Alf Gunn BadgeBrasulista #120


Newsletter of the early Brazilian missions, #120

December 5, 2009


Alô, gente. Feliz Natal e Próspero Ano Novo!


In this issue:

Listen to Brazilian Christmas music

Cascardi family hunts down Elder Larry Wilson who baptized them

Elder Curtis Broadbent finds Aldo Francesconi at the MTC SP

Fruits of the labor: Letter from Bruno Silva Augusto

Write your mission history

Poem: Song of Exile

Listen to the sound of the Sabiá on youtube



Listen to Brazilian Christmas music. The site is called   or


Then you may be able to click on “Brazilian Blend, Webcast channel #3” and bring up the music on your speakers by clicking on "Click here to listen" a couple times.

Boa sorte. January is Jobim month.


Larry Wilson (BCentralM 69-71) of Alamo, CA, writes: “Alf, Thanks so much for doing the Brasulista. I greatly enjoy it. Here is a recent experience I had that connected me with someone I taught 40 years ago in Brazil but with whom I have not had any contact since leaving the area where I taught them, Perdizes (São Paulo), in late 1969 and early 1970.

"On the Friday after the recent General Conference, I received a call from someone in Orem who was calling on behalf of a family that had been baptized in São Paulo by an “Elder Wilson” in early February of 1970. They had been trying for years to locate the elder who baptized them and had made numerous unsuccessful attempts.

This past October, while they were attending General Conference in Salt Lake City, they went to the church library and looked up on microfiche the names of all the people who had been baptized in São Paulo in 1970. There they found the names of seven people who had been baptized on 1 February 1970 in the Perdizes Ward of the São Paulo Stake by Larry Wilson. They went on the internet and tried various means to locate me. Through a series of small miracles, they obtained my cell phone number. A friend of theirs called for them and wanted to know if I might be the missionary who had taught them. Their last name was Cascardi.

40 years ago this month I had been just been transferred into São Paulo and was assigned to Perdizes. At that point I had been on my mission for 5 months and had just been made a senior companion to a brand new missionary. We did a lot of street contacting because the heart of the business district was in our area. I stopped a man on the street by the name of Francesco Cascardi and asked if we could come to his home and give his family a message. He said “yes.”

We taught the Cascardi family, which at that time included Francesco, his wife Ivanete, and their two sons, Luis and Luciano. We baptized Ivanete and Luis on 1 February 1970 but not Luciano because he was only 6 years old at that time. Francesco, the father, declined to be baptized even though he was always friendly and welcoming to us.

It was a friend of Luciano’s who called me from Utah. He asked if I had baptized anyone in Perdizes in early 1970. I told him I had served there and baptized some people. He then put Luciano Cascardi on the phone. It was the first contact I have had with someone from my mission since I returned in 1971. They reached me on the Friday following General Conference and I flew to Salt Lake on Saturday morning to spend 24 hours with them before they returned to São Paulo. Luciano mentioned to me that he worked with then President Neil L. Andersen on a recreational center that the Church developed in São Paulo. Luciano Cascardi is now the president of the Ipiranga Stake in São Paulo.

Since returning from my mission, I have wondered if I did anything that had made a difference for the Church in Brazil. I think there are a lot of returned missionaries who wonder about that. You really never know “the rest of the story.” It was a “tender mercy” of the Lord to give me a glimpse of what has happened with the Cascardi family. Since they joined the church, Ivanete has been unwavering and has served for many years as a Primary, Young Women’s and Relief Society President at both the stake and ward levels. Both of her sons served missions in Brazil as have two of her grandsons.

Her family initially criticized her for joining the Church. Subsequently, due to her influence, about 20 of her relatives joined the Church. From that group of people, there have been 12 or 13 missionaries. Francesco (her husband) still has not joined the church but Luciano told me that his father attends church without fail and gives out more pass along cards than any member of the Church he knows. Luciano told me he remembered us teaching his family with the flannel board and figures that we used back in that era. Most of all, he said, he remembered the feeling in their home as we presented the message of the restored gospel to them.

What an amazing and rewarding experience to find out about the Cascardi family after all these years. I have thought about the people I knew in Brazil constantly since returning from my mission. Now I know something of the good that came from my service – not that any credit belongs to me. None does. The Lord can take someone who barely knows Portuguese and do His work. I share all of that with you because I know the Brazilian Saints have left an indelible impression on your heart as they have on mine.” (


Item: Curtis Broadbent (BM 63-65) is in our group of 50 going on the Terra da Felicidade tour of Brazil in January 2010. One of the highlights of these tours is when a former missionary is able to meet someone he knew during the mission. Curtis mentioned a young man who he and Elder Bob Reeve had taught and baptized in São Paulo, Aldo Francesconi, who he heard was later a stake president. I made an inquiry of Brother Paulo Grahl, Director of Brazil Area Seminaries and Institutes, and learned the Brother Francesconi was the second President of the Manaus Mission from 1993-1996 and today is the general manager of the MTC SP. President Arlan Woodward of the MTC will finish his service there at the end of the year, but has arranged with Brother Francesconi to host a visit of our tour group at the MTC at the end of our trip. (Curtis Broadbent is, President Woodward is


