Sunday, January 20, 2019

WHAT ELSE WE DO....

Since our Branch does not have a lot of members, we sometimes have time to spare during the week after doing what we can for our callings, and visiting with all those who want to visit with us (and those who don't! 😉)  Besides our weekly temple shift, we are asked from time to time to help in other ways.

This week we got a call from the Mission Office telling us of a member of the Church from the DC area, who would love a visit while she was with her daughter for a few weeks in the Boston Children's Hospital.  We were able to go there a couple times, and helped the mother a bit.  There were definitely some things that tore at our heart strings, but we are grateful to meet strong, brave women like the mother of little Esra, who comes here quite often with her daughter.  (We're sad the mother was not in the picture too)
Craig is just too tall for some cameras!
When there have been some Branch parties, and munch and mingles after Church, I have made my rolls.  One of the sisters who kept asking me to teach her to make them had a birthday this week, so I went to her home and we made them together.  The Cape Verdians cook so differently, I don't know that she's ever used yeast, though she's a very good cook.  Because it would do no good to teach her how to make the rolls with equipment she wouldn't have when I wasn't there, we mixed with only a wooden spoon and kneaded with our hands!  And they turned out great!
She used the same rolling pin that I have here - a washed bottle!!!
Additionally, we were able to go with the Elders to teach a new "friend" (we no longer call them "investigators" - that word has been taken out of the new Preach My Gospel).  They can't teach a single woman alone, so they needed us to go.  We love doing that.  We also gave them a ride to a member who is quite far away and Craig was able to teach a struggling member with the Elders.  (Sad we can't always take pictures...)

Lastly, we haven't started it yet, but this week we were asked to do apartment inspections for ten companionships.  Well, the missionaries used to like us....

Sunday, January 13, 2019

THERE IS HOPE!

Like each of you, we started the new Church programs last Sunday.  We are excited with all the changes, and are committed to doing what has been asked of us.

With the condensed Church time, we kept stressing to our Branch leadership and members that we HAD to start on time.  Bless our Branch President's heart, he stood at the pulpit watching his phone, and started the meeting as soon as it said 9:00.  More amazing was that there were people there!  About 20 when we started, and you can see from the picture how many were there by the end of the meeting.  One of the blessings of obedience!
Not counting all the missionaries and support personnel from the Stake, this is a really good turnout for us!!!

When we took around our Christmas bowls and bags of fruit, we included an invitation to come to Church, and printed a nice picture on the back side.  When I was in the home visiting with a sister this week, I saw what she had done with our handout, and she had placed it on a table that is seen as soon as you walk in.  Because I was SO discouraged with the tragic turnout from those invitations, I was glad I could see that at least the invitation was being enjoyed!
I should have tried to get a better picture, but I was trying to be subtle!
One of the things that we have been wanting to do is set up Ministering in this Branch.  Some of the Church programs that seem so basic have not ever been started since the Branch's beginning a couple years ago.  Ministering (and of course its predecessor, Visiting and Home Teaching) is the basis of a Ward or Branch's unity and commitment to the Savior.  So I was glad to FINALLY get permission from the Relief Society President to set it up.  (Have I ever mentioned I'm the RS 1st Counselor?)   To introduce this, I am giving the lesson in RS today - in Portuguese.  AGH!  (Craig is going to work with the EQ President to get Ministering for the brothers set up.)
Not a lot of work for so few sisters, but less than
half have (or will) agree to be Ministers.
Lastly, when I was young my Mom sang a Thanksgiving song to me that I sang to my kids about a little turkey running away before Thanksgiving.  Well, as we were driving along this week we saw one who did just that!
Not sure what his escape options are!

