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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.
The church in this area is young but very strong. There are at least seven stakes which are almost evenly split between wards and branches. Members are generally quite supportive of missionary work, and missionaries rarely go unfed. Members hope the church will grow in their area. To do that they are trying to get more male members and increase tithes.
Missionaries can expect to have rice and beans with almost every meal. Natives like to use a lot of spices in there cooking or have them available to add to completed dishes. Acaraje is a famous dish in this area and is made with black-eyed peas, a paste and sometimes shrimp. Farinha is also common—it is a flour-like food often eaten with beans. Occasionally chicken or other white meats will be added to meals. Red meat is rarely eaten on this mission.
Missionaries walk most places, but take some public transportation.
It is not uncommon for missionaries to encounter petty crimes in this area. Some of the bigger cities have problems with drugs and crime. It is suggested that missionaries stay in lit, populated areas at night to trouble. Missionaries are instructed to carry little cash and no valuables so they do not encounter robbery. Many locals recognize the missionaries as preachers who have few valuables and they are rarely targeted for that reason.
Lunch is the most important meal of the day in this area of Brazil, not dinner like many other nations. Usually when a missionary visits a member’s home it will be for lunch, not dinner.
Previous missionaries recommend short-sleeved dress shirts instead of long-sleeved shirts. Cheap shirts that can be hand-washed are also suggested because there are no dry-cleaners in this mission. Durable shirts that can be easily washed by hand are best. Missionaries can expect to go through a lot of socks on this mission especially because your feet get wet a lot.
Av Antônio C. Magalhães
3247 Sala 02, Ed – Delta
40275-000 Salvador – BA
Straight from the Brazil Salvador Mission :
*What items were hard to get or not available?
“Peanut butter, vanilla (for baking)”
*What did you eat the most of?
“Beans and rice”
*What is the craziest thing you ate?
“Sucked the marrow from the center of some bone, passed on the chicken foot in the “stew” dish.”
*What was most surprising about the culture?
“The weird mix of voodoo and Catholic beliefs (all Catholic saints also had voodoo names)”
*What advice would you give to someone going to the Brazil Salvador Mission ?
“Learn to relax, like the people there. Work hard but not too hard.”
*What do you wish you had known before you served?
“That learning from and with your companions is just as important as helping non-members find the church.”