Brasulista - Originally titled, "The Brazilian South Mission Newsletter"
Newsletter of the early Brazilian missions, #66
May 23, 2006
Caro colegas! Grande abraços pra todos!
In this issue:
“The best kept secret in the Church” – couples missions
The Dows in Mozambique
Faithful temple service
My brother the golf champion
World Cup Futebol
"THE BEST KEPT SECRET IN THE CHURCH" - COUPLE MISSIONS
Please visit the Church website, www.lds.org, and link to “Mission and Service Opportunities,” to see what is currently being published and the variety of opportunities, many where Portuguese language is desired and sought. As we have previously noted in the Brasulista, you can express an interest in a particular area directly to the mission or Area where you would like to serve. I may be able to help you with those connections.
Elder Stan Benedict (Brazil North Mission 71-73) and Sister Brenda Craner Benedict, of Rexburg, ID, are completing a senior couples mission in Rio Grande do Sul in June. They are a lovely couple, and Sister Benedict has dark hair and looks Brazilian, but she is an Idaho girl, in Brazil for the first time. We met the Benedicts in the Porto Alegre Temple and afterwards they spoke to our recent tour group at Porto Alegre during a fireside with Porto Alegre South Mission President and Sister Earnshaw. They have been serving out in São Lorenço and now in Cachoeira do Sul, RS. In her talk to us, Sister Benedict shared a letter she had recently written to her son. It is long, but I think it captures the spirit of selfless service. With her permission, I share it with you:
“Dear Jason, A couples mission is the best kept secret in the Church! If every couple knew of the blessings that it brings, the Church office building would not have a room big enough to handle all of the mission applications!!! If every couple could witness the eyes that light up here in the mission field when a 'real live married couple' attend their branch, they would visit the Bishop today to start their papers.
“A couples mission is as different as couples are! The mission rules are not the same for the young missionaries as us old guys. Couples can even take a nap if they need to! When we first arrived in Brasil, I asked for some advice from a sweet missionary couple nearing the end of their mission. Sister Funk said, "Sister Benedict, if you just show up at church and smile, you will be helping and serving more than you can imagine, and anything else you do will be just wonderful!" Her husband is in his 70´s and they spent a lot of time doing family history work with members. She made lots of refreshments for branch activities; they hauled their TV to the church so the members could see the Church films at those activities. Her husband repaired many things at the churches, and then they would visit families in the evenings. And they were known throughout the mission for their love of the gospel and the people loved them and the elders loved them. It has been a year and a half and we all still talk about that wonderful couple, Elder and Sister Funk, and the influence they had in our lives.
“It has been a blessing to work under the leadership of President and Sister Earnshaw. We have learned a great deal from them. It is amazing to see all that they do! Another couple that we enjoyed learning from were the Burrups. They were assigned to teach at the employment center in Porto Alegre. They did not teach gospel lessons in the center, but they taught people how to get jobs and how to apply for jobs and that is such important work in third world countries. And they made dear friends here as they furthered the work. Of course, there are service missions and leadership missions and proselyting missions and family history, temple, visitor center missions and there are just “go and smile” missions. And every single one of those is needed more than you can imagine. We are the only missionary couple serving in this whole mission right now. Couple missionaries are rare and treated like gold in the branches. We could use at least 30 more couples here. Oh, if people could only come for a week and see how needed they are.
“Okay, now for our mission. First off, you know dad. Okay, so he thinks that we are 19. We have clapped at thousands of casas.* We’ve walked two pairs of shoes completely out. I remember one night when we were riding bikes** in the dark and it was rainy and windy and I asked Heavenly Father to help me. (Of course, dad was loving the challenge.) And we had more homes to visit...and I wiped a couple of tears away because I didn’t want to be a dumb missionary or slow us up, (after-all the pioneers walked through snow)...and all at once the bike became easier to peddle and I knew that I was being helped.
“Dad served as a Branch President in São Lourenço and as a high councilman to the District here in Cachoeira. Because of those callings, we have given many presentations and talks at church, youth camps, conferences, classes, meetings etc. I served as Relief Society President before I could speak the language! And I learned that if I would tie my shoes and get there, that Heavenly Father would help me in the details, and He did. We have seen specific blessings in our family at home too and I know that Heavenly Father has helped our family much better than we could have, had we stayed to do it! There are so many miracles to witness in the mission field. Of course, there are many miracles in Idaho Falls too. But, here our brothers and sisters need hope that they will have rice for the next meal. They need to see a smile and hear that they are loved and that they have a Father in Heaven who knows them. It is not America here, and so the need for miracles is so necessary and what a joy to witness the love that Heavenly Father has for each one of His children.
