Alf Gunn’s Brasulista

Alf Gunn BadgeBrasulista #141

Brasulista

Newsletter of the early Brazilian missions, #141
December 11, 2011
 
Feliz Natal e Próspero Ano Novo!


In this issue:
A trip to the “Cidade Maravilhosa”
Six Temple Tour in Brazil planned for April 2012—time is short to join
Temple experiences in São Paulo
Gary and Linn Lund serving a YSA mission in Portugal
Scott and Carol Hadley serving a temple mission in Recife
David and Ann Egbert serveing in Gramado and Canela, RS, Brazil
Elder Viveiros plays the Tabernacle Organ
Flooding and mudslides in the Serra Fluminense last January
Can you identify two elders in the attached photo?

Biking in Brazil


Bom dia, queridos Élderes e Sisters! I just flew in from Rio last Friday (December 2). (I love saying that, as I don’t get to say it very often.) Rio is “getting better,” as a number of folks there told me. As always, it is incredibly beautiful. The sun was shining and the temperature was perfect. After a day of work there—actually meeting with some enjoyable people and speaking Portuguese for seven hours—I had another day to play tourist in the usual wonderful places. The statue of Cristo Redentor is clean and still worthy of the admiration of all who stand at his feet.  
 
On my flight from Houston to Rio last Monday, a sweet Brazilian LDS sister almost as old as I am happened to be my seat mate, by some good fortune. She was coming from Salt Lake City where she had been visiting her daughter and son-in-law (Recife Mission 03-05), and new baby grandson. Sister Udinay Gomes dos Santos was just gushing beijinhos for her family over the cell phone as she said her last goodbyes before the plane took off. Her story was interesting. She had divorced before she met the missionaries 24 years ago and joined the Church in Recife. She raised her four children in Rio on the income of a manicurist, and the children never left home without their clothes being ironed. Two sons and a daughter served missions. All are faithful. Udinay has served in every ward organization—Primary, Young Women and Relief Society—and freely confessed that she adores the Church. It was a joy to become acquainted with her. I love the faith of my Brazilian brothers and sisters.
 
Last night I spoke with the wife, now a widow, of Elder Richard Lee Kunzler (Brazil Recife Mission c1987) who with an Elder Luiz had taught and baptized sister Udinay 24 years ago. I was able to report to sister JoAnn Kunzler the success that Elder Kunzler had as a result of baptizing one humble sister, descendent of indigenous peoples, in Recife Brazil on his mission—success that he was unaware of when he died following an automobile accident in 2006.
 
Brazil Six Temple Tour from Top to Bottom – April 17 to May 1, 2012
Folks, this is a wonderful way to get back to Brazil.  Here is what the web site says:  “Join former missionaries who served in Brazil on a joyful tour of six Latter-day Saint temples in that vast and beautiful country, home today to more than a million Mormons and 27 LDS missions. Fly Brazil’s elegant TAM Airlines to visit and attend the temples of Manaus, Recife, Campinas, São Paulo, Curitiba and Porto Alegre, with time to tour each temple city by motor coach and attend church with the saints of Brazil. Your travel companions will include former missionaries who served in Brazil years before there were temples, stakes or even wards there, as well as missionaries who witnessed the historic progress of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Brazil since that time.”  Sign on with Dick Jensen Tours at
http://alanmckaytours.com/southamerica/april-2012-brazil/
 
Speaking of temples, President George Oakes of the Campinas Temple shared this story last spring: “A humble black bishop introduced me to his sweet and humble family and they are truly beautiful.  He said when he first joined the Church he hungered to do genealogy work for his family.  He tried and was having some trouble getting names of his ancestors. One day he called the city from which his family came and talked to the civil servants that worked in the mayor's office. One nice lady gave him the name of a lady in the registrar's office and her telephone number.  He called her and she was able to give him the names of his grandparents and great-grandparents on back for quite a few generations. The names and dates where sufficient and complete enough to make temple cards for each one of them. He took the cards to the temple in São Paulo and left them in the office with the temple recorder. He said that years passed and he did not hear anything about the names he had submitted. About ten years later, on the last day of the year that was available to attend the temple, he and his wife decided to go to the temple to end the year. He said that the day was terrible. Many things happened to prevent them from going; however, they were able to finally get to the temple. When they arrived, the temple was packed and there were long lines to get clothing and do ordinance work. His wife made the endowment session which they had planned to attend, but he was unable to attend. So, he was sitting in the waiting room, somewhat discouraged, when a man came up to him and asked him if he would help in the sealing room. He agreed and went in to help. He said that he was in there only a few minutes when he began to recognize the names of his grandparents and great grandparents He said he had the privilege of attending and assisting the sealing of all of the relatives whose names he had submitted. Imagine! It was no coincidence that he went to the temple that day and missed the endowment session. The Lord paid him back for the work he had done for his ancestors. He is a great bishop and has an extremely strong testimony of temple work. I hope you will go to the temple often. As you well know, the Lord's sacred work is done there every day the temple is open. Sincerely, your eternal friend and brother,   George Oakes
 
