Sunday, December 24, 2017

December 24th, 2017 - Mission Update

Dear Family and Friends,

As we approach our second Christmas in Brazil, it seems appropriate to remember some of the great experiences we have had this year.  While it has been difficult to be away from family, friends and home, we know how blessed we are. 

We have a wonderful city and state in Brazil to live and serve in.  The people here are so friendly and open and always wanting to help us – maybe it’s the really confused look on our faces.  A good portion of our work this last year has taken us two or three times to every city in our mission and each missionary home in those cities.  We have 53 missionary homes to help with and about 120 missionaries.  They are young men and women and have left behind their homes to help others – their desire to serve, their enthusiasm and their sweet spirits have enriched our lives. 

There have been so many times we have been lost – trying to find these locations.  In every instance, someone has reached out to help us find the right place.  Strangers, members of the church, phone calls from missionaries and even an occasional hit on GPS.  It’s a challenge for the digital maps to find house 3, on lot 16 in square R in Bairro Morada dos Pássaros, Conquista da Vitória, Bahia, Brazil.

This last week we were doing some visits in the evening before Kaye taught an English class at the chapel.  I was thinking that I was really hot and tired as I followed Irmão Martins up and down streets and stairs that seem totally random in direction and size.   We visited and talked with several people and met up with Dona Lúçia. 

We had picked Dona Lúçia up for church this past week but I had not been to her home.  She lives in a very small first floor house with a second floor that is only partially finished.  She was happily surprised to see us – flustered a bit as she put on her artificial leg that had a matching black tennis shoe.  Her home was too small for us to enter, so we sat on stools by the entrance. 

Her smile never left her face as we talked, read and prayed together.  She told us how pleased she was to come to church, how she had been blessed and how we all need to be a lot more obedient in following the Lord’s commandments.  My feelings when leaving have been with me a lot this last year – feeling more than a little embarrassed for thinking about how warm it was or how difficult it was to climb and descend small roads and stairs. 

So many of these people have so little and yet continue to search for ways to help others and through their service seem truly happy.  We keep learning and being reminded of that every day that we are here. 

We will be back home in another five months or so.  We continue to love and try to do our very small part to help out in this part of the world.  We worry, laugh, cry and wonder about what our family and friends are doing. 

We love you and miss you all.  

I have attached a couple of pictures from conferences this past week. 

Wishing you the best Christmas ever and the best year ever!

Kaye and Paul

Monday, November 13, 2017

November 14th, 2017 - Mission Update

Today is our one year mark!  Unbelievable—six more months to go!  This month was a good one—full of adventures!!  We decided to keep one of our rental cars from our last trip to the interior for a month—just to see how we fared driving here in Salvador—which by the way is “muito complicado”.  For the most part we did fairly well…but then one day we didn’t see that the road had stopped and there were stairs!!!!  The wonderful thing about the Brazilian people is they know how to pitch in and help—as soon as we heard the crunch and got out to see what had made that “terrivel” sound—within minutes there was a meeting of the neighborhood minds trying to help us—they got a truck and a rope and leaned on the car to right it and then pulled us out!  (Paul was so appreciative that I and one of the Elders captured this moment on our cameras!!)  We offered to pay them for their help but they refused to take anything.  We had to go back to these Elder’s apartment a few weeks later and they had put up a pylon thing—so maybe there were others who had done the same thing???

As you can tell my “portuglese” is coming along wonderfully!  Let’s be honest—my language skills are horrivel!! 
Below is a picture of the “bamboo tunnel” going into and leaving the airport here in Salvador.


 A couple of weeks ago we did get to enjoy one of the perks of being a SENIOR couple—and that was having a few of our kids grandkids come down to visit us here in Bahia!!  Aaron and his wife Kristen and their two children—one of them our newest grandson that we had not met yet—and Kacey and her fiancé Sam braved the long 22 hour flight and came down here for a week to visit us!  We were so excited and were so sad when they had to get back on the plane and leave us behind!!  We had such a fun time with them—showing them around Salvador, taking them to church and then we went up to a nice beach resort a couple of hours north of us for a few days.  It was a little piece of heaven for us and made us realize how much we love all of our children and grandchildren and miss them!  Here are a few pictures of our visit:

We cannot thank them enough for coming down!  They brought us some much needed supplies—Tami and Craig also sent us some supplies earlier in the month and we so appreciate having some things to share with our missionaries!!  Thank-you! Thank-you!!

