Monday, April 30, 2012

What a difference a week makes.

This past week was a great improvement over the week before.

For those who are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I want to explain that we believe in living prophets and apostles. The heavens are not sealed and we receive revelation from God. On Monday one of those twelve apostles spoke to a group of people who are responsible for the affairs of the church in Brazil. We were invited to attend also. Jeffery R. Holland came and addressed us. It was a great meeting. He talked about the growth of the church and our responsibilities.
(I did not take this picture. It is from a Church News file.)

After the meeting 5 couples, including us, went out to dinner. We went to a pizza place that is unlike any other pizza place I have been. If you have been to a Brazilian churrasqueira (think Rodisio's or Tucano's) you will get the concept. They have a buffet with salads, rice, beans, etc. Then when you are seated at your table they bring around all kinds of pizza and you choose if you want that kind or not. The pizza crust is thin and crispy and the toppings were creative. I liked most every kind I tried except for the tuna. If I had know it was tuna I would not of tried it. After the main course pizzas they bring out the dessert pizzas. Those were pretty tasty too. The food was good but the company was even better. It was a most delightful evening.

My week at the temple went much better than the week before. It seems the word has gone out that I can do stuff and they put me to work. My language skills are improving, not a lot by any means but still improving. I am able to communicate a little more and I have taken on the challenge to initiate a conversation. Many are willing to try to understand what the heck I am saying. Sometimes I even wonder what the heck I am saying. I am constantly being tripped up by the feminine or masculine form of a word. How is a pen feminine and a pencil masculine?

All in all life is good and going well. I hope the same is happening in your life. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Saturday at the temple

Saturdays are the busiest day at the temple. We have lots of people come on buses from quite a ways away. (See that big building in the upper right? That is a big mall. It has a McDonald's in it. Haven't eaten there yet.)

The parking lot is always full to overflowing. They park in non-parking places but they always leave at least one lane open. I like the little painted round-about.

It is always fun to see the weddings with family members there. Yesterday there were groups of very young kids visiting the grounds. It looked like a Primary group. Everyone is so happy. It put a smile on my face when I was going into work.

You win some, you lose some

We are working at the Sao Paulo temple five days a week. On Tuesday and Wednesday we are there from 7:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. On Thursday and Friday our hours are 2:30 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday the temple closes early so our hours are 12:00-7:30 p.m.  The temple has three shifts of local workers a day. We go longer because that is what we are here to do. We usually overlap a shift and a half. Therein lies the problem that I had this week. For every shift I had to try to explain what I could do and what I couldn't do. Every shift I was having to prove what I was capable of. I would make it through one shift, the people would change and I was back to square one. Some were more understanding than others.

I did have one victory that was notable. Before coming here I worked very hard to learn what I could do in Portuguese. I may not know what each word means but by sheer rote I got it down with great pronunciation. My tutor drilled me on that. On day 2 at the temple I wanted to make sure I said it all correct so I asked  a sister to listen for what I could improve upon. There were about 3-4 other sisters sitting around and listening. I read through it and only tripped up on a couple of words. One of the sisters there said I knew how to speak Portuguese and could do anything. I said I could if I could read it. I must admit that most of what they say I haven't a clue but a smile and a hug goes a long way. Later in the day the temple presidents wife told me about a sister who came into the recorders office and was going on and on about how good I could speak.

I had other small victories but a lot of frustrations which come with not speaking so well. I think my biggest frustration was when I was put in a room and told to study. I think I held a pity party with only me in attendance. Finally I told my self to get over it, that I have done many hard things in my life and I could do this. I think this next week is going to be easier because they know I am there and I have figured out some phrases to explain more what the situation is.

In church today I understood one of the talks and not much of the other two. I'll catch a word or a phrase here and there. One of the problems is that they talk so fast. I am catching a verb and thinking, OH! that's past tense, preterite. That is an improvement from a week ago.

How about a picture of our apartment building? If you look just to the left of the green garbage can you will see our apartment.

Monday, April 16, 2012

First Sunday in Brazil

Today we attended our first Sunday meetings here in Brazil. The temple president, stopped by our apt. to pick us up (he lives on the fourth floor and we live on the second) and go to church. The commute is quite easy. This picture shows it best. It was taken looking out of our living room window. See the cone shaped tree in the middle? The temple is to the left of that tree and the church is to the right of the tree. I think we have to walk all of about 50 yards.

The sacrament meeting was a fast and testimony meeting which is a good thing. Part of my language training focused on testimony. Many people used phrases that I knew. Yea! Then we moved onto Sunday School. Not so many known phrases there. Boo!

