Andrew (Brazil Santos Mission)
–Paraphrased from Andrew’s mission interview–
The Brazil Santos mission opened in July 2013. There are five stakes and two districts. The five stakes are all within this little mountain range enclosure. It was formed from three surrounding missions. The religious background of the people there is mostly Catholic. These days, most people have left a lot of that behind though because a lot of people go to Evangelical churches. It is really easy to start a church in Brazil in your home. You can see churches on every corner with their own unique names or bigger names like Baptist or Methodist. The Brazilian people are really open. Usually people will come hear a sermon, sing, and a collection plate will be passed around. Coming to our church is a lot more calm of a climate than most of the other churches people are used to.
A lot of people aren’t married. They’ll have their spouse that they have lived with for years and they don’t feel like it is something that they need to do. It isn’t that important for them, but once people start progressing it isn’t as much of a problem when they understand the law of chastity. The missionaries are really well trained in what to do in those situations. I never felt in the dark helping these people get married.
I had to teach the story of Joseph Smith and how you can receive answers to your prayers. Once that becomes real to them and they understand it, its huge. If a missionary can help someone realize the love and blessings in store with them then they will run towards the gospel. The area presidency has the goal of getting a temple into the mission. We felt like it was our duty to prepare the people and spread the gospel. The closest temple is only about an hour and a half away, but we feel like that is what the mission is moving towards.
A few years ago, the mission of Santos was just one zone. The work is really being hastened and the church is really going. The church is really strong in the city of Sao Paolo because it has been there for such a long time. In Santos I would say they rely a lot more on the missionaries. They are involved heavily in activities and reactivations.
I would say church attendance was probably around 70 percent. Each ward has it’s own goals to improve church attendance. We are focused on retaining the people that we baptize so that they can grow.
I was in Brazil for just a year and a half.