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Cristo300Brasulista #184

Newsletter of the early Brazilian missions, #184
June 5, 2015

Bom dia, gente!

In this issue:

  • Passing of Sister Alice Richards Cannon Hicken at 94
  • Reunion, What's the big deal about Brazil?, Senior Couple Service
  • A history of the Church in Brazil online (link)
  • Elder D. Todd Christofferson in Brazil
  • John S. Tanner to preside at BYU-H
  • Missionary service opportunities in Porto, Portugal, and  Cape Verde Islands
  • Called to Serve and From the Field
  • Video:  Sealed Together: The Manaus Temple Caravan
  • Language tip:  Brazilian Portuguese word of the day


We learned from President Lloyd Hicken, with sadness, the passing on May 15 of Alice Richards Cannon Hicken, 94, who served with him as he presided over the Brazil Mission from 1966-1969. See her obituary at



A fine reunion committee has been formed in preparation for the multi-mission reunion scheduled for Thursday, October 1, 2015, two days before General Conference weekend, at Orem, UT. We will honor our mission presidents, hear from some inspiring speakers, and sing the hymns of Zion in Portuguese. I express my appreciation to those who will be working on this event. Please calendar the date and plan to attend during the afternoon and evening meeting, as you are able.  More details will follow in coming months.  


Item: A favorite story from a few years ago:  One former missionary carried his love of Brazil into his marriage and family life—even sometimes praying in Portuguese, singing in Portuguese, and having family home evenings with Brazilian themes, etc.  One of his daughters was sharing all of this with one of her LDS friends at church, who finally said, “What’s the big deal about Brazil?!  My father served his mission in Finland and we never talk about Finland!”


Dear former missionaries, The qualities which made us love the Brazilian saints 50 years ago are still there, but magnified from the 7,000 members then to over 1.2 million today.  It is difficult, for those who have not returned to Brazil as a senior missionary or at least as a visitor, to comprehend the progress the Church has made in the country.  I get a hint of it when I attend General Conference and stand by the desk where they hand out foreign language headsets and meet Brazilians, mostly Area Seventies or stake presidents. I am in awe of them.  (Many of them now receive the Brasulista.)  And on trips to Brazil to visit my brother or tour, I love being with the saints in church.  Of course there is still much work to be done to strengthen the church units and bring people to Christ.

One of the changes we might expect to see in Brazil in the future, however, is fewer opportunities to serve some senior missions there, as more missions are filled by Brazilian seniors.  Already, I understand, the seniors who will serve in the São Paulo Temple will be from the 45 stakes in that temple district—not from America.  (Note: These are just my observations and not a statement of Church policy.)   I am sure that there are still many opportunities in the many developing areas of the country.  Again, it is hard to keep up with it all.  The Brazilian leaders have great vision and they go forth with love and with a dynamic faith—some of those qualities we admire.


Read a concise history of the Church in Brazil and a list of stakes by region (in Portuguese) at this site:


Elder D. Todd Christofferson in Brazil

Two recent Church News articles also cite the progress of the Church in Brazil and report an address, in Portuguese, by Apostle D. Todd Christofferson:



The Church in Brazil reflects Brazilian culture — it’s warm and rich in color, tradition and opportunity.

Faithful Latter-day Saints here in South America’s largest nation love the Lord and their families. They find joy sharing the gospel with their neighbors. And they’re eager for their relatives and neighbors to claim the blessings that come from living devout, hopeful lives.

Today it’s impossible to talk of the Church’s global footprint without speaking of Brazil.

“Brazil is one of the main pillars of the Church — and it has tremendous potential,” said Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Elder Christofferson recently witnessed the Church in Brazil at the ground level when he directed an annual review of the Brazil Area. Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy and Bishop Gérald Caussé, first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, also participated in the review.

While in Brazil from April 24 to May 3, the visiting Brethren presided over a variety of other member meetings — including priesthood leadership conferences, missionary, youth and married couple devotionals, stake conferences and family home evenings with young single adults.

In all, they provided counsel and support to some 20,000 Latter-day Saints.

Elder Christofferson also met with religious leaders at a mosque in Sao Paulo where, speaking in Portuguese, he delivered a keynote address on religious freedom. (See accompanying report.)

With over a million members and home to six temples and two more announced, the Brazil Area has emerged in recent decades as a power in the Church. “But there’s much more room to grow,” Elder Christofferson said.

The visiting Brethren placed key emphasis on increasing the number of missionaries serving from Brazil and improving the effectiveness of missionaries serving in the country.

