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The Brazil Porto Alegre North mission is located in the heart of Rio Grande do Sul, which is the land of the Gaucho, or Brazilian cowboy. The culture is full of Gaucho traditions, such as Brazilian barbecue (churrasco), boots, ponchos and chimarrao. Chimarrao is a drink made from hot water poured over a grassy mixture in a wooden cup. It is definitely an acquired taste, and it is a staple in most households at any time of the day. Some mission presidents restrict drinking it.
The people of southern Brazil are of varying descent. There are many of European ancestry, and there are also a large portion that is Latin American. American missionaries do not stand out necessarily because of their skin.
With over one million members, Brazil has the largest membership of any country outside of the United States. Each of the zones in this mission covers a stake, and most areas cover one ward or branch. With the increased number of missionaries, there may be opportunities to build the church in areas that have not been developed. There are chapels in many areas, including new buildings and plans for new buildings. Many of the facilities include an outdoor court that is enclosed and covered by a chain link fence. The court is typically used for a smaller version of soccer called futsal, a very popular sport. Some courts include basketball courts as well.
Brazil is one of the highest baptizing countries in the world. Southern Brazil does not baptize quite as much as areas to the north, and the belief is that this is from the large portion of Europeans in the area. There is, however, a higher-than-average retention rate of those who are baptized.
Brazil has eight temples; Fortaleza, Sau Paulo, Campinas, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Manaus, Curitiba and one in Porto Alegre, accessible to those in this mission. There are 249 stakes and 39 districts.
Typically, lunch is the largest meal of the day. Missionaries usually eat lunch with members. Rice, black beans and beef or pork are the most commonly fixed dishes for lunch. There are fruits, vegetables and bread on the side. Gauchos love to have churrascos, or barbecues, which include many types of meat and rice. Meat is placed on long metal rods, layered with salt and other seasoning and cooked over charcoals.
The other meals are not as formal. Dinner can be similar to lunch, or it may be something simple like sandwiches. There is typically an afternoon snack with bread, cheese and meat, and milk or juice.
There are times when unfamiliar foods are introduced, such as chicken heart or cow tongue. Most of the food is similar to what people eat in the United States. Restaurants are mostly buffet-style with a large salad bar, rice, beans and meat.
The Porto Alegre North mission is a walking mission. Most areas require taking the bus at least occasionally. The buses are not typically too crowded when traveling inside your area. There are times when traveling to district meetings or zone conferences requires taking commercial buses, especially in rural areas. There are no areas with cars or bikes.
The largest threat to safety is in petty theft. Always follow mission advice, take alternate routes homes to avoid more dangerous neighborhoods, and stay in well-lit areas.
A huge part of the culture is futbol, or soccer. It is constantly on television and played on the streets. In Porto Alegre, there are two rival teams that everyone loves: Internacional and Gremio. Soccer fans like one or the other. Brazilians love their national team and also follow European soccer leagues.
One of the differences in the way gauchos speak Portuguese is the use of “tu.” This is one of the forms to address someone, but it is a more formal form to say “you.” The difference is that gauchos use “tu” in many cases but do not change the conjugation that follows from “voce,” which is the common way to address someone. “Tu” is used with the conjugation for “voce.”
There are a few words that gauchos use, like “tche,” which is an informal way to address someone, the way we would use “man” or “dude” in English. Other expressions like “que bah barridade” or just simply “bah” are common in the south. The first is to express disgust or disbelief and the second is equivalent to “wow.”
With the hot summers and cold, wet winters, there are a few essentials. Sunscreen is clearly important for the summer. In the winter, a warm coat is required. Even more important,always have both waterproof shoes and a jacket. Other recommended equipment would include a waterproof bag or something waterproof to put a backpack in to protect scriptures and other essentials.
Av. Visconde de Macaé, 245
91350-290 Porto Alegre – RS
Straight from the Brazil Porto Alegre North Mission:
*What items were hard to get or not available?
“Root beer, resees, peanut butter, and other American food.”
*What did you eat the most of?
“Rice, beans, meat, and salad.”
“I ate the most rice and beans. I loved churrascos with lots of meat. They really know how to barbecue in the south.”
*What is the craziest thing you ate?
“Chicken heart or soup with multiple parts of the pig in it and beans called feijoada.”
“I ate cow tongue. It was similar to a hot dog but the texture was different. That may have been because I knew it was a cow tongue. I also ate cow heart. It tasted like tough beef.”
*What was most surprising about the culture?
“Many stray dogs and women breast feeding in public and lots of farms”
“The people are very welcoming and nice. Most people would offer us food at every visit. They were very hospitable. There were a lot more people with money than I expected.”
*What advice would you give to someone going to the Brazil Porto Alegre North Mission?
“Stay strong and trust in The Lord at all times. Love the people although it may be difficult at first.”
“Get waterproof gear. I had too many days walking around with wet feet and a wet jacket. I wish I had brought nice, waterproof things. As far as the language is concerned, I would say work hard and be patient with yourself, but that doesn’t mean you should stop being a student of the language. Keep studying and trying to learn.”
*What do you wish you had known before you served?
“Not to worry about the language because it will come and also more about the gospel.”
“The time goes by fast (though sometimes it seems like an eternity. Soak it in and enjoy your mission. It will be over before you know it.”
The southern Brazilian people are some of the most loving that I know although it may not seem so at first.”
**Did you serve in the Brazil Porto Alegre North Mission? If so we want to hear from you! Share your experiences here or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org**