Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Hello Family and Friends!

Merry Christmas!  We're doing our best to make it feel like Christmas here but this morning when I went running it was 24 degrees when I left and 32 when I got home about an hour later.  The only problem is that's in Celsius!  We have a tree and we constantly listen to Christmas music which helps.  Last night we had a sweet experience.  We attended a concert of several choirs, most of them from various churches in the area.  It was all Christmas music, even a rendition of It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas in English which was excellent.  Of course we were represented and a women's choir sang The Nativity Song from the Primary Songbook with children acting all of the parts.  Then they sang I'm Trying to be Like Jesus.  It was beautifully done and we felt well represented!  The Spirit was sweet and strong.

We're getting ready for our Christmas Zone Conferences next week.  We had transfers this week so now the missionaries are scrambling to put together a song or skit with their new zones.  

Last month we had a leadership council where we had the zones do skits.  I laughed until I cried.  Our Zone Conference should be fun.  We also have some amazing musical talent that will be presenting.  We're planning on having a lot of fun and also feeling the spirit of Christmas in our hearts.

Until a couple of months ago all of our assistants have been Brazilian.  Howard called an American a couple of transfers ago and another one this transfer.  We love our Brazilians, our Hispanics and our Fillipinos every bit as much as our Americans, but it's been fun for me to have two BYU fans around!

We are so grateful for the privilege we have of serving the Lord here in Brazil!  We are grateful for all of the young men and women who have sacrificed this time in their lives to serve here with us and we are grateful for all of the families who give them the love and support they need and deserve.  And we are thankful to you, our family and friends, who constantly support us with your love and prayers.

May you have the spirit of Christmas, the spirit of love and of Christ in your hearts and homes this Christmas Season.

Love, Lissa

A visit from Elder Kasdon!

Choir concert

Our new missionary couple, David and Kathryn Pierce

The oldies but goodies

Always sad to see them go!

Happy birthday to me!

Wedding of one of our missionaries

Wonderful time with Sonia!

Good times with good friends and family at the mission presidents seminar

Missionaries leaving and former missionary friends who came to say goodbye

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Life in Piracicaba

Hello Family and Friends!

Time runs by so quickly and I don't write and then all of a sudden something like tonight happens and I realize that I need to save and share it.

We have lots of opportunities to see the struggles and frailties of the ward, branches and stakes here and sometimes it gets discouraging and I wonder what we're doing here.

Today was Leadership Council where the area seventy meets with Howard and all of the stake presidents.  Afterwards Elder Rais, the Seventy, held a meeting for all of the ward councils in the mission.  We have eight stakes and one district in our mission with areas up to 2 1/2 hours away.  And they came.  On a Sunday afternoon they left their families and came.  Some came in rented buses.  One bus broke down and that stake never made it.  But the chapel and cultural hall were packed.  Every chair in the building was used to fill the aisles and every inch of space in the room.  I'm sure we would've been considered a fire hazard.  There were people standing outside the windows looking in and listening.  My heart was full!  These are saints who are dedicated to the gospel.  They are willing to sacrifice for the building of the kingdom.  We will grow and we will have success here in Piracicaba!

August flew by.  The highlight was having Michael here for the month.  It was so wonderful to spend that time with him.  We also had a mission conference with Elder Campos from the Seventy.  To be honest I was a little resentful of his visiting while Michael was here, not that he knew.  But I just wanted to focus on Michael and not all of the planning and doing of a mission conference.  But what a sweet experience it turned out to be.  What a wise, kind and loving man.  Our mission received another shot in the arm as a result of his visit.

This month has been a month where we're focusing on obedience.  We touch on obedience often and it's disheartening to find the level of obedience in the mission is not as high as we hoped or desired.  But we're tackling this head on and every missionary in the mission has signed a contract to be 100% obedient.  Every leader has made a verbal commitment and we will be focusing on obedience and integrity at our upcoming zone conferences.  We have confidence that as our obedience increases so will our success.

