Alf Gunn Badge

Cristo300Brasulista #197

Newsletter of the early Brazilian missions, #197
September 30, 2016

Bom dia, irmãos e irmãs! 

In this issue:

Perpetual Education Fund
Guaraná and Root Beer
From the Field
Rest of the Story
How Many Times Could This Story Be Told?
Senior Missionary Notícias

1964-66 Mission Memories
Fun With Portuguese
Come Serve With Us In Brazil


Big news of the month - When the Perpetual Education Fund was announced by President Gordon B. Hinckley in General Conference in 2001, your Brasulista editor was visiting the MTC São Paulo, watching the rebroadcast Sunday morning which was in Portuguese.  I was interpreting talks for the newly arrived American missionaries.  When I heard what he was announcing I got very excited and said, “Elders!  Do you know what this means to them?!” pointing to the Brazilian missionaries in the auditorium.  It was a marvelous moment.  In the lunchroom an hour later one of the Brazilian leaders came into the lunchroom exclaiming, “Do you know what this means to my people!?”  Yes, it has been a marvel.  Now there is more.  

Last month we reported on Elder Kim Passey (BSM 72-74) and his wife Carol arriving in Brazil to serve in the Area Office of the Self Reliance program, being initiated in the stakes in São Paulo and soon to be worldwide.  Read this Deseret News article to catch the vision of this program.



Alf (BSM 62-65) to Kim Russell (BM 59-61) who went to high school in Brazil:
Kim,   Remember how in Brazil back in the day we would long for a root beer.  Now we are drinking guarana' at every reunion--matando saudades. I still love root beer, even if the Brazilians think it tastes like medicine.   Alf


Kim to Alf:  Amen to That!  I remember driving around Rio (before my mission) and stopping at Bob’s for a root beer (no McDonalds in those days).  It wasn't always available because of what you said - ... the server at Bobs would reply ..."Brasileiros não gostam de 'Root Beer' - tem o sabor de medicina!".  I'm not sure - can you get root beer now in Brazil; perhaps Bob's or McDonalds?  By the way, since my dad could get U.S. stuff from his embassy privileges, we would stock up on root beer, as well as peanut butter and mayonnaise, and treat the missionaries in Rio whenever we could.   


Alf to Kim:  There was no Bob’s in the south back in the day.  Only northies have those fond memories of that hamburger joint.


Just a note from Steve Sharmahd (BSM 1969-71) to let you know tha my wife, Willa,  and I have received a mission call to serve as Area Medical Advisor for The Brazil Area starting Jan 9, 2017 for 18 months.  It has been the Brasulista and your good work that has given us the impetus and specifics to investigate and accept just such a wonderful opportunity.  Muito obrigado,  Alf.
Steven Sharmahd (


Dear Alf, Loved reading about the history of the first stake in Brazil!  Just some 16 to 17 years after that first formation I was lucky enough to serve in many of the wards mentioned including Santo Amaro, Santo André, Ipiranga & Caxingui chapel. I believe, Milton da Camargo, has come to some of our São Paulo South Mission reunions of President John H. Hawkins era, some 30+ years later than when I served.  I don't know if he is related to the dearest sister, irma Nena da Camargo, with whom we stayed in her home while on our mission in Guaruja.  Irma Nena spoiled us by waking early to walk & buy us pao at a local padaria.  She would then fix us hot Tod & pao with mantega & fruit jam.  It was irma Nena who first made bananas fritas with meals she served us missionaries, & how I learned to love it! Wow, were we spoiled!  


We ended up receiving the blessings of the people & leaders within the São Paulo stakes & wards formed those years before; not to mention all the missionaries & church brethren who paved the way for the tremendous growth in Brasil.


