I've mentioned before how Spartan our apartment is regarding its furniture. Here are pictures of before and after our first furniture purchases. We decided that comfort, after all, is very important to us. It has been really hard to have only these chairs, the desk chair, or the edge of our bed for sitting choices. Since there are no used furniture stores here, we contributed to the local economy and bought a new leather-like sofa and poltrona (arm chair). They cost less than half of what we would pay in the States--that indicates how well things are made here--not! They don't match, but they are only temporary, and are the best we could find in town. When we leave, if there is no "casal" (married couple) coming to replace us, we plan to give them to Grupo members. Everyone has broken down, hard furniture, always covered with old blankets. Our additions have been a big hit with the Elders and visitors. Our living room is becoming much more inviting and comfy for everyone, especially with the beautiful pot of begonias that Rosecler gave to me! President Monteiro, these photos of your fine young Elders have been staged--Honest!
During the Conference, Levino (who was baptized 2 weeks ago) was confirmed a member and was given the gift of the Holy Ghost. Following Ward Conference, another older gentleman, Vitório, was baptized. Both men, along with Nino, will probably receive the Priesthood soon. With Amadeus (baptized earlier), Levino and Vitório as new members, we have three older gentlemen who do not read. We plan to visit these gentlemen regularly, to help them keep learning, stay active, and to have priesthood opportunities to exercise their priesthood..
I would like to insert a recent experience, which adds to my testimony that God and Jesus Christ know each of us, are aware of events in our lives, and often reward our efforts to keep the commandments by providing "Tender Mercies." These subtle, often-forgotten mini-miracles enrich our lives and help strengthen our assurance that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true. I shared this as part of my testimony in Sacrament Meeting yesterday. Three weeks ago, Nino and Anna (first picture on the left) had been married civilly, had been baptized, and were preparing for their ring ceremony and reception. As I was about to leave to catch our ride to Guaraitúba, a thought came to me: "Take your music." What? That's strange--Why would I take my prelude music to a wedding? Then I remembered that I had brought a binder of easy classical music--just in case I needed it for a wedding or something. I hadn't thought of it since leaving the States, but I recognized right away that it was a prompting. Okay, I'll take it--but no one has asked me to play for the wedding, and they probably have recorded music or something else. Surprisingly, the binder was right where it should be, not requiring a search. As I helped set up for the reception in the Relief Society room, Taci Rau (Grupo leader's wife) asked me if I could play the piano, and would I start playing right away, because everything was ready to begin. I was not at all surprised, and was able to say, "Sim, posso" (Yes, I can.) I knew instantly what had happened and why. Had I not followed the prompting of the Spirit, Nino and Anna would not have had music, or would have had to settle for hymns, for their wedding. I know that Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ love music. And they love Nino and Anna, and wanted them to have nice music at their wedding, as a reward for their willingness to obey commandments and be married and baptized in the Church. Saturday evening, another couple, Eryvelt and Marilda, parents of two little girls, were to have their ring ceremony and reception on Saturday, after having been married civilly on Thursday, and baptized on Friday. Because of the craziness of the weekend, I forgot my music, and we were in Curitiba. We asked Elder Pereira to find and bring my music--just in case they wanted me to play, and gave him our apartment keys. Again, the binder was exactly where I told him it would be (a rare event, believe me). Velt and Marilda had obeyed God's commandments also. They had a very nice wedding. . . with music. They are loved by Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ also, and were rewarded for their faithfulness with this simple "Tender Mercy" mini-miracle.
Meet Nino and Anna. They've been an unmarried couple for years. Suellen is their daughter. Then they met the Elders and started coming to A Igréja de Jesus Cristo dos Santos dos Ultimos Dias (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints). They were welcomed warmly, felt comfortable, kept coming, kept learning with the help of the Elders' lessons and decided to become members. We got to know them well during the Churrascaria two weeks ago. Good, obedient people! Dennis and I were part of a supporting cast, helping wherever we could, throughout the five big events of this crazy week.
First, they had to change some lifelong habits.
Second, on Monday, they were married civilly, as the Brazilian law requires. Bishops and stake presidents cannot legally marry couples here. Marriage licenses are very expensive and require long waits.
Third, they were clean before the Lord and were worthy to become baptized. On Thursday evening, we all traveled to the ward in Guaraitúba, about 25 miles away. All went well, but it was a VERY cold evening. There is no central heating in any buildings. When it is cold outside, it is cold inside. Everyone wears their coats and sweaters inside. Even so, Brazilians open all doors and windows (?!) Anna smiled as she shivered before, during and after her baptism. But that's what they do . . .
Fourth, they wanted a ring ceremony in the chapel in Guaraitúba, with the Bispo (Bishop) giving them counsel, their repeating vows, exchanging rings, and signing their marriage certificate. Following was a reception in the "sala da Sociadade de Secorro" (Relief Society room).