As your days in the US are getting shorter and cooler, ours are getting longer and warmer.  Our winter was pleasant, our spring has been spectacular with the trees in bloom and now I'm psyching myself up for another sweltering summer.  I have been unable to run because of tendinitis in my hip.  I hope to be able to start again in the next few weeks but am rather sad that I missed the more comfortable cooler months to run and will be running in the heat again.  Oh well.  At least I hope I'll be able to run.

We love and miss you all and are grateful for your love and support!



My updated Vovó (grandma) wall with all of my grandkids

Leaving missionaries

Arriving missionaries

Sister Morgan (a sister who has returned home from our mission) visiting with Ashley's family. She fell in love with Mae. Who wouldn't??

Sunset from our balcony

Hanging out with the monkeys Pocos de Caldas

Visiting family in Sao Paulo while Michael was in town

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

August Already?

Hello dear family and friends!

I can't believe it's almost August.  I had intended to write a one year anniversary letter but before i knew it here we are at the end of July.  Hard to believe we've already been here a year. The only thing that makes the passing of time seem real is seeing pictures of my grandchildren and how much they've grown.

And speaking of grandchildren, we welcomed two more to our family recently.  On June 26th Elsie Lucia Bangerter joined Nick and Gina and two adoring brothers and on July 8th Jett David Bangerter Jones joined Amy and Dave and two adoring sisters.  It's uncanny the way Amy and Gina "plan" these things.

Our schedule seems pretty redundant.  Add the end of June we said a sad good-bye to another group of wonderful missionaries.  We really get close to these missionaries and it really is hard to let them go.  It's knowing that the best is still ahead that makes it easier to watch them take this step.  Then we received a new group of wonderful missionaries to add to our mission family and army.

From there it was Leadership Council, zone conferences and interviews.  And then we repeat.  Redundant but anything but boring and unsatisfying.  We love all of the chances we have to interact with our missionaries.

I've figured out a way in our crazy schedule to go out with the sisters three times a transfer.  We have three pairs of sisters relatively close so I get to work with each pair once a transfer.  It's been a joy to spend time with them and bare testimony of the restored gospel.

In July we participated in three Festa Julinas.  Everyone (except us) dresses up like hillbillies. There's food and treats and dancing.  The standards seem to be corn on the cob, popcorn, cuscus and lots of cakes and candies.  There's also this wonderful hot drink that is a lot like wassail but it has ginger in it and burns as it goes down.  I love it!

This month we received our first official full time senior couple-the Wagers!  I met them before we came on our mission in a truly miraculous manner.  Sheyla is from Piracicaba.  Rich served a mission here in Brazil.  They met and married in Utah but returned and lived here in Piracicaba for seven years where Rich served as bishop. They have already saved our bacon more than once and its so nice to have someone here who can bridge both worlds so easily!  Now we're just waiting for the Pierces to get their call.

A couple of Mondays ago we had one of our most memorable P-Days.  Since we had interviews in Pocos de Caldas on Tuesday, we went Monday morning and, met up with most of the zone.  We had some typical street food and then hiked up to the Cristo Redentor.  Its a good hike and we hiked through forest with monkeys and these ring tailed things that I'm not sure what they are.  We took pictures at the top and enjoyed the view and then we took the tram down.  Many of the missionaries had never ridden in a tram before.  It was an adventure for all of us.  At the bottom we bought hamburgers from a food truck and sent them off to work.  It was a great day, doing something I love with people I love.

I'm taking Portuguese lessons!  I'm tired of not being able to adequately express myself and continuing to make the same mistakes.  I'm learning a lot and hope someday to become comfortable enough to actually not panic when I need to give a talk, which is about every week.

We love and miss you all and pray for you.  We feel your prayers for us!

Much love,

Festa Julia Botucatu


Smokestack a Engenho Central, Piracicaba


First church meeting of new Araras group


Americana interviews


Activity in Poços de Caldas

A visit from Sister Janser, Piracicaba bus station 


Missionaries in Pirassununga


Baptisms in Capivari


Festa Jau

Nick, Gina, and baby Elsie


Jonas (4), Derek (2), and baby Elsie

Derek, Jonas, and Elsie


Amy and baby Jett

 Dave and baby Jett

Gigi (2), Coco (4), and baby Jett 


Gigi, Coco, and Jett


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Hello again from Piracicaba!

