Sunday, June 28, 2015

Back to Normal?

We are back to the mission, but I don't know if we are back to normal yet. On Thursday, Elder Zaugg came by and said that a tour guide in his English Class was willing to take us on a night tour of São Paulo. We try to stay away at night so this might be an opportunity to see the nightlife.

We loaded in a car and drove all around as she told us the history and sites of the city. I tried to write some notes of what we saw, but couldn't see to write. We stopped at a big hotel that looked like a ship. The lobby had a big reading area and a wall-full of drinks. It also had some interesting chairs and a big restaurant on the top floor with a view of the city.

Hotel lobby
Does this need a flash?
Oh, what a chair
City across a pool in the restaurant
We passed by several parks and learned about the four great architects of São Paulo.
Liberty monument 
 We ended by going to the mercado market which is very interesting at night. Large trucks come in with various types of produce and unload them in a warehouse. Produce sellers buy the items wholesale and take them to their booths in the market (and probably the feiras throughout the city). Fruit is really cheap, but in large quantities.
Market at night
Carrying the produce to the booths
Produce ready to sell wholesale 
Guard this food!
Friday we went as a department to Outback for lunch to celebrate birthdays for Cintia and Badu. It was a lot of fun. Maybe next week we can actually get started with our work again.
Lunch with the department 
Birthday party for Cintia
 We stayed in the apartment for most of the day Saturday to catch up on rest and chores. Elder Hall made a big batch of soup so he invited us and the Swensons to share. It made a nice eatable supper.

We had our regular meetings for Sunday, but it was hard to concentrate on the Portuguese. Understanding takes a lot of mental energy which we have lost in the process. By the afternoon we had to get out of the apartment so we took a little walk in a neighborhood across the highway.
She held very still for the photo
We learned on the night tour of São Paulo the difference between graffiti (wall pictures) and pixação (wall writing). We find both all over Brazil.
Pixação (above) and graffiti
Mamão (papaya) on the street
This must be Indian territory
Night lighting?
We found a nice park to walk through. As we walked down the trail we noticed that it closed at 5 pm. We wondered if we would get back in time or spend the night in the "mata".
Mata in the city 
A little church on the corner
Let's clean up this city
It feels good to be back where we belong, but we are still very tired and need to regroup. This next week ends June. We wonder what July will bring.

Two long flights and family

We have been preparing to meet with Elder Aidukaitis of the Area Presidency to give an update of our work. We were able to meet with him on Tuesday afternoon, just before we were to go to the airport. It ends up that there is a formal process for approving our plan for calling regional and council technology specialists. Emerson helped put a few things together for their meeting for next week. By the time we returned from the USA everything had been approved.

We had a 30-hour trip from Brazil to Spokane. It started with a slow car ride to the airport (Thank you Elder Hale and Sister Hale) and a 3-hour wait at the airport. As we were waiting we talked to six missionaries who were returning home from the São Paulo South Mission. As boarding started a man came up and told us we could board with the priority passengers. In Brazil they give special consideration to the "idosos" (aged). The flight to Atlanta was long (all night), but not overcrowded.

In Atlanta we encounter missionaries returning home from Argentina. We hope they make it, because their flight was delayed. Our flight to Salt Lake went as scheduled. We even arrived about 20 minutes early.

It was strange being in the Salt Lake airport. It was so familiar and we just had a layover and were not going home. Our flight to Spokane was delayed.

Welcome to Salt Lake
We finally got on the plane and started to back up when we had to return to the gate because of a mechanical problem. We changed planes at the next gate and finally arrived in Seattle about 2-hours late. We got our rental car and headed for the hotel. Just before our exit a car in front of us started to roll all over the freeway. Pieces of car and luggage were scattered all over. We finally were able to pass by and check into the hotel.

We woke up with the sun about 4:30 am. By 7:30 we were at Blair and Janae's to spend the day with Mom. After lunch we took Mom to the bank and to the store for some of the things she needed to get.

Nascar racer at Target
 We had a pleasant evening sitting on the back patio talking as Blair pruned his bonsai.
Blair, the bonsai king

Passion fruit blossom in Blair & Janae's back yard
On Friday we took Mom to the Tri-Cities. She stayed at John & Karen's while we checked into the hotel and did some shopping. When we returned to the hotel Andrea and the family had arrived from Utah. It turned out that Blair and Janae; Steve, Lisa, Sean, and Deidre stayed in the same hotel. We all went to Don and Nadine's for a family get-together. We had a nice dinner and some reminiscing in the comfort of Don's back yard.

The three swingers 
Dinner time
The Mitchell clan 
Add the spouses
 On Saturday we went to Basin City for the memorial service. Lisa, Diane, and Don spoke. Darwin played the flute, Blair played the piano, and Steve and I sang a duet. There were a lot of memories of Mom, especially of her teaching seminary in Basin City for 14 years.