In Relief Society the meeting began with the usual announcements (I think) when I saw several sisters pointing at me. I figured it was stand and introduce yourself time. So I stood and said in Portuguese "My name is Sister Stephenson. I am a temple missionary." Now it wasn't very smooth. Several pauses were included. I noticed the sisters leaning forward and hoping for the best. When I finished and sat down a sister near me applauded softly. That made me laugh. They so want me to succeed. I didn't get a whole lot out of the lesson but I knew what the topic was. I had a sister sitting next to me who could speak some English and she kept me up to speed as to what was going on.

After church Pres. Neeleman (the temple president) asked if we would like to go see the temple. Since temples are closed on Sunday we had our own private tour. I wish I could take pictures to share how lovely it is. Anyway there are some wonderful stained glass panels and beautiful mahogany woodwork throughout.
The flow is really nice and I don't think I will get lost like I did when I started working in the Provo temple.
It was very special being there.

All in all it was a great beginning for our Brazilian service. 

The apartment

I am so blessed that often I feel guilty. When my parents went on their second mission there was a glitch and no one met them at the airport in Monte Video. When they received their assignment they had to go find a place to live and then gather stuff. We arrived, were met and given an apartment that has about everything we need. We even have the internet connection provided. Our electricity is 120 so all of our electronics do not need converters. 

Our apartment is about 500 sq. feet and has four rooms. A kitchen, living room, bedroom and bathroom.
When you come through the door you walk right into the kitchen and look directly into the living room. Yes, that is a TV. Senior couples have a lot more leeway than the young missionaries.

Our kitchen does not have an oven but we do have a toaster oven. That should make for some interesting baking. I need to convert Fahrenheit to Celsius. We have lovely granite counter tops.
This is all the stuff that was here. A new blender, citrus juicer, pots and pans, knives, silverware, dishes, cooking utensils, a cutting board, etc. All of it is new. A lot of money was spent to make us comfortable.

Back to the tour. This is our bedroom. After we unpacked our bags we still have empty shelves. That makes me happy. There were new sheets, bedspread, mattress pad, and towels provided. Our one challenge is that the closets are not that tall. Our coats do not fit. We are going to look for one of the door hangers that we can put our coats on.

The bathroom is all tiled. Actually all the floors in the apartment are tiled but the bathroom has tiled walls too. Most Brazilian homes only have hot water in the shower with an electric instantaneous shower head. We have hot and cold water available in the kitchen, bathroom sink and shower. That is very uncommon.

As you can see we will not be roughing it all. I have to share this last picture. It made me laugh. I noticed that I had a self portrait going on in a reflection on the microwave. I didn't notice it until I was editing the picture.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Our trip

On Friday morning, April 13, we gathered all of our suitcases and headed of to the MTC to catch the shuttle for the airport. We each had three suitcases. The best deal was that to Brazil the luggage limit is 70 pounds instead of the usual 50 pounds. Because of space limitation I had to jettison the Stars and Sprigs quilt so I ended up with just the Lollypop trees project. Anyway back to the story. We managed to get all the luggage in one car but then there was no room for Brad and Alisa who were taking the car back home. We ended up taking two cars.
After checking in with Delta and going through security we had three hours to wait. Mike and I pulled out our computers and started indexing the 1940's US census. I am having a kick with the Arizona one. I have been doing a bunch from Clifton. Mike prefers Utah. At noon we went looking for food. The SLC airport has changed vendors and many of the places we thought would be available were closed and the ones that were open were very crowded. We decided to walk to another concourse where there aren't as many people. I wanted to walk and not do the moving walkways. As I was going along I felt my skirt hitting lower and lower on my legs. Strange, I thought, I know this skirt is not that long. I looked down and my slip was about down around my ankles. I started to laugh and headed for a quiet corner where I just pulled the thing down and completely off. I stuffed it in my purse and went on. I  thought removing it was better than trying to pull it back up. That would involve exposing more than I cared to. My saving grace (if there was one) is that there weren't very many people around. Mike thought that I should recreate the episode with photos. I declined.  We have laughed about it so often since.

When we were boarded for Atlanta I pulled out my Kindle ready to read a novel I had been saving just for the trip. It was one I looked forward to with great anticipation. When I turned the Kindle on half of the screen was scrambled and the other half was an ad. I tried turning it off and on several times and nada. No change. Argh! Well, the movie was the second Sherlock Holmes movie which I hadn't seen. I love Robert Downey Jr. I dug out my earphones, plugged them in and nothing but static. The flight attendants were of no help either. Whole row out? Nothing can be done. Too bad. Argh! So I dug out my computer and did indexing while Mike read on his Kindle fire. I was so jealous.

The trip from Atlanta to Sao Paulo was better. I was able to watch "The Artist." It was a fun movie. The flight was 9 hours and I didn't get a bit of sleep in. I was very envious of the guy in front of me who slept the whole time. I pretended to sleep and hoped that would count for something. It really didn't help. We arrived sleep deprived, jet lagged and exhausted.

