Southern Brazil... Saudades, I Miss My Gaucho Friends!

b2ap3 thumbnail SB-MapSaudades translated means to look back with fond memories. I spent two years of my young life proselyting amongst the Gauchos (cowboys) in the southern most portion of Brazil in the state, Rio Grande do Sul. I landed in the modern city of Porto Alegre and after just a couple of days I boarded a bus for 9 hours that took me to the small city Sao Borja which ends on the Uruguay River with Argentina on the opposite shore.

I liked to think that it was due to my Mission President's ability to trust in me that I was sent so far away from his offices in Porto Alegre.  But my hindsight has confirmed that I was sent so far away because the he knew that I needed to be humbled. As a result, President Pedro Brassanini sent me to a far off place with a very loving people so that the Lord could help me learn more about me. I woke up between 4:30 and 5 AM each morning to study, and I stayed up late to capture the events of the day in my journal. I never prayed so hard for help as I did in Sao Borja.  I prayed for health. I prayed for strength.  I prayed for understanding. I prayed for patience. I prayed for help loving my new environment. And I prayed that my Mother would be comforted back home with the secure feelings of love knowing that I was okay in Southern Brazil.


My first culture shock, having come from Los Angeles, California, was how much slower the pace of life was in the small towns of Southern Brazil. I also looked at everything they did with awe and wonder, as they used their creativity and resourcefulness in many unique ways to come up with solutions using what they had, which did not appear to be lots of money.  Instead, if they needed a counterweight on their long training arm in the corral, they used an old truck tire. They did not look through the catalogs to see what they could by for their solutions. Instead, they looked around to see what was available. A Boy Scout may brag about being trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent, but a Gaucho is resourceful!

That was 26 years ago, when I arrived in Brazil, yet it seems like just a few months ago. Thanks to Facebook, I was reunited with my friends in Sao Borja by way of a special page called, "Missao Sao Borja Missionarios que Servirram em Sao Borja" which translates to, "Mission Sao Borja - Missionaries that served in Sao Borja". The page is doing its best to reunite the missionaries that spent time in the city with the LDS (Mormon) members that live there. This is an incredible use of technology that is blessing the lives of the missionaries as well as the members. And although most of the communication is in Portuguese, Google Translate is also a huge blessing for those of us who don't use the language as much anymore. Here is the page link...


Marcelo Guimaraes is a long time resident of Sao Borja and he is doing a wonderful job keeping the page going and he is constantly adding more pictures and inviting others to contribute. It takes an awesome Social Media Manager to keep a specialty Facebook page alive and thriving. I did not know Marcelo, but he has reconnected me with several of the people that I taught the gospel and came to love. My thoughts go back to those days regularly, and now I get to communicate with those who showed love and friendship, while also teaching me how to communicate in Portuguese.

Yes, I miss those days and I miss those people.  I am thankful for the technology that has helped to bridge the big divide. Make it a great day!

Ate logo! Michael Leavitt - Orem, Utah -