TYLER WILLDEN, 18, will be our first grandchild to serve a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He is the oldest child and only son of Rick and Cherillyn Willden (our oldest daughter). Tyler will leave his home, friends and family in Chandler, Arizona, next Tuesday, November 4. He will fly to Colombia, where he will report to the Mission Training Center. He will spend six to eight weeks in total language immersion, as he learns to speak fluent Spanish. He will then serve in the BOLIVIA COCHABAMBA MISSION for two years. We are very proud of you, Tyler, and wish you the very best experiences of your life so far! We hope you include us on your email list. Here are two huge Brazilian abraços from Grandma and Grandpa Thomas!!!!
In Brazil, Halloween is called "Day of the Dead" and is associated with spiritualism and evil spirits. Therefore, most people don't celebrate it. Our Elders want to share some of the fun we have on Halloween in the States. They are gearing up for a fun evening for our Groupo social activity on Thursday. Last night, they scooped out a huge watermelon and carved a happy face, complete with a lit candle, as a sample for everyone to see. They brought it over to show us last night. They ordered 5 big pumpkins (which we will pay for), and will have them scooped out, so everyone, in five groups. can experience a pumpkin carving contest, with judges (Elder and SisterThomas), prizes, and lots of candy. I'll post on our blog some of the pictures we'll take.
There are two more days until Halloween. I see lots of fun pictures of treats some of you have made and costumes of some of your kids on Facebook, and I imagine the hustle and bustle of all the preparations. This morning I can imagine Noelee getting herself ready for school this Friday, and wonder what her costume will be for this year. We'd love to see some more pictures and/or descriptions of costumes and the fun you will be having this weekend.
I remember putting together and making costumes when our kids were little--I especially remember the year when I helped as a room mother in LeeAnn's 3rd grade class room, and hurriedly sewed costumes for LeeAnn's 3rd grade classroom. LeeAnn dressed as Bat Girl; Noelee went as a witch in her 2nd grade classroom; I went as a broomstick (can you imagine THAT one?!).
HAPPY HALLOWEEN, EVERYONE!!!
I've started to walk a little bit each morning, and so far I've had more energy in the evening. Today, at the end of my walk, I tried the back way to our apartment, which requires me to climb over the ledge and down some pretty steep cinder block make-shift stairs. Just before I came to the ledge, there were some tall shrubs with tiny yellow, daisy-like flowers. Why not?! So now, our living room corner is a little livelier, a little more homey.
* I hope I won't be allergic to these flowers. I've been having problems lately again. Is it pollen or pollution from Curitiba?
**I think I killed my begonia (see post dated September 25). I
drowned it. Hopefully, the roots will send some new shoots.
***And below are my avacodo (abácaxi) seedlings, after 4 1/2
months (compare 3 1/2 months in 9/23/14 blog post). Slow and steady... when we finish our mission, they will be big and beautiful--just right for a return gift to Rosicler.
****Hydrangias are gorgeous! Love the blue ones!
*****Notice the white and pink hanging bell flowers? They are really lovely----but I will remember that they are their most glorious when growing alongside sewer run-off streams.
This morning during his walk, Dennis saw this Paraná Pine tree and thought it would be perfect for the kids to climb on. He would like to see Dallin and Darin climbing all the way to the top!
We will add more pictures of these amazing "Young Lions of the Lord."
I am surprised that even I am getting used to walking on cobblestone and brick streets and sidewalks. My ankles and feet are stronger and tougher, I guess. On his morning walks, Dennis has come across three cobblestone quarries. The stones are split by hand into tiny cubes for sidewalks, and placed (by hand) one piece at a time, sometimes making repetitive patterns. Most of the newer sidewalks are made by laying bricks (by hand) in patterns. These stone and brick layers posed for us. Most of the streets are made by first laying a thick layer of fine white gravel, then laying large hexagon-shaped cobblestones (by hand) together, with about 1/4 to 1/2 inch spaces between them. Then they have been laid, workers shovel more fine white gravel over the top. As the cars and people pass over, the gravel bits settle into the spaces between the stones. These roads go for years without need for repair--but when they start breaking up, it will probably be years before the stones in the area will be replaced. Walking on broken cobblestones is the worst!