Thanks for the Brasulista!Duane Hutchings ('82-'84) São Paulo Sul



President Peter Scholz (BSPS 78-80) currently presiding over the Missão Brasil Ribeirão Preto shares the interesting fact that 40 years after Elder Robert Hawkins baptized a young Mauro Brum, brother Brum was presiding over the Ribeirão Preto Mission when Hawkins was called to serve there as Executive Secretary under the man to whom he had taught the gospel.  How they found each other is an amazing story we will have to learn later.  Also, young Elder Hawkins had served his mission under President Thomas Jensen, father of our travel agent friend and a great missionary, Dick Jensen.  Peter Scholz and Dick Jensen were in the same MTC group of 4 that went to the BSPS mission together and had the opportunity to work together many times during their mission.  (


Elder Paulo Oliveira has served as Second Counselor in the Campinas Temple and a counselor under two mission presidents.   He writes:

“Caro Irmão Alf,  Comunico, com inexprimível pesar, o falecimento de Sister Nelson (BM 62-64)  Ella Carol von Gostomski, ocorrido no dia dia 30 de agosto passado.  Ela, junto com Sister Rodrigues, foram quem me ensinaram a reconhecer e amar o evangelho restaurado de Jesus Cristo, e me conduziram ao batismo, em 1953.  Sister Nelson amava o Brasil e seus muitos amigos brasileiros de forma admirável. Embora falasse vários idiomas ( um de seus dons), o português era sua língua preferida.  Ela foi, durante muitos anos, coordenadora das reuniões anuais dos missionários retornados que serviram com o Presidente Bangerter.  Sister Nelson era extremamente gentil, solidária, amável e hospitaleira. Seu lar foi um constante abrigo para todos visitantes, aos quais dedicava destacada atenção, particularmente seus amigos do Brasil.
Filha, esposa, mãe e avó amorosa e dedicada.  Carol dedicou especial carinho à nossa família, sempre atenciosa e zelosa com nossas filhas.  Partiu deixando um grande vazio, que só será preenchido plenamente quando reencontrar-nos.  Saudades, amada amiga e irmã em Cristo.  Elder Paulo Oliveira (atualmente servindo na Family History Library)”


Dear Alf:   Add another location for former Brazil missionaries continuing service.  Elder Neldon Demke is currently serving in Timor-Leste with his wife, Diana on a humanitarian mission.  Though officially Portuguese speaking, the majority of the people speak Tetum.   Diana Demke (

“Alf, I thought I should add my two cents about senior missions.  Sister Steele and I will be leaving in early October for a 23 month MLS mission to Indonesia Jakarta.  In the last four years as a Bishop in a freshman YSA ward at BYU, we sent out over 430 missionaries.  I thought it was only appropriate to NOT express a preference for assignment, or limit our term of service on our application, so that our experience would be as close to our young missionaries as possible.  I did let them know I had some background in Portuguese, Spanish, and Russian, so we've been learning Indonesian! We'll be serving in the city of Surabaya, which has a metro area population of around 9 million (shades of São Paulo back in the day before it got REALLY big). Tom Steele (Brazilian Mission 1965-67)”  (


David Grant Stewart, Sr., shares one missionary's fond memories: I served in the Brazilian Mission from the fall of 1964 to the beginning of November 1966. The Language Training Mission had just been started in what had been a wealthy co-eds' dormitory on the BYU campus in February of 1964. I was among the earliest to go through the Portuguese training which was started later that year. Brother Wilkins was president of the LTM. The program was designed for three months to teach the Portuguese language and memorize the six missionary discussions in Portuguese, which were in a little 92-page book.

Our group was hustled out of the LTM and sent to Brazil after only two months, because new missionaries were coming in faster than there were accommodations at the dormitory. Consequently I had only the first discussion memorized. I memorized the rest of the discussions as quickly as possible on my mission, so that I could give every lesson precisely word for word. They were good doctrine and good grammar.

My first assignment was Campinas, described by Present Wayne Beck as the Garden of Eden of Brazil. It had a population of 300,000 and was several hours' drive into the interior. In those days they were still making cobblestone streets. It was like stepping back in time. The typical taxicab was a 1938 Chevrolet. The streetcars were all wooden made in about 1910.

