the world.

Here is a toco toucan or giant toucan that is common to this part of South American.  Its bill is 30-50% of its body surface area and is used to regulate heat as a radiator of sorts.  They are very beautiful and its call is a deep croaking song. 

One of the unique creatures we saw at Iguaçu Falls was the ring-tailed coati (quati in Portuguese), which is a relative of the raccoon. They are very agile and climb in the trees as well as run around on the ground.  We were warned that, like a raccoon, they will bite.

Fortunately this coati did not take up Emily's offer to jump into her arms.

Sister Burkinshaw and Emily on the path to the Falls. Lots of walking of course.

Another one of our favorite critters, which live all over Brasil from North to South, are the lizards.  It is not unusual to see them running up and down the walls in homes or even in the meetinghouse during Church.
Here is a picture with Pedra Azul (blue stone) in the background.  Pedra Azul is located in the interior of the state of Espirito Santo which comprises most of the Vitória Mission.  Huge monolithic outcroppings of granite like this are common in this part of Brasil and much of the granite used in counter-tops in the U.S. comes from the states of Espirito Santo (Holy Spirit) and Minas Gerais (General Mines).
This is another view of Pedra Azul.  Depending on the time of day and the angle of the sun, it may appear to be green, blue or gray.  Note the rock on the right which is called "O Lagarto" (the Lizard) because it looks like a lizard climbing the pedra. John & Emily can be seen on the road--this is on the way down so we are ahead of them!!
Another view of Pedra Azul.  Note how green the rolling hills are which surround the area.  The interior has many very scenic farms and ranches (roças).

Another, more distant, view of Pedra Azul and the surrounding countryside.
We stopped for lunch in the city of Domingo Martins, where we enjoyed a"Self-Service" meal - the Brazilians use the English words to describe it.  You load your plate with what you want and you are charged by weight. Not the weight you gain eating Brasilian cuisine, but the weight of the food (ha,ha).
John, Emily and Sister Burkinshaw enjoying their self-service meal in Domingo Martins.  In tropical Brazil, open front restaurants and stores are very common.
After lunch, Sister Burkinshaw and Emily tried a variety of flavored "biscoitos" (crackers) at one of the German-esque shops in Domingo Martins.
Our next visit was to the city of Guarapari which is well know for it's beaches (praias).  We walked out to a point that allowed us to look back at the beaches and high-rise apartments along the beach.

One morning John, Emily and Sister Burkinshaw (who was the tour guide and photographer) got up early and rented bikes to ride along the beach in Vitória.  All along the beach there are lanes for walkers and lanes for bike riders.
When we went to the Convent Nossa Senhora da Penha (Our Lady of Penha - in Catholic jargon, this is Mary the Mother of Jesus) it was quite cloudy and windy and a little cooler than normal but still provides some beautiful views of Vitória to the north and Vila Velha to the South.  We were here when President Young called to advise that John and Emily's Stake President, President Bond called us.  He had seen that John was visiting Brasil on Facebook and called to advise that John would soon receive a call that would require his being ordained a High Priest.  He invited Elder Burkinshaw to ordain John before he and Emily left (which was in about 2 hour).  We quickly went to the mission home where John was ordained.  John and Emily left shortly thereafter to return to their home in Lake Jackson, TX where John was called to serve as Bishop about 10 days later.  This will be a story for posterity!
We receive lots of Christmas packages in the mission office during the weeks leading up to Christmas and for several weeks after Christmas. Sister Piussi (Piracicaba, São Paulo) stops in on her P-day to pick up her package, a picture in front of the tree was a must.
Following the package pick up, we treated the Sisters to Subway for lunch.  Sister Burkinshaw, Sister Schell (Winston-Salem, NC), Sister Rodrigues (Cascavel, PR), Sister Piussi (Piraçicaba, SP) and Sister Chavez (Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia).
Lunch at the food court in Shopping Praia da Costa after registering Elder Merrill with the Polícia Federal.  Elder Burkinshaw, Elder Merrill (Gilbert, AZ), Elder Anderson (Zionsville, IN) and Sister Burkinshaw.
As often as the missionaries stop by the mission office during lunch time, we make sure they are spiritually and physically well fed.  Elder Burkinshaw, Elder Soares (Limeira, SP) and Elder A Oliveira (Natal, RN).
After lunch, Elder Soares shares a message using Leo o Leão (Leo the Lion).  Leo is very popular particularly with families having small children.
Following registration with the Polícia Federal, we posed in front of the Christmas tree in Shopping Praia da Costa with Elder Duarte (Riverdale, CA), Elder Lugarani (Comodoro Rivadavia, Chubut, Argentina).
Following visa renewal at Polícia Federal and lunch in Shopping Praia da Costa (and prior to a McFlurry at McDonalds) the Sisters posed in front of the Christmas Tree.  Sister Jube (Provo, UT), Sister Albrecht (Cleveland, OH), Sister Silva (Maceió, AL) and Sister Woodard (Boise, ID).
Sister Burkinshaw waiting for a taxi to take us to Estrelinha to deliver some Christmas packages and complete a contract for a new apartment there.
Even though we walk each morning along the beach at 5:30am, we are never quite prepared for the beautiful sunrises we are able to capture in pictures.  Just another day in paradise!
Yet another beautiful sunrise which sometimes causes Elder Burkinshaw to break out into spontaneous song:  "There's a bright golden haze on the praia (beach)!"
On this particular morning at the rock pier where we regularly walk, we were joined by a beautiful long-legged white crane.  We often see them fishing at low-tide.
Here is a picture of the rock pier with the island behind it.  You will notice a statue at the end of the rock pier and the sunrise reflecting off the clouds.
At the end of the rock pier is a statue erected in 1988 to the goddess of the sea, Yemanja from the Afro-Brazilian Spiritualist religion tradition.  There are always people fishing around the end of the pier so Yemanja must bring good luck to them.
Here is a close-up of the base of the Yemanja statue where someone has placed some white roses to remember a loved-one. She was recently repainted.
The newest addition to the Maruipe ward is the infant son of Breno and Lorena Salles who had been serving as Young Men (Rapazes) and Young Women (Moças) Presidents.  They are a great family and they remind us of our own children with new grand babies. They both shared their testimonies as it was fast sunday and are a reflection of what will allow the church in Brasil to continue to grow and prosper.
Breno's father, Wilson Salles is the Ward Mission Leader of the Vitória Ward (the other ward which meets with the Maruipe Ward) and he is a wonderful support to the missionaries.  This is a great family!

