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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.
There are 9 stakes and districts in the Brazil Londrina Mission. There is a Church Institute located in Londrina, and several chapels also have FamilySearch Centers. The nearest temples are located in Curitiba and Campinas, Brazil. Both of these temples lie outside mission boundaries.
As in other parts of Brazil, rice and beans are the staple food in the Brazil Londrina Mission. Lasagna, pasta, and meat dishes are also common in many meals. Charque, a type of jerky, is also popular in Paraná. Another unique regional dish is “carneiro no buraco”, a type of meat and vegetable stew that is slowly cooked in a hole in the ground.
Missionaries serving in the Brazil Londrina Mission can expect to do plenty of walking in their areas! It is also common to use public transportation, especially busses. Local bus services are available basically everywhere, and long-distance bus services can be accessed through rodoviárias in major cities, such as the one in Londrina.
As a result of its location near the border of Paraguay and Argentina, the city of Foz do Iguaçu is prone to higher levels of drug and weapons trafficking than other areas of Brazil. Foz has a reputation for being one of Brazil’s more violent cities. However, missionaries should be fine as long as they are aware of their surroundings and avoid the more dangerous parts of the city.
“cara” – basically the same as dude
“nossa, nossa Senhora!” – wow! (“nossa Senhora” is generally used by Catholics)
“Gold bond powder” – Devin
One of Brazil’s biggest tourist sites, Cataratas do Iguaçu (Iguazu Falls) is located in the city of Foz do Iguaçu. The Cataratas do Iguaçu were recently named one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature.
“If permitted and you are in the area go to the Foz do Iguaçu water falls.” – Stephen
“Definitely, definitely, definitely, go to the Iguaçu waterfalls if you get the chance, they are breathtaking. Londrina has several fun P-day places too, like the wild life park and the down town scene, as does Maringa.” – Devin
Rua Higienópolis, 1100, Sala 61
86020-911 Londrina – PR
Facebook Group – “Missão Brasil Londrina” https://www.facebook.com/groups/156033411111638/
Facebook Group – “Missionários Retornados Missão Brasil Londrina” https://www.facebook.com/groups/342198712484078/
Straight from the Brazil Londrina Mission:
*What items were hard to get or not available?
“pretzels, maple syrup, root beer” – Stephen
“American deodorant, peanut butter” – Devin
*What did you eat the most of?
“Rice and beans, lasagna, pasta” – Stephen
*What is the craziest thing you ate?
“Mocotó (cow ankle with a broth, often served with farinha), dobradinha (cow’s stomach and beans and things in a soup-like consistency, often served over rice)” – Stephen
“Traditional Feijoada, with pigs ears, snout and tail (the tails were still hairy, pretty gross)” – Devin
*What was most surprising about the culture?
“The friendliness of the people and how easy it is to joke with people” – Stephen
“How easy it is to talk to people, they are so willing to chat and be hospitable” – Devin
*What advice would you give to someone going to the Brazil Londrina Mission?
“Every area has the potential for enormous growth, it just takes a little bit of good planning, hard work, and faith.” – Stephen
*What do you wish you had known before you served?