18 July 2010

Our Visit to the Parque da Água Branca

A week ago this past Friday was a state holiday here in São Paulo, Brazil.  The 9th of July is known as the day that the Constitutionalist Revolution of 1932 (also called the Paulista War) took place.

On that day, revolutionaries here in the state of São Paulo revolted against a coup d'etat perpetrated by Getúlio Vargas, under a coalition formed between the military and the political elites from three other states in Brazil. This revolutionary movement grew out of local resentment from the fact that the democratically elected president, from the state of São Paulo, was stopped from taking office. The revolt started on July 9th, and was militarily crushed 87 days later. So says Wikipedia.  By the way, it was the last major armed conflict occurring in the history of Brazil. Would that the U.S could be so lucky!

To us, it represented another opportunity to do some sightseeing. We elected to go to a local park where as advertised there was "wildlife" to see.  Quite frankly, the wildlife was limited to chickens and koi, and a small aquarium of freshwater fish.  The park also contains a museum of "rocks" and fossils. We had a fun time walking along the paths in the park with another senior missionary couple, Elder and Sister Litster, and especially enjoyed some of the beautiful trees that grow here in this wonderful country.  Since our daughter, Megan, has a love affair with chickens, we took several pictures of this exotic wildlife for her to see,  and yes, some pictures of the koi pond.

Here is a picture of Carlie, as we enter the park, with a beautiful flowering tree behind her.

This strange looking building houses the public restooms, but I thought it was beautiful, a certainly exotic looking.  Birds were nesting in the many small alcoves adorning the sides of the building.

The following pictures are of beautiful Banyan trees found throughout the park.

Here are some pictures of Carlie and the Litsters amongst the Bamboo at Agua Branca.

Another exotic looking tree.

Now, it's time for exotic fish and fowl!

Two roosters below some Poinsettia bushes.

Let's take a closer look at these exotic creatures!

Finally,  a picture of a group of LDS members (young women and their leader) who saw us and wanted to have their pictures taken with us. Brazilians love the missionaries!

A fun way to spend a morning with friends! Until the next Brazilian holiday, or other free time, when we plan to visit the beach! Tchau!

04 July 2010

Greetings From São Paulo!

Here it is July 4th, 2010, and I was musing on how great it is to be an American.  Sometimes you don't really appreciate what a blessing it is to be a citizen of the United States until you see how much the rest of the world lives.  In no way do I mean to disparage Brazil or its people.  Brazil is a beautiful country, and we love the Brazilian people we have met.  But we also are reminded of how blessed we are to have been born and raised in a country where we are free to be what we want to be, to do what we want to do, to say what we want to say, and to believe what we want to believe.  I am so grateful for both my LDS and my American heritage. Both were gifted to me by great-grandparents who were willing to leave behind the comforts of home and friends and to emigrate to the United States in the nineteenth century.  I will forever honor and pay homage to my pioneer ancestors from Norway and Holland!

Since our arrival here I haven't posted much concerning our activities here in São Paulo. To begin this post, I want to attach a picture of the Museu das Artes de São Paulo, referred to as the MASP. It is located on Avenida Paulista, the banking hub of São Paulo, just a few doors from where Carlie and I work Monday through Friday.  We have had an opportunity to visit the museum on a couple of occasions and have enjoyed the beautiful art exhibited there.

We are assigned to serve in the Centro de Recursos de Empregos (an Employment Resource Center) for individuals who are seeking to find a job, or better employment, by enrolling in classes designed to improve their communication skills and self confidence. The courses we present are given free of charge and are available for both members and nonmembers of the Church.  This being said, about 80% of those who have attended the classes I have given are members of the Church, usually between 21 and 35 years of age.

In late March, Carlie and I participated in presenting an orientation class for individuals who had accepted an invitation to help others by serving as Stake Welfare Specialists in the stakes (church units) here in São Paulo.

What you see below are pictures of that event.

As the Stake Specialists arrived at the Employment Resource Center, they were greeted by a group of young people who regularly serve as volunteers here at the Resource Center.  Many of these volunteers are individuals who previously participated in the courses we offer, and while they continue their job search, they volunteer to help others seeking employment by registering them for educational classes or other training.

Once an individual is registered, the volunteers track his or her progress, by updating their job search file with a record of each class they complete, including the number of times they come to the Resource Center to use our computers to search for employment opportunities or other educational classes offered by local governmental entities or private schools or universities.

The photo below is of Irmão Bassi, the manager of the Employment Resource Center, addressing the Stake Employment Specialists, Stake Presidents or High Councilors assigned to oversee Welfare Services.
 Here is a picture of the Resource Center, looking toward Carlie's and my office.

Carlie, standing in front of a map of São Paulo.                                                   and yours truly.

I have added a few pictures of the room in which Carlie and I present the Curso de Auto-Suficência Profissional (CASP) or in other words, the Career Workshop. This workshop is a 12-hour course, that we usually present over a three-day period, 4 hours per day.

Another view of our classroom, looking toward the front of the room.

Here is a picture of Carlie and me, posing with our first CASP class. On the table in front of the group are treats we shared at the end of the three-day course, including cookies and the best tasting fruit juice in the world, Maracujá (passion fruit).

This picture show several jobseekers using the Employment Resource Center's facilities, including its computers and announcements of job opportunities. The door left ajar in the back leads to our office.

The following pictures were taken one afternoon as we left for lunch, and encountered a street band offering some music to passers-by.  I have no idea of the occasion or what the name of the band was.  Next to the concert area we found several large puppet-like costumes that had earlier been worn by several in the crowd watching the band.  Again, no clue what they were meant to represent.



Every day is an adventure here in São Paulo, a city of 22 million inhabitants!  We love this opportunity to be here among so many friendly people! Some day we may actually get used to the traffic!