At that time it was the custom in Campinas "always to have a companion - your assigned companion, a member companion, or the Holy Ghost." The other missionaries in my group were retained in the mission home for a few days to learn how to do missionary work. But I was handed an address and driven to the bus station that very night. After a bus trip of several hours, the bus arrived in Campinas. I got off the bus and walked around the corner to a taxi and handed the address to the cabby. I arrived at the apartment in a few minutes. It was 2:30 a.m. and Elder Hallet and his companion were listening to a tape recording sent by his girlfriend.

All of the missionaries in the field when I arrived were two and a half year missionaries. That meant that I would be going home before some of them. We had some fun teasing all of them how good American hamburgers were. But some of them would tease back, "Well, Elder, I'll be eating one again before you will!"

In those days the LTM time was added to the basic two years, so my mission lasted twenty-six months. My companion, Elder Lynn Warren Hencke, took me around to meet all the members for two weeks. After that I was on my own. The first day I was there I gave a first discussion to an investigator family. I knew it word perfect, but I did not understand their answers, so I had to look at my companion to see if they agreed or not and I could proceed with the lesson. A first discussion in Portuguese took ninety minutes. A Jew would get through the lesson in 45 minutes because he already knew all the answers. President Beck advised me to leave a copy of the Book of Mormon with every Jew that I taught. "The Jews are great readers. Sooner or later, they will read it."

Mine was literally a "Mission Impossible." I had no idea hot to find people to teach. We were told not to tract, but to work entirely with member referrals. What member referrals?

After four months I was transferred to Ribeirao Preto, an interior city of 180,000. There at last I was permitted to tract. Hurray! About that same time a General Authority came down and ended the single missionary system. That made life much easier. But I still found it impossible to meet the weekly quota of twelve discussions, seven being first discussions, and a sixty hour work week. My companion always had higher numbers on his report than I did. Our district leader said, "Elder Norman, you're a little generous with your numbers. Elder Stewart, you're a little stingy with your figures."

Elder Beck was a great man, a father to his missionaries. He was replaced by Lloyd Hicken, a dentist from Bountiful. President Hicken assigned us a schedule: 9-12, 3-6, and 7-10. Suddenly it was easy to get 60 hours. I learned that if you schedule working time and non-working time, you get a lot more done. Those who rejected the schedule, claiming they spent all their time doing missionary work, were only deceiving themselves. It is simply not possible. It was those same missionaries who called any contact with a Brazilian at a bus stop or even on the bus or anywhere else, a missionary discussion.

We were instructed to loan out fifty copies of the BofM during our mission. I divided my day into two parts. In the morning I would go door to door and say to the housewife: "Este livro não é para vender. É para seu marido ler, senhora. Voltaremos in dois dias para ver como está gostando." Then I would hand her the book and move on. In the afternoon I would do conventional tracting.

I would mark the books with underlining scriptures which explained the necessity of being baptized. I was able to enlist the help of members and even non-members in marking them. Some of them confessed to me that they themselves stopped to read the underlined parts of the books they were marking.

In the middle of my mission, in 1966, Elder Spencer W. Kimball came down and organized the first stake in South America. We missionaries were allowed to attend, but only out on the basketball courts. The members were given all the prime seats, as it should be.

When I left Brazil, I had one hundred copies of the Book of Mormon loaned out to families that were reading it. Two years later, a member wrote to me and said that someone had returned a copy of the Book of Mormon to the meetinghouse. It had my initials in it. Because of the blessing I received in being set apart for my mission, I have to believe that many of those reading my loaned copies of the Book of Mormon were eventually converted.

Elder Kimball had set me apart for my mission. He had come to my missionary farewell in Garden Grove, California, so I cut my remarks short and he became the main speaker. My two best friends presented me with a tape recording of the whole program, which I still have. And now he had picked me to be among those he set apart. My blessing was the last and longest. He promised me a rich harvest, which I never saw, but I believe it was still true. I don't have to see everything.

