Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Christmas Tree - in the mail!

Wonderful surprise! The mailman delivered an envelope that had a Christmas Tree from the Corona !st Ward in Tempe. The tree, with its many ornaments with personal messages from our friends, lifted our spirits and brought an extra measure of joy to the Christmas season.

Thank you so much!

The Primary and Young Men and Young Women sent some great decorations to add to the Christmas joy.

We LOVE our tree - and especially our dear friends from the Corona 1st Ward who made it and sent it to us here in Brazil! Merry Christmas to all!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

We love 'our' missionaries!

 One of the great blessings of serving a mission as a senior couple is associating with the outstanding young men and women who have left their families, friends, school and other activities to devote all of their time and energy to serving the Lord. They work hard, motivated by their love for the people and their love for the Savior. They have been referred to as 'the miracle of the Church'. Indeed they are - a miracle created by their devotion, their study of the scriptures and their earnest prayers for the sustaining hand of the Lord in their work.

We're in the Sousa Zone of the Brazil Jõao Pessoa Mission. We're about as far west as you can go in the state of Paraiba, 6 hours by car from the mission headquarters. There are missionary transfers every 6 weeks and every transfer one or more of the missionaries in our zone will leave and one or more new missionaries will arrive. We quickly grow fond of the new arrivals and our hearts are wrenched as missionaries leave.

Sousa Zone - December 20, 2011

Sisters Haygood & Bee, Elders Walton & David
Vale dos Dinossauros - Sousa.  P-Day Fun!

Elders Fisi & Filbert - Pombal
Elder Petrie, Sisters Barreto, Petrie & Olney - Pombal

Elders Walton & David, Sisters Bee & Haygood

Sisters Haygood and Bee - Sousa

Elders Jay and Walton - Sousa

Elders de Olliveira, da Cunha, V. Silva & Lemos, Cajazeiras

Elders Santos, Soares dos Santos, Gutemberg & V. Silva - Cajazeiras

Sisters Souza & Haygood, Elders Rolim & Dácio - Sousa

Sisters Barreto, Petrie & Arruda

Elders Rinaldi, Rodrigues, Sisters Sousa, Chagas, Elders Dácio, Jensen - Sousa

Elders Jensen, Dácio, Rinaldi & Rodrigues - Sousa

President & Sister Hall, Sister & Elder Petrie

Thursday, April 5, 2012


We celebrate the life, the mission, the atonement and the resurrection of our Master and Redeemer, Jesus Christ this Easter. These are the most important events of all Eternity - infinite in their power, love and effect on all creation. Words cannot begin to express the blessing and glory of this great gift to all mankind.

"I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosever liveth and believeth in me shall never die."
"Our Savior lived again. The most glorious, comforting, and reassuring of all events of human history had taken place—the victory over death. The pain and agony of Gethsemane and Calvary had been wiped away. The salvation of mankind had been secured. The Fall of Adam had been reclaimed. The empty tomb that first Easter morning was the answer to Job’s question, 'If a man die, shall he live again?' To all within the sound of my voice, I declare, If a man die, he shall live again. We know, for we have the light of revealed truth." - Thomas S. Monson

"Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have."

We add our testimony to that of millions of others that He lives! He is our Savior and Redeemer. He loves us all with an infinite love. He asks us all to follow him, obey his commandments, live his teachings and return with him to The Father.

Happy Easter!
See videos here: Bible Videos

Monday, April 2, 2012

General Conference, April 2012

This weekend we thoroughly enjoyed the messages from our church leaders. Their messages were inspiring, motivating and consoling. What a wonderful blessing to be led by Prophets, Apostles and other inspired leaders!

You can watch, hear or read the talks here:

Here is an interesting infographic about General Conference:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Multi-Zone Conference

Every three months or so we travel 4 hours east to the city of Campina Grande for a multi-zone conference with President and Sister Hall, the 2 Assistants to the President and a group of WONDERFUL Elders and Sisters - missionaries who are serving in this part of the mission. Our mission covers 2 large states in NE Brazil, so three of these conferences are required to reach all the missionaries.

The training and messages at these conferences are both inspired and inspiring. President and Sister Hall are marvelous teachers and - most importantly - teach with the Spirit. We all leave the conference uplifted, inspired and motivated to be better and do more.

The focus of this conference was on the proclamation to the world by the First Presidency and Council of the 12 Apostles: The Family: A Proclamation to the World.

The proclamation was given 10 years ago, but is timeless in its truth and the importance of its message. The family as an institution is clearly under attack and we have the sacred responsibility to defend it.

We urge you to read it carefully and prayerfully consider what you can do in your family and community to teach the truths it contains. Even if you've read it many times before, read it carefully again. This isn't just for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is for the world, and everyone can gain strength for themselves and their families from this document.

Here are links to the Proclamation:

English: The Family: A Proclamation to the World
Portuguese: A Família—Proclamação ao Mundo

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Here is another great article - and infographic. Read the article from a report by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania by clicking here: Volunteering

Here's the infographic:

Mormonism 101: FAQ

The Church recently published a great article on our beliefs and history that is great! You can read it by clicking here: Mormonism 101.