Bishop Caussé told the Church News that a record number of Brazilians have answered full-time mission calls in recent years, including an increase in sister missionaries.

Elder Clayton also emphasized fellowshipping members who have stepped away from regular Church activity. “It’s the work of rescue that President Monson talks about so often.”

Priesthood and Relief Society leaders in Brazil have proven resourceful in finding people who have strayed from Church activity. The leaders are dedicated, devoted and systematic in their efforts.

Helping individuals and families claim the blessings of the temple remains the central goal of fellowshipping, added Bishop Caussé.

Practicing principles of self-reliance was another key theme in the Brethren’s teachings.

“The Area Presidency is working closely with local leaders throughout the country to ensure that the members have a full understanding of the law of tithing and the law of the fast,” said Elder Clayton.

He added that faithful members have been the catalyst for a dramatic increase in fast offerings throughout the area.

Bishop Caussé said several Church-sponsored “self-reliance groups” are functioning in the country to help people find jobs, grow their businesses and improve their education.

“Spirituality and temporal life are always related,” he said. “The aim of self-reliance is not to just, say, to find a better job — it’s about building faith and strengthening one’s relationship with the Lord.”

Much work remains in Brazil, but the members here are up to the task.

“It’s interesting to see this current generation of leadership in Brazil,” said Elder Christofferson. “It’s very strong, with many second- and third-generation members. They come to the table with maturity and skills.”

Elder Clayton was impressed with the vitality of the Church in Brazil. “You can feel it in every meeting,” he said. “Members arrive early and attend in great numbers. They participate happily when asked to do so, and obviously feel the presence of the Spirit. They are hungry for the gospel and the blessings it brings. Multigenerational families are growing up in the Church across the country. One senses that the Church is poised for even greater growth and strength in the future.”

Bishop Caussé left Brazil with a deep respect for the youth of the Church. “They are engaged, reverent, positive and very eager to learn,” he observed. “The youth provided us with a vision of what Brazil is going to become.”

Brazil is a massive country and the Church operates across dozens of stakes and multiple missions. But the strength of the Church here remains anchored to the homes of faithful families and individuals.

In his devotionals with couples, Elder Christofferson taught that family unity can be realized when individuals put God first. “When [husbands and wives] each grow closer to their Heavenly Father, they grow closer to one another.” @JNSwensen



“Religious freedom is the cornerstone of peace in a world with many competing philosophies,” said Elder D. Todd Christofferson.

Religious freedom “gives us all space to determine for ourselves what we think and believe — to follow the truth that God speaks to our hearts,” he said.

Elder Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles delivered the speech defending religious liberties at a mosque in São Paulo, Brazil. Attending were Muslims, Catholics, Adventists, Jews, Evangelicals and native spiritualists — along with people of no faith.

He spoke days after his colleague in the Quorum of the Twelve, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, shared a similar message in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The two speeches were not coordinated.

“But we are always on the lookout for opportunities like this. … There is great interest in this subject,” said Elder Christofferson.

The speech was one of the keynote addresses in an April 29 event dubbed “Celebration of Religious Freedom: Brazil, a Voice to the World.” It was held at Brazil’s first and largest mosque and was attended by business and religious leaders from a variety of backgrounds.

In his speech, delivered in Portuguese, Elder Christofferson noted that Brazil has been recognized as the country with the lowest level of government restriction on religion. The South American nation, he said, can be a guiding light for the world.

Religious freedom allows for diverse beliefs, protects the vulnerable and helps negotiate conflicts, he added. It serves “believers” and “non-believers” alike — and it’s vital in a democratic society.

Such freedom goes beyond merely being “left alone,” he said. It’s also about living one’s religion or belief in a legal, political and social environment that is tolerant, respectful and accommodating of diverse beliefs.

Human rights are intrinsically tied to religious freedom.

“How can we claim the freedom of speech without being able to say what we truly believe?” he asked. “How can we claim the freedom of assembly unless we can gather with others to share our ideals? How can we enjoy freedom of the press unless we can publicly print or post who we really are?”

Elder Christofferson said calls in defense of religious freedom have gained momentum over the last several decades. Practicing that freedom, he said, correlates to better family lives, less substance abuse and crime, higher education levels, longer lives, greater income and a host of other positive benefits.

“Unfortunately, protections afforded to freedom and religion and belief are often weak, unheeded and attacked,” he said. “Powerful pressures attempt to restrain religious freedom even as it grows — and even in countries that historically protected it most vigorously.”

