World Cup Soccer! The pride of Brazil is at stake. With the Games going, school was cancelled for 2 weeks (combo of winter break, a federal holiday, a Christian holiday, World Cup frenzie). Whenever we go into a store, all eyes are watching the TV monitor up in the corner, as other countries square off. There is sporadic celebrating before, during and after each game. Sunday evening (before last Monday’s game), the people in our neighborhood got together for a barbecue, L-O-U-D heavy rap music (like 2-3 cars with max output speakers) that went on for 2-3 hours, drinking, smoking (many cigarette butts by our front door), hanging out. It was verrry hard to study inside. Okay, we get it. They are celebrating their World Cup games. Now who’s going to clean up the cigarette butts?! On Game Day, excitement builds before the game starts. During games, it is...silent….everyone is watching….until they score. Explosions! Yelling! Cars honking! Blatting horns! Even the bells of the Catholic Church are ringing! Brazil won 4-1 on Monday. Brazil is at the top of the last 16 teams (USA is in the 16 also). Today is another Game Day; Brazil plays Chile. The Elders are instructed to stay in their apartment (P Day), unless they have appointments. We didn’t get the same instructions, so we can do whatever we need to do. This afternoon and evening, we'll work with a 6 yr. old Downs Syndrome boy (Paulo), teaching him signs and imitation skills; we'll go grocery shopping; then we'll teach two English (Inglais) lessons at 5:00 and 7:00. From the Elders' perspective in their apartment, it's hard. Not much missionary work can be done! Tomorrow, we will feed a big lunch to a family of 5 (The Rau's).
This still-life was really our breakfast--the day after the Elders ate with us (not much food left). We love this red-orange fruit, called the Quaquí ([kah-kee]). It looks like a not-so ripe tomato, tastes like a mix of apple and cantaloupe. Yum! Notice the droplets on the fruit? That's just from the humidity here. I brought the paring knife with us--it has been a life-saver. No juice (yep--Elders). We are very careful that we drink only PURIFIED "agua sem gas," or water without carbination. It is a bit tricky in people's homes and at church activities, where the Brazilians drink water from the tap (we pretend we're not thirsty). We are lucky to have a large water garafá (tank) in our kitchen, and a fridge that makes good ice cubes. The toast was browned over the open propane flame--not very good (I've since discovered that toast is better when browned in our sandwich griller). There was no milk (Elders, remember?), so we had sugar and cinnamon over rice with our fruit. Also notice the straight-back chairs; we have six of them and a large table to accommodate the Elders. We've invited a family of 5 to Sunday lunch. that makes 7 of us--add the desk swivel chair, and we're set!
Last Sunday, we were invited to lunch with Ozaire (O-zah-yeer) and Rosecler (ho-zee-klair) Ribeira, who have been assigned to help this little "Groupo" survive and thrive. They live about 20 miles away, up in the forest. He is a retired "Master" fireman; she is a retired school teacher. Together, they own a private high school. They have 3 kids of their own and have adopted 18 other children (mostly off the streets). Their youngest kids are 17 yr. old twins. They just put in their papers to go on a mission somewhere in Brazil. They have toucans, other exotic birds (exotic to us, anyway) and wild pigs that live on their property. We were amazed that their house is so grand, like a small palace, painted a bright salmon pink. Inside are very high ceilings, chandeliers, a dining room table for about 20, dormitory-like bedrooms and bathrooms, a theater room with no furniture yet, an interior garden with a fountain and a banana tree. Outside they have planted large flower pots and a large vegetable garden. The house has verandas and large staircases with elaborate banisters - all make of concrete. Down from the house is a covered pórtico (?) for relaxing and enjoying the forest. No pictures were taken -- we felt it would have been rude of us. But such a stark difference from what we see in town. They do not flaunt their wealth, but share freely with the Groupo's members; they pay the church rent & more. A wonderful, loving couple, totally dedicated to serve!!
I've held this for a week because I wanted a picture, but...When we came, our Mission President Monteiro (Brazilian who does not speak English, but speaks through either of 2 USA missionaries who are fluent in Portuguese) told us "If you need anything, just ask." After attending church without a musical instrument, where everyone is off-key and changing keys frequently (forget about harmonizing), Dennis asked for a piano, which can be played during meetings. Two Friday's ago, Pres. Monteiro surprised us with a new Casio keyboard, two copies of the Children's songbook (in Portuguese), audio tapes of children's songs, and several boxes of manuals, brochures, videos of Christ, Personal Progress books, Duty to God booklets, etc. etc. Christmas! So, last Sunday, I started playing the "piano" and "organ" for Primary and Sacrament Meetings, etc. It makes a big difference! I think I can hear some harmony! It has gone well, but I've struggled with the best volume. We have learned that one of the newest members played the organ for her old church years ago; she was delighted when we asked her to practice this week and play the next Sunday if she feels ready. I guess we can't get away from the world of music. They all are appreciative.