Below are a couple of those pictures again of “well you don’t see that everyday”.  The first one is two boys with a horse out in the water at the beach—the two boys were holding onto ropes attached to the horse—being pulled by the horse.  The second one is a guy transporting a bicycle on his motorcycle.


We have gained such a deepened appreciation of so many things over the past year!  Love for our family, love of this wonderful restored gospel, and a love for these wonderful people here in Brazil!  We love and miss you all—this church is true!  Thanks for all your support!!  

Paul and Kaye

Sunday, September 17, 2017

September 17th, 2017 - Mission Update

Wow – I know it’s been awhile since we have updated our blog – we have been pretty busy doing our work for the mission.  Still taking care of houses and helping out at the Mission Office.   We have had a lot of missionaries come and go in the last few months and have had a lot of moving and housing activity to take care of.  I think we are up to 57 houses now – but we need to close some of them as we will not be using them for a while. 

Our traveling is always interesting – most all of the “freeways” here are two lanes and we get behind a series of trucks like the one pictured below.  “Long vehicle” for sure – about 100 feet long.  There tends to be quite a build up behind each one of these – they go like crazy downhill – but uphill it’ a very slow crawl.    

We do love it when we are on the road visiting places – it’s a lot more interesting than being in Salvador doing more administrative work.  We have been in Salvador for a while now – this next week we are going to start another round of visits.   It is amazing visiting these young men and women that are serving here.  Some complaints – but mostly just focused on helping people learn about the church and helping others they meet in any way they can.

Here is a recent picture of one of our training sessions – we have seven zones in Bahia and this is the one in the southern part of Salvador – all such great kids.  My boss – President Bangerter is beside me and his wife.  He has more energy than any three people – especially when it comes to training.  Hard to keep up with as he is constantly on the go.  Our missionaries are mostly from Brazil, a few from the US and Mexico in this picture. 

We had one disappointment this last month.   Aaron, Kristen, Kacey, Sam, Veronika and Chase were going to come down for a visit for a week.  Everything went smoothly until they got to the airport and checked in and learned that Brazil is one of the few countries that requires a tourist visa to come here.  Most places in the world let you in for travel – but Brazil is different.  We had to have visas because we are staying here for a year and a half – but even if it’s a week there is a tourist visa required.  I think they loosened things up during the Olympics –but tightened things up – maybe after they finally got Lochte to leave.  Any way, we have rescheduled their coming down – now end of October and early November.   The weather during “winter” here is a little spotty but mostly cooler.  I think it starts to warm up again in October.  Cooler means it gets into the low 70’s with rain and some wind.

Kaye and I decided we would go up to the resort ourselves that we had planned for the family and had a great few days off.  Some pictures below – it was tough duty but someone had to step up:

This was my favorite picture below – we were having strawberry smoothies and a monkey was jumping from chair to chair to figure out what we were doing.  Kaye caught a great picture of him in mid air:


We are looking forward to their visit – October is supposed to be whale month up at the resort we are staying.   Hopefully, the whales will hang around for our visit 

We lament not being at the festivities and visiting friends and family in the US during this period – we can’t tell you all how much we appreciate the pictures and videos that you send and the conversations we have.  

But there are some pretty incredible people here in Brazil – not only the ones that are working through their personal situations without much in the way of material possessions – but also some really bright and interesting young people.  Here is a picture with one of my favorites – Elder Costa e Silva.  He is from São Paulo – although after his mission he will be heading for the U.S. to school and his family has moved there.   Incredibly smart, caring and personable.   He speaks English very fluently and also took the time to learn Danish – “just because he likes learning different languages”.   He is our financial secretary and has been doing a great job.  With more like him the future of this country, despite its current hardships is going to be very bright.  

Lastly, I thought I would throw in some pictures of some of the graffiti that is all around the city – a lot of it is the “tagging” you see in the US, but there is a well-known artist here who does a lot of them.  Here are a few that reminded me of the U.S. – for “some” reason:

Take good care of yourselves.   We love and miss you.    Paul and Kaye

Go Cougs!