It included this neat infographic as well. Enjoy!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Elder Petrie's Breathalyzer Test!

Last night we were driving to Pombal at attend the Sacrament Meeting there. We had the two Zone Leaders, Elder Rolim & Elder Jay, with us and Igor, a young man from the Sousa Branch. Shortly before arriving in Pombal we came up behind a string of four cars driving very slowly behind an overloaded truck that was just creeping along. We came to a clear spot where we could all pass safely so we all went around the truck. Unfortunately it was on a bridge with a double yellow line and the Federal Police saw it all on camera. When we entered the police checkpoint in Pombal, they directed all of us to stop.

The Police were enjoying this more than Elder Petrie.
They asked for our documents and politely explained that it is illegal to pass on the bridge (and anytime there is a double yellow line). Double yellow lines (as well as almost all other traffic signs) are regularly ignored here.
The documents were in order - thankfully.

The told us they would not fine us, but decided that we all should have a breathalyzer test. Fortunately for me, Guaraná (the world's best soft drink) does not effect the test and I blew a 0.00.

We're sure Igor will tell this story to all of his friends and there will be more than a little ribbing at church next Sunday.

Lesson learned!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

"Tender Mercies" in Cajazeiras

Entering Cajazeiras
 We love working with the young missionaries here in Sousa, in Pombal (about an hour west) and Cajazeiras (about an hour east). There are 2 sets of missionaries in each city, and we schedule time to spend an afternoon and evening with them, splitting the time with the two sets of missionaries. They schedule visits with members who need some extra attention and with people who are investigating the church. We enjoy hearing them teach and teaching with them. Of course Sister Petrie makes the visit to the missionaries special by taking them an assortment of treats that she has made that they can't get in Brazil, such as brownies and assorted cookies.

Lake in the middle of Cajazeiras - a pretty city.
Elder De Oliveira, Elder Da Cunha and children of a family that the Elders are teaching.
Sometimes the streets make us feel like we'r off-roading!
Great Missionaries! Elders De Oliveira, Da Cunha, V. Silva and Lemos
 A recent to Cajazeiras brought an unexpected challenge - while driving down Avenida Pedro Moreno Gondin about 7:30 at night, the engine in our car died without warning. No missing, sputtering or unusual noise - it just died. We coasted to a stop and efforts to start it again were futile. We pushed it out of traffic and after a few minutes of panic started going through the glove compartment to find insurance papers as one of the Elders suggested that perhaps our insurance included a benefit for towing the car.

We found an 24 hour 0800 number on the insurance papers, called the company and verified we indeed have breakdown coverage. The insurance company called a towing company in the city and sent a tow truck and a taxi to take us back to Sousa. The taxi took us to our apartment and the tow truck left the car at the local Chevrolet dealership.
Loading up for the trip home.
The scriptures talk about "tender mercies" of the Lord. We felt two of those tender mercies that evening - first, the insurance coverage got us home rather than having to spend a night away. Second, the breakdown was in the city on a lighted street rather than on the dark highway where there is no cell coverage and little traffic that time of night.

But wait, there's more.

I went out to the Chevrolet dealer early the next morning to find a mechanic working on the car to see what was wrong. He was starting to disassemble the top and side of the engine to get to the timing belt as he was sure that was the problem. He asked me if we were moving or stopped when the motor died, and if I tried to start it while we were moving. I told him we were moving and yes, I tried multiple times to start it while we were coasting to a stop.

He shook his head and said, "That's too bad. 100% of the time when that happens you will have serious damage to the engine as the valves will hit the pistons. This will be an expensive repair and will take a lot of time."

My heart sank - we certainly weren't prepared for an expensive repair bill, and being without the car for a long time would seriously hamper our work.

As the mechanic continued to remove parts from the engine to verify his diagnosis I watched and prayed - really prayed - that somehow we would avoid a lengthy and expensive repair. The mechanic confirmed his diagnosis and was certain we had damage, but agreed to put on the timing belt and try to start the engine.

The engine started right away but the sound and the vibration indicated we had some damage. But as the engine ran, the sounds and the vibration began to decrease. The mechanic exclaimed, "O motor está normalizando!" (The motor is 'normalizing'!) He called for another mechanic to come and see. He was amazed, and said he had never seen anything like it. I said, "This is good, correct?" He responded, "This is wonderful!" The car was back together with a few new parts and on the road by 11:30.

The mechanic couldn't understand what happened. We know what happened - we know that prayers were answered and we received a special tender mercy that day from our Heavenly Father.

It is wonderful to be here serving the people in Brazil. We see miracles all the time - particularly in the lives of those who accept the gospel of repentance, make covenants with the Lord and change their lives. We see families strengthened and happiness and peace replace despair and discord. We see people find new purpose to their lives and turn outward to help others. There are not words to express our joy in seeing these changes and for our love for the people we serve.

