Tuesday, December 27, 2016

December 27th, 2016 - Mission Update

Well we made it through another couple of weeks – summer officially started on 12/21 with no notable change in the weather except it seems like a little more hot and humid.   I thought we would be more acclimatized by now.   We have been to most parts of the City of Salvador now, meeting people and doing our work.   The Brazilian people continue to be so great to us – very humble and friendly.   Everyone just has to greet you and if they can help they go out of their way.   When you ask for directions they take at least ten minutes to give you every detail, which usually doesn’t help at all.  

Kaye had an interesting experience – she went to an orphanage and home for the elderly that was started by the same order of Catholic Sisters that Mother Theresa was part of.   Mother Theresa evidently visited it several times.   They don’t have enough room, but take in those that are the youngest and oldest that don’t have anywhere else to go.   Kaye visited as part of an American Group here that help as they can each year. The homes take in the poorest of the poor.   There are a lot more needs than there are resources.   

Despite how friendly the people are – there is a lot of crime.  There were a lot of fireworks and guns going off.  I thought it was just celebrating the holidays.  Evidently they go off whenever a significant drug deal has taken place.   Yikes.

Christmas Eve is a big deal – partying goes on for quite a while.  Kaye and I went crazy and ate popcorn, tortilla chips, ice cream and watched Elf.  

Christmas day was great – we went to two different church meetings and then met up with our area leader at his house.  We had a wonderful time with some wonderful people.   Played some games included a pretty fun game that was called Double Ditto.   Their family is very musically talented and that helped us with some of the sadness we were feeling of missing our family and friends from home.

Back to work today and this week as we go to different parts of the state.   Some pictures attached.  

Some pictures of Kaye and her great work with the girls down here – including a picture of the best Christmas tree.  They are using an image of Trump to sell tennis shoes down here – it’s on all the buses.  At least they say it’s his image.   If so, he will probably want royalties.  Kaye’s first long bus rides – unfortunately the buses don’t have air conditioning, shocks or springs the best we can tell.   They have a separate guy who collects the money and acts like a bus jockey – always coming to the front encouraging the driver to go faster and pass other busses.    We are always amazed at the views we have of the beach.   Since Salvador is a peninsula, the sun rises and sets over the ocean – like an island.  If it could get just a little cooler at night……

Sunday, December 11, 2016

December 10, 2016 Mission Update

Sorry it’s been awhile since we have updated.   It has been a busy couple of weeks since we arrived here.   As anticipated the weather is a dramatic change – we are going into summer and the temperature only ranges from 70 to 85 degrees, with some relief from the ocean winds.  The humidity is really high but it has rarely rained which is a surprise.  

We take a lot of taxis getting to places and a ton of walking which I guess is good exercise.   We have done several visits with the missionaries – both with members and others interested in the church.   The people here are generally very happy and open.   They speak very rapidly but don’t seem to get to frustrated when we don’t understand.   

We didn’t have a place to stay when we first got here so we ended up in a kind of a hotel/old folks home.   It was on the beach so it was good especially when they got the air conditioning improved.   We moved to an apartment yesterday and are in the process of getting appliances and furniture.  We have a bed, fan and a microwave now.   Very exciting.   Tomorrow we are supposed to have delivered a washing machine (they don’t use dryers much here), a stove and a refrigerator.   After that we just need a few lamps, some chairs and a sofa and we will be set. Unfortunately, that has taken a lot of time to get things put together.  

We have started visiting all the missionary homes – I think that will take us about three or four months and are being trained on the various computer systems in the office.   We get Portuguese language training about three times a week – we need about 12 times a week to get any better, but are getting by.  

We visited the oldest part of the city - Pelourinho – built in the early 1500’s and have included a few photos below.   It has some famous tourist shopping areas especially for tourists, but is kind of sad because it’s all built around what previously had been the center of the slave trade here in Salvador.   

There is an enormous divide between rich and poor here – not a lot of middle class.  The people are kind and helpful but when you visit their homes it makes you realize how much we have in the US and how little most of them have here.   But they work hard and make do.   

We had an “all Brazil” teleconference today for church.   Elder Holland and others spoke.   Elder Holland gave it a great effort to speak some Portuguese.   He said he liked feijoada (brazlilian pork and bean dish) but did not appreciate the ears, hoofs and tongues that were included.   Afterwards we had dinner at the area president’s house – which is very Americanized.  He has dual citizenship in Brazil and the US.   Had a great normal dinner.    

Kaye’s birthday was celebrated at our mission office.   The Elders there had made a cake in a microwave and used nestles quick and sweet condensed milk as frosting – it was actually pretty good.   President Bangeter led the group in singing – although he knows happy birthday in 8 different languages.   Fortunately, he stopped after five.   