The Mitchell family 
Grand children and great-grand children
 We took Mom back to Spokane Saturday afternoon, making a couple of stops to stretch along the way, including a drive through Connell, Ritzville, and several rest stops.
Card game in Connell 
At a rest stop
Sunday was Father's Day. It felt strange not having Dad here to share it. Diane got to eat the package of cookies they gave me at church for Father's Day. I didn't feel too bad, because Karen made some gluten-free cookies and banana bread that I really enjoyed - maybe too much. Janae fixed us a nice meal of ribs, Brussel sprouts, potatoes, and corn on the cob (sweet corn, not field corn).

We have really enjoyed Blair and Janae's back yard. They have a small pine-tree forest with deer passing through at times. Maybe after our mission we can find a home in such a setting.

Back of the house
A deer in the forest
On Monday morning we went for a walk to get some fresh air. We don't get as much chance to walk in São Paulo as we would like.
House along the walk
We did some serious shopping on Monday. Several people asked us to take special items back to Brazil for them. We had a nice lunch at Red Robin (they actually had a gluten-free hamburger bun). By supper time we weren't really hungry, but stopped at a 50's-style diner for shakes.

Shake, rattle, and roll
We didn't fly out until midmorning on Tuesday. but we wanted to get there early to turn in the car and get seat assignments (none were given when we made the reservations). We finally got seats on the back row from Spokane to Salt Lake. I had a tender tooth. By Salt Lake I even had trouble eating french fries. I got some Advil. It helped a bit, but my tooth was still really sore. 

The flight from Atlanta to São Paulo was delayed due to a burnt-out light bulb. How many people does it take to replace a light bulb? It seemed like a long flight, especially with a toothache. Delta did very well handling gluten-free meals on the international flights. 

We got into São Paulo about an hour late. Elder Zaugg and Elder Hale were there to pick us up. We only stopped at the apartment briefly because they then took me to see a dentist. I got an x-ray (infected tooth), a prescription for penicillin, and an appointment for next Tuesday for a root-canal specialist. I was glad I could get right in and let the tooth start healing. Yes, it feels much better now.

This was a long week with a lot of traveling. When we arrived back in Brazil we said, "We're home".

Sad News

On Sunday, June 7th, I called Wendell to wish him a happy birthday. He was surprised to get a call from Brazil. When we finished talking we had a message that Diane's father passed away. Needless to say, that changed our plans for the next few weeks. It also delayed getting blogs completed.

We were scheduled for Family Home Evening for Monday night. Diane led a discussion on the conference talk "The Music of the Gospel" by Elder Wilford W. Anderson which was followed by a cultural activity "Music of Brazil" - a presentation of traditional music from the various regions of Brazil.

During the week we looked at possible travel arrangements for attending Dad's memorial service in Washington state. Elder Costa, the Area President, gave us permission to go. Reservations all came together, so we decided to return to the USA for a week.

On Saturday Elder Hall called and asked if we wanted to go to Praça Republica with them. He was looking for a butterfly tray and there are many booths there on Saturday and Sunday.

Off we go for the outing on Saturday
There was a lot of art on display, but the butterfly man would only be there on Sunday.

Artwork on display at Praça Republica
We decided to try Praça Liberdade where they also have booths. We went through the pedestrian shopping area on the way there.

Elder Hall talking to an angel
Liberdade is the Japanese (as well as Chinese and Korean) section of town. You can even pick out your shrimp before you eat them.

This would make quite a meal of shrimp
My head keeps getting sunburned, so I decided to buy a hat.

New hat from the hat booth
We had lunch at a Chinese restaurant in Liberdade where the servers had trouble speaking Portuguese or Chinese. The food was good, however.

June is a special month in Brazil for celebrating the saints - John, Paul, and Anthony. Different areas of the country celebrate different saints at different times, but it ends up in a celebration called Junina. It's a chance to look to the country life (like Sadie Hawkins). Many dress up as cowboys or hillbillies, eat corn on the cob, and play silly games. Our ward held the activity on Saturday night.

Setting up the food for Junina
 They had a big slide for the kids.
We didn't go on the slide
 The corn on the cob was like field corn and reminded us of Canada.
Yummy corn???
 they also had a lot of other goodies to eat. They liked my hat for the party.
This is your share!
 Not everyone dressed up, but those who did had a lot of fun.
The ladies of Junina
Sunday was our Ward Conference. The high priests were responsible for a special musical number. A group of us sang "Nearer My God to Thee". We actually sang in harmony (I was bass, of course) which is not common in Brazil.

