Welcome to the Mission Home at Christmas time.
Being crazy for Christmas as we are, Curt had to bring a few of his Christmas Village pieces with us in the mission, and I had to bring a few nativities. It is a little lonely here with-out our family, but we have lots of friends and missionaries that we can share our Christmas with.
These are our wonderful counselors in the Mission Presidency, Kenjiro Yamasaki, and Angela & Caio Asconavieta.
Kenjiro came to Brazil in his early 20's not knowing any Portuguese - just feeling driven to come. After several years he was baptized, married and raised his family in Porto Alegre. He is one of the pioneers here in this area. Ciao's family joined the church when he was a child. He and all of his family are wonderful leaders here as well. Ciao is now serving as a Bishop (for the second time) One of his brothers is an Area Seventy, and another a Stake President in Pelotas.
We are having some better success in our mission recently because of the focus we are putting on the key indicators of conversion, (lessons, contacts, references etc) and because of two wonderful assistants we had. Elder Kuceki and Elder Rogers knew that they had to set the example for the other missionaries to follow. They set a goal to baptize two men and a family in the month of November, and they made it. Here we are at the Baptism they held for 6 people: Regina (a grandmother raising 5 grandchildren) Elder Kuceki, Valerio, Elder Rogers, José, Leonardo, João Pedro, and Uri.
These 3 young boys were very special. They were outgoing, polite and friendly. Curt was very impressed by them and could imagine them 10 years from now dressed like missionaries. I had a good chuckle though as their Bishop was talking to them about what would happen the next Sunday . . . "Tonight you have received the Baptism of water, and next Sunday you will receive the baptism of FIRE!" Uri's eyes go really big and he started talking pretty quickly with Elder Kuceki to figure out this fire thing. The week of these baptisms we had a record of 41 baptisms in the mission in one week. That is the most we have had since we have been here. Our missionaries are working hard right now to have some baptisms for Christmas. Curt and I met a wonderful family of 6 in a near-by Branch that are planning a wedding on December 22 and Baptisms on December 23. The Branch members are so excited. Good things are happening.
Our Mission Secretary, Elder Geovani actually found Valeriano. It is hard for our secretaries to get out and work, but they were determined to get in their 10 contacts per day, even if that day begins a 6:00PM. Elder Geovani spoke to Valeriano just outside of the chapel gate by our mission office. Valeriano said I'm sorry I don't have time to talk to you right now. So Elder Geovani said, "come to church tomorrow, it starts at 9:00AM" When the Elders arrived at church the next day, Valeriano was there in sitting in the gospel essentials class. When the teacher asked everyone to introduce themselves Valeriano said his name and then he simply pointed to Elder Geovani, and said "He invited me to come today."
Every six weeks we say good-bye to Elders and Sisters who have completed their missions. Sister Modesto said to me. Sister Swenson, it is hard to go home, my body is tired and worn out and ready to go home, but my heart wants to stay. You could tell how much Sister Modesto loved the people she served, because they loved her back. On our transfer day we meet at the Bus Station at 2:30 pm. with the missionaries who are moving to new areas, completing their missions. Sister Modesto had more members and investigators show up at the Bus Station to say goodbye to her than any other missionary that I have witnessed. She truly learned how to love the people.
I also loved this window grate and house color combination, its very Christmassy don't you think?
Ma in her kerchief. And I in my cap, Had just settled down. To a long winter's nap . . . . . .