April 10, 2017

Brazil Belém Mission

LDS Church & Missionary Work

Michael (Brazil Belem Mission)

–Paraphrased from Michael’s mission interview–

Belem Mission Geography

The Belem Mission is a gigantic mission. It lies in Northern Brazil, including several of the Northern states. The mission covered parts of Amazonas, Para, and Amapa. The Belem mission is one of the older missions in Brazil, it used to cover the entire top portion of Brazil. Now there are dozens of missions. The Belem mission is still very big

The Amazon forest actually makes up a large part of the state. Belem actually sits right on top of the mouth of the Amazon river and close to the coast. It’s an amazing place, and it doesn’t stop there. Off the coast of Belem there are dozens of Islands, including Marajo, which is one of the biggest Islands in the world. Apparently there are Buffalo there!

The Church in the Belem Mission

One of the cool things about the church in Belem is that now there are about 9 stakes and one district, and the Church is growing like crazy. New areas are being opened up all over the state. About 6 stakes are just in the capital, while the other stakes are in cities very far away. One of them is in Santarem… you have to take a 2 hour ride by plane to get there! Another is Maraba, which is still an hour and a half plane ride. Finally, there was in the state of Amapa, and the stake of Macapa. It was interesting to spend time in those distant zones, far away from your mission president. You had to be trusted a lot, and I enjoyed my time there.

Now, the church is trying to grow in between the bigger cities, so there are a lot of new areas being opened up in the rural parts of the mission. Fun and spiritual adventures were easy to find in these areas.

My Mission

In total I served from June 2013 to May 2015, but in Brazil itself I served from January 2014 to May 2015. My first area in Brazil was in Maraba, the second in Cidade Nova, and then my third area was in Santana, in the state of Amapa in the city of Macapa, and then my final area was in a borough called Tenone, which is in a district called Icoaraci in Belem.

For Future Missionaries

The mission is very special. The mission was very special for me. I know that this is Christ’s church. He lives, and He knows and cares about each one of us. The mission was very hard, but it’s worth it. When you feel god has abandoned you, that’s not true. He’s giving you these experiences because he needs you to become something more.

Culture, Language, and Travel

Michael (Brazil Belem Mission)

–Paraphrased from Michael’s mission interview–

Belem is a very large cities, with some millions of people. It’s very spread out into a big urban sprawl, and there are a lot of skyscrapers. I flew through Sao Paulo on the way there, and I thought that Belem wouldn’t have as many skyscrapers. When I got to Belem, I realized that it was also a very big city. The city is divided into burroughs, the richest of which is called Nazare, and my first area was Canaa. There’s a lot of biblical names; Nazare means Nazareth, Belem means Bethlehem, and Canaa means Canan.

Brazil’s culture revolves around religion quite a bit. Some churches that were very big were the Assembleia de Deus (Assembly of God), the Igreja Quadrangular, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Catholics. Really, Christian religion in general is huge. People make God a huge part of their life, and even go down the street talking about Him and the Bible. For example, a common phrase in Brazil is “Gracas a Deus,” which means “thanks to God.” People will say it at the end of almost every sentence.

Traffic in Belem was insane… people would drive around recklessly all the time. Strangely enough, I never saw very many accidents, at least not any serious ones. Because of the bustle, a lot of people took the bus, and due to that the buses would be absolutely packed. One time I even saw a guy riding hanging onto the side of a bus because there was no room inside.

Portuguese Language Mistakes

There are a lot of mistakes that are easy to make with Portuguese. One mistake I made while still in the Missionary Training Center (so it wasn’t to bad) was to confuse the word for “I can” with “I fart.” My MTC teacher thought it was absolutely hilarious. In Portuguese, there are a lot of diminutive or augmentative phrases you can use to change words. However, if you do so, sometimes the diminutive forms of a word can actually be a swear or a slang. Be careful to ask some local Brazilians what the slang terms are.