Alf Gunn BadgeBrasulista #116


Newsletter of the early Brazilian missions, #116.

July 30, 2009


In this issue:

Living among the saints in Santa Catarina – Diane Cropper Ballstaedt

Passing of Frances Augusta MacKnight Gee

President Asael T. Sorensen and WWII

Mission opportunities and needs: Mozambique, Employment Resource Services in Brazil, and office opportunities.

Stanley Neeleman to preside at the São Paulo Temple

Greg and Monti Jones called to Madrid

Brazilian Mission consolidations, changes

A conversion story

The new “Brazilian Missions” lapel pin – note from a satisfied customer

Flooding in Brazil – a commentary



Note: The Brasulista takes its name from the original newsletter of the Brazilian South Mission in the early 1960's. This project began with a search for BSM missionaries and today attempts to identify and maintain contact with all who served in any mission in Brazil before 1980.


Diane Cropper Ballstaedt writes from Farmington, UT: “My husband Emmanuel served in Brasil in the late 1930’s and again in the early 1950’s. After I retired in December 2007, I left for Brasil in April and stayed until October. It was just something I had wanted to do. I really wanted to see if I could survive by myself – and soon learned I couldn’t! I lived in Balneário Camboriú– between Florianópolis and Joinville – sixteen floors up and a half block from the beach. I was in the same city as my friends Joni and Michelle Koch. Joni serves as an area authority. But I lived on my own and learned to get around the city on the bus and to go to Joinville on the bus. I went to Wizard school three mornings a week and studied Portuguese. I had an absolutely wonderful adventure. I went to be with my friends and left many more friends behind when I left.


“One of the highlights of my stay was being there for the dedication of the Curitiba Temple. The Joinville Stake asked me to carry the Joinville flag in the Celebration in honor of the early missionaries who brought the gospel to the saints there. I initially protested thinking that honor should go to someone who had lived there and sacrificed for the church for so many years. But they assured me those people were being honored as well. So in the freezing cold, I was very happy and proud to carry the Joinville flag and represent my husband and those who served in those early years. As President Monson said in his conference talk, it had been so rainy and cold, but it was dry during the celebration and absolutely poured – as it only can do in Brasil – as soon as the celebration was finished.


“The next day I was able to be in the temple for the fourth session of the dedication. This was one of the highlights of my entire life. We had been in Curitiba in April for the open house and went again in August to do an endowment session.


“I loved my ward in Brasil. We had a beautiful new chapel and it was filled every Sunday as well as people gathering at the church most other evenings. It was really a home away from home for so many of the members. They sacrifice so much for the gospel and are so humble and loving. This experience led me to a great deal of introspection. I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. However, I am happy to be home with my furnace, my washer and dryer.


“Thank you for adding me back to your list. Mary Etta Patterson gave me your email address and forwarded one of the recent newsletters. I love having that piece of Brasil in my life. Bless you for what you do!”

Diane Ballstaedt (


Passing of Frances Augusta MacKnight Gee

Brother Daryl Gee of Orem, UT, shares this information about the life of his wife, who passed away June 5: “We have appreciated so much, receiving your e-mail news about Brazil. I thought it would be of interest to those who served in the Brazilian Mission in 1965-67 with Frances to know that she passed away June 5 after a long battle with a neurological disease. Frances was born in Santa Bárbara d’Oeste, State of São Paulo, fourth generation born in Brazil of American Southerners who went to Brazil after the Civil War and who established the city of Americana. She joined the Church when she was 16 years old and came to the United States with her family. After she met her to-be husband, she went to Brazil on vacation, to see family members. While there, President Asael Sorensen asked her to help with some translating in the Mission Home. He also started in motion his efforts to have her called on a mission. The Church refused because Frances was only 20 years old, she had not been to the temple, and she had a boy friend waiting for her. President Sorensen persisted and with the assistance of Elder Henry D. Moyle, who visited Brazil with his wife, Frances was asked by President Sorensen to accompany and interpret for Elder and Sister Moyle, she was called to serve in the Brazil Mission. This occurred after the Church Offices called me and was told that I would wait for her, and I did. Frances has been a faithful member of the Church throughout her life. She and I returned to Brazil following my retirement on a mission to the Rio Grande do Sul Mission in 1995. Unfortunately, we were able to stay only a few months before Frances' health necessitated our returning home. We were able to finish our mission in the Washington D. C. Temple, where Frances served as Assistant Matron when I was called to serve in the Temple Presidency. Frances has always been active in Family History and has shouldered a great responsibility for her ancestors in Brazil and earlier in the United States. She leaves a great legacy for her six children and 26 grand children to follow. Her life was her family and the Church. Following a service at Orem, Utah she was buried in the Camp Williams National Cemetery near Lehi, Utah. Daryl Gee (


Missionaries Turned Soldiers during WWII

After publishing a public affairs article about the pre-WWII missionaries who served in the military ( ) I appreciated learning of a few more. The article was just an article, of course, and not a complete history, so I had to settle for those I knew of at the time. My apologies to families of those I missed. Here is another one of note:


“Dear Alf- I am Bert Taylor who toured with you in Brazil in November 2007. I was a missionary in Brazil during the Asael T. Sorensen years of 1954-57. Seems to me that President Sorensen (BM 40-42) once told us a story of how his jeep was blown up from under him during the war but he wasn't hurt. You might have to include Part II in your next issue with those who served that you didn't know about. Elder Gilbert E. Taylor” (


Joys of service in Mozambique

“Dear Alf, As you know, Sister Nebeker and I (Charlotte & Stephen) are serving another Portuguese speaking mission. This time it’s in Mozambique. What an interesting place! We are really enjoying our experiences and making lots of wonderful friends. We also love receiving your newsletter, but have one important request. Would you please include in your next newsletter an invitation for anyone with a desire to help others, especially using their Portuguese language skills, to come join us in Mozambique Africa on a couples mission. We need more couples right away. These wonderful people have only had the church in their country about 10 years and we’re finding they love us as much as those fantastic Brazilians did when we served our Welfare Services mission in Belo Horizonte (2003-2004). But, a few more couples would greatly help us train these leaders and support the missionary work. What’s more, the experiences we’re having are unlike they'll find anywhere else in the world. They are the stuff that makes journals come alive! Africa truly is unique. If there are any interested couples out there, we invite you to email our new Mission President, Loren Spendlove, at the following email address. He will take over from there. All the best to you Alf and to all our friends in Brazil, the U.S., and around the world. Isn’t it fun to be able to serve the Lord in so many interesting places?”


Dear Amigos Brasileiros, I'm the Brazil Area Welfare Manager. My department is in charge of assisting LDS needy members to reach Self-Reliance. One of the operations that we have here is the Employment Resource Services (ERS).  Normally this operation runs with 2 full-time employees. The needs are incredibly overwhelming and they can not carry on all their needs. We have looking for mature couples who are willing to work for 18-23 months in one of these ERSs. We have 8 offices located all over Brazil (Manaus, Fortaleza, Recife, Rio, São Paulo, Campinas, Curitiba and Porto Alegre). If anyone knows of a senior couple who has the means and are willing to come to Brazil and serve as Welfare Missionaries, they are mostly welcome and highly in demand! Let me know if you have any question.  Send me an email at or you can call me at 55 - 11 - 3723-3399.

Best Regards, Ageo Levi Minharo, Area Welfare Manager – Brazil


Received this from Elder Lamar J. Hansen (BM 60-63) at Maceió, AL, Brazil: “Alf, The Brasulista is great - as always - it keeps us in touch. As you know, my wife, Elaine, and I are currently serving in Maceió, Brasil as the Mission Office couple. It has been the experience of a lifetime for us to serve under the leadership of Pres. and Sis. Beynon and to become acquainted with all these terrific young missionaries on the Lord's errand in this "promised land." We could go on for pages about life here in this coastal city of over a million people and tell you how beautiful the turquoise colored waters of the warm South Atlantic Ocean are, but we don't have time. The fact is that we will be leaving Maceio in Jan. 2010 (Where has the time gone?!) and the president needs another couple to take our place. I sincerely believe that if couples out there knew how much fun this mission is, they would be fighting to come here! I have to tell you that there are two seasons here - Hot and Hotter, and both are humid. But they have a wonderful invention down here called air-conditioning. So, spread the word and if there are any interested, they can get in touch with us or President Beynon.

Um Abraco, Elder Lamar & Sister Elaine Hansen” (


Called to Serve

Elder Frank Murdock (BM 59-62) and his wife Connie of Idaho Falls are serving an Idaho Falls Idaho Temple Visitor’s Center mission since May of 2008.



Brother Stanley D. Neeleman (BSM 1961) and Sister Sherri Neeleman of Salt Lake City are called to preside over the São Paulo Brazil Temple and will begin that service in November 2009. They previously presided over the Brazil São Paulo South Mission from 90-93. Congratulations and best wishes to the Neelemans.


This comes from Sister Monti Jones, who served with her husband Greg Jones (BM 62-64) when he was Welfare Agent out of São Paulo from 2006-2008. “Dear Friends, We finally got our call. I am kind of in shock, I was so sure we were going back to Brazil to work with Nei in Public Relations and see all of you good friends again. Instead we are going to the Spain, Madrid mission to serve in the Employment Services office there. It will be a challenge to pick up our Spanish again, but I'm sure the Lord will help us. We leave November 8th.  We are excited. Love, Monti Jones (


By the way, while the Jones were serving in Brazil I know that they visited Campinas, Sao José dos Pinhais, Itajaí, Blumenau, Bello Horizonte, São Paulo Leste, Araçatuba, Canoas, Santa Maria, Curitiba, Londrina and Maringá, and probably many more places. At one point they reported that on behalf of the Church they had given out about 1600 wheelchairs (and blessed the lives of that many people and their families). There are chances to serve all around just now. Alf


Changes Made to Brazil Missions (From News from the Church, July 10, 2009) 

”Along with changes to mission presidents in more than 100 missions in July, the Church has made changes to three missions in Brazil. The new Brazil Teresina Mission was organized from portions of the Brazil Belem and Brazil Fortaleza Missions. The Brazil Belo Horizonte and Brazil Belo Horizonte East Missions were consolidated into a single Brazil Belo Horizonte Mission.

