Sunday, August 28, 2011

Peace at Last

The city is getting to us. After we finished at the supply room on Monday we stopped at Loblaws (a grocery store) for our weekly supplies. We were glad to get back to the apartment where we didn't have to drive (with the threat of hitting someone, getting hit, or just doing something to anger someone on the road). In the evening we got a call from the Hermanas (Spanish sisters) to visit a Portuguese investigator of theirs called Adriano. It was an interesting lesson on the restoration with a mixture of Spanish (from the sisters) and Portuguese (from Elder Wheeler).

On Tuesday morning on our walk we passed a house with about six ladies in an open garage making communal tomato sauce. They had a lot of tomatoes and a big propane cooker. We didn't get a picture, but got some others around town. They patch sidewalks with asphalt. They also paint buildings with fun designs. You may know the jackalope (cross between a jackrabbit and antelope) from Wyoming, but Toronto has the porkalope. To clean the trash from the streets they use riding vacuum cleaners. As we walk along the sidewalks, Sister Wheeler will pick up every little nail so a bicycle won't get a flat tire. She doesn't even notice, however, a two-dollar coin on the sidewalk.

Patched sidewalk
We live in Hillcrest Village
A porkalope
Local street vacuumer

We went to Brampton on Tuesday to visit with Elder and Sister Gay (the CES missionaries) for an orientation in teaching institute. We started with lunch at a Jamaican restaurant where we ate jerked chicken and curried goat.  We then went to their apartment (which has the rest of the furniture from the old mission home) for our orientation. We left our mission bag (along with our camera) so we don't have as many pictures this week. We had ESL in the evening.
Elder and Sister Gay - Joseph, Utah
We had zone and district meetings as usual on Wednesday. We tried to teach Adriano again in the evening, but he wasn't home. some of his neighbors told us a tornado watch was in effect starting at 8:00 PM so we headed back to the apartment. What a light show, with lightning all around. We have had a lot of anxiety this week, especially with driving and parking, so we decided to go to the temple on Thursday. It also meant that we could pick up our mission bag and camera from the mission office. We always like stopping by at the mission office because we see friendly faces.

Friday was preparation day. We tried an experiment and decided not to drive the car. We bought some bus tokens at the corner store and headed downtown. Suddenly the pressure from driving was off and we felt free since we didn't have to park. There was a Busker Fest so the missionaries were OYMing (from D&C 60:2 - opening your mouth). We decided as senior missionaries we prefer LYLSing (from Matt 5:16 - let your light shine).
Sister Crosby and Sister Wheeler on a street corner
Elders Te'o, Sitten, and Taylor on another street corner
 We decided to walk down the street to the actual Busker Fest. The other missionaries were not allowed there (safety?) because they were actively proselyting. There were some interesting sites (with a lot of families so safety wasn't an issue).
Sister Wheeler at the Busker Fest
Acting group
Giant insects
Their herder

 While we were in the area we wandered through St. Lawrence Market, which had all sorts of meats (including stuffed squid) and produce. We also went to the Market Gallery that had photographs of a Folk Festival in Toronto in the 1970's. This was followed by a visit to the first post office (which is still in operation).

Elder Wheeler writing with a quill 
Sister Wheeler writing better
 To get there we took a bus to a metro station, caught the metro to King and Young streets. We were able to walk all over without worrying about expired parking. We caught the metro and a bus right back to our apartment. It was really liberating not having to drive and park in the city.

On Saturday we decided to walk to the church for ESL instead of driving. It only took about 20 min and felt very good. We also walked home. Maybe next month we will get a bus pass and forget the car.

Elder Wheeler gave a talk (in Portuguese) in sacrament meeting. We got a call Sunday night from the Hermanas to see if we would like to visit Jose, from Brazil. We showed him the restoration video and gave part of the first lesson. We are doing more teaching now.

We have been wondering what we are doing here in Toronto and finally have the answer (we think). We identified six roles we have as senior missionaries. Many of the missionaries have a single role (such as CES, office, employment, or public affairs). We work with the Christie Ward (20%) which includes meeting, working with less-active members, and with active members (this is the Portuguese aspect, mixed with Spanish). We have a CES assignment (20%) teaching one class a week and working with YSA. We work with the elders and sisters (15%) at district meetings and ESL. We help the mission office (15%) working with the supply room, mail, and any other job they give us. We are also proselytizing (15%) giving lessons to Portuguese nonmembers and LYLSing to all. Finally we have the role of Sanity (15%) for ourselves, which has become very important lately.

