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Cristo300Brasulista #185

Newsletter of the early Brazilian missions, #185
June 12, 2015

Bom dia, gente!

In this issue:

  • New mission presidents assigned.
    Mission president survives plane crash (1965)
    Called to Serve
    Missionary poetry


June 30 will mark the release of many fine mission presidents and their wives who have given of their time and talents in tireless service in the mission field during the last three years.  We send our congratulations and best wishes to them, and to the new presidents who will replace them.  To me, this is one of the great miracles of the restored Church and the Lord who leads it—the inspired calling of so many faithful and capable men and women and their willingness to go forth in the Lord’s service.  

See the list published in the Deseret News of new mission presidents:


Note that since that publication President Joni L. Koch has been assigned to preside in the Mozambique Maputo Mission and Manoel Amorim will preside in the new Portugal Porto Mission.


Alf’s note:  50 years ago I returned home from my mission in July of 1965, after taking six weeks to travel through Latin America, with the blessing and permission of my mission president and my parents. One of those weeks I served as an extra companion to my brother, Ronald, who was serving his mission in San Rafael, Argentina. At home in July, I received a letter from President C. Elmo Turner, with whom I had served in the mission home at Curitiba for the last eight months of my mission (and the first 8 months of his presidency). Those who know President Turner will appreciate that he has always been one to uplift and encourage those around him, member and missionary. I share with you the text of his letter, written to me in his beautiful handwriting, 50 years ago.

July 17, 1965

Dear Elder Gunn,

It was certainly good to hear from you and learn that all is well at home; that you arrived safely and were a good boy!  We knew you would be.

I am glad you used my name as a reference.  I’ll be happy to do all I can to help you get the job.  There has been no request yet from B.Y.U.

This letter is being written in bed.  You have probably heard by now that Robin, Randy, Jill & I were in a small plane crash (Cessna 110) in the mountains just 70 kilometers from Caçador on Sunday, July 4th.  There had been some real problems in Caçador . . . and I wanted to attend their meetings, interview the branch presidency, the missionaries and some members.  I decided to take the children along for the experience.  

Well, we ran into some real dense fog, the pilot couldn’t get the plane to rise anymore and we ran into the mountain at about 120 M.P.H.  The Lord really blessed us!  The plane was destroyed (tore off one wing, all the landing gear, and motor was half out) but the 3 children in the back seat were not hurt (just a few bruises).  The pilot & I were pinned in but both miraculously escaped with our lives.  We landed near the top of a big mountain.  There are many saw mills there for the big, hardwood Imbuya trees, and they were all over.  But we were guided into a heavy thicket of bamboo and we literally tore a tunnel through, but it acted as a cushion and we were saved.  The pilot was cut several places on the face, and broke both legs.  He really suffered a lot.  I have 2 or 3 fair scars on the face from cuts and tore a little hole in my left leg just above the ankle.  I don’t know how many stitches, but it didn’t break any bones, and while it tore the tendon a bit it did not cut it.  The doctor doesn’t see how it could have happened without breaking the bones and cutting the tendon.  But I know.

This happened about 9:30 a.m.  A farmer nearby heard the crash and brought others to the scene to help us.  The children & I hiked 1½ hours down the mountain to a little house and a dirt road.  We got a saw mill operator to drive us through the forest and back to Mafra, where we arrived about 6:30 p.m.  We then went to the hospital and were taken care of by some real good doctors.  Of course the poor pilot couldn’t walk.  The men carried him down the mountain in an old canvas blanket tied together and a long pole threaded through it.  Of course every bump of the jeep was very painful to him and he was delirious much of the time.

I was so very proud of the children.  They did not become emotional or come unstrung at all.  They were very calm and helpful through it all.  Jill sat in the front of the jeep with me, and she squeezed my hand and held my arm most of the way and it really comforted me.  The boys did what they could to help the pilot.  

But we are recuperating fast now.  The flesh is growing in well around the wound and I’m up and around a bit now.

We had 135 ‘tisms in May with 18 complete families.  Pres. Tuttle said this was the highest in both categories for any mission in South America. We were proud of the missionaries!  We fell down in June and only got 91 but it looks better for July.

Other than that we are all well and happy.  We certainly miss that friendly, ever smiling face of yours around here, and that cheerful willingness to do anything for anyone.  You are really appreciated, Elder Gunn and have found a warm spot in our hearts for eternity.  The children often say they wish Elder Gunn would come back.

