Monday, February 13, 2017

January 1 - February 12, 2017

The first transfer of 2017 took place on Tuesday, January 3rd. We sent 8 missionaries home and welcomed 10 new missionaries. The next and final transfer for us is scheduled for February 14th, Valentines Day. The two new office Elders are doing great and as they have started to assume the daily responsibilities we previous fulfilled, Sister Burkinshaw has spent her time putting together the 2016 Mission History and the February mission newsletter. Elder Burkinshaw has been working on a couple of special project for the area which have kept him very busy with computer work and meetings. It is always wonderful to see the growth of the church. 

Lunch at Outback - we usually sit on the porch, as there is more light, no music and less noise, but there was limited seating, so we had to sit inside in the dark.

Elder McDown, who trained Sister Burkinshaw, Sister Burkinshaw, who trained Elder Aguiar and Elder Aguiar - Three mission office Executive Secretaries.

We have had opportunities for lunches with the missionaries and the members, a final discourse in the Maruípe ward and to participate in the recent Zone Conferences where we did a short training for all the missionaries on FINANCES. Plenty to keep us busy and not a lot of time to think about what comes next in our life. 
Sunday afternoon almoço (lunch) with the Cordeiro Family - Three generations of Church members in Espírito Santo.  (Left to Right) Sabrina, Bruna, Felipe, Elder and Sister Burkinshaw, Evandro (patriarch), Gabriel, Thiago Zardo, Vera Lucia (matriarch), Evelyn, Katia, Ewerton, Gustavo, Tonzinho, Edoriedson, Rita Zardo, Guilherme.
Cordeiro Family--such a great family and a blessing for the family to live close.
Sunday afternoon almoço with (left to right) Mira da Silveira, Renata da Silveira Cardoso, Paulo Roberto Cardoso, Mayra Roberta da Silveira Cardoso Gonçalves, Sister Burkinshaw, Raphael Ribeiro Lisboa, Elder Burkinshaw, Rosane Ribeiro Alves.
Almoço (lunch) with lasagna, rice (arroz) and black beans (feijão prêto), chicken (frango) and salad.
The obligatory selfie with almoço!
Elder Burkinshaw with 9 year-old Mayra.  Mayra´s grandmother Mira was the first to be baptized, then Mayra was baptized 2 years later, when she turned 8, then Mayra´s mother, Renata was baptized a few months later and we are still working with her father, Paulo.
Irmã Drª Mariselma Morães working on Elder Burkinshaw´s teeth in her new Consultório.  Sister Burkinshaw commented that it was the first time she had to go to the dentist with Elder Burkinshaw and wait while he had his teeth cleaned and fixed - which was a little boring (no pun intended). ;-)

Vitória, Colatina and Nanuque Zone Conference in the Jardim da Penha chapel.
Elder  Kenedy Antonio Lima Dias (Cabo Verde) and Elder Burkinshaw after the morning session of Zone Conference--"so alegria".
Sister Burkinshaw, Sister Teran (Cartagena, Bolivar, Columbia), Sister Silva (Maceió, AL) and Sister Chopin (Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico) at the Zone Conference.
Sister Souza (Jundaí, SP) and Sister Gonzales (Yankton, SD) taking a selfie following the group photo at the Zone Conference.
A group of the Elder getting in a picture before lunch. Front to back of those you can see: Elder Dial, Elder Braga, Elder Silva, Elder Garcia and Elder Dias.
The Colatina Zone Leaders, Elder Braga (Santos, SP) and Elder Dial (West Jordan, UT), two of our favorites, serving almoço (lunch) at the Zone Conference.
Elder Marques (formerly Elder Oliveira when he was in Teófilo Otoni with us, left from Manaus, AM but originally from São Mateus, ES) and Elder Castro (Leme, SP) with Elder G. Moreira (Annapolis, GO) in the background at the Zone Conference almoço.
Almoço (lunch) at the Zone Conference with rice and beans, churrasco (barbequed meat), molho de pimento (pepper sauce) and farofa (milled corn and mandioca - which is a root - flour cooked with butter to be served with meat) and, of course, guaraná Antartica!
Elder Burkinshaw with Elder T. Santos (Aracaju, Sergipe).
Sister Ochoa (Martinez de la Torre, Veracruz, Mexico) and Sister Monteiro (Campinas, SP) with Sister and Elder Burkinshaw in the overflow of the Cariacica Stake Center at the Cariacica, Campos and Vila Velha combined Zone Conference.

Our final days here in Vitoria are turning out to be very interesting. On Saturday, February 4th the military police (Polícia Militar) went on strike. Since it is constitutionally illegal for the military police to strike, the storyline is that their families have blockaded them into their compounds so they cannot leave to go work in the streets.

