Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Brazil Part I - Sao Paulo & The English Convention

Note: It took me a while to get all of the pictures together for this. Hence it was written when it was happening, and i'm just posting it now a week later.

What a brotherhood we have in Jehovah’s Organization! This last week here in Sao Paulo has been truly among the most amazing experiences in my entire life. Time will fail me if I try to do this story justice by including all of the pictures, experiences, and new friends that I gained over this week. As such I will endeavor to relate as much as I can.

First a little about the family that hosted us, without whom, we never would have been able to get anywhere, or eat anything, or survive for that matter at all. We stayed with the Zerede family Stephanie 16, Matthas 18, and Mom and Dad were very helpful throughout the entire weekend.

Brazil Bethel

Our first full day in Brazil started at 6 AM when we left our house and headed towards Bethel which is located very far outside of the city limits in the country side. We met a brother at the train station who then took us all the way there in his car, about an hour and a half long drive. Once we arrived we were so happy that we had arrangements for us to eat lunch with the Bethel family. After our lovely meal of rice and beans (a Staple food that is sorely lacking in Buenos Aires), fresh fruit, and fruit juice, we stayed for a while and met many different brothers and sisters that our Hosts knew.

We even met a sister who spoke English and offered to give us the tour in English. What followed was a lovely tour around the complex that is the most expansive I have seen outside of New York. The Brazil branch houses one of the largest printing operations in the world along with Mexico, Germany, Japan, and of course the USA. It was nice to see how Bethel life is very similar no matter way you are in the world. All of the departments we have in the States are here also. The rooms look the same, the dining room, the meals, and Bethel routine; it’s all the same no matter where you are.

One of the things that was very unique about Brazil bethel is that, in addition to the facilities, there are also two very special expositions that are located there for the tour groups. One is a detailed look at the story behind Jehovah’s Witnesses under Nazi Assault, and the second chronicles the history of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Brazil.

The Nazi exhibit is full of pictures, artifacts and stories about the extreme persecution our brothers underwent during the Nazi regime. While going through it you cannot help but be moved by the suffering inflicted one these dear brothers during this time. It also shows in great detail how the Catholic Church played a large role in Hitler’s rise to power, and the blood that is on their hands because of it. This is especially striking to most of the visitors who see it because this is the largest catholic country on Earth. This entire exhibit was show throughout the country on several occasions resulting a great witness being given. The most moving piece for me was at the very end there is a large black stone wall that has engraved upon it the names of all of the brothers and sisters who were killed as a result of the Nazi rĂ©gime. I tell you the truth I do not see how it is possible to look at that, and shed a tear…

This is the brother who wrote "Forward You Witnesses" while on a death march in the camps.

The second exhibit about the history of the Witnesses in Brazil was quite a bit happier than the other one. It shows how from 8 Brazilian sailors who found the truth while their ship was in port in New York in the 1920s, the work has expanded to the point that now Brazil has the largest amount of publishers outside of the USA in the world.

During the course of our day we also were introduced to a lovely couple from Sweden who had been sent to Brazil as Gilead Missionaries in the 1970s. They kindly invited us up to their room after our tour for dinner. After we spent a few hours with them, we started on the long trip home. We arrived home around 11:00 pm truly a full day, but one well spent.

Our dear Swedish sister who is next to her Gilied picture from 70

Pidgin English...Awesome!

Sao Paulo

On Thursday we wanted to explore Sao Paulo a bit. So we recruited Stephanie (Who ditched school for us) and a sister Xerxes had met in BsAs who was visiting from Sao Paulo named Mariana, to show us around the city. As I had said before, Sao Paulo is not really known for having things that are of interest to visitors. Our main guide Mariana however did manage to introduce us to a few new things, and give us a lovely day in the city. Mostly I took pictures of the crazy exotic fruit as you will see. Here are some of the pictures to show you what that involved.

Dave Tamura anyone?

It looked like an artichoke, but tasted like tomatoes.

The Convention

Our house was full of guests as we were not the only people that our host family was putting up for the convention. Including us, there were a total of 10 different people that stayed over for parts of the weekend, in addition to the 4 in the family who live there. So as you can imagine it was not the easiest thing for that many people to all get ready in the morning but somehow we did it. (It helped that the house we were staying in
had 8 bathrooms.)

The convention was held at the local Assembly Hall which conveniently was only about 5 min from our house. Absolutely beautiful is the only way I can describe it. As you look through the
pictures below you will see what I am talking about.

This convention was the first full three day convention that has ever been held in the country. There is an entire circuit here of English with over 10 full congregations, and several groups spread throughout the entire country. The brothers and sisters who has parts were mainly Brazilians who had learned English, but there were a few notable exceptions with several American, British, South African, native speakers having parts. (Our Swedish friend Lars from Bethel also had two talks) While the English might not have been the easiest to listen and pay attention to, the effort put forth by the brothers to do all of this in a foreign language (For them) was truly remarkable.

