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Brasulista #167

Newsletter of the early Brazilian missions, #167
October 22, 2013

Bom dia!  Some of you may receive this in November when your faithful correspondent returns from Peru!

In this issue:

  • Mozambique, Africa!  (YouTube video)
  • Call for pre-WWII mission documents
  • Brazil Doce Lar film
  • Called to Serve
  • New Director of the Missionary Training Center (CTM) São Paulo
  • Some visas issued after a wait of one year
  • News item: Brazil can be expensive


If you love to hear Portuguese spoken; if you love to see mass baptisms in Africa; if you want to see one of the most exciting places to be a Portuguese-speaking missionary, then watch this inspiring 17-minute YouTube video entitled “It's a Miracle! Elder Neil L. Andersen. É um Milagre, Mozambique Mission”


Elder Daryl K. Hobson (BM 60-62) and his wife Ann, of Salt Lake City, UT, are currently serving in Mozambique as Country Humanitarian Directors.  They previously presided over the mission in Cabo Verde.  He shares this information and the YouTube video about Mozambique, Africa, one of the most exciting places to be a Portuguese-speaking missionary.

“Olá, Alf, We have been in Mozambique five months now as Country Humanitarian Directors and are living in Maputo. The mission is moving forward in a miraculous way as depicted in the video, and President Kretly would love to have more couples serve in Mozambique for the experience of a lifetime in establishing the kingdom of God in southeastern Africa.  The missionaries are exceptional and pumped up serving in a mission of miracles!  We are confident the video will touch the hearts of many couples to seriously consider service here.  We bear witness that they will not be disappointed serving under President and Sister Kretly of São Paulo.”

When Elder Hobson first sent me the video link he explained:  

“As Elder Neil L. Andersen mentioned in his April 2013 General Conference address, missionaries in the Mozambique Maputo Mission have found ways to overcome obstacles to marriage, so necessary to enter the waters of baptism, and have introduced scores of people to the gospel. The solution of encouraging marriages and promoting group marriages evolved as missionaries sought inspiration for new ways to meet, teach, and baptize families.  President Paulo Kretly helped missionaries believe it was possible. Missionaries helped investigators believe it too.

“Marriages and baptisms continue.  Church attendance swells.  Growth surges.  At Beira District Conference August 2013, the attendance was a record 1006 people. When names were read of those to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood, every man was in attendance and a sea of 62 brethren stood for the sustaining vote. At Maputo District Conference, August 2013, 46 male members were presented to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. These were tender, inspiring moments for many at the meetings, including President and Sister Kretly.
“With such unprecedented growth, the need for couples in Mozambique is huge, especially in the MLS (Member and Leadership Support) area.  Com amor, Elder Daryl K Hobson”


Call for Missionary publications between 1935-1942
Brazil historian Mark L. Grover (BM 66-68) makes this appeal for historic documents from the pre-WWII period.  He writes:

The Harold B. Lee Library at BYU and the LDS Church Historical Archive have tried to collect missionary newsletters and publications from Brazil as part of their collections on the history of the Church. Unfortunately the BYU library does not have copies of the first newsletters for the mission before World War Two. These newsletters are valuable sources for the history of the Church. Would you look through your files and see if you have any of these items that you would be willing to either donate to the library or allow to be digitized?  At this time I am only trying to find items published between 1935 and 1942.The publications are:

      • Brasilonian: Official Organ of the Brasilian Mission. It was monthly and probably began publication in 1935 and went up to 1942. They are identified by volume, number, month, and year.  I have four issues published in 1940-41. (Brasilian is the way it is spelled on the newsletter)
      • Information Circular of the Brasilian Mission. This was also published monthly but I am not sure of the beginning date. They are listed by number, month and year. I have numbers 79, 80, 83, and 90 published in 1941 and 1942.

Other items from the mission during this period would be valuable also. Please call me at 801 225-3766 or contact me at Though I have retired from the BYU library I will still work building this collection.

Mark L. Grover (   801 225-3766)

Bonus item:  “Brazil Doce Lar” – the film

If you have not seen it before, be sure to find the “Brasil Doce Lar” film on the Internet and watch it.  It is a piece of early mission history and will remind you why you love Brazil. 


