22 August 2010

Our Trip to Embu das Artes - August 21,2010

Yesterday, Carlie and I traveled to the small city of Embu, (also known as Embu das Artes) about 40 minutes west of São Paulo.

Embu had its beginning in 1554, when a group of Jesuits founded a small settlement about halfway between the sea and the unexplored interior of Brazil.  Their desire was to establish a mission with the objective of teaching the natives about Christianity and at the same time developing a workforce for the ranchers/farmers that would be settling in the area.

In 1607, the lands which encompassed the small settlement were given to Fernão Dias, an uncle to one of the explorers searching for emeralds, which were plentiful in Brazil's interior.  In 1624, he donated the village back to the Jesuits, and in about 1690, a church was built in the village.  That church, Nossa Senhora do Rosário, still stands, and is pictured below.  Carlie and I toured the church (now a museum) and enjoyed the many church relics that are displayed therein.  Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take any photos within the church.

Over the past forty years, Embu has become well-known for its art exhibits and as a place to buy the creations of a variety of artisans and craftsmen.  The pictures below will give you an idea of what happens each weekend in Embu when the town fills with visitors to the small shops and temporary structures that display the artisan's "treasures."  In addition, many small restaurants or other food establishments are open for business.

We were especially interested in purchasing a couple of pieces of art with which to decorate our condominium here in São Paulo.  In the small praça in the center of Embu (seen below)


I decided to purchase a particular "batik style" painting from a young artist who, among many local artists, was selling her creations. We also visited a very fine art gallery in Embu where Carlie was especially attracted to the creations of Edison Luiz Fagundes de Castro ( pen-name of Edison Lufaac). Our two purchases shown below now adorn our living room walls.

We plan on returning to Embu in the next few months, to explore the many little shops we didn't have time to visit yesterday.  And perhaps we will find more things we "just have to have."

Until next time....

15 August 2010

São Paulo Temple

Here is our view of the São Paulo Temple from our condominium apartment window.

07 August 2010

Our First Stake CASP - Campo Limpo Stake

Today we presented the final day of the Curso Autossuficiente Profissional (CASP), or in other words, the Career Workshop, for the São Paulo Campo Limpo Stake. 

While we present the CASP weekly in the downtown São Paulo Employment Center (CRE), we are trying to take the CASP to the members in the outlying stakes.  We are concerned that many can not afford to take time off or the travel expense to be a part of the workshop at the CRE between 9:00 am and 1:00 pm for three consecutive days of the work week.  So instead, we proposed that we come to the stake centers and give a 4-hour class on a Friday evening, and then present an 8-hour class the following day.

The first stake to take us up on our offer was the Campo Limpo Stake.  After making arrangements to present the CASP in Campo Limpo, an outlying São Paulo "bairro" (neighborhood), we were excited that fifteen members had signed up to be a part of the class. The Campo Limpo Stake Welfare Specialist, Brother Harry Kaestner, requested that we present the course on three consecutive Saturdays, from 9am to 1pm.  We agreed to do so, because of the number of potential participants.

Since we were transporting a lot of materials for the course, we elected to take a taxi to this, the first of the three planned sessions.  I have attached photos of the Campo Limpo Stake Center.  It is a beautiful building, constructed about 3 years ago.  The stake recently decided to expand their parking lot to accommodate the members of the stake which is comprised of 7 wards. You may notice that the landscaping is still a work in progress.

Last week we met in the Stake High Council room on the north side of the building (above on the right, toward the back of the building).  As it turned out, a construction team was busy with a jackhammer, tearing up a part of the recently completed parking lot, forcing us to retire to a large classroom on the other side of the building.

I have attached photos of the building from various angles for your viewing.  It is really a beautiful building, both inside and outside, as you can see. Note the sturdy iron fence that protects the property.  It is very similar to the iron fence that surrounds the São Paulo temple and the Church Area Offices here in São Paulo.

 What you are looking at in this photo is the front east entrance to the building.  The next view is of a narrow courtyard that goes from the front foyer to the back foyer.

 The following pictures are of the Chapel (immediately to the right in the above picture), and then of the large Cultural Hall behind the Chapel.  Currently, a platform extends out from the stage in the Cultural Hall, apparently for a stake event.

The following pictures are of other views from behind the stake center and from each side of the building.  Note the basketball court behind the building.

