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