Friday, December 1, 2017

February 13-March 18, 2017

On Sunday evening, February 12, we assisted the new office staff, Elder Castro and Elder Aguilar prepare the final transfer spreadsheet and e-mails.  On Monday morning, February 13, after President Young had called to advise all the new mission leaders and trainers of their new assignments, the e-mails with transfer information prepared the night before were sent to the Zone Leaders.  With Elders Castro and Aguilar, we delivered lunch to the self-reliance (autosufficiência) training for the departing missionaries at the Jardim da Penha chapel.  We spent the afternoon finalizing the transfer of information to the new office staff.

Monday evening, February 13, we enjoyed a very nice dinner of moqueca (a traditional fish stew famous in Vitória) prepared by Bispo Jocimar of the Maruipe Ward and his wonderful family at their home.  They have been and always will be great friends.

The family of Bishop Jocimar da Silva and his family (left to right) Lucas, Philipe, Jocimar, Renilsa, and Lais.  Each member of the family has served a full-time mission.  They are very talented and are a great strength to the ward and stake serving in multiple callings.

The moqueca feast prepared by Bispo Jocimar and his family

On Tuesday morning, February 14, we went to the airport to pick up our last group of new missionaries arriving from the São Paulo MTC and we saw several of the departing missionaries there at the Vitória Airport.

Sister Jensen who was returning to her home in Kalamazoo, MI.

Sister Martins who was returning to her home in São Paulo.

Sister Dodge who was returning to her home in Murfreesboro, TN.

Elder A Pereira who was returning to his home in São Paulo.

Elder Salles who was returning to his home in Sergipe, Alagoas.

We loaded the newly arrived missionaries into a rented bus and took them to President Young's apartment where they met their new companions and trainers.

New missionary training meeting at the home of President and Sister Young.

Once the new missionary training was completed, we loaded those that were assigned outside of Greater Vitória on to a bus to the rodoviária (bus station) and those in Greater Vitória others took buses or taxis to their new areas so they could immediately begin their work.  We returned to the office to assist the new office staff complete the documentation of the transfer.

On Wednesday, February 15, we loaded the furniture we had not sold back to our apartment owner into a taxi and took it to some of the families in the Maruipe Ward.  We also continued searching for Havianas (Brazilian flip-flops) for each member of our family at home.  That evening President and Sister Young were kind enough to take us out for a farewell dinner at a wonderful Italian restaurant.

Our farewell dinner with President and Sister Young.

On Thursday morning, February 16, Pedro and Luciana Caldas came to our apartment to receive the last of the surplus furniture we had remaining.

Our dear friends Pedro and Luciana Caldas in the foyer of our apartment building.  Pedro served in the Maruipe Bishopric and we sat next to Luciana with her two handsome little boys every Sunday morning at Sacrament meeting.  
We finalized packing our suitcases for our return home and then we took our replacements in the office for a final lunch at Outback in Shopping Vitória (the Vitória Mall).

Elder Castro (São Paulo) who replaces Elder Burkinshaw as the mission financial secretary following our farewell lunch at Outback.

Elder Aguilar (Fortaleza) who replaces Sister Burkinshaw as the mission executive secretary following our farewell lunch at Outback.

Following lunch we returned to our apartment for some last minute cleaning and organizing and then we took a taxi to the Vitória Airport.  Just before we boarded our plane, Mira and Rosana came to say goodbye.  Rosana had made a skirt for Sister Burkinshaw and a matching tie for me.  She had observed that we were generally color-coordinated ;-)!  Mira brought a new blue tie for Elder Burkinshaw.

Rosana Lisboa with her son Rafael and Mira da Silveira from the Maruipe Ward who came to say goodbye and brought some special gifts to us just before we boarded our plane. 

We boarded GOL 2151 to Rio de Janeiro and later that evening Delta 060 from Rio de Janeiro to Atlanta arriving at 4:35am EST on Friday, February 17.  After passing through customs, we caught Delta 5393 to Houston Intercontinental arriving at 8:50am CST where we were greeted by our son John, his wife Emily and their four boys and our daughter Chelsea, her husband Matt and their two boys Landon and Sawyer.

Our welcoming committee in Houston.  (Left to Right) Levi, Sam, Landon, Caleb, Sawyer and Micah.  They had worked hard on their posters which we loved!

Grandma and Grandpa spending a little extra time with Levi Abraham Burkinshaw who was born while we were still in Brazil.

We loaded up our luggage and went to Chelsea's home which was near the airport where we freshened up and spent lots of time visiting.  We enjoyed a lunch together at Elder Burkinshaw's favorite mexican restaurant, Pappasito's.

