25 September 2010

Update From São Paulo, Brazil

I am sitting here at the computer tonight, pondering what has taken place over our first six months here in Brazil. 

First of all, I have learned a lot about myself and am thankful for what I have learned. Both Carlie and I will be the first to say that this mission has been good for us.  Life in the mission field really has taken us out of our "comfort zone."  However, it has made us much more grateful for all the many blessings we enjoy in this life.  We also have come to recognize the hand of the Lord in our lives in so many ways. And we have learned to love the Brazilian people!

As I previously reported, we were called to serve for 18 months here in São Paulo as Welfare Services missionaries, and more specifically, assigned to be Employment Resource Specialists. The majority of our time is spent in administering a weekly Career Workshop, or as it is referred to here, a Curso de Auto-Suficiência Profissional (CASP). This workshop is a 12-hour course in which we help the participants to recognize their own skills and to develop new ones, and then the need to set short and long-term goals.  We also help them (1) to explore their career options, (2) to prepare a Power Statement or 30-second commercial about themselves that emphasizes to a prospective employer the value they can bring to an organization, and (3) to develop a network of resources to use to help them find employment. Finally, we give them an opportunity to practice their power statements in mock interviews, which we film and then review as a class.

                               At the Employment Center

I thought you might be interested in seeing the faces of some of the workshop participants with whom we have had an opportunity to interact over the past few months. I have attached some photos of a few of the graduates of our Career Workshop.

As I am sure you can imagine, we have grown very close to our students, many of whom express their appreciation for our willingness to come to Brazil and to share with them the skills we have learned.  In this last photo is a young couple (he has his arm around his girlfriend) who love us and who invited us today to be with them as they were sealed as man and wife in the São Paulo Temple. We were thrilled to be there with them and their families this afternoon for this sacred event!

                              At the Mission Training Center

In addition to our service at the Employment Center, we are also privileged to serve at the Missionary Training Center (MTC) located here in São Paulo.  I have been called to be a Branch President and serve with Carlie at the MTC.  There are currently 116 missionaries living at the MTC. About have of them are young Brazilian missionaries, and the rest come from the United States. The Brazilian missionaries only stay at the MTC for nineteen days, as they do not need any language instruction.  The north American missionaries stay for a total on nine weeks before being sent out to one of Brazil's 27 missions. Once again, we really love these young missionaries, and are spiritually uplifted each week as we interact with them.

Below I have attached a couple pictures I took of some of the missionaries in our MTC branch.

                                 In Our Free Time.........

As you know, Carlie enjoys being busy.  So she also spends part of her week working with the Perpetual Education Fund (PEF) program, where she uses her typing skills to enter data regarding the success of the PEF program here in Brazil.  She also tries to spend several hours in the evening each week as an auditor for Family Search Indexing. This particular assignment was one she did before being called as missionaries, and one for which she has always been passionate.

As for our language skills, they are improving. Carlie is making steady progress and I feel confident that she will be pleased with how much Portuguese she will be speaking by the end of our mission in September of 2012.  I get an opportunity to tutor some of the senior missionary Sisters here in our home each week, and enjoy the opportunity.  I also see my language skills improving, and enjoy learning new skills.

As I intimated above, we are being s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d, and notice some discomfort, but we have faith that the Lord knows what is best for us, as He teaches us about patience and the need to be submissive.  We have come to recognize His hand in our lives and attribute it to the many prayers that are being offered in our behalf by our family and many friends, for which we truly thank each one of you!

With you, we are so excited to see the Lord's kingdom grow, and foresee wonderful growth here in Brazil over the next few years. It is truly a thrill to be part of this growth!

Patience is the guardian of faith, the preserver of peace, the cherisher of love, the teacher of humility;
Patience governs the flesh, strengthens the spirit, sweetens the temper, stifles anger, extinguishes envy subdues pride.
Patience bridles the tongue, refrains the hand, tramples upon temptations, endures persecutions, consummates martyrdom.
Patience produces unity in the church, loyalty in the State, harmony in families and societies;
Patience comforts the poor and moderates the rich;
Patience makes us humble in prosperity, cheerful in adversity, unmoved by calumny and reproach;
Patience teaches us to forgive those who have injured us, and to be the first in asking forgiveness of those whom we have injured;
Patience delights the faithful, and invites the unbelieving;
Patience adorns the woman, and approves the man; is loved in a child, praised in a young man, admired in an old man;
Patience is beautiful in every age.
                                                                             George Horne (1730-1792)

Até mais.

Elder Arntsen

12 September 2010

A Visit to the Livraria Cultura in downtown São Paulo

About three weeks ago, Carlie and I visited the Livraria Cultural, a wonderful bookstore in downtown São Paulo, where one can find a large selection of books in English, as well as in several other languages. The bookstore is located on several floors of a large office building, which also houses many other small retail businesses on Avenida Paulista in the center of the city.

Directly in front of the entrance of the bookstore stands a most interesting artistic creation, celebrating four hundred years since the first publication of Don Quixote, the famous novel written by Migual de Cervantes Saavedra. The following pictures reveal the creative genius of a team of artists, including Silvio Galvão and Sandro Rodrigues, responsible for its creation. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

The following photo is of Carlie standing in front of Sancho Panza. This particular "plastic' creation is made of recycled junk, including 4,000 beer bottle caps, bicycle inner tubes, paper and leftover polystyrene plastic scraps.

Don Quixote's horse is made of all kinds of interesting scraps, including 200 meters of scrap iron, 150 quilos of plastic parts, brushes, combs, mannequin limbs, brooms, eyeglasses, clock pieces, hats, a hubcap, computer keys, a guitar neck and strings, a toilet flush, a filter, a lantern,  toys, a toothbrush,
a medallion, an iron, etc.  See if you can find any other interesting items!

 Finally, Don Quixote's materials include 2,000 coca-cola cans, more 2,000 pop top tabs, 30 quilos of paper and leftover polystyrene scraps.

It's amazing how creative the human mind can be!

It's also inspiring for  Carlie, who loves to work with different media and can create something beautiful out of something that I usually think needs to go into the trash!