Tuesday, May 12, 2015

First Training Excursion

We just returned from Ribeirão Preto where we had our first training event. We spent the week getting ready and celebrating more birthdays. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday we usually have exercise. It helps to stop for a few minutes to move our muscles.
Exercise time
We enjoy it when families come by to visit the office. On Wednesday Henrique´s family came by.
Enrique with wife Tatiane and daughters Alice and Rebeca
Wednesday evening we had a birthday party for Sister Hale. We gathered at DaPaula´s apartment for cake and ice cream (including gluten-free). 
Elder and Sister Hale
The group
Emerson had his birthday on Friday so more cake (not gluten-free, but they had some chocolate for me). 
A sparkler for a birthday candle?
Sister Wheeler honored with the first piece of cake
This weekend we had our first formal training in Ribeirão Preto. Our traveling companions were Paulo (supervisor at ICS), Helemã (volunteer at ICS), and Breno (Paulo´s son). 
Packed up and ready to go
Ribeirão Preto is in the interior of São Paulo state, about 318 km from São Paulo and takes about 3.5 hours by car. We were glad to have Paulo as the driver and Helemã with the GPS as a navigator.
A long road, but beautiful countryside
 We arrived in Ribeirão Preto about 10 am. We were able to check into the hotel, but not go into our rooms yet. The let us have the buffet breakfast, however.
Breakfast in Ribeirão Preto
We then went on to the Ribeirão Preto East Stake (there are two stakes in the city) to prepare for our training.
Ribeirão Preto East Stake Center
 Our first step was to set up for presentations in the high council room and in the chapel (the two rooms with air conditioning).

Setting up in the high council room
We were invited to give training at the Ribeirão Preto Coordinating Council which consists of the Area Seventy (Elder Pinto), eight stake presidents, and the mission president. The stake presidents came from stakes that are up to 327 km away. A 2-hour lunch was planned to let them arrive any time during the lunch. We sat across from President Goes from the São José do Rio Preto Stake (205 km away). His daughter dated Elder Araujo (before his mission, of course) and his first missionary companion was Elder Grahl Baptista´s father. We worked with Elder Araujo and Elder Grahl Baptista in Salt Lake. It´s a small world.
Talking with President Goes at lunch
 Our first training was to help the stake presidents understand what technology is available for them to use in the church and the need for calling a technology specialist for the stake.
Sister Wheeler training the stake presidents
 The second training session was for technology specialists and stake clerks. Only one attended, but it gave us a good chance to try out the training. It was a long way to travel for the others.
Valter  (right) with the training crew
After the training we went back to the hotel and settled into our rooms. Brazilians like to eat late so before dinner we went to get a swimming suit for Breno so he and Helemã could go swimming in the hotel pool. It looked tempting, but they said the water was very cold. We then went to a "Shopping" (mall) and found some dinner about 9 pm.
Swimming pool at the Oasis Hotel in Ribeirão Preto
On Sunday we went to visit other chapels to learn more about how technology is used in the church. We started with the Vila Virginia Ward in the Ribeirão Preto West stake. It is the oldest and smallest chapel in the city. The classrooms are separated from the chapel.

Vila Virginia Ward building
 We interrupted the missionary coordination meeting they were having with the bishop. They were gracious enough to take a break and show us around. I won´t bore you with all of the pictures and explanations of the technical systems in the building.
With the bishop and missionaries
We then went to the Planalto Verde Ward, the largest in the stake. It isn´t the stake center, but has the satellite system because it´s the largest building. 

Satellite dish in back of the chapel
Planalto Verde Ward
 The power was out in the building (actually the whole neighborhood), but we were able to see the equipment in the cabinets even though we could not test anything.
No electricity doesn´t stop the primary
We were able to get some good views of Ribeirão Preto. It was a nice city. We liked the way the tiled houses swept up the hillsides.
Ribeirão Preto
Tile houses
We then went to the Américo Brasiliense Branch about 30 km outside of Araraquara. The chapel was a house made into a small chapel. 
Américo Brasiliense Branch
This was a chance to check the level of technology in a small branch.
Carrier pigeons?
 It was a very friendly branch. We stayed there for sacrament meeting.
Branch members gathering for sacrament meeting
 It was Mother´s Day. The girls made flowers for their mothers. One of the girls gave her flower to Sister Wheeler (with her mother´s permission, of course). Is´t that just like mothers?
Mother´s Day flower
One of the reasons we stopped at the branch was that we noticed through church software that their Internet was not connected to the firewall. Paulo came to the rescue and fixed it.
Now why isn´t the Internet working?
It must need crawling on the floor!
I felt like I was back in the olden days of my Brazilian mission.
Is there a cost for horse parking?
It seemed like a long ride home. I´m glad Paulo did the driving. We passed a lot of sugar cane fields.
Sugar cane
At times I wondered about the GPS. Was it really taking us on the shortest route?

Passing Rio de Janeiro?
Passing New York?
We stopped by a refueling station alongside the tollway for a late lunch. There was a big fire across the road (cane burning?) which added a little ash to the food. 
Smoking on Sunday
Three hungry boys
A queen in the garden
We ran across the bat-mobile. It would have been a faster way to get home. 
They seem to like this car!
We got back into São Paulo in the evening as it was getting dark and starting to rain. We were glad to be home before the rain caused flooding in the streets. We were tired, but we are certain Paulo was even more tired.
Don´t worry, he survived!

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