Newsletter of the early Brazilian missions #112
April 9, 2009
Cruise the Coast of Brazil next January
For a description of the January 2010 “Terra da Felicidade” cruise of the Brazilian coast and visits to the São Paulo and Curitiba temples, see the attachment.
In this issue:
Calls announced at General Conference, including five new Brazilian Seventies
David L. Beck is new General Young Men’s President
Super reunion was an all-around success
Curt Swenson called to preside at Porto Alegre South
Adilson de Paula Parrella to preside at Belo Horizonte
Gelatin copier recalled
Joe Wilson talks about Brazil experiences
Blair and Cindy Packard and “Care for Life” in Mozambique
Weldon B. Jolley recalls milestones of the post WWII era in Brazil
Boyd D. Clements recalls being a BP
Comments on church growth and leadership
Shameless commercial plug: Please help me sell Brazilian Missions lapel pins by wearing one to church and referring every younger ex-missionary who served in Brazil to me. Buy one for each of your children or grandchildren who served in Brazil. My address is “Alf Gunn, 3720 26th Avenue Court NW, Gig Harbor, WA 98335.” Proceeds go into the future reunions fund. We sold 140 at the reunion. Which means we only have 860 left. $5 each. Such a deal. For those who have already ordered, I will send them out when I get back home. Thanks, Alf
At the risk of missing a few things, here is my read on some callings announced at General Conference.
New Apostle Neil L. Andersen, who served his first mission and a mission presidency in France, served as Area President of the Brazil South Area a few years ago. He speaks French, Portuguese and Spanish. He gave a beautiful talk on Sunday morning.
Brother David L. Beck (BM 72-74), newly called General President of the Young Men, organized and conducted our super reunion program two days before his new call was announced. I don’t know how he did all that, but he is a remarkable person.
President Beck is a son of Wayne M. Beck who presided over the BSM from 63-66, and David himself presided over the Brazil Rio de Janeiro North Mission from 96-99. He recently served as a stake president in Bountiful. From his Church bio: Brother Beck is an executive with a manufacturing and distribution company and serves on the board of a technology college. He received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a master’s degree in engineering administration from the University of Utah. He and his wife Robyn are the parents of four children. (email@example.com)
Also announced was the release of Elder Dean Burgess (BM 65-67) of the 70 who was a counselor in the YM Presidency that was just released. He previously served as President of the Belo Horizonte Mission from 1997 to 2000. Congratulations to him.
We sustained five new Seventies from Brazil at General Conference:
Victor A. Asconavieta, 53, Pelotas, Brazil;
Mauro Junot De Maria, 47, Recife, Brazil;
Paulo C. Loureiro, 44, São Paulo, Brazil;
Renato M. Petla, 58, Curitiba, Brazil;
Marcos A. Prieto, 57, Jardim Simus, Brazil
Here is a brief and rather official report from Denis Hawkins, one of the principle organizers of the super reunion: “The reunion was a resounding success. Everyone on the committee performed admirably. There was plenty of food and guaraná for the meal, but we did run out of the feijoada at the end. The program was crisp, sensational, and inspiring, with tributes to the oldest living missionary, the first Brazilian branch president, the oldest living convert, and the amazing story of the first “single” sister missionary and how she was able to marry another missionary while on their mission. There were pictures and video clips of these events as well as the Brazilian Senators’ praising the Church and Elder Hamblin’s inspiring interview. Homero Amato and Elder Ellis were enthusiastic and inspiring, and Consul General Graça Lima was very kind in his remarks. Lex de Azevedo and the Mormon Melodaires were wonderful. The break-out sessions seemed to all go well.
Kim Russell’s daughter took pictures of many of the attendees against a beautiful “Brasil Doce Lar” background. I believe she is offering the pictures for free. I’m not sure how the video interviews went. I hope there is some way we can see them as well as the clips at the previous reunion. Do you know if there is a way we can see them?
We had good participation in cleaning up afterwards. I was happy to get home at 10:15 pm, thoroughly happy and exhausted. Thanks again for all of your help. Denis”
Kim Russell says, “Liesl and I did take down names and internet addresses of most of those she took photos of and we could send them theirs. But, there are a lot of random shots taken throughout the evening. Is there a blog or website where these pictures could be posted for anyone to look at?
Alf’s note: I don’t have a blog which accepts input from others. If anyone comes up with one I will be glad to notify everybody.
I spoke with Sister Geri Bangerter about her impressions of the reunion, and she said that she and Elder Bangerter were surprised at so many people being in attendance, including quite a few Brazilians and others from other missions that the Bangerters had know during their years of service in Brazil. This made the reunion very exciting for them. She was also tickled to see the four missionaries of the Mormon Melodaires, recalled from their tours of the Brazilian Mission, and thought they did a wonderful job on the program. So the Bangerters were very glad they could attend that reunion.