While 15 participants signed up to take the CASP, only 7 showed up last Saturday, which disappointed both Brother Kaestner and us.  Nonetheless, we plodded on, giving the first of three planned sessions.

Today, as we returned for the second day of class, only four participants showed up, which further disappointed us. Since those who came to the class last week will not be able to receive a Certificate of Completion without attending the session they missed, Brother Kaestner has agreed to present the class information they missed today, that is, if they are willing to spend the additional time needed to finish the CASP. 

With only 4 participants there today, we decided to consolidate today's class with next Saturday's class, thus finishing the CASP for those who attended.  Below you will see the CASP participants, standing for a graduation picture with Carlie and me.  Brother Kaestner is the tall individual in the back row.

Following our class today, Brother Kaestner invited Carlie and me over to his home to have lunch with him and his family.  I have attached  the following picture of Danielle and Harry Kaestner, and their three young boys.

I also took pictures of their neighborhood from their front porch (their home is on the third floor above their auto repair shop building).  The first floor is a automobile repair shop, run by Harry's father-in-law and Harry's nephew.  Harry's father-in-law lives on the second floor, and Harry and his family on the third floor.  They have lived there for the past nine years.

These pictures from the Kaestner porch are typical of the bairros of São Paulo. The neighborhods are quite colorful and remind me of the Brazil I knew as a young missionary.

The Kaestners were married in the São Paulo temple 9 years ago. Both families joined the Church when Harry and his wife were young children, if I remember correctly.  Harry served a mission in Provo, Utah, and learned to speak English as a result of four years of study here in São Paulo, and then his mission experience. His wife also speaks some English, and is currently going to school to get her degree in languages. She would like to be a teacher.

Até mais.

01 August 2010

A Day at the Beach in Gaurujá, Brazil

A week ago past Friday, Carlie and I traveled to Gaurujá, a small beach town north of Santos, here in the State of São Paulo, about 70 kilometers from the City of São Paulo. We again traveled with the Litsters, another missionary couple serving here in São Paulo.  They are responsible for overseeing the Seminary Program here in São Paulo. In Brazil, school is out for vacation the entire month of July (as férias), and so there were no seminary classes being held.

The drive to Gaurujá was spectacular, especially when compared to the drive to Galveston from Houston.  We had to cross a range of heavily wooded mountains that lie along the coast of Brazil.  Several miles of the journey were actually through several long tunnels, some more than a mile in length. The highways are also very spacious and in good repair. However, once we got into Gaurujá, the infrastructure was not especially good, except for the roads that took us directly to the beach.

The day was somewhat overcast and a little cool (remember, its winter here), and therefore the beaches weren't crowded, but there were several surfers in the water. We spent an hour or so walking along the Atlantic ocean, dipping our feet into the water, and wishing that we (correction- only I was wishing I) had brought a swimming suit.

As you can see, condominiums and hotels line the beach at its southern most end. On its northern end, the beach fronts a lot of smaller private beach houses. At the very northern end of the beach lies a private or exclusive community of larger homes and what appears to be an exclusive resort or hotel.

 Carlie really doesn't like to have her picture taken whenever we go anywhere, but I took it anyway. I also bribed her into letting me take a picture with the two of us standing together, and one with Carlie and the Litsters. 

You will note that even at the beach we proudly wore our missionary name plates.  I am sure everyone was wondering what the two old couples with extremely white legs were doing on their beach! And please excuse my  BYU basketball shorts and a shopping bag! I had stuff to carry!

Now you can see why Carlie was hesitant to have her picture taken with me!

Even at Brazilian beaches there is always someone trying to sell you something; in this case, it was more beachwear. Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything my size....

We plan on returning to the beach when it gets warmer, either in the Spring or in the Summer.  And just maybe, I'll have to buy a bathing suit!

Before saying goodbye to Gaurujá, we did a little shopping and had a wonderful lunch together.

Carlie would also have me tell you about the special desert treat we enjoyed after dinner. It was really quite unique.  It consisted of pizza dough that was shaped and then inserted into a metal cone (like an ice cream cone).  The cone was then packed with several layers of shaved chocolate and mozzarella, and then placed into a toasting oven. After browning the pizza dough, and melting its contents, it was served to us with a paper sleeve (it was too hot to hold otherwise). To say the least, it was memorable!

We will return to Gaurujá!