Our First Christmas in Brazil
This was our 1st Christmas in the mission field. I wondered what it would be like this year with out tons of family around, snow, skiing and Christmas lights. Our 1st Christmas in the mission field was better than I could have imagined because these 4 people arrived. They had a horrible airplane experience that stretched over 3 days...with missed flights, the airline wouldn't allow carry ons(which with kids... is a must have), no sleep, 2 red eye flights, no luggage when they put them up in a hotel, and then to top it off they lost their luggage....but they eventually made it to Brazil! This is the cute "count down" Tiffany made to get Jade excited about Brazil and to teach her a little about Brazil.
At the beginning of December it started to look like Christmas despite the lack of snow ....Brazil Style....
At our mall they have this giant 2 storey Christmas tree where you get to visit with Santa. It has a Christmas train that you get to ride that circles the tree.....unlimited fun for the grandkids!
The mall had a phone booth in the mall where you get to talk directly to Santa. I took a picture of Bruce pleading with Santa to be put back on the nice list :)..Santa reluctantly granted his wish.
It seemed a little weird with out snow, real Christmas trees, fireplaces, Snow Angels and snowmen this year...but they sure know how to make things beautiful this time of year.
Everyone was asking us what we are getting each other for Christmas out in the mission field...Tiffany, Alex and their family were the best gift one could have.
Opening presents was so much fun...Jade got fairy wings, play makeup, a Baby Alive doll that really eats and even does the result of eating too :) (it was pretty amazing), hex bug water fish, mermaid tales and a mermaid doll that lights up in the water(my personal favorite).
On Christmas Day we had the office Elders and the Assistants for dinner and for all the Christmas day fun. One of the Elders joked that he was fasting for 3 days so he could be ready to eat all the Christmas treats on Christmas day. We had Turkey and all the fix'ins. We even had "Hill salad" because my sweet mother in law sent me all the ingredients in a care parcel. We had other yummy homemade treats thanks to a parcel for my sister Sandy and suitcase full of gifts from Brittany and Jason with much needed ingredients for some of my recipes. We had 2 types of Cheese cake, carmel corn, dream bars, and a "Canadian" treat called....White Chocolate brownie with ice cream with my mom's famous chocolate sauce.
We seriously ate all day, played soccer(the Canadian/American/Peruvian team may have won against the Brazilian team...but who was keeping score :) ), played games (Farkle, Monopoly Deal, Bounce Off etc.), watched a Disney movie, played ping pong(they say it like pingy pongy :) ) I'm sure the missionaries favorite part was the the Skype call home.
Natalie and her family have been practicing a special Portugese song from the Children's song book called, "Family's can be together forever". It brought tears to my eyes. I love their sweet voices and miss them all very much! It was touching!
Here are some of the highlights of the Christmas season....
Nap time in Grandma's Hammock
Sergel's Ice....as Jade would say..."it's amaaaaazing"!
The temple here in Campinas Brazil has a hotel for those traveling that also plan to attend the temple, the temple president also lives inside!
It was so nice going to the temple with these two.
We had a great day at the Zoo in Itatiba...
It was a smaller zoo but very interactive... in some parts you could even touch the animals :)
It was like a jungle at the zoo...this leaf was bigger than Jade...it was so beautiful there!
We found this scared little turtle on the path.
Jade loved touching the animals...after all the kids left she was still petting them.
They also had an area where you could ride horses. Jade was scared at first but with a little "reverse phychology" she got on the horse. She loved it!
Touching the friendly birds was FUN for Jade and even Grandma.
Jade loves her room at our house. She gets to pick between two beds every night and Leanora disinfects, cleans toys, organizes and makes her bed every day! She also has her own hammock on her balcony.
We took Alex and Tiffany to a Churruscaria in Campinas. The food was awesome. They give you a circle with one side green and one side red, much like Tucano's in Utah. They come around continually through out the meal with all different sorts of meats to try. All the meats are on a stick. If you are full you turn the circle to the green side. Our circle was constantly green so..we could barely move after.
We all had fun at Taquaral bike riding, playing at the park, drinking coconuts and vitaminas!
Their Salads here are bizarre, yet surprisingly delicious!
And of course like everyone else this month, we saw Starwars!
Play dough time with Grandpa "pumpa"!
Train time...when we were packing the sea can before we left for Brazil...I made sure I packed all my Grandma toys.
When they arrived they had no luggage...so we had to do a little shopping.
Jade got a mermaid tale that goes in the water...she is obsessed with mermaids...she had fun playing in the pool and pretending she was a mermaid.
Here are some more fun things I love about Brazil....
The birds are so colorful in Brazil. You see these colorful birds all the time....you can't miss them because they are so bright against the trees and sky.
Visits from Grandkids... Jader's is taking over Grandpa's mission office...
...Christmas tours with my family!
We had a talent show at each of the conferences....these missionaries are loaded talents. We traveled out to each of the areas having a conference in the morning and in the afternoon. The family got to see the whole mission in 3 days, it was a whirlwind trip. Not only are these missionaries great teachers of the gospel but they can sing, play the piano, act, draw, play the violin etc.....
Jade LOVED all the missionaries and ALL the ATTENTION...
I love this pic too...
We had a blow out on the highway the first day of the tour.
The Assistants, office Elders, Tiffany, Alex and Bruce went around doing some secret santa surprises...
This is one of my favorite pictures with all our beautiful Sister missionaries and a cute little "Future Missionary" in the center.
Jade was able to participate in all the activities with the missionaries...she was in heaven!
We visited all the zones in a 3 day period bringing out all their packages, letters and Brazilian Christmas cake donated by the Martin family.
The very last day of the Christmas tour we were headed to Pouso Alegre at the farthest end of the mission. We hit what we thought was just some BAD traffic. We later found out that a large pedestrian walkway had collapsed on the highway. It took them over 14 hours to move it. What should have been an 1 hour drive took us over 8 hours. We were stopped most of the time and then when we did move... Jade could have walked faster that the traffic was moving. We had spotty cell reception so we had a hard time communicating with the final zone on the tour. At one point we considered taking the next turn back home....but the thought of those sad missionaries faces when they heard that their Christmas packages didn't arrive kept us crawling forward. At one point we did decided to turn back because it going to be dark soon and we had no spare tire. We got a flat tire the first day of the tour. It is dangerous to travel at night especially with no back up spare. So we took the turn to go home and Bruce saw these two men on the side of the road and asked them if they knew of any side roads around the accident site. Well, this was a tender mercy because they knew of an old country road that could possibly lead us around the accident. This next picture is the road that took us around the accident site.
A one hour drive turned into an 8 hour drive but we finally arrived over 8 hours later...seeing this wonderful crowd made the nightmare trip ALL worth it!
It was too late for the talent show and Christmas message but we did get to go out to eat with them and deliver their packages and letters from home.
This Christmas couldn't have been better because we were surrounded by family and 182 missionaries who have become our family too.....