Sunday, March 29, 2015

Brazil Area Presidency

The highlight of the week was our meeting with the Area Presidency of Brazil on Tuesday. We spent quite a bit of time last week and Monday getting our presentation ready. We were able to present our plan for technology specialists in Brazil. They seemed to like the plan and gave their approval to go ahead. Elder Costa said he would send a letter to all of the stake presidents instructing them to have a technology specialist by a certain date. That will help our recruitment efforts.
Area Presidency of Brazil
We'll introduce some of the senior couples and our co-workers as we go along. We'll start with the Ferguson's since they will be returning home in a couple of weeks. They have been serving in the temple and helping out in Travel.
Elder & Sister Ferguson
There are nine regular employees of the Church working for ICS, seven in our office and two at the CTM (MTC). There are also others who come in and help as needed.
Filipe who is preparing notebook computers for workers
Badu who works right next to us
Cintia, a technical guru and leader
Sometimes someone will bring some treat for us all to share, like green corn ice cream.
Ice cream break
As we go to and from the office we often run into younger missionaries. There are thousands of missionaries from Brazil serving all over the world.
Sisters in the grocery store
Sisters in front of the temple
So far we spend most of our time in the office getting ready for training of technology specialists. Paulo, the supervisor, has asked us to give a half-hour session each morning on leadership training (in English) so others can practice their English. That means more preparation. We walk to work every day. During odd hours we walk along a busy highway. Sometimes we walk through  the neighborhood and enter the back gate that is open at certain times during the day. On Wednesday we were able to see two pica-paus (woodpeckers) on the way. They are rare in São Paulo.
Pica-pau on the wire
We usually go across the street to the food court in the mall for lunch. Most of the places have a discount for church employees (including missionaries). The temple has reopened so we were able to eat in the cafeteria on Friday. 
Food court at the mall
On Thursday we got to the office early (7am) for an hour-long taxi ride to the national police office so we could get our identity cards. We waited for awhile until Fabio (our helper) came with eight missionaries from the CTM. Four were from the USA so visas are stating to come.
Police offices in São Paulo
Weekdays in Portuguese are named after the market (feira) so on Friday (sexta feira) we went to the market with the Halls. We were surprised at how good the produce looked. Diane got a cheese pastel (a fried "pocket") which she ordered herself in Portuguese. 
Stacked oranges - I want the one on the bottom!
Buying pears
Soaking pears in chlorine water
On Saturday we got brave and went to downtown São Paulo by ourselves. We caught a bus which took us to the downtown bus station then walked all around. We took the metro to get back close to the bus station and found the right bus back. We made it back safely, since São Paulo is known to be a dangerous city.

Praça da Sé is considered the center of the city. The main cathedral (Sé) is there. The park is full of people sleeping on the street (mostly hippie-types rather than homeless), bathing in the fountains (soap and all), and picking pockets. Contrast that with the people inside the cathedral worshiping Jesus Christ in the manner they have learned since youth. 
The municipal cathedral
Are we in Minas Gerais?
Statue bedroom
 There were a lot of streets blocked off for pedestrian-only shopping. There were also goods spread out on the streets.

Street vendors
We walked through Praça da República, which was peaceful. Two ladies stopped us and talked with us. We assumed they were members of the church.
Walk through Praça da República
 Across the street was a Communist recruitment campaign. I guess this is expected seeing that the President of Brazil was a Communist.
Come join the ranks
We saw some colorful churches,
Yellow church
train station,
Trains going both directions
 and even stopped for a water break when we were too hot and tired.
Water in a drought
 We stopped at the Museum of the Portuguese Language where we watched some video presentations and learned more about the history of Brazilian Portuguese. We got in free today.

Museum of the Portuguese Language
A long wall of videos
A cartoon we liked
 We then walked through Parque da Luz before returning by metro then bus back home.
Little house in Parque da Luz
Meetings were rough today. The sound system wasn't working well and it was hard to hear - hence, hard to understand. I checked out the wireless microphones they were trying to use for the combined Priesthood/Relief Society meeting.
Well, we are techies, aren't we?
We heard a piano playing church songs this evening so we went to investigate the source. It was the Correa's right below us. It ended up they were having a birthday party for Sister Correa so we crashed it.  He is serving a mission as the Executive Secretary for the Area.

This is the door to our apartment - nicer than most doors in the building
So, we have been in Brazil for two weeks and have been moving too fast we haven't had time for shell shock yet. That should come next week.

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