We have already written more than you want to know, but after three months in Canada we are still alive (and married). We hope all is well with you at home.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Missionaries at Last

We wondered if there would be any pictures to show this week. One day seems to blend into another without much new happening - or so we thought. At least Monday was a normal day, laundry, going to the supply room, picking up some groceries, and Diane's Portuguese lesson (which included a rainbow).
Rainbow over Toronto
Tuesday was also non-eventful. We called all of the less active members on the phone to see if we could make appointments with no success (except for Maria Costa whom we visited on Wednesday). We tried to drop by some houses in the afternoon, also without success. We were able to talk to one Portuguese man (normally we encounter Italians and Greeks) who had no interest in the church. Since there is not much to write about (or to show) we took the camera out for walks so we would have a few pictures. These scenes of small front yards are the exceptions, not typical of all houses.

Toronto Rain
Hidden Garden
Guardian Cranes
Then there is the custom of leaving any unwanted furniture on the lawn which mysteriously disappears.
Lawn Furniture
On Wednesday we had our zone and district meetings in the morning. We then visited Maria who likes reading the Book of Mormon with us, but refuses to go to church because of a stolen necklace four years ago. She gave us a 1946 red-lettered bible. She said since she can't read English, we might as well have it.

We went to the mission home this afternoon for a farewell picnic for President and Sister Brower. It was good to meet with many of the senior couples, though some of them couldn't make it.
The Browers and their "farewell" quilt with senior couples

Here we are with the Browers
We got a call about a "Spanish Conference" on Friday so we had our P-Day on Thursday. We decided to go to the Gardiner ceramic museum. The library has a special grant to give away free tickets for admission to various museums, so we took advantage of it. Believe it or not, we didn't even get a parking ticket.

Sister Wheeler in front of the Gardner Museum
A monkey orchestra in the museum
Two lovers from the Comede de Belle'arts collection
Man playing the duda, or goat bagpipe
King Edward in Queen's Park

All of the Spanish missionaries met at the mission home for a special conference on Friday. For some reason they also invited us. We would be alone, except Elder Woodruff and Elder Lima are now working in the mission office for the time being, so we had two other Portuguese missionaries. It actually was a good conference. They even had gluten-free tortillas on hand so Elder Wheeler could eat the burritos. After we returned to the apartment and settled down we got a phone call from the district leader asking if we could attend a baptism that evening. What they really wanted was for Sister Wheeler to play the piano.

The Spanish sisters at the conference

 We had ESL again on Saturday with Elder Wheeler scrambling English, Portuguese, and Mandarin again. Joao (from Brazil) said he would like to learn more about the church so we set up a lesson for Sunday before church. We finally had a lesson on our own. In times past we would let the elders teach investigators, but since there are no longer Portuguese elders in Toronto, we taught Joao the first lesson (the restoration). Elder Wheeler managed with his Portuguese and Sister Wheeler was able to introduce the family (showing a picture of Andrea and her family), give her testimony, and introduce prayer in Portuguese. We have a second lesson scheduled for next week.

We have been trying to visit Amanda and her son Mateus for awhile without success. We got a call from her while at the Spanish conference requesting help to move a bed and dresser out of the house on Saturday. With the help of a couple of elders we were able to help her and visit her in her house at the same time. Mateus is 8 years old and needs to prepare for baptism.

Amanda and Mateus

We are excited about beginning the institute class in September. While we were at church today we talked to Victor Aguilar who has been asked to teach institute in Spanish. It will be nice to work together on the lessons.