The Church leader said most Western democracies claim belief in the practice of religious freedom — but its application sparks controversy. Threats arise when religious people and institutions seek or say or do something — or refuse to say or do something — that runs counter to those in power, including political majorities.

“Religion is often countercultural and thus unpopular,” he said in the speech. “For this reason, religious freedom, even when it is generally supported in principle, is often vigorously opposed in practice.”

Elder Christofferson pointed to controversies over issues such as whether churches can decide whom to hire, or not hire, as their ministers; or whether employers must pay for employees’ contraceptives and abortions; or whether individuals can be compelled to provide services that offend their beliefs.

“The need to protect and preserve religious liberty — in a fair and balanced way that protects others’ fundamental rights — is acute,” he said.

After calling upon people of diverse beliefs to work together and defend religious freedom, Elder Christofferson concluded with a passage from Mormon scripture:

“No government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience” (Doctrine and Covenants 134:2).

 Note: Elder D. Todd Christofferson served his first mission in Argentina and is very fluent in Spanish with a great vocabulary. Today he also speaks Portuguese fluently.  His brother, who served in Brazil, has admitted that Elder Christofferson now speaks Portuguese better than he does.  What marvelous leaders we have in this church!


 Here is another one:  Brother John Sears Tanner (BSM 69-71 and president of the Brazil São Paulo South Mission 2011-14), currently serving as the first counselor in the Sunday School general presidency, will become the next president of BYU–Hawaii, beginning July 27, with his wife, Susan W. Tanner, former general Young Women president. Brother Tanner is a marvelously talented, spiritual, and gracious man. Our parabens and aloha to the Tanners.  See their picture and more information in a Newsroom article at


Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and chair of the executive committee of the board made the announcement today at BYU–Hawaii’s weekly devotional. John Tanner replaces President Steven C. Wheelwright, who has served at the head of this internationally-focused university since 2007.

Tanner will become the next president effective July 27.

President Wheelwright came to BYU–Hawaii after having served as a former senior associate dean of the Harvard Business School's MBA program, a Baker Foundation professor and senior associate dean and director of Harvard Business School's publication activities. President Wheelwright and his wife, Margaret Steele, are the parents of five children and have 20 grandchildren.

“During his time at BYU–Hawaii, President Wheelwright has continued to improve the quality of the education delivered and efficiently utilized the resources of the Church in order to bless the lives of as many students as possible, particularly the young men and women from Asia and the Pacific,” said Elder Paul V. Johnson, Church commissioner of education.

At the announcement, Elder Nelson praised President Wheelwright for his leadership. “During this time of sustained growth and impressive progress, he has superbly carried out the mission of this great university.  President Wheelwright’s legacy of consecrated service will continue to be felt on this campus and throughout the world for many years to come.”

“It has been a sacred privilege to participate in this work,” President Wheelwright said. “This is a place with a prophetic destiny and purpose. As students study here, they prepare to provide leadership in their families, their communities, their chosen field and in building the kingdom of God. It has been a great blessing to lead them in that process of developing their knowledge and faith.”

John S. Tanner, who will be inaugurated as BYU–Hawaii’s 10th president, has been recognized for his role as a Church leader and his work as a former academic vice president at BYU in Provo. During his time at BYU, President Tanner was first a professor of English and then a chair of the English Department before becoming the university’s academic vice president from 2004 to 2011, where he developed the Freshman Academy program to guide incoming students, revised the university’s general education requirements and wrote BYU’s Educational AIMS (Spiritually Strengthening, Intellectually Enlarging, Character Building, Lifelong Learning and Service).

His many years of service in the Church have taken him around the world. As a young man, Tanner served a full-time mission in Brazil and later returned to that country with his wife to serve as the president of the Brazil São Paulo South Mission. As a member of the Sunday School general presidency, he has traveled to Southeast Asia and throughout the United States to assist in the implementation of the new youth Sunday School curriculum, which focuses on a model of learning through questions and is designed to change and adapt to meet the learner’s needs and to deepen testimony and conversion. He has been actively involved in preparing similar curriculum for adult classes.

Tanner will be taking the helm at BYU–Hawaii with his wife, Susan W. Tanner, former general Young Women president of the Church, and the encouragement of their five children. “I am inspired by the vision that prophets have had for BYU–Hawaii,” Tanner said. “I intend to build on that wonderful legacy of aloha and learning and service that exists here to bless the international Church.”



