PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil Missionaries who served here in the mid-1950s have returned as senior missionaries with their wives; they have seen the membership grow from a small branch to where a temple overlooks the city.
The missionaries, who served under President Asael T. Sorensen almost 50 years ago, are serving as reactivation missionaries and temple missionaries.
They are: Elder Herman Funk, who served from 1955-57, serving with his wife, Sister Sherrill Funk, of Mesa, Ariz., serving in the Brazil Porto Alegre South Mission; Elder Adolpho Dittrich, 1955-56, serving with his wife, Sister Mya Dittrich, of Restinga in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul; Elder Bernell J. Edwards, 1956-59, serving with his wife, Sister Marita Edwards, of Mesa, Ariz.; Elder Robert C. Thornock, who served from 1958-60, and his wife, Sister Jean Thornock of Provo, Utah, all temple missionaries.
Elder Dittrich was among the first Brazilians to serve as a full-time missionary. In 1955, he gave up playing professional soccer on Porto Alegre's international team to serve the mission.
Elder Edwards remembers there being only one small branch in Porto Alegre in fact, in the entire state of Rio Grande do Sul when he arrived in in 1956.
"Now there are nine stakes, two missions, and a temple in the Porto Alegre area with continuing rapid growth in membership," he said.
Elder Thornock was among the first missionaries to serve in the newly organized Southern Brazil Mission in 1959. He opened the southern city of Uruguaiana, where members of the Uruguaiana Brazil Stake now attend the temple.
"Seeing our wonderful brothers and sisters receive the blessings of the temple is especially fulfilling," said Elder Edwards. "It really puts into perspective the efforts we made during our missions in Brazil in the 1950s."