Robert Swensen (BSM 67-69) and his wife, Julie, are returning to Brazil in January 2014 to serve as President of the CTM in Sao Paulo.  Pres. Swensen served as the Brazil, Curitiba Mission president in 1986-89.  He writes, “We are so thrilled to have the opportunity, once again, of serving in Brazil.” (

Lowell Johnson (BM/BNM 66-69) and his wife Claudia Johnson of Orem, UT, write:  “Alf: I just want you to know how much we appreciate your newsletter.  Lately it has been interesting to hear of those who served under President Hicken and President Johnson, who are now serving as senior missionaries.  My wife and I have calls to serve in the Philadelphia Pennsylvania mission. We will be entering the MTC on the 21st.  We will be assigned to a branch as member and leadership support missionaries.  We are excited to be able to see the temple being built in Philadelphia and be close to some of the sites where the church was restored.  We are so grateful for this opportunity in our lives.  Thanks again for the emails and the special feelings that this effort keeps alive.  Lowell Johnson (

Elder Ray Wadsworth (BSM 66-67) and his wife Jane, lately of Oakley, ID, are heading to the Arkansas Little Rock Mission:  “Dear Alf, we completed the week at the MTC on Friday afternoon.  What a wonderful week!  The folks at the MTC treated us like we were a national treasure!  Wonderful spirit there.  Every meal was like eating at the Golden Corral!  We stayed in our 5th wheel in the parking lot, and are near Oklahoma City tonight and will be at the mission home in Little Rock tomorrow.  There were 120 seniors there this past week heading to all parts of the world except Brazil!  Not a single couple headed there, I'm sure because of Visa problems.  Too bad.  There must be a way around that.  God bless, Elder and Sister Wadsworth (

On October 2 this note came from Elder Clayton Overson (BNM 66-68) and Sister Cookie Overson, called to Brazil in September 2012, wrote this to some of the other senior couples waiting for visas:  “The Oversons and the Shirleys got their visas today! Hallelujah! Hopefully that's just the beginning. So the ‘volunteer’ visa worked, maybe not as fast as we'd hoped but it worked. If you are still waiting and haven't already sent in the volunteer information, if your mission duties qualify, do it soon and hopefully you will have your visa within two months, maybe even sooner. Of course, we all know that it's a waiting game but we now know it's possible and will keep everyone else in our prayers. This is a very happy and sad day for us. Happy because it's what we've waited so long for it and sad because we have made some very dear friends and we will have to say até logo (not goodbye).  The [Neal and Cathie] Shirley's MTC date is October 28th and they will fly out after their MTC training. Our MTC training was a very long time ago and we plan to fly out one week from today. Miracles do happen and prayers are answered.  Amor e abraços,  Elder and Sister Overson 

Item: Sorry to say, but Brazil is expensive!

Here’s an article about Brazil’s current economy and why Brazilians were recently conducting their largest protests since the military governance:  “Brazil's almost paradise: Here's why they ask for more,” an article by Will Carless, Global Post, October 10, 2013:


Brazil's almost paradise: Here's why they ask for more

During Brazil's boom times, many families moved to Sao Paulo's shanty called Paraisopolis — 'paradise city.' Now city living is so expensive, many want out.

Will Carless - October 10, 2013

ParaisopolisFavelaParaisopolis favela, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images

Editor's note: This article is part of an in-depth series on how Brazil's harsh household economics spurred a mass protest movement and still bubble under the surface of Latin America's biggest nation.

SAO PAULO, Brazil — The cows were dying of hunger.

Months of drought in northeastern Brazil left 34-year-old Natanael Melo and his 22-year-old wife, Vaniele Costa, with no option. They had borrowed money to buy food for their small herd, but that cash withered away like the crops.

It was time to leave.

That was six months ago. Today, the young couple’s vista is very different from the brittle cattle country they still consider home. Along with their 5-year-old, Nicolas, they live in a tiny apartment overlooking a trash-strewn alley in a large favela, or slum, in Sao Paulo.

The favela’s called Paraisopolis — which roughly means "paradise city."

“I just want to go home,” Melo said, his eyes bloodshot from the big-city pollution. “I just want things to be like they used to be.”

ParaisopolisNicolasFive-year-old Nicolas Melo peers out of the one window of his family’s tiny apartment in the Paraisopolis favela in Sao Paulo. Jaqueline Gomes/GlobalPost


Going home isn’t an option, at least not in the near future.

Drawn by the so-called Brazilian economic miracle of the 2000s, millions of families like this moved to the country's teeming cities, seeking an escape from harsh lives as subsistence farmers.

The booming economy, combined with a panoply of new laws and government programs aimed at boosting the working poor, succeeded in swelling the ranks of Brazil’s vaguely defined “middle class” until it included almost half the population.

But in recent years, the miracle has faded, leaving the lower echelons of that middle class, like Melo and Costa, facing a new form of economic despair often as harsh as the lives they left behind.

More from GlobalPost: The shame of a "dirty name" in credit-crazy Brazil

Urban Brazil has become an extraordinarily expensive place to live. A recent study found Sao Paulo, Brazil’s biggest city and financial hub, to be the most expensive city in the Americas, far outstripping glitzier metropolises like New York and Los Angeles.

