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. OnElsie 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!
Festa Julia Botucatu