With the exact same time spent on Book of Mormon loaning and conventional tracting, I had ten convert baptisms by the former method and one by the latter. Naturally, if I had my mission to do over again ...

Of course, I understand that the BofM loaning program will not work in all cultures. It works with Brazilians because they are very respectful of other people's property. In America, with its pervasive "free sample": culture, the results might be very different.

When President Beck went out to his plane with his family, he turned back to me and said "Elder Stewart, you are the most dedicated missionary I have ever met. You will take your place!"

I dated his daughter once after my mission. She was a perfect lady in every respect. In fact, it was a bit funny. There was an award on her apartment door for having the cleanest apartment in the complex. That same week I had dated another girl with the "pig pen" award on her apartment door, for having the messiest apartment in the complex.

Years later when I got married, President Beck came to my wedding reception. He had told us at a mission conference that he wanted to meet our wives when we got married. True to his word, he came to my reception. That was the last time I ever saw him, on 20 April 1972.

My mission presidents were two great men. One man, Jose Puerta, at whose house we lived, later became the temple president. David Grant Stewart, Sr. 


Meia, Meia, Meia, Meia ou Meia? - Publicado em agosto 25, 2014

ALF'S NOTE: When speaking a number, such as a telephone number, a Brazilian will often substitute the word “meia” for “six” because “seis” sounds like “três” and could be misunderstood.  Not all Portuguese-speaking countries use the same trick.  Thanks to Portuguese Professor Paulo Jorge for the scenario below that plays with the different meanings of the word “meia” – a polysemy, or word with many meanings or senses.

Difunde-se com frequência, pelo menos no Brasil, a crença de que a Língua Portuguesa é uma das mais difíceis do mundo, inclusive para nós, brasileiros. Daí a visão de que a dificuldade no manuseio pelos seus usuários estaria ligada à estrutura da nossa língua não só na oralidade mas também na escrita da variante padrão. É um equívoco. Todas as línguas apresentam suas especificidades que resultam em dificuldades para o falante e o produtor textual, em menor ou maior grau.
A polissemia, por exemplo, representa um recurso linguístico recorrente em várias línguas e demonstra a elasticidade que uma palavra ou expressão pode conter em sua semântica alimentada por seus usuários.
No texto desta semana, trazemos uma história que brinca com os sentidos da palavra “meia”, segundo usuários brasileiro e africano.
Ótima leitura!
Na recepção dum salão de convenções, em Fortaleza…
– Por favor, gostaria de fazer minha inscrição para o Congresso.
– Pelo seu sotaque vejo que o senhor não é brasileiro. O senhor é de onde?
– Sou de Maputo, Moçambique.
– Da África, né?
– Sim, sim, da África.
– Aqui está cheio de africanos, vindos de toda parte do mundo. O mundo está cheio de africanos.
– É verdade. Mas se pensar bem, veremos que todos somos africanos, pois a África é o berço antropológico da humanidade…
– Pronto, tem uma palestra agora na sala meia oito.
– Desculpe, qual sala?
– Meia oito.
– Podes escrever?
– Não sabe o que é meia oito? Sessenta e oito, assim, veja: 68.
– Ah, entendi, “meia” é “seis”.
– Isso mesmo, meia é seis. Mas não vá embora, só mais uma informação: A organização do Congresso está cobrando uma pequena taxa para quem quiser ficar com o material: DVD, apostilas, etc., gostaria de encomendar?
– Quanto tenho que pagar?
– Dez reais. Mas estrangeiros e estudantes pagam “meia”.
– Huummm! que bom. Ai está: “seis” reais.
– Não, o senhor paga meia. Só cinco, entende?
– Pago meia? Só cinco? “Meia” é “cinco”?
– Isso, meia é cinco.
– Tá bom, “meia” é “cinco”.
– Cuidado para não se atrasar, a palestra começa às nove e meia.
– Então já começou há quinze minutos, são nove e vinte.
– Não, ainda faltam dez minutos. Como falei, só começa às nove e meia.
– Pensei que fosse as 9h05, pois “meia” não é “cinco”? Você pode escrever aqui a hora que começa?
– Nove e meia, assim, veja: 9h30
– Ah, entendi, “meia” é “meia”.
– Isso, mesmo, nove e trinta. Mais uma coisa senhor, tenho aqui um fôlder de um hotel que está fazendo um preço especial para os congressistas, o senhor já está hospedado?
– Sim, já estou na casa de um amigo.
– Em que bairro?
– No Trinta Bocas.
– Trinta bocas? Não existe esse bairro em Fortaleza, não seria no Seis Bocas?
– Isso mesmo, no bairro “Meia” Boca.
– Não é meia boca, é um bairro nobre.
– Então deve ser “cinco” bocas.
– Não, Seis Bocas, entende, Seis Bocas. Chamam assim porque há um encontro de seis ruas, por isso seis bocas. Entendeu?
– Acabou?
– Não. Senhor é proibido entrar no evento de sandálias. Coloque uma meia e um sapato…
O africano enfartou…
Polissemia é um conceito da área da linguística com origem no termo grego polysemos, que significa "algo que tem muitos significados". Uma palavra polissêmica é uma palavra que reúne vários significados.