The new institute teachers
We ended up with more activities (and pictures) than expected for the week. We now officially have two investigators (Joao and his brother Fabio). We also had two activities at the mission home we hadn't expected. It make us wonder what next week will bring. I guess we will see.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Meeting Madonna

Sister Wheeler has been wondering when we are going to do "real" missionary work. Since we are full-time missionaries we should be spending all day every day finding and teaching. This week we learned what it is like to wear ourselves out in missionary work. Monday was the supply room. Finally we feel like we can be comfortable there (except for the heat). It is a lot straighter than it has ever been since we first looked in to the room. We had some mail and some supplies they needed in Brampton so we took a drive to the mission office on Tuesday. We'll let you meet some of the office missionaries:

Elder Garcia and Elder Rhodes - APs
Elder Pead and Elder Dewey - also APs
Sister Sippel - Mission Secretary
Elder Sippel - Financial Secretary
Elder Carroll - Vehicle Coordinator 
Sister Carroll - Referral, Mail, and Supply Secretary
Sister and Elder Martindale - Public Affairs Missionaries
We have four APs since they kept two from each mission as they combined. These are the people we see when we go to Brampton. We had lunch with the Carrolls and Martindales when we went up there on Tuesday. We were planning on ESL on Tuesday evening, but we got a call about a missionary that needed some medication and to visit a clinic which means we went to the Don Mills area (by the stake center) and didn't get back in time for ESL.

Wednesday morning we had Zone and District meetings. We brought mail for the zone from Brampton which was very exciting for the missionaries.

Elder Bruce and Elder Te'o couldn't wait to read their Ensigns
Sister Crosby at the piano
Elder Ruttan was well prepared and had a lot of good activities. He brought in a potted apple tree for an object lesson which he watered in front of us.
Elder Ruttan with his tree and Sister Hodgkin writing on the board
As he finished his object lesson he invited Sister Fotheringham to have a bite of the dirt from the pot. She dared eat it so soon all of the Sisters were eating dirt. They said it tasted like chocolate. Elder Wheeler didn't try it, however, since he can't eat flower (flour).

The Sisters eating dirt
On Wednesday afternoon we finally had time to do some real missionary work. Last week we looked for less-active members in the outlying areas where we needed a car. This week we concentrated on seven families within walking distance. We were able to make contact with two of the families. Celina recently returned from Angola and has had little contact with the church. We were also able to read out of the Book of Mormon with the Pereira family. They have a 9-year-old son who would like to be baptized so we set up a lesson for Thursday night. No one was home at the other four families, except the son of Maria who said she was away for a few days. One of of the members is truly a "lost sheep" since he moved and left no forwarding address. As we were walking along the streets we said hello to a lady on her porch. Her name was Francesca, from Italy. She was very happy to talk to us and said that Sister Wheeler looked like Madonna (we hope she was talking about the mother of Jesus rather than the rock star). She was so cute we took a picture. By the time we got back we had really worn ourselves out doing missionary work.
Francesca with Sister Wheeler
We spent a lot of the day Thursday preparing a first lesson for Evandro Pereira. It was a challenge getting the right pictures for our little lesson book and preparing sentences (in English and Portuguese) that Sister Wheeler could use for the lesson. She even canceled her Portuguese lesson since the time would conflict. In the afternoon we went walking again to find the five families we couldn't find the day before. After a brief rest we walked to the appointment and met the father leaving with his young daughter. He said that Elvandro was out playing with friends. They both forgot. Such is missionary work.

Friday for P-Day we stayed around the apartment for most of the day. The computer is just under the window so it is hard to see the monitor because of the glare. We went to Michael's to buy a display board. We attached a large map of Ontario to the display board which we can place in the window as a partial blind and remove when we don't need it. Lighting makes the city looks nice lately. There are not as many night lights since it is bird migration season so they minimize the amount of light, thus keeping the birds from flying into windows.

Toronto with morning lighting 
Toronto with afternoon lighting
At ESL on Saturday morning we had four Brazilians come for the first time. Two went to an advanced class. Two others went to the beginning class to join our Chinese friend. Elder Wheeler really had a scrambled brain mixing English, Portuguese, and Chinese.

In the afternoon we walked past two homes we had previously tried to contact.  The brother of Manuel said to return on Sunday. The Ponte family was nowhere to be found (again). As we were returning home a young couple said, "Hi, missionaries". We stopped to talk to them and found out they were the Pontes and were very friendly toward us. Had we gone a different direction we would have missed them. Sometimes small miracles happen. We had marked a visit with Maricio for Saturday evening, but when we arrived he was working so we couldn't meet him. This shows the ups and downs of "real" missionary work.
Ponte family on St. Clair Street
This posting is getting long, but we had a very twisted day on Sunday. We went to church as usual, but Sister Wheeler was asked to accompany the Sisters in picking up an investigator with a bad foot. Elder Wheeler was asked to administer the sacrament in Portuguese. Elder Wheeler also gave the lesson in the Portuguese Gospel Doctrine class. A visiting high counselor (Andre Li-Fun from Mauritius) asked if we were going to the Mission President's fireside in the evening. We ended up taking him with us after church to contact three families (none of whom were available), having a quick bite to eat, then going to the stake center for the fireside. President Moore (of the stake presidency) was the speaker. He said he wanted to talk to us after the fireside. Apparently they want us to teach an institute class in the Ossington Chapel once a week.

