Alf Gunn BadgeBrasulista #156

Newsletter of the early Brazilian missions, #156
January 24, 2013
In this issue:
Help me find missionaries for a member family
Called to Serve
Reports from the Amazon:  Faith stories from the Manaus Temple
Counting blessings with President Julie B. Beck
Recalling pre-language training days
Finding missionaries for members
Q:  What is the record for long stays at the MTC?

MISSION REUNION  Brazil Rio de Janeiro Mission Reunion -- February 11, 2013
Pres. Danilo Talanskas group – 1981-1984
Mission President Danilo Talanskas of São Paulo will deliver an address and MBA group at BYU during the week of February 11, and is arranging a missionary reunion with his missionaries to be held on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 in Provo (exact time and location to be announced).  Please spread the word among Talanskas group missionaries.  All should RSVP to and and furnish your email so that you can be notified of the location and details.  (The Brasulista will not re-issue in time to announce the location.)  Also, please furnish your email addresses to Sister Talanskas as she will open a fan page at Facebook for the Rio de Janeiro Mission Talanskas group. (


Seeking to find missionaries for members

Brother Brinton R. Burbridge of Sandy, UT writes: “I served in the Brazil Central Mission 68-70. I’m currently assigned to a Brazilian Branch in Salt Lake City. My wife and I were visiting a family. The sister wanted to know if I was acquainted with an Elder Smith who taught her parents the, Goes family, in Campinas. There is a remarkable baptism story involving a wonderful conversion of a father and the baptism of the family on February 21, 1970. I believe two children were also baptized and a third had just been born. I’ve looked in some old mission magazines and see that in April of 1970, in District II in Campinas there was an Elder Smith who was companion to the district leader, Elder Robert Evans. However, I can’t determine if these two were involved in the Goes Family baptism or not. Does anyone recognize these circumstances or know these elders so that I can put them in contact with this family? Brother Goes passed away two years ago. The family was and is very active. Sister Goes is alive and would like to make contact.  Brinton R. Burbidge, Salt Lake City, UT  ( (copy: please).
Alf’s note:  Elder Smith is probably Thomas W. Smith, wife Robin, BNM c69.  I have been stymied in my efforts to locate him to date.  Anybody know where he is?  I don’t usually advertise the many missionaries I am unable to locate, but in view of Sister Goes’ interest I would love to find this missionary.  Elder Robert Evans is probably Robert J. Evans who is on my list but I am also unable to locate. Anyone able to help Brother Burbidge and me?

Called to Serve

Kirk (BNM 66-69) and Janice Nielson of Salt Lake City, who traveled on our 2010 Italy to Brazil Cruise with its visits to seven cities in Brazil, have been called to serve in the Brazil São Paulo East Mission with President Ronald and Marcia Ferrin.  Kirk writes: “Dear Alf,
My wife Jan and I are called to the São Paulo East mission to serve as office couple and Jan as the mission medical person for 23 months. We’ve enjoyed reading your newsletters for many years and were blessed to experience your 2010 cruise tour from Milan to Brazil to renew my saudades do Brasil. I served in the Brazilian North Mission (66-69) and this was our first time back to Brazil in 43 years. We loved attending the Recife and São Paulo temples and the chance to make our way around in Brazil and speak some Portuguese. I was surprised that the Portuguese came back better than I expected, and the tour was a great introduction to Brazil for Jan. It started us on a more earnest quest to retire and serve a mission there.  I contacted a couple of people referenced in your newsletters last summer, one of whom was President Ron Ferrin, who started serving as President of the São Paulo East Mission in July 2012. We went to his farewell in Salt Lake and knew that this was the mission we should request. We were called to depart last Oct 8, but visa delays changed that to Jan 28, and most recently to Feb 25, which we hope will finally happen. The delayed departures were disappointing, but we’ve greatly needed the extra time to study Portuguese, make the transitions from work to retirement, and get our affairs in order. We’ve been studying Portuguese twice a week via Skype with our MTC teachers, which has been very helpful.  Jan was apprehensive about being able to learn to speak Portuguese, but even that is progressing. Thanks for doing the newsletters and the cruise!  They’ve made a big difference in our lives.  We hope our next update to you comes from São Paulo.   Kirk & Jan Nielson” (

Reports from the Amazon

This note is part of a recent newsletter that Elder Bruce (BM 57-60) and Sister Linda Cox, of Mesa, AZ, sent home to their family from Manaus:
“We love this place!  We have truly enjoyed being able serve in the Temple, and it has been wonderful to feel the love of those with whom we serve. We had a caravan from Santarem, in the state of Pará here this week. They mostly traveled by river boat for about 40 hours to get here. The return trip was to take about 30 hours (downstream). We had three members of their stake presidency with them, and they were qualified to serve in various officiating positions with their stake. What great people they are, and it’s really wonderful getting better acquainted with them while here. Next week we will have a large group from Porto Velho, Rondônia. They plan to be here for most of the week, and we will be holding some special sessions just for them. This will be a new experience for us.
Love from the Amazon,   Elder and Sister Cox” (
Alf’s note:  The Cox’s send the best newsletter from the mission field that I have seen, now on their fourth senior mission after all eight of their children served missions, and with three grandchildren in the field in coming months.  If any of you have an interest in temple missionary service, in Manaus or elsewhere in Brazil, you could write them and ask if they could send their newsletter your way too.  It is very encouraging.  Their email is   
Thought I would share this from my friend Elder Michael Dyal (BSM 62-65) from Springville, UT, currently serving in the Manaus Temple, from a journal note of his:

  “On a Saturday in December I sat on a bench with a man in his 50's or 60's probably, hard to tell with his full head of hair with some gray in the jet black on his head, few wrinkles, and a warm heart.  One of the two sons he had supported on their missions was accompanying him in the temple this day--to accomplish the ordinances for time and eternity for the first time in his life.  He turned to me and said, "Sou caboclo."  I already felt that I knew that.  On my first mission I learned that a caboclo is a hillbilly, a rural resident with the short end of the stick when it comes to education, job skills (except can anything take the place of good hard work?), the niceties of civilization like running water, paved roads,  stores where you can get anything you want.  Want?  Caboclos don't have wants unless it is their needs.
  “His wife died in the 90's and he has 4 children and two of his three sons served missions.  I never knew a caboclo in my first mission; we just heard about them much like hillbilly jokes in the US.  So when he turned to me and said "Sou caboclo", meaning, “I am a caboclo,” it was the first time in my life I knew I was talking to one and he is a member and in the temple and has put sons before where he is now.  Among other things about his life I asked how he made a living.  The answer was stunning in its simplicity and faith:  "I sell popsicles" and he proceeded to tell me how much the materials cost, how much he made every month, how much of that went for tithing and he was doing okay.  Maybe, or maybe probably, he put two sons on missions and a good bishop had finally said to him it's time you went to the temple of our God and prepared yourself more for eternity.  More, since he has already come a ways in preparation insofar as he has his priorities right--God and His church, his family, and sacrifice.
  “I asked questions while we waited to begin and he talked and would hit my right leg with his left hand two or three times a minute--I could tell he liked me or liked talking to an American or a man with white hair who is older than him with his brown Indian skin and iron grey hair.  We liked each other.
  “Then it was time for him to go downstairs and meet with the temple president and receive a lesson on the meaning of the temple and the ordinances.  I walked with him a few steps and just before he made the turn to leave our area he turned around, came back to me, and gave me an abraço--a hug--and my heart melted.  I had met my first, and very memorable, caboclo.”   (
Note from Alf: Mike’s account reminded me of a favorite talk given by President Julie B. Beck, then in the General YW Presidency, at General Conference in April 2006, part of which I quote here:

  Through the blessings of the priesthood, the Lord shows us that He is “no respecter of persons.”   In my travels, I usually have the chance to visit members in their homes. Some of those homes are very basic dwellings. At first I would say to myself: “Why am I blessed with a house that has electricity and plumbing when this family does not even have water near their home? Does the Lord love them less than He loves me?”
  Then one day I sat in a temple next to a sister who lives in a humble house. I spent two hours at her side. I looked often into her beautiful eyes and saw the love of the Lord in them. As we finished our work in the temple, I had a powerful realization. In all of the eternal blessings, in all of our most important privileges and opportunities, we were equals. I had been “baptized unto repentance,” and so had she. I had spiritual gifts, and so did she. I had the opportunity to repent, and so did she. I had received the Holy Ghost, and so had she. I had received temple ordinances, and so had she. If both of us had left this world together at that moment, we would have arrived equal before the Lord in our blessings and potential.
  Priesthood blessings are the great equalizer. Those blessings are the same for men and women, for boys and girls; they are the same for married and single, rich and poor, for the intellectual and the illiterate, for the well-known and the obscure.
  I am grateful that through the infinite fairness and love of God, all men and women were given equal partnership, gifts, blessings, and potential through priesthood ordinances and spiritual gifts. Because of the priesthood, which is woven in and around and through our lives, every power, every covenant we need to do our life’s work and walk back to our heavenly home has been poured out upon our heads. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
--Julie B. Beck, “An Outpouring of Blessings”