Every year, either in June or July, people celebrate Festa Junina or Julina. This originally was a religious holiday, but is now celebrated as a holiday for fun. They decorate with colorful flags, dress in old country costumes (like Daisy Mae), play lots of games and eat lots of food.
Our little "chapel" is the garage of an apartment behind the main church "house." The awning allows more people to attend and protects from rain and sun. The amplifier for the microphone is on the chair in back. The ramp leading down from the house is quite steep; I walk down it very carefully, afraid of slipping on the ice. Ha! There's no ice here. No one slips. I'll probably be the first!
Every Sunday 55-65 people attend Sacrament meeting. This "Groupo" started last November, with 3 strong LDS families and 4 young elders. We make 6 missionaries in our city of Bocaiúva. There have been 19 baptisms since then, a few families, but mostly kids and teens. Papers have been submitted to officially name it as a "branch." Until then, we are supported by the Guaraitúba Ward (nearest city).
Through the principal of the Special Education School, the Elders arranged for Dennis and me to work with a low-functioning autistic boy, Valdenir, who has never attended school. They do not know what to do with him and seem grateful for our help. We serve 2 hours every Wednesday. Dennis is my translator; we make a good team. We'll see if some of my suggestions have been implemented. Hope...
If you can maximize the printing on the side of the building in this and the previous picture, you can see its name. Last week, Valdenir was absent; this week, there was no school (winter break). We walked 2+ miles to get there, and the gate was padlocked. It was a holiday! We need to get a calendar so we know ahead of time! Next week...hopefully.
Hello, Everyone! We have been assigned to live in the small city of Bocaiúva [bo-kai-you-vuh[, about 35 miles northeast of Curitiba. It is a rural logging town with pine forests closeby for harvesting. The city has a business district that is similar to Burns, Oregon (where we lived before moving to Utah), but with a greater diversity of businesses. There are lots of very small shops and a few larger stores, a large Catholic church painted yellow; and the streets radiate from the central Catholic Church. There are about 30 churches here, competing for attendees; most are tiny and are tucked away in a house or unused building; some are very loud and use loudspeakers.
The people here are wonderful, loving people. When greeted and when saying goodbye, the women embrace in cheek-to-cheek kisses. The men lean slightly toward each other and shake hands with everyone when coming and going. These are beautiful, genuine customs. The people are not at all slow or backward. They live in a lower economic area. BOY! can they talk fast! We are surrounded by Portuguese-speaking people, who are so patient with us, as we fumble to find words and phrases. Dennis is doing great. I speak v-e-r-y slow, and try to talk around and act out words until everyone catches on, gives the correct word, and nods with understanding and approval.
The LDS Church is a small “GROUPO” right now—not even a branch—started 6 mos. ago, with three solid families and four young elders who are trying hard to develop into a branch. The church is a house near the center of the city, which was donated by one of the church members here. Last Sunday there were 60 people at Sunday School and Sacrament Meeting. Dennis and I are helping wherever we can: We teach Seminary 4 days a week to 3-6 teenagers, put on Family Home Evenings every Monday and teach an English class on Saturday evenings. I help with the music in Primary (one tiny classroom of 12-17 children, all ages, with one teacher). Dennis is going to volunteer to teach a Sunday School class.
The roads are in poor shape; it's hard to negotiate between mud and potholes, big gravel patches, rough blacktop, old unrepaired cobblestones and broken-up concrete. Dennis walks about 1 hour every morning, and thrives on it, as usual. This has been very hard for me, as you can imagine, but without a car--like most people in town--I seem to find energy needed to walk about 4 miles a day to get things done. At night ,we both crash and can hardly move. There are some nice cars here, but most are small run-down, half-working cars with missing parts, dragging pipes, etc. The houses are painted with bright colors, but most are very small and in poor condition. There are clothes hanging everywhere, since no one has a clothes dryer. Since it is so humid, most people open their windows in the morning and air out their bedding. After we washed clothes last week, it took 4-5 days for them to dry, hanging from a large indoor drying rack--with the help of our little heater. There are dogs everywhere, none on leashes! Interesting--very few dog fights.
The weather? It's is winter here and very chilly, especially in the house (58 degrees our first morning). No one has central heating. So we hover around our little heaters and wear extra layers. It either rains or is misty all day It rains in torrents, and either stops after 10-15 minutes, or continues for hours. This will continue through August. We'll master this challenge too!
3 of 4 missionaries and LDS Church in Bocaiúva, Paraná state, Brasil: Elder Arizola (from Peru), Elder Ramos (from Brazil), Elder Pereira (from Brazil). Not pictured is Elder A. Silva (from Brazil). All speak Portuguese, not English! But they are learning English, as we must learn more Portuguese, to work together closely every day.
Readers, please be patient as I try to learn how to joggle this Weebly app, text and photos from cellphone and computer. I will tackle this challenge too!
WE'RE FINALLY IN BRAZIL (brah-seeow)!!