BETA

Brazil youth go right on dancing

PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil — Gaucho dances of Rio Grande do Sul, presented at the cultural celebration held for the rededication of the Sao Paulo Brazil Temple in February 2004, were such a hit that the group has continued performing.

The couples danced to regional music and dressed in traditional clothing: white blouses, pants called bombachas, boots and hats and red handkerchiefs for the young men and colorful dresses for the young women.

Jorge Brehm, president of the Porto Alegre Brazil North Stake, and his wife, Gloria, were called to coordinate a group of 20 couples to perform the dances. "At the time, it seemed like a unique opportunity," remembered President Brehm, "and everyone wanted to participate. But as time passed. . . even after many rehearsals, it seemed that we would not be able to coordinate all of these dances," he said. "We resolved to hold a fast with the entire group and ask in our devotionals and in our prayers for divine help. I personally spoke with each member of the group, explaining the importance of having the help of the Spirit so that all would go well. After that, everything was working well and the group felt secure and confident."

One young man, David Cruz, 15, wanted to participate, but his brother was also in the group, and due to financial difficulties, his family could pay travel expenses for only one. So David did not join. Two weeks before the event, his brother was able to find the money to pay for David's journey. "As I had very little time to practice, I asked God to help me to learn the choreography quickly. It was a miracle, for I learned the dances in a very short time," said David.

The presentation of the cultural celebration was so successful that the group did not stop. A letter from the First Presidency, dated Feb. 19, 2004, stated: "We encourage the local leader to hold stake and multi-stake events and activities to encourage a feeling of unity and to give opportunities for the creation of new friendships, especially among the youth. Such events include music, dance, drama, oratory, sports and visual arts."

With the approval of the area presidency, the group continued to perform for members of the Church and others, including at stake cultural events, and in several local community events.

When the group performed with the BYU Young Ambassadors last May in the Sesi theater in Porto Alegre, the owner of a local business, Eco-resort Vila Ventura, was impressed and asked Church leaders if the group could perform as part of an international convention for therapists in December 2004. The convention brought together health professionals from various countries. It was an extraordinary experience for the youth to do their presentation and to talk and dance with people from diverse cultures. At the end of the program, they sang "I Am a Child of God."

The owner of the resort expressed gratitude for such noble representation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with youth who showed such a sweet spirit through the traditions of Rio Grande do Sul.

— Gloria Brehm contributed to this article

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