Buses stopped running because people were being robbed on the bus and several bus drivers and the bus drivers union president were murdered. With the general lawlessness, most stores, Government offices, banks and post offices were closed. 
The strike continued for eight days before an agreement was reached between the state government of Espirito Santo and the military police unions on Saturday morning.  However, the families continue their blockade so only a part of the Military Police have returned to work.  However, the President of Brazil has mobilized armed forces and national guard troops to stop the violence and robberies. In January of this year there were four homicides in the greater Vitoria area. During the strike week, there were 144 homicides, many grocery stores, appliance stores and clothing stores were looted, not only by the criminal element but also by ordinary citizens that unfortunately decided to take advantage of the chaos.  It was a disappointing reminder of a talk by Elder D. Todd Christopherson, addressing how the teaching of relativistic morals had weakened our society:

"As a consequence, self-discipline has eroded and societies are left to try to maintain order and civility by compulsion. The lack of internal control by individuals breeds external control by governments. Policemen and laws can never replace customs, traditions and moral values as a means for regulating human behavior. At best, the police and criminal justice system are the last desperate line of defense for a civilized society. Our increased reliance on laws to regulate behavior is a measure of how uncivilized we’ve become. There could never be enough rules so finely crafted as to anticipate and cover every situation, and even if there were, enforcement would be impossibly expensive and burdensome. This approach leads to diminished freedom for everyone. In the memorable phrase of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, 'We would not accept the yoke of Christ; so now we must tremble at the yoke of Caesar.'" (D. Todd Christopherson, Moral Discipline, General Conference, October 2009)
The police in the state of Espirito Santo went on strike Saturday, February 4th. The strike lasted eight days, leaving the city a virtual ghost town.  We had to exercise in the fitness room on the top floor of our apartment building rather than walk along the beach. This picture of Vitoria was taken from the fitness room looking west. The mission office is the taller, grey building in the very center of the photo.
This is a picture of the traffic, or lack of traffic, across the Third Bridge (Terçeira Ponte) during what should be rush the week of the police strike.
This is the street in front of the mission office around 4:00pm Thursday during the week of the police strike.  Normally, the street is packed with cars and people. On Monday, the first workday of the strike, around noon we saw two cars racing down this road one cutting off the other and then raced away.  The driver of the other car jumped out with a gun, ready to shoot at the other car but fortunately, by that time, he was well beyond range. The street was full of people at the time and all just froze in place, shocked by what they witnessed. Most people, on learning of the police strike went home early on Monday and for the rest of the week, the entire city appeared deserted as in the photo above.
This is inside the Shopping Vitória mall, which is about a ten minute walk from the office.  The only stores that opened during the police strike  were those in the food court and even then for just a few hours at lunch time. Since there were no other restaurants open, we took the office Elders over to Shopping Vitória for lunch via Uber.
Friday morning the week of the strike from the top floor of our apartment building.  Vitória is a stunningly beautiful city but it was very eerie to see things so quiet and deserted.

Article in the local newspaper:  Merchandise Robbed from Stores Begins to Be Returned  Yesterday, the civil police began to recover products robbed during thefts from stores in Greater Vitoria and Cachoeiro de Itapemirim, in the south of the State.  Some people delivered the products to the police stations voluntarily - many of them after having been recognized on videos posted on social media networks.  At the Goiabeiras station in Vitória, taxi driver Fabrício do Nascimento Dantas returned a refrigerator yesterday morning.  "I have 25 years as a taxi driver, and I have never messed with anything of anyone.  It was a moment of weakness.  I repented and came here to deliver (the stolen property).  I did not think of the consequences at the time he said in an interview with TV Capixaba.  The station manager, Izaías Tadeu Vieira explained that those who turn themselves in can have their penalty reduced. " A person responding to the crime of qualified theft, could expect a sentence of 2 to 8 years in prison but by turning himself in, can reduce the penalty by 2/3 he explained.  Yesterday afternoon, teams of Civil Police also were confiscating products from residences in Maria Ortiz in Vitória.  There were televisions, bicycles, microwaves, purses and electric fans among other merchandise.  One person was arrested.

Infographic from the Globo News showing that the Military Police strike resulted in 144 murders, over 200 cars stolen on Monday, the first weekday of the strike, R$300 million (US$100 million) in lost revenues, 3,130 armed forces and national guard personnel, 3 helicopters, 7 armored carriers and 180 vehicles mobilized to stem the violence.

Saturday afternoon we began to see armed forces patrolling the Third Bridge.  Note that their rifles are drawn and pointed toward the front of their vehicles - no joking here!

On our Saturday morning walk, we passed the Grand Parc Residencial Resort (the three 30 story luxury apartments on the left next to the famous Golden Tulip Hotel) where last July, the parking garage collapsed in the early morning hours, killing one attendant and injuring 4 others.  All the residents were immediately evacuated and just this week (6+ months later) they are being allowed to retrieve their cars and their belongings.  Civil and mechanical engineering design is very important and this was a very expensive error.

