Since this will be our only Christmas here in São Paulo, I felt it deserved a place on our blog.
Christmas in Brazil seems largely associated with gift giving; in other words, a commercial venture. Perhaps the same thing is becoming more a reality in the USA, too. However, the biggest difference for us was experiencing Christmas in the summertime. Notwithstanding, there were plenty of decorations on Avenida Paulista in downtown São Paulo. Here are a few pictures of what we saw, both during the day and after dark.
The first picture is that of a choir that the Bradesco Bank puts together every year. The choir performs three 15 minute shows of holiday music each day. Behind the choir are inset areas where holiday scenes are displayed.
A group of us got together last Wednesday night to see what Avenida Paulista looked like after dark.
One block west of the Employment Center is São Paulo's Metropolitan Art Museum (MASP) seen below. And directly across the street from the MASP is Trianon Park, where many of the beautiful trees are illuminated at night. Even during the day these trees are beautiful!
Two or three blocks further west of where we work, the City has built a temporary bridge-like structure over Avenida Paulista to welcome the Christmas season. Here is that structure as seen from both sides, as well as the decorations inside when crossing over Avenida Paulista.
Here are a few more pictures of Avenida Paulista at Christmas time.
As you can see, Santa is everywhere; seated on buildings,
Santa on a parachute,
Santa on stilts,
Even driving a car!
For the spiritual side of Christmas, Carlie and I were invited to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas day at the Mission Training Center (CTM) here in São Paulo. On Christmas Eve, we had dinner with the missionaries, followed by a devotional, and then watched Miracle on 34th Street (the remake) with the missionaries, followed by an ice cream snack in the cafeteria.
The following pictures of the cafeteria were taken during the ice cream break.
To culminate the evening, President and Sister Clark invited all the senior missionaries to their apartment on the third floor of the CTM, because they wanted to express their gratitude for all we do while serving at the CTM. Here are a couple of pictures I took while there.
We then retired to our room, where we had the opportunity to share the same living quarters that each of the young missionaries share. However, our room was on that side of the MTC that is reserved only for the Sisters.
On Christmas Day, all the missionaries were invited to dress casually, and spend the morning playing board games (Yatzee, UNO, puzzles, etc). Carlie elected to work on a puzzle with several other senior missionaries, while I spent the morning teaching a group of six missionaries how to play Yatzee. Other missionaries elected to play basketball or volleyball.
Here are some pictures of the CTM cafeteria, running track, volleyball and basketball courts, and an open air picnic area that the missionaries enjoy during their stay at the CTM.
Like Carlie says, we are like "Rock Stars" to some of the missionaries; hence, they wanted their picture taken with us, and we with them. Here are a couple of them.
We then said our good byes, and headed home to await the opportunity to "Skype" or talk to each of our children on Vonage. Only then will Christmas 2010 be complete!