Q and A:  How long was your mission?
In response to the question, "How long was your mission?" (Brasulista #155)  I would note that those of us who went to the undivided Brazilian Mission in 1958 served for 30 months.  That was preceded by one week in the "Mission Home" in Salt Lake City--with no language training in Portuguese.  Back in those days, right after the Korean War, each ward was limited to one missionary per year because the military needed so many young men in the same age bracket.  Incidentally, there was no Internet or e-mail back then, and we were unable to call home during those 30 months, even on Mother's Day.  On the positive side, we were able to go to a movie once each month.  Of course, movies were usually more wholesome than they are now!    -Mike Norton, San Marcos, CA (
Response from Alf:  My experience exactly, in the BSM in 1962, regarding the old Mission Home and the 30-month mission with no language training.  As to movies, I saw too many lame ones with one senior companion and when I "went senior" I never saw another one. The one-missionary-per-ward thing also kicked in during the Vietnam War, just after my mission as I recall.  You must have been among the first missionaries to FLY to Brazil.  Oh, how did we do it?    Alf
Mike: Yep, seven of us flew from SLC to New York, waited (and toured) there for a couple of days, and then took a Braniff Air Lines plane to Lima, Peru, overnight. The next day we flew from Lima to São Paulo. (I don't know whether missionaries had flown to Brazil previously.) Interestingly, we had the option of flying home or returning by ship. Two of us came back on the SS Argentina, a cruise ship completing a trip around the continent and making stops all the way up the coasts of South and North America. It took two weeks to travel from Santos to New York, and then another week to drive across the country with my parents and brother in a brand new 1961 Pontiac Catalina convertible they had picked up in Detroit. Since a pickpocket took my wallet in Brazil, I had no driver's license and couldn't drive the car. Later, though, I was allowed to borrow it for special occasions (dates) once in a while when I finally obtained a license.  Ah, such memories!  -MMN
Alf:  I am a little embarrassed to recall that somehow my mission president and my parents let me travel around Latin America for six weeks on my way home. I was in the mission home at Curitiba and planned my own trip. First to Rio, then south by bus. President Turner had me deliver packages to mission presidents in Montevideo and Santiago, as I recall. I went to church in Buenos Aires one Sunday. I spent a week with my brother serving in San Rafael, Argentina, as his extra companion. I met Howard W. Hunter who was also visiting the mission home in Santiago, Chile, when I overnighted there. Also spent most of a week at Cuzco, Peru, with two trips to Machu Picchu, the second one with two missionary buddies who flew in from Curitiba to join me. I was learning Spanish all the way. Then to Panama, Yucatan, Oaxaca and Mexico City--basically touring the best ruins of Mexico before arriving in LA and to my grandparent's home in Long Beach, a year before my grandfather would pass away. And finally, home to Bellingham, WA. Yes, I kept basic missionary standards during my travels, even wearing the suit when I wasn’t climbing Huayna Picchu or some such adventure. Wow!  Can't play that game today!  I think the trip cost me $300, which did represent about four months of missionary expense.  But I was done with traveling for many years.

Finding Missionaries
“Dear Alf, Ok, here is a tough one for you.  Irmão Dario Jose Ferreira is the founder of a branch located in Caceres Mato Grosso Brasil.  He expresed a desire to contact the missionary who baptized him in 1977.  He was baptized by Elder Eperlly (sic) in the São Paulo Mission in 1977.  Got any ideas?  Thanks,  Pres. and Sister Reber, Cuiabá Brazil Mission.”   
Dear President Reber,  When I'm good I'm bonzinho!  Fortunately there are not a lot of Epperly's in Utah, Arizona and Idaho, where I start searching.  I called around and found out some are German Lutherans, naturally.  But Brad L. Epperly in Boise ID called me back and he is the man!

Q and A . . .NEXT QUESTIONS: How long were you in the MTC before going to Brazil? Who holds the record?
Today, as you may know, because of delays in the issuing of visas, missionaries being called to Brazil are waiting at home for five or six months before they report to the CTM in São Paulo (or the MTC at Provo if the visa still has not come).  This has also impacted the senior missionaries, who are delayed and delayed waiting for those visas.  
Fred Tuttle (BSM 70-72) of Highland, UT, writes:  “I did not arrive in Brazil until April 18, 1971 due to visa problems - four and a half months in the Provo MTC! - great vocabulary, but no one could understand me at first.” (

Finally, folks, thank you all for reading the Brasulista and for sharing yours comments when you do. I am aware that many of the mission presidents under whom we served and their wives are waxing elderly.  I think I speak on behalf of so many, many of you when I express our love and appreciation for their example and their leadership during a key time in our lives.  As was said of the Lord, we may say of our mission presidents, we love them because they first loved us.  We wish them our very best in this New Year, and pray that we may live up to the confidence they placed in us.
Um abraço,  
Alf Gunn
Gig Harbor, WA


LAST CHANCE to join the Southern Brazil Mission Reunion Tour, April 16-30
Because it takes time to obtain even a tourist visa for Brazil, time is short to sign up for the popular “Southern Brazil Mission Reunion Tour” which is scheduled for this coming April 16-30.  Dick Jensen has contracted a second motor coach and there are still a few seats left on the second bus.  This tour is for anyone who loves Brazil and takes us to some of the beautiful places in the south of the country:  Porto Alegre, through Canoas and São Leopoldo, to Gramado and Canela, Florianópolis, Itajaí and Balneário Camburiu, Joinville, Curitiba, Ponta Grossa, and Foz do Iguaçu.  Join us for a nostalgic return to the beautiful south of Brazil.  See it at
I am happy to host this event with Dick Jensen (BM 78-80) who designed this tour by popular demand of those of us who served in the south.  All are invited.  Call Dick at 801-917-1131.  We are going to have a great time.  See also the comments of Kirk and Janice Nielson below, who took a Dick Jensen trip in 2010 and now are returning as missionaries.



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