Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Non-Anniversary

We have come to the conclusion that all celebrations will be put on hold while we are on our mission. Monday was our 39th wedding anniversary. Since we had a teaching appointment with Marcia at 4:30 that evening we decided that we would go out for lunch to celebrate. We spent the morning preparing the lesson and didn't finish in time to go out for lunch so we decided to go after the appointment. We left at 2:30 p.m. Since it should only take an hour to get to Marcia's, we had an extra hour to stop by the stake center for missionary mail and take some books to the supply room. We took a bus to the Ossington subway station only to discover that we had to get off at the St. Charles station because of track closures. It was really crowded, but we managed to take the Young subway (after a long wait) to Eglington, then a bus to Don Mills (after another long wait) and another bus to the appointment. It took us two hours to get there (without stopping at the stake center), getting us there just in time. Marcia tends to get distracted with dinner (she feed us), her son, and tangential topics, but we were able to squeeze the Plan of Salvation lesson within two hours. She told us a better way to get home, so it only took us an hour. Add it up - that's a 5-hour lesson with travel. We got back too late to eat out and we needed to pick up a few things at the dollar store so Elder Wheeler picked out a card for Sister Wheeler to read and put back on the rack. That's one way to save money.

Sister Wheeler reading her anniversary card
On Tuesday morning we had a second lesson with Tony and Simone. It was in English this time, but still took two hours because of all the questions. How do the elders do it in one hour (or less)? When Tony gave the prayer he said he was thankful we were able to present it so his mind could understand it for the first time. In the evening we had ESL. We taught class A (the highest level) which was a good change from students without any English ability.

We had a wonderful district meeting Wednesday morning, with Elder Robinson leading a helpful and spiritual discussion. They have stopped having zone meetings each week, which is fine with us. After the meeting the missionaries decided to go to a Mexican taco place to eat. We decided to go with them. At the end of the meal, Elder Wheeler picked up the tab for everyone (call this our anniversary dinner) which was appreciated since missionaries tend to run out of money at the end of the month.
Lunch time for the missionaries
Halloween is coming and it's starting to get cold so we needed to get some winter clothing. 
Best decorated house for Halloween
We live close to Corsa Italia, a neighborhood known for shop after shop of formalwear. 
One of many shops on St. Claire
While traveling on the trolley (oops, streetcar) there was a large group of students that got on at one of the stops. One of the students was pushed in front of others before he could pay. After several failed attempts he passed his money to another student to put it in the box. He could have easily passed by without paying. It's good to see there are still honest youth in the world.
Students on the streetcar 

 We were a bit slow getting into gear for our preparation day on Friday so we decided to go to the Spadina Museum, a historic house. It opened at noon, but we got there just after three. (We passed by a park to find a tall communication tower we can see from our apartment). The last tour started at 3:00 PM so we couldn't see the inside of the house, but were able to stroll around the gardens.
Spadina House
Sister Wheeler's dream climbing tree
Elder Wheeler wearing a sweater
 Saturday night was a baby shower for Fatima Verdasca, a 47-year-old Portuguese sister in the ward. She and her husband have not been able to have children, but after many years they now will have a son. (Sounds like Abraham and Sarah, doesn't it?). Sister Wheeler was invited to the party. She had a good time, even though she didn't understand a lot of what they were saying (which was in Spanish).

Queen Fatima
Learning to change diapers (with baby food for a messy diaper)

Today was a busy day. We got to church by 9:30 to meet Simone who planned to attend the Toronto Ward. She didn't show up, but we waited for the Christie Ward in the afternoon with a missionary coordination meeting and a Ward Council in between. President and Sister Scott were visiting the building so we had a chance to visit with them after the meetings. Sister Crosby (whom we now call Laura Kay) has returned after being released from her mission to respond to an invitation by Angel, our ward mission leader, to get to know her better. We will wait and see what happens.

Angel and Laura Kay
 Meanwhile, Elder de Moura has a classy way to tie his tie. We caught a candid of him showing Bruce (the bishop's son) how to do it.