Thursday, June 11, 2015


Thursday was the holiday Corpus Cristi, but many took off work Friday as well to make a four-day weekend. We took this as an opportunity to go to Curitiba with the Halls. We took a taxi to the bus station Wednesday night for a 11:57 pm bus ride to Curitiba. I think everyone in São Paulo was at the bus station trying to get out of town. The bus was full and took about 8 hours instead of 6 hours because of the traffic.

We got to Curitiba about 8 am on Thursday and walked to the Victoria Villa Hotel, a couple of blocks from the bus station. It was too early to check in, but we made arrangements to get into our rooms by buying breakfast at the hotel.

We then went for a walk around Curitiba, going as far as Plaça Tiradentes in the center of town. Most of the stores were closed for the holiday. Brazilians love their holidays.

Old train station of Curitiba
Fountain in the park
Another fountain in another park
In the afternoon we caught a bus to the temple. In Curitiba they have tubes for bus stops. You get in the tube, pay your money, wait for the bus (nice for rainy weather) and get of the bus through sliding doors.

The tube
We were watching where to get off the bus when Victor, a young man on the bus asked if we were going to the temple. He and his friend (also named Victor) are waiting for their mission calls. They got off the bus with us and walked us to the temple.

Victor and Victor
We really enjoyed the peacefulness of the temple. After the session we talked to President Oliveira (1st Counselor in the temple presidency) who served in São Borja on his mission.
At the Curitiba Temple
Curitiba Temple
We were all tired after we got back from the temple so we went to the "Shopping" and had dinner at Maredo, "Best Burgers in the World".
Waiting for our food
We had a nice breakfast every morning with lots of pastries (I could eat the pão de quejo), fruits, and even scrambled eggs.
They learned this trick from Arches NP
We then went on a train ride through the Mata Atlántica to the nice tourist town of Morretes. 

On the train
We really enjoyed the scenery on the 4-hour ride through the mountains.

Lake with mountains in the distance
She'll be coming around the mountain
Lots of water
More water
Mountain range
São João bridge
When we got into Morretes we were taken to a restaurant where they served Barreado and fish, regional delicacies. Barreado is a shreaded-meat soup served with rice and farrofa (it replaces the beans in beans and rice).  They made some fish without using flour for me.

We then had a nice stroll through town. It was touristy, but nice.

Window shopping
To enter bring joy, to leave leave memories
Let's go fishing
Let's monkey around
Big wheels
Flowers of the Mata Atlántica
The tour included a bus ride back to Curitiba.

I hope the bus is fixed before we go
We stopped in the historic village of Antonina on the coast. There was a small choir practicing in an old church. The long reverberation time of the church made it sound nice.
The church
Overlooking the coastline
The bus stopped at a small rest stop about half way across the mountains.

Snack time - fried bananas
Extracting juice from sugar cane
We were tired enough when we got back that we ate dinner at the hotel.

During breakfast on Friday a young couple greeted us. They arte members of the church from São Paulo visiting Curitiba for a convention.
Mormons everywhere
On Saturday we took a tour on the Linha Turismo, a double decker bus that goes around to 25 different sights in Curitiba. We can get off at any 4 of the sights then get back on the bus for more. Being a holiday weekend the bus was very crowded, but it was fun to see the city from the top.

Our first stop was Jardim Botánico. It was a beautiful park with a formal garden, a glass greenhouse, and a nice lake. We spent enough time there we were short of time on other stops.
In front of the glass greenhouse
Inside the glass greenhouse
A view of Curitiba across the formal gardens
Our second stop was Bosque Alemão, a German grove with the trail of Joãozinho e Maria (Hanzel and Gretel). It had a tall tower with a city overlook (we walked down from the top, not up), the witch's house, and other surprising things.

The tower
The witch's oven
Watch out for the snake!
Tower of Philosophers
We next went to see Ópera de Arme, a glass opera house in the middle of the woods.

Anyone for opera?
We were hoping to have lunch at Santa Felicidade, an Italian village, but by the time we got there it was past 2 pm and we needed to return. We rode past the other sights so we were able to see them from the bus.

Memorial Ucraniano
We got back to the hotel in time to grab our luggage and walk to the bus station for a 5 pm bus. Unlike the bus to Curitiba, the return bus to São Paulo was almost empty. We had a nice, comfortable ride with a dinner stop about half way along. As we were approaching São Paulo I was watching the GPS on my iPhone and noticed the highway went right past our apartments. I talked to the driver who let us off right at our apartments instead of having to go downtown to the bus station and taking a taxi ride home.

Sunset from the bus
We had another training session on Sunday afternoon, but this time it was for the São Paulo West council and the training was right in our own building. After all the travel, it was nice to be home for the training.