Since the end of the police strike was not obvious on Sunday morning, only a joint sacrament meeting was held with the Vitória and Maruípe Wards.  Since this was our last Sunday, it gave us the opportunity to see our dear friend Dayane Gomes, who would normally be visiting another ward as part of the Stake Relief Society Presidency.

Elder Purser (Prairieville, LA) and Elder Burkinshaw their last Sunday together.  Elder Purser is being transferred to Cacheoiro 1 where he will be a trainer and district leader!

Sister Araújo (Brasília, DF) and Sister Bispo (Dias D'Ávila, BA) who have been serving in our home ward of Maruípe with Sister and Elder Burkinshaw.  Sister Araújo will become a Sister Trainer Leader in Estrelinha during this transfer! Sister Bispo is one of the most gentle, loving people we have met here in Brasil, she arrived in the January 3rd transfer. Sister Bispo wrote a very sweet note to Sister Burkinshaw the week of our departure.

Elder Passos (Belém, PA), Elder and Sister Burkinshaw and Elder Purser (Prairieville, LA).  Elder Passos completes his mission and returns home this transfer.  Unfortunately his mother passed away when he had been out about 6 months but many of the members and many of his companions, particularly Elder Purser, have supported and helped him.

By Monday morning, February 13, traffic was back to normal and the buses were running.  Here at the exit of the Third Bridge, you can see an armed forces station providing a reminder that law and order were back in Vitória.

Monday afternoon the street in front of the mission office was lined with cars again.  It was almost as if the past very difficult week had never happened.

Even though not all of the military police had returned to work by Monday morning, with the helicopters circling the city and the armed forces in the streets, enough normalcy was restored that we could take an early walk along our beloved beach again.
A great picture of both the Third Bridge (Terçeira Ponte) at the left and the Our Lady of Penha Convent (Convento Nossa Senhora da Penha) on the hill at the right.

A beautiful sunrise on Praia do Camburi.
Beautiful sunrise from the point on Praia do Camburi. We will miss our early morning walks along the beach--Sister Burkinshaw has loved living near the ocean.

This past transfer (6 weeks) has been quite a roller coaster of emotions as we trained our replacements and watched a very troubling police strike load more challenges upon the very good people of Vitória and Espirito Santo who are already burdened with many political, social and economic challenges.  And we know personally and statistically that the missionary work has suffered as a result.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks has said, "The idea that scripture reading can lead to inspiration and revelation opens the door to the truth that a scripture is not limited to what it meant when it was written but may also include what that scripture means to a reader today. Even more, scripture reading may also lead to current revelation on whatever else the Lord wishes to communicate to the reader at that time. We do not overstate the point when we say that the scriptures can be a Urim and Thummim to assist each of us to receive personal revelation." (Dallin H. Oaks, "Scripture Reading and Revelation," Ensign, January 1995)

Thus, the following scriptures appear prophetic for our members and missionaries in these times:

"We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;  Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; ... For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 17-18)

Over 40 years ago when Elder Burkinshaw was serving as a young missionary in Brazil, Elder James E. Faust shared the following story in General Conference:

"On a quiet morning last week I left my office in São Paulo, Brazil, and walked over to the São Paulo Temple site. There was a soft morning mist beginning to clear away. As I walked up the gentle rise in the street onto the site, I noted with great interest and pleasure brush being cleared away and the new pegs recently driven into the ground. These pegs in the ground mark the dimensions of a new temple soon to be erected for the glory of God and the endless blessing of his children in South America. This temple will be different from any other building now standing in South America.

"As I stood where the entrance of the temple will be, I recalled how thirty-six years ago my companions and I landed by ship in Santos after twenty-one days at sea and went by train to São Paulo. There were other missionaries on the same vessel going to Argentina and Uruguay, which were the two other relatively new missions on the continent.

"In all of South America there was but a mere handful of members of the Church, mostly emigrants from Europe, many of whom were converted in Europe. As I stood last week on this site where this new, special, multimillion-dollar building will stand, I recalled how difficult and unpromising the future of the Church appeared in South America thirty-six years ago. In all of our mission we had only three baptisms in one year, despite the conscientious labors of over seventy missionaries. We did not have the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, or the Book of Mormon translated into Portuguese. We held our meetings in rooms that were small and unfit for the lofty message we were trying to teach. We often had to sweep out these rooms before meeting to remove the empty bottles and trash from the revelry of the night before. It was always difficult and often discouraging." (James E. Faust, "The Keys of the Kingdom," General Conference, October 1975).

Elder and Sister Burkinshaw recently walked upon the grounds of that Temple in São Paulo for the first time, seeing what was only a vision in 1975.  It was a sacred, revelatory experience.

"Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation.  For after much tribulation come the blessings." (D&C 58:3-4)

In 2017, with a few more years of experience, we hope to be able to share that vision.

The best is yet to come!

Avante, Avante para a Vitória!!

Elder and Sister Burkinshaw