Elder de Moura and Bruce Ferreira
Well, another week has gone by, but not as busy as last week. Are we slowing down, or what? We'll see what next week brings.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

They're back

After being on our own for the Portuguese effort in Toronto for the past three months, we finally have Portuguese elders again. It's a good thing we cleaned their apartment last week. Elder Woodruff, after spending several months in the mission home while his broken foot healed, finally returned to Toronto. Elder de Moura also returned from Trenton where he was speaking English. To round out the threesome, Elder Seabra is new from Las Vegas. He was born in Brazil of Portuguese parents and raised in the United States speaking Portuguese in the home. Sounds just right for Toronto, doesn't it?
Elder Woodruff, Elder Seabra, and Elder de Moura
This has been a busy week. After spending Monday morning preparing a lesson we went out in the cold to deliver Family Home Evening invitations to the Rosw and Rocca families. Sister Wheeler had her Portuguese lesson in the afternoon then we rushed off to the other side of town to give a first lesson to Marcia Sousa. We got a call on Sunday October 9th from someone called Sara (Sara Dominguez) who had a Brazilian friend called Sauza (actually Marcia Souza) who wanted to have the missionary lessons. Marcia has been attending church with her friend, Sara, from Mexico and wanted to learn more about the church before being baptized. Sister missionaries have visited her in the past, but she couldn't understand them. Three Portuguese elders also visited, but she felt uncomfortable with three men in her home while her husband (a flight attendant with the airlines who was often out of town) was away. Marcia was running late and had not eaten so we had a light supper with her before the lesson. She was so delighted to be able to speak Portuguese that it was a little difficult to focus on the lesson concepts. She loves the church, however, and wants to have more visits.
Back - Sister Wheeler, Marcia and Sara
Front - Marcia's son and Sara's daughter
We needed to rush off and were a little late getting to the chapel for a Portuguese Family Home Evening. It was an attempt to have an activity for Portuguese members of the ward. We had five people there (besides ourselves). Elder Wheeler gave a brief lesson, Sidy had an activity, and fortunately, Sister Wheeler had some cake left over from Sunday for refreshments. Tiago Bettencourt, a 12-year-old  boy actually spoke to Elder Wheeler. He has been so shy he had looked away in the past whether he was spoken to in English or Portuguese.

Tuesday was a different day for us. It was transfer day with many new missionaries in the mission and several leaving. President and Sister Scott have a full schedule of meetings at the mission home to greet the new missionaries and say farewell to the leaving missionaries. This includes meals. Elder and Sister Ratto have often helped in preparing meals, but they are some of the leaving missionaries. Sister Scott asked if we could be available to help, so there we were. Silvana Padron, a sister from a ward in Brampton planned the meals, but needed help in preparing and cleaning up. It was a busy day, but it was also fun to see all the new missionaries and say goodbye to the old ones. We were also able to eavesdrop on some of the good counsel given by President Scott. We finished by about 8PM and headed back to Toronto. A side benefit for going to Brampton is that the repair shop finished our car and we were able to drive it home. Elder Wheeler commented that he could see a future experience reporting to the High Council after the mission. High Counselor - "What was your most spiritual experience on your mission?" Elder Wheeler - "Washing dishes in the mission home."

Elders and President Scott at the mission home
Sisters at the mission home
Silvana and Sister Wheeler
Elder and Sister Ratto with Sister Wheeler