“Honey, you will remember from your mission that we will feel to be somewhere, and we get there and find out why. The most difficult part is to see His love rejected by so many. Some nights when we come home, I think: I cannot clap at one more house and hear the words "Tal Vez, outro dia" (maybe, another day) or "ocupada" (too busy)...but then I stop and think: What if at the next house, a child of God is praying to know if he is...and then I am ready to clap again! Some nights, as we fall into bed, I think: Ahhhh, my arm is under my head and it is not comfortable. Move it. And then I think... okay...okay...I will...in the morning...(outro dia!)!! :) You sleep soooooo good on a mission...and it feels good to be so tired! And when a person looks up and asks when he can be baptized, you don’t need sleep for the joy you feel for them! When we visit the members, almost without fail, they will bring out their curled edged photo of "their" missionary and they glow.
“To watch the excitement of 72 year old Eny after succeeding in giving her first ever 3-minute talk in church and then practically giving everyone in the branch a high five on the way back to her seat; to know that an investigator saw us in a dream years before and knew what we were teaching them is true; to listen to dad give a blessing of health and see the miracle of healing; to hear Portuguese come from my own mouth! To see youth read the scriptures (to their parents who can’t read) in little one room cement houses and to watch their eyes light up. To see the faith of Daliah as she shuffles over half a mile to church rain or shine every Sunday on her painful 80 year old legs so that Heavenly Father will know she loves him and that she wants to pay her 2 reais (95 cents) tithing on time. To see 17-year-old Leonel do laundry and baby-sit so that his mother will be happy and let him go to church unencumbered--these moments teach us.
“One night after our visits as we went past the street that our little church is on, we saw a light on in the church and so we went to check on it. There was Leonel mopping the floor in the little old house of a chapel, listening to an English CD. The music was loud and wonderful and he was singing loudly along as best he could, it was: "As sisters in Zion," and I had to swallow tears to see such faith. He had noticed that the floor needed mopped earlier in the day and so he had come back late Saturday night to do it. To be invited into a humble home—and have them serve you rice and beans and some hard bread and realize that it is not only the best they have, but all they have, is to witness faith on the front row, and we have been so blessed to learn from these wonderful brothers and sisters there.
“Okay, enough, I could go on and on...so many moments that take your breath and your heart forever. The smiles when one comes clean, up from the waters of baptism. The difference in lives, and homes, and economy of people who become members is amazing to observe.
“The time that dad and I have spent together is a treasure in my life. I love and respect dad in new ways as I have watched him serve full-time here. We have worked hard and we have smiled and cried, and laughed and fallen in love again. We have de-liced and swatted mosquitoes back into the night sky. Every cockroach that I see, of course, is not quite as large as the ones on his first mission, but we have more geckos here, and so it counts!!! :) And we have fasted and prayed together for people that we love here and for our family there! I am so thankful. And to think that we will soon see all of you and run through the sprinklers with our grandchildren and be able to drink water from a tap! What blessings! I remember the mixed feelings you had when you came home from your mission and now I understand. We want to be home, but we don’t want to leave! What a blessing this mission is. How close Heavenly Father is to His work. We will be back to Brazil! :) I love you honey, Hugs and high-fives to everyone! See you soon. Love, Mom”
*Alf’s note: President Earnshaw, and other mission presidents with whom we met, were quick to point out that senior couples are not required to tract or knock on doors. Some couples, like the Benedicts, have made that part of their mission. I remember Sister Funk reporting that Elder Funk, at age 74, was out knocking doors with the young Elders. Both of them reported working with the members in their branches, in reactivation and proselyting.
The new missionary guide, “Preach My Gospel,” contains guidance which applies to missionary service by senior couples as well as young missionaries, and all are encouraged to study that manual. The Redd’s, an older couple who came to Brazil with no prior language skills, have served in the office of the Curitiba Mission and been a great blessing to President and Sister Webster and their missionaries. Elder and Sister Bates are serving in the office of the São Paulo North Mission, and live near the office and near the temple, and are a great asset there. Reactivation efforts in branches and wards in Brazil can involve significant walking in addition to public transportation and most couples do not purchase cars. Temple missions are available that require less walking.
**President Earnshaw explains: “The young missionaries are not allowed bicycles—problems with purchase and maintenance of the bicycles plus the danger of having them in the traffic. The Benedicts purchased bicycles in São Lourenço because it is a nice calm little city and, well, senior couples can do as they wish.”
THE DOWS IN MOZAMBIQUE
Elder John (BM 60-63) and Marcia Dow are very, very busy in Africa. Here is an excerpt from Marcia’s latest weekly newsletter to their family: “We learned that the Maputo Water Project has cleared all but the last hurdle before approval is granted. We anticipate some celebrating this week after the General Welfare Committee in SLC gives it their stamp. Then the real work begins.
“Another project we are pursuing involves agriculture and small animal husbandry. We have a chicken project that may be expanded to include several groups and maybe even some farming and water wells. The Church is starting these projects all over the world and ours may be one of their pilots. A specialist is coming in early June to discuss our options and work with us to determine if we can create a project that merits their financial support. We have people contacting the Ministry of Agriculture and other agencies to answer the many questions that are coming our way.