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Full Circle

I'm sure anyone who reads this will know that before we went on our mission to Brazil in 2014, we were "visa waiters" in Boston.  We were so excited to come back here, and assumed we'd be able to see some of the people with whom we had worked before.  On the map, they're fairly close to us.  Actual driving on old, horrible roads - they're quite far away.  But we have really felt like we especially needed to go see one couple.  We actually posted a picture with them on June 7, 2014.  We had assisted some AMAZING Sister Missionaries in helping a man named Reginaldo quit smoking and do a few other things to prepare for baptism.  He did quit, and he and his darling girlfriend, Nina, got married.  Sadly, a year later Reginaldo started struggling with questions.  (But he stayed smoke free - whew!)  After an already-full day on Saturday, we went North and spent a couple hours with them.  It was SO good to see them!  As we started to discuss concerns, some real anger and emotion surfaced, and we were both thinking maybe we needed to make a quicker-than-planned exit.  But then we bore our Testimony of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ to him, and the Spirit was able to enter the room, and the rest of the discussion was done in love.  People can't argue with what you know.  And we DO know!
So good to be with them again!
Besides spending an unfortunate amount of time in bed this week (don't worry - we're better now), we did really fun things like take the Church mops to the laundromat so they could actually clean, and did our best to make the part of the gym where we have Sacrament Meeting look a little more presentable.  It's so sad - the Church is often completely out of toilet paper, and is seldom vacuumed nor is the trash dumped, except for the three times we've done it.  So one of our New Year's Resolutions is to find out who's in charge of overseeing the cleaning, and help to get everyone on a schedule!  (Yes, we have lofty goals!!!)  It's so important to treat our Church Buildings with respect.

How we found the piano last Sunday.  (The lower panel has always been off.)
My brother, who is a professional piano tuner, will be so unhappy to know
I looked on Youtube for instructions to fix the stuck damper pedal -
Unfortunately, this piano has a more complicated problem.  :(

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Christmas Week

We hope you each had a lovely week.  Don't you wish that the world (and we ourselves) could keep the focus that we have on the Savior during Christmas all year long?  Of course, we CAN, but sadly we don't tend to.  

As we've mentioned, our big push for the month of December was to get people to come to Sacrament Meeting on December 23.  Going back to the week before last, our Branch party was supposed to be Dec 21.  By an interesting "coincidence," I happened to find out that the Haitian ward, which is one of the four units that shares our small building, was having a viewing at the same time as our party.  Um - Not going to happen!  After hours of trying to figure a way around the conflict, we switched our party to Saturday, which was tricky, because not all of our members have emails and/or phones that always work.  Craig and I had a frantic Thursday running around notes for everyone.  Sadly, the party nor Church on Dec 23 were well attended.  
Dec 23: Starting time is 9:00. This was 9:20. A few more came.  Enough said....
We had the Elders and Sisters who work in our Branch over for Christmas Day dinner (with the Mission President's approval!)  We enjoyed it and think they did too.  I am just kicking myself that I didn't get a picture of that!  (Kinda blew the picture taking this week!  I'll do better!)

Thank you for all the cards and gifts that brightened our Christmas.  They were all so appreciated, especially since we did neither!  I have to show one gift that I got.  We went to a special Christmas Zone Conference in the earlier part of the month, and on one of the tables was a pair of homemade slippers for each sister!!! One of the mothers (and I believe grandmother) of one of the Sister Missionaries had knitted a pair for all 100 Sisters in the Mission - Seniors Sisters included!  I'm sure the Missionary daughter told her that we're supposed to keep Mission costs down by having the heat set at 68 or below (and it's COLD here!) so they warmed all our feet and hearts.  I cannot comprehend that much effort and work - Simply overwhelming! 
I love seeing how thoughtful people are.  Oh, the sweater I'm wearing was knit
by a Scottish sister with whom we served in Preston!  Such thoughtfulness!!!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

MERRY CHRISTMAS!





As we are in the midst of another wonderful Christmas season it has been so satisfying to be in the mission field and serve his children in the Boston area.  Christmas is quite different here and yet remembering the birth of the Savior certainly fills the hearts and minds of the members here in our branch just like it does throughout the world. We are both looking forward to a spiritual branch sacrament meeting this morning.  Cindy and I love the Savior so much and are so grateful to invite others to come unto Him and partake of His beautiful gospel.


A black and white sketch of Mary and Joseph standing over the baby Jesus on Christmas night.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

"GREAT IDEA" = SUPER BUSY WEEK

In the spirit of "if anything is worth doing, it's worth overdoing," I decided that a good excuse to meet everyone in the Branch would be to take them a Christmas treat.  Because Cape Verdians don't love desserts, we decided to take fruit bowls or bags (depending on the size of the family) to all 53 households.  My ever-accommodating companion reluctantly agreed, despite his better judgement.  So after a large Costco run, and making dozens of bowls / bags with fruit, wrapped candy (I HAD to do something sweet) and an invitation to our Sacrament Meeting on Dec 23, we headed out with great expectations.

