Alf Gunn Badge

Brasulista #23


Brasulista - Originally titled, "The Brazilian South Mission Newsletter"
Newsletter of the early Brazilian missions, #23
April 17, 2004

Caro colegas! Grande abraços pra todos!

In this issue:

Visit to Brazil
Bicycling Brazil Tourist Notes
Marco Luz's Family Conversion

I was saddened, with you, to learn of Sister Hinckley’s passing. We can pray for our dear prophet that he may be comforted and blessed sufficient to complete his marvelous mission.


Sorry it has been so long since I have written. I had a wonderful 5-week visit to Brazil, including attending the events of the re-dedication of the beautiful São Paulo Temple on February 22; visits with some members in Curitiba and Apucarana; and a 2-week bicycle trip in Paraná and Santa Catarina. With your indulgence, I will share just a few highlights and observations.

Through no merit of my own, but by very good fortune, I was in the celestial room of the temple with Presidents Hinckley and Faust during the one dedicatory session, which was televised to almost 200 stake and district centers across Brazil. I can’t fully express the joy that I felt in the company of our dear President and the faithful Brazilian saints there, but the feeling was wonderful and we were close to heaven. President Hinckley conducted and was gracious and masterful in his comments concerning the leaders present with whom he has worked for decades. He spoke as a prophet, with a bright humor that reminded me of what I have read about Joseph Smith.

Brothers and sisters, I was with some great people, including giants of the work in Brazil. Many of them are known to me only by names which I recognize, as you may, or from afar. I met Elder and Sister Helvecio Martins and was honored to shake his hand. Also there, with their wives, were Athos Amorim, and Helio da Rocha Camargo, who are also emeritus general authorities. I mention all of these as some of you may know them better than I do, although most are from areas outside of our old mission. Osiris Cabral, who is in charge of temporal affairs in Brazil. He assists in acquisition of properties and much more. Later I enjoyed dinner with him at my brother’s home, as he lives in the same building. The Area Presidency are Elder Neil Andersen, Elder Mervyn B. Arnold and President Paulo R. Grahl, who interpreted talks given in English. Also Elder George Oakes, Executive Secretary, and Sister Jeannette Oakes. The temple presidency are Elder Kent Jolley, Norberto Lopes and Antonio Camargo. Sister and Emeritus Elder W. Grant Bangerter were there as was his daughter, Sister Julie B. Beck of the YW General Presidency, and both spoke, in Portuguese. Also Elders Carlos A, Godoy and Adilson de Paula Parrella (BPA 1981) of the 70. And many others who are AA70’s, including Marcos Aidukaitis and Ildefonso de Castro Deus of Curitiba. Homero S. Amato (BSM), who was just announced at General Conference as a new area authority 70, was also in the temple with his family.

President Hinckley invited many leaders to speak, and when he introduced President Faust he quipped that the Brazilian saints are well represented in the First Presidency, saying President Faust served his mission in Brazil “and hasn’t stopped talking about it since then.” “He is always saying we need new temples in Brazil,” said President Hinckley, and “perhaps we could use a couple more” (or some such statement). Standby for more, I would say.

President Hinckley offered the dedicatory prayer in English and then it was read in Portuguese by President Faust. President Hinckley led the members in the Hosanna shout after which a 24-voice choir sang the anthem associated with that shout and we all joined in with The Spirit of God. It is not often you hear singing in a celestial room of a temple, but when this choir sang it was magnificent and loud and triumphant, and when we joined the tears of joy flowed. I was amazed at the sound and the feeling.

On the Saturday before the temple dedication, I was in Pacaembu Stadium with 60,000 wonderful members and friends, of all races and many national origins, as you may have seen in the Church News. It was marvelous beyond words. A choir of 1200 voices, singing beautifully. 1200 missionaries seated on the stadium floor, from the Campinas and four SP missions and the MTC, half of them native Brazilians. I felt a brotherhood and love and gratitude to the Lord for it all.


Brazil bicycle tourist note: When I tell folks in Brazil that I am going to ride the beaches and the mountains by bicycle I get the same strange look that I get here in Gig Harbor when I say, "You know, you can make a great milkshake with an avocado."

