Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A December to Remember

Everything was quite new for us last year. The Christmas season was well underway by the time we arrived in Brazil, but not this year!

December hadn't even begun when we attended our first event. "He is the Gift" was presented by the Curitiba LDS Institute. It was spectacular, if I do say so myself! Even the mayor of Curitiba was there. (He came in his helicopter. Much easier than trying to get around the city in a car.) We were just two of the 9,000 people who saw this amazing program of song and dance. 

And what would December be without shopping the feiras (fairs) and malls - all decked out for the holiday shoppers.

Our tummies never had a chance to feel hunger. Every time we turned around, we were filling them up with something delicious.

(Still missing these two greatly!)

And a holiday in South America just wouldn't be a holiday without a panettone or two on your counter!

We were even able to take in a play during December. When we found out that Anna Hart was in her school production of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", we just had to go. It was darling - and all in English, I might add, because the kids go to the International School of Curitiba.😊

And let's not forget the temple. 
Our little apartment was festive - as well as our lobby.
We even enjoyed the Christmas Devotional all the way from SLC.

Our temple concert attracted a large audience - even the people in the nearby apartments sat on their balconies for an evening in celebration of the season.

And what's Christmas without a nativity?

Christmas Eve was a combination of good food, good friends, and a good program. Fireworks are generally set off at midnight, but this year they were cancelled due to heavy monsoon-like rains. (They will be saved for New Year's Eve.)

We enjoyed a quiet Christmas Day. Face-timing our children was, of course, the highlight of our day!

Our "treat table" is so much different down here than the ones we're used to back home. 

I can't believe that 2017 is almost over. Not only has this been a December to remember, but it has been a year to remember, as well. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

They'll be Home for Christmas!

For us it will only be in our dreams, but for Wayne and Dianne...reality!
(They really will be home for Christmas!)

It was so hard saying good-bye to the Browns six months ago. I feared for my survival in this foreign country with no one to talk to.😨
Talk about tender mercies - just as the Browns were getting ready to leave, Wayne and Dianne Mathis were transferred up from the Porto Alegre temple!
These last six months have been a grand adventure. We have done things we never would have done on our own. The following pictures can attest to that. 😊  There was always someplace new to go, another restaurant to try. We called Wayne "Elder Talk-a-Lot" because he could strike up a conversation with anyone. This was a good thing because that took the pressure off of the rest of us! 

Dianne became our calming influence. Nothing rattled her - not even Wayne! (HaHa)

Don and Wayne, for some unknown reason, got the 'spinner bug' and were constantly buying them. To their credit, they also gave a lot of them away to the kids, but still...

Not only was Wayne our "fly guy" but he and Dianne also knew a lot about birds.

I know - awe inspiring! Gotta love those little flies!

There was sooo much for us to see and do in those 261 days!

 We will treasure up these experiences in our hearts forever!

We will also miss them at the temple. They served faithfully wherever and whenever.
We are very lucky to have a new missionary couple - Dirceu and Zélia Freire from Maringa, Brazil. It's been fun getting to know them.
Two other couples will be coming in February. Then we will be fully staffed again.

So, with sad hearts, we bid farewell to Elder and Sister Mathis,

 but we just want them to know that...

We sure do love you two!!!
Thanks for the memories.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Adventure Continues - Foz do Iguaçu

We returned home, did our laundry, slept in our own beds, and, in less than 24 hours, were back at the airport to continue our adventure.
As we waited for our flight, Don and Wayne read/slept. Dianne and I crocheted. 😊

The Foz do Iguaçu airport is small - way too small for the amount of visitors this area receives. The hotel was very nice.

 Our hotel was all decked out for Christmas!

We enjoyed a delicious breakfast each morning.

Iguaçu Falls
The name Iquaçu is an indigenous word meaning "big water."
And BIG it is. 
The Iguaçu Falls stretch in width for 2.7 kilometers (or 1.7 miles). Their height varies between 60 meters (200 feet) and 82 meters (or 269 feet). This makes the Iguaçu Falls taller than Niagara Falls and twice as wide.
Brazil and Argentina share this most majestic natural wonder of the world.
The falls really are amazing.

From the Argentinian side, you can literally walk into the heart of the falls at the Devil’s Throat and, if your temple president doesn't forbid it, take a boat ride under the tumbling waters.

Over on the Brazilian side, you can take in better panoramic views of the falls from all directions.

The little critter on the left is a coati. He looks a lot like a rat with a tail to me. There are signs all over the place showing people wounded from scratches and bites from these guys. You are warned not to feed them, but, of course...

You really have to do both sides!

Downstream from the falls is where the Parana and Iguaçu rivers meet, and so do the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. Each country has created a landmark in their national colors on a spot in each of their countries where you can see all three.
It's called - The Triple Frontier.
We enjoyed an evening of Brazilian food and dance (them, not us).A movie was made in 1986 about events that took place in this area in 1750. We actually watched it on Netflix while we were there. The movie is sad. The music is hauntingly beautiful.
The movie's name? The Mission

Speaking of food and dance - one night our temple friends, the Wernecks, took us to the Rafain (known as the greatest show of the Foz land). Here we enjoyed a buffet/churrasco and dances from eight countries in South America.

One day, Brother Werneck took us over to Paraguay. Poor, poor little dirty country. 
It was also raining, but Brother Werneck said that was a good thing - it actually cleaned the place up!😕   Who knew?!

The Itaipu Hydroelectric Power Plant is the second largest in the world in size and first in generation of energy. (China has the largest.) In 1996, it was considered one of the 7 Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The power generated from this dam is shared between the countries of Brazil and Paraguay.

The Parque das Aves (Bird Park) was another must-do. Known as the largest bird park in Latin America, there are birds from all four corners of Brazil and beyond!

And...as if we hadn't seen enough birds at the bird park, we actually opted for a morning at the city zoo. No elephants, zebras, bears, or giraffes here, however. Just more birds!
We must thank Wayne for this adventure!!

We also enjoyed meeting some of the Werneck's children while in Iguaçu.

With our fun week completed, we returned to the very small and overcrowded airport for our one hour return trip to back home. It was pouring down rain by the time we checked in - hence, all flights were delayed. Actually, the were completely stopped. More people kept coming with no room to sit or stand. Seven hours later, they put us on a plane for São Paulo, which was actually out of our way but at least going east. São Paulo even waited the plane for all of us coming from Iguaçu. It's only an hour flight, but when we got to Curitiba, it was raining so hard they couldn't land, so...they took us back to São Paulo to refuel, get a new crew, and try again. This time around we did make it. However, our luggage didn't. (It wouldn't come until the next afternoon.) Our one hour return trip turned into 12 hours. We plopped our heads down in our own beds, finally, at 3:00 am.
I felt a little bit like the Gilligan's Island three-hour-tour people!

And so I end with the picture we began with - this is how we spent our waiting, waiting, waiting time!!!

A good time was had by all!