Administrative note:  Little by little, we try to locate all missionaries who served in Brazil before 1985. Often I learn of them because one of you tells me. Thank you for those tips. If you know missionaries who served in Brazil before 1985, such as members of your ward or stake or a relative, ask them if they are receiving the Brasulista from me. If not, please furnish me their names, phone number and email address. If they do not have email, please furnish your copies of the Brasulista to them. I especially would like to locate missionaries who are or were Brazilians. Also, if you know of any Brazil alumni who are deceased, please let me know with an email note so our records will reflect it. Thank you for your tips.
Portugal
From Elder Gary R. Lund (BSM 65-67):  “Dear Alf,  For several years I have enjoyed reading your newsletter and being updated on the Church, former missionaries and members from Brazil. Thank you for your splendid efforts! My sweet wife Linn and I are serving a mission in Portugal.  We have been here nine wonderful months.  We have the privilege of working with the Joven Adultos Solteiros (Young Single Adults) in Miratejo, Portugal, which is part of the Setúbal Stake.  We began working the first part of March with the Young Adults and our center was approved by the Area Office on 30 June 2011.  We now have two institute classes and Family Night every week.  We also serve them a nice dinner twice each month.  I also serve as mission secretary and work with two tiny branches about 200 kilometers north of Lisbon.  I am trying to teach seminary there two nights a month in addition to helping on Sundays.  Sister Lund is learning Portuguese and bakes cookies four times a week.  She speaks the language of love so very well and has won the hearts of the young adults and all who meet her.
 
The Church in Portugal is still young compared to Brazil, but it is growing rapidly.  Our Mission President is Moroni Torgan, a Brasileiro. He is a very impressive president who expects amazing results from his missionaries and gets it. Portugal is the highest baptizing mission in Europe. The goal for 2011 was 900 baptisms but that has already been surpassed, so President Torgan set a new goal of 1,200 baptisms by the end of the year. As you are aware, we are to have a temple here in Lisboa Portugal in the near future and need many more members to serve there and to be patrons. We have many missionaries from Cabo Verde and some from Brazil as well as a majority from the USA. We now have three elders and one sister serving from our center in Miratejo and have five others waiting for their calls or in some stage of preparing their papers to serve missions.  This is great news! The Lisboa Portugal Mission also includes the Açores and Medeira Islands.
 
Our membership here consists of individuals from Portugal, Brazil, Angola, Cabo Verde, Mozambique, São Tomé and others. A high percentage of our converts here in the Lisboa area are from Cabo Verde and Angola. Here in our mission we have received seven couples within the last year, most of whom served in Brazil or are from Brazil. Kent Gale (BNM 68-70) and his wife Eileen were serving as LDS Employment missionaries and also as 1st Counselor in the mission presidency.  Unfortunately they had to return home early due to health problems with Sister Gale. Max Forbush (BSM 65-67) and his wife Julie are serving as mission office missionaries and as branch president in Caldas de Rainha. We also have Bruce (BSM 64-66) and Marnae Wilson, both of whom served in Brazil in their youth.  Stanford and Kathleen McConkie are serving in Porto in the Center for Young Adults there. They do not speak Portuguese but teach in English and do a great service there.  Rene and Maria Orsi from Brazil arrived here about three months ago and are working to help establish a Stake in the Algarve (South part of Portugal)  He also serves as the 1st. Counselor in the Mission Presidency. Three weeks ago Ron (BM 65-67) and Sheran Burrup arrived here and are serving in Coimbra as records photographers for the Family History Department.  He has served three missions in Brazil and she two. They also help with the small Branch in Tomar.
 