This has been a busy week with a lot of failed visits and some successes. We have been exhausted every night, wondering if we are doing any good here, but it's not about us, is it. We are on the Lord's errand.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The City

We went hunting this week. We decided to hunt down members on the role we have never seen. On Tuesday we went to the far northern part of the city to find Lidia Ruivinho. She didn't live at the address we had and the phone has been disconnected - LOST. Since we were in that part of town we stopped by to see the Gibson House, a 19th-century Georgian home of the city surveyor. We walked through a little park while waiting for it t open.

The Gibson House Museum 
Jane Hill, our interpreter
Elder Wheeler at the park
In the afternoon we tried to visit the de Oliveira family who have decided to change wards, but they weren't there either. On the way back we drove down Old Mill Road which ran along the Humber River. No mill, but a nice park.
Sister Wheeler along the Humber River
Wednesday was another hunting day. We drove around the northern sector of our area to see where some of the active members live. We then went to the southern sector. We stopped by for a quick visit with the de Cruz family from Angola. The father still lives in Angola, but visited last month. Lucia is preparing to go to the temple. We would like to help Valdir to prepare for a mission, have Vania attend more often, and get Osvaldo to come at all. 
Valdir (19), Lucia, Osvaldo (12), and Vania (17) de Cruz
No one seemed to know anything about the Abreau family, but we were able to visit them in the afternoon. They are also from Angola. We thought it was a single mother (Maria Lusia) with two children, but we found that her husband, Fernando, had returned from Portugal two years ago. The family joined the church in Portugal. They stopped attending the Christie Ward since the ward speaks Spanish and they felt isolated. 
Zaida (11), Maria Lusia, and Fernando Abreau with Sister Wheeler
Wednesday evening we were invited to Azarias Soares home for dinner and to meet a couple that he wants to friendship. They are a couple about our age and have lived all over the world as missionaries for a non denominational church. They lived for six years in Brazil and knew a bit of portuguese. It was an enjoyable evening.

We were informed we were to have zone conference on Friday (our normal p-day) so we used Thursday to look around the downtown part (the tourist section) of the city. When we finally found parking(at the convention center) we found we were very close to the CN Tower so we decided to take the trip to the "Top of Toronto". It was a clear day and we got a good view of the city. We also walked around the streets of the downtown section to see what Toronto had to offer. That included the Mirvish Theater (with their own walk of fame) and a hockey hall of fame. We had lunch at a food court where a man asked where we were from. It ended up he was from Salt Lake, visiting Toronto for a convention.
The CN Tower
Looking up at the CN Tower
Our apartment building from the CN Tower
Sister Wheeler in the CN Tower
Roy Thompson Hall - where Sister Wheeler heard the Tabernacle Choir

Walk of Fame at the Mirvish Theater

Elder Wheeler at the Hockey Hall of Fame (we didn't go in)
We had a wonderful zone conference in Oshawa on Friday. The emphasis was on being guided by the spirit rather than numbers for reports. There were really four zones involved, including all of the areas on the East side of the mission. We were able to see Elder Woodruff and Elder de Moura again. There were five couple missionaries (besides us) at the conference. They held a special session for the senior missionaries, which was very helpful.

We had ESL classes again on Saturday. Again, I had only one student, Xian Yu Xu. He has very limited English capability so Elder Wheeler needs to pull out all the Mandarin he can to teach the class. We talked about families today so we learned a lot about his family.
Xian Yu Xu telling about his family
We decided to take a camera one day on our morning walk so you can see a few random pictures of our neighborhood.

We have had the full range of emotions this week, from being ready to go home to a spiritual feast. We realize we are still trying to find out our role here, especially with the Portuguese elders being pulled out. There were only two Portuguese-speaking men in priesthood meeting today (one was Elder Wheeler). But, we have been able to make contact with lost families, so we will see where it goes.