 Things didn't slow down on Wednesday. We got a call Tuesday night asking if we could pick up Adla dos Santos (a new member of the church) at the airport at 6:30 AM. She had gone to Brazil to get married and was returning to Toronto. Her family couldn't pick her up. This meant a late night Tuesday and an early morning on Wednesday. We were able pick her up and get home to get a quick breakfast before going to give a first missionary lesson to Tony and Simone. We really enjoyed the lesson and they were really receptive. On our way bak home we stopped by to see if we could give an invitation for a baby shower to Maria Carreiro. We have tried several times to meet her without success. She was at home so we delivered the invitation just in time for the phone to ring. She was saved by the bell, but at least we met her.We then stopped to visit a Portuguese man named Filipe (the name given by some Spanish elders that had talked to him earlier). Like all Portuguese we were told, "I won't close my door on anyone." This is usually followed with a declaration of Catholicism with no inclination to change. Mamede and Natalia Filipe (their real names) are Seventh-Day Adventists, however. We had a nice discussion about the Book of Mormon with an invitation to return and a promise to read it along with the Bible. They will be going back to Portugal for an undefined period of time (it looks like their house is for sale) so we don't know what will come of it.

Rock wall
Ice in our water pitcher - it does get cold in Toronto
 As we mentioned we got some Portuguese Elders back in Toronto. We invited them to lunch on Thursday followed by a planning session. We gave them a list of potential investigators and members that could use a visit. It was really lonely here without the elders. Now there might be some progress among the Portuguese in the city. We had another institute class on Thursday evening. The lesson was on developing the talents we received in the Pre-mortal life. We had a good turnout and a good discussion.

Friday was another "let's see Toronto" day. This time we went downtown to see the Museum of Inuit Art (MIA). The Inuit are the extreme northern First Nation people (Native Americans) we sometimes call Eskimos.   We had free tickets from the library, but didn't need to use them since it was a free day anyway. We also went to Dufferin Mall to find some winter boots for Sister Wheeler. No luck.
One of the pieces of art at the MIA 
We got a call on Saturday morning telling us we were not needed at ESL so we had some time to make some visits. We had several invitations for a baby shower to deliver to less-active members, so we planned our route. We decided to visit others (for whom we didn't have invitations) as well. We first visited Antonio, a Spanish member married to a Brazilian. It was a good visit because he has injured his back a couple of years ago and is not able to work. Hopefully our visit cheered him up a bit. We dropped off two invitations for sisters who were not at home then went to see Celina Oliveira. Her son has turned 8-years-old and she would like him baptized. Very few in the ward even know her. She agreed to have us talk to the bishop and arrange for the elders to giver her son some lessons (good practice for the new elder). It was interesting that we started out to deliver some invitations, but the people who really needed our visit were added on at the last minute. Could this be the spirit at work?

Sister Carroll, the mission nurse, called to tell us that Sister Hodgkin was sick and needed to go to a clinic to be checked by a doctor and get some medicine. The problem was that it was getting late in the afternoon and no one knew where there was a clinic nearby their apartment. It "just happened" that we were not too far from their apartment so we went to Bloor St. and finally found a clinic that was open until 5 PM.  We got her there by 4:15, but the doctor had just left to go home. We asked about another clinic and were told about one on St. Claire (close to our apartment). We hopped on a bus and arrived in time. After a long wait and a two-minute consultation, she had a prescription (the pharmacy stayed open to fill it) and was ready to catch a bus back to their apartment. Sister Hodgkin is an example of a great missionary. Even though she was not feeling well she talked to a girl on the bus, telling her about the church and inviting her to church on Sunday. At the clinic she talked to a lady who accepted the Book of Mormon with a promise to read it. She also left some pass-along cards to be handed out by the clinic. Her companion is Sister Hurst, a new missionary from Idaho. If you can't tell the "Greenie" she's in the green coat.

Sister Wheeler, Sister Hurst, and Sister Hodgkin at the clinic
By this time we had missed lunch and were hungry. We hurried home for a quick bite to eat then rushed off to the stake center for the Saturday adult session of stake conference. Yes, we arrived late, but we made it. We were about to get on the bus after the conference when Tina (our relief society president)  got a call from the bishop offering us a ride home. It was good company with a valuable discussion about the needs of ward members.

