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Sao Paulo is the largest city in Brazil and is full of people receptive to the gospel and opportunities to serve. The missionaries have been there for quite a while, and many people will recognize you and be very receptive to your message. 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. 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, music, 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. 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. There are a few rural areas in the mission but they are all a part of the city. The people in this region run to the busy beat of city life. Sao Paulo is one of the biggest cities in the world, and economic competition is high. However, many of them have a central belief in God, and they are likely to respect you as a servant of the Lord and reverence the message you share.
The leadership and overall organization of the church in this part of Brazil is very strong. As a missionary you will have leaders that you will love and respect. With the combination of experienced members and new members, church activities become very exciting. Many of the youth plan on serving missions.
Every street corner has a bakery that will make fresh, affordable bread early in the morning. Lunch is the primary meal in this part of Brazil, so the members will feed you in the middle of the day. You are likely to receive home cooked meals of mostly fish, chicken, or pork.
As a side dish you will have beans, rice, noodles, and a fresh salad. The members take great care with their cooking, and it is rude to eat little, so enjoy! In Sao Paulo they also make great use of fresh fruits. You are likely to eat a lot of mango, guava, passion fruit, and bananas. Something important to know is that there are many fruits that only grow in Brazil, and others that look different than in the United States. For example, in Brazil oranges are green, or yellow, but they have the same taste. On special occasions you may have a chocolate and fruit panitone (Brazilian cake) with chocolate chips, or a strawberry cake. A daily dessert may be a passion fruit mousse, and it is delicious.
Every missionary in this mission travels on foot. However, buses and taxis are readily available in every part of the city.
Overall, if you stay with your companion and you obey the rules of the mission, you should be fairly safe. Avoid wearing expensive watches or necklaces, and always be modest in your appearance.
Brazilians pride themselves in their hospitality, and love those who enjoy their way of life. In Brazil 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. It is important to smile.
In Sao Paulo they speak well articulated, and words that end in DE will make a “Jee” sound and anytime there is a T.I. combination, or ends in T.E. they will say “Chi.” (Ex. Interisante=In-ter-ee-saan-chi, or Pode=Po-Jee) Some common slangs are “Zika,” (Cool, Sig) “Da Hora,” (Of the hour, the coolest thing) and “Gente” (Us, ex. a gente vai= we will go)
However, it would be wise to purchase plenty of sunscreen and bug spray. Also, it may be easier to use pain, and cold medicine that you are accustomed to rather than purchasing medication in Brazil. Some other essential equipment, such as a water purifier, will be supplied by the mission.
Shipping items to Brazil is simple and most letters will arrive without incident. If you wish to send a package, some people recommend placing religious pictures on the package (pictures of Jesus or Maria) to deter theft.
Rua Dr Luiz da Rocha Miranda, 159
04344-010 São Paulo – SP
What items were hard to get or not available?
Deodorant was expensive, Sunscreen, Peanut Butter, White shirts, barbecue sauce, ranch dressing, rootbeer, good lice shampoo.
What did you eat the most of?
Beans and Rice
What is the craziest thing you ate?
In Sao Paulo they are more creative with their fruit, so some might think that eating an avocado smoothie would be strange, when it is actually delicious!
What was most surprising about the culture?
The closeness of the people, including strangers
What advice would you give to someone going to this Mission?
1. Be Obedient
2. Be Humble
3. Be Happy
What do you wish you had known before you served?
Find joy in serving everyone, and don’t be afraid to invite people to follow Jesus Christ early!