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Florianopolis is an island off the southern coastline of Brazil. The Florianopolis Mission headquarters are on the island as well as the mission home but the actual mission extents far into the heart (or campo) of mainland Brazil. The island in general is wealthy, with the northern tip boasting one of the wealthiest zip codes in Brazil. Once you cross the famous Ponto Hercilio da Luz Bridge however, you will see the poverty and living conditions that characterize so much of Brazil, including some favelas (shanty towns in which houses are literally build on top of each other, usually on or around a hill side).
Florianopolis has many tourist attractions and the surrounding area is so beautiful that the state of Santa Catarina is often referred to as the “Hawaii of Brazil.” Because of this, don’t be surprised if during the summer vacation months (around Christmas time) you meet a lot of Argentinians speaking Spanish! Also interesting to note is that during World World 2, a lot of German refugees fled to southern Brazil and because of that, the German influence is extremely visible. You will see German flags, German architecture, German food, and even hear some German from the older generation. In some of the smaller inland towns it almost feels like a German town in a tropical oasis!
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.
Florianopolis has a rich church history! The first church owned chapel in all of South America was built (and still stands) in Joinville, built October 25, 1931. A Brazilian mission was created a few years later and missionary work in southern Brazil flourished.
The members in Florianopolis are very committed to the gospel and to missionary work. You won’t find a better support group anywhere else! From young to old they are invested in helping their friends and family find the happiness within the Gospel of Jesus Christ. However because of the strong European, and Catholic, heritage, it can be an uphill climb with some investigators.
There are two temples just outside the mission borders, the Curitiba Temple is two hours north of Florianopolis and the Porto Alegre temple is to the south. Depending on the are you serve in, members will patron one of those two temples. Recently the Chapeco area districts were organized into a Stake!
Brazilian food is so yummy! Rice and beans are typically stables at every meal, including meals that most westerners wouldn’t consider rice and bean meals, like lasagna. There is a lot of Chicken consumption in southern Brazil as well as the meat of Churrasco – the southern BBQ. Meat is slow roasted for hours on spinets until the meat literally melts in your mouth.
Brazilians typically do one major shopping trip per month for their staples (rice, beans, and oil) and then so small daily or weekly trips for perishables. Notice when you walk through a grocery store the aisle dedicated just to rice, beans, and oil! Fresh fruit is abundant and delicious, just make sure you wash it properly first. Milk comes in a box and has a year self life. You can purchase fresh milk in a small bag but it if very expensive.
All this to say you won’t go hungry and make sure to write down recipes of things you like!
Other yummy foods to look forward to:
Açucar de maracuja: fresh fruit juice is common in Brazil and Passion Fruit juice is a favorite of many missionaries
Strogonoff: You may have had a version of Stroganoff before but this one is different! Especially when you add the patata de palla (literally means string potatoes) on top. Yumm!
Cachorro Quente: Hot dog. Unlike you have ever had before. French bun, hot dog mixture, corn, ketchup, mustard, mayo, patata de palla… party favorite!
All missionaries walk as their primary form of transportation. It’s the best way to contact people on the street after all! Some areas will has a public transportation allowing but it usually just big enough to get you to other cities for District and Zone conferences. Some members may drive and take you around to appointments but that is rare. Make sure you have good walking shoes!
All transfers are done via bus.
Santa Catarina is a very safe part of Brazil. It is a poor country however so there are some things you can do to stay safe. Always obey mission rules, especially on when to return home. Do not carry your camera around or large amounts of cash, you make yourself a target for petty theft if you do. Never leave your companion for any reason and be obedient and you will be safe!
Also bring shower shoes with you. It is important to never walk around barefoot. Clean your fruit and vegetables as well per instructions in the MTC as they may carry germs that you are not used to in other parts of the world. Sunscreen and good mosquito repellent is also a must! Standing water is dangerous and a breeding ground to mosquitoes so keep away from areas with standing water and make sure your house drains work properly.
For the sisters be prepared to kiss everyone on the cheek hello and goodbye. It is considered rude and even a slight if your don’t do everything in your power to say hello and goodbye to everyone. It’s a great custom once you get used to it!
Portuguese has a formal address you use to address anyone with respect, especially those older than. You would call your Grandmother for example “A Senhora” and your Grandfather “O Senhor” so instead of saying to your grandma “You want to go…?” You would use “a Senhora” for you and say “A Senhora wants to go?” It’s a title of respect.
Pra – short for “para” (everyone says it)
Cara – The equivalent of dude. Extremely casual
Good walking shoes! Depending on the mission rules, sisters may be able to wear sandals. During the cooler winter months you may need to wear warmer clothes so don’t forget to bring a thick sweaters and maybe even thick tights for the sisters. Good water bottles are a must as is sunscreen and bug repellent!
Because Brazilian are such a loving and open people, also bring a little photo book of pictures of your family and your home. The first thing many people will ask if to see photos of your loved ones and where you came from. They are very interesting in you as a person and this adds a personal touch and connection.
Your smile! Even if you can’t understand the language, the Brazilian people will love you and love your smile!
You will LOVE Florianopolis. The time you spend there will be some of the greatest of your life. The people will touch your soul and the moments each day will change your life. It is a gorgeous corner of the world and one you privileged to get to labor in for a small time!
R. Feliciano Nunes Pires, 42
88015-220 Florianópolis – SC