Sunday, November 27, 2011

It's a Girl!

Well, maybe she doesn't look too much like a girl yet, but she will. Meet baby Amber, our tenth grandchild. The proud parents are Brittney and Jake Nielson. Brittney is due in April. If we happen to have any weddings taking place, maybe I can home for the birth.

One of the biggest blessings I am thankful for is the technology we have to keep in touch with our family while we're away. I love Skype! I was able to be part of the exciting moment when Brittney, in Las Vegas, found out through an ultrasound that she is having a girl. Her cousin Jenny used her cell phone to Skype with us so we could find out at the same time they did. They were on a girls' trip with all the cousins and Grandma Hart, so there were about 20 of them all crowded in the room to find out the fun news.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Our "Formidavel " Mission

The joke right now in our mission is how much Jim uses the word "formidavel." It means great or wonderful. The missionaries made up a tee-shirt to make fun of it.

The sisters also made up a version too.

Zone Activities

We asked all of our zones to hold a zone activity to try to create more unity in the zones. We got invited to attend this one.

They had a fun barbeque at a church institute in Feira.

Is that President Hart in the game?

The sisters are fixing lunch.

The Wedding Planners

Our mission is not much different than Kevin's and Zach's in that we have the same challenges in getting people married before they can be baptised.

It's such a beautiful thing to see a couple get married and start on the road to becoming an eternal family. Both the bride and groom were in tears.

Fun Ward Activities

The ward activities have been pretty impressive. This one was headed up by the missionaries. It's a night where the ward members come to compete in teams and they earn points for certain things like bringing an investigator, coming as a family, coming on time, etc.

In this activity the ward members were asked church related questions and if they couldn't answer they got a plate of pie in the face. Sounds like an activity created by missionaries, doesn't it? The ward goes crazy over it though.

This was a fun primary birthday party where all the kids came in costume. Most were Disney princesses. Little girls are the same everywhere, aren't they?

They had really gone to a lot of work to decorate the chapel really cute. It's impressive because it's not really easy for these members to come to the church on another day besides Sunday. They usually have to take a long walk or bus ride at night to get there. But they love getting together. The difficulty in travel makes it a real challenge to start any event on time.

Dinner Guests

One of the sweetest things about our mission is being invited to eat at members' homes. When we speak at a ward we usually get invited over to the bishop's house for lunch. This is always such a wonderful opportunity to meet these humble families and to hear their conversion stories. The wives are very wonderful homemakers and cooks.

I love the little kids. They are so much fun and usually come and stare at me and ask where I came from. Then they ask me to say something and they start laughing.

Here was how pretty the dinner looked on the table.

My New Hairdresser

Jim has really taken on some new duties here on our mission. He is now my hairdresser. Between the two of us we have been managing to color my hair. He also has to drive me everywhere which means he is the main grocery shopper. I can't communicate with the store clerks yet, so he has to interpret for me. He's been a pretty good sport.

Subjects for Paintings

It seems like everywhere I look there is a painting waiting to be painted. The people and where they live are so interesting to me.

The Road to Eternity Nov. 19, 2011

We got invited to attend a really nice ward activity that was about eternal marriage and families. The ward members had invited 20 nonmember couples to come to the ward for dinner (I think they had about 11 who came) and a program about families. Jim was the main speaker. He spoke about our church's teachings on the family and our position on the nature of God being our literal father. He gave quite a gutsy talk to people who were not members of our church. After he finished there was dead silence. Then suddenly the room burst into loud applause. It was pretty funny.

The ward members had really decorated the chapel. They had set up tables and used pretty table and chair covers. They even had these cute little favors they gave to everyone after the dinner.

This is the Bishop of the ward and his wife and family. He is very young. We were so impressed with the missionary work they are doing in their ward.

Our Distinguished and Mature Office Staff

Elder Morgan's mom sent these in the mail for Halloween. (The mustaches, that is.)

Push up Contest

Now not only do I have to treat ingrown toenails, but probably heart attacks as well. Who instigated such a ritual? President Hart. The winner, Elder Morgan is shown here finishing his 80th pushup. The missionaires really got into it--one of them grabbed the microphone and started calling it like a soccer game.

I think if you look hard you will see President Hart in the running...

Sisters P-Day

One of the first things the sister missionaries wanted to do was to get together at the mission home. So we had them come over on their P-Day and had a get to know you activity. We have the cutest Sister missionaries!

Cinnamon Rolls

Sister Turner and Sister Davis (two sisters on left) called and asked for my cinnamon roll recipe. They tried to make them but they didn't work. They were so sad, that I had to invite them to come over on their P-Day to show them how to make them.

Sister Davis is buttering the dough.

The finished product was delicious! Val, I'm getting lots of use out of my cute apron. From left to right, Sister Marciano, Sister Pratt, Sister Turner, me and Sister Davis. The office Elders came over to work on the transfer with Jim, so they kept coming in to assess the progress of the cinnamon buns. Of course they were done in time for them to have some too.