From Manoel Amorim, who will preside in Porto, Portugal beginning July 1: “Dear brothers and sisters who speak (or once spoke!) Portuguese. I want to share an experience my wife and I had earlier this year and extend an invitation to those whose conditions could apply. I retired last year, and as we entered 2015, my wife and I decided to work on our “10-year vision” and establish our goals for the new year. First we wanted to spend a lot of quality time with the kids and newly arrived grandkids. After living for over 10 years having to take a 14-hour flight to see any of our three kids, this was “tops” in our priority list. And after living in 28 different homes over our 32 years of married life, building the home of our dreams, where we plan to stay for at least a decade for a change, was another “top priority”. We were finally able to start construction last November. We also decided that it was time to “step up” our efforts to find more ways to help others, “giving back” some of the much we have received in life so far. One comment my wife made during our discussions that struck hard on me was this: “We need to give more of our time. Reaching to our pockets once in a while is easy and nearly not as valuable as giving of our time and sacrifice to help others.” I kept thinking about that and one day I found myself browsing the blog of a friend who is currently serving a mission and thinking “God, I wish I can have an opportunity like this”… But, obviously, that could wait a bit…. But the Lord did not think so… Just three weeks later we got called to serve as mission president and wife in Mozambique. That was exactly the mission of the blog I was browsing weeks before… We accepted immediately and were glad to have some help with ordering our priorities properly this time around. The assignment eventually changed to the Portugal Porto Mission, but we continue to be excited with the opportunity to serve some wonderful missionaries who were called to serve in that newly re-established mission.

 One thing that I have learned over the past few weeks is that the Church needs three times more couples to serve missions than the number currently serving. I have also learned that missions for couples come in different durations and the couple has some flexibility to choose how long they want to serve. In the recently re-established Portugal Porto Mission we will find less couples than we could use, and the opportunities to serve and to help build the Kingdom in that country are enormous. They range from helping with the missionaries in several capacities, serving in the mission office, helping with the training of local leadership in districts preparing to become stakes and so much more. And there could not be a more exciting time for missionary work in Portugal with its first temple under construction. For those of you who have considered serving a second mission and giving some of your valuable time at this stage in your lives, please consider moving this priority a little bit up on your list. If you would like to discuss this specific opportunity please write me an email ( or, after July 1st, to Marcia and I would love to serve with you! Best regards, Manoel Amorim   


Dear Alf,  As a Brazil Missionary alumnus (Brazil Rio de Janeiro – 1974-1975), I am always interested in what is happening in the great country of Brazil. Thank you for keeping us all informed. I have also seen your newsletter as a means for identifying needs for senior couples that can speak Portuguese. We are in desperate need in the Cape Verde Praia Mission for senior couples to help with administrative issues in the office as well as help with Member Leadership Support.

My wife Susie and I have been in Cape Verde for the past 3 years, two as a senior couple and the last year as Mission President and wife. Although Cape Verde is off the Western coast of Africa, its culture is more European and we are in the Europe area. The weather is very mild and dry with less than 10 inches of rain coming in August through October and the temperature rarely going over 85 degrees in the Summer. Winter is also mild with temperature lows in the mid-60s with highs in the mid-70s.  It is an absolute joy to be with these wonderful people of Cape Verde. The Church reminds me so much of what we experienced 40 years ago in Brazil with the excitement of a country growing in the gospel. We have three stakes and two districts on 9 islands out of a total country population of about 550 thousand people. Because of ocean, drought, slavery, and lack of natural resources, somehow this country has been preserved by the Lord. The people here are loving and open and willing to hear our message. They are also, for the most part, a very young country and gray hairs like most of us are not too common. It is a safe country and there is no danger of Ebola that has affected some western African countries. Funny ironic story…. The country actually shut its borders to the United States last year when there was a person identified in the US with Ebola. True there are no McDonalds, Burger Kings, or Taco Bells, but we really don’t lack for food and most amenities. Yes the people are somewhat poor, but they are not destitute. You should hear them sing “Count your Many Blessings”, it will bring tears to your eyes. Great things are happening here. The average missionary couple monthly cost is about $700 to Ward Mission Fund (Apartment, Furnishings, and Utilities) and $400 living expenses for a total of about $1100. A car would be an additional $150 per month but is often not needed. If there is anyone interested in this wonderful experience, please send me an email, and I will give you any details you might want.  All the best,  Robert P. Mathews, President, Cape Verde Praia Mission  Phone:  (238) 991-3337  Email:


 Bill Loveless (BSPS 80-82) of Kearnes, UT, writes:  Alf, We have enjoyed reading the Brasulista for the many years that you have been sending it to us. I am honored to be part of such a distinguished group of people who have served missions in Brazil. I have always wanted to return to Brazil and serve with my wife in such a wonderful country. The Brasulista has enhanced that desire!