The headquarters of the Brazil Rio de Janeiro North Mission was moved to Vitoria, and the mission was renamed the Brazil Vitoria Mission. With the creation of the Teresina mission and the consolidation of the Belo Horizonte and Belo Horizonte East missions, there remain 27 missions in Brazil, a country of nearly 200 million people, including more than one million members.”


And from a person in the know, “There also were some adjustments on the west side----Manaus picking up Acre, Porto Velho and Ariquemes from Cuiaba Mission;  Cuiaba picking up Mato Grosso do Sul from  Londrina mission which picked up the Cascavel stake from the Curitiba Mission.”


Alf’s note: I suppose I am not the only former missionary who does not really know where all these cities are in parts of Brazil where we did not serve. I enjoy Googling them and learning more. Hope you do too.



We all have these kinds of experiences—meeting a Brazilian. I met José Menezes at a Spanish ward Sunday school class in Minneapolis, speaking pretty good Spanish. He is from São Bernardo do Campo, SP, and just came to Minneapolis for two weeks of training with his company. In 1983 he took the first discussion after attending a church youth function, and then avoided two follow-up visits of the Elders by hiding under the bed and going out the back door when they came in the front. They gave up on him. In 1998, now married with children, he searched for a church to attend, going to many. Each had some fault. In one people stood up and shouted, and he asked “Is God deaf?” In another they promised blessings for putting money in the basket and he asked, “Didn’t Jesus heal for free?” Finally he gave up and announced to his wife that he was done searching. That week the Lord sent two more of our best to his door. They taught him and challenged him to be baptized and promised him he could know it was true through prayer. After two visits he promised he would pray, but was so embarrassed that someone might see him that he waited until all were asleep, then knelt by his bed with a thick blanket over his head, and prayed—using the four steps of prayer plus listening for an answer as they had taught. No vision, no voice, no answer. Until four in the morning when a movie screen seemed to open before his eyes, and he received a personal witness that is so sacred that it still brings tears to his eyes today. He woke his wife and said, “I’m going to be baptized in this church.” It took his wife two weeks to get her own witness. They were baptized on their wedding anniversary and two years later, sealed in the temple on the same date. Now he attends church wherever he is, and his work with info systems takes him to a number of countries. José and Solange look forward to serving a mission in the future, when their five children are grown. I hope their investigators don’t hide under the bed.


Brazilian Mission lapel pin—note from a satisfied customer

“Dear Alf, Enclosed is a check for $50 to pay for ten of the new mission pins. I only bought two of the pins at the last reunion and wished later that I had bought more. I gave them to two guys in my ward who have been on mission to Brazil and they were really excited to get them. One of them pinned his on immediately and wore it all his meetings that day and it really looked sharp! So I thought, “What have I done? I didn’t even save one for myself!” I have several nephews and a grandson-in-law who have served missions to Brazil and I plan to give each of them a pin and still have some left over for myself. Muito obrigado, Kim Barney”


The new pins feature Cristo Redentor statue above the golden plates and are inscribed “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—Brazilian Missions” so they are suitable for anybody who has served anywhere in Brazil. This is a fund raiser for our reunions fund at $5 each (I will cover postage). Include your name and address and order from me at


Alfred Gunn

3720 26th Avenue Court NW

Gig Harbor, WA 98335




Just What Not Why--From an analysis/opinion piece by one source:


“Recent Flooding a Wake-up Call to Climate Change”
Increasingly severe weather irregularities are making Brazil’s environmental issues of more pressing importance to national and global policies. The existence of climate change no longer appears to be much of a debate for Brazil, in light of the unusual and frightfully destructive flooding in the north this May that killed forty-four people and left more than 180,000 homeless. This is not to say that flooding is not uncommon in the Amazon region given its heavy annual rainfall, but the fact that it came in such unexpected quantities implied that there is climate change already occurring at disturbing magnitudes. This has been compounded by droughts in the south that were the worst Brazil has seen in 80 years. Another side effect of climate change has been the desertification of the northeastern Sertão region, a semi-arid region that suffers from comparatively low rainfall and droughts. Its caa tinga scrub-forest vegetation has also suffered similar environmental degradation as it too has been mainly destroyed by cattle farming. “Brazil is feeling climate changes that are happening in the world, when there is severe drought in areas that don’t have drought, when it rains too much in places where it doesn’t rain,” observed Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in his weekly radio talk after the flooding. This is quite a statement from a known skeptic of environmental matters, as he is only now admitting that the world needs to be more careful with the planet as a whole.”

--Council On Hemispheric Affairs (COHA), Press release of 6/22/09.


Um abraço from your newsletter guy,


Alf Gunn (BSM 62-65)

Gig Harbor, WA






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