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Taking the Long View: Latter-day Saints Continue to Help Brazil Flood Victims

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Leaders and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continue to minister to the many souls affected by flooding in Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul.

As reported previously, the Church has offered various forms of immediate assistance, such as making 21 meetinghouses available to shelter the displaced and distributing clean water, food baskets, medicine, mattresses, blankets, clothes and personal hygiene items. Through Family Services, the Church is providing access to volunteer psychologists to offer emotional support to the victims.

Elder Joni L. Koch, the Brazil Area President, spent Friday, May 11, 2024, visiting 120 people taking shelter in Church meetinghouses in Porto Alegre. One of the families he met included a mother (not a Latter-day Saint) who gave birth during her stay.

Elder Koch also dedicated time to ministering to local Latter-day Saint leaders. Teaching a principle from the Hebrew Bible, he counseled them to continue to serve well beyond the time when the media spotlight shifts elsewhere.

“Our commitment to people goes far beyond emergency or temporary assistance,” Elder Koch said. “We will need to continue to see the needy when this moment of public commotion passes. When the waters recede and things begin to return to normal — for the next few years — people will need help, and we cannot fail to notice that. As the scripture says, it is an ongoing effort. And our greatest mission as a Church is to connect people with eternity. And that is the greatest good that the gospel of Jesus Christ has to offer.”

Many Saints have responded to the call of government authorities to serve. They are reaching out as the Savior would. For example, Renato de Souza Gomes, 42, has saved more than 700 people and 80 animals rescuing others in the regions flooded by the Guaíba River.

“The second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself,” Gomes said, “and for me this is an opportunity to live this commandment.”

Adriana Freitas Cardoso, a counselor in her Lindóia congregation’s Relief Society presidency, said, “If someone asks me at what moment I started serving as a volunteer in the church shelter, I wouldn’t know how to answer. When I realized it, I was already at the meetinghouse, with paper and pen in hand, receiving the first donations to organize the places where we would receive people.”

In São Paulo, the State Civil Defense and the Social Solidarity Fund received support from the Church of Jesus Christ’s Helping Hands volunteers to sort donations that will be sent to flood victims.

Filipe Sabará, who learned about the Church’s humanitarian projects during a visit to Salt Lake City in 2019, is now in charge of the Social Development Secretariat of the State of São Paulo and the actions of the State Social Fund. He posted a video praising the Church’s support. Another public official, Lieutenant Colonel Henguel Ricardo Pereira, state coordinator of civil defense, said “this help is very important, and I guarantee that donations will reach those in need.”

In Jundiaí, members and full-time missionaries of the Brazil Campinas Mission, who serve in the municipality and other cities in the region, responded to the call from the city hall and the Social Solidarity Fund. They are helping at the airport, organizing and loading donations for Rio Grande do Sul.

In Joinville, Santa Catarina, a neighboring state of Rio Grande do Sul, volunteers are making quilts for those in need. In Santa Maria, one of the affected cities, Latter-day Saints are distributing meals to those in need. In the cities of Camaçari and Feira de Santana, Saints in partnership with Correios are collecting hygiene and cleaning items, clothing, and animal feed for Rio Grande do Sul.

The Church’s help is bringing hope to those who need it most. Dânia Pereira Zardim was invited by her Latter-day Saint friend to take shelter in one of the Church’s meetinghouses. Zardim said she’s being nurtured in every way she needs, with food, clothes, and spiritual support. At times, she even contributes to the work done at the meetinghouse.

“I have always given of myself, and today I am helped,” she said. “I am feeling more secure and have a grateful heart for all the support I am receiving here, without dwelling on what happened and with hope that things can improve.”


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