Our long-awaited dinner at Pappasito's in Spring, TX.  Around the table Matt, Chelsea and Landon Eve, Sister Burkinshaw, John, Micah, Emily, Sam, Caleb (and not pictured Levi) Burkinshaw, Elder Burkinshaw and Sawyer Eve.

Following lots of visiting in the afternoon and early evening, we went to bed early and arose early on Saturday, February 18 and Matt drove us down to Houston Hobby Airport where we boarded Southwest 5510 to Tulsa arriving at 10:05am CDT.  As we exited, we were met by our daughter Jessica, her husband Mike and their six children, our daughter Kathleen, her husband Bryce and their four boys, our daughter Jenny and our daughter Sarah, her husband Zak and their two children.  It was an exciting time.

A wonderful welcome home as we exited the Southwest concourse at the Tulsa International Airport.

Our welcoming committee at the Tulsa Airport (left to right) Zak, Sarah and Leo (in the carriage) Thomas; Spencer, Kathleen, Will (in the stroller), Owen and Bryce Wright, Rosie Thomas; Grace, Harrison, Jessica and Sabrina Richards; Jenny Burkinshaw, Jillian Richards, Isaac Wright, Benson and Anderson Richards (and not pictured because he was taking this photo was Mike Richards).

William Jeffrey Wright who was born while we were in Brazil.  His cousin Leo Abraham Thomas was also born just two weeks before we returned home.

We loaded our luggage up and went to Kathleen's home where we arranged for a nice lunch of Hideaway Pizza, one of our favorites.

Welcome home lunch in Broken Arrow (left to right) Elder Burkinshaw with Leo Thomas, Zak, Sarah and Rosie Thomas; Sabrina Richards, Owen and Spencer Wright; Anderson, Harrison and Grace Richards, Sister Burkinshaw, Issac and Bryce Wright; Jillian and Jessica Richards; Will and Kathleen Wright and Jenny Burkinshaw

Following lots of visiting, Elder and Sister Burkinshaw went to bed early at the home of Sarah Thomas (who had two week earlier given birth to baby Leo Abraham Thomas).  The next morning, we arose early to drive to the Claremore Ward where we met with Stake President Matthew Bell for our release interview.  As he released us he reminded us that we were no longer missionaries and should remove our name tags, which was somewhat traumatic.

Sister and Elder Burkinshaw following our release interview with President Matthew Bell of the Bartlesville Oklahoma Stake.  He gave us permission to wear our name tags for this final photograph.

Following our release interview, we drove to Bartlesville to the home of Sister Burkinshaw's sister, Julie Vaclaw until it was time to report our mission in the 1:00pm sacrament meeting of the Bartlesville 1st Ward.  Following sacrament meeting Julie and her husband Ryan Vaclaw hosted Elder and Sister Burkinshaw for a nice Sunday dinner.

Family picture with the Richards Family following Sunday dinner at the home of Julie and Ryan Vaclaw.

We spent the week of February 19-25 with our daughter Sarah Thomas in Broken Arrow, OK, helping with our new grandson, Leo.  We also arranged for a rental home in Bartlesville to be ready for us after we spent a week with our daughter Jessica Richards in Peoria, IL.  After moving into the rental home, we turned our attention to preparations for the 2017 Burkinshaw Family Reunion which was held March 15 - 20 at Crystal Beach on the Bolivar Peninsula near Galveston, TX.  Every family member received a special reunion tee shirt and a pair of Brazilian Havianas flip-flops.

The Sandy Orchid Lodge on Crystal Beach, site of the 2017 Burkinshaw Family Reunion.  With 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, a bunk-room and a laundry room on each wing, it provided enough space to house forty family members.  And it had a huge kitchen with two sinks, ovens, stoves and refrigerators along with tables to comfortably seat everyone.  Adjacent to the beach and with a grassy yard for games and a large barbecue area with shower facilities when returning from the beach, it was a great venue for our week together.

Burkinshaw 2017 Family Reunion.  Sharing our experiences and our family history gave us the opportunity to reconnect with each of our children and grandchildren.

For the past two years, we have shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the wonderful people of Brazil.  We have studied and prayed and fasted and walked and taught with all our hearts.  At the center of the Gospel is the family.  The Family: A Proclamation to the world teaches that:

THE FAMILY is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.

We have been richly blessed by and for our service as the picture above illustrates.  God is the Father of us all.  Jesus Christ is His only begotten Son, who, in a supreme act of love, took upon him all our sins and infirmities that we might be redeemed and return to live with our Heavenly Parents with our families.  He is our Savior.  May we have the vision to see His plan for our happiness.  We so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Avante para a Vitória!

Elder and Sister Burkinshaw

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