 Rhonda and I have been called to serve in the Brazil São Paulo Interlagos Mission to be office specialists. We report to the MTC in Provo on January 4th, 2016 and we will serve for 23 months. The mission president, President Loren G. Dalton, was my missionary companion in Brazil nearly 33 years ago.

 Although we had a wonderful time back then, we never imagined that we’d be serving again in Brazil. Through a series of recent miracles, here we are with a call to do just that.  

I am retiring from my job at the end of December 2015. Rhonda went on her mission to Toulouse, France in 1980 to 1981. She is excited to learn Portuguese and can already read and understand the Book of Mormon in Portuguese, with great pronunciation. The other night we were Skyping with a member of the Church in Brazil for more than an hour and Rhonda got the gist of a good portion of what the lady and I were talking about.  We are excited about this up-coming opportunity!  Bill and Rhonda Loveless   (


From Garth Martinsen (BNM 67-69) Hi Alf,  I am still enjoying the Brasulista. My wife Betty and I are now serving a 23-month mission in Argentina. We were called by the Presiding Bishopric to serve on the Estancia El Quebracho (El Quebracho Ranch).  We are not allowed to proselyte to any of the employees of the company that manage or work on the Church Property, but we do wear the name tag and serve. Every once in a while we are asked questions and are allowed to answer the questions. We have 10 Argentine children that we teach, children of the Gauchos. We teach English but we also have been asked to raise their aspirations to the life outside of the Ranch. They are hungry to learn about technical things. Since I am an Engineer (Civil, Electrical), I love it. Betty is a nurse and has been able to consult with many of the families. We like to visit with the parents of the children. Frankly, it is a lot like home teaching. They seem to really enjoy sitting down and talking about how we can help their families.  We also teach English to the ranch managers on two ranches (4 men). The other ranch is Los Perales, which means "The Pear Trees". I have not seen a single pear but I am still looking !

We also support the Branch of the Church in San Jose de Feliciano. It is against the mission policies to accept any leadership positions but we can serve as councilors and certainly as home teacher and visiting teacher. I was called to teach the gospel essentials class. The branch is small so we get to speak rather regularly. We are slowing coming up to perfect understanding of the Spanish of this area. If Elder Christofferson can speak Portuguese after speaking Argentine Spanish, there is still hope for me!  I think Betty can understand them better than I can.

We learned about this mission from the Brasulista:  a need for a couple for the ranch close to Brasilia. That did not pan out due to the time it takes to get a visa, but we were offered a spot here in Argentina.  I find the people to be of the same loving nature as the Brazilians I grew to love during my Brazil North Mission 67-69. If anyone is interested, we have a blog that Betty keeps up:  

The Brasulista is a great service! I have a collection of younger Brazilian missionaries that love to get the Brasulista.  Garth and Betty Martinsen    (

From LaDawn Christenson (California Arcadia Mission 74-76) ”Dear Alf,  Thank you for sending the Brasulistas to me even though Robert (BNM 70-72) has passed away.  I read and enjoy every single article (well, except for the ones written in Portuguese, since I don’t know the language).  My sister-in-law’s friend and her husband were just here in Porterville visiting prior to going on their mission to Brazil, to a working ranch where they will be teachers.  They read about this mission opportunity in one of your Brasulistas, and they responded.  You are doing such a wonderful work!  Have you seen the video (link below) the Church has produced? It was included in Meridian Magazine · April 30, 2015.  This video is a definite “must see”!  LaDawn Christenson (


 "Sealed Together: The Manaus Temple Caravan"  A 14-minute video.



Going to Brazil and want to renew your spoken Portuguese?  Here is a tip.

Google “Brazilian Portuguese word of the day” and select and subscribe to this free service.  Each day your email receives a new “word of the day” and uses it in a sentence.  Then you can click and listen to the sentence pronounced by a Brazilian speaker.  Hear it a few times and repeat after the speaker.  Then you can click on past dates and get a whole series of sentences to pronounce, giving yourself as much of a homework drill as you desire.  I think it is a fine way to practice pronouncing phrases in Portuguese.


Até logo,

Alf Gunn of Gig Harbor, WA - USA* 253-851-1099 *   * BSM 62-65

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