I mentioned that nearly all the Senior Elders and some of their wives speak Portuguese, but it is universal with all of us that the Portuguese spoken here is very different from that of Brazil. It takes many months to begin to understand much of what is spoken. We love serving here and are grateful to our Father in Heaven for this opportunity. There are now many places in the world where we can serve the Lord and speak our beloved Portuguese language. Zion´s borders are certainly enlarging. Thanks for your efforts.  I thought you might like to hear a little of the growth of the Church in Portugal.  Cumprimentos,  Élder Gary R. Lund, Avenida António Serpa 23,  5º, 1050-026, Lisboa, Portugal  (glel62@gmail.com)
Alf, This is Scott W. Hadley.  I served as a missionary in the Brazilian South Mission during the years 1965-67 under President C. Elmo Turner, and for a short time under President Thomas Jensen. My wife Carol and I served as President of the Brasilia Mission from 1997-2000, and right now have returned to serve as Temple Missionaries in Recife. We had to wait seven months to finally get our visas, but we are very happy to be serving in this beautiful temple. One of the blessings of having to wait for visas was the opportunity of serving in the Nauvoo Temple for two and a half months. We have been here now for three weeks. Thank you for all the reporting that you do to keep us informed about what is happening with the Brazilian missionaries. Our e-mail address is: cashadley@comcast.net.  Thanks again, Elder Hadley
This comes from Elder David E. Egbert, serving in the Porto Alegre North Mission with his wife Ann:  Alf, We enjoy the news and history of the Church in Brazil. We were called to serve proselyting missions in the Brazil Porto Alegre North Mission to enter the MTC 29 Nov 2010. We began learning the language via telephone and Skype three hours a week from the MTC in Provo. Ann began reading the Book of Mormon in Portuguese earlier with the help of a Brazilian missionary, Elder Washington Oliveira, of Belo Horizonte. They helped each other with their pronunciation. Elder Oliveira had been called to speak Spanish in the Boise Idaho Mission but began learning English at the request of his mission president. When we met him four months later, he spoke as if he had learned in the MTC.
We rented our home and we were ready to go. However, the visas didn’t arrive. So we spent Dec & Jan visiting our children and parents. Just before Christmas we moved in with Ann’s mother, near the Provo MTC. We met many with ties to Brazil & were introduced to the Portuguese Ward in Orem. There, a sister Lima [learning English] and Ann [learning Portuguese] discovered they could communicate without knowing the words. It was a great comfort to Ann as she faced that challenge. Our visas came and we entered the MTC 16 May 2011. Ann felt assured; she could learn the language, with the help of the Lord.
 
We arrived in Brazil May 21, 2011. After a few great days in Porto Alegre with President and Sister Pavan, we were assigned to Canela & Gramado, Rio Gande do Sul, to work with the Hortensias and Gramado Branches. We were the first “casal” for Pres. Pavan; but we have heard great reports from the members here of other couples that had served here earlier: Bob & Yvonne Baird who served 2008-09. We met them at the MTC preparing to serve in the Recife Temple. Leon & Florence Memmett also served in Gramado and Canela in about 2006-08. We are delighted to be among so many great members--real pioneers among the mountains here. They are a great source of strength to us and the church. After a few weeks here Ann was called as a counselor in the Relief Society and I to the branch presidency of the Hortensias Branch. Ann put aside fears and accepted amidst tears and determination.
 