Elder Thomas hopes that these new shoes will last until next May, when we will fly back to the USA for Darin's graduation from medical school. He'll buy his third pair then, to finish the last 6 months.
Brazilians are very proud that they produce nearly all of what their people need, and imports very few things. But--from our viewpoint, as we live in a small rural town--it seems like everything is made so cheaply down here. Maybe, as we eventually have easier access to larger stores in Curitiba, we will find tools, furniture, housewares, etc. that are of more reliable quality. In the meantime, I'm sure that I'll be adding pictures to this post, as Dennis tackles more broken items.
Both front and back door locks are very loose, and will probably fall out soon. There are huge gaps between the two doors and the door frames and floor--we probably will have to live with the side gaps. But I plan on hand sewing two cloth tubes and fill them with rice, to stuff into the floor gaps (when I can find some fabric, which isn't sold in this town), so the wind won't come whistling through. Our front door lacked a hinge pin and was warping; we found it and put it back in.
Our table and chairs (brand new when we arrived in May) started coming apart soon after we arrived. After wood-gluing, nailing and screwing didn't work, Dennis tried the electric drill he bought to re-hang the curtains (see below) with another bit--it was stripped. He bought a screwdriver--it was stripped! Finally, he bought brackets and a heavy-duty screwdriver (with metal harder than screws) to fix the chairs. We THINK that the chairs will survive now; the table is next; it is wobbling. The door fell off of our bedroom armoire (clothes closet)--Dennis bought bolts and washers and another bit for the power screwdriver, and re-attached the door. Then a drawer front on the armoire came off...Fixed that--check! Two drawers on our dresser got REALLY stuck. He's still working on those--they keep getting stuck.
Our curtain rod fell out of the wall. With 27+ holes in that wall (you can see a few of them in the picture above), molly screws thru the large holes didn't work, so Dennis bought an electric drill with a bit meant for drilling thru cement (our walls). We have high ceilings, so Dennis had to make another trip into town for a ladder to reach that high (remember, our chairs were in dangerous condition), some simple heavy duty hooks and an extension cord to reach across the room from the only available plug-in. The first time he used it, the bit was stripped. He ended up pounding wooden shims into the large holes, then pounding the rod hooks into new holes he made by hand. The second time he climbed up on the ladder, it "melted" under his weight. So funny! We put it out back so people could climb over the ledge. The ladder just melted more. Dennis hopes to find rebar, to stick up the inside of the hollow ladders legs. He thinks he can save it yet---???
We bought a small, simple desk-like table to give me some work space in the kitchen. Its drawer kept falling out; so Dennis straightened the runner and it works well now. There is no central heating here, so we rely on small electric heaters. During the 3-4 months of cold weather, we have gone through three small heaters, thanks to switches whose flimsy plastic are first to break. Dennis carefully wedged a screw into the switch of our third heater and it lasted us two more months, until it melted the plastic around the switch and died. We've agreed to not touch the switches on our 4th (newest) heater, which has been packed away until next winter (June down here). Here's a "Tender Mercy" story: Yesterday, I picked up the heater, intending to warm things up. I tripped over a leg of the clothes hanger, fell to the floor, and dropped the heater. I was fine, but I kept saying over and over, "Please bless the heater!" I plugged it in--nothing...sick. Several times during the night, I prayed, "Please bless the heater." This morning, I confessed to Dennis. He initially reacted with "You broke our brand new heater?!" He plugged it in--it works. Thank you, Heavenly Father!
We got out our brand new fan, since some days have been really hot so far this spring. Yep! We broke it somehow when trying to stuff it in a corner during the winter. Never fear--Dennis is here! He inserted screws into the plastic holes and VOILÁ! (French) It works just fine now! Uh-Oh! Another door hinge on our armoire fell out. Good things P-Day ("Prepare"-Day, minus the initial "P"). I'll hurry and publish this post before I have to add to the list of repair work...What's next?!