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Cristo300Brasulista #215

Newsletter of the early Brazilian missions, #215
September 16, 2018

In this issue:

Remembering the conversion of the Helvécio Martins family
Cape Verde senior mission couple blog link
The MTC São Paulo link to Deseret News article ICYMI
Recalling Porto Alegre after WWII
New book “Witness to Christmas”

Remembering the conversion of the Martins family

Thomas H McIntire (BNM 70-72) of Deer Park, WA, shares his recollection of meeting the family of Helvécio Martins.  

Hello Alfred, Thank you for keeping the Brasulista going all this time. To tell more of the story of the Helvécio Martins family, I would like to share the following:  I had served in the mission home for 7 months as the Editor – Commissary under President George Oakes. I was released back out to the field in the Meier district with a brand new Elder, Stephen Richards from Georgia. I was district leader there and after about a month we had been tracting all day and did not get into one door. A little disappointed with that, we decided to find some dinner somewhere slightly nicer than Bob’s and headed for the nearest bus stop out on the main drag. When we got there we realized we had not much more than 50 cents between us and determined to get a good dinner that night (it was about 8:00 pm) we decided we would go home, get some money and return to the bus stop. On our way, we were walking down the unfinished side of the street we had been tracting. I suddenly said to Elder Richards that we should tract out this one more apartment building ahead.  This decision was kind of uncharacteristic for me, especially since I was starving!

Well, the building attendant wasn’t at his post and we were able to take the elevator directly to the top and proceed to knock on doors. It was the same old thing, “no thanks, not interested.” After a floor or two, we knocked on one door and a black woman answered, she said her husband was in the shower and not available at the moment. I said that was alright, perhaps we could share our message some other time. As we approached the end of the hall and pushed the elevator button, that same woman came out, called to us and asked if we could come back right then. She said her husband would like to speak to us. We agreed. I decided in my mind that we would teach him and his family the basics of prayer.

We went into the apartment and sat down, waiting for him to finish dressing. When he finally came into the living room he sat down and said, “so just what is Mormonism?” I immediately felt the spirit and was somewhat floored by the fact that he used the noun Mormonism! No one used the word Mormonism. Within minutes I realized this was a learned man and family and that they had been looking for the true Church for maybe a couple of years. The next couple of hours I simply fielded the many questions that seemed to just flow from him (my answers and explanations were put into my mouth by the Holy Spirit for I never taught like that nor used such words and language before) and taught much of the restored gospel and church to the Martins family. Elder Richards still did not speak the language well, so I did most of the talking. But most noteworthy, Helvécio asked us early on in this conversation as to whether there was discrimination in the Church. I said no, but that I would better address his question later. Finally, after about 2 hours of fielding many questions, in a room where the spirit was so strong you felt as though you could slice it with a knife, he asked again if there was discrimination in our church. I explained there was a lesson we give to investigators of the Church that addresses this question and I would like to read it to them, word for word, at this point. So I read the seventh lesson regarding lineage and the priesthood to the Martins family. Afterward, they quietly conferred with each other and then said to us, “we don’t know why exactly, but we believe what you have taught us”. We then politely gave them a Book of Mormon pamphlet, taught them the basics of prayer and invited them to Church.

On our way home, Elder Richards and I were sailing on a cloud. We talked briefly how they were golden and how Helvécio was stake president material if only he was not of the lineage. We knew we couldn’t go back to them on our own because the mission rule was that we did not actively preach the gospel to persons of color at that time, Still we hoped and prayed they would follow up on their own.

Well, a couple weeks later guess who walked in to the meetinghouse just before Sacrament Service started? It was the whole Martins family. They were very warmly greeted by many members that knew them well in the community. A week or two passed and Brother Martin asked for the Sunday School manual so they could follow along. Another week or so passed by and one of the members of the ward told me that the Martins family wanted to get baptized. I told the member that they needed to tell me in person of this good news and shortly thereafter they did that. I, in turn relayed that message to my zone leader and the direction came back from President Oakes to proceed to teach and baptize the Martins. I then met with the family and outlined a plan to teach them weekly, one lesson at a time and we set an appointment to begin doing so. A couple days later I was transferred before I could even teach the first lesson to them. This was disappointing to me and was not the first time this had happened however I trusted in the mission president’s inspiration and shrugged off my disappointment as quickly as I could.

At the end of my mission, I stayed an additional five days to see Elder Bruce R McConkie organize the first stake in the Brazil North Mission. This was in Rio de Janeiro. That was like a dream come true for everyone. My first convert was also called to be a stake missionary on that day and though I did not get to baptize him, I was given the privilege to confer the Melchizedek Priesthood upon him and ordain him to the office of Elder. A day later, the Martin family among other families were at the airport to see me off. It was a bittersweet reunion and parting for me.