Our experience with the language has been incredible, the mere fact that I could remember after 50 years and that Ann could learn so fast has been a source of wonder and gratitude to us all. One brother remarked that it wasn’t fair to be brought to tears twice in the same week by Sister Egbert speaking in faltering Portuguese; but with powerfully felt love and testimony. Later during a Relief Society meeting Ann realized she was understanding everything. It had been so, for about ten minutes, before she realized it. As she realized it; she again had to struggle as usual. But it gave her assurance it would happen. She has worked hard, practicing the lessons she gives from the Liahona. The sisters are very patient and helpful. They have been a great blessing for her. After six months she now helps me with the language—her memory is better than mine.
We have been assigned several families to strengthen and reactivate in each branch and assist the missionaries in their visits. Ann is also teaching the keyboard in both branches and we help as needed in an English class in Gramado. The days and nights are full and we get lots of exercise walking among the beautiful hills and valleys, forests and flowers of this ”Garden of Eden”. Summer is finally here. We have enjoyed the Azalias and Wisteria and many other flowers. Now the Hortencias—the blue Hydrangias-- line all the principal roads. We love what we are doing and think we are in heaven, amongst a great people, in a beautiful land. We think we are among angels and they think we belong here. We go the Porto Alegre Temple, with the branch caravans. . With the internet-email and skype we keep in touch with our seven children and 30 grandchildren. It will be tough to leave in April 2013.  Abraços a todos. Elder David E Egbert (BSM 61-64) and Sister Ann Egbert (Hawaii 64-65)   (deegbert@juno.com)
 
Note:  Some of the items in this issue are dated—old news—since the Brasulista was out of commission from January to May of 2011 with the loss of many email addresses.  But I share them now.
 
Elder J. Roberto Viveiros (BM 66-68) and his wife Lucia, formerly of Florida, now in Salt Lake City, served a Church History mission at Brazil Area Headquarters from 2003-05 and were coordinators of the Neonatal Resuscitation Program in Brazil. I didn’t know he was an organist until I received this note from my friend Elder Ron Young:
 
“Dear Alf, On Wednesday, 12 January, Elder Roberto Viveiros – by the kindness and connection of his home teacher – was given the privilege of playing the Tabernacle Organ.  The home teacher had the organ technician take our party to the organ, and with his help in choosing the sounds, Elder Viveiros played “How Gentle God’s Commands” and “Come, Come, Ye Saints”. Then the technician explained the workings of the organ in detail, in a “show-and-tell” which lasted about 40 minutes. The technician was Robert Poll, whose family had the “sound trucks” in Salt Lake City in the 1940s and 1950s. I suppose that you could get another, yet truer, account with photos by e-mailing Elder Viveiros. He hasn’t thought of telling you, so I did.  Thanks, Elder Ron Young, Church History Library (YoungRA@ldschurch.org)
 
Elder Viveiros wrote: “Simplesmente não acredito que aconteceu, Alf.  Fui convidado para poder tocar o famoso orgão la no Tabernacle in Salt Lake. Foi um momento de um sonho realizado--foi maravilhoso. Quando comecei a tocar o hino “ Vinde o Santos “.... mamma mia che ... os pipes with the sounds were terrific. I am indeed in awe. A very humble honor to have this dream come true. My home teacher is indeed a “dream maker.” We had a little talk one day and he asked me, “So tell me some of your dreams,” and as I am one of the organists in my Ward I told him that I would love one day to be able to have a picture taken standing by the famous organ at the Tabernacle. To my surprise one Tuesday night last month he called me and said, “Meet me at the Tabernacle tomorrow after the organ recital at noon--I have an appointment for you to be able not just to have a picture taken but you will be able to play the organ.” Well really I could not even sleep that night. After almost 40 years of dreaming which I thought would never happen this way... when you pray with conviction and faith ... The Lord blesses you. I still cannot believe it. It was awesome!  Regards,  J.Roberto and Lucia Viveiros” (jviveiros@ldschurch.org)
 
The following news is also almost one year old, but here it is in case you missed it:
 
Flooding at Rio de Janeiro State
Alf’s note:  I bussed to Teresópolis, RJ, ten years ago and attended church there by bicycle. (See the attached account if you wish.) To me Teresópolis looked like Brazil’s little Yosemite. The national soccer team trains in that lovely setting. I rode my bicycle over the alta serra and to Petrópolis, where in the 1800’s the Emperors would go to escape the heat and humidity of Rio. Now, as you may have heard, these two mountain towns and another in the serra fluminense, Nova Friburgo, have suffered tragic rainstorms and mudslides, taking the lives of at least 827 persons (as of January 25, 2010) and leaving thousands homeless.
 