These are the most special "tender mercies" of all.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

You can run but you can't hide (from Google)!

Here we are in Sousa, a small city in Brazil that is 6 hours by car from the state capital and what did we see? A Google Street View car, roaming the cobblestone streets, snapping pictures of everyone and everything. These pictures will soon appear on Google Maps and Google Earth.

We saw the car a couple of days previously in Cajazeiras - an even smaller city in the state of Paraiba. If they are here, they are everywhere in the world. Amazing!

We spoke with the driver and the technician and learned some interesting facts. The tower on top of the car has 15 cameras that take pictures automatically as they go down the road. The cameras fire automatically and the number of pictures they take depends on the speed of the car. The car is loaded with technology: multiple computers, ultra-precise GPS and massive data storage. They told us the pictures will appear on Google Maps in about 2 months. There are 2 cars like this in this remote northeastern part of the country.

If you see one of these passing your place - SMILE!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Ouch! Sousa Bites Carol!

We enjoy taking an early morning walk every day through the streets and neighborhoods of Sousa. We often end up at a great bakery where we pick up some freshly baked bread, cheese and ham that we use for quick lunches - and to feed the missionaries.

On the 5th of January we took a different route for a change as we didn't need a bakery stop that day. As we passed a derelict old house behind decaying walls and gates we heard barking and growling dogs. As we walked past the broken gate, 4 or 5 dogs burst through the gate onto the sidewalk. One particularly mean dog bit Carol on both legs. Fortunately she was wearing fairly heavy pants and socks so only one tooth made it through to the skin, leaving a small puncture wound.

Carol didn't think she had been bitten at all, but when we got home we could see the wound. After conferring with the church physician in São Paulo he said that it would be necessary for Carol to go through a course of rabies vaccinations. So we were off to the hospital to get the treatment. 

After waiting in the emergency room for an hour and a half Carol was seen by a young doctor who said he didn't think she needed the vaccinations and sent us to a nurse to have the wound cleaned and disinfected. I spoke with the senior nurse there and told her our doctor insisted Carol receive the vaccinations. The nurse concurred, countermanded the doctor's orders and Carol got the first of 5 injections she will receive over a period of 4 weeks. The modern injections are very simple and not painful at all, unlike the stories we have heard about the early treatments to prevent rabies.

We returned to the house later that day and found the person that lives there. She is very old - pushing 80 - and has lived there all of her life. She has no family at all and the house is in a state of extreme disrepair. It actually looks abandoned. She assured us that the dogs are not sick, and we don't believe they are. We have learned that this isn't the first person that the dogs have attacked, so we're going to talk to the appropriate authorities next week to see what can be done to prevent further bites to passers by.

We went back later - and let the sleeping dogs lie!
We feel blessed that the incident was not more serious and that modern, effective treatment is available here to assure there won't be complications.

And we'll stay away from that house on future walks, for sure!

Carol at the hospital - all is well!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Christmas in Sousa - Part 2

Christmas in Sousa for us started on January 23 and January 24 with parties at the church for the Sousa Branch and then the Estação Branch.

We began the evening on the 24th by going to the outskirts of town to pick up several members for the party. We had to figure out how to get a dozen people (plus a lot of food for the party) into our minivan that is designed to hold 7. We designated several of the youth as 'baggage' and stuffed them into the back for the 15 minute ride to the chapel. On the way, we taught them to sing Jingle Bells in English. By the time we got to the chapel they were doing a pretty good job. There certainly was no lack of enthusiasm!

We had been recruited to be Papai and Mamãe Noel at the party. We had a several people, old and young, who wanted to take a picture behind us or on our laps. Everyone had a great time at the party that included a dinner and music for dancing.
Sisters Bee and Haygood
When I asked one young girl who is about 7 years old what she wanted for Christmas she responded, "I won't be getting anything for Christmas." I asked, "What is the most wonderful gift of all at Christmastime?" She answered, "Love!" I then asked, "What is the source of love?" She wisely answered, "Jesus." 

I then said, "The greatest Christmas gift of all is from our Heavenly Father who loved us so much He sent His Son, Jesus Christ so we could feel His love." Her response: "Yes, that is the greatest gift of all and it is for all of us. We all get the same love from Jesus." It was a wonderful insight from a girl whose family can't buy gifts, but reflects the love of the Savior which is more precious than any material gift they could give.
On Christmas day we were invited to lunch with the missionaries at member's home where we enjoyed their love and a delicious meal. In the afternoon and evening we hosted the missionaries from Sousa at our apartment. They used our computers to Skype their families at home and then we enjoyed a great dinner prepared by Sister Petrie. It was atypical Sunday meal we would have at home and the missionaries loved a dinner that didn't include rice and beans.

We were able to Skype all of our family as well. It was a thrill to see and visit with all our children and grandchildren on this most special day!
Elders Walton and Jay, Sisters Bee and Haygood