[We received the following submission from Marcus H. Martins . He thought the LDS-GEMS subscribers would be interested in hearing about plans for a New Year's temple trip in Brazil. Tony is Marcus Martins' cousin. The sacrifice these Brazilian Saints are making is inspiring.]
The following is an edited version (and translation) of two e-mail messages received on December 24 and 28, 1997, from President Tony Martins Rodrigues, who lives in the city of Manaus, in the Amazon region of northern Brazil:
In Manaus the temperature is the opposite of yours, and we easily reach 104 degrees Fahrenheit. ...

We are going to spend New Year's Eve aboard a boat. On Tuesday, December 30, we will depart to the Sao Paulo Temple by boat and bus, and we will arrive there on Monday, January 5.

We will leave Manaus by boat around noon on Tuesday (Dec 30), sailing the Negro and Madeira rivers until we reach the city of Porto Velho four days later, on Saturday, January 3. We will leave Porto Velho by bus on that same day, arriving in Sao Paulo two days later, on the afternoon of Monday, January 5.

After resting that night we will start temple sessions in the early morning of Tuesday, January 6, and we will take turns going through sessions around the clock (24 hours) until Friday, January 9.

Then we will leave Sao Paulo at 8am on Saturday, January 10, arriving in Porto Velho two days later, on the evening of January 12. We will board the boat around 10 or 11pm that same night and sail upstream (a longer trip), reaching Manaus four or five days later, on January 16 or 17.

So, we will spend a total of nineteen days in our excursion: Ten days traveling by boat, four days by bus, and we will spend five days at the temple.

Our group will be composed of 105 members from Manaus and from the cities of Itacoatiara and Boa Vista, in the state of Roraima. Our brothers and sisters from these cities will have additional travel time: Twelve additional hours of travel for those from Itacoatiara, and another forty-eight hours for those from Boa Vista.

Only six people in our party will travel to Sao Paulo by plane. For those of us going by boat and bus, the cost is R$ 450.00 per person eight years of age and older (approximately US$ 404.00;) children below age eight pay half that price. That cost includes boat and bus fares, food, and lodging. [Translator's note: the minimum wage in Brazil in December of 1997 was R$ 120.00 per month, or approximately US$ 107.00]

My wife and I are attending the University of Amazonas here in Manaus. She majors in business and I am majoring in law. At our university the semester will end on January 30. Going to the temple means that we may flunk the semester because of the absences and the exams we will miss in the period of the trip. We are trying to negotiate with our professors. But that is nothing. Many in our temple excursions lose their jobs, while others sell their refrigerators, stoves, televisions, etc. All that just to go to the temple.

You can imagine the repercussion around here of the announcement of the small temples.

Last July (1997) we sent an excursion to the temple with 107 members. This time there will be 105. Among these 105 we will have two elders quorum presidents, one counselor in a district presidency, one stake young men's president, one counselor in a bishopric, and a counselor in a stake presidency (myself.) We don't know what challenges, problems, or difficulties we will face in the nineteen days of the trip with 105 members under my responsibility, but I am grateful for the privilege of serving the Lord.

I received a phone call from the temple presidency asking us to limit our groups to forty people. We don't know whether we will have other opportunities to go to the temple by boat and bus, but we feel we cannot live without the blessings that come from attending the temple.

Allow me to express our feelings. We haven't been members for too long, but we know that the Church is true. God, the Eternal Father, lives; we are his children and He loves us. Jesus Christ also lives, and He is His Beloved Son, the Savior and Redeemer of the world. They appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith. President Gordon B. Hinckley is a Prophet of God. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.


Antonio "Tony" Marcos Martins Rodrigues serves (1997) as a counselor in the presidency of the Manaus Brazil Solies Stake, one of the 4 stakes in that city. He joined the Church while living in Los Angeles (USA) in 1993. His wife, Cristina, serves as a counselor in the stake primary presidency. They have a 6-year-old son, Gabriel, who on Sundays accompanies his mother to up to 3 primaries. President Martins Rodrigues is a Sergeant in the Brazilian Air Force, and already holds a Master's degree in Physical Education.

The original messages were translated and edited by Marcus H. Martins, Ph.D., a cousin of President Martins Rodrigues. E-mail: martinsm@ricks.edu