Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Penha Dec. 16, 2014

It felt good Tuesday morning to sleep in for a bit.  The 5 hour time difference and late nights were catching up with us.  Britten spent time making several phone calls and lining up the rest of the week.  There were so many people he wanted to see, but not enough time to accomplish that.    Sally told us about Belem's Christmas party on Saturday night, so we were grateful for the Ward Party's because that allowed Britten to see a lot of people in one night.

Tuesday evening Maria invited us to have dinner with her and her 2 children, Valeria and Roberto.  They welcomed us into their home and invited us to sit at their table that was in their family room.  Maria smiled at us and said, "My table is small but our hearts are Huge!"  She had prepared so much food for us that she had to use 2 tables.  As we have been surrounded by so many humble people, they have taught me so much.  They may have very little, but they so so grateful for what they have, and they are so very happy!

After a wonderful meal, we watched Britten's video with them.  The spirit was present that evening as I watched the tears flow from their eyes.  The young man was trying to decide whether to go on a mission, while the sister had drifted slightly.  As the video ended, she wiped tears from her eyes and said, "I feel the spirit so strongly.  It makes me want tobetter and stronger."  She continued,
"I noticed your smile (Karla) in every picture and you look so happy. I wonder, how can you be so happy with everything that has happened?"  I was grateful for that question, as it gave me the opportunity to bear my testimony and explain to her how I could be so happy.  "If we turn to our heart to the Lord and trust in him, he will give us strength and we can be happy even while we are going through our trials.  Hugs and kisses were exchanged as the spirit filled the room.
I could see the joy in her mother's eyes. Maria's smiled as she kissed me gently on the cheek and said, "thank you, thank you so much", was spoken in Portuguese.  Maria gave me a gift of 6 beautiful crocheted place mats.  Her cousin must of spent hours and hours making them and I accepted them knowing they were a gift of love.
Britten was able to talk to Roberto about the joy he felt from serving a mission. Britten said, "It was the best decision that I have made."
What a beautiful evening was spent with this family, as the spirit touched all of us.  Thank you Maria, Valeria and Roberto... You touched our lives that day with your huge hearts!

Felipe and his friend Andre picked us up, so he could to take us back to our hotel.  Andre was a life long friend of Felipe's and had spent 6 months in the USA, so he English was pretty good.  Felipe had told us that he had been trying to share the gospel with Andre.  Andre said to Felipe, "You've been gone for 2 years and you are so different...why?"  Felipe told him that he wanted him to meet Britten, because Britten and the Gospel of Jesus Christ changed him and helped him to be a better person.
As we were riding in the car, I enjoyed the conversation with Andre so much.  He was telling us that he wanted to be a pilot and so he works at the airport to get experience.  We told him about our flight and what happened to us at the Atlanta airport.  All the people were boarded on the plane ready for the plane to push back when the pilot voice came across the intercom.  "We are sorry, but a person ready to board the plane left their passport in their luggage and it has already been loaded with the cargo."  Sooo, we sat there for 1 1/2 hours so they could unload All the luggage until they found it.  Uggg! 
Andre was amazed at that crazy story.  He commented the Atlanta airport is So Huge!  I proceeded to explain to him, "That's the reason why we felt like we needed to accompany Britt on this trip. With how big the airport is and Britten's limited vision, we were worried about him not being able to see the signs and get where he needed to be."  Andre said, "What.. he can not see good?"  I immediately said, "Has Felipe not told you about Britten?"  He said, "No."
So the rest of the conversation was about Britten's accident and the miracles that happened!  Andre sat their in awe.  He couldn't quit looking at Britten.  He said, "I cant believe what you tell me....He looks so perfect!"  He then asked, "Do you think that "medicine" saved him or "faith and miracles."  We bore our testimony's that 100% of it was faith and miracles.  I said, "The doctors that told us they couldn't do anything for him...He will not survive, because there was no blood or oxygen supply to his head."  Two days later, being kept alive by life support, the miracle happened.  Dr. Ribus, the doctor that witnessed this, wrote us 5 weeks later.  He said, "We may see one or two miracles a year, and Britten is definitely that miracle."  Yes, We had witnessed "Divine Intervention".
Andre sat there dumb founded at what he was hearing.  He said, "I have a hundred more questions, but I'm just trying to take all of this in."  Steven then bore his testimony to him and how wonderful the doctors were in Brazil and how they were compassionate and very competent as cared for him.  But Britten's determination, his great attitude and his faith in God, is why he is recovering so well.

