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Snapshot of Brazil – 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. Food in Brazil also 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.
Curitiba is home to some of the first members in Brazil. The leadership is very strong, and many of the members have vast experience in church service. The members in this part of Brazil are generous, and loving. For these members missionary service is something they want to be a part of. Many of them are very accommodating to investigators and will be active in finding people for the missionaries to teach. Missionaries work closely with the members.
The food in Curitiba is a combination of European and Brazilian influences. You may eat your fair share of italian food, but the Brazilian rice and beans is also very common. You will eat a lot of meat, primarily Chicken and Pork, and most lunches will include a small salad. Chimarrao (Sh-ee-ma-How) is a popular drink in Curitiba.
Most missionaries in the area travels on foot, but buses and taxis are readily available in every part of the city.
Obey the mission safety rules and stay with your companion, and there won’t be very much to worry about.
Many people in Curitiba pride themselves in their hospitality, and love those who enjoy their way of life. It is important to greet everyone. When you arrive at a new house, it is custom to clap outside the gate and the people will let you in. When you are in someone’s house you can make hints that it is time to leave, but don’t touch the door. The people should feel that you don’t want to leave their presence, even when you have to do so. It is important to smile.
They will say “DI” and “TI” like “Jee” and “Chee” but “DE” they will pronounce similar to spanish. Locals will also roll their R’s when they speak. Some common local words are “Pia,” (Boy, young man) and “Orra,” ( “Ohh!,” “Watch it!” ex. Orra, vc nao deve fazer isso!/ Ohh, you shouldn’t do that!)
Sunscreen is a necessity in the area. Some other essential equipment, such as a water purifier, will be provided by the mission.
Shipping items to Brazil is relatively simple, and most all letters arrive without any incident. Some people suggest that if you place religious pictures on packages (pictures of Jesus or Maria), then you will discourage theft and your package is more likely to arrive safely and intact.
What items were hard to get or not available?
-Peanut Butter, Root bear
What did you eat the most of?
Beans, Rice, Chicken, and Pork
What is the craziest thing you ate?
Everything tasted good to me, I never had anything too crazy
What was most surprising about the culture?
How similar Curitiba is to where I am from, but I was not prepared by how accepting the people were
What advice would you give to someone going to this Mission?
Dive into it, Love your companion, love the work, love the Lord.
What do you wish you had known before you served?
I loved serving in this mission, but I feel like with greater preparation comes greater blessings. I wish I had put more effort into preparing myself, and learning the language pre-MTC.