Over the years that succeeded, my family and I have had many encounters with Helvécio and his family members. [His son] Marcus and I keep in touch to this day. There is one more story I would like to share with you regarding Marcus. When he was 16 he vacationed with the Oakes and spent a week with me at BYU as well. I was still single at the time. One late evening, while we were talking, Marcus shared with me his patriarchal blessing which stated that he would serve a mission for the Church. I tried to soften that statement for him by saying a “mission” could mean many things (thinking to myself that it probably didn’t mean a fulltime proselyting mission, at least not in this life). This was in 1975 or so. In 1978 Marcus wrote me and sent his wedding announcement. Within a short time later, the Church announced the revelation regarding the blacks and the priesthood.  I immediately wrote a letter to Marcus reminding him of what he had shared with from his patriarchal blessing and before he received my letter, I received another letter from him, saying he was postponing his wedding and going on a full time mission. It was amazing. I have heard it said that he was the first black fulltime missionary for the Church. Also Helvécio, was the first black to be set apart as a counselor in a stake presidency, which happened shortly after the revelation was given.
  Well, as for myself, I am thankful for all really wonderful and important missionary experiences I had in Brazil. I am now retired from 28 years in the aerospace industry. I have served as Scoutmaster, YM president, ward mission leader, a bishop and a bishopric counselor for 14 years, and many stake callings to this day.  My wife, Marlene, and I are Church service missionaries in the Addiction Recovery Program.

Abraços,  Thomas H McIntire ( 509-850-2687

What a mission in Cape Verde is like?

See this excellent blog of Dan (BPA 73-75) and Diane (BNM 72-73) Erickson of Ferndale, WA, now serving at Portuguese-speaking Cape Verde off the coast of Africa.  It is a beautiful view of a senior mission.  This link should get you there:


The MTC São Paulo link to Deseret News article ICYMI

ICYMI:  The current MTC at São Paulo was dedicated in 1997 by Elder Russell M. Nelson, speaking perfect Portuguese.  Where were you trained?


 Recalling Porto Alegre after WWII

 Joe Wilson (BSM 71-72) of Natalia, TX, writes:  Alf,  The note from Sandy Walker (Brasulista #214) was interesting to me, he mentioned Grant Tucker of Cedar City. Elder Tucker was a companion of my father in Brazil in that same time period just after WWII. My father, Warren Wilson (BM 46-48) just passed away June 2 at the age of 92. While we were growing up we heard many, many stories of the Brazilian Mission and dad’s adventures there.  When he was transferred from São Paulo to Porto Alegre the trip was a three or four day bus ride, sometimes over actual roads. He told of traveling with President Rex through the same areas in the mission vehicle, a jeep if I am not mistaken. We heard about the Aidukaitis family so much that we considered ourselves to be good friends with them, even though we never met them in person. It was wonderful to grow up vicariously in Brazil through my father’s missionary stories, and thrilling to be called to serve in the same country and even city, Porto Alegre, in 1971.   Joe Wilson (

New book “Witness to Christmas”

Laurie Mauerman (BM 60-63) of Hammond, LA, has published a Christmas book

“Alf, If it is possible I'd like to announce that I have published a book entitled Witness to Christmas.  It is published by Page Publishing in Staten Island, N.Y., and is now available on Amazon.  Its purpose is to help us return to the true meaning of Christmas.  I was hoping that the Brasulista could perhaps help make it known to my former companions and many of the members who read the newsletter. Incidentally, it has received nice cover recommendations from Robert L. Millet and John G. Turner.  Thanks,  Lawrence A. Mauerman” (

Brothers and Sisters, it’s all good.

Um abraço,  Alf Gunn * Brazilian South Mission 62-65 Gig Harbor, WA

Comments (1)

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I tried to register an account, but was unable to see the captcha image so I'll post as a guest.

While reading the account of Thomas McIntire about the Martins family, I was struck by his answer to Mr. Martins' question "as to whether there was...

I tried to register an account, but was unable to see the captcha image so I'll post as a guest.

While reading the account of Thomas McIntire about the Martins family, I was struck by his answer to Mr. Martins' question "as to whether there was discrimination in the Church". He answered, "no". No? Really? He must have been a member of a completely different Mormon Church than the one I grew up with in Logan, Utah and the one I served a mission for in Brazil from 1963-1965. I recall blatant racism and church doctrine barred "people of color" from holding the priesthood because of some bad decisions in the pre-existence. The latter was reversed by "revelation" in 1978, but at the time of this event, it was still in full force. I would be interested to know what Mr. McIntire considers "discrimination".

I would also be interested to hear why the curse was lifted in 1978? Did we suddenly run out of people who made bad decisions in the pre-existence or was it more political because BYU was about to be expelled form the NCAA? And if the curse was off, why didn't they all suddenly turn white?

This all seems way too suspect, like the "revelation" about polygamy just before statehood. Convenient.


Wes Christensen

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Wes Christensen
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