LDS missionary from Utah embraces unique culture of Rio

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RIO DE JANEIRO — Meeting people on the street is nothing new for Elder Muir.

On this day, he and his companion, Elder Coca, are spending time with Amarildo, a homeless man.

“He was very receptive to the message and told us one day maybe he'll show up at the church,” Elder Muir said. “One day he'd pass by there, but we'll see."

The pair walks the streets of the Botafogo area of Rio and say sharing what's in their hearts isn't really that difficult — no matter the language.

“It's something that's really part of the roots of the culture; just a love,” Elder Muir said. “A strong love for other people.”

There are 158 LDS missionaries serving in Rio de Janeiro. Most of them are from Brazil. There are a few missionaries from the United States and only eight from Utah, with Elder Muir being one of them.

The 19-year-old has been paired up with Elder Coca, a native of Brazil. There are a few differences when comparing American missionaries and Brazilian missionaries — differences Elder Coca has learned to laugh about.

“It’s really different, yes it is,” Elder Coca said with a laugh. “The hygiene; they are way more hygienic.”

Still, they are differences Elder Coca has grown to love.

“They have their own way of speech and so they don't always teach what is exactly supposed to be taught and I like that — I love that,” Elder Coca said.

The mission is divided into 12 zones, serving the 12.3 million people in Rio.

And being part of that service is something Elder Muir wouldn't change.

“Being in a different country, you learn how other people love you, learn how there's lots of similar things, but there's also lots of different things." Elder Muir said. “The more you just get to love it and know it, the happier you'll be.”

Elder Muir will be back in Utah in about three months. Elder Coca has another five months left in his mission.


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