Newsletter of the early Brazilian missions, #152
October 28, 2012
In this issue:
- A joyful return to Brazil for an executive protection assignment
- Learning Portuguese before the LTM or MTC
- Recalling the Mormon Melodaires at São Leopoldo
- Public Affairs article: “Governor Romney’s church”
- Called to Serve: São Paulo, the Campinas Temple, Lisbon, and the Porto Alegre Temple
- Missionary couples needed in Mozambique and Angola
- How to “map-walk” in Brazil from your laptop
A joyful return to Brazil
In March 2011, when President Barack Obama visited Rio de Janeiro, Dean Meservy (BPAM 77-79), who is a Foreign Service specialist in communications currently serving in Vienna, Austria, was tapped to help with the President’s visit. After putting in three straight 20-hour days—typical of an executive support assignment—Brother Meservy took a few days of leave and flew down to his old mission area in Porto Alegre. His account is beautifully written:
“In March 2011 I had the opportunity to return to Brazil for the first time in more than three decades. President Obama was to have a summit with Brazil's president Dilma Rousseff, the daughter of Bulgarian immigrants who was born in Belo Horizonte and later made her home in Porto Alegre. It sounds glamorous to say I was working a presidential summit, but it isn't really. There are a million details involved in a presidential visit, from the obvious to the picayune. Presidents sometimes get criticized for the cost of their trips, but it's all beyond their control: physical protection, transportation arrangements, venues, facilities, a secure and 100% reliable communications system to be set up in advance... it all has to be done. It is grueling duty and most normal people try to avoid it. But when the opportunity was put to me, I jumped at the chance to return to Brazil. I scheduled leave at the end of the summit and made plans to fly down to my mission area in Porto Alegre before returning home.
“At Rio, the first thing I noticed is that even the most spectacular photographs do not do the city justice. Among the people, I found Rio at once livelier and more casual than the Porto Alegre I recalled.
“There was a juice bar not far from our hotel where fruits, vegetables and even raw sugar cane would be juiced to order. I introduced the rest of my team to the delights of all those Brazilian fruits that just don't travel well enough to make it to America; in some cases, we don't even have an English word for them: macaúva, cajuí, fruta do conde, butiá, murici, camu-camu, cambucá, and my favorites, açaí and umbú. More than fifty juices were listed, all fresh-squeezed on the spot. We downed one glass after another as we worked our way through the list.
“I had been worried that Brazilian food would not be as tasty as I remembered. Surely hours each day of walking and proselyting and the notoriously indiscriminating appetite of any lively young American male had played tricks on my palate. After all, I'd had feijoada and churrasco at very expensive Brazilian restaurants in the U.S., prepared by honest-to-gosh Brazilians, and it just wasn't quite the same.
“But to my delight, I found the food exactly as tasty as I had remembered. One time, my team leader sent me out for lunch with strict instructions that whatever I got anyone else I was to bring him two McDonalds hamburgers, period. He did not want to be experimenting with anything unfamiliar while he was under stress. Lying through my teeth, I assured him he could trust me. I hit the first working-class lunch bar I saw and came back with a simple meal of rice, beans, beefsteak and guaraná. The next time it was my turn for a food run, I apologized for the switcheroo and assured him I would find him a McDonalds this time. He said, "Don't you dare. You bring me exactly whatever that was!"
“When I finished my work, I flew south. There was much that had changed in Porto Alegre, but the city center was still familiar and beloved: the parks, the historic buildings, the lovely and vibrant market. Unlike Rio's heat, a hint of fall was in the gaúcho air and some yellow could be seen among the leaves in Parque Farroupilha.
“In Porto Alegre, I was met by old friends, still firm and faithful in the Church after three decades. An elegant and lively dinner was hosted in my honor by a woman whom I remembered as the 15-year-old daughter of Porto Alegre's first stake president and who now is a renowned dental surgeon and businesswoman with her own chain of clinics and is the photogenic host of a national television program on health issues. This was followed a day or two later by an equally lively open-air churrasco in a more modest home hosted by one of the best stake missionaries I ever worked with. On both occasions, I was moved to tears. Many of those who came I remembered as youth in the Porto Alegre 4th Ward. Not only had they gone on missions, married in the temple, served as bishops and stake presidents and mission presidents and wives of bishops and stake presidents and mission presidents, but now their CHILDREN were serving as or married to bishops and stake presidents. A young man I knew as a recently baptized teenager with shoulder-length hair is now a member of the First Quorum of Seventy. I learned that a lawyer I had once taught and thought he had gone away rejecting the gospel is now a counselor in a stake presidency. I was able to attend the Porto Alegre temple, built right where I had jokingly prophesied it would be in an attempt to revitalize member interest in missionary work.