For most of our mission, Irmão (Brother) Cristiano Bazilio has been a real blessing in helping us remodel (repair and paint) missionary apartments before we return them to the landlords.  About a week before Christmas, he invited us to have churrasco (barbecue) at his home in Vila Velha.  We had a wonderful time particularly with his father-in-law, not to mention the food was awesome--nothing like a Brasilian churrasco.

Their home is quite artistic, faced with various shapes of polished granite (the work was done by  Irmão Cristiano's father-in-law) and very pretty Christmas lights.  We did not have any problem recognizing his home when we arrived in the taxi!
Sunday evenings during November and December Sister Burkinshaw played the piano and Elder Burkinshaw sang with the single adults as they prepared their annual Christmas Cantata Fireside.  Practices were always at the home of Bispo (Bishop) Jocimar.  Left to right, Irmã Renilsa Amorim Souza (wife of Bispo Jocimar), Laís Amorim Souza (daughter of Bispo Jocimar), Caroline Domiciano (daughter of Bispo Domiciano of the Vitória Ward), Dayane Gomes, Thayná Ramos, Kety Zioto, Filipe Amorim Souza and Lucas Amorim Souza (sons of Bispo Jocimar), Bispo Jocimar, Allison Paulo and Elder Burkinshaw. The group that sang was larger, but several were mission for the picture.

Elder Burkinshaw with the single adults practicing for the Christmas Cantata Fireside.
On occasion, Elder Burkinshaw would also play the piano. From his days as a missionary he still has a selection of 10 or so hymns he can play, although for some he can't use the hymnal because they changed the keys.

Sister Araujo (Brasília, DF), Irmã Ílma, and Sister Dodge (Murfreesboro, TN). Irmã Ílma was baptized on December 24th-Christmas eve.
Sister of Irmã Ílma, Sister Dodge, Irmã Ílma, Sister Araujo on Sunday, December 25th after Irmã Ílma was confirmed in the combined sacrament meeting - Ala de Maruípe e Ala de Vitória. Ílma's sister is part of the Vitória ward.

One of our wonderful home teaching families on Christmas day. Elder Burkinshaw, Pedrinho, Pedro, Yuri, Luciana Caldas and Sister Burkinshaw.
Elder Burkinshaw wearing his Christmas gift from another of our wonderful Home Teaching families (família de Silveira Cardoso) - they have great taste.
Elder Burkinshaw, Sister Burkinshaw, Sister Bunderson (St. Louis, MO) and Sister Gonsalez (Yankton, South Dakota) two of our Sister Leader Trainers. Sister Bunderson returns home on the January 3rd transfer.
Elder Burkinshaw, Sister Burkinshaw, Sister Chavez (Bolivia) also returning home on the January 3rd transfer and Sister Rodrigues (São Paulo).
We share our final family video with our testimony of why we are here in Brasil and away from our family.  Families are a part of God's plan for His children. The Gospel of Jesus Christ makes it possible for families to be eternal and we are grateful for the opportunity to be here in Brasil helping to share the message of the Restored Gospel.

family video

The Family is of God.

1. Our Father has a family. It’s me!
It’s you, all others too: we are His children.
He sent each one of us to earth, through birth,
To live and learn here in fam’lies.
2. A father’s place is to preside, provide,
To love and teach the gospel to his children.
A father leads in fam’ly prayer to share
Their love for Father in Heaven.
3. A mother’s purpose is to care, prepare,
To nurture and to strengthen all her children.
She teaches children to obey, to pray,
To love and serve in the fam’ly.
4. I’ll love and serve my family and be
A good example to each fam’ly member.
And when I am a mom or dad, so glad,
I’ll help my fam’ly remember:
God gave us families to help us become what He wants us to be—
This is how He shares His love, for the fam’ly is of God.

Words and music: Matthew Neeley

Avante Vitória!

Elder and Sister Burkinshaw