I enjoyed two weeks of travel by bicycle and bus, which also included some boat rides and cars too. I entered Paraná by wooden plank canoe, with my bike laid over the canoe and the guide standing and paddling, and had 30 miles of beautiful beach riding that day. Then an interesting boat ride in an old fishing boat to Paranaguá with about 15 otherwise sane tourists—over open water for 2 hours with a 16-year old captain and no life vests!

At Curitiba, Brother Marcos and Sindia Luz let this bicycle vagabond stay at their lovely home and, incredibly, drove me across Paraná to the Foz do Iguassu for an unforgettable 2-day experience—my first visit there. They also took me to see the site of the future Curitiba Temple, which is a beautiful green field next to a wooded greenbelt and near good transportation.

There is really too much to share here. Curitiba, Joinville, Lages and Florianópolis. Wonderful experiences and some wonderful people. I will share this:

One day near the end of my Brazil visit, a little bored, I decided to ride my mountain bike from São Paulo to the beach cities to Guarujá and my brother’s home overlooking Enseada Beach there. The ride was less than 50 miles, and was especially easy since I begged a lift in a pickup truck from near my brother’s São Paulo home across the busy city to near the entrance to the Rodovia dos Imigrantes, a new tolled freeway that goes 25 miles out of São Paulo and then drops down the steep jungle escarpment to the beach communities.

As I pedaled toward the descent I filled my water bottles with agua mineral at a rest stop and then again when I ate lunch near the top. At one point just before the descent the old Anchieta highway forks off and the big trucks are required to take that route. Continuing on the new freeway where I was pedaling I passed a big sign that said "No bicycles", which I ignored. (Was that wrong?) Soon I was stopped by a very nice young highway policeman—they don’t pursue you there, they just stand on the side of the road and motion you over. He asked where I was going, and I told him, “Down the Imigrantes!” He pointed out that bikes were not supposed to do it, but I explained that I had already done half the route once before and that it was wonderfully safe, and that the other highway would require passing all of those trucks, and I smiled. He asked if I was a foreigner and I said yes, American and retired law-enforcement. He was very pleasant. He asked, what about the tunnels? I said I have a little red taillight on the bike. He pointed out that it was not recommended, but he would let me go, but if stopped by other police I might have to turn around and come back. Okay, and off I went. Within one mile I began a fabulous, screaming descent at close to 40 mph and soon hit the first of three tunnels that total over 5 miles on the descent. Cool, well enough lit, well ventilated, big, three-lane tunnels. Beautiful tunnels and a smooth, flawless, new concrete roadsurface. I was flying without trying, and thinking what a wonderful E-ticket ride this is! How could anyone call Brazil "third world" with such a beautiful highway, truly an engineering wonder. (See for some photos)

At the bottom, another 6 miles or so and I was in the sunny first-city of Brazil, São Vicente, cruising the waterfront and beach. I played tourist at little open air shops. Nearby Santos city claims to have the longest park-like beachfront and bikepath in the world, and it was a great ride. Then a flat ferry boat took me and about 200 bicycle commuters across the wide channel to Guarujá, where a few more miles of beachfront riding along scenic Enseada Beach brought me to my brother’s hillside condominium, overlooking the warm Atlantic waters of Guarujá. So you see, it is possible to bike in Brazil. Then I made myself a vitamina de abacate.


Brother Marcos Luz recently shared his family's conversion story, as he heard it from his parents, with President Sam Morrison of the Curitiba Mission, who shares it here:

In 1959, Sister Arlene Albach and her companion were walking along their street in Curitiba when her companion turned her ankle and could not walk. Sister Albach knocked on a door and asked a lady if they could just sit down there for a few moments. Marcos' mother invited them in and learned about these missionaries. She promised them she would attend church on Sunday. At that time the Church was located in a hall in downtown Curitiba. Sister Luz and her husband came from two different religions.  When her husband came home, and heard her story and that she promised they would be at Church on Sunday, he did not want to go. But he did go. He was short and his nickname was Baixinho and when he got to the Church, brother Enos de Castro Deus, the father of our Area Authority Seventy, Ildefonso de Castro Deus, greeted him at the door and asked him his name. He gave his last name, but Enos said something like, “A man’s got to have a first name! What’s your first name, brother?”  "Jair Luz." “Well welcome, brother Jair Luz!” Jair was very pleased and impressed that this man got his name correctly and addressed him in such a respectful manner. Their family joined the Church and have a rich posterity. Sister Albach and her companion are responsible for bringing the gospel to more than 50 Church members just from that incident.  In addition, there have been several full time missionaries from this family and they undoubtedly have brought into the Church numerous others.  We cannot lose sight of the fact that our works are magnified as time passes. (Alf’s note: Nor the importance of greeting people at the meetinghouse door.)

By the way, I was delighted to locate and speak with Sister Arlene Albach Tolson (BSM 57-59) of Orem, UT, who served in the Brazilian Mission from 1957 and was the first missionary released from the new BSM in 1959. What was it like being a Sister in the late 1950’s? After one week at the Mission Home at SLC there was a 10-day delay so she traveled by train to Chicago with some US missionaries, stayed with her relatives, then was joined by her group of 12 missionaries (most going to Argentina or Uruguay) by train to New York for a 2-day layover. Then a 14-day passage by ship to Rio, where they attended a district conference. She had no Sister companion—only an Elder also reporting to Brazil. Two days later, overnight by ship to Santos, where her 2-year mission officially began after 31 days of getting there. She would serve under Presidents Sorensen and Bangerter in the BM and Sorensen again in the new BSM and have 18 companions, 5 of them Brazilians. Her assignments are summarized as Ponta Grossa (PR), Bauru (SP), traveling sisters to Juiz de Fora and Belo Horizonte (MG) and Niteroi (RJ), then in Petropolis (RJ), São Paulo-Center Branch, Sao Paulo-Santana, Campinas (eight months), Sao Paulo-Penha, and finally Curitiba (July to Oct 1959). She flew home. She kept a wonderful journal, so I am pleased to share her report regarding the Luz family conversion:

“Jair and Edina Luz had already been contacted before I arrived in Curitiba in July 1959 and were ready for the 6th discussion from my new companion, Mary Lou Ovard.  She was transferred two weeks later and then I had a Brazilian companion for five weeks - Hylka Marinho (now Hylka Alverenga in Sandy, UT), then another Brazilian, Yone Guarany, who was transferred to the north mission three weeks later (after the baptism of the Luzes). Edina and Jair Luz were baptized in Curitiba the same day the new mission was created, the 20th of September 1959, with three other converts. I continued to give a number of lessons to Jair and Edina before and after their baptisms and enjoyed their special spirit.  It was Sister Marinho who fell when we were crossing the gully near their home and injured her ankle. We gave them a lesson anyway and a neighbor of theirs drove us home in his car afterwards.  My memories of Jair and Edina and their two little boys are some of the most precious of my mission.” Arlene Tolson

Today Sister Tolson is a retired public school teacher in special education to the severe and profoundly retarded. A BYU grad, she lived in northern California 20 years and then Orem, Utah 24 years. She had a beloved husband, John Tolson, who died in 1983. She has four adult children, three step-children, 21 grandchildren and step-grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren. One son-in-law served in Recife (81-83) and a step-son, Charles B. Tolson (BSM 62-65) is one of our BSM alums too. She served a 2nd mission in Davenport, Iowa in 1995-1996, and is now a part-time service missionary. A 40-year-old son with Down's Syndrome lives with her. With a niece she returned briefly to Brazil for the Campinas Temple Dedication in May 2002. Thank you, Sister Tolson, for letting me share some of your interesting story.

Com grande amor,

 Alf Gunn     (BSM 62-65) - Gig Harbor, WA - - 253-851-1099

Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet

Leave your comments

  1. Posting comment as a guest. Sign up or login to your account.
0 Characters
Attachments (0 / 3)
Share Your Location