Newsletter of the early Brazilian missions, #53
October 16, 2005
Oi Élders e Sisters, forte abraços pra todos!
In this issue:
Elder and Sister Russell in Paraná (attached)
Finding the “One” in Porto Alegre
Help me find these missionaries, please
Squatters take over Church farm
Serving God and country—pioneer missionaries in Brazil
ELDER AND SISTER RUSSELL IN PARANA
Item: Great photos! Please see the attachment for some beautiful photos of Paraná and a letter from Elder and Sister Kim and Marlene Russell who are serving in the south of Brazil. See what Brazil looks like today. (NOTE: I do not have the attachment to format - Michael Leavitt)
FINDING THE "ONE" IN PORTO ALEGRE
Due to space limitations, I can only share part of the following wonderful story, told by Jack A. McDonald of Salt Lake City about his father’s mission. He calls it, “Finding the One.”
“In May of 1940, Elder Jack Alex McDonald and his companion, Elder Keith Self Jones were serving in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The work was very slow for the two Elders. The Book of Mormon had been translated and published in Portuguese but was undergoing corrections and at that time they were without this great missionary tool.
“They spent most of their time tracting, leaving information, tracts, about the Church with the families and then calling back – generally with little success. One morning, in a humble home, they found the Antony Aidukaitis family. Antony was 29, and his wife Maria was 24 years old, and they had two infant children, Rose Mary and Nelson Carlos. Antony, a tall, quiet young man, was from Scotland so he spoke English as well as Portuguese. He had been contacted by missionaries some four years previously but somehow had been forgotten. In Dad’s journal he tells what a pleasure it was to spend time with Antony. On their second or third meeting Antony assured Dad and Elder Jones that he had a testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel, and he knew that the Church was true. Dad suggested that with that testimony he should be baptized. Antony readily accepted the challenge, but Maria was not ready to be baptized at that time. Dad’s journal of June 2, 1940, tells of the bus ride out of the city and down river to a quiet beach surrounded by large boulders. It was a cold day and the water in the river was cold, but the service warmed all that were in attendance. After that, Brother Aidukaitis attended their Sunday meetings regularly. Soon after the baptism, Dad was transferred to Santa Maria, and later to São Paulo.
“My Dad was in Brazil for over 2½ years. Antony was his only baptism. Dad learned how to speak Portuguese perfectly. He worked as hard as he could. He trained a new missionary by the name of Elder James E. Faust, and taught Elder Faust how to be a good missionary and how to speak Portuguese. Dad and Elder Faust remained close friends.
“Because Dad had only the one baptism I think he felt that his mission wasn’t very successful. As a young man I remember asking Dad about his one baptism. Dad said the he kept in touch with the man for a while but with getting married, World War II, going to college, raising a family, and starting a career, he had lost contact with his one baptism.
“In August of 1980 my mother was dying from bladder cancer. I have never seen my father as miserable as he watched the devastating effect of this terrible disease on his dear wife. One day Dad received a letter from an Elder Marcos Antony Aidukaitis, who explained that he was the youngest son of Antony and Maria Aidukaitis. He further explained that he was serving as a missionary in the Brazil São Paulo Sul Mission. Elder Aidukaitis wrote that his father, Antony, had remained a faithful member of the Church, and in 1946 his mother, sister, and two older brothers were baptized. He also described how in 1978 their family went to the São Paulo Temple and were sealed. A few months after going to the temple with his family, Antony had passed away. The last line of Elder Aidukaitis’s letter reads, “I want to thank you for serving a mission and finding and baptizing my father. It was the most important thing that ever happened in the history of my family.”
“This letter had a great impact on Dad’s life. It helped him through the last few months of Mom’s life. Dad gave each of his children a copy of the letter. It is a cherished possession. Dad realized that his mission was a success because he had found the “one”.
“In July of 1997 my father was at LDS hospital dying of cancer. President Faust learned of it and arrived at the hospital unannounced and gave Dad a blessing. Dad and his wife Gloria were in tears and a bit dazed. Dad could not believe the kindness of this act because of the busy schedule that President Faust keeps. President Faust told Dad that he would put his name on the prayer rolls of the First Presidency. This lifted Dad’s spirit significantly. I know that Dad lived another six months because of the blessing and prayers of President Faust.
“Dad died on January 30, 1998. President Faust was the concluding speaker at his funeral. A few weeks after the funeral President Faust told me that the Aidukaitis family was deeply saddened to learn of Dad’s death. After this conversation I decided to contact the Aidukaitis family. I called Nelson, the oldest son, who was living in Provo, and we had a wonderful visit on the phone. He told me that he had served a mission and was currently serving as a bishop at one of the BYU Wards. Nelson told me that the next oldest, Ricardo, also served a mission and had been serving as a Stake President in Brazil for about 10 years. Marcos, after completing his mission came home and met a beautiful young lady by the name of Luisa. Marcos taught her the gospel and baptized her. They were married in the Provo Temple. Marcos was a stake president for seven years prior to being called as an Area Authority Seventy in April of 2000.
“These three brothers all served missions in Brazil. Marcos was an exceptional missionary. I have spoken with missionaries from Brazil who know of entire congregations that joined the Church because of Elder Marcos Aidukaitis. These three brothers baptized over 1,000 people. Many of these converts have served missions. Sons, cousins, nephews, and nieces of these three brothers have served missions. Now literally tens of thousands of people have joined the church and generations have been blessed with the saving principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ all because of Elder McDonald’s one baptism – Antony Aidukaitis.