We gave Andre, Britten's card with his feeling about challenges and trials, and a DVD of his story.  We told Andre about a fireside we were doing on Sunday night. Andrea was so moved and asked if he could come?  We said, "Of course, We would be honored to have you with us."
As we retired that evening my heart was so full.  Grateful we could share our deep rooted testimonies of Jesus Christ, his atonement and the pathway of happiness in life.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Belem Dec. 15, 2014

Monday morning Britt was excited to spend the day in Belem.  He was going to visit Sally, Johanna and Mirella, who were very special to him. 
-Sally was one of his "mothers" that fed him often.  Sally had fed Britten just a couple of hours before the accident happened.  Her son Michel, told us that Sally has blamed herself this whole time. She wished she would have kept him there at the house with her.  Sally was with Britten for 11 hours at Santa Casa Hospital right after the accident.  She loved him, as if he were her own son.
Sally, a neighbor to Johanna and Mirella, was in the Belem ward and a was always sharing the gospel with everyone.  Sally was a very good missionary.  She introduced the Elders, Britten and his companion to Mirella.  Mirella was a beautiful, well behaved, mature 9 years old girl.
Britten immediately had a connection with Mirella and was so impressed with her and her mother Johanna.  Mirella was such a sweetheart and had the kindness of her mother.  Britten wrote home to tell us about this "Angel" that he had baptized, named Mirella!- 

When we arrived in Belem, Britt was anxious to see Mirella.  He stood by the front door and clapped, and Mirella immediately opened the door.  There she stood looking like a Angel, holding her little dog.  Britten bent down to gave her a big hug and Mirella just wrapped her arms around his neck.
-Last time Mirella had seen Britten was in the hospital after the accident.  It must had been terrifying for her as Britten was not recognizable, as his face was so beaten up and swollen.  But this little Angel stood by Britten's bedside while tears ran down her cheeks.-
I'm sure seeing Britten after 2 1/2 years was a wonderful sight to her.  This was the missionary, that taught her and brought the love of Christ into her life, and into her home.  Hopefully the awful memories in the hospital faded away, as she could see Britten had recovered and was back to his handsome self.  Britten then gave Mirella a gift...a CTR necklace, so she would always remember to Choose the Right.

It was then Sally's turn.  Sally held Britten and tears flowed from her eyes, as she cried and cried and cried.  Sally sat and stroked his face, and she was thrilled with his recovery and return to Brazil.

We sat around and enjoyed a great visit and Johanna's nephew Jai, joined us.  Johanna was in the kitchen preparing a exquisite meal for us.  As we walked into the kitchen and they seated us at the table, I marveled at the beautiful food in front of us.

  They treated us like royalty, and the food was fit for a queen.  Steven called her, "The Master Chef".  Just when we thought we couldn't eat one more bite, she brought out 2 mouthwatering desserts!

We shared the story with her about "roll me out the door".  We told her, this is #rollmeoutthedoorday4!  We convinced Johanna, to save the 2nd dessert for a little later in the afternoon.

Then we went into the family room and Steven and I showed them Britt's video that we had made in Portuguese, just for our trip to Brazil.  I looked over during the video and Sally took Britten's hands and held them the whole time, while she just cried.
It was heartwarming to see Sally's reaction as she watched the video as Britten started to progress.  When she saw the part of Britt shooting the basketball, and then finally him making the basket... Sally cheered and cheered as if she were there!
The spirit touched us all, where at the end of the video it says, "Have miracles ceased?.... Behold, I say unto you, Nay."  Moroni 7:33    Tears were wiped away, as Sally, Mirella & Johanna had prayed with faith, for Britten's life... they were part of this great miracle!

