Sunday, March 27, 2016

Early Easter

Easter came early this year. In Brazil Good Friday is a holiday so we got the day off.

Diane started her physical therapy for her foot this week. Tais, her therapist, explained the MRI results (something the doctor didn't do) then gave her some specific exercises to strengthen the ankle area. She also gave some electric wave treatment and ultrasound. It seems to be helping.

Diane in physical therapy
On Good Friday a group of us went to the Pinacoteca Museum. It is the best museum in São Paulo for Brazilian art. We have been trying to go there for several weeks, but we were diverted by other group activities. When João VI moved the kingdom of Portugal from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro in 1808 to avoid Napoleon he started art academies in Brazil. Much of the art is in Rio de Janeiro, but some of it was collected at the Pinacoteca in São Paulo.

Art lovers at the Pinacoteca
Diane and a flower pot 
Sailing high and dry
 We loved looking at the great Brazilian art. There were many landscape paintings as well as Brazilian life and Modernist art. Here are some of our favorites.

View of Sugar Loaf from Sylvester Road by Charles Landseer
O Violeiro by Almeida Júnior
O Mamoeiro by Tarsal do Amaral
We actually had several museums we were going to visit, but the Pinacoteca took long enough we decided to save the others for another day. We went to restaurant on the 41st floor of the Edifício Itália for lunch. It is one of the tallest buildings in São Paulo and has a spectacular view of the city in all directions. Actually São Paulo goes on and on in all directions.
Edifício Itália
View of São Paulo
 We didn't have reservations so we had to wait about 45 minutes, which wasn't bad because of the view.
Sister Hale and Sister Wheeler waiting for lunch
Overlooking São Paulo
Eating at a high-class restaurant
What? A tinfoil dinner?
São Paulo in a different direction
Girl playing the drums in the lounge
Tourist ad in the Praça de Rebública
Since we didn't get to see all of the museums on Friday we returned on Saturday. We took a walk through Praça da Luz to see some of the Modernist sculptures.

Fita by Franz Weissmann
Fountain in the park
Sem Título by Nobu Mitsunashi
Waterfall in the park
 We then went to see Estação Pinacoteca, which is an extension of the Pinacoteca museum. The ground floor was the Resistance Memorial of São Paulo. The second floor was more Modernist art. The fourth floor was art by the of African descent.
São Paulo Resistance Memorial
How many squares do you see in this picture?
 This was a very seedy section of town (not in an agricultural way). The entire walkway in front of the museum was lined with homeless people sleeping off their stupor. This would be a very dangerous place at night.
The Estação Pinacoteca "hotel"
 In one of the metro stations we saw a little diversity museum. It wasn't until we went inside that we found out it was a sexual-diversity museum.
So much for diversity
 Today is Easter Sunday. Toward the end of the week I got a call from the Executive Secretary inviting me to give a short talk for Sacrament Meeting. It was a good experience. The bishop had a lot of time left for his talk.
Our Easter baskets
It has been a good week, especially with Diane's foot getting better (until she twisted it on an uneven sidewalk and hurt the inside of the ankle).

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Autumn is here

Monday was our one year mark in Brazil. We have passed through all the seasons and Fall officially arrived (again) on Saturday.

We have a new employee in the ICS department. His name is Daniel. He is also an STS for the Santos stake. When someone new arrives they seat him on a stool and ask a lot of questions (like do you prefer an iPhone or Android) to get to know him better.
Daniel on the hot seat
We finally finished watching our Korean soap opera, "You Are Beautiful". Even though we don't understand Korean there are English subtitles. The programs are so cute they are funny, unlike the American programs that are often crude.

We passed St. Patrick's Day without incident, but I did enjoy the Blarney Stones Diane made. 

We don't know if you have been getting news from Brazil, but there is a huge national crisis going on. The Brazilian government is known for its scandals and one of the biggest has been uncovered lately. It makes Watergate look like a swimming party. It started with large contractors secretly meeting to overcharge Petrobras (a government-owned energy company) then using part of the excess money to bribe Petrobras  directors and government officials. A couple of weeks ago the special prosecutor uncovered evidence against Lula (the former President of Brazil) so Dilma (the current president of Brazil and Lula's protege) appointed him as a Chief of Staff to shield him from prosecution. If this last sentence sounds confusing, it is not nearly as confusing as what is going on in Brazil. The result was massive demonstrations (over a million people) protesting against or supporting the government. 

The sun sets on Brazil
We were planning to visit some museums at Parque da Luz on Saturday, but felt it wise not to go downtown. We went to Embu instead.

The American mob catches a bus
Let's look at Brazilian shirts 
Missionary eating lion
Tall, skinny giraffes
 After lunch in a German restaurant we headed back to São Paulo.
Handcart pioneer?
Feira at the bus stop
In the evening Diane attended the Relief Society birthday activity. She didn't understand everything, but said she enjoyed it. This morning the Relief Society president talked with us to see if she had a good time. We told her that it was simple, but very nice, just like church activities should be.
Refreshments at the Relief Society birthday activity
They finally got the wireless mics working for Sunday School so we can hear what is being said. Since it represents meetinghouse technology, I couldn't help taking a picture of a ward member reading a scripture for the class.