The entire trip was an avalanche of spirit and emotion. I returned home with renewed faith in the future of the Church in Brazil and gratitude for the faith and sacrifices of the saints that have made these blessings possible. Dean Meservy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Portuguese training before the MTC or CTM
Dick Silver (BSM 61-63) of Frankfort, KY writes: Alf, The 50 year memories were a treat to read! I realized that I passed that milestone in January 2011 while on a month-long trip to South Africa, where we accompanied a family (whose husband we had baptized in 2004) to the Johannesburg temple. In January 1961, I was the only missionary in the SLC Missionary Home to go to Curitiba, flying in a four-engine Constellation that stopped for fuel in Barbados, Manaus, and on to Rio de Janeiro. On arrival in Curitiba there was nobody to greet me at the airport. I later found out the Mission Office thought I was to arrive the next week. I did by good luck have the Mission Office address on Rua General Carneiro, but spoke no Portuguese. I managed to find a polite older policeman at the airport who spoke German, the language I studied in high school, and he arranged a taxi for me. On arrival, I told the mission secretary that I had a cab out front who really would appreciate being paid! My first assignment was right in Curitiba, but my senior companion was not working, so I spent my first month not learning any Portuguese. Then I was transferred to Ponta Grossa to work with Elder Dennis Matthews. I found the church after getting off the bus, and he asked me, "Elder, are you hungry for lunch?" I said yes, and he said, "Can you bless the food in Portuguese?" I said no, and he said, "As soon as you figure out how, we can eat." So I hit the Portuguese grammar book that I had been given, and had ignored, and in short order I was able to bless our lunch. After that, learning went quickly and I became a real missionary. After raising eight children, my sweet wife Kay and I volunteered as a senior couple and we thought, being Portuguese speakers, we would be called to somewhere in Brazil. Not so - the call was to the Johannesburg South Africa Mission to teach the gospel in Portuguese in Mozambique! Dick Silver (email@example.com)
Dick and Kay Silver have been pioneers in the Church in Mozambique, serving there from 2002-2004 and then again in 2006 as humanitarian missionaries. For a while they were snowbirds in nearby South Africa when not serving in the Kentucky Lexington Mission.
Brother Clark Halls (BSM 60-63) of Lakeside, AZ, was looking through his journal and recalling the visit of the Mormon Melodaires to São Leopoldo, RS, where he and Elder Paul Anderson were serving. “In May, 1962, we were trying hard to find investigators who had leadership potential, so there was an effort to try to appeal to the more educated in each city. We joined the Clube Orpheu, which I am surprised to learn today was the oldest social club in Brazil. We arranged for the mission quartet to perform there and for several weeks, we worked with the Clube Orpheu president in promoting the event. Finally, the night arrived and the club's Salão de Festas was just packed. The quartet was fabulous, and the people were very expressive in their approval. I was MC and had the opportunity to explain our purpose in Brazil—that we were all missionaries of the restored Church of Jesus Christ which was again on the earth, organized with twelve apostles and presided over by a prophet and priesthood authority. After several numbers, I would again take the stage and speak a little more of the quartet, and work in more about the Church being brought to their country, and about the Book of Mormon. The ninety minute show had an intermission during which the Elders circulated with the crowd answering questions. Finally, after three encores, I bore my testimony and invited them all to church. The club president had arranged a private banquet for the Melodaires, the missionaries and some local socialites and newspaper reporters. All wanted to know more about the Church, and kept us late. The club president, in a toast to the Melodaires, said that this was the best event they had ever had, and what a blessing it was to their city. We got a lot of investigators from that wonderful performance. Thank you Elders Gordon Ridd, Doug Curran, Ken Nielson and Jim Smith, for your excellent preparation and example that made that night so successful.
On another occasion we held a district conference São Leopoldo, with the activity being a soccer game between the Elders at the Clube. Some Brazilian members of the Clube came and joined in. Soon we were friends and they challenged us to a contest in the near future, which some nit-wit Elder accepted. We gathered and practiced a few times, but were no match for the kids who grew up doing 'real soccer'. I don't recall that we scored a single goal, but we made some great friends in São Leopoldo among some of the Lord's choice people there.
