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The official language of Brazil is Portuguese, making it distinct from the rest of South America. The Brazilian people are mostly descended from a mix of European, African, and indigenous ancestry, though this varies from region to region. The Roman Catholic Church is Brazil’s dominant religion, particularly in areas such as Teresina, Florianópolis, and Fortaleza. However, the Roman Catholic Church has been decreasing in popularity in recent years as various Protestant and Evangelical churches have been growing rapidly. Other religious traditions are also practiced in various parts of the country, such as traditional indigenous beliefs in the north of the country, or Afro-Brazilian religions such as Candomblé and Umbanda that are concentrated in Salvador, Recife, and Rio de Janeiro.
While Brazil’s culture as a whole is influenced by Portuguese, African, indigenous, and Roman Catholic traditions, there is great variation from region to region. The south of the country is more strongly influenced by German and Italian culture.
Brazil has a strong history in literature, architecture, and film. Brazil is also home to many unique musical styles, such as samba, pagode, and funk (especially popular in Rio de Janeiro and Bahia), forró and frevo (popular in the northeast), and sertanejo (popular in Mato Grosso and Paraná). Television is especially popular in modern Brazilian culture, especially novelas (Brazilian soap operas). Soccer is by far the most popular sport in Brazil, though volleyball, basketball, and several forms of martial arts (such as Capoeira and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) are also popular.
The church in Campinas is strong, though not as strong as other parts of Brazil. Campinas has four stakes, which includes approximately one million people. Campinas does have a temple, and it serves as a great asset for missionaries. Depending upon the area, missionaries do get many referrals from members; however, most contacts come from street contacting.
Food in Brazil varies from region to region, but there are some similarities throughout the country. Lunch is generally the main meal of the day, and rice and beans are eaten at almost every meal. The meals usually involve some type of meat as well as a small salad. Popular dishes include feijoada (a thick stew typically made with black beans and pork), pasta, and potatoes. Southern Brazil is famous for its churrascos (Brazilian-style grilled meat) and chimmarrão (a hot drink made using herba mate). Salgados (fried snacks similar to Spanish tapas) and the pastel (pastry envelopes filled with meat or cheese) are popular snack items. Pizza buffets are also popular, with many different types of pizza available (though Brazilian pizza generally does not have sauce). Rather, people add either ketchup or mustard to their pizza. Other restaurants sell meals buffet-style where the consumer pays for food by weight (per kilo). Many types of tropical fruit are also available in Brazil, and drinks made from fruit such as açai and guaraná are quite popular.
Missionaries travel on foot. They also oftentimes use the bus system for further distances.
Missionaries are very safe in this area. Robbery, for example, is seldom- just be smart.
Most Brazilians are accustomed to greeting people with a kiss on the cheek. This can create a problem for missionaries. Missionaries are encouraged to initiate a greeting by sticking out their hand quickly to prevent a close-contact greeting. Most people know the missionaries and the missionary rules; however, missionaries are encouraged to prevent these situations.
Campinas celebrates many holidays. The yearly festival Carnaval (held each year forty-six days before Easter) is a major event, celebrated by parades, dancing, and music contests. The holiday is especially popular in Rio de Janeiro and Bahia, to the point that missionary work is sometimes restricted during the week of Carnaval.
“Falow,” is a slang term of “goodbye”. It’s literal translation is “He spoke.”
“Beleza,” is a slang term of “what’s up”. It’s literal translation is “Beauty.”
Missionaries can buy everything they need in Brazil, unless it is a favorite food item from home, like syrup or peanut butter. Missionaries use a backpack for storing and carrying personal items. Missionaries should consider bringing a hand towel for cooling off in the middle of a hot day.
Rua Duque de Caxias, #645
Centro, 13015-310, Campinas
What items were hard to get or not available?
“You can get everything you need in Brazil.”
What did you eat the most of?
“I ate mostly rice and beans. We had this meal at least once a day.”
What is the craziest thing you ate?
“The craziest thing I ate was feijoada. It’s a mixture of black beans with pork, but, they used a lot of different parts of the pig I’m not used to, like the jaw, nose, and feet. I really liked it!”
What was most surprising about the culture
“Brazilian people are very accepting. They were very patient while I was learning Portuguese. That gave me comfort and gave me the love for the Brazilian people.”
What advice would you give to someone going to this Mission?
“Be patient with yourself, and a lot of time with your trainer. That’s in any mission, really.”
What do you wish you had known before you served?
“Brazilian culture is a mixture of a lot of cultures put together. It’s a melting pot. Realize Brazil has it’s own culture, separate from the culture of the countries that surround it.”