“We are enjoying new tutoring sessions with Johanna. She refuses to speak English to me, so I have to really concentrate! Today I asked her a question in Portuguese and she burst out laughing. I was way off! Oh well, I try! She is patient and we are both learning from her. My main activity is memorizing different verb tenses. I have yet to figure out a simple way to deal with irregular verbos!
“We are having a wonderful time here in Mozambique! This is a fantastic experience and even though we miss our family beyond words and wish we could share in special occasions with them and others of you, we love what we are doing. We feel the influence of the Lord in our activities. We are definitely blessed with His protection. We love the Mozambican and Angolan people. Their kindness and love are marvelous examples of how we want to be. We appreciate your support and prayers. We love you! John and Marcia”
(Alf’ note: My friend John Dow is not an agricultural engineer. He is a retired dentist.)
Speaking of Africa, I was pleased to receive this note from Elder Ralph Klomp (BSM 65-67) of Denver Colorado: “Dear Alf, Thanks for your news letter! I enjoy reading it and the saudades do Brasil it brings. I should mention that several months ago you mentioned a need for Portuguese speaking couples to go to Angola to help with the measles initiative that the Church is doing in Africa. I made one very simple inquiry with SLC regarding this…. and now my wife Anne and I have been called to serve and will be going to Angola in June, along with Dick and Kay Silver of Atlanta, to participate in this program. I will send you a report when we return! Keep up the great work with the Brasulista!! Ralph Klomp
FAITHFUL TEMPLE SERVICE
At the São Paulo Temple last month I inquired about Sister Floripes Luiza Damasio from Minas Gerais, mentioned in a previous newsletter, and learned that she came by caravan to the temple again in January with her daughter, to do three or four sessions a day for a few days. She’s been doing that for the last ten years, since shortly after she joined the Church at age 103. Now she is 116 and Brazil’s oldest citizen. Her daughter is 76. Remember, Sister Damasio was already 72 years old when I went on my mission in 1962. Goodness, she was 43 when President Hinckley went on his mission! Read more: http://lds.org/newsroom/files/Floripes_Luzia_Damasio.pdf
MY BROTHER THE GOLF CHAMPION
I have mentioned that my younger brother, Ronald Gunn, lives in São Paulo, and he and Marlene also have a beautiful home overlooking Praia Enseada in Guarujá, SP. He serves as a branch president at one of the American missionary branches at the MTC SP. This is all wonderful for me, as they let me stay with them at the beach home and attend church at the MTC when I visit. I also get to walk around the Guarujá Golf Club with Ron, and sometimes other courses too. He hits the most beautiful and straight shots I have ever seen. And he has been the Seniors Golf Champion of São Paulo State for the last six years, and the Seniors Golf champion of Brazil on two recent occasions. Ron received his MBA from BYU and has lived in Brazil for about 33 years and was an executive with a number of multi-national companies over the years. Now retired, he consults three days per week, specializing in corporate tax issues. And plays golf.
Our recent tour group flew from Miami and throughout Brazil on Brazil’s TAM Airlines, which is well-run and efficient. Their employees are all very professional and even elegant. Almost all our flights were on time. The airports in Brazil were more traveler-friendly than ours in the USA, and passing through security was always easy and fast.
Heads up re Varig
Now, here is a notice I saw at São Paulo regarding Varig Airlines:
“São Paulo April 24, 2006
Dear U.S. Citizens, “The U.S. Consulate in São Paulo has received reports from official visitors and tourists of recent VARIG domestic flight cancellations due to the airline’s financial difficulties. These cancellations have resulted in missed connecting flights in São Paulo and Rio and have disrupted travelers’ itineraries. In addition, numerous press articles report that Varig will have to cease operations if unable to restructure its debt. U.S. citizens should keep this in mind when making travel plans. Sincerely, Keith Gilges, Consul” (See note below.)
WORLD CUP FUTEBOL, ANYONE?
Incredibly, the USA men’s team is currently ranked 5th in the world! Unfortunately, their first match, on June 12, is against the team ranked 2nd in the world—the Czech Republic. So if you are a fan, pray early and pray often. They also meet #13 Italy on June 17 and #48 Ghana on June 22.
Brazil, of course, is ranked #1. Pelé says that Brazil is up against it, because they are the favorite team. But Alf says, “Isso não importa.” Brazil will warm up with Croatia (#23) on June 13; Australia (#42) on June 18; and Japan (#18) on June 22.
I was saying it four weeks ago, and will say it here: Watch out for Mexico (#4). But what do I know? (For more info Google “FIFA World Rankings Wikipedia” for rankings; “FIFA World Cup” for links to much info.)
Alf Gunn (BSM 62-65) - Gig Harbor, WA - firstname.lastname@example.org - 253-851-1099
If you travel, save this info
More from the US Consul: “For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov/ where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found. Up to date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States, or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). American citizens traveling or residing overseas are encouraged to register with the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate on the State Department's travel registration website at https://travelregistration.state.gov/.”