Again, thanks to all who organized, participated, and pitched in to make the reunion so successful. Thanks to our honored guests for coming and for our speakers and singers. I only wish I could have been there to enjoy this with you all. Alf
Elder Curt Swenson (BSM/BPAM 72-74) of Sandy, UT, writes “Dear Alf, Thanks for all you do to keep us in touch with one another and helping to continue the great missionary work taking place in Brazil. I wanted to let you know that my wife Valerie and I have received a call to return to Brazil to serve as full time missionaries and as President of the Brasil Porto Alegre South Mission starting in July 2009. I served there when it was called the Brasil South Mission, which then became the Brasil Porto Alegre Mission, from 1972-1974, so this is like going home for us (the mission office is even the same one)! I served with and learned from two great presidents, Pres. Orson Arnold and Pres. Lynn Sorensen, who we're excited to see at the upcoming reunion. We also have a son, Nick, who served in the Brasil Porto Alegre North Mission a few years ago, so we have a very fond love for the missionaries and people of Rio Grande do Sul in our family!
Val and I are excited to return to southern Brazil to help the great missionaries serving in the mission and renew our friendship with the wonderful saints there. I don't yet know of the number of senior missionary couples needed in the mission, but as many of us who receive the Brasulista are approaching/at the age when we could serve, I would love to invite anyone who may be interested in serving a mission as a couple in southern Brazil to send an e-mail or give me a call (801-942-3032) so we can catch up a little and talk.. The reunion was wonderful and an amazing spiritual experience! Obrigado por tudo! Warm regards, Curt Swenson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Also called was Area Seventy Adilson de Paula Parrella (BPAM 81-82) of São Paulo, who will preside over the Brazil Belo Horizonte Mission. His wife is Elaine Finholdt Parrella. (Adilson.Parrella@KornFerry.com)
Helton Carlos Pimenta Vecchi, 43, a counselor in a branch presidency at the CTM SP is called to preside over the Brazil Salvador South Mission. Served his first mission in Portugal Lisbon.
There may be more.
Item: “Hi Alf. I had flash backs when I read about the gelatin copiers. I was serving in Aracatuba at the time and I had made the pan filled with the gelatin mixture and left it on the sink in the kitchen (they had converted a small house into a chapel with a kitchen and sleeping area) and had left to work for the day and when we returned a large square had been cut out of the gelatin. Someone had come by the chapel, seen the yummy looking desert and had taken a chunk. We never did find out who it was but I am sure it was not a pleasant experience. We used to also make Root Beer and the members thought it was awful but we drank to our heart’s content.” Ken Russon (BM 59-62) (email@example.com)
I asked Joe Wilson (BSM 71-72) how he got to serve in Brazil where his father Warren Wilson (BM 46-48) had served. His answer is a fun read:
“We grew up listening to my dad’s stories about the Brazilian Mission at dinner time. I believe dad was one of the first five missionaries back into the country when the mission re-opened after the war, and served from 1946-48. At least that is what I understood. He is always willing to share his mission experiences and he has a great memory, but he does not do email. He served in Porto Alegre (we grew up hearing about the Aidukaitas family), Curitiba and mostly in São Paulo.
“I don't know how I got to go to Brazil on my mission. I had thought I wanted to go to Scotland or Norway, the homelands of my two grandfathers. But I can tell you that when I opened the call to Brazil a thrill shot through my whole body and it was so exciting to be going to where my dad had served. I never even remembered I had wanted to go north instead of south. I have had a love affair with Brazil ever since. I went back a year after my mission and worked for a multi-national company for 7 months in São Paulo. My wife and I lived in Brasilia twice with our family (all nine of our children learned Portuguese, several of them very fluently; two of our daughters were born in Brasilia). We were in Brasilia a total of 8 years.
“I planned several trips to Rio Grande do Sul during our time in Brasilia, but never got to fulfill that dream. I told my wife once that the Lord was blocking the way because he knew that if I took her there we would never leave. Finally, in 1999 Janet and I got to drive from Brasilia to Montevideo to pick up our oldest son, who served in the Montevideo west mission. He got to serve on the northern border and many times got to teach in Portuguese and Spanish. Anyway, after picking him up we drove home through Livramento do Sul and north through Rio Grande do Sul. At one point Janet turned to me and said, "You were right about this place, it really is beautiful." And the people were still the great people I had come to love on my mission.
“Sorry this is going on so long, but one more story. My second son was called to serve in Mozambique, 2000-2002. By chance (is there any coincidence or chance in our lives?) I was asked to go on a 3-month trip for my job to Lusaka, Zambia and Luanda, Angola, 6 weeks in each place in the spring of 2002, just before Jesse was to finish his mission in July. While in Lusaka I called Jesse's mission president (Mozambique was part of the South Africa Johannesburg Mission at the time) and got permission to visit Jesse on my way from Lusaka to Luanda. I spent two days and nights with him in my white shirt and tie, with his extra missionary tag - Elder Wilson - on my shirt pocket. It was the greatest two days I ever spent with my son. What an experience, to go proselyting with my son, both of us speaking Portuguese, bearing testimony and having a great time together. Those two days only solidified the decision my wife and I had made when first married that we were going to serve a full-time mission together. Now, nine children later, the time is getting close.