Here is a link to dramatic photos still available in December 2011:
http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2011/01/landslides_in_brazil.html
 
Note from lds.org Newsroom: “Church Aid to Help Brazilians in Wake of Floods and Landslides   Jan 14 2011 — Salt Lake City   Incessant rain over the past two weeks has triggered fatal landslides and flooding in areas around Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. In what is already being referred to as Brazil’s worst natural disaster in half a century, 540 people have perished across the cities of Nova Friburgo, Teresópolis, and Petrópolis, and scores of others are missing. Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have approved funds to purchase large quantities of tarps, blankets, basic food, hygiene kits and especially clean drinking water for those affected by the devastating floods in Brazil.
 
“Though the exact numbers are still uncertain, due to disruptions in communications and transportation routes, thousands of people in the affected areas have lost their homes in massive landslides. The government has opened shelters throughout the region and has committed $450 million in aid. Thousands of other families living on mountain slopes and riverbanks are considered to be at extreme risk. More than 13,000 people are seeking shelter from the rising waters. Medical relief services are being taxed by the high number of injured. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reports that all its missionaries serving in the affected regions are safe and accounted for. At least 125 Church members have lost their homes; 75 of these are being sheltered in the Teresópolis meetinghouse. Church leaders are attending to the needs of displaced members, coordinating community response efforts with the Civil Defense and the Red Cross and are monitoring the changing situation.”
 
There were also deluges, flooding and hundreds of deaths in the area of Novo Hamburgo and Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, in April 2011.
 
Folks, attached is a picture sent to me by Lenny Lamb that he got from Liane Grahl Dapper from Alegrete, RS, now living in SLC area. For fun, perhaps one of you readers could help us identify the two Elders in the picture. They were decked out in Gaucho garb for a parade the Alegrete members organized. The photo may be from the late 1966 or 1967 judging from the degree of completion of the Alegrete meeting house in the background.  Elder Lamb was there in early 1966, and it wasn’t nearly this far along.  

Alegrete-2-Gaucho-Elders-c1967-600

 

Biking Brazil 2001

By Alf Gunn

The Lonely Planet guide book says “Crazy drivers who only respect vehicles larger than themselves, lots of trucks spewing out unfiltered exhaust fumes, roads without shoulder room and the constant threat of theft . . . we wouldn’t recommend long-distance cycling in Brazil. It seems like a downright dangerous thing to do.”

My first bike adventure started on the outskirts of São Paulo, outside of the frantic traffic zone, where the jungle begins. I rode to the drop-off of the coastal mountain range and zoomed down the winding descent for some 20 kilometers, passing trucks and cars on the way, then completed the 60-km trip to Guarujá. With its miles of absolutely beautiful beaches, Guarujá is where São Paulo’s masses come on holidays and where some, including my brother Ronald, maintain a second home.

The fact is that thousands of folks ride bikes in Brazil. The streets of Guarujá are full of bikes—many families’ only means of transportation.

Unfortunately Brazilians ride on both sides of the road, going either direction, disregarding stop lights, breathing those fumes and seemingly immune to the crazy drivers. One older gentleman cautioned me in perfect English. “Drivers in Brazil are like God,” he said. “They are no respecters of persons."

The typical bike is one-speed and ugly, and often carries a passenger across the top tube or on the bike rack. The standard bike shoe is a flip-flop or bare feet, and helmets are almost non-existent.

     Okay, Brazil is not a bicycle friendly place. But it is a place with friendly people and with beautiful beaches one after another, and the Atlantic Ocean is warm like a bathtub.

Traffic is not heavy outside of the major cities, but cute little back roads are not dependable as they degenerate into dirt or the ubiquitous cobblestones, so you ride the clean highways.

Pedal through the lush coastal Atlantic Rainforest in warm sunshine or find green open plains inland with cattle grazing for hundreds of miles. These are some of the things that make it worth trying. Others attractions include the fantastic food, the low prices, and an excellent interstate bus system. (City busses do not take bikes.)

I put my mountain bike—which I took to Brazil for the bumpy roads—into a used bike box and caught the air-conditioned overnight bus to Teresópolis, one of the retreats of Brazil’s first emperor, in the mountains above Rio de Janeiro. It is cooler there and I liked it immediately. In the open bus station there I re-assembled the bike and rode to the nearest bike shop to tighten the pedals.