Ready to see EVERYONE!
We went out every day this week.  We discovered a LOT of people who did not appreciate being discovered; found a few appreciative recipients; and realized what dreadfully long hours some of our dear members work.  Some days, after hours of attempts, we came home with about as many bowls/bags as we left with.  Fun fact: After delivering dozens of bags, we discovered wrapped candy left in a bag with fruit for a few days starts to melt and makes everything disgusting and sticky!  Now you know!  (We, of course, discovered this after delivering many bags that were sure to have stickiness everywhere!  Embarrassing!)
Returning home after a LONG, COLD day.  We tried so hard!
So bottom line - we know where everyone in the Branch lives, who not to expect to see at Church, and who would appreciate visits after the First of the Year.  As of Sunday morning, there are only 4 houses that we still need to contact.  Hopefully we'll get them today.


We had a lovely break in the action this week as my daughter, Becky, and her family came for a few days while they looked for a home to move into next month when they relocate to the area.  Her husband, Ryan, accepted a job in Boston after we got our call to serve here.  We are going to be so grateful to have family close (as in 45 minutes away) while we're here!  We planned to take a day and a half off, but ended up working one 11-hour day, and one 6-hour day while they were here.
Ryan was here too....  Apparently always the one taking the picture! 

Sunday, December 9, 2018

CALLINGS, TEMPLE, DENNY, AND "THE MESSIAH"

Yes, it's been a busy week!  On Sunday Craig was called to be the First Counselor in the Branch Presidency (with the specific assignment of helping the Branch use the Handbook!) and I was called as First Counselor in the Relief Society.  So I started working on my Portuguese again....  

Additionally, we were set apart as Ordinance Workers in the Boston Temple where we will serve once a week.

(Every now and then we old folks can sort of pull off a selfie!)
 Among their many endearing qualities, Cape Verdians are known for not concerning themselves with clocks.  This is a picture of our Sacrament Meeting on Sunday morning at 9:00 - time to start.  (Since we don't meet IN a Chapel, I thought it was ok to take a picture.)  I was at the piano, and I need to say that the missionaries had come and were out by the door to greet their people. (This was before Craig was sustained.  And no, the Branch Presidency wasn't just out of the camera's view.  They aren't there either.)   

Craig didn't know I was taking the picture - notice he's checking his watch!
So who is the lone member with my handsome husband?  This is a very dedicated, conscientious member named Denny.  We took him out to dinner to try to assure him he is appreciated and needed and beg him not to get discouraged and go to the English-speaking Ward (which he can do with his impeccable English.)  He told us his story - He said his grandmother is "more Catholic than the Pope" and he was living with her in Cape Verde, working on becoming a Priest, when he met the missionaries.  After a long and careful study, he was baptized.  When he got home from his baptism, his suitcases had been packed by his grandmother and were waiting for him at the front door.  After a bit he smoothed things somewhat, but when he would do Church work his family and friends would tell him painful things like he might as well paint his face white.  After a couple of years he went on a mission, which his family interpreted as disgracing them for a second time.  He works on Saturday night until 6 a.m. Sunday morning, and has an hour-long multi-bus ride to Church, but has been there on time the three weeks we've been there.  He's a wonderful young man.
(Photo bomber in middle was not with us)
Those who know me well will know that my Annual Christmas Season Wish was fulfilled this year, since I was able to go to a Messiah Sing-In!  We haven't done anything fun or touristy, but I kept looking online for a close Sing-In.  We found one a mile away from our apartment at the oldest boy's school in the country - the West Roxbury Latin School.  It's an incredible place, and since it was held at a boy's school, the Tenor and Bass sections were the BEST I've ever heard at a Sing In!!!  Don't know how many more years I can fake the Soprano, but I cried and cried as I listened to and sang the sacred words of (mostly) Isaiah put to such inspired music!  If you haven't listened to it lately, at least check out the more well-known parts this Season!
We didn't take the top pic.  The inscription behind me in the school's chapel
said "Oh God Our Help In Ages Past..... Our Hope For Years To Come"