Dear Family and Friends!

How time flies when you're having fun and we are definitely having fun!  I don't mark time by months anymore.  I hardly know what month it is and I really have a hard time keeping track of the seasons but time is marked by transfers.  Each transfer seems to zip by and we sadly say good-bye to missionaries who have become like family to us and happily welcome new members to our ever growing family!

This last transfer we had the privilege of having Sister Neill Marriott come visit our mission.  She is as charming, delightful and wise in person as she is when she speaks in conference.  We had a brief but wonderful time with her and her husband.

During interviews this time I had the chance to visit some cities in the mission that I was not yet acquainted withand make some new friends.  Always fun.

We see miracles happening all over the mission.  Howard started making a file and he already has over 100 pages just for 2017.  Some of these are happening within the families of our missionaries.  One Sister left on her mission without her parents even being married.  Within the first couple of months of her mission her parents were married, baptized, and now her mother is serving in the Primary presidency in her ward.  Others have parents who are receiving the lessons, or feeding the missionaries, parents who would have nothing to do with the church before their missions.  We still have some missionaries who receive no support from their families and we constantly pray that their hearts will be softened.  We are seeing people just show up at church and wanting to be taught and baptized and people who are praying for guidance and the truth and having the missionaries knock on their doors the very next day.

We are also strengthened by the faith of the members here.  Yesterday we heard of a sister in one of the branches here who can't afford the bus fare to attend church every week, but she attends once a month so she can partake of the sacrament and pay her tithing.

I guess it's winter here.  We had one day last week where it didn't get out of the 60s but for the most part we're in the 80s.  It is cooler in the mornings, usually low 60s, which makes running a little easier.  Except I did something to my hip.  I think It's tendinitis.  Fortunately these next four weeks are super busy and I wouldn't have time to run much anyway.  Hopefully with a little rest I'll be good as new soon.  

This last weekend I had to do a 50 minute training to YW leaders on chastity and then give two talks.  Way out of my comfort zone.  I wore the bracelets my children gave me for Mother's Day and some special earrings from special friends.  They gave me strength and courage, knowing I have people loving, supporting and praying for me.  I think all went well.  Howard in the meantime gave four talks.  He's amazing.  He gathers ideas as he sits on the stand and then gives an amazing and inspiring talk on whatever he is guided to say.  Yesterday we were invited to a Forum on Religious Freedom at one of the Stake Centers.  We only found out about it yesterday morning and with a really busy day we didn't even know if we'd make it.  There were two other pastors speaking and the stake president.  Partway through the meeting the counselor in the stake presidency leaned over and asked Howard to say a few words.  He knocked it out of the park!

As far as family goes, we should have two new grandchildren in the next few weeks!  So excited.  Michael is going to Alaska to stay with Sonia and Wilson until he comes to Brazil for the month of August.  Daniel graduated from SVU and has taken a job teaching math at a jr. high in Arizona.

We're loving Brazil, our home base of Piracicaba, the people, the language, the food, the missionaries.  We feel very blessed and very humbled to have this opportunity.

We love and miss you all!


Two stalwarts in Avare


Capivari elders and sugar cane harvest

Lara's baptism and 8th birthday party

Lissa near her favorite smoke stack

Sister at mission ropes course

Ropes Course

So long Sister!

Visit to Roberto's home and family just before his baptism

5 great ones headed home

Welcome to Piracicaba!

Silvana's daughter's baptism and family!

Pres. Lima's food storage

In front of Avare Christo Redentor

Playing Uno with headlamps during a rare power outage

4 generations of stalwarts from the old days in the 60's

Setting apart another Brazilian elder from Botucatu

Pioneers of the addiction recovery program in Rio Clara

In front of the Piracicaba Falls near flood stage

Lunch with 4 generations of Toyamas in Pocos de Caldas

Mission conference with Sister and Brother Marriott

Mission conference with Sister and Brother Marriott

Leadership council

Leadership council

Leadership council

Leadership Council