Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Holiday Sorrow Softened

Well, I was having a bit of a pity-party.
Josh is working during the Halloween Party, and Thanksgiving, and Christmas-so he can be off on New Year's to go to Dallas for his brother's wedding (which me and kids probably won't attend b/c we can't afford to fly and don't have time to drive). And then he'll be off a week in February to attend a conference in Ft. Lauderdale and again we won't be joining him. So all of these holidays were just highlighting the yuckiness of a resident's schedule and had me in a bit of a tizzy.

Until I read this:

and now I have NOTHING to complain about.

Monday, October 19, 2009

100 and counting!

These are pictures from the wonderful family reunion/birthday party for Grandma Ruby. Grandma Ruby turned 100 on October 3rd. Her husband, Rosco Ivan McElderry, is how we picked up Ivan for our boy. She is Josh's great grandmother and great great grandmother to our children. She is fantastic and up to 97 knew me and could remember which kids went with me. She's having a bit of a struggle at 100, but there were lots of people to get straight. Below we have one family picture of one of her 7 kids' families. (yes we are praying-that is when someone snapped the picture-probably we were finally still!) So, six other families worth of people exist as well. Then, Josh's grandpa, her son giving her a kiss. This should win a photo contest. The sweetness, oh the sweetness. If I'm 100, will one of my boys be there to kiss me? I hope so! I insisted on 100 candles at least on one of the cakes!! The mayor came and presented her with a key to the city, but more touching was photos from her early years -- life is so beautiful and should be treasured.
What a special, rare, cherished time.

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p.s. this is my 100th post, fitting isn't it?

With Thankful Heart

I'm happy to report that Ivan's MRI today looked "normal". Normal, by the way, is a beautiful word. I always get nervous when he has these six month pictures done--wondering maybe, just maybe, that ugly tumor is starting up again--just one little cell got away...

So, it is always a great relief to hear that he's okay. We'll do this again in April. And October. Then maybe just in Octobers. I hope. I worry and worry and buy him special treats, and get movies, and wash his blanky, and pray. Oh, and worry (did I mention that?)

In addition to that, I took Orlando to his field trip. I made him a wonderful sack lunch, got him all excited, made sure he was dressed for the pumpkin patch and then took him to school at 8 when he usually goes in the afternoon....only to find out it is next week.

How embarrassing.
I blame it on stress. Somehow I got the MRI and the field trip on the same date in my head....

Sheesh, I thought Lando might make it to 4th or 5th grade before I started embarrassing him, I guess not!

Well, I'm thankful for my boys even if they may struggle with giving thanks for this scatter brained-worry-wart of a mom.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Life Changer (6-13 of 10?)

Learning Love.

Marcelo, Adriano, Josh, Lara, Ivone

Allison Smith (companion who helped teach) Solagne, Lara
Lara, Meroly w/family
Glaci, Sidney, Barbara, Allison, and Lara
These are my last life changing missionary experiences that I will share. Like the others in my list, they are in no particular order. I learned lessons from each of these wonderful people that I taught. Some of them I was with through all the lessons, others just for part. I did attend all their baptisms, pray with them and for them, and learn to love. Yes, I learned to love others; and it was the sweetest of all the things learned!
7. Thaís
She joined the church at just 14. She was our neighbor. She is doing well. Has a two year old and is currently dating an active member. I didn't have her contact information on the trip, but am now on a social network (Orkut-another form of Facebook) and we can keep in touch.
8. Meroly
Meroly has graduated nursing school and is married to a member. They attend church off and on and attended the temple celebration. It took a small miracle to find them when I returned. I believe in miracles.
9. Solange, Jose, Antonino, and Thaís
This family was the most different upon returning Thaís was no longer 6, she was 14 and dancing in the Temple, Antonio was great with the soccer ball. Solange had not joined the church when I met this family. A beautiful thing happened the day her husband came home and found her meeting "secretly" with the sisters. Lives were changed. They were sealed in São Paulo, now they can go to the Curitiba Temple!
10.Ivone, Marcelo, Adriano
I got to teach this family for a short time. They are not active. I was happy to find members who are keeping tabs on them, and were glad to have an excuse to go by their home. We had a wonderful visit. Some day, they will be back.
11. Glaci, Sidney, and Bárbara
The wonderful experience of teaching this family is not comparable to much else. This is the family Josh and I stayed with when we went down. They are fantastic. They have their trials, but are doing well. They were sealed in São Paulo. Additional family members have now joined the church. They are happy, better educated, newer home, and doing great. Their testimonies are strong and attending the temple dedication with them will always stand out as a special highlight in my life.

Sadly, I don't have contact with 12. Kelly or 13. Jonathan. But they are not forgotten.

Te Amo, Brasil!
Tenho Saudades....

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Life Changer (6 of 10)

I learned about food! And Generosity!

