Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday Thoughts

And God Said “No”

I asked God to take away my pride,
And God said, “No.”
He said it was not for Him to take away,
But for me to give up.
I asked God to make my handicapped child whole,
And God said, “No.”
He said her spirit is whole,
Her body is only temporary.
I asked God to grant me patience,
And God said, “No.”
He said that patience is a by-product of tribulation.
It isn’t granted, it’s earned.

I asked God to give me happiness,
And God said, “No.”
He said He gives us blessings;
Happiness is up to me.
I asked God to spare me pain,
And God said, “No.”
He said suffering draws you apart from worldly cares
And brings you closer to me.
I asked God to make my spirit grow,
And God said, “No.”
He said I must grow on my own,
But He will prune me to make me fruitful.

I asked God if He loves me,
And God said, “Yes.”
He gave me His only Son who died for me,
And I will be in Heaven someday because I believe.
I asked God to help me love others
As much as He loves me.

And God said,
“Ah, finally you have the idea.”

Author: Anonymous (to me)

I was going through some of my papers and found this poem and decided it was perfect for a Sunday post. I must say that I agree with the philosophy underlying the words of the poem. Struggles with adversity are never easy, but it is when I have been struggling that I have grown closer to my Heavenly Father. As much as I dislike adversity I would never give up the truths I have learned while dealing with it in my life.


Today we traveled to Syracuse (Utah) to participate in the ordaining of my grandson, E, to the Aaronic Priesthood. He is 12 years old now, and this is surely a milestone in his life. It was a beautiful day with the sun shining and leaves gently falling from the trees. We took a few moments to take pictures and afterwards the children took advantage of all the crisp, newly fallen leaves. The children threw the leaves around with great gusto. They took such sheer joy in the pleasantness of the day and the opportunity to abandon themselves to the task of being free spirits for the moment. It was a joy to watch them and hard for me not to want to participate myself. I must admit I did enjoy kicking through the leaves as we walked to our car.

Congratulations, E, we are proud of you for the fine person that you are.


Friday, October 24, 2008

More Memories of Brazil

Traffic in Brazil is crazy. I was very happy that we were on foot most of the time, walking to and from the Mission Office, to the grocery store, and to Church services. When we wanted to go to the Mall, we walked three or four blocks to the Metro. Sometimes we would hop on the bus to bring us home from the grocery store, since they allowed the seniors in Brazil to ride free.

I’ll never forget the day we got on one of the buses, sure that it was headed over the bridge to take us close to our apartment. At the last minute the bus made a left turn instead of going straight. We got out of our seats and stood next to the bus driver, but he just kept right on going. I was trying to count the blocks and keep track so we could find our way back. All the while I was chattering excitedly to my dear husband. Of course, it was in English and the bus driver had no idea what we were talking about, but if I were a gambler I would take bets that he knew exactly what the problem was and that we wanted off.

I was really distressed when he made a right turn and I was losing track of where we were. When he finally stopped to let us off, I thought we were hopelessly lost. We got off the bus and I turned to go back the way we had come. However, my dear husband turned to go in the opposite direction. It seems once we got off that he recognized where he was. As part of his job in taking care of the mission finances, he had to walk to various banks to take care of financial transactions. We had actually ended up at another entrance to the Metro station. We just didn’t save ourselves many footsteps that day, as it was probably about the same distance as if we had walked home from the grocery store in the first place.

The streets in Sao Paulo are not quite laid out in nice, square blocks. The city is about 450 years old, and the streets just take off here and there and meander all over the place, many times with no rhyme or reason and made me think they might have begun as cow trails.

Left turns are not allowed according to the law, but the drivers here take all kinds of crazy chances. They’ll create a third lane, where there is no third lane if it suits them. They’ll motion to you that they are going to pull in front of you and then they do it and boy, you better back off. The motorcyclists in Sao Paulo are everywhere and they are a protected species. They take full advantage of that fact—they buzz between cars, whipping around here and there. You better not hit one, because even if it isn’t your fault, it’s your fault. Their motorcycles are much smaller than the huge ones you find in this country.

Brazilian drivers are very gutsy and don’t obey the law much at all. The police here don’t really pick people up, they just take pictures of someone speeding or doing some other whacky thing and send you a ticket in the mail. There are so many people on the roads that they don’t think they are ever going to get caught. President U was a very confident driver. In order to drive in Brazil, you have to be somewhat aggressive and confident. I assure you that President U didn’t ever break the law. He didn’t have a depth perception problem like I do, and many times I had to close my eyes, almost expecting to hear the crunch of our fender, but it never happened. The Lord surely watched over him and us. Except for a little showing of white knuckles, I got along well as a passenger.