It was with great joy when we saw the two men holding signs for Elder and Sister Stephenson. They had been sent by the temple president in his wife's car that held all the luggage and four passengers. Driving the roads in Sao Paulo can be very exciting. I was so glad I wasn't behind the wheel. Listening to the two converse was interesting. I caught a few words here and there. Mike could keep up with pretty well. I try to speak when I can. It is really a lovely flowing language. The people seem to appreciate it when I try.

After we settled into our apartment we went exploring. We tried our hand at self photographing. I think the sleep deprivation shows on our face. Also note the curling hair. The high humidity is making my hair curl. So much for straight hair. This was taken outside the temple. Ned always does so well. I guess I need more practice.  We discovered the temple has camellia bushes and they are just now forming buds. Mike's mom loved camellias. We are looking forward to the blossoms.

 We wandered around the temple grounds and then noticed a Walmart was just down the block so we went to check it out. While exploring there a young woman called out to us. She noticed our name tags. She and her husband are LDS and they visited with Mike. She used some English with me. Her English was much better than my Portuguese. They were so kind.

I am glad to be here, be unpacked, and I am looking forward to sleeping in a bed. Man was not meant to sleep upright.

MTC places and people

We spent the first two weeks of April in and around the MTC (that's stands for Missionary Training Center). Our group of senior missionaries was one of the largest and numbered 93. We were divided into districts. Most had 8 - 4 couples. But when they got to the end of the alphabet they ran out of rooms and teachers so our group totaled 15. We had six couples and three single sisters. These people came from everywhere and were going everywhere.

Mike and I spent a lot of time with our Portuguese tutor Daniel Benson. He is off to law school at Duke in the fall. He was so patient with me. When I had a meltdown or two he picked me up, dusted me off, and then we got back to work learning Portuguese.

The spring flowers were out and they were just beautiful.

David Archuleta was in the MTC. Many were star struck but the guy was just trying to keep a low profile. One lady in our group asked if she could take a picture and he said he would rather not. Poor guy had to deal with that alot. I took pictures of flowers instead of David.

The week we spent training at the temple was wonderful. There were 25 of us temple missionaries. 12 couples and one single sister. Two couples were off to Cebu City Philippines Temple, one to the Freiberg Germany Temple, another to the Santiago Chile Temple. The single sister was going to Madrid Spain. Several couples were going to Washington DC temple and one to the Manhattan temple. They were a great bunch of people. No picture of the group.

We had a great time but were anxious to get on with our adventure.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

New Direction

I am hijacking my blog and it will be going in a new direction for the next 18 months. My husband and I are going to be serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We will be living in Sao Paulo, Brazil and working in the LDS temple there.

Since the first of December I have been going to Portuguese lessons with a private tutor three times a week. Oh my goodness, there are so many things I do not know. So many words, so little time. Fortunately my DH does speak Portuguese so we should be able to get along.

I will be taking along a couple of applique projects to work on in my spare time. I am wondering if I can get along without my sewing machine for 1 1/2 years. I guess I will find out.

The first project is Lollypop Trees.

 I love this pattern by Kim McLean. Since the first of the year I have collected a lot of bright florals. Most are Phillip Jacobs designs. Love them. I preshrunk them and had this mess:

After ironing them they tamed down to a small stack:

The second project is Stars and Sprigs also by Kim McLean.

 I will be using the same bright fabrics. If I get all the applique finished I figure I can hand piece the stars. So to prepare for that eventuality I pulled bright almost solids and cut a square to use. Aren't they pretty?
I am trying to maximize the space/weight that this will take in my suitcase. I figure it is about 10% of the weight allowed. I think it is justified. We will soon find out if it will all fit.

So if you want to hang around and find out how I manage in Brazil you are welcome to. I don't know how much quilty stuff will be talked about but I will post my progress.

Bom dia.

Long time, no post

A lot has happened since my last post. My vertigo abated some. It is still on the edges some days but nothing like the episode in August. I did a LOT of quilting for others. In  six months I quilted 35 quilts.  I regret that I didn't get pictures of all of them but I want to share a few of the ones I did take a picture of.

This is a small wallhanging.

Twenty-five patch with a large leaf meander over all. I really like how this turned out.
The name of this quilt is Wash Day. I love it.
I did do a few for me. First was a quick Halloween quilt I made to hang in my entry hall in October. It is made from the Wild Thing pattern.
Last of all I was able to get the two Halloween hexagon quilts made for my daughters-in-law for Christmas. They absolutely loved them. Score one for me. I quilted them in a spider web design.

For my stash report for the year 2011 I finished with 25 yards in the black. Woohoo. This year will be a lot different from last year. I will post more about that soon.