Below are some pictures and videos from the program. (More coming soon)

This brother was interviewed during the talk about being disciplined by Jehovah. He related how he was reproved as a young man when he had many privileges and how hard it was for him to go through the embarrasment. But then he related how much it benefited from it, however thing in his life got better from that moment on. When he started listing the good things he has now in his life (his Ministry, Elder, English Congregation, Wife and Family) he started to cry in thanks to Jehovah for everything he had...needless to say this was the best interview of the whole convention. Then this brother had about 3 min to pull himself together because he had the very next talk (Pictured here).

But of course my favorite part was all of the dear friends that we met. Me and Xerxes we kind of celebrities most of the time among the friends there. On the one hand we were American, but we also were representing the Buenos Aires English group, and along with it the whole of Argentina at the convention. It was quite a surprise to me, that several brothers thought that Xerxes and I were real life Argentines (Since they don’t speak Spanish and can only talk to us in English they simply assumed that we were native Portenos).

On Saturday night our host family had a cookout for us, and we were pleased to see that a good number of the people we had met at the convention were there also.

Many email exchanges, and a million pictures later we were sad to see that the convention had reached its end. Today Xerxes left for Rio by plane, I elected to take a bus for around $50 and enjoy the scenery along the way. I will never forget the love that this family showed for us, and the brothers and sisters we met and came to know.

Extra Convention Pictures

Funny Moments From Sao Paulo

Below is a collection of several things that made us laugh quite hard during our stay in Sao Paulo...Please dont be offended.

Random out of context quotes:

How does your mom make lazanga, with meat? - Xerxes
I dont know what you mean by meat. - Stephanie
You know...dead animals... - Dominick
No she doesn't use dead animals! She makes it, you know with cheese and ham...Stephanie
Where did the ham come from? - Dominick

I dont know what that was, but it was wet... - Domninick

Oh ya, I have luscious lips - Xerxes

Teaching Swearing Class:

Since Xerxes and I were the native speakers all weekend...many people had many different questions for us. The most common questions usually had to do with which words are swear words, and whether or not we can use certain words. Since one of the main ways that people learn English here is by watching movies which include lots of swearing, they often have a hard time figuring out which words are really swears and which are not. All of this lead to what I termed "Swearing Class" having to be taught by Xerxes and myself. We introduced a system of grading the severity of the swear words by using a Pyramid design. With the worst words at the top and then working our way down. After this class was taught, we heard a lot less "Good Faith Swearing" (As I have come to call it) coming from our new friends.

Pyramid levels of swearing

Level 1
Words you are never, ever allowed to say!
Level 2
Words you hear on TV and in Movies, but that Witnesses also never would say, but are not quite as bad as level 1.
Level 3
Words that you hear people say, but as Witnesses we should not say, unless readin certain bible verses that contain them used properly.
Level 4
Words and phrases that people say all the time, but you really shouldnt say on the stage or in the kingdom hall.
Level 5
Words and phrases that are a personal matter.

New words learned at the Convention: (I promise these are the actual words all 1,200 in attendance heard uttered)

After that long hard day at work, I was just so "Anointed" when i got home. (Annoyed)
I really want to go to this party Dad, I mean "Gaytering" (Gathering)
Many are taught that God has A Bo Don Dun ed (Abandoned) them.
Stop "Jewdg ing" and you will not be "jewed" (Judging).
Have you ever been asked to do a "down" task? This thing was very "downing" for her(Daunting).
Mary was very "Sexy-ful" in completing her role. (Successful)
We must be "Fu&*usd" (Focused) on the bible. (My personal Favorite)

This was my favorite picture. This is in the Bathroom as the Assembly hall.

Nickname List

Just to show that even in other countries i still end up giving nicknames to everyone i meet i present you with this, the list of all of the nicknames we came up with for people we met over the week.

Chancho (Chanchito)
Polla Pollita
Feris (Ferret)
Chiquita (Andressa)
Stone Cold Steve Austin
Viking Princess (Norweigen)
Mad Persian
The man of the sons of Anakim (Dutch Monster)
Stan Lee
Colonel Sanders
The 12 Year old stalker
Chancho's Brasilia Girlfriend


  1. The hall looks beautiful!! Some of that fruit didn't though . . .

  2. Thanks so much for posting your experiences on this site. It is so encouraging to hear about the work going on in other countries. I would like to know what were some of the challenges you faced when you were deciding to move where the need is great?

  3. So much fun to read a keep up to date Dominick, good to hear from you! Don't forget about us very jealous folk back home! Maybe Mark and I can come visit some day!
    Sarah Helmbold (Nash)

  4. Hi Dominick... I really liked your comentaries about your trip here on SP. But one thing that passes is that you call me "Charlie" and said that Xerxes would send the eaning to me by mail, but I didn't recieve... Hope that evrything are all right with you and Xerxes... Was a pleasure to meet you two. Cya... Eduardo!

  5. My God! I have just read your loooooong text... now I saw what you told me once we talked about my nickname being included in your list. I dont know if it is good or not to be called like that... but, at least I will be one of those that you guys will remember... hahaha A kind of "funny-size person"... hahaha I am just wondering how would a pic be like if I and Maurice (Anakin's son) were together... :D
    Come again next assembly!