A combination of low wages, high taxes and creeping inflation means most families struggle to stay afloat.

Earlier this year, this widespread desperation erupted in massive protests across Brazil. More than a million people spilled out onto the streets in a display of solidarity and political activism virtually unheard of in this country.

The protests were a turning point for President Dilma Rousseff, whose once strong public approval shrank. She placated the crowds with promises of reform and called on local governments to cancel proposed increases in public transportation fees.

But while the protest movement has faded, Melo and Costa, who sat out this June’s protests in their apartment, warned that the problems that sparked the demonstrations remain as significant as ever.

Prices continue to rise for everything from beans to gas stoves, Costa said.

Meanwhile, the lines at the local clinic are just as long, and she dreads the day she has to send Nicolas to the dysfunctional local school.

“It just keeps getting more expensive,” she said. “And we never even wanted to come here.”

While price hikes haven't hit the hyperinflation seen in the 1980s and '90s, the cost of living here continues to march upward. Inflation has hovered around an annual 6 percent for the last five years.

By contrast, inflation in the United States typically stayed below 2 percent over the same period.

This constant uptick in prices is likely to stick around for at least the next two years, predicts Brazil’s Central Bank, whose director recently told Reuters the bank has “a lot of work” left to battle inflation. This week the bank hiked interest rates for the fifth straight time — to 9.5 percent from 9.0 percent — in an effort to cool inflation.

In an interview at their apartment, Melo and Costa opened up about their finances.

For their first six months in the favela, the family’s monthly income was 900 reais — about $405 at the current exchange rate.

Then, in August, Costa got a cleaning job at the famous Morumbi stadium, home to Sao Paulo soccer club.

The gig pays 700 reais a month, about $315, and she gets additional monthly stipends for food and transportation, adding about another $100.

Instead of spending the transport stipend on the bus, she leaves home at 5 a.m. to make a 40-minute walk to work. She’d rather use the money for food.

All told, Costa now brings in about $420 a month extra, bringing the total household income to a little more than $800 a month.

Until she found work, 700 reais of the family’s 900-reais monthly income went straight to the supermarket to pay for rice, beans, cooking oil, some vegetables and meat, Costa said. No frills, just sustenance to keep the family going.

That left about $84 a month for everything else.

Dead last for income

Melo and Costa embody the challenges faced by Brazil’s low wages. A recent report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD, ranked Brazil 36th out of the 36 countries it studied in terms of income.

The family’s combined salary has just doubled, bringing it closer to Brazil’s average household income, after taxes, of $10,225.

That’s still far below the average family income in the countries the OECD studied, of $23,047 a year.

With the extra money coming in, Costa said she’s feeling something she hasn’t felt in a while: a shred of relief.

But she knows that won’t last long.

She recounted a long list of things she needs to buy once she gets paid: new shoes for Nicolas; basic furniture for the apartment; clothes. Everything that wasn’t purchased over the last six months now has to be caught up.

Astronomical pizza

All the goods Melo and Costa need will likely cost them far more than a New Yorker, an Angelino or a Chicagoan pays for the same items in their local stores.

Thanks to a weakened currency, nagging inflation, high tariffs on imports and layers of local, state and federal taxes, Brazilians typically pay far more for goods like home appliances and clothing than their counterparts in US cities.

An informal poll by GlobalPost found that three items — a large cheese pizza at Pizza Hut, a pair of Levi’s 501 jeans and a 16GB iPhone 5 — were all far more expensive in Sao Paulo than in Boston.

Sao Paulo residents pay about 50 percent more for their Levi’s, more than double for a pizza and more than $400 more for a basic iPhone 5 than consumers in Boston, our poll found.

That price gap cuts nearly across the board, from cars to baby diapers.

“That’s life”

The shanties of Paraisopolis are surrounded by the upscale neighborhood of Morumbi.

As the sun begins to set, the towering luxury “condominios” that rim the hillside to the west of the favela begin to glow, sunlight streaming between them to throw gold bars across the slum.

Leaning in the doorway of his apartment, lost in thought, Melo contemplates a question: Does he resent living near such vast wealth, surrounded by malls and restaurants whose fruits he can’t enjoy?

He shrugs.

“Some people have more, and some people have less,” he said. “That’s life.”

Melo doesn’t want to live in a fancy apartment. He just wants to make enough money to leave Sao Paulo — to set up back at home again.

The main obstacle to meeting this modest goal, he said, is the triple bondage of inflation, taxation and debt.

Until the government does something to ease those burdens, he said, he sees little hope of escaping the favela.

Baindu Kallon contributed reporting in Boston, Mass.


Sejam fieis,

Um abraço,  Alf Gunn (BSM 62-65)
Gig Harbor, WA  253-851-1099

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