Stake Women's Conference Nov. 19, 2011

I was invited to speak at a Stake Women's Conference on The Role of Women in the Church. It was a twenty minute talk and I decided to give it in Portuguese! (I read it, however.) I realized that all the Ensigns are online in Portuguese so I can just download a conference talk or an article and select the story or example I want to share. Then I have Jim help me learn how to read it and then we link all the examples together with a few sentences. I realized this is a way that I am able to "receive the gift of tongues" through the marvelous technology we have. I'm standing with the choir and the Stake Relief Society President (in back of the little girl in pink). It was really just as nice a women's conference as you would find in Utah.

They gave me a pink rose at the end.

There were these darling little girls in white who did a little skit about angels.

Even Utah had nothing over their centerpieces. The two sisters in back are Sister Davis and Sister Oliveira. Sister Davis has a beautiful voice and sang two solos.

Missionary Mail!

One of the most exciting things for a missionary is getting mission mail! Oh and look, my package is even labeled "Grandma's."

Brittney has been so good to send all the stuff that I now know I should have sent down from home.

Bridger even colored some pictures for us. Jim's got more coloring because it had a horsey in it.

We even got a nice package from Japan! Grandpa Smith sends us lots of articles from the newspaper to read which is always fun.

Ty and Kathy sent us some fun things from Japan!

The "Assistants to the Mission Mom"

Here's a new one for the innovations and deviations to church policies department...two of our sister missionaries think sisters should be able to be assistants...but since that's not allowed they at least want to be body guards to the mission mom. They're too funny!

Thanksgiving in Brazil

We invited all of the office staff over for Thanksgiving dinner and really had a fun day with them. I think they were excited to get to celebrate Thanksgiving. Jim and I were glad to have some company so we didn't feel too homesick. It was an interesting experience to cook the whole dinner by myself. It took two full days. Some of the things I couldn't find were cranberry sauce, celery for stuffing, French's onion rings for the bean casserole, cooking bags turkey size, whipping cream, and yams. But we did OK otherwise and it did seem like Thanksgiving.

Making the pies was an interesting experience. There is no canned pumpkin here so I had to make the pumpkin pie starting from a pumpkin. That was an ordeal but it turned out really good. I also made cocoanut cream and apple pie.

My centerpiece was simple but looked sort of like fall.

This is what the place setting looked like. And yes, I made the elders do jobs according to what little picture they had under their plate. We also told a kids version of the First Thanksgiving so the Brazilians would know what it was all about.

Here's my goofy little turkey favors. They were really cute on the web, with candy corn for the feathers, but of course, no luck finding those here.

Mission Presidents Conference in São Paulo Nov. 4-6 2011

Twice a year all of the mission presidents and wives meet in Sao Paulo for a conference. We are with Elder David Evans who is the new director of the church missionary department and his wife. Elder Evans is the brother of Brittney's mission president, Peter Evans, so they suggested we take a picture for him and Brittney.

This photo is for Scott and Lori's benefit. This is a couple from their ward, the Swensons. They are serving in Southern Brazil.

This was really the highlight of the week end for us. The couple in front is Jim's mission president and his wife, George and Jeanette Oakes. They are serving as temple President and Matron of the Campinus temple here in Brazil. We got to have dinner with them while we were at the seminar.

The four men in the back are former missionaries from Jim's mission. The second one from the right is Gordon Hall who is a current mission president in Talmage's old mission. He and his wife Janis are close friend of ours, so it has been fun to be in contact with them.

The conference was held in a very fancy hotel and it was already decorated for Christmas on the first weekend in November. It's pretty interesting that the Oakes have had fourteen of their former missionaries called as mission presidents. Not too many men Jim's age still have their mission president living. President Oakes was only 35 when he was called as a mission president, so he was not all that much older than his missionaries. He and his wife are both converts to the church and have now served four times in Brazil in various capacities. Jim will be forever thankful for their influence on his life.

Sisters Christmas P-Day

We had the most fun day decorating the mission home for Christmas with all of the sister missionaries helping.

Here is the whole group at the end of our P-Day with each other.

We got to have lunch together.

Here are the Three Wise Women. Two of these sisters were so excited to see my nativity set because they said their moms have the same one. It made them homesick.

Some of the sisters took naps.

Some were excited to play the Christmas music I brought down.

Some of the sisters made up a funny Christmas song about our mission. They performed it for us.

With what limited resources I had to work with my table turned out pretty festive!

Is that President Hart wrapping the gifts? He was a good helper.

I gave the sisters these little kleenex holders I made out of some sister missionary fabric I brought down.

They turned out cute and I put a little poem with them.

I'm glad I ended up sending a sewing machine down.