Dear Bro. Broadbent, I was glad to help with the contact with Brother Francesconi, a good friend of mine. He will certainly enjoy your visit in January. I am sure he is as deeply thankful to you as I am to the missionaries who brought the restored gospel to our family in 1961. These experiences create bonds that will last forever. I hope all goes well with your visit to Brazil. Sincerely, Paulo R. Grahl

Brother Paulo Renato Grahl is one of our mission alumni, having served a construction mission at Pelotas and Uruguaiana in his youth. Since then callings have included stake president at Novo Hamburgo, mission president at Brasilia (88-91), Area Seventy, counselor in the Brazil South Area Presidency, and counselor in the MTC. He is currently serving as a patriarch and sealer at the São Paulo Temple. He and his wife Zuleika spoke to our tour group of former missionaries in May, 2006.


Travel Tip

The Brazilian currency today is called the Brazilian Real. Plural is Reais. As you may know, it has been more stable than the US Dollar for many years now, inflation wise. As of today one hundred reais are worth 57 dollars.


Tip: You can produce a ‘cheat sheet’ to calculate a foreign currency quickly. I use (click on “Travel Exchange Rates” and it will produce a cheat sheet in Excel format for the country you select). Another web site is - both web sites are reliable. The traveler can print one out and put in your wallet so you know exactly how much you will be spending before you handover the funds. 


Alf:  Sister Ieda Packham and I are in our last week of our 2-year Public Affairs mission here in São Paulo. We have mixed emotions (like the old joke about seeing your mother-in-law drive off a cliff in your new Cadillac). Since we won’t be going back to the States, we are eager to head south and set up housekeeping in Joinville (apt) and Barra Velha (beach house).  We’ve missed being around family and Ieda’s aging parents need a little personal time with her nearby. She hopes to finish her interrupted law school. I hope to do some translating, perhaps teach some English classes, and spend some quality time in the “rede” (hammock). We’d love to serve another mission down the road, as soon as we’ve figured how to pay for it.


We think we leave Assuntos Públicos a little better for our having been here. The new director, Nei Garcia, is doing a fine job, and the native Brazilian couple coming to replace us will be fantastic. (Jorge Brehm was a stake president in Porto Alegre during the construction of the temple, and Glória Brehm has been the PA Director for the multi-stake council there for many years.) The national Helping Hands project in 2010 is scheduled for July 24th—to celebrate “pioneer day” even here in Brazil!


Our Vonage phone (801-649-4304) is always available from the USA, and the or will reach us even in Santa Catarina. We hope that travelers from the land of desolation to the north (USA) and our new-found friends at the CTM and church offices in São Paulo will put the Packham “hotel” on their list of “must see” spots to visit when coming to SC.  Que fiquemos firmes!  Avante!  Avante!   --Elder Dean A. Packham (BSM 64-66) p.s. See my Facebook page ( 


Brother Dick Mitchell (BSM 60-63 received a wonderful letter from a college student, Bruno Silva Augusto, sharing family history since Elder Mitchell and Elder Barry Maasoff taught his grandfather in 1960. The story of the conversion of Getulio Walter Cordeiro e Silva, “the man who had leprosy,” was told in Brasulista #55 (which I attach with this one), but here is more now, illustrating that you can count the seeds in an apple but you can’t count the apples in a seed:


Dear Elder Mitchell,

            I am at college now, but when I read your email I felt that I needed to share our family experiences over the years.

            My mom was a baby when you baptized my grandpa in 1960. After his baptism he stayed active in the church all his life, he Never, Never, Never gave up his covenant. He served in many callings: Sunday School President in the branch, district and mission, President of AMM (old Young Men’s organization) in branch and district. He was a very righteous man. He didn’t trust his genealogy line that said he had the black blood which would not allow him to receive the Priesthood, as many in this situation hid from the leaders the facts about their linage. He stayed firm in the church and raised his family in the church. My uncle, my aunt and my mother served in many callings also, Primary, Seminary, and participated in all the programs of the church. In 1975 he found his linage and was able to prove he could hold the priesthood. He was ordained an Elder and later a Seventy (they had Seventies in the stake at that time). Elder Faust called him to be a Bishop of the 2nd Ward. He served diligently for many years as a Bishop and even today many call him Bishop. After that he was called to be a counselor in the Stake Presidency in Curitiba. In 1984 he was set apart as a Patriarch.

            His son (my uncle) served as a missionary in the São Paulo North Mission, and served as an assistant to the Mission President, he later served as a Bishop, Counselor in the Stake Presidency, and as Stake President. In 2005 he was called as the Mission President in Bahia. He returned in 2008 and now works for CES. He has 5 children, 4 married in the temple and all of his grandchildren were born in the covenant. All three of his boys served missions, one in Brasil Minas Gerais, the second in Salt Lake and another in England Birmingham. His daughter’s husband served as a Bishop. He has 5 grandchildren with a sixth on the way.

            His daughter also married a return missionary (who now serves as a counselor in the Stake Presidency), she served in many callings: Relief Society President (ward and Stake) and she is an expert in music. She conducted many choirs including the one for the São Paulo Temple dedication, the one for the Dedication of the Curitiba Temple. She is officiating in the Curitiba temple. She had 3 Daughters and one boy. None are married.

            My mother married my father, who was a returned missionary, served as a Counselor in the Stake twice, and is now serving for the 5th time as a bishop. My mother served as a ward and stake Relief Society President. She is a very good teacher and the perfect mother. She works in many cultural programs here in Curitiba. She was called to take care of the cleaning of the Temple in Curitiba. She serves as the coordinator of this program under the direction of the Seventy in Brazil. She is also an officiator in the Temple. She had three boys and one girl. My sister married in 2006 in the São Paulo Temple. I served a mission in the São Paulo Interlagos Mission and this week my brother sent in his mission papers.

            The Curitiba Temple is a mark in our city and all of the temple committees had at least one member of our family on the committee, including my grandfather Getulio. My father served as an assistant to the Seventy on the temple programs. And to end this story, at the last session of the dedication of the Curitiba Temple, President Monson called my Grandfather, Getulio Walter Cordeiro e Silva, who had leprosy when he was taught the gospel and was baptized, to be a Sealer in the Temple. Elder Nelson ordained him in one of the bride’s rooms in the temple. I had a great experience in listening to the ordination of my grandfather.

            I know the calling does not exalt anyone, but this account is one way I could demonstrate to you the fruits of your labors in Brazil.

            On September 25th after years of fighting cancer Getulio passed to the other side. It was painful for all of us, but we know he was a just man and now he will receive his reward. Curitiba came to a stop at his funeral.

            I am thankful for your work. I know that the mission field is not easy, but I also know that when we are righteous the Lord guides our steps.

With love,   Bruno Silva Augusto.


Quote of the day: “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.”

   –Winston Churchill


Note from Alf: To encourage others, I will mention that about three years ago, finding myself with hotel time on my hands during a work project, I decided to write a concise history of my mission, for my children and the grands. When I returned to my home I polished it up by referring to letters I had written home and my mother had kept for me. The finished product is 15 pages long, and I shared it with my sister and father and a couple of companions who were mentioned in it, and it was well received. Now it is in the Church Archives. I encourage any of you who have not yet done this to consider writing your mission history as a personal family history project.


Finally, for those who are in final preparation for our January tour of Brazil, and for anyone else with a heart, I include this beautiful poem:


Canção do Exílio     by Gonçalves Dias (1823-1864)

Minha terra tem palmeiras,
Onde canta o Sabiá;
As aves, que aqui gorjeiam,
Não gorjeiam como lá.

Nosso céu tem mais estrelas,
Nossas várzeas tem mais flores,
Nossos bosques tem mais vida,
Nossa vida mais amores.

Em cismar, sozinho, à noite,
Mais prazer encontro eu lá;
Minha terra tem palmeiras,
Onde canta o Sabiá.

Minha terra tem primores,
Que tais não encontro eu cá;
Em cismar - sozinho, à noite -
Mais prazer encontro eu lá;
Minha terra tem palmeiras,
Onde canta o Sabiá.

Não permita Deus que eu morra,
Sem que eu volte para lá;
Sem que desfrute os primores
Que não encontro por cá;
Sem qu'inda aviste as palmeiras,
Onde canta o Sabiá.


Thanks to Frederick G. Williams (BM 60-63), who interpreted this poem into English, I include it here for the many spouses who read the Brasulista. Fred’s masterful book, Poets of Brazil, A Bilingual Selection, is 431 pages of the great poems of Brazil in both Portuguese and English, with biographical notes about the poets. It is available at the BYU Bookstore as well as, etc. (


   Song of Exile


In my country there are palm trees,

Where the Sabiá sings fair;

And the birds, which here do warble,

Do not warble like those there.


In our skies there are more stars,

In our fields more flowers abound,

In our forests there’s more life,

In our life more love is found.


As I dream, alone, at evening,

Much more joy do I find there;

In my country there are palm trees,

Where the Sabiá sings fair.


In my country there are beauties,

I can’t find here anywhere;

As I dream—alone, at evening—

Much more joy do I find there;

In my country there are palm trees,

Where the Sabiá sings fair.


May God not permit my dying,

Without first returning there;

Without savoring the beauties

I can’t find here anywhere;

Without seeing still the palm trees,

Where the Sabiá sings fair.


(Gonçalves Dias perished while returning from Europe when his ship sunk off the coast of Brazil.)


Finally, if you want to listen to the song of the Sabiá, here is a link:


Até logo, irmãos.


Alf Gunn

Gig Harbor, WA





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