Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Real Thanksgiving

People celebrated Thanksgiving all across America this week, whereas Canada celebrated it in October. We are very thankful this week is over.

Monday was spent in preparing lessons. The first lesson was a special lesson for Tony and Simone about Nephi's testimony of Jesus Christ (2 Nephi 25). The second was a lesson about the family and preparing for baptism for Marzia. The third was about body language for ESL. The fourth was a short lesson for our district meeting about planning. Finally we prepared a lesson about the Word of Wisdom for our institute class. We did take a quick break to the post office between lesson preparations.

Toronto with the moon at sunrise
Tuesday was lesson day. Why do we get so nervous about giving lessons. At times it may be the language, but we still get nervous when we teach in English. In the morning we visited Tony and Simone. We hadn't seen them for two weeks (since Simone returned from Brazil). They haven't been reading the Book of Mormon so instead of going on with the lessons, we had a special lesson on Nephi's testimony of Jesus Christ. It leaves little doubt about the Book of Mormon being a second witness of Jesus Christ. We also had a lesson with Marzia and we were able to meet her husband, Domingo. He was born in Portugal, but raised in Canada. We talked about the importance of family, including family prayer and family home evening. Domingo declined the invitation for the elders to teach him the missionary lessons, but is somewhat supportive of his wife being a member of the church. We ended the day with ESL where we discussed nonverbal communications from various cultures.

We were asked to present a short portion of our Wednesday district meeting on planning (as if we knew how to plan). It ended up being about the use of planning to bring the spirit to let you know the needs of each individual we work with. 

How did we get into the job of planning a party. The bishop wanted a ward party (everyone invited) centered around the Portuguese culture. This one ended up as a "Baile Brasil" (dance Brazil). We were going to pick up some of the supplies on Wednesday, but didn't have much time since we took Elder Woodruff to Unionville again for his PT treatment. We did have another party planning meeting in the evening which gave the opportunity for everyone to change their minds from what they had planned last Sunday.
Pouring a new parking or garbage area at our apartment building
Thursday was Thanksgiving Day in the United States. The senior couples decided to celebrate it with a traditional dinner in Brampton. Sister Wheeler made some gluten-free pumpkin pies and a veggie tray. Some of the Brampton missionaries were having a district meeting and decided to join us. We left about 4:30 pm to return to Toronto for our institute class. We had a lesson about the Word of Wisdom, which was perfect after overeating for Thanksgiving. We determined the "real" Thanksgiving comes from the "tender mercies" we receive from the Lord. Elder Wheeler forgot the camera, but we remembered he had his ipod-touch that could take pictures (even though the resolution was poor). Sister Wheeler forgot the gluten-free gravy mix, however, Sister Dodge made some gravy using corn starch in place of flour. As we were rushing off to institute class we couldn't find the small speakers that go with the laptop for video presentations. After looking all over we gave up and decided to skip that part of the lesson. As Sister Wheeler was saying the prayer prior to leaving our apartment she asked that we be able to find the speakers. At the end of the prayer, Elder Wheeler went right to the spot where the speakers were and we were able to use them for the lesson. We are very thankful for the "tender mercies" of the Lord.