High-tech Sunday School class
We spent much of the week getting our files on the computer organized so we (and someone else) can hopefully figure out what we are doing.

Sunday, March 13, 2016


We didn't spend as much time in the office this week as we normally do. On Monday we went down town to get our CPF (like a social security card). We went about a year without one, even though they ask for it every time we buy groceries. We will need one for medical receipts. Last Friday we took our documentation to the post office (close to the apartments) and paid our fees (about $1.75 each) and got a receipt. On Monday we went to Shopping Light downtown and picked up our CPF numbers. We didn't get back to the office until after noon. We saw some areas of São Paulo we hadn't seen before.
Sculpture in a city park
Municipal Theater
After returning from downtown we went to pick up the results of Diane's blood tests. They finally found them and we got to the office about 3 pm. At least it was in time for Family Home Evening.

Tuesday was the day for Diane's MRI. We had an appointment for 12:30 pm, but didn't get in until about 2:30 pm. We finished about 3:45 pm and got something to eat to hold us over until dinner.

Isn't she cute in her MRI outfit?
Diane's laptop has had problems picking up WiFi so she took it to the office. She downloaded instructions from the Internet which told her how to open the laptop and check the WiFi card. Swapping cards helped it work in the office, but it still has problems in the apartment. Wednesday afternoon we went to ElDorado Shopping to look for possible video cameras stakes can purchase for webcast. We didn't find any, but had a good break. As we were leaving we saw two security men chasing a man who must have stolen something. He jumped a barrier and got away, but lost his flip-flops in the process.
Easter table setting at El Dorado Shopping
On Wednesday evenings we meet with Christa and Allen for practicing English as part of the Pathway Program. They are doing very well.

Crista and Allen
We got word that Paulo needed to run some errands on Thursday so we decided to go with him to price video cameras. He first took us to Shopping Morumbi, a very high-class mall.

High tech at Shopping Morumbi
 The city was building a monorail system. There was a big fraud scandal with the contractor so the construction stopped. We don't know when (or if) it will start again. Meanwhile we have some giant sculptures in the district of Brooklin.
The Brooklin corruption sculpture
We then went to Ifigênia street, famous for electronics shops. You can find anything on Ifigênia street (if it is related to technology) in one of the many small shops along the street. Sure enough, I was able to find and price the video cameras we wanted. The street is crowded with a lot of people yelling  to attract your attention for their wares.

Ifigênia Street

Electronics wonderland
 Paulo then had to deliver some papers in a rougher section of town. It was good to have him as a body guard, however, he dislikes the city even more than we do.

Urban living
Amplified salesman
We didn't get back until it was time to return to the apartment. We returned in the rain, which continued most of the night.

Friday morning we went to the hospital to pick up the MRI report. We had a 2:30 pm meeting with the doctor to tell us the results. Sure enough, Diane broke her ankle about 3 months ago and it has fused together. She needs physical therapy to help it heal and to reduce the pain. 

We had another excursion on Saturday with the senior couples. We went to Holambra, about 2-hours out of São Paulo. It is a little Dutch town known for flowers. About half of the cut flowers in Brazil come from Holambra. We went in a 15-passanger van to Holumbra where we picked up a small school bus (yes, it was crowded because it was designed for children) for a small tour of the city.
Flower farm
Lots of flowers
Our school bus
Modern farming
 After visiting the flowers we went into the town to look at a windmill, have lunch, and look in the gift shops.
Holumbria windmill
Pretty flower in town
Look what we found for Kamary
 There was a family of Capaveras in the city park. It is the largest living rodent. Some people use them for pets.
Capavera family
 We then got back in the larger van for our 2-hour trip back to São Paulo to get home in time for the evening session of stake conference.
Gateway out of the city
Our stake president (São Paulo stake) has been called as a mission president in Angola so he was released this conference. Elder Aidukaitis presided at the conference. He always speaks with a lot of excitement. He has a heavy gaúcho accent, but excellent grammar. He gave a masterpiece talk on Saturday about the Savior and how we all showed faith in him in our pre-mortal life. Those who asked, "what if he fails?" didn't make it to their second estate. He also gave an excellent talk about self-sufficiency on Sunday. I didn't expect to know any of the new presidency, but I knew them all. President Ret, the new stake president was the 2nd counselor and is in our ward. The first counselor is also in our ward and sits on the bench in front of us most Sundays. The second counselor is the Director of Temporal Affairs (DTA) for the area. 
Pres Ret is the one singing with his iPad
Even though we didn't do a lot in the office this week we were kept busy. We'll see what next week brings.