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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. There has been some conflict between these different religious groups.
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). 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.
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 is very large in Brazil, consisting of 14 stakes. There are over 1 million members.
Curitiba was at the heart of early missionary work in Brazil. The first stake in Brazil was organized in Curitiba in 1971. The Curitiba Temple was the 5th to be dedicated in Brazil and marked President Thomas S. Monson’s first international trip as President of the Church.
The late President James E. Faust served as a young missionary in Curitiba and had a fondness for the Brazil people.
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 typically use the bus. In fact, Curitiba has one of the most organized bus systems in the world.
Lunch is eaten as the main meal of the day. Missionaries will eat lunch with members instead of dinner. They Brazilian people also pass around a drink while sitting around talking- it is called Te marrao.
Missionaries will need a rain jacket and warm clothes (winters get pretty cold).
Av. Igaucu, 1460
80250-190 Curitiba – PR
What items were hard to get or not available?
Peanut butter is hard to get!
What did you eat the most of?
Rice and beans, and some type of meat. They also have a salad.
What is the craziest thing you ate?
What was most surprising about the culture
They breastfeed wherever, whenever, and don’t usually cover up.
What advice would you give to someone going to this Mission?
Do your best to be personally converted. Read the Book of Mormon. Help others around you, and be ready to embrace a new culture.
What do you wish you had known before you served?
I wish I would have gone on splits with the missionaries.