From Elder William Loveless and Sister Rhonda Loveless:

 We're having the time of our lives down here on a mission in Brazil!  For the past three months my wife and I have been working in the mission office of the São Paulo Interlagos Mission and we couldn't be happier!  Not only do we enjoy a sweet association on a daily basis with President and Sister Dalton, but we get to work with all the young missionaries too.  We love them all and they love us.  Just feeling of their youthful energy and excitement for life and doing the important work to which we are all called, helps us to stay as young as possible ourselves.  At our age, that is important!

We live in a spacious apartment across the street from where we go to Church and one block from the mission office. This is in the very nice neighborhood of Santo Amaro. We have a washing machine, a dryer, a microwave, a nice kitchen range, and a refrigerator.  We are on the first floor and there are no stairs to climb. We have the internet in our apartment with a desk-top computer that has a large screen.  Skype, e-mail, frequent phone calls to family, and Facebook keep us connected.  There’s even an exercise bike in one of the rooms.  Oh, and we sleep on a king-size bed!  Wal-Mart is just minutes away and there are lots of other stores close-by. The exchange rate is very favorable right now.

The mission office has all the necessities of a modern office.  The computers have up-to-date software and are fairly new.  We get lots of support from the Brazil Area Office as well.  Actually, what sealed the deal for us was the air conditioning in the office!  Recently, for our anniversary, we were given permission to travel to the city of Santos, which is outside of our mission, and spend a few nights in a beach-front hotel.

If your doctor is worried about you living and working in a place outside of the United States, tell him or her, "Não se preocupe!" São Paulo is one of the largest cities in the world and has excellent medical care.

If you've wondered how you could serve a senior mission, well, wonder no further.  President Ezra Taft Benson made this promise: “Many older couples could serve missions. In so doing, they will find that a mission blesses their children, their grandchildren, and their great-grandchildren in a way that could not otherwise be done. It will set a great example for their posterity.” In the months that we have served so far, we have certainly seen how our children, their spouses, and our grandchildren have been blessed and we expect to see many more similar blessings during and after this mission.

We'll be serving until December 2017 and then we'll need to be replaced.  They'll want us to do extensive training with our replacements, too, and with the time it takes to get everything ready, well, now is the time to start thinking about it.  For more information, you can e-mail me at or our Mission President, President Dalton at

Um abraço,  

Alf Gunn of Gig Harbor, WA - USA * 253-307-3338 *  * BSM 62-65

Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet

Leave your comments

  1. Posting comment as a guest. Sign up or login to your account.
0 Characters
Attachments (0 / 3)
Share Your Location