We pray for your success and happiness there at home in your new responsibilities and endeavors.

We are very happy here and are extremely grateful to the Lord for this opportunity to serve again in the mission field.

Sincerely your brother & friends, Pres. Turner & Family

Alf’s note:  Those who wish to express their regards to President Turner may send emails to, perhaps with copies to his daughters Jill and Jean, who are living with him, at and  


6/7/15   From Mike McGrew (BSM 67-69) of Muncie, IN:  “Dear Alf, My wife and I just received our mission call to serve in the Campinas Brazil Temple.  We are scheduled to begin training in mid-October 2015.  I was overcome emotionally when we opened our call packet and read the assignment.  This is exactly what I had hoped for even though we had not expressed any preferences on our application for a mission.  My wife, Mary Kay, had been apprehensive about the possibility of learning a foreign language, but she is comfortable with this temple assignment, since we have already served as ordinance workers in the Columbus Ohio Temple.  I'm sure the language will be no barrier for her.  We will be serving for 18 months.  I'm excited to return to Brazil!  But first we have to jump through all the hoops to get a visa.  That is a daunting process.  Much more complicated than I had imagined it would be.  My advice to anyone wanting to serve in Brazil would be to make sure you start now collecting marriage certificates, birth certificates and transcripts of all LDS religion classes you have taken, including seminary and institute classes, with certificates of completion from seminary for the sisters (in lieu of priesthood ordination certificates for the brothers).  I guess they want to make sure we're properly trained in religious instruction before they'll let us into the country.  Thanks for all you do to keep us informed.  Mike McGrew (BSM 67-69)” (

Dear Elder McGrew, Congratulations on your call to serve in the beautiful Campinas Temple.  Thanks for the tips regarding documents needed for Brazil service.  The missionary travel department advises me that two years minimum of religious training is required.  Also, I have wondered if Brazil visa waiters might be assigned elsewhere while waiting, such as in the Madrid Temple which serves Portugal.  However, I visited the temple in Madrid for a few days last year and was a patron in 11 sessions and only one was actually in Portuguese. (I speak Spanish too, but really loved the Portuguese session.)  Come to think of it, a person could probably listen in Portuguese any time with headsets in any temple.  Best wishes and many blessings, Alf Gunn


Elder Kim Barney (BSM 62-65) of Kaysville, UT, missionary and poet, sent this to me some months ago:

Dear friends of Brazil:  While the temple has been closed the last two weeks, Sister Barney and I , with another couple, Elder and Sister Broce, went travelling to Natal and João Pessoa and spent four days in each place.  We got to see the biggest cashew tree in the world, the easternmost spot of all South America, and many other interesting things.  (Elder Broce and I were in the BSM at the same time with Finn B. Paulsen as our mission president.  Finn's son, David Finn Paulsen, also serves here in the Recife temple with us.  We are the last three American couples at this temple, and we don't know of any more in the "pipeline."  I wrote three poems about these experiences, which are published online at the link below.  The three poems are called "Recife to Natal by bus", "Biggest Cashew Tree", and "Earliest Sunrise".

I hope that, for any of you that have been in these places, the poems bring back fond memories.  Elder Kim Barney

Biggest Cashew Tree

'Welcome to the Biggest
Cashew Tree in the World'
said the sign which greeted
each little boy and girl
and all of us old folks
who came to see this sight.
I was so excited
I couldn't sleep last night.
Planted in eighteen eighty-eight,
this old thing is really great.
Larger than a football field
and its branches often yield
eighty thousand nuts per annum
but I doubt they ever can 'em.
Tourists are let to pick at will
and their pockets they can fill.
This tree grows outward more than high
but no one really knows just why.
Some genetic anomaly
explains what happened to this tree.

Well, that’s it for this newletter—from plane crash to nuts.

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


Come to the big super-reunion on Thursday, October 1, 2015, at the Orem Utah Cascade Stake center in Orem, Utah.  A reunion committee has been organized and are preparing for the event.  More info to follow.


Space still available on the cruise from Italy to six ports in Brazil:

A Taste of France, Monte Carlo, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Canary Islands and 6 Cities in Brazil – November 26-December 18, 2015

If you know someone who might enjoy this trip—as a retirement adventure, a much-deserved getaway, or just because they love to go on cruises—please share this message with them.  If I can answer any questions, feel free to call me at 253-307-3338 or at

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