Sunday, March 22, 2015

First Week in Brazil

We survived the first week in Brazil. It has been busy! After stake conference Sunday we were invited to dinner by Elder & Sister Zaugg. Elder & Sister Hales joined us. The Zauggs are the Area Auditors and the Hales Self-Reliance missionaries. It was great food. The Swensens (Area doctor) came to visit us later in the evening. We have instant friends here.
The Zauggs, Hales, and Sister Wheeler
Monday was our first day in the office. We were up by 6am and at the office by 8am for a devotional. We got our cubicles set up, but had to switch places so I could be on Diane's right side so she could hear me. We had a brief break in the morning for office exercise.
Exercise break
At lunchtime the senior couples had a song practice for a special activity coming up next month. We only had half an hour to go to the mall for some lunch. It didn't give time to find some gluten-free food before we had to get back for another meeting. We did find some rice cakes, however, to take back to the office. The power went out at the mall as we were leaving. Shortly after the meeting started the phones started to ring. The Internet was down so everyone jumped up and started working on it. It seems that a truck hit a pole and took down a fiberoptic Internet cable. Later in the afternoon we met with Emerson, the director of ICS for Brazil.

Emerson - ICS director
At 5:30 pm we had a Family Home Evening activity with the other senior couples. We meet in the Area office building. It included a light meal, which was good because we got little to eat for lunch.

On Tuesday Diane translated some documents. She does a good job in both languages, only needing a few corrections. We worked on a presentation for a meeting with the Area Presidency. Elder Costa is our Area President. The meeting was postponed from tomorrow to next Tuesday. They are still working on visa issues for missionaries. We were able to go back to the mall and find some gluten-free food (we hope) with the help of some of those we work with. We left the office a little early so we could go to Walmart and pick up some things we needed for the apartment.

Wednesday was a big meeting for Church employees across Brazil. We went early and helped set up the Webcast equipment. Brazil is in real financial difficulties because of mismanagement and corruption in the government. This affects salaries for the church workers here. Since we had another song practice we brought our own lunch to eat. We did go over to the mall with other couples to see where we could get cash from a teller. 
The parade of senior missionaries going to the mall

After work we went by Pão de Açucar (a grocery store) to pick up some food. It's hard to get the basic supplies to get started, but we actually found some gluten-free items, such as frozen pizza. The Halls (Area legal counsel) paid us a visit in the evening.

Sometimes we gat random visitors in the office. Thursday morning Ana, who works in travel, brought her daughter, Daniela to visit us. Daniela served a mission on Temple Square. Another visitor was President Mazzagardi from the Area Presidency. We had a delightful chat.
Ana and Daniela
 Emerson asked for a picture of us with better resolution to send out as an introduction. We couldn't find one in the office so we returned to the apartment to look for one. When we were ready to return it was raining - no, it was flooding! We couldn't even get across the road because it was filled with water. It finally let up enough for us to cross.
The flood is almost gone by this time
On Friday we finally got our phone working so we could call home. We have a nice view from our window, which includes the stake center. We have a view of the temple from our bedroom.
Our view from the living room 
 In the afternoon we had a meeting with Emerson and Paulo (the office supervisor) and went over our "Vision" of our work with technology in Brazil. This is the presentation we plan to give to the Area Presidency on Tuesday. They seemed to like it. Emerson then took us around to introduce us to all the departments in the area office. We took the back way home, which was more relaxing. You do need to watch where you are going, however.
Now this tree has roots!
 In the evening the DePaulas visited. They work in Family History. He was born in Brazil, but raised in the states. This is their second mission to Brazil. The Swensens invited us to the High Priest party for the Morumbi ward. It was a Mexican taco bar with music and dancing. It was a lot of fun. The tacos were chips with all the toppings. I liked it better than the real tacos.
Our music - very nice!
Los dos señores
Dance time
Saturday was our preparation day (or in other words our play day). We met the Halls in our courtyard so they could take us (they had a car) to the fruit market followed by the candy store so we could stock up.
Apartment courtyard
 We then went on a bus with them to Embu das Artes, an arts and crafts city about 45 minutes out of town. We are "old" people and get to ride the buses free. There are a lot of shops, restaurants, and booths set up. It's a nice change from the city. The Halls have their son Randy also serving a mission with them. After lunch we had a "tapioca" which was ground tapioca fried in a pan and filled with chocolate.
And she didn't even buy anything
Lunchtime in the square
Our musical entertainment
A typical crafts gallery
Making "tapioca"
The streets reminded me of my old days in Brazil with the paralelepipido (cobblestones) for streets.
Street in Embu
There are two wards meeting in our building, the São Paulo 5th Ward and the Morumbi Ward. Many of the senior couples attend the Morumbi ward because it is smaller. We decided to try the São Paulo 5th Ward because it is easier to remember the name. One starts at 9am and the other at 9:30 am. We showed up at 9am then waited until 9:30 for the 5th Ward.
The Stake Center where we go to church
We walked around the building and looked at the flowers while waiting for church to start. We enjoyed meeting with the members. Diane found a new friend, Isabela, a young girl who wanted to try out her English. A family in front of us was using the pew in front of them as a quiet book, taping flannel board cutouts to the back of the pew. During the meeting a sister took a small child up to her husband (a member of the bishopric) to tend while she went out to change another child. We both gave prayers in Sunday School.

We were able to get a little rest after church.
 We decided to take a little walk and find some of the chapels in the stake. We made it to one chapel, but decided the other was too far so we returned home.

LDS chapel
Old man along the way
 It was good to get back to our apartment
Our apartment building
Yes, it has been a busy first week in Brazil, but we are happy to be here.

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