Making Friends:

Felipe, Clarisse, Rodrigo, and Elisa de Toledo of Ilha do Governador, Brazil

Written by Melvin Leavitt

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    Ilha do Governador (Governor’s Island) rises from the waters of Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro. It was once the residence of Pedro I, who governed Brazil in the name of his father, King John III of Portugal. Now it is the home of Bishop Roney Luciano Monteiro de Toledo; his wife, Sandra Maria Alexandre de Toledo; and their four children.

    According to their mother, all four children share a common trait: “They like to serve their neighbor. They’re very helpful, and they don’t have to be asked. They see what needs to be done and do it on their own.” This willingness often comes in handy for the children of a bishop. They are constantly setting up or taking down tables or chairs at the chapel or serving food or cleaning up after activities. They understand that a bishop is a servant to the ward members, and they enjoy helping him serve.

    Of course, service isn’t the only thing on their minds. They are all excellent students and work hard at their studies. Each of them also has many friends and enjoys laughing and playing. They like to swim, roller-blade, listen to music, play games on the computer, and compete in sports.

    Although the four children have much in common, each is unique. Felipe (15) is a calm, studious boy and a loving big brother. He is a fan of food, especially pasta. He enjoys dances and parties at the church. He plays Ping-Pong and soccer at the YMCA and attends early morning seminary each weekday at 6:30 A.M. Last year he was the scripture-chase winner for the whole stake.

    Clarisse (11) is very tenderhearted. She mothers her brothers and sisters and even her parents. If anyone in the family is ill, she nurses them. She is very responsible and organized. She is