Alf Gunn BadgeBrasulista #128


Newsletter of the early Brazilian missions, #128

October 31, 2010


Bom dia!


In this issue:

A temple in Lisbon

Mission calls increasing among Brazilian young men

A missionary reunion with members

Temple Saints and Temple Missions in Brazil

Mangos, Palms and Peace: Carmen Henry and Jean Davis

Out of Africa: Missions in Mozambique and Angola

The Carters teaching and baptizing in Curitiba

From the Archives: How to Find a Wife (From Brasulista #16—2003)



We were pleased to hear President Monson announce that a temple will be built in Lisbon, Portugal.


Foi com grande satisfação que ouvimos o anúncio, feito por Presidente Monson, sobre a construção de um Templo em Lisboa, Portugal. Parabéns aos membros portugueses e aos missionários que levaram o Evangelho ao povo de Portugal!


Mission Calls Increasing Among Brazilian Young Men

In response an inquiry of mine, I received the following from Elder Don Andrew, Brazil Area Executive Secretary: “Dear Alf, The Brazil Area Presidency has been working for some time to meet the needs of the missions in the country.  As current missionaries are released, there have been only a few coming into Brazil to fill the mission compliments.  One way, of course, is to call many more Brazilian young men and young women to serve.  After taking the matter to our contact in the Twelve, and after meetings with the Church leadership while attending General Conference, permission was granted on a case by case basis, to grant some exceptions in Brazil to the requirement that missionary candidates be at least 19 years of age.  

“On October 10, 2010, upon their return to Brazil, the Area Presidency conducted a satellite broadcast throughout the country for all stake and ward leadership as well as districts and branches.  In that broadcast, it was emphasized that much more needed to be done to prepare and call young men to serve missions.  We did a study of membership records and discovered that there were approximately 52,000 young men of missionary age that could be identified as potential missionaries.  Obviously, many of this number are not currently active or prepared to serve. 

“The leadership was invited to accept a request from the Area Presidency to interview and send in at least five missionary recommendations from each stake/district by the end of December.  That would result in approximately 1160 additional missionaries in the field, which would help to make up most of the deficit that now exists in the missions.  In addition, it was announced that young men of 18 years of age, who are free from military service obligations, could present proof of their dispensation from the military, and submit a missionary recommendation for consideration of an exception of the 19 years of age rule.

“Since the broadcast, there has been a continual increase in the number of recommendations being submitted.  Only a few of these are 18 year olds.  Years ago, Elder Grant Bangerter of the Seventy began the process of convincing the leadership in Brazil that the young men of Brazil could serve and should be called to serve as missionaries.  We feel now that this is the next step in the process.  The motto now is, "No Brasil, Servimos Missões".  It can't come too soon.  Last week there were only 28 American missionaries in the Brazil MTC.  No Americans arrived this week, and five left for the field.

“I hope that this serves to answer your question regarding 18-year-old missionaries.  It is temporary, on a case by case basis by exception to the rule, and more than likely will not continue once the numbers of missionaries in the field increase sufficiently.

“Um forte abraço. Elder Don L. Andrew, Brazil Area Executive Secretary”               ‘


Elder Theodore Carl Whitaker (BM 66-68) wrote me a few months ago with this message: “Alf, I don't know if you will remember or not, but in October 2006 you contacted me by phone at my home in Orem, Utah. You mentioned that you had been contacted by a Camila Rolim, a young lady who was in Salt Lake City attending LDS Business College. She had been given instructions by her mother Edite Bittencourt Rolim to find the Elder that had baptized her family. I was that Elder. My companion Elder Nolan Taylor and I did baptize the Bittencourt Family, seven of the nine, on the last day of my mission in 1968 at Curitiba. Well needless to say we did get together and renew friendships. I had lost track for 38 years and now had been reunited with them. The family now has over 40 members; many have been endowed, served missions and married in the temple. They or their spouses have had much church service experiences including Bishops, Stake President and workers in the Curitiba Temple. Camila has since married in the Salt Lake Temple and has recently returned to Curitiba Brazil, where her husband is continuing his studies. That is my mission reunion story, which I am very excited about. Ted (


Ted muses: “I have asked myself, ‘How could the Church have 14 million members?’ Then I think, when I served my mission it was just me. I have since married. We have four children and eight grands. My companion and I baptized one family of seven people. They have children who go on missions. And so it goes.”


Note: I now send the Brasulista to Camila and to other Brazilian members we encounter. Some of them contact me to help them locate “their missionary.”


Temple Saints and Temple Missions

Elder George Leavitt from Madera, CA, (BSM 64-66) writes: “Alf: As you are aware Annette and I are currently serving in the Recife Brazil Temple.

Of all the temple districts in Brazil, the Recife temple district is the largest.  Last week we had three caravans (stake bus loads) of Saints arrive on Monday night.  The Fortaleza Stake was the shortest drive being a 13 hour ride and Itabuna was only a 20 hour trip.  The Belem Stake arrived after 40 hours on a bus.  Once here they sleep in the alojamentos (6-8 men or women per room) and enter the temple Tuesday morning for four 15-hour days of temple work.  These members pay literally hundreds of dollars to come to the temple and some do so every 3-4 months.  Some have vacations days - while others simply take a week off from work.  Not only do these members faithfully pay their tithing, but they also pay the price for transportation, housing and food to be able to go to the temple of the Lord. 

Many of them are very poor by USA standards, yet they save for months, time after time, to be able to come to the House of the Lord bringing with them their ancestral names to perform temple ordinances necessary for salvation.  

We are often witnesses to the greatest spiritual feasts that can be had on earth watching as these wonderful Saints arrive exhausted but immediately begin basking in the beauty and peace of the temple grounds.  They start their 15 hour days singing familiar hymns at 6:30 am and end with another devotional at 9:30 pm where they receive instructions from their priesthood leader about the upcoming day.   

Friday afternoons and evenings are often sad tearful times as we say goodbye to these good people, whom we have come to love and know, who give us abraços and thank us for our work here, while we have the knowledge that they have made the greatest sacrifices of time and material wealth to come and serve.  

Rewarding?   Yes, we are weekly richly spiritually rewarded for our time spent on a mission here. Here are some facts:

This temple is allocated 10 missionary couples and we currently have eight (1 American, 7 Brazilian). The problem is that four couples are scheduled to go home between now and next March. We need mature couples to prepare and submit their papers to serve as temple workers in Brazil. There are several temples here in Brazil which need missionary couples as many of the Brazilian saints cannot afford to serve. We asked to serve in Curitiba but were assigned to the Recife Temple and have not regretted the calling as there is a larger group of missionaries to work and socialize with at this temple. All temples in Brazil have fully furnished temple apartments and the cost for a Brazilian temple mission is between $600-1200 per month per couple. Recife is about $7-900 per month.

Spouses of former Brazilian missionaries are often hesitant to serve foreign missions because of the challenge to learn a new language. Annette also expressed this sentiment, but felt that a temple mission was a good place to start learning and using a foreign language. Working in the temple is an excellent way to start as it requires only a limited vocabulary to do the work well. She thought it would be a kinder, safer environment and indeed it has been. Previous temple service has been an additional help but certainly not a requirement.

Temple missions are different. During temple closures (2 weeks, 2 times per year) we can travel and see other parts of Brazil. We work set hours – usually 7-9 hours per day depending on the temple and day of the week and have the opportunity of serving with members who have temple recommends in the House of the Lord. We have Saturday evening, Sunday and Monday off as the temple is closed and often on Mondays will have FHE as a group with the Temple Presidency or occasionally we will rent a small bus and go touring, visiting other nearby cities and tourist sites.  

Paraphrasing President Hinckley “Are you waiting for your birth certificates to expire?” Now is the time to prepare your paperwork and serve where you are urgently needed.   Any who have any questions about temple missions may feel free to email me and I will be happy to provide any information I can. Elder George M. Leavitt (


More . . . “Greetings from Porto Alegre, where a new patron housing facility on the corner of the temple lot is scheduled for completion next August, including new apartments for temple missionaries, who now live in fully furnished apartments near the temple. We are authorized to have two more missionary couples right now, but apparently the Church has not had couples to assign to us yet. Thus, we concur with the wise comments by George Leavitt encouraging former missionaries to Brazil and their wives to consider serving a temple mission here in Brazil. Thanks again for your dedication to the Brasulista.”  

Lennis M. Knighton, President, Porto Alegre Brazil Temple (


Mangos, Palms and Peace

From Carmen Henry Davis and Jean of Klamath Falls, OR, and American Fork, UT: Henry served in the Brazilian Mission and the Brazilian South Mission June 1957 to December 1959. We now have served three missions together: Venezuela Barcelona 2000-2002; Brazil Belo Horizonte 2003-2004; and Brazil Recife 2007-2009. We loved each mission. Our last mission was like being in paradise as we lived and worked in and on the temple grounds. We served in the Family History Center each morning and as temple ordinance workers in the afternoon. Mangos, palm trees, peace that was tangible (even to non-member visitors to the history center), and the marvelous, open-hearted Brazilian members with their wonderful abraços. Since our return, visits to our nine children and forty-three grandchildren have taken us to the East Coast, the West Coast and Germany. It has been good to catch up on family time. It is always good to get the Brasulista and hear news of the Church in Brazil. Thanks for all you do. C. Henry and Jean R. Davis   (

Alf’s note: Some of you will recall one of the first branch presidents of Curitiba was Nobuo Suzuki. Brother Suzuki once told of his conversion and said it was Elder Richard Jones who baptized him, after Elder Carmen Henry Davis tracted him out at 9:30 p.m.  Elder Davis was on an extension of his mission, and just worked hard, I guess. Brother and Sister Davis were on our first Brazil tour in 2005 and still going strong.


Out of Africa

Alf, We've just returned from our mission in Mozambique Africa. Once again it was a wonderful experience--one we'll never forget. Of course we didn't know what to expect before going there, even with our other missions, but it was far more interesting and more enjoyable than we ever imagined. I can't tell you all the different hats we wore in this letter, but I can tell you that every day brought a different adventure and we witnessed a lot of growth in the church there. You can't believe how fast the church is growing there and all that is needed is more leadership--the kind only senior couples can give. So, if there are any Portuguese speaking couples who are flexible and willing to lend a hand, please have them contact President Spendlove, the Maputo Mozambique mission president (email He is also responsible for the country of Angola and needs couples in both countries. I'm enclosing a few comments from one of the young elders serving in Angola right now to indicate how much couples are needed there. Thanks again, Stephen & Charlotte Nebeker


An excerpt from one young Elder’s letter, from Angola:  “We are really working and desperately trying to find someone who is willing and able to come here to Angola and serve. President talked to me and asked me to get the word out, so I am asking all of you who are receiving this to consider serving a mission, or to talk with your friends about someone who may be able. We would prefer someone who is Portuguese speaking—that would be the best—but at this point we will take whatever we can get. It’s pretty difficult for President and Sister Spendlove, and for us in many ways, to get things taken care of without having someone over here who is responsible for us. We really want to open up two other areas, Benguela and Huambo that are down south and are pretty much in the middle between Luanda and Lubango where we already have missionaries. The couple who comes will either live in Benguela or Huambo, we are pretty sure it will be Benguela which is right on the beach, with beautiful blue water. But we can’t receive permission to send more missionaries to Angola from the Area, without have any Missionary Couple here to be responsible for the full-time young missionaries. We already have 14 assigned there which they allow for now. So please try and get the word out, and let me know. Thank you very much!”


Some reports indicate the Church is growing faster in Africa and the Caribbean than any other areas in the world just now. Missionaries open cities in Mozambique and within one year have 100 members attending church.


Elder Nolan Steadman (BM 60-63) and his wife Christie of Tooele, UT write:

“Dear Brother Gunn, We returned from a PEF mission in São Paulo the end of July 2010.  We had an awesome mission!  In fact, we are already thinking about submitting papers to return. We loved the members in Brazil. We worked at the Association, or Church Office Building in São Paulo, in the PEF department where we were in a position to observe firsthand the many blessings that the Perpetual Education Fund has brought to the members in Brazil. Christie taught teclado and conducting lessons there also. We had an extra bonus to our non-proselyting mission when a wonderful couple that we introduced to the elders were baptized a week before we returned home. We become close friends with them and we had them to dinner a couple times and they invited us to dinner. They have a daughter who was reading the Book of Mormon when we returned home. We hope to go to the temple with them in about 10 months. We were also blessed to work in the São Paulo Missionary Training Center with the wonderful Brazilian and American Elders and Sisters. This is a very special place with great leaders. We enjoyed the strong spirit there. During our mission we had the opportunity to meet Danilo Talankas whom Nolan baptized in 1962 when he was 11 years old. Danilo has served as a Stake President and a Mission President in Rio de Janeiro and now translates for General Conference in São Paulo. We made wonderful enduring friendships with the other senior missionaries serving there. We miss our Brazilian friends and our fellow senior missionaries. Concerning rumors that we were on a mission in Africa . . . nope. We did spend some time in Ghana Africa—Nolan was there a total of five weeks—helping our daughter and her husband adopt two sibling orphan girls from a village near Cape Coast. This may be what you heard about Nolan Steadman in Africa. (


This from the Carters, Elder Robert V. (BM 64-66) and Sister Louise (Swiss Mission-Italy 66-68) of Pleasant Grove, UT, now at Curitiba: “Dear friends, We write to give you all an idea of what is happening down here in the church among these wonderful people. We arrived here on July 2nd. Today is September 7th, the Brazilian celebration of their independence from Portugal. Our Mission President (Derek Cordon) arrived two days before us. It has been quite an experience to work closely with him as we observe the Lord working with him to fulfill his calling. When we arrived, we had no Senior Couple to show us the “ropes” and so along with Pres. Cordon and wife and us, we have been learning as we go. Actually this has been a wonderful experience as we have felt the Spirit prompting us in this work.

Our original calling was to be office workers, but after discussing this with Pres. Cordon, we felt we would be much more effective as missionaries if we worked about 2 – 3 hours per day in the office and then spent the rest of the day and evenings proselyting and working with less active members. We work with the Vila Izabel Ward in Curitiba. This has been most fulfilling and somewhat physically taxing. Physically speaking, Bob’s health is as good as it has been for quite some time. Walking has been a real help in maintaining his health and good conditioning . . . same for Louise.

We have already taught our first convert to baptism. A very faithful and strong young lady, daughter of a Protestant Pastor who was encouraged by her friends to investigate the Church. She appeared at the Portão Chapel one day asking to learn more. This chapel is also where the Mission Office is located. We were there and began teaching her the regular missionary lessons. With the help of many members and youth her age (20) and her own efforts, she is now a member of the church (August 28th). Many people attended her baptism and confirmation. It was truly a joyous occasion.  

We are now teaching four other families and are very encouraged in their acceptance of the message of the restored gospel. We are hoping for two of the four and think, at this point in time, they will also enter the waters of baptism. The other two families may take a little longer. What a joy this is to be involved in this work! We feel the Lord’s hand in all of this and know that this mission is not about us but about bringing people to Christ. We are so very blessed to be able to participate in this in such a minor way, but know from whence the blessings come. We have been working closely with the leadership of the ward trying to help them improve their efforts in missionary work. They have not had missionaries assigned to the ward for quite some time, primarily because there aren’t enough missionaries to be assigned everywhere. We have spent quite a bit of time in this area and are now beginning to see some of the fruits of our efforts. We hope to be able to leave this ward when we are transferred, organized and functioning very efficiently in

doing missionary work. This will also benefit many of the less-active, hopefully bringing many back into activity and bringing the gospel to the non-members in a part member family. The work goes on and we will continue to appreciate your love and

prayers . . . we need this. Sincerely,  Elder and Sister Carter (Bob and Louise) (


From the Archives: Brasulista #16, November 20, 2003

Tip of the month: How to find a wife

From a brief biographic note to his former mission president, Elder Mark E. Whiting (BSM 66-68) of Sandy, UT, wrote: “At a wedding reception (in 1981), a lady I had known all my life asked me just what I was looking for in a wife, I being in my early 30’s and unmarried. I described all the attributes of Eve and added that she must be able to speak Portuguese. A week later this lady called my father and said she had found her, and so I married that girl in the Seattle Temple on 15 July 1981. She is the former Nancy Jacobsen, from Seattle, who served in the São Paulo South Mission in 1974.” (


I really enjoy sharing these marvelous stories of faith from you who are serving the Lord Jesus Christ in so many ways.


Um abracão sincero,



Gig Harbor, WA




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