Letter to Marian and Frank, April 19, 1974

 Biel Family, mid-1970's, Brazil

My Aunt Marian kept many of the letters my mother, Donna Biel, wrote to her.  She returned them in 2010.  Most are recorded here.  They were not entered in chronological order, so the best way to view them is by year, found in the index on the sidebar. 

Dear Marian, Frank, Lisa, Eric and Julianna,

We received your package the day before Easter.  Joey brought it when I was trying to decide what to make for dessert on Easter- we made the cake.  Delicious!  We will have the other one on Joey's birthday.  Needless to say, we enjoyed the candy, too.  Thank you for the "sweet" gift.

We heard that you were going to Julia's for Easter.  I imagine you saw several changes in her house for Harvey wrote that he had been puttering around there and Julia said Martha went to help one day.

We remembered Julianna's birthday even though we didn't send a card.  It is easy to remember since Marian's is the next day and my sister Marian is on the 14th, too.

I suppose you are starting to enjoy spring weather.  We still have summer although the mornings and evenings are cooler.  It was chilly when we went to a mission meeting at the end of last month.  It was held at a city in the mountains of our southernmost state.  We traveled 24 hours by bus to get there, stayed two days, then spent another 24 hours traveling back.  That shows you are far away we are from some fellow American pastors.

Cliff Biel doing the Hamburger Skit

You would have enjoyed seeing Joey in a skit at the mission conference.  He did it at the fun night at Bible Camp and the youth really thought it was good.  A man who owned a hamburger industry liked to try hamburgers out at different places to see if anyone served better hamburgers.  At the place where Joey was a cook, he thought the hamburger had a different flavor so he asked for the recipe.  When he found out the same ingredients were used, he asked to see the cook making them.  Out came Joey, shirtless, oil on his skin and then water poured over to look like a lot of sweat, cigarette hanging from his mouth and a tattoo on his heart saying "meat".  He demonstrated and at the end, to flatten the meatball, he put it under his armpit.  That was where the different flavor came from. 

The next day, when Joey came late for breakfast, I told the people at our table that he was helping to make more hamburgers.  We had hamburgers that noon but round ones.  Several people told us that if and when they came through our city, they hoped we won't serve them hamburgers.  We have been having the mission meeting with wives every two years.  The men get together once a year for a business meeting.

Helen is doing fine.  I called the doctor yesterday after receiving the urine results done last week in Londrina.  He says to keep on giving medicine to keep the urine free of germs and do another urine test in a month.  Apparently, this will go on for some time.  It take three hours to get to Londrina by bus, about 15 minutes to do the urine exam, have lunch with Gaylord Grant's and then come back.  Thus, it takes all day.  We leave at 8:30 and get back at 5 p.m.  We have a laboratory here but the medical care is better in Londrina so the doctor thinks they are more careful in doing lab tests.

Helen saw an unpleasant sight when I took her swimming  two weeks ago.  While we were there, a 16 year old boy was pulled out of the deep end of the pool.  They don't have lifeguards at pools here.  No one did anything-  I went and turned him over and barely started giving chest-arm respiration when a doctor who was playing tennis started mouth-to-mouth respiration and his wife, an anesthetist, gave heart massage.  I couldn't find any pulse.  When they got their instruments, the doctor couldn't hear any heartbeat and said that just by looking at the boy's eyes, he said that he was dead.  He used an instrument to look in his lungs and said that there wasn't any water in the lungs.  Apparently, the boy had eaten off and on during the afternoon, had stomach cramps, and disappeared without any signs of distress.  He had been under water for at least half an hour, the doctor thought.  After seeing this, Helen said we can sell our membership at the club as she doesn't want to go back. 

For some time, Rachel and Charles haven't wanted to go- they have friends playing here all the time.  It is too bad that they don't have public pools and we could pay whenever we could go.  The club fees have gone up to $10 per month and now gasoline is so expensive so we might as well sell our membership.

Since the children didn't have school on the day after Easter, we went to a city one hour from here to visit with the pastor's family there.  We will go as a family to get together with all of the pastor's families in our area, about nine of them, on May 1st which is a holiday.

You may have heard from Cynthia's letter that Joey was in bed for a week due to a swollen knee.  After a week, he hobbled around.  He thought he would need a cane, but an ace bandage helped.  Now he has been fine.  I told him that he should play mostly chess since he hurt his knee in a soccer game.

One of Rachel's English students gave her an egg (chocolate) that cost about $6.  I told her that maybe I should start teaching if I could get valuable gifts.  I spend time every day helping Helen with reading in English as she is weak due to not paying attention to phonetic sounds.  She is improving but is having a harder time than Rachel or Charles for they went all day to school in English until last August and had Portuguese on the side.  Now it is the opposite for Helen-  having little time of school in English.  Her main problem has been spelling but by studying, she is doing much better.  In Portuguese you spell as you pronounce a word.  Charles is too busy playing to do hardly any extra reading in English, but Rachel reads many books.  One of the books that I read I found interesting, "Ana and the King of Siam" for which the movie "The King and I" was made.  A television series about this is being shown.

We went to see the movie "The Day of the Jackal" about the plot to attempt to assassinate Charles De Gaulle.  It was interesting and full of suspense.

We have a shampoo that you might like, Marian.  It has vitamins in it and brings back the natural color.  Several of our pastor's wives have started using it. One who was much grayer than Joey has no more grey hair.  Joey refuses to try it as you would have to wash your hair two or three times a week and he goes for three weeks without washing as he feels that washing it makes it soft and it doesn't stay in place.  With all the talk about streaking, they said at our mission meeting that now with this shampoo, no pastor has to have streaks of grey hair.

Donna and Joey

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