How great it was to spend time with Sally, Mirella, Johanna, and Jai.  You are dear not only to Britten, but also Steven and I.
We love you!

Sally wanted to take us to her house next, as she just lived down the street.  We patiently walked with
Sally while she told us this was the first time she had walked to Johanna's.  Three months earlier, Sally had a stroke, leaving the right side of her body partially paralyzed.  Sally has much determination, and has been working very hard to get the use of her leg and arm back.  Sally's determination and faith reminds me a lot of Britten!
The next couple of hours, we enjoyed our visit, as Sally told us many stories about Britt.  She told us that she was getting ready for a wedding and she wanted to paint and make the place look a little nicer.  Britten asked her if she had some paint, and he would do it.  Sally said, " you need more help than just you and your companion."  Britten said, "Alright, I will get 2 more Elders to help".  The next day, Britten had three other Elders to help paint her house.  Sally said that it was Britten that ended up painting most of the house, while the others watched.  She asked Britten, "where did you learn to paint so good?"  He laughed and said, "my mother taught me!  We do a lot of things like this!"

Sally related another story...Britten was to each lunch at a members house one afternoon, but it fell through.  They decided to walk to Sally's, because they knew she would feed them.  When they got to Sally's, they told her of their situation.  Sally invited them in, not telling Britten and his companion about her own situation.  She didn't have any food... only had enough in her frig for one meal to feed  her and her daughter.  Sally told us, that she would not turn down the missionary's, so she fed them the last of her food.  That afternoon, Sally's daughter come home from work very excited!  She had received a Big raise at work that day and had money for food.
Hearing Sally's story touched our hearts, as we realized she was a woman of faith. 
As Sally related another story, I realized how special the bond was between her and Elder Schenk.
Britten had stopped by to visit Sally one day and she was really struggling with not feeling well.  Some things had not gone well that day and her knees were really bothering her.  After they had visited for awhile, Britten asked her what they could do for her?  She said, "nothing.  I am fine".  Britten kept asking her what they could help her with and she continued to say, "I'm fine, I'm fine".
Britten then asked Sally if they could give her a blessing?  Sally said, "I will never turn down a blessing".  Sally told us that Britten gave her a beautiful blessing and told her she would start feeling better and that everything would be okay.  Sally then told us that a few days later, was when Britten's accident happen.   She stood in the hospital for 11 hours while praying for Elder Schenk.  She said,  "and my knees didn't bother me at all.  The power of the Priesthood is real!"   Steven and I was moved to see the mutual love and respect that Sally and Britten had for each other.  They both trusted in the Lord and showed unwavering faith.

Later that afternoon Sally's son Michel, his wife and 3 children came to visit.  Sally got the idea for Michel to take us to the first hospital where the Doctors removed Britten's shattered skull.  Sally wanted the doctors to see Britten and his miraculous recovery.  So Michel was kind enough to take us
to the Santa Casa Hospital. We had been told that it was a old Monastery, that was converted into a hospital.  When we drove up to the hospital, I was amazed at this incredible sight.  Yes, it was a old monastery, but not what I had pictured in my mind. It was a beautiful Catholic Cathedral that had been renovated and made into a Medical School, probably like the University of Utah. We were in awe at the sight of this building. 
We walked down many of the halls and took pictures, while trying to find someone to talk to about finding out information on the doctors that did Britten's surgery.  Finally, a lady told us that the office was closed, but if we come back tomorrow someone could help us find the records and look up the doctors names.
We had a very peaceful feeling leaving the Santa Casa Hospital, and felt very content as we walked away.  We were so thrilled that we were able to see his beautiful building and even though we didn't see the doctors, we knew they played and important role in Britten's life.

When we arrived back to Sally's at 10:00 pm she and her daughter-in-law placed a wonderful dinner before us.  Of course we laughed and said, #rollmeoutthedoorday4!
Later, we watched Britten's video with Michel and his family and they were so touched.  They had heard Sally talk of Britten all this time, and knew how special their relationship was. 

