Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Mission Shopping

 We took a trip to Utah for President's Day Weekend to visit people and do some shopping.  One of our main shopping trips was going mission shopping for Adam.  We ended up at the Missionary Mall in Orem and had a great time there.  The salesman who helped us had gone on his mission to Brazil as well so that was really helpful. 

First thing he had Adam do was to go over to the big map they had on the wall and put a pin in it in Vitoria, Brazil where he will be going on his mission.  Next he got a big shopping cart for Adam and then started down the suit isle.  Adam tried on several jackets until they found the right size for him and then picked the color he liked. 

Once we were done with jackets, it was on to pants and then on to ties (which Adam thought was the best part).  He picked some great ties then it was on to miscellaneous items like mosquito netting, towels and other important things.
After all of that it was time for him to try on shoes and socks.  He tried on several pairs before settling on two favorites.  Not to mention the socks with the extra padding on the bottom, Adam thought those were great.

Well, we had everything he needed, now he needed something to put it all in and carry around for two years.  We looked at a great suitcase set that we ended up getting free which was awesome.  I paid the bill and they loaded Adam up with all of his mission stuff and we left. 

It was so nice having salesmen help us who really knew what they were talking about having been on missions themselves as well as ours in particular who knew the area Adam was going to.  It was totally worth going to the Missionary Mall!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Adam's Favorite Scripture

Our Ward Executive Secretary had been asking for Adam's favorite scripture that will be put on a placque that will be placed in our Ward building while he is on his mission.  They will give him the placque when his mission is finished.  So this is the scripture that he picked:

D&C 6:14-15

Verily, verily, I say unto thee, blessed art thou for what thou has done; for thou has inquire of me and behold, as often as thou hast inquired thou hast received instruction of my Spirit.  If it had not been so, thou wouldst not have come to the place where thou art at this time.  Behold, thou knowest that thou hast inquired of me and I did enlighten thy mind; and now I tell thee these things that thou mayest know that thou has been enlightened by the Spirit of truth.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Geography & Climate of Vitoria, Brazil

Vitória is one of three island capitals of Brazil and is located in the Southeastern region, the most developed of Brazil. It is about an hour by plane from Rio de Janier, Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte. 

Vitória borders on the north with Serra, and on the south with Vila Velha, on the east with the Atlantic Ocean and on the west with Cariacica. It has a wide variety of landscape including islands, hillsides, coves, points, mangroves and beaches.  Vitoria covers and area formed by 34 islands and a portion of the continent. Its total area of 104,26 km is formed by the biggest island (Ilha de Vitória), a portion of the continent, all the coastal islands, the estuary islands and the oceanic islands of Trindade and Martim Vaz.

The city and the continent are linked across the sea by six bridges. The biggest government funded building project ever undertaken in the state was the Darcy Castelo de Mendonça Bridge, or Terceira Ponte (The Third Bridge).  Along its 3,33 km is a beautiful view of Vitoria bay, its beaches, islands, ports and also of the Convento da Penha (Penha Convent).

Geographically speaking the island is an extension of the features of the continent, a granite formation surrounded by sea and areas of mangrove and marshland. The central peak of the island of Vitoria, Morro da Fonte Grande (The Hill at the Great Spring), has an altitude of 308.8 m and the main outcrops of granite are Pedra dos (Dois) Olhos (The two-eyed stone) at 296 m and Morro de São Benedito (The Hill of São Benedito) with an altitude of 194 m.

The climate is tropical, specifically a tropical savanna climate, and humid, with an average maximum monthly temperature of 30.4°C (86.72°F) and minimum of 24°C (75.2°F), and a heavy rainy season mainly in the months of October to January.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Brazil Visa Problems

Visa snags slow LDS missions to Brazil
The LDS Church’s São Paulo Missionary Training Center, which can accommodate up to 700 trainees, currently houses only about 60, none of them U.S. citizens. And the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has lowered the missionary age from 19 to 18 for male Brazilians to make up for the loss of full-time American missionaries.

The reason? Visa snags. And who can Mormon missionaries and their parents blame for the delays? The U.S. State Department and its counterpart in Brazil.

This is no small headache for the LDS Church. Brazil boasts more than a million members, the world’s third-largest Mormon population, after the United States and Mexico. It has 27 missions, more than any country outside the U.S. About 10 percent of the faith’s 52,000 missionaries are called to Brazil. Any disruption in the flow of full-time missionaries could slow the number of converts and hamper the stability of LDS congregations there.

Waiting for weeks or months for visas takes an emotional toll on individual missionaries.
Rachel Smith, of Taylorsville, assigned to the Brazil Maceio Mission, was initially told to report to the São Paulo training center in October 2009. But a week before her departure, she got a call saying she would learn Portuguese instead at the Provo MTC. She ended up staying five weeks beyond the usual two-month training, waiting for her visa. (Some of those waiting on visas are temporarily assigned to other missions.)
“Rachel tried to keep a positive attitude,” said her mother, Susan Smith, on Tuesday. “But she said it was hard to see people arrive at the MTC after her and leave before her.”
Susan Smith also noted the issue’s financial impact. Her daughter left for Brazil a day after her visa arrived without warning and, her mother said, the airfare was several times more than it would have been if the church had been able to buy it well in advance.

Observers say the problem has escalated in the past 18 months — after the U.S. government moved to a fully computerized visa process and required visitors from certain countries such as Brazil to be fingerprinted, pass a background check and pay higher fees.

Brazil complained about the new rules, wrote Mormon blogger Kent Larsen (times-andseasons.org), who is in the South American country this week attending a Mormon studies conference.

“It has also retaliated against some of those trying to visit Brazil, including LDS missionaries,” Larsen wrote.
Gary Neeleman, Utah’s honorary consul to Brazil, acknowledges that retaliation may motivate some of the delays. But he says the Brazilian bottleneck is caused largely by “bad planning.”

“The new system was not thought out as well as it should have been,” Neeleman said. “There are too few people dealing with the rush of visa applications, which is overwhelming.”

All Utah visas for Brazil have to be issued in Los Angeles, he said, which has half as many personnel as needed. It would be nice to ship some of the applications to less-swamped San Francisco, Neeleman said, but the system doesn’t work that way.

He has suggested that, until the problem is resolved, the LDS Church call its Brazil-bound missionaries not from Utah but from other states such as Idaho, Illinois and Indiana, which don’t have to get their visas through Los Angeles.

The process on both ends is a long one, with dual background checks here and in Brazil, said Heather Barney, spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.

“There’s not a lot we can do to speed it up,” Barney says.

Neeleman is in contact with Brazilian officials and hopes the process can be streamlined. He is encouraged by the recent appointment of Antonio Patriota as the country’s new foreign minister. Two years ago, Neeleman said, Patriota was in Utah, where he met with LDS leaders and visited Provo’s MTC.
The LDS Church believes the Brazilian visa waiting game soon will end.

The church has “a long, congenial history with Brazil and its people,” spokesman Scott Trotter said, “and we’ll continue to work through the ebb and flow of the visa process.”

But one change may be here to stay: calling Brazilian men on missions as early as age 18.

“The Brazilian educational system doesn’t normally accommodate a two-year deferment as the colleges and universities do in the United States,” Trotter said. “This allows young men to serve missions, fulfill their military obligations and receive higher-level education.”

© 2011 The Salt Lake Tribune