Alf Gunn BadgeBrasulista #122


Newsletter of the early Brazilian missions, #122

February 15, 2010


Bom dia! This issue is a little long and perhaps a little overdue. I hope you will be encouraged by the news and reports.


In this issue:

Notes from the 2010 “Terra da Felicidade” tour of Brazil

Visa wait problems take a turn for the better

New President of the MTC SP arrives

Experiences in Brazil

Called to Serve

Former missionary shares message in Portuguese in Afghanistan

Excuse me . . . a Portuguese joke

Elder and Sister Lamar Hansen share mission testimony

Link: LDS article




My understanding is that Brazil lost a number of citizens in the Haiti earthquake. One reason is that there was a Brazilian military force in the country as U.N. peacekeepers and they lost at least 14. Also killed was a much-beloved pediatrician and humanitarian, Doutora Zilda Arns, 75, of Curitiba, who founded Pastoral da Criança which has influenced hundreds of thousands of children and adults. She was killed with many others when the church in which she had spoken collapsed. For more about her, see:


I would like to mention that I am a big fan of Meridian Magazine. Their Publisher/Editor husband and wife team of Scot Facer Proctor and Maurine Proctor produce amazing photo-documentary essays, most recently from on the ground at Haiti. Don’t miss these moving articles! Start at


Item: Alf, I wanted to let you know that my mother, Marian Taylor, passed away on December 5, just 8 months following the passing of my father, Vern Taylor. We served in the Brazilian South Mission from October '63 to May '66, and while Dad supervised the construction of the Curitiba District Center Mom served as the mission Primary President, and as the Curitiba District choir leader. She also worked very hard on the building itself; doing a lot of the painting, sod laying, cleaning, etc., as well as mothering all of the missionaries who came her way. One day she was working very hard to finish some painting in preparation for the visit of Howard W. Hunter. That day she had tipped a bucket of paint over herself, filling her pocket. Her hair was in a bandana, and she looked a fright. Of course Elder Hunter came a day early, and found her there in all her splendor. She apologized for her appearance, and he told her, "Sister Taylor, never apologize for doing the right thing." It was obvious that she wasn't doing her work for "show". We'll miss her, but we're grateful that she and Dad only had to spend a short time apart.

Linda Taylor, Holladay, UT  (


The Brazil Tour of January 2010

Fifty of us--former missionaries, wives, family members and friends—enjoyed two weeks together on tour, including a week on the ship Concordia of Costa Cruise Lines sailing up the coast from Santos to Rio, Salvador da Bahia and a couple other nice ports on the return. That ship was full of Brazilians on holiday and 50 Americans who became quite invisible in the crowd. We had some good experiences there, speaking to Brazilians, listening to bossa nova music, fine dining, and our own get-acquainted firesides. We could tell some stories.


When we returned to São Paulo on January 16, we visited the beautiful São Paulo Temple and the next day attended church with a stake center full of Saints there. Elder Stanley Ellis of the Seventy, who is First Counselor in the Brazil Area Presidency, spoke to us that evening about the dynamic growth of the Church in Brazil. I hope to share more in the next Brasulista about the subject.


Visa Wait Problems Being Overcome

Elder Ellis invited us to pray for the continued progress of the work--that visas might be forthcoming to US missionaries who are waiting for them so they can fill their mission calls in Brazil, and that temples may continue to be built so that the Brazilian Saints won’t have to travel so far to temples.


Later, on January 20 at the São Paulo Missionary Training Center (CTM) we saw that there were just and handful of US missionaries being trained, where they have the capacity to receive hundreds of them. Acting President Vernon Christopherson indicated that there are some 200 American missionaries called to Brazil who are in visa wait status.


At another fireside, mission president Toledo Araujo of the Brazil Curitiba Mission mentioned the real possibility of having to withdraw missionaries from some cities if American missionaries do not begin to arrive soon.


New President of the CTM Arrives

Late breaking news from Vernon Christopherson, Executive Secretary of the CTM, as of February 9, 2010:


Dear Alf, President and Sister Clark arrived here on Saturday the 23rd of January. . . . They express and show great love toward the missionaries and that same kind of love is reciprocated back to them. We are so grateful to have them here. Both are well prepared for this assignment. She came to Brazil as a young girl and spent her teenage years here. They met and married in the United States and then returned to Brazil. The missionaries found them and their children while they lived in São Paulo and they were baptized in the Santo Amaro branch more than 40 years ago.


The visa situation appears to be on the way to a resolution. We received 6 Americans on Wednesday the 3rd of February, all brand new from their homes in the States. Then on Thursday the 4th, we received notification that a group of missionaries at the Provo MTC had just received their visa and 14 of them arrived here on Saturday the 6th of Feb. (25 more are expected on February 12) In the meantime we have been seeing large groups of Brazilians enter the CTM for the past 3 weeks. Our numbers here have more than tripled during the last 3 or 4 weeks.


This is wonderful news for the missions here in Brazil. The lack of missionaries in Brazil for last 3 or 4 months has caused a good deal of concern for the mission presidents here. We hope that the trend continues.

It was great to see you with your tour group and hope that they enjoyed their time in Brazil.

Até Mais, Vernon Christopherson (


Also at the São Paulo fireside with Elder Ellis was President Arlen Woodward (BSM 60-63) of the MTC São Paulo, who kindly met with us the evening before he completed his mission there and returned home to the USA (


With him were Aldo and Francily Francesconi. Aldo is Director of the CTM. Read more about Aldo and Francily below.


Also present were President Stan Neeleman and Sister Sherri Neeleman of the São Paulo Temple, and Elder Milton and Sister Barbara Brinton, Church Physician in the Brazil Area; and Elder Mark Haslam and Sister Kathy Haslam, who are serving a senior couple leadership mission in the Belo Horizonte Mission at Montes Claros, Minas Gerais. (Sister Brinton is the sister of Elder Haslam). (,


On Saturday, January 16, we were in a session at the beautiful São Paulo Temple, utilizing every English language headset they could spare. Personally, I felt great joy in seeing the Saints enter the Celestial Room. There was a beautiful spirit there.


As I mentioned, on Sunday the 17th we attended church at the São Paulo 5th Ward, in the stake center next to the Temple and had many enjoyable associations. I must share this personal note. A half hour after church, I walked out onto the sidewalk in front of the stake center and a woman and her young adult daughter walked my way. I said “Boa tarde,” and the woman said, in Portuguese, “Pardon me, but can you tell me how I can attend that church? We live nearby here and walk by often and I am wondering if we can attend here.” I assured her she could attend and gave her the hours and she wrote her name and address and phone number for me. Then I offered her a tour of the building and as we walked toward it, out came the Ala 5 Relief Society President. She made the acquaintance of this woman, obtained her address and phone number and promised to send two representatives of the Church to explain more. And she took her to give her a tour. Oh, I love what the Lord is doing in Brazil!


Monday we went to Curitiba by motor coach and Tuesday we were at the absolutely beautiful Curitiba Temple when it opened to us at 11:30 am. We were greeted by my old friend, pioneer member Adolfo Oscar ‘Pepi’ Dittrich at the welcome desk. Pepi and his wife Mya Aoto Dittrich and her brother Jorji Aoto are all serving in the temple. As I recall, Mya and her family were baptized in about 1948 or so by Elder C. Elmo Turner, who would later be my mission president.


Temple President Jason Sousa, former Mission President at Porto Alegre, helped make our temple visit wonderful. I will report that there are two lovely murals in the garden room of the temple, one depicting the Falls of Iguaçu and the other the beautiful Paraná-Santa Catarina countryside with its iconic Araucaria trees, or Paraná Pines.


At the Curitiba Temple Georgia Teichert was assisted by Sister and Brother Kulchetscki, who both speak English, and then was thrilled to learn from Brother Kulchetscki that her husband, Burke Teichert (BSM 62-65), was one of the missionaries who taught and baptized him. ( (


Before the trip, Curtis Broadbent had inquired about and connected with Brother Aldo Francesconi whom he had baptized when Aldo was 17, who has been a bishop numerous times and a stake president and who today manages the MTC SP. When we met with Aldo and his wife, the former Francily da Graça Parronchi, at the São Paulo fireside she inquired about the two missionaries who baptized her family on October 22, 1967, Elder McBride and Elder Henderson, and she supposed that they did not know any more of her since that time. Two days later she was in contact with Dorrell Henderson (BM/BNM 67-69) of Draper, UT, and Reuben McBride (BM 66-67) of Pima, AZ. “Voce não pode imaginar,” she wrote me, “a alegria que me proporcionou. Assim que li seu e-mail havia um outro logo encima do Elder Henderson, você pode imaginar isto? Tanta rapidez. Nem sei como agradecer. Vou compensá-lo com um almoço bem gostoso na quinta. Agora vou mandar um e-mail para o Elder McBride. Abraços, Francily” (


That’s why I like this job. Thanks to their friendship with Curtis Broadbent, the Francesconi’s hosted some of us at their fascinating country home after a shopping tour of Embu das Artes, SP, on our last day in Brazil. We feasted on Brazilian food at its finest and had a good old time with their family.


Special thanks to Dick Jensen (BSPS 78-80) and his wife Greer for arranging and hosting this tour, designed for our former missionary group and friends. (Dick Jensen and Alan McKay Tours,


Our party had many great experiences on this trip—too many to tell in this issue. But here is one shared by Richard and Sandy Tidwell:


"During our trip to Brasil in January 2010, Sandy and I had a wonderful reunion with the Walter and Lydia Jasche family in Osasco, São Paulo. They and their two children, Gunther and Waltraut, were baptized in Santana, São Paulo, on June 30, 1966, taught by Elder Barry Bartlett and me. Walter visited us in Provo many years ago when he came to General Conference as a member of a Stake Presidency. Walter is 88 and his wife, Lydia, is 83. Many abraços were exchanged as they thanked me and Elder Barry for the blessings that the Gospel brought to their family. Walter has served in many church positions including being a sealer in the São Paulo Temple. They introduced us to their extended family calling them the "frutas" of their conversion and kindly calling Elder Barry and me "os culpados". The family history work of this German family was shown to us as additional evidences of the "frutas" of our labors as missionaries. Their son, Gunther, currently serving as a Ward Mission Leader, served a mission in São Paulo, and now his son, Klaus, is serving a mission in Portugal. Gunther's wife, Ingrid, also was so grateful that Gunther was prepared to marry her in the temple. A fiancé of one of Gunther's daughters thanked us a lot for our part in preparing her to be ready for a temple marriage to him. It was a joy to see how our missionary labors with the help of the Lord can bless a family throughout this life and the eternities.

Richard and Sandy Tidwell" (


Called to Serve

Jan and Carlos Litster (BM 59-61) formerly of Layton, UT, are leaving for a CES Couples Mission in the São Paulo South Mission in March. Jan has served for years at the Conference Center and Church Flower Gardens at Temple Square, and Carlos has been very active with the Bangerter missionaries reunion committee. “We are taking our Vonage telephone number with us to Brazil, 801-451-6515. Our email is

Wallace Hartman (BSM 63-66) has been
called to serve as a Church Service Missionary for the Family and Church History mission in Kalispell, Montana, where he lives. Interestingly, many Church Service Missionaries, especially in the Family Search Support effort are just one member of the family. Sister Hartman is busy in her Relief Society presidency. (


Elder Brian Blackham (BM 65-67) and his wife Helen are called to a temple mission at the Porto Alegre Brazil Temple, beginning in March. During his first mission he opened the branch at Osasco, in the greater São Paulo area. The Blackhams have served in the Portugal Porto Mission (00-02) and in the Portugal Lisboa Mission at Angra do Heroismo in The Azores (04-05). (


You may have read in the Church News that Gordon J. Hall (BNM 71-73) and his wife Janis, of Tempe, AZ, have been called as a mission president. The specific assignment has not yet been determined. Parabens, Gordon and Janis! (

Jack Small (BM 60-63) and his wife Marge are featured in an article citing four decades of volunteering in the Ogden Standard Examiner, including serving a mission to Bolivia from 02-04, as I recall in the Cochabamba Temple. ( See it and a nice photo of them at

Item: You may have seen this interesting article in the Church News:

It tells how Major Tobin Griffeths, deployed to Afghanistan, utilized the Portuguese he learned as a missionary in Brazil to befriend a group of contractors from Mozambique who were working in Afghanistan. The Mozambique contractors invited Brother Griffeth to their weekly Christian worship service. He was even asked to share a sermon from the scriptures. With a prayer in his heart, the American airman taught the Mozambique congregation about faith out of the New Testament and the 32nd chapter of Alma. Afterward, he collected 28 names and home addresses and promised to send each of his new friends a special gift — a copy of the Book of Mormon.

Major Griffeths (BPAM 87-89) shares this account from his Afghanistan journal with readers of the Brasulista:


“I had a very interesting experience today. I have gone to extremes to speak (in Portuguese) to a group of some Mozambique 200 laborers that help the Afghans remove landmines. Yesterday at dinner I sat with three of them and asked them if they had a Portuguese speaking church service and if I could attend. They told me when and where it was. We then were able to exchange some information about our beliefs. – Saturday evening I showed up. They were dancing and singing Christian songs with an African twist to them. When they saw me arrive in the back (the only white guy and guy in uniform) they danced back, grabbed me and brought me to the front as their eyes sparkled with delight and disbelief that I had actually come. I danced, sang and clapped along with them. When the music stopped I went back and sat down. I closed my eyes and in my mind said a little prayer and asking for help and that something good could come of this. Then the preacher arose asked me to bear my testimony as a special quest. Shocked, I arose, walked to the front and felt that I should talk about and bear my testimony about the atonement and how we are all children and heirs of God using (Romans 8:16). After a brief testimony I went back and sat down. – Then another man in the congregation that I had eaten with stood and said, “When I met Major Griffetche (they can’t say Griffeth) at dinner he asked to come to church. Although I doubted he would come I felt he had some spiritual food to feed me. Now I know why he is here.” Then the man sat back down. The preacher then asked me if I had brought my scriptures I held them up and smiled. He then asked, “Do you have something to teach. I feel you should.” I was in disbelief but said, “Yes, I do.” (Sim, Eu Tenho.) As I walked to the front I felt that I should teach in simplicity and I then began to teach on faith out of Hebrews 11. I taught how without true faith it was impossible to please God. Then without them knowing it I used Alma chapter 32 and compared the faith to a seed that may never grow in us unless we give place for it, water and nourish it. “And behold, as the tree begineth to grow, ye will say… let [me] nourish it .. that it bring forth fruit…” and eventually they could pluck that fruit partake of the blessings that come and share its sweetness with others. I then ended with Hebrews 11 and how faith prompted various great men to act and to seek truth wherever it may be. – They found my comparison profound and the preacher chose to end by confirming what I had said. The next week I attended again and told them I would be leaving soon but I wanted to give them a complete set of scriptures from me that would allow them to grow spiritually, be happy and was the word of God. I received 28 names and contact information. I sure never thought this would happen in Afghanistan. They leave on December 10th (the ground is too hard and cold to get mines out until March) and I will mail them the B of M and Bible in Mozambique with my picture and Alma 32 marked. -- Oh, I’m sure the missionaries will get a reference also.” (


Overheard in Embu das Artes:

Did you hear about the two Portuguese pilots who flew their plane to Brazil for advanced training? They received clearance from the airport to land, but just as their wheels touched the ground the end of the runway was right in front of them and they had to jam on the brakes as hard as they could, stopping just in time. “Oh, Joachim!” says the pilot, “Did you see how SHORT the runway is?!!” “Yes, Manoel,” says the co-pilot, “but look how WIDE it is!”


Yes, the Brazilians still tell jokes on the Portuguese. But since there are so many Portuguese living in Brazil a Brazilian needs to be sensitive, so he might start a story by saying “Did you hear about the two Japanese fellows? . . . Manoel and Joachim . . . .”  


By good fortune we happened to visit the Curitiba Temple at the same time as Elder Lamar Hansen (BSM 60-63) and his wife Elaine, who were on their way home to Centerville, Utah, on completion of their service in the Brazil Maceio Mission. They recently shared this testimony regarding their missionary experiences of the last 18 months:


“We have been blessed to work so closely with President and Sister Beynon who have provided the dynamic leadership these missionaries need to keep the vision of their calling in mind every day. They have taught us much about commitment, work and love by their example. The "Eveready Bunny" would be worn out if he had to keep pace with their schedule. And we can't even begin to talk about these young men and women who serve as our missionaries here. They have become as our own sons and daughters. They are the workers here - every day out with the people when it's hot and muggy - wiping their brow as they smile and tell the people of the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ and the plan of happiness that the gospel brings into their lives.


“We have witnessed some marvelous cultural events while here. We have seen some awesome country scenery. The ocean and beach are captivating - always inviting you to walk along and enjoy peace and tranquility. All are amazing, but the really wonderful event to watch is the change that comes when a person accepts the witness of the Holy Ghost that the gospel is true and then is baptized because they want the better way.


“May we bear our testimony that God lives and that His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, is our Redeemer. While here on the earth, He established the church and put in place the atonement so that all, if they will, may return to the presence of the Father. The adversary blinded the minds of men and brought about the great apostasy. After long centuries of spiritual darkness, the church was restored to the earth through Joseph Smith, who, as a young boy honestly seeking the truth, saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Since that time until now, we have had living prophets who lead and guide the church through revelation and inspiration from the Father. The plan of salvation - that plan of happiness - provides the way for each of us to feel the love of our Father in Heaven while we are here, to be happy in this life, and to help others discover their true identity - that is, that they are a child of God.


“We're eternally thankful to our Father in Heaven for the blessing of serving a mission. (


We end with that testimony. Thanks to all who contributed to this Brasulista.

More follows soon in the next issue.


Forte abraço,


Alf Gunn

Gig Harbor, WA


Um brinde: Link to LDS religion column article mentioning Brazil and ‘saudades’:



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