Michel, who was director of the Institute in his area, asked if he
could share Britten's story with the students there.  We agreed of course and gave him a DVD of Britten's story.
It had been a privilege to spend the afternoon and evening with Sally, her son Michel and family. 

Sally sent me home with a beautiful gift of two hand towels that she had made.  Our family's heart had been
touched that day, to feel of the love Sally had for our son, and also for us. 
Thank You Sally, for opening your heart and home to our family!

                         Of course, I couldn't resist, playing with their hair!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Sunday Dec. 14, 2014

Steven, Britten and I attended church with the Penha Ward the next morning.  It was wonderful to walk in and know so many people, as we did not feel like visitor's.  We were greeted with hugs and kisses again, and it felt like we had been there for months.
Britten felt at home as he was able to understand and speak most of the portuguese language.  -When Britten was on his mission his portuguese was so fluent, that he was often mistaken for being Brazilian!  After the accident he lost all his English and Poruguese and has spent the past 2 1/2 years relearning.  So to return to Brazil and communicate so well in Portuguese, was thrilling to Britt!
Steven could understand most of the portuguese language because it is so similiar to Spanish, which he learned while serving his mission in Chile.  But I didn't understand anything other than to say Hola, Oi, Chao, and Obrigada. I enjoyed the meetings and the spirit that was there, even though I understood very little.  A return sister missionary handed me her phone and turned to the lesson in Relief Society, so I was able to read along and what a beautiful lesson it was!

When the music started it was wonderful to be able to sing and participate.  No matter what nationality we are or what language we speak, the familiarity of the church hymns brings us all together!

The afternoon was spent with another convert of Britten's, Regina.   Regina and Haide were Britten's first converts and they were baptized on the same day.
Regina is a beautiful, quiet and humble women.   Britten had told me that as soon as Regina was baptized that she became very invovled in the Ward.  She would volunteer to help where-ever help was needed and was always so willing to do, whatever the Relief Society asked of her.  So, Britten was so thrilled to see that Regina was still active in the church.
 She prepared a wonderful meal for us and Icaro, then she and Britten had a good visit.

Icaru and his darling little girl Claira, graciously drove us around for the afternoon, and it was fun to get to know this outgoing, fun, energic young man.  Little Claira had been sick all week and even spent time in the hospital.  We enjoyed holding and hugging Claira the rest of the day, but I think she
particulary loved Grandpa Steve!

Icaru took us back to Felipe's home, where Britten and I had a rest.  Steven and Icaru enjoyed each others company as they shared many stories and had many good laughs!  Celina, Icaru's wife joined us after she got off work.

Iza prepared another big, wonderful meal for us.  The saying...#rollmeoutthedoor  became a joke after every meal.  

Laughter filled the room for hours as we shared stories.  We had a hard time ending the evening at midnight, but We needed to get some rest.  Icaro and Celina offered to take us to our hotel, even though it would add a extra hour of travel for him.

 We are so grateful for our new Brazilian friends, and the wonderful memories we have made!

           Thank you Iza, Felipe, Lohony....Icaro, Celina and Claria
We love you!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Penha, Brazil Dec. 13, 2014

It was very hard to enjoy all the sights and scenery the first time we came to São Paulo.   Our attention was at the hospital with our son, who had been hit by a bus.   They didn't give us much hope for his survival.  If he did live, only a 10% chance of him functioning.  After arriving in Brazil they gave us the news that we were going to the hospital to say goodbye as Britten would not survive,...there was nothing they could do for him.  There was no blood or oxygen flow to his brain.  After receiving this news we drove the next two hours to get to the hospital.

The congested traffic of horns honking and motorcycles weaving in and out of traffic put my nerves on pins and needles.  I tensed up into knots and didn't even notice the scenery around me. It was all a blur....

Being able to return to Brazil has been very healing to me and Steven.  We have been able to take in the beautiful sights down to every little detail and share precious time with the people that Britten loved..  With being here only 2 days, we now understand why Britten was living his dream.  The Brazilians are a beautiful, happy, humble and generous people that would welcome you in their home and give you their last meal.  The love we feel from them is heartwarming, as they greet everyone with a hug and a kiss on the cheek.  I already love these people I have barely met!

