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 Po├žos 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

Monday, April 17, 2017

Mission Life

Hello Dear Family and Friends!

It's been another amazing few weeks.  It's always fun, uplifting and inspiring to spend time with the missionaries.  Add to that equation General Conference and the Mission President's Seminar and life couldn't get much better!

We loved gathering in the Stake Center with the members and local missionaries.  There's a room where the talks are transmitted in English.  I go there because i love to hear their voices.  After conference we gathered all of the local missionaries and had a little conference recap where we all shared some thoughts and insights from conference.  This is something we always do at home with our family so we've started this tradition with our mission family.  So great to hear their insights!

This last weekend all of the mission presidents serving in Brazil gathered for our semi-annual training.  I've come to look forward to this so much.  It's so much fun to be with Paulo and Jalayne.  We've also made a lot of other friends and it's so great to be able to pick their brains and share ideas.  The training is always inspiring and uplifting and I leave ready to tackle the world.

Yesterday was transfer day.  We received 12 new missionaries.  One is from the Philippines.  That's a new one for us.  I guess we were supposed to get two but one is waiting on a visa.  I guess it's not just the American missionaries that have trouble with that.

They arrived first thing in the morning, were "trained" here in the mission home.  After a morning of training they met their new companions and we had a barbecue together with the missionaries that were going home.   From there we went to the bus station, the hub of transfer day.  Seems like almost all of the missionaries pass through there on their way to new areas.  It's really fun to see them all together!  From there we went to the temple with those who left today.  It was a long, but a rewarding and happy day.

We love you all and are grateful for your love and support.  We definitely feel it!

 Departing sisters

 JaLayne and Paulo at the mission president's conference

 The Lisonbee's, JaLayne and Paulo at the mission president's conference

 Paulo and Dad (and then everyone) in front of where the "new" mission home was (Grandpa's time- 50's/60's)

The view from our bedroom window