“Thanks so much for being the point man on the newsletter. It has been a wonderful thing to remember old times. Joe Wilson BSM 1971-1972”
Alf’s note: Blair Packard, with his wife Cindy and a few dedicated friends, founded Care for Life (www.careforlife.org) as a charitable organization to "alleviate suffering, promote self-reliance, and instill hope" for the people of Mozambique, Africa. Blair travels from his home in Gilbert, Arizona to work in Mozambique several times a year. Care for Life’s current work is to establish educational learning centers, health clinics, orphanage and family-based orphan care support programs and other activities under the leadership of local Mozambicans. As the Church grows throughout sub-Saharan Africa and develops "centers of strength" founded on principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, Care for Life works to make a small difference in focusing resources on the "centers of poverty" that so characterize the African continent. For further information on Care for Life go to http://www.careforlife.org/
Blair’s first mission was as a ward missionary just after being released from a stake presidency about 13 years ago. His second mission was a measles and polio campaign mission to Mozambique in 2005. They have recently spearheaded the Church’s measles inoculation initiative in Mozambique. He claims it is much easier to learn Portuguese when you are a young missionary than later in life.
Blair writes: “Thank you for your newsletters and for the coverage you give by including stories about Mozambique. I'll give some thought to your offer to include information about our mission and the wonderful couples who have served here, most of whom have served previously in Brazil or are from Brazil. We sure need more of them. Our couples in field are at least 4 couples short of our compliment. Thanks again, Blair and Cindy Packard (firstname.lastname@example.org) www.careforlife.org.”
Weldon B Jolley (BM 47-50) of Orange, CA, shares some history from the post WWII era:
Dear Brother Gunn, I enjoy reading your many interesting historical things in the Brasulista! Since most of the Missionaries in my era (Rex and Howells) are now involved in post-mortal endeavors, I thought that I should send you a few events that took place in this earlier time frame. You may have already covered these events earlier. If so just forgive me as an old geezer who is not up to date and has a short memory. Anyway here are a few things from this time frame:
I have many interesting facts like these that could be added to your Brasulista.
Best Regards, Weldon B Jolley (1947-1950)
Note: Today brother Jolley serves as a patriarch and a recorder at the Newport Beach Temple.
Boyd Denton Clements recalls: “While serving as a missionary from 1967-1969 I served for a brief time as branch president of the Fortaleza branch. I served beginning August, 1968 until October, 1968. Unfortunately I became severely ill with hepatitis and left the city to recover in the mission home in Rio de Janeiro. I was there for just over a month.
“I was very nervous receiving the BP assignment from President Hal Johnson, but those were special days. My concern must have been recognized by my parents as I received a letter from my mother saying they had had a family fast and they were sure that something would happen soon. Something did - I got sick and they closed the branch. I have often thought that this was the Lord's way of perhaps preparing the next people who needed the gospel and who were needed. Perhaps going a spell without the church was just what was needed for a key family who recognizing what they were now missing would take the important step to baptism and activity.
This is the last paragraph from my journal dated October 5, 1968:
"We take off tomorrow. I really feel bad, because I just got here and I was really anxious to see the Branch grow. I hardly got a chance to know anyone. I didn't even get any pictures taken. But worse yet, suddenly the place is without a Church. The members are on their own. No Sacrament. No Priesthood. Nothing."
Naturally it has been a thrill to see the church grow in Brazil and I had a special feeling the first time I heard the words Fortaleza Stake and later Fortaleza Mission. Certainly my simple sickness didn't thwart the work of the Lord. It grows both because of us and in spite of us. Warmest regards, Boyd Denton Clements” (email@example.com)
Note: As usual, a reporter had to ask the new Apostle a question about how come the Church calls gringos like him to its highest leadership instead of some person from a country where there has been so much growth--like there is a responsibility to meet a quota. Elder Andersen of course pointed out that the callings are in the Lord’s hands, or some such very true answer. He also said that the Church’s governing bodies are increasingly diverse and reflect the Church’s growth.
I would add that so many Seventies are called from so many foreign places that not many persons can pronounce their names correctly. I won’t even try. This time new Seventies were called from the following places: Quezon City, Philippines; Pelotas, Brazil; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Daegu, South Korea; Recife, Brazil; Tokyo, Japan; Tegucigalpa, Honduras; São Paulo, Brazil; Moscow, Russia; Mexico City, Mexico; Hatillo, Puerto Rico; Takoradi, Ghana; Okayama, Japan; Seoul, South Korea; Saitama, Japan; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Curitiba, Brazil; Jardim Simus, Brazil; Bernburg, Germany; Papeete, Tahiti; and Nairobi, Kenya.
Conference was wonderful. The Church is true. Church membership has grown to 13.5 million. The data, which is current through Dec. 31, 2008, shows a missionary effort of more than 52,000 drew 265,593 converts last year in 348 missions. Most of the growth is occurring outside the United States, per KSL.com.
Alf Gunn (BSM 62-65)
Buy pins: “Alf Gunn, 3720 26th Avenue Court NW, Gig Harbor, WA 98335.” Be sure to send me your address and a check for $5 each. (See the attached for a picture of the pin.)