“One more scrap-book item I found was a small newspaper article about a man born in Mexico who probably would become the next president of the United States. It spoke of George Romney, Governor of Michigan and a Mormon. The article spoke favorably of Brother Romney, that he didn't smoke, drink, not even tea or coffee, and that he gave 10% of his earnings to the Church. The article said that the previous year, he had donated $255,000 to the church, (the equivalent of about 75,000,000 cruzeiros at the time) That would be an exchange rate of 300 Cr to 1 US$. Isn't it interesting that in about one month from now, his son, Mitt, may fulfill the dream of his father? Thanks, Alf, and congratulations on issue #150. Amazing. Clark Halls BSM 60-63 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Note from Alf: The article linked here below appeared in The Peninsula Gateway newspaper of Gig Harbor, WA, on October 24, under the headline "Gov. Romney's church, by the numbers." I contribute to an “On Faith” column on behalf of the Stake Presidency and Public Affairs Council of the Gig Harbor Stake. It is great to be a member of this Church!
Called to Serve
Here is a reunion note from Bruce Bitnoff (BSPSM 81-83) “Alfred, Bom Dia! Last Thursday Oct. 4th the São Paulo Sul missionaries serving under President John H. Hawkins (BSPS 81-84) had a reunion in north SLC. Elder Carlos A. Godoy of the First Quorum of the Seventy who served during that time under President Hawkins was also present. President Hawkins and his wife Rebecca announced they had received another mission call to return to Brazil and serve at the Campinas Brazil Temple. President Hawkins told the group of 50 or so missionaries that his heart ached (com muito saudades) to return to Brazil and now to go back and serve at the House of the Lord brought so much love and gratitude that he felt like yelling Hallelujah for Israel!! He felt that he was returning to part of his family that he had not seen in years and was anxious to reconnect and re-testify of the restored gospel and attendant temple blessings. Many of the Brazilian missionaries who served during our mission connected with us over Facebook and are now planning another reunion in Brazil when President and Sister Hawkins arrive! It was a joyous night! P.S. on a personal note, my son Conner just received yesterday his mission call to Brazil Teresina Mission in northern Brazil which covers a hunk of Brazil between Belem and Fortaleza!! We’re all elated! Happy Trails! Bruce Bitnoff (email@example.com)
“Dear Brother Gunn, Yes, Sister Hawkins and I have been called to serve in the Campinas Brazil Temple. We are currently working in the Los Angeles Temple and want to continue our temple service among our friends in Brazil. The call states: "You are called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, assigned to the Campinas Brazil Temple as a temple missionary. It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 23 months." Our assignment may be modified or varied according to the needs at the temple so we are prepared to serve any way we are needed. We will be leaving December 10th of this year. Regards, John Hawkins” (BM 61-64) of Glendora, CA (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Don Markham (BSM/BCentralM 68-70) and his wife Luanne of Saratoga Springs, UT, are called to a Perpetual Education Fund mission in Brazil. We enter the MTC February 18th. We're very excited. So far my wife knows how to say "thank you," and "where's the bathroom?" (email@example.com) Follow up note: “My wife and I have signed up for tutoring through the MTC over Skype three days a week. We each have a tutor and she will be beginning and I will be advanced--part of the learning will be to learn some of the differences in pronunciation from the Brazilian Portuguese (especially the Carioca accent) and that of "continental" Portuguese. This will be very helpful.