The streets in Sao Paulo are very crazy as we have decided the white lines mean very little. haha  Felipe's mother told us, "If you can drive in Sao Paulo, You can drive anywhere!"  This time I noticed all the horns, but in a different way.  Yes, the horns are always honking or short toot, toots, but this is to say, "can I move over in your lane? OR "thank you for letting me in".  Felipe says, the 90% of the tooting horns are to say Thank You.  Much different than the U.S. haha  Many of the streets are made of cobblestone but most are patched asphalt. 

Most of the streets are lined with concrete walls.  The
buildings and walls are so colorful and most have graffiti style paintings on them varying  in a   wide range of art work. Many streets  are lined with beautiful trees, and flowering bushes.  Such a beautiful site to take in.  How grateful I am to be able to notice all the little details, that give me a wonderful feeling about Sao Paulo.

Our first visit was to Haide, Britten's first baptism.  She was converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and gave her heart and soul to the missionary's as she loved them and fed them every day.  Haide never had any children of her own, so she adopted every missionary (especially Britten) and found great joy and love in serving them and making sure they were taken care of.

Knowing the special relationship that Britten and Haide had, I made sure my camera was ready to get this great reunion!  When Haide opened the door, she threw her arms around Britt and hugged him tightly...and then the tears started.  She just cried and cried as she held him.  It was as if she was seeing the return of her own son!  She said, "I have worried and worried about you. I am so happy to see you!"
We sat at her table as she fed us a wonderful meal.  Britten and Haide talked non-stop as they had so much to catch up on.  Britten loved Haide's cooking and shared a fun story.  -One time there was a  zone conference where the Elder's were playing soccer. Jokingly, Britten told Haide that she should   she bring her amazing beans and rice to their soccer game.  Britten laughed and said,  "And guess who showed up?  Haide!  She had made beans and rice for ALL of us! 
I told Haide, that was very nice of her.  She replied, "I do it for people I love...and I love the missionary's!"   To this day, she is still feeding the missionary's!
I have a great love for Haide as she was like a mother to my son and cared for him as if he was her son.  Thank you Haide, we will always love you!

The rest of the afternoon was spent on the road with Felipe getting things ready for his Ward Christmas party. As we entered the Penha Stake Center everything looked familiar.  This was the building that Steven and I had talked at, when we spoke to the missionary's at their Zone Conference. It was such a peaceful feeling to return to a place of such special memories. 

With the Christmas music playing and the stage decorated with
Christmas trees and decor, hundreds showed up to celebrate the Christmas season.  When Britten entered the building, members immediately flocked to him, as they were so excited to see him.  Britten shared the same enthusiasm as he was thrilled to be reunited with the people he genuinely  loved.      

It was fun to see several older women throw their arms around Britt and say to me, "I feed your son many times. He is like my son. I love him so much!" I didn't realize how many mothers he really had! How grateful I am to the many Mothers that took care of our son and loved him as their own!

It brought joy to Steven and I, as we watched how the Ward received him.  Eric, a return missionary  who knew Britten before he left on his mission said, "Every one loves Britten. He is a legend here." 

We didn't realize how much Britten's accident affected this Ward as well as other Wards that knew him. Bishop told Steven, "This is the most united Ward in the church. Partly because of Britten and the miracles they have seen and heard of."


Britten was so excited to return to the Penha Ward because he had many connection in this ward. Many individuals had a great impact on his life, as he was able to share the gospel with them and help in their convertion. 

The prepared buffet was amazing and hundreds enjoy the evening as we listened to the beautiful Christmas music and program.
The spirit warmed our souls as we shared the evening with a our new friends... They made us feel part of the Penha Ward.

The party started at 6:00 and was still going strong at 10:00 when Santa Claus came.  Everyone got the opportunity to sit on Santa's lap!  Even us!

We are so grateful for the spirit that was there that evening as we celebrated the birth of our Savior and Redeemer of the World.   We are grateful for the Penha Ward and how they received us with open arms!  It was privelage for us to be in your presence!    
Feliz Natal!