Churrasco's and Antartica Guarana!
The Piñhao

I learned as much as I could about the food! I loved Brazilian food. Especially Curitibano Brazilian Food. Because that meant Italian-like gnocci and noodles and wonderful homemade sauces over polenta.
My birthdays were both celebrated by large parties with cakes and gifts. Too kind! The members were so nice. One found out my family likes to have lasagna for Christmas Eve, guess who had us over? Guess what she made? How nice is that. Very generous indeed.
The lunches were also generous. Large portions of beans and rice. But, oh the beans! I'm still trying to figure out how they tasted so good, I've gotten closer, but it is tough. I had a lunch every day just about. Every day!! Seriously, I paid for my lunch less than a dozen times the entire time. Now that I'm a wife and mom I realize, it is a lot to have people over for dinner-but they didn't seem to mind. They took a genuine interest in us and were very generous with their talents and time. I love them for it!
One memory I have is of us eating lunch, then dishes washed, then them eating lunch. They didn't have enough dishes or space for us all to eat together. The meal was just chicken, rice and beans. The kept apologizing. I was serious when I told the sister, it was delicious and to please not worry. Other times, the members were busy and the maids would make us lunch. Lots of class diversity in Brasil.
Feijoada is the traditional dish of Brasil. I love it too. I don't care for some of the nasty pig parts included, but as long as you could fish your own it was yummy! And the oranges are so good with it! It was if they dished it for you when you might run into trouble! Also, I have a visual of someone sucking a chicken's foot, to get off all the meat, that toe suck--ewww, for some reason that bothered me, more than other things.
Lots of fruit. Mangoes taste better there! Hands down. And I miss them! And specific to Curitiba in the pinhao from the Araucaria tree. The last two pictures above show the large pine cone type thing and then the actual nuts. Interesting-and tasty!
What a great experience. What good food. What a generous and loving people. Who showed love to me, a spoiled American.
A companion and I went to give some small gifts to a family for Christmas. One of the children was saying to her brother, "this is yours, this is yours." I realized she was trying to give him her candy and I corrected her and told her she got more than one in her package. She was trying to give away the candy because she had never had two pieces of candy at once, she thought a mistake had been made, and she was concerned someone didn't get a piece.
and how much will we throw out after trick or treating?
I'm still learning....

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Life Changer (5 of 10)

I found my pictures!! At least 39 of my favorites. The others are lost, but I'm so glad to have these. Any way, the 5th thing I'm mentioning is that I learned what beauty was. I absolutely love the falls! I've decided it is one of the most beautiful places on earth and when on my mission decided I wanted to honeymoon there. Seven years after I was married, we made it! I encourage everyone to go, as pictures do not do this place justice. There is a panoramic here.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Life Changer (4 of 10)

I also learned more clearly and distinctly to love the scriptures. And I learned more than before that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. My favorite scripture to share with others was this one found in the book of Mosiah Chapter 2:41
41 And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and ahappy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are bblessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out cfaithful to the end they are received into dheaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.

The Lord blesses us and he will bless us. Not all blessings will come to us in this life, but his works are just and in his eternal time all things have a purpose and a season.

I love the Bible and appreciated the testimonies of many faithful Christians who read it frequently. The Bible has helped me to come unto Christ. I especially love the gospels. My favorite Bible story is the story of the Prodigal Son. The unfaithful son comes back to his father with nothing and says he would be happy to be a servant. The father instead gives him a feast and a ring and celebrates. Our father in heaven will also bless us temporarily and spiritually as we come unto him, repent, are baptized in his name, and follow him.
Recently we had General Conference for our Church. Here is a video of one of our apostles giving his testimony of the Book of Mormon.

I give my testimony today, not half a world away, not on a small street, and not in a foreign tongue. But in the comfort of my own home and in my first language, that I know the scriptures are true. The Bible is a wonderful blessing brought about through great sacrifice and the Book of Mormon also came about just as Joseph Smith claimed it did. It is a divine witness of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Life Changer (3 of 10)

Beautiful Curitiba

I learned a great deal about the city of Curitiba. It is a beautiful place. In fact, Josh agrees that he could imagine living there one day. They boast the largest economy is southern Brazil and the country's first university. They have lots of immigrants from WWII including Italians, Germans and Ukrainians. These cultures come out in language, festivals, and in the food and varying skin colors found.
Curitiba taught me all about buses.
They have an amazing transport system, and though there are over 2.2 million people, you can get around the city without a problem for very inexpensive.
I love the parks in Curitiba. Just picture me with a cheezy grin and some bad sister missionary clothes smiling at the camera in the above pictures. Oh, and I learned about the R.O.U.S.'s (Princess Bride) ya they exist right there in Parque Barigui (last shown). They are called Capybara and I had no idea that they were real!! These Rodents Of Unusual Size can stay under water for hours, but also wander around, they have webbed feet, strange faces and big teeth! I was half afraid of them. They can be the size of a large dog.

We would dare each other to see how close we could get a picture with one!

Another neat thing about this park is the shepherd and his sheep-they would come and eat the grass down so that no lawn mowers were used! Ingenious!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Life Changer (2 of 10)

I learned patience. I say that tongue and cheek since I'm not sure we ever learn patience. I remember thinking, "I'm prepared because I've had to learn patience with my sisters and my brother." That was nothing. Patience with companions, patience with investigators, patience with the clock and calendar, patience with the mail, patience with the long walks, patience with the rice and beans still cooking, patience with the members. Patience for damp clothes that were hand washed and never quite dry in the humidity, patience for yourself and your ability to learn a language. Patience for prayers to be answered, promises to be kept, people to follow through on commitments. The art of waiting. And not getting stirred up about it.
How Heavenly Father must truly be patient with his children!!
This skill has helped
with my students
with my children
with my family (the one I'm from and the one I joined)
with my callings
with Ivan's cancer, speech delays, pregnancies, and potty-training,
with long hours of residents
with myself
I am thankful everyday for my mission. It helps me be a better person.
I wish there were pictures to post, but please exercise patience. I haven't been able to find the ones I have in digital form.