From Gay L. Slade: I spent my junior year of high school in Recife, Brazil. The year was 1965, and I first saw "The Sound of Music" there with Portuguese subtitles. My father was on a sabbatical leave from the University of California and, consequently, the family accompanied him.
Recife is on the eastern coast of Brazil, rather close to the equator. At that time it was a city of approximately a million people. There was one branch of the Church in the city, and we met in a small converted house with a little plaza in back. My father served as a counselor in the bishopric. His experience in the Church was extensive, but his Portuguese was limited. He wrote out every word when it was his turn to conduct a meeting and lived with his language dictionary. The branch president was Milton Soares. He and his wife Irene have been featured recently in both the Church News and the Ensign as LDS pioneers in Brazil. My parents helped their son Iraja to go on a mission. I believe that he was the first native missionary to leave from Recife. Since then I have read in the Church News about Iraja's calling as a stake president and then as a regional representative there in Recife.
One of my fondest memories of our small branch is of a petite white haired lady, Sister Cavani. She was the ward organist. She played on a small organ that was powered by a foot pump. During hymn singing she would frequently get lost and stop and scratch her head, then find the place and resume playing. I was quite advanced in my piano training by age 16 and so played much better than she did. She was amazed that one so young could play so well and would frequently beg me to play the more difficult hymns. She was cute and lavish with her praise. As an adult I have played the organ for Sacrament Meetings for year, but never with any more love and dedication than did Sister Cavani.
Obviously, our stay in Brazil was prior to the Negros being able to receive the priesthood. I remember one young man - I think his name was Luis - who had been baptized and ordained to the Priesthood only later to discover through genealogical research that he had negro ancestry. He remained a faithful member of the branch even though he was not allowed to exercise his priesthood. I greatly admired him and have often wondered if he was still active 13 years later when the full blessings of the priesthood could have been his again. I hope so.
While our family was in Recife, construction on the first chapel began. We helped, as did all the members, with the building. Unfortunately, we had to return to the U.S. before it was completed. Of course, given these memories, I was excited, and amazed, to hear the announcement of a temple to be built there in Recife. The growth of the kingdom is marvelous to witness!