And fifth, on Sunday, August 17, during Ward Conference, Nino and Anna were confirmed as members of the Church and received the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Next Sunday, August 24, Nino will probably be ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood. We will visit them regularly, teaching, answering questions they have, encouraging them as they work toward going to the Temple in one year.
Weeks ago, I talked about the magnificent forest home of Ozair [oh-zah-year] and Rosicler [ho-zee-clair] Ribeiro. At that time, we didn't feel comfortable taking pictures. August 10 was Dia dos Pais (Fathers' Day) in Brazil. They invited us again to their home for lunch after church. This time, with permission, we took lots of pictures to share with you. Their home is definitely a work of love, from their huge vegetable garden, to their gazebo, to multiple outside stairways connecting different parts of their property. Inside, they have at least two huge chandeliers, a HUGE kitchen and an indoor garden with a fountain and banana tree. They have built it a little at a time, and are still working on it, making it LARGE to accommodate their 21 children and grandchildren. They have 3 children of their own, and have adopted 18 more children, mostly from the streets, with no parents. So far, fifteen of them have fulfilled full-time missions in Brazil, with another son soon to leave on his mission. Ozair and Rosicler, whose home is actually within the Garaitúba ward boundaries, were given the assignment to get the Bocaiúva Grupo started. They are considered to be the Father and Mother of the Grupo, and are revered for all they do for others. They continue to give. We are becoming good friends. Ozair frequently greets Dennis with a huge embraço and "I LOVE YOU!" Rosicler asked me to help edit the English synopsis of a fantasy book she has written in Portuguese and hopes to have accepted by a London publisher. After weeks of very little color in "wintery" Bocaiúva, I love their plants and flowers, the first signs of spring, so I've included them here. I love bright colors! And I've included several pictures of the Father's Day Almoço (lunch) on their 20+ foot table, with only the 6 missionaries, 7 of their kids and 3 of their grandkids. Enjoy:
A part of our 4 hour churrascaría with Ozair and Rosicler Rebeira was a tour of their private school, "Collegio do Savant," in Guaraitúba. A few years ago, they purchased the land and a large 3 building on the property. Their family lived in it for several years, and now it houses classrooms on each floor. They have about 500 students fro 18 mos. through high school. They are building a large campus, one part at a time, and are planning to purchase adjacent property. The meat for the churrascaría was cooked in the roofed arena that, when finished, will be their gymnasium, or "academia." They hired a young artist to paint fun and friendly murals on several of their school walls. Father's Day (Aug. 10) is big in Brazil! The last picture did show well the bulleting board with children's footprints and the overhead caption, in Portuguese: "Your feet open the way for me. I follow, and never feel the same."
Last Friday, August 6, Ozair and Rosiclare invited us to the CHURRASCARÍA in Guaraitúba, that they put on every year at their private school (Escola de Savante) for Dia dos Pais (Day of Fathers or Fathers' Day, August 10). This is an authentic Brazilian barbecue, where they roast beef ribs with open fire for many hours, then add all kinds of foods, especially desserts. The gauchos (Brazilian cowboys) used to stop their cattle drive for the night, put the meat on spits, build large fires on both sides, sit in a circle around the fires, and talk while passing around their Chimarrão [shee-mah-hone] tea, and keeping the fires built up for hours in the evening while the beef cooked. That is exactly what Ozair does for about 9 hours to prepare this. He and Rosiclare invited us and two other families (Dal'Lin's, Nino & Anna & 2 daughters) to experience the last three hours of it with some of his sons who helped. So, on a very cold night, while students and their families played games and danced, we stayed away from the crowds, stood around the fires, enjoyed the heat, talked about anything and everything, took pictures, ate snacks, drank the best Brazilian soda Guaraná [gwah-den-AH], and chewed on shards of beef as Ozaire sliced off cooked, juicy pieces. It was as authentic as they can make it in these days, and we felt honored to have been invited. When the meat was done, the largest four pieces were carried into the school, where people took turns slicing off their own pieces of beef and enjoying good company, lots of breads, desserts and more Guaraná, etc.
How did Dennis handle all the beef? He loved it--just not very much of it. No negative effects yet. We'll cross our fingers and eat lots of chicken and pork!
The remaining two best pieces were saved for lunch almoço on Sunday (Fathers' Day), to which we and the Elders were invited to join them and about 9 of their 21 children (18 adopted) and 3 grandchildren who live closeby and could visit for the day. Pictures of Father's Day and pictures from our tour of Ozair and Rsoiclare's "Escola de Savante" will be posted at another time.
We hope you will enjoy--as we enjoyed the unique experience--these step-by-step photos, taken as the meat cooked, especially the big, fantastic ALL DONE photo: