Alf Gunn BadgeBrasulista #134


Newsletter of the early Brazilian missions, #134
September 8, 2011
Bom dia, gente!

In this issue:
2012 Tour to Brazil—Six Temple Tour
Asael T. Sorensen Brazil Mission Reunion Sept. 29
Brazil São Paulo Missions 1966-1972 Reunion Sept. 30
Mission Opportunities in Brazil
Ralph Degn to preside over MTC São Paulo
Report from the field: Lamar and Brenna Woodbury from Cuiabá
Called to Serve:  Texas East Houston Mission; Curitiba Temple
Obituary of Birch Larson, former President of the MTC SP and Spain Barcelona Mission
Trying to locate the former Rosanna Volpert

Six Temple Tour of Brazil—April 18-30, 2012
I am pleased to announce that Dick Jensen and I will host a Six Temple Tour of Brazil, including the new Manaus Temple, which may be dedicated early next year. Dick Jensen of Dick Jensen and Alan Mckay Tours is finalizing arrangements for this trip and we will have more details in the near future, including the price. But the plan is to fly Brazil’s elegant TAM Airlines to visit and attend the temples of Manaus, Recife, Campinas, São Paulo, Curitiba and Porto Alegre, with time to tour each temple city by motor coach. We will tour the jungle and see the Amazon River and the new Manaus Temple from our boat on the Rio Negro. We will swim off a beach near Recife. We will eat Brazilian food and stay in excellent hotel accommodations, as Dick always arranges. We will attend church with the Brazilian saints in Manaus and in Porto Alegre. We will have some firesides in the missionary spirit. All this and flights to and from Brazil, at the best price Dick can arrange, yet to be announced. If you are interested, inquire soon as space may be limited and acquiring visas takes time. Contact is Dick Jensen of Dick Jensen and Alan McKay Tours, 127 E 24th Street #4, Ogden, Utah 84401, 801-917-1131. Monitor the Web site for this trip to be posted:
DATE:  THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2011, 7:00-10:00 P.M.
LOCATION: LDS CHAPEL (Attended by Gary and Joan Kay)
Info:  GARY KAY (801-277-2307) Cell (801-419-2668
801 262-5988 (
801-968-2778 (
REQUEST: Please remind ex-missionaries, their spouses, widows, widowers, Brazilians whom we served with, and others who would like to join us for this reunion.
Brazil São Paulo missions from 1966 to 1972.  
President Hibbert (69-72) and President Hicken (66-69).
Friday, Sept. 30, 2011    7:00 pm
Sandy Canyon View Stake Center, 9119 South 1300 East, Sandy, UT
“Potluck Dinner” and table for “lembrancas” available
Contact is Rich Wager, 801-377-6906, email
 We will have a couple of featured speakers: Elder Seiji Shibata, who was the first Japanese missionary called to teach the Japanese people in São Paulo. He is coming from Japan to attend the reunion. Also, Elder Larry Y. Wilson (BCM 69-71) of the 2nd Quorum of Seventy. We also hope to have a couple of slide shows showing the growth of stakes in Brasil since 1966, and where the mission areas are in Brazil.
Inquiry:   Can anyone tell me who were the very first missionaries sent to Manaus and when that was, and any history of that time?  Alf (
Dear Elders and Sisters,
There is nothing in the world like this Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Lord calls and qualifies people who are willing and able to serve God and their fellow man, in marvelous ways. Yesterday I was describing to an acquaintance some of the humanitarian efforts of our members during the recent 25 years.  The fact is we are a church of ministers, from top to bottom. Consider that every year thousands of our senior members, ordained and set apart, depart to whatever part of the world they are assigned, to bear witness to the world that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, who has in this latter day restored his true church to the earth with all its gifts and blessings and authority. These missionaries help disseminate the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ to all mankind, building and strengthening the members of the Church wherever they go. Other scores of thousands, for reasons and circumstances known to Him whose work this is, serve the Lord diligently right where they live—continuing to bloom where they are planted. To me it is a marvel and a wonder to see, and a fulfillment of prophecies and promises.
One of the blessings of this newsletter is that we can become more aware of the needs for senior couples to serve in missions and temples in Brazil and other Portuguese-speaking countries where the Church has a presence. I am confident that each of the 30 mission presidents and six temple presidents could express the same kind of appeal as the one below. I am pleased to help them “cast the net” in search of couples and individuals willing and able to serve. Often an interested person can communicate by email with the mission or temple president. Here is one such opportunity:
President John Tanner (BSM 69-71) writes:  “Alf, Thanks, as always, for the newsletter. My wife, Susan, and I are now serving in the São Paulo South Mission. We could really use one or two couples to serve in our mission office. There is an apartment right next door to the mission office. With the recent changes the Church has made to facilitate couple missionaries, it is easier than ever for couples to serve missions abroad.  Could you announce this opportunity in the Brasulista?  Obrigado, John and Susan Tanner  (
Called to Serve
Ralph and Mary Ann Degn to preside at the MTC São Paulo.
“Hi Alf, Thanks for your informative and dependable newsletter over these many years.   I've been given permission to let you know that I've been called as the president of the MTC in São Paulo Brazil beginning January, 2012. Mary Ann and I are looking forward to being back in Brazil again, and to hearing that celestial language spoken again by Brazilians!  I started out in Brazil as a young missionary from 09/60 to 03/63 under President Wm Grant Bangerter. From 1993-96 we presided in the São Paulo North Mission.  Mary Ann and I had our three youngest children with us. The MTC was being constructed in Casa Verde, in our mission area, at the time. From 2005-06 Mary Ann and I administered the Perpetual Education Fund out of the old Brazil North Area, with headquarters in Recife. Hope all is well with you and yours. Tudo de bom, Ralph Degn, Wellsville, UT” (
News from the field
Elder Lamar (BSPS 73-75) and Sister Brenna Woodbury of St. George, UT, make a pretty strong case for senior missionary service:  “We have wanted to write to you, to tell you about our marvelous mission. We started filling out our papers to serve a full time couple mission about 2 years ago. We had in mind to serve a one year grounds care mission.  We made sure the missionary department would get the hint. Well, the Lord had other plans for us. And we are so glad that He is at the head of this church, and guides our personal lives. We were called to serve a CES (seminary and institute) mission, here in Cuiabá, Brasil.    
    “I could never count the many times, every single-day, we have thanked our Heavenly Father for sending us to this unbelievable, fabulous mission. We are still asking each other, is it true? Are we really here in Brazil? We started 15 months ago, and from the beginning, we fell in love with all the wonderful people, the culture, and the blessings that come into our lives daily. We truly feel this is the best mission in the entire world.  All the CES leaders here in Brazil, (our Mission President, Ward and Stake leaders, S&I leaders), are all so kind and loving, and glad to help us in our learning. They are really as we imagine the Savior; forgiving (because we make lots of mistakes), patient, encouraging, and always positive! Somehow, we want to take all of their attributes home with us. They are such great examples for us, in our hurried world.
  “This has been my wife's first mission. She studies hard, and is doing pretty good with the language. She wants to come back, and serve other missions here, and I look forward to coming back with her. Nobody here really speaks English, and we count it a blessing. The Lord helps you, in everything you do.   
    “Just try to imagine, everywhere you go, the people hug you and kiss you. The youth will even come up to us on the street, and instantly kiss and embrace us.  (Don’t worry; it’s just a cheek to cheek air kiss.)  I was shocked the first time some of our teenage students did this in the store; and in front of each other!  They just have this deep down, sincere, from the heart love, for everyone. They treat you like you are royalty!
    “We can´t begin to tell you, what this mission means to us. We hope we get to come back and serve many, more. If you want to go to a place where the Lord really needs you, get started on those papers. And don´t worry, the Lord will take care of your family, while you are serving him. Besides, they encourage you to Skype, and it´s free. So even though we got a new granddaughter, and will have one more coming this month, and we missed our oldest grandson´s baptism, and lost a parent, this mission has brought us very close, as a family.  “Vale a pena.”  
    “The same true Church is right here in Brazil, waiting for you to serve some of the  Lord’s choicest sons and daughters. Your testimony will grow, and you will make a difference! We promise you that!  May God bless you! Grande abraço,  Elder Lamar and Sister Brenna Woodbury  (
P.S.  We have friends serving in temples, in mission offices, at the MTC. The CES Director has said they need 3-5 more couples. Also, President Monson reminds us how needed   couples are.  P.S.S.   I've even learned to prepare rice and beans!
Birgit and Jimmy Boswell (BM 61-63) of Brigham City, UT, are now serving in The Texas East Houston Mission as leadership and member support missionaries and loving it “in the trenches.”  (