Corujinha—“the little owl”—was a great little bike shop, with excellent bikes catering to the small but growing number of real cyclists. The owner—Corujinha himself--asked to take a picture with me, put the store decal on my bike and offered me a place to stay with his biking and rock climbing buddies. I ended up with them at their informal hostel just off the downtown area, in a room of my own for $6 per night. My new young friends accepted me as a fellow adventurer in spite of my senior status, and shared their churrasco—the great Brazilian barbecue—their kitchen and their American videos of mountain biking and rock climbing.

Next day, at church, I was welcomed and invited by a wonderful family to dinner and a car tour of the city, which is home to the national selection soccer team. Another day gave me time enough to hike the local national park with its Yosemite-like rocks and swim in a natural pool of mountain spring waters.

     I left Teresopolis on the bike at 4:30 a.m., climbing the mountain highway in the predawn dark, traffic free and comfortably cool. It was light when I went over the top and tucked into another fantastic winding jungle descent to Petropolis, with its colonial mansions and monuments. Another even better descent from there to the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro reminded me of scenes from the Tour de France.

     Let me mention that in some 500 kilometers of “bike touring” I never saw anyone else doing it, so it must be crazy. It sure was in downtown Rio. I went into full bicycle-courier-mode, to jam through five lanes of cars and busses on Avenida Rio Branco, finally to arrive at the famous beaches and a calmer pace.

     Typically, I asked directions about a dozen times a day, and it really helped to speak fluent Portuguese. But it still meant asking multiple times because the ever-helpful natives gave so many different answers. If a person had to find someone to speak English, they would spend a lot of time waiting for help. Brazil is a long way from the good old USA.

With three or four inquiries, and a cop with an actual map, I made it to my hostel in Rio’s Botafogo neighborhood, where I shared room space with two Germans and an Argentine. Then went cruising Copacabana and Ipanema beaches until evening, when the prudent tourist makes it back to the security of hotel or hostel.

     Rio may be the most naturally beautiful city in the world—Yosemite-like rocks jutting up in the urban setting—but it is overwhelming on a bike. Sugarloaf Mountain and Corcovado—Christ the Redeemer statue—are must-sees, but leave the bike at the hostel and find the buses.

     I found some “real” bikers—jerseys and helmets, on nice road bikes—working out on the broad street in front of Copacabana beach starting at 5 a.m. weekdays, avoiding later traffic. They are a rare breed.

     About 50 km south of Rio I met Genilson da Silva. Slender, with jersey and the shoes and a rare, nice rebuilt road bike, he was chug-a-lug-ing a Coca Cola at a roadside stand. He was excited to meet an American biker, and provided my only drafting ride for the 15 km to his town of Santa Cruz, where he invited me to his humble home in a poor dirt road neighborhood.

There I met his wife Judite and their young son, and Genilson made me a milkshake of energy powder and a raw egg. While I drank it he changed clothes to go to work at making cement roads—work pants, an old floral print shirt and rubber boots—then got out this old typical Brazilian beater bike—one speed, clank-clank—and escorted me back to the road and bid farewell and went off to work. To see him going you would never guess that he is probably one of the best cyclists in Brazil.

     That afternoon I caught a bus to the historic fishing village of Paraty on the Rio-Santos coast, where I met my only American tourist family—newly arrived from Portland—and we watched from our restaurant as a tropical downpour filled the cobblestone streets that evening. Just part of the adventure for them and for me.

I don’t know how to recommend biking in Brazil. It is still a bold and risky proposition. Do it in April or May to avoid summer heat. One week of bus-and-bike touring was enough for me on my own, but car touring with my brother I found some other great future routes for car-supported riding in this interesting country. And yachting and hiking can make it a multi sport adventure in paradise. Professional bike tour guides don’t exist there yet.

So, I guess I would say that if you want to go boldly where few have gone before, and you have lots of money, pay me to take you there! Did I mention the beautiful people on the beaches?

Note: Alf Gunn, 59, learned Portuguese as a young, bike-riding Mormon missionary in Brazil in the early ‘60’s. Today, he notes, the missionaries are forbidden to ride bikes there—too dangerous.


 
Um abraço,  
 
Alf Gunn
Gig Harbor, WA   alf.gunn@gmail.com   253-851-1099

 

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