The next few weeks we will be finishing our apartment, visiting all the rest of the missionary apartments in Salvador and visiting folks.   Hopefully we can get Wi-Fi in our apartment and be a little more prompt in updating the blog.   We are doing well – most days – but normally exhausted by 8:00 or so.  Tchau for now.   We love and appreciate you all.   Elder and Sister Briggs

Friday, November 25, 2016

Update - November 25, 2016

We have had an interesting couple of weeks.   We have included a few photos below.  There is a world map that folks use to show where they are headed.   We were organized into a small team of exceptional people.   Their destinations included Florida, Rome, Frankfurt and of course, Salvador, our new home for  the next 18 months.   The group became great friends.   The classes and instruction and homework kept us pretty busy especially during the week.   Kaye seemed to like the food more than I did, but I used the Blue Bunny freezer behind her in the picture as a frequent stopping point.   Accommodations were a little sparse - but worked out okay - our luggage seemed to take up most of the room.   

We didn’t spend all our time in classes as Jeff flew out for the weekend - which was terrific - and he, Craig, Tayler, Michael, Nathan, Harrison, Kaye and I had a great afternoon watching our alma mater play football.   Wasn’t much of a game as we played University of Massachusetts, but we had a great afternoon - perfect weather.  Jeff, bless his heart, brought supplies of homemade caramels and his specialty chocolate.  He is a remarkable chef - the only problem were the caramels were wrapped in wax paper and Kaye kept harassing me every time I opened one. Well, I guess it was about 2 am!

Monday and Tuesday we spent in office systems classes and checked out of the training center Wednesday afternoon and stayed the night in a hotel with a real king sized bed.   Craig, Tammy and their family hosted us for Thanksgiving at their home in Ogden which was perfect, except we missed our kids and grandkids.  

Last night I kept trying to check in to our flight - but the message came back every time saying their was something wrong with our tickets and we needed to be at the airport to meet with a Delta Agent three hours early.   Kind of worrisome - so we got to the airport about 8:00, met with agent and were thru security by 8:15.  Only three hours until our initial flight to Atlanta.   We have a layover in Atlanta and then leave for Sao Paulo - where we arrive at 8:20 a.m. on Saturday morning.   Our instructions are that there will be someone there with a sign with our name on it with information on how we travel the additional 1,500 miles to Salvador.  Hope someone has a sign when we get through customs

Thanksgiving reminded us what great family and friends we have.   Hope you are all doing well.   Hopefully our next update will be from Salvador.    

With love - Paul and Kaye

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Travel and Arrival at the Training Center

November 13, 2016

Well we spent yesterday packing for our mission – we noted that it was kind of hard to fit in enough clothes and helpful items for 18 months.   Kaye had a lot of heavier items than I had – mostly in cosmetics – I guess she doesn’t trust the Brazilians to sell appropriate items.   We had each large bag exactly at 48 pounds.  Kaye was exhausted as she did all the dead lifts to weigh them on the scales. 

Laurie was very kind to come out and pick us up at the cabin at 9:00 this morning and we were at the airport with plenty of time, even though we had to return to the cabin once because I forgot my cell phone.  She drove like Mario Andretti to get us there.

Getting to the MTC was pretty easy – but it kind of has a claustrophobic feel once you get here with the guards, badges and gates.   They were ultra-nice at the information desk – had everything ready for our room which is going to be fine.  We dropped off our bags close to the entry way to our room – there are 19 buildings.  A person from the front desk came and helped us.   Parked the car across the street and made it back in.

Dinner was over, but Kaye brought three pounds of trail mix, Belvitas and apples so we should be fine.  I scouted out the vending machine and the exercise room – exact same Precors we have.

We got here around 6:30 and they said they had a devotional at 7:00.   We couldn’t decide whether to go because they said you were supposed to be seated by 6:30.   We headed over and got in just before they closed the door. 

It was amazing – about 1,800 missionaries – almost all young – were singing – it took your breath away.   A young lady sang “O Divine Redeemer” and it was tremendous.  Brother Heaton who is the MTC Administer spoke and asked her back up on the fly and she talked about her testimony.

Then Elder Heaton asked who had been converted to the church for less than a year and a half.   About thirty people raised their hands. He asked for someone to help him.   Five sisters went up – he says that never happens – usually only one or two.   They talked about their conversions which were all less than 18 months – it was amazing.  All the sisters told their stories and it was incredible they were able to share their experiences so eloquently.  They basically took over from Elder Heaton. 

Afterwards, Elder Heaton emphasized that the prime relationship with all of these sisters before they were baptized and all converts is with Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost.  He described the pattern from scripture of what missionaries are to do which means trying our best to do what the Lord wants to do and watching carefully how the Lord is working with those we talk to.  I am not doing it justice – but if other classes are similar this will be a wonderful two weeks. 

We officially check in tomorrow at 10:00 to get our schedule.   I was a lot more emotional about saying good bye to Laurie and to all of you than I thought I would be.  Keep us in your prayers and we will do the same!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Called to Serve

This blog is for Paul and Kaye Briggs as they spend 18 months in Salvador, Brazil, serving the people and missionaries of the area. It will facilitate in keeping family and friends connected as they post and update about their mission. We are so happy and blessed to have Paul and Kaye serving our Heavenly Father. We are excited to learn and hear from them about their experiences, miracles witnessed and blessings they receive.