Now here we are at Sunday, the last day of a busy week. We had the main session of stake conference this morning. Simone said she would meet us at the Ossington subway station at 9:00 AM to go to conference together (Tony had to work). We called just after 9:00 and she said she was behind schedule, but would get there as soon as possible. It ended up she had to work until about 3:00 AM and had little sleep, but she still met us at about 9:30. We were late for conference, but we found seats and were able to listen to the messages. Sister and Elder Scott were two of the speakers. We were a little worried when President Burns started talking about tithing. Simone, who has good English asked what it was. When I said "Dizimo" she said that she understood and agreed that tithing was important. Adla, who speaks very little English passed by and asked about translation into Portuguese. I was able to get some headphone receivers for her and her mother. While I was looking for them I saw Marcia in the foyer with her son. I also got some headphones for her. That means that two of our new investigators attended stake conference.
Simone and Sister Wheeler waiting for the subway
On the bus to the stake center an older Filipino couple named Cesar and Julieta Dimacale greeted us and sat by us. They joined the church in the Philippines. After being a member for a year and a half, he was called to be the stake president.

Julieta and Cesar Dimacale
Maybe you are wondering if this week will ever end, well, so are we. This evening we visited Lucia da Cruz with the portuguese elders to give a lesson about families. It was a good visit. Sister Wheeler said she understood much of the conversations. That's pretty good since they are from Angola. Well, this blog is getting quite lengthy, so we will sign off until next week.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Thanksgiving Day

In the United States we complain about Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving, but in Canada Thanksgiving Day is in early October, even before Halloween. They hold it on a Monday (just like all of their other long-weekend holidays). Since we didn't have any invitations for dinner, we had our Thanksgiving dinner alone. It's probably best because Sister Wheeler came down with her cold this week.
Our simple Thanksgiving dinner (Oct 10, 2011)
Halloween decorations in the neighborhood

 As mentioned, this was a sick week. Sister Wheeler was down with a cold on Monday (but fortunately was able to fix our Thanksgiving dinner). While she rested in the apartment, Elder Wheeler went to clean the Portuguese elder's apartment downstairs. As was mentioned previously, they were transfered out of the city several months ago, leaving their apartment in a real mess. He finished cleaning the apartment on Tuesday while Sister Wheeler rested some more. He was able to go to ESL (alone, and feeling lost without his companion), on Tuesday evening. This was good since Paulo returned for the first time in two months after having visited his family in Portugal.

It is autumn and there is a nip in the air. Leaves are starting to change and school is in session. As we look at the city from our window we see many different moods. No snow yet, fortunately.

Leaves are just starting to change
Toronto silhouette 
Rugby practice at the school across the street

Wednesday brought interviews with President Scott. Sister Wheeler felt good enough to go in the morning, but we returned to the apartment in the afternoon for more rest. Elder Wheeler was able to work on our regional Single Adult Workshop for Saturday.

Sister Wheeler was feeling better on Thursday so we were able to pick up supplies at the grocery store and some videos at the mission supply room to take up to Brampton. Sister Wheeler had her Portuguese lesson then we taught our institute class. There seems to be a small core of students that come every week and others that float in and out as their schedule permits.

Friday we were able to visit the Bata Shoe Museum (a dream world for women).

As we walked into the first gallery, Elder Wheeler was flooded with memories of his brother Richard. The gallery was about the history of shoes across the world, starting with the earliest humanoids of Tanzania. As Elder Wheeler looked at the picture he said, "I've been there".
Picture in the Bata Shoe Museum
Picture taken by Elder Wheeler in Tanzania
 There were many other shoes, from famous (unknown to us) stars from Canada to the roaring 20's.
Early platform shoes from India
Chinese ladies shoes (for bound feet)
Nutcracker shoes (for cracking chestnuts)

 We went to the first part of ESL on Saturday, but had to leave early to go to the stake center where they were holding a regional Single Adult Conference. We were asked to give a workshop on scripture study and marking. We had little information about the workshop and the details were changed at the last minute, but we feel it went OK. There were 22 who attended and there was a lot of participation.