Sister Bonnie and Elder William M. Hepworth (BM 65-66) of Rupert, ID, write: “Dear Alf, My wife and I met and visited with you at the MTC in Provo during your visit there in August 2010. We were preparing to leave for our second mission as a senior couple in Brazil. We had been called to return to Brazil and serve in the Curitiba Brazil Temple as temple missionaries for 18 months.  After many months of delays and serving in the Washington DC Temple for awhile, we finally arrived in Curitiba in October of 2010. Jose' Maria Arias was called as the new Curitiba Temple President November 1, 2010. He replaced President Jason Sousa who had served as the first Temple president of the Curitiba Temple. Three months later, the second counselor in the Temple Presidency passed away. (His name was Amantes Santos. He was from Cambe' which is next to Londrina. He had recently served a mission in the Recife Temple with his wife.)  My wife and I have been blessed and honored with the privilege of serving as the new second counselor and assistant matron of the Curitiba Brazil Temple. Our mission has been extended two additional years until November 1, 2013. We love the Brazilian people and this gives us the wonderful opportunity to be with them and help them grow in the Gospel. Thanks for your work Alf in keep us all informed.”
Elder William M. and Sister Bonnie B. Hepworth (BSPI 07-08) (
Item: The Brasulista does not announce deaths, unless the deceased was a mission president or otherwise known to many for their service in Brazil.
Please, read the remarkable obituary of Daniel Birch Larsen (BM 48-51), former President of CTM and of the Spain Barcelona Mission.   I received a note from his wife, Sister Melba Parker Larsen, and asked her about the baptism of Walter Spat, who became the first stake president in Brazil. She shared some insights into Birch’s life and their service together:
  “I don’t know if you are aware that Birch (Daniel Birch Larsen) passed away June 4, 2011.  He served a mission to Brazil as a young man from 1948 to 1950 and also as president of the MTC in São Paulo for about 16 months during the years of 1997-98.  He had to return to the states for health reasons.  He was always a champion of missionary work and loved his time in Brazil.  We miss him. Melba Parker Larsen, wife.
   “Birch served in the Brazil MTC after President and Sister Val Carter.  We were in the old MTC during most of the time we were there.  After he had his heart problem, we were advised to go home, but he asked permission to stay until the dedication of the new MTC.  We were in the new facility about 6 weeks, as I remember. Birch was mission president in Barcelona, Spain from 1981 to 1984 and regional representative to Portugal from 1992 to 1994.  He was always very conscious of his mixture of languages – from Brazilian Portuguese, Tex-Mex, to Spain Spanish and Portugal Portuguese.  He always said he knew people could understand him when they laughed at his jokes.
  Birch and Harries Lloyd were the two missionaries who taught and baptized Walter Spat.  At the same time they baptized him, they also baptized a young man by the name of Ricardo Brunner.  Birch had lost track of Brother Brunner until one day in São Paulo a sister in the Church came to see the new MTC.  She was Walter Spat’s daughter, Gloria.  We learned that the Brunners had moved to California in the early years of their married life.  They had raised a wonderful family – all still active in the Church, with children and grandchildren serving missions.  Marcia talked at Birch’s funeral and told of the number of people the Brunner family had been responsible for converting.   Brother Brunner’s first wife passed away several years ago, and he has remarried (I think she is from Brazil also).  His first wife was from Brazil and a convert to the Church, as I recall.  I don’t remember her maiden name.  Brother Brunner has a home in California and in Provo. He has been quite a prosperous business man. His health is not good, but what a wonderful man he is!! I didn’t intend this to be a book. Birch loved his missionary work, and he was known in our ward for his dedication to that part of the gospel. I would love to continue to receive your reports on Brazil.  Melba Larsen  (
From a previous note from Harries Lloyd:  “You may, or may not, know that Walter Spat became the first Stake President, the first (Brazilian) Regional Representative and the first (Brazilian) Temple President in all of South America. Elder Birch Larsen & I were led to him while tracting and taught him the gospel. He was baptized on March 12, 1950 in the pool at the mission home in São Paulo.”        

It's always good to see the Brasulista!  Thank you for your service and love of Brazil and its people. Folks might want to know that the Atlanta area just opened up a new Portuguese-speaking branch (Clear Springs Branch, Roswell Stake) on July 17th serving the six greater Atlanta stakes. Brother Marvin Tedjamulia from Moema, São Paulo, is the new Branch President.  Meetings start at 9:30 AM on Sundays at 95 Holt Road, Marietta, GA.  Anyone visiting or living in the Atlanta area are invited to visit.  James Baker (
Anyone know this sister?
Former Mrs. America, 1984, Debora Wolfe of West Virginia is trying to locate her roommate at the pageant, the former Mrs. Brazil, Rosanna Volpert (sp?). Rosanna later moved to Los Angeles where she was baptized and worked in the LA Temple. She later was divorced and re-married to a man with a Scandinavian last name, not known.  Rosanna may have moved to Payson, UT.  If you can help locate Rosanna for Wolfe, her contact info is 304-638-2377, e-mail  
Reminder:  You can receive the A Liahona in Portuguese monthly for $10 per year in the USA.
Forte abraços,
Alf Gunn
Gig Harbor, WA   253-851-1099


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