We lived close to an intersection and many times I would see a car race up to the stop sign, toot the horn and race on through. They expected that little horn honk to let you know that they intended to race through the intersection and the clear message was stay. the. heck. out. of. the. way. I saw drivers go through red lights in much the same way.

Though many, many people have cars in Sao Paulo (it is a HUGE city), there are also many families who don’t own a vehicle at all and use their feet or the public transportation system to get around. Imagine that, teenagers, no car of your own in Brazil. We are very fortunate and somewhat spoiled here in the USA.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Family Fun Continued

I promised I would write more about our fun family and our beloved grandchildren. I'm wondering if I should give all 19 of them pseudo-names to ensure their privacy. Well, I guess I can make them up as I go along. If I just call them by their initial for now, you'll understand that I can't just call them any old thing.

You may recall from yesterday that most of us were gathered together enjoying each other's company on Sunday, celebrating E's birthday.

We laughed at the antics of the kids, especially A, who shall hereafter be called Yodina (her parents use Yoda, but I just have to feminize it for her in my blog and to distinguish between her and her brother, A). She had just learned a new thing that very day. Whenever we would say honk honk, she would reply with beep beep. She holds her mouth in the cutest little way when she says it, and it just tickles me to see it.

E, the birthday boy, showed us his football posters. He loves football, but is also very good at baseball as a catcher. His cousin, R, who had his birthday cake and ice cream get together last Sunday, is great at football as well. He is on his Junior High Football team and does a bang up job. He is on the field a majority of the time when they play. When the team is on the offense, he is a running back. When they are playing defense, he is a linebacker. They have one more game to play on October 30th and then they’ll go into playoffs.

I love to see my grandchildren enjoying each other’s company. Yodina loves to go from cousin to cousin—she loves them all. Yodina’s brother, “A”, who I shall call Yoda, loves the boys and was enjoying the freedom of playing outside in my daughters fenced-in yard. Yoda is mildly autistic and did not want his time outside to end, even when it was so dark he couldn’t see where he was going. They soon had to leave for home, as he was protesting with a “melt down.”

E’s sister, C, let me read her Patriarchal Blessing—it was so right on in describing her as a sweet, loving daughter of God. She has the sweetest spirit and is always so helpful and kind.

My oldest granddaughter and her new husband were there, and we loved visiting with them. He just got a great job working with the Frontrunner and Trax. He loves it and they really like him. His prior job required him to drive long distances and travel at a moment’s notice, so this is great for him, especially with gas prices so high.

J’s daughter, N, has bony growths on the outside of her feet (located about where the widest part of the foot is). This makes wearing shoes somewhat problematic. She does well in flip flops, but we are about to enter cooler, non-flip flop weather. I hope there are some shoes designed so that she won’t have too much problem this winter. She loves to play soccer, but that causes pressure on both sides of her feet and results in pain for her. However, she is not ready to give up soccer. I’m praying that by next year the extra bony tissue will be dissolved and that it will be a non-issue.

As I said before, Families are Wonderful!


Monday, October 20, 2008

Fun with the Family

We were all together yesterday, celebrating E's 12th birthday. It's such fun to have most of the family around, especially when we get to reminiscing about the good old days. My son, J, made the remark that his neighbor had alarms on his house to keep his kids “in.” In the course of the conversation about how unusual that was, J remarked how easy it was to get out of his room at night. We have two finished bedrooms downstairs and when he’d want to go on an adventure with his friends, he’d pop the window out, make his escape and be free as a bird. All the while I’m thinking that he is safe and sound at home.

Sighhhhhh! I really tried my best. One night I remembered a question I wanted to ask him. He had just retired for the night, or so I thought. I knocked on his door and got no answer. So I knocked a little louder. Still no answer. Hmmmm! So I loudly spoke his name as I knocked even louder. You guessed it—there was still no answer and I began to get very suspicious. I tried the door, but he had it locked. So I dug out my trusty nail and unlocked the door (so easy to do with the kind of locks we had). Sure enough, the room was empty and the window was sitting on the floor awaiting his return. I made myself comfortable and waited until he came home.

He told me that he knew he was busted when he saw the light on. Well, he came in sheepishly and endured my lecture. From what he said last night, there were other times, when I didn’t happen to catch him at it.

Luckily he was and is loving and respectful. He loves to tease as his three little daughters and his wife can testify to. He is also very good at debate, though he never took a class in it. He just has made debating into an art.

Families are wonderful. I'll post more tomorrow about my family.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Our Neighborhood in Brazil

My dear husband standing in front of our apartment building. At the top, you can see the roof. The two windows to his left were our front room and bedroom (green shutters) windows. Notice the grafiti on our building. It was there when we arrived, still there when we left with more red graffiti added to it. Grafiti is a problem in Brazil.
Notice the small business to the right of my dear husband. In Brazil there are many small businesses located in and among homes. Thank goodness for the zoning restrictions we have here in the USA, we found there was a reason for them.