“In December of 2000 the three sons of Antony along with their mother Maria and about 15 other family members planned to attend the dedication of the Porto Alegre Temple. They asked President Faust for some tickets to one of the sessions, and were overwhelmed when they received reserved seats in the Celestial Room for the first dedicatory session. President Faust was assigned to speak at this session. He told me that when he looked at all of the members of the Aidukaitis family he decided not to give the talk that he had prepared. Instead he felt impressed to tell the story of Elder Jack McDonald and his one baptism, Antony Aidukaitis. He then honored the Aidukaitis family for their years of faithful service. Their service had contributed greatly to the building of the temple. He testified that Elder McDonald and Brother Antony Aidukaitis were attending the session as well. His testimony had a profound affect on everyone including President Hinckley. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.
“On Father’s Day 2003, I was invited to attend a Sacrament Meeting in Provo Utah, where Nelson Aidukaitis and his wife spoke prior to entering the MTC and leaving to preside over the Brazil Salvador South Mission. During his talk he asked that I stand up. He told the experience of my father baptizing his father. It was such an honor to meet Nelson and his wonderful family. President Aidukaitis promised that he would share the story of our fathers with his missionaries so that each of them would know the value of finding even “one.”
“In April 2005, Elder Marcos Aidukaitis was released as an Area Authority Seventy. He is currently serving as the mission president of the Brazil Brasilia Mission.
“Writing this story has given me a strong testimony that our Heavenly Father lives and that He loves His children. It has also taught me that there is a web that binds us all together if we will but look for it. This story is not about numbers. It isn’t about the McDonald family. What it is about is the tremendous effect just one person can have in this life and in this Church. The Savior left the ninety and nine to find the one. I hope this story will help you find “the one” that can make a difference in your life. That difference may not be known for decades. You may have already found your “one” and you just don’t know it. My challenge to you is to keep in touch with those that you love and with whom you have shared the gospel.” By Jack A. McDonald II, son of the missionary.
HELP ME FIND THESE MISSIONARIES - PLEASE
Item: Sister Isabel Maxima da Fonseca Corte was taught by two missionaries in a place called São Francisco das Salas in 1955. She would like to identify and locate those two missionaries. The request comes from an Elder in the SP South Mission, grandson of Doyle Holman (BM c53-56) Doyal doesn’t have email, so send any information to Betty Hall at email@example.com. Thanks.
We do have success in finding some Brazilian members’ missionaries, but some still stump me. Does anyone know anything about the Elder who baptized Sister Olga Addono, at Opasco, SP, in about 1972? He was Elder Curt Russell Saint. She also inquires for Joseph Earl Calderwood. Anybody know these brethren? Sister Olga is now Olga Cavinati, and is the secretary to the SP Temple president.
And how about an Elder Joseph Brent White, aka “Elder Zé Branco,” who taught Eva Blanski at Apucarana, PR, in about 1967-69? Where is that guy?
SQUATTERS TAKE OVER CHURCH FARM
It’s a complicated country. Near Brasilia, the Church owns a 60,000 acre farm, AgroReservas, which is over 90% occupied and utilized. There is a group or movement called the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST), which uses the tactic of occupying and squatting on unoccupied land to gain possession under a social engineering program supported by, among others, the President of Brazil. If they can remain there uncontested for some period of time (about 6 months we hear), then they can file for ownership and through some quirky law they can take possession of it. On Sunday, September 25th, while the people who run the Church farm were at church, squatters came across a river and took over the house and property. MST claims there are 400 families currently occupying the farm. As of October 8, a court had ruled in favor of the farm, saying that the place is not abandoned land and the squatters must leave. But we shall see how it plays out. If you would like to read about it in the Brazilian press, click on http://noticias.correioweb.com.br/materias.php?id=2653271&sub=Brasil (LINK NO LONGER LIVE)
SERVING GOD AND COUNTRY - PIONEER MISSIONARIES IN BRAZIL
Item: To date, I have contacted about 25 of the Elders who served prior to WWII. Of course I have learned of many others who have passed away. I wish I could share more of the stories I hear as I speak to these men or their wives. For example, I found Heber J. R. Stevenson (BM 36-39) at Saint Augustine, FL, and spoke with his wife, Barbara, as he passed on information to her for me. He says he became a Portuguese speaking missionary in the last month of his mission. Came home, joined the Air Force and was in Lake Geneva when the Germans entered Poland. He was at Casablanca, then it was “like the movie Patton,” except Patton went into Germany and Heber didn’t. Later he turned in his commission for a career in the US Public Health Service. Today Heber is deaf and bedridden with congestive heart problems, but he has and uses email.
Wayne H. Johnson (BM 39-42) of Holladay, UT, had trained with the ROTC at the University of Utah before his mission, and joined the Army after the mission. With his mission language he was sent to Italy where he joined Brazilian troops and he returned to Rio de Janeiro with those troops at the end of their service. He served in Germany in the early ‘50’s, working in military intelligence. Before he retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1965, he was called upon to interpret for visiting Brazilian dignitaries. His wife Dorothy says that besides Portuguese he speaks German, French, and Spanish and understands Italian. Elder Johnson maintained his mission language and still reads the Book of Mormon in Portuguese almost every year. This month he celebrates his 90th birthday, so “happy birthday to you, Elder Johnson,” from your fellow missionaries!
So here’s to Heber and Wayne, and the rest of this greatest generation, so many of whom came home from their missions and went into the military. Thank you all, for your service to God and country. God bless you.
More stories next time. You can count on it.
Alf Gunn (BSM 62-65) - Gig Harbor, WA - firstname.lastname@example.org - 253-851-1099