Workshop participants - are they awake or sleeping?
Sister Wheeler with Sister Jones, the stake Relief Society President
Tonight (Sunday) we finally had time to follow up on some contacts we have received. We called a lady named Sausa who was a member contact and set up a lesson for tomorrow. Sara, the member (we don't know who she is) will be there for the lesson. We passed by to meet Vicki and Miguel, newlyweds, but no one was home. We then went to see Tony who told a Spanish elder he had a Book of Mormon in Brazil, but wasn't able to bring it to Canada. His wife, Simone, was also there when we visited to give him a Portuguese Book of Mormon. We were able to set up an appointment for Wednesday. This lesson will be in English, since Simone speaks very well and Tony is trying to learn. Work with investigators has been slow lately, but maybe we have a new start.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Finally a Senior

A milestone on Friday; Sister Wheeler had a birthday. 
Birthday girl at the Mandarin
We started the day early (4:30 am) to make a 6:30 session at the temple. It included our zone and one other zone. There were other zones at a 6:00 am session and at a 7:00 session. There were a lot of missionaries floating around the temple that day.
Three Wheeler - Elder Wheeler from Burley, Idaho
Sister Wheeler was wished Happy birthday by more people than she knew. She received a nice card from the zone. We finally were able to go to lunch at the Mandarin, a fancy Chinese buffet where they gave her a small cake with jello. They took our picture which we scanned in. We then went to the mission office to take the mail we had for other missionaries. Several months ago we scraped our car door on a pillar in the parking garage. We left our car in Brampton for body work and used a loaner from the mission. We will pick up our car this next week.

The missionaries here are encouraged to OYM (open your mouth) by talking to everyone they meet on the bus or on the street. We decided our version of it is LYLS (Let Your Light Shine). We are out among the people much more since we have started taking the bus instead of driving around town. We try to give everyone a smile and "good morning" which surprises some people and gives a reason for others to purposely ignore us. We will pick an area of the city we would like to see and walk around. We have had several people see our name tag and talk to us. Wednesday after district meeting that morning we decided to see what was at the bottom of Bathurst Street. We see various sites from our apartment window and try to place them on the map. We walked along the harbor, saw Little Norway, and the Music Garden which represents six movements from a Bach cello sonata. Elder Wheeler had a nice talk with a Korean on the streetcar. He is a chef (western-style) having worked in Korea, Whitehourse, Yukon, and now Toronto.

Fallen American soldier with a live Canadian soldier
Geese and sailboats in the marina. The geese are getting in formation to fly.
A different kind of temple worship
Totem in Little Norway
Pathways in the Music Garden
4th movement of the sonata
Sister Wheeler in the garden
Apartments overlooking the harbor area

 Sister Wheeler and Maria have been preparing a piano duet for the ward cultural evening held on Saturday night. We showed up at the right time (5 pm), but it didn't really get started until 6:30 pm. They had decorations and food from each of the countries represented in the ward. We didn't know exactly what was happening since we have trouble with the Spanish (even at 95 dB from the sound system).
They rolled a piano from the priesthood room to the back of the gym (they don't call it a cultural hall here) so they could play.
Decorations for the cultural night
Maria and Sister Wheeler at the piano

We had our institute class on Thursday evening. Most of the students are from the Christie Ward, but speak some English as well as Spanish. We have a different group each week (with some that come almost every week).

Sister Wheeler teaching institute
Our institute class

Sunday was a busy day. We started with missionary coordination meeting. The Spanish sisters and elders weren't there so it was only us with the ward mission leader. This was followed by ward council (for Elder Wheeler) in Spanish, of course. It was fast Sunday so there were a lot of testimonies. Everyone goes up and sits on the stand until the bishop lets them know when to stop coming up. Spanish is so embedded in the ward that even the Portuguese members speak Spanish, including testimonies and the priesthood class for High Priests. At least the Sunday School class was in Portuguese. Sister Wheeler was asked to play the piano for a baptism after church. By that time we headed off to the stake center for a mission president's fireside. President Scott actually spoke. With a one hour bus ride back, we didn't get back to our apartment until 9 pm.