Most people in Sao Paulo have bars on their windows and doors. They also have gated garages or front yards. For example, the door to our building was always locked and barred. We had a little telephone-type connection in the kitchen where we could ask who was at the door and if we recognized who it was we could push a little button that would release the barred outer door and allow them access into the building. However, we spent most of our time in the living room and it just seemed easier to look out the window or open our apartment door and look to see who wanted in. Running into the kitchen seemed illogical most of the time, so I only used it if I happened to be in the kitchen when it rang.

Many times we would have peddlers who rang all the apartment bells, hoping to be let by one of the tenants into the building. What peddlers, you ask? Well, most people depend on propane to fuel their gas ranges (the tanks are like the ones here in the USA so popular for outdoor barbecues). We also bought drinking water, since Brazil’s water is not treated and cannot be used for drinking purposes (unless you wanted to be a daredevil and risk illness from ingesting parasites and what have you). So, quite often people would come by and want to know if anyone in the building wanted to purchase gas or water, or even cleaning supplies. Sometimes it would be the postman with a package for someone. He couldn't leave it unless the door was opened for him, since it wouldn't fit through the mail slot.

We lived in Apartment #1 on the first floor; on the second floor was Apartments 2, 3, and 4, with #4 being directly above us; on the third floor was Apartments 5, 6, and 7, with #7 being directly above #4 and was where the Elders had an apartment. There was a roof above the third floor, where we could hang clothes to dry.

Sao Paulo has very polluted air which would always leave a layer of black, greasy grime on all exposed surfaces. This made constant cleaning necessary. I would clean our floors nearly every evening to keep ahead of the grime. It was also necessary to clean the stairs of our apartment building every two weeks. Right after we moved in we participated in a meeting with the “Apartment Manager” (we later found out that he was not, in fact, the Apartment Manager, but was merely acting as a liaison between the owner and the renters).

It seemed that each apartment was supposed to take a turn at cleaning the stairs, but there wasn’t a firm schedule, so no one was taking responsibility. We knew nothing about the need for us to do this cleaning until this meeting. The bottom line was that the stairs weren’t getting cleaned on a regular basis. Someone suggested each apartment paying a prorated amount and hire someone to come in and clean it. Elder Davie, representing their apartment, was not interested in that option. The Elders are given a monthly allowance that was barely enough to cover groceries, bus and metro fare, and personal expenses, so they were loathe to spend any of it for someone to do work that they could handle themselves. He suggested that each apartment be assigned a specific time to take a turn. He said that then we would each be committed to accomplish the task rather than just expecting someone else to do it. They liked his suggestion and decided to try it out.

Some of the other tenants wondered about us taking a turn because of our age, but we indicated that we would be glad to take our turn. After the meeting, they asked if anyone had anything to add. I asked Elder Davie to translate for me to tell them that we liked our neighbors and our apartment and that we wanted to do our part to keep the stairs clean. Some of the discussion had been a little bit testy and I think this helped to smooth feelings since they were all smiling after this comment.

After the meeting ended, one of the tenants, a nice lady named Cida who lived directly above us, gave me a hug and said something. Elder Davie interpreted for her and told me she said that she liked having us for neighbors. She was a delightful neighbor and we enjoyed her friendship and hated to see her move out mid-way during our mission.

Cleaning the stairs was quite a process as we were to find out. Right outside our apartment door, in a compartment in the very small foyer was a great, big, looong hose. We would unwind this hose and carry it up the stairs all the way to the roof. We would sweep and scrub the floor of the roof and then rinse it with the hose and squeegie it dry, pushing the excess water into the drains provided for that purpose. Then we would do the same to each tier of stairs, scrubbing, rinsing, squeegieing (is that a word?) and then wiping the stairs with dry cloths (that at the bottom would be quite wet) as we worked our way down each tier. I usually did the drying part, since that seemed to be the easiest for me as we worked our way down. Then we would scrub and rinse the sidewalk outside the front of the apartment building, scooting the water to the curb to be carried away. Afterwards, we would drain the very long hose and wind it up and store it back it its compartment once again.

We were always teamed up with the Elders, and that made it easier for us. Our turn came around about once every month-and-a half or so, so it wasn’t too much of a burden. About the last couple of months of our mission, it was decided by someone (no meeting this time, just a decision handed down) that a person would be hired to do this work and that each tenant would have an additional small amount added to the utilities bill that we all shared (for the common areas of the building). In a way it was nice to have someone else just do the work and not have to worry about it anymore.
More to come about our neighborhood in Brazil at a later time.