Sister Wheeler close to the gluten-free store in Brampton
Elder Martindale and Elder Carroll singing for their dinner
Friday was shopping day for the ward party. We did most of the grocery shopping for the food. Most of the items we were able to get at No Frills, two blocks away. They were really heavy to carry back. We decided we need to do something to get in the Christmas spirit since we have celebrated two Thanksgivings. It is Black Friday in Canada when they have a lot of good sales to keep shoppers in Canada rather than crossing into the USA. All we got was a box of 10 puzzles, a book of Christmas stories, and a few videos. We then went to two talhos (Portuguese butcher shops) to get the sausage needed for the feijoada (beans and rice) for the party. Elder Woodruff is winding down his mission so we were invited to stop by the house of Kelly, Kimberly, and Emily to say goodbye by eating Elder Woodruff's famous stroganoff. apparently that's what they ate (instead of beans and rice) when his father was the mission president in Recife, Brasil.
Elder Woodruff and Kelly fixing the stroganoff
Emily and Sister Wheeler looking at pictures
Elder Woodruff and Sidy eating on the floor
Elder Seabra finding his favorite scripture to share
The crew
 Saturday was a long tiring day preparing for the party. Elizabeth Mesquita came to our apartment to show Sister Wheeler her special way to make beans and rice. It takes a long time, even using a pressure cooker for the beans. Elder Woodruff made hotdogs in a tomato sauce. We had Oscar make "colored" rice, since many of the Spanish don't like white rice. Andre made cochinhas, a stuffed dough. Sister Ferreira was in charge of the decorations, which included a cake like a Brazilian flag. This week has been very uncertain with a lot of chaotic activity leading to the party. We have been looking forward to the week being over all week. Meanwhile, also on Saturday was an 8:30 AM inservice meeting for institute (over the internet which requires the PC partition on the MAC and the MAC partition for watching videos), a 10:30 AM ESL class (about clothing), and a 1:30 missionary coordination meeting. Elder Wheeler covered the meetings while Sister Wheeler handled the food for the party.
Elizabeth and Sister Wheeler making feijoada
Elder Woodruff making his hot dog dish
 Just after 6:00 PM, Oscar showed up with his rice and started serving everyone in the kitchen while we were putting the rest of the food on a food warmer for serving in the cultural hall. It all came together finally and everyone seemed to have a good time. We had at least 10 non-members attend and several less-active members. For once, the Portuguese-speaking out numbered the Spanish-speaking. We had good food, Brazilian music and dancing (the samba, of course), and good entertainment. We finally met the Neves family whom we have been trying to find since we got here.  The address we had was about two years old apparently.
Elder Woodruff adjusting the playlist on the laptop
Marzia talking to Bishop Ferreira
The Neves family: Eric, Valesca, and son
Luis singing Portuguese songs
Kimberly with two children
Adla and Sidy dancing the samba
What was this game again?
Elder de Moura accompanies Elder Germann's song
 If you think Sunday is the day of rest, think again. We barely got to the Toronto Ward as they began sacrament meeting. We were hoping to meet Simone, but she didn't come. We got a call from the Portuguese missionaries from the emergency room at the hospital. Elder de Moura got sick last night so they took him to the hospital. He has kidney stones but they couldn't help him last night so they are trying to squeeze him in sometime today. We picked up Elder Woodruff at the hospital then Marzia to go to the church for her baptismal interview (which was to be performed by Elder de Moura). Elder Germann, our zone leader, performed the interview in Spanish. Marzia was sad because she wanted her husband, Domingo, and her son, Mateus, to be at her baptism, but Mateus had come down with a little cold and the two of them were staying home. Just before the interview ended, they both walked in to the church. We got them settled in the chapel. Tears filled Marzia's eyes when she found out they had come. More "tender mercies" from the Lord. Just before the church block was over we got another call from Elder Seabra and Elder de Moura that they were finished and ready to be picked up. We hurried and took Elder Woodruff back to the hospital (he had to drive the mission car back) and all hurried back to the chapel in time for the baptism. Well, we guess we actually are "real" missionaries since we have had our first baptism (which is not really expected for senior couples). Elder Woodruff has been helping us teach (since Marzia lives in the general area where we take him for his PT sessions). He was happy to be invited to perform the baptism the Sunday before he returned to Utah. There were only two Portuguese baptisms in 2010 and two others to date in 2011.
Marzia, Domingo, and Mateus with Elder Woodruff and us
This has been a very busy week with a lot of uncertainties. It was different from any other Thanksgiving weekend we have ever had. We had a lot of curves thrown at us in the process and were not sure how things would turn out, but we left things in the Lord's hands, did the best we could, and were very thankful for the "tender mercies" he sent our way.


Melissa said...

Steve and I were thinking about you both this week. We selfishly miss having Thanksgiving dinner with you. Congratulations on your baptism! I'm glad her husband and son made it.

AZ SMITHS said...

I LOVE those tender mercies! I'm glad the party was successful and that so many people showed up. I'm also glad her family made it to her baptism. You're doing a lot of good over there in your "small and simple" ways-- great things are brought to pass! Love you!

Kate said...

Busy and Happy week! We love you two, you are doing amazing work!