This news from Elder Ron Sommer (BNM 68-70) of Claremont, CA: Alfred, Thanks for all your efforts and updates. My wife Shanon and I have been called to serve in the Lisbon Portugal Mission beginning Feb 18th. We will be primarily working with young single adults and may also teach institute along with other responsibilities. I was part of the group of the very first missionaries called to that new Brazil North Mission in 1968 under President Johnson. Keep up the good work. Thanks, Ron Sommer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
From John Voelkel (BM 66-68) of Lakeview, OR: “Alf, My wife Nikki and I have received a call to serve in the Porto Alegre Temple as temple missionaries. We enter the MTC on Nov. 12. We are excited about the call. I served in Porto Alegre in the mission office when the mission headquarters were moved to PA in 1968 and in the PA 6th Branch for the last 5 months of my mission. We have served at the Warner Creek Correctional Facility here in Lakeview for seven years. We meet on Sunday afternoons for Sunday School and Priesthood lessons and on Tuesday evenings for institute classes and occasional entertainment such as Church videos and wholesome movies. It has been a wonderfully fulfilling and spiritual experience. John and Nikki Voelkel” (email@example.com)
Item: I came across this note sent to me a few years ago from Eric Peterson (BSM 70-72) of Fallbrook, CA. Perhaps some of you have had the same kind of sweet experience as Eric. “Dear Brother Gunn, I was recently visiting family in Fairfield, VA and I saw a couple of Elders on the street, so I pulled over to talk to them. One of the Elders was from Curitiba Brazil. He didn’t speak very much English as he had just arrived in the States just a few weeks earlier, so I was able to practice my Portuguese a bit. I invited them to visit us at my in-laws house and leave us a message, which they did. Although this Elder (and I don’t recall his name) spoke little English, he told the entire Joseph Smith Testimony and bore his own testimony in English. He bore such a humble but sweet testimony that we could all feel the Spirit. He was obviously well prepared to serve a mission. What a blessing it was to have the tables turned and now be able to sit and listen to a Brazilian missionary bear his testimony in English as I had done over 35 years ago in Portuguese to his people long before he was born. To see such a strong missionary representing the Church in Brazil confirmed to me that they are not only growing in number but in spiritual leadership as well. This young Elder and others like him will obviously return to be strong leaders as The Church of Jesus Christ continues to grow in Brazil. Sincerely, Eric K. Peterson” (firstname.lastname@example.org)
MISSIONARY COUPLES NEEDED IN MOZAMBIQUE AND ANGOLA
A note from President Paulo Kretley of the Mozambique Maputo Mission
“Meus Queridos Irmãos, Meu nome é Paulo Kretly, servi missão em Recife 80-82. Minha esposa e eu fomos chamados para servir uma Missão na África. Tem sido uma experiência maravilhosa e também uma grande aventura! A missão abrange os países de Moçambique e Angola, ambos falam o português. Temos hoje em nossa missão uma grande necessidade de casais missionários que falam portugués--não precisa falar perfeitamente, mas de preferência Brasileiros, ou Americanos que já serviram no Brasil ou Portugal.
“Nossas necessidades são muitas, abaixo apenas alguns exemplos:
Casais com habilidades Musicais
Casais com habilidades Administrativas
Casais com habilidades Manuais (Manutenção)
Casais com grande experiência Eclesiástica (ex:membros de Bispados, Presidência de Estaca etc)
Casais com habilidades de Amar as pessoas
Casais com habilidades de servir com o coração mente e força!
Enfim todos os que estiverem disponíveis, serão muito bem vindos e sempre terão seus talentos aproveitados!
“Condições Gerais e custos:
Boa saúde e seguro médico
Pelo menos 1400 dólares para moradia e utilities, para os Brasileiros o custo é determinado pela Presidência de Área local, mínimo de R$600,00
150 dólares por mês caso queira ter um carro da Igreja
Todo o custo de alimentação
Se quiserem ter a experiência de suas vidas, enriquecer vosso testemunho e sentir-se tão feliz como nunca sentiram-se antes, venha participar conosco desta grande aventura e de uma missão maravilhosa! Abaixo um blog meu e da Sister Kretly, também um outro blog do Elder Osborn e Sister Osborn, casal missionário servindo no Norte de Moçambique. Por favor, divulguem e aproveite os sites!
Paulo Kretly, President. Mozambique (Angola) Maputo Mission
Here’s a tip: “Map-walking Brazil”
When someone in your ward is called to a mission in Brazil you can go to the Church website, locate a meetinghouse in that mission city and then link to the Google map for that address and perhaps get a street view of the meetinghouse there. You can “walk” your way down the street and see people, cars, graffiti, shops, signs, etc. Or when you read about the Clube Orfeu in São Leopoldo as above in Brother Hall’s note, you can Google it and then have a look at it using the same Google Maps.
If you try to find the old Mission Home of the Brazilian South Mission at Curitiba, you have to adjust to the current address number. Try Rua General Carneiro 840, Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil. (Or Google “Nova Acropole Curitiba” and you will see better photos.) But you will probably be disappointed with the colors today of the formerly white residence.
To see the Curitiba Temple, Google Map “Rua Deputado Heitor Alencar Furtado, 3641, Curitiba - Paraná, Brasil.”
There, perhaps I saved you the cost of a trip to Brazil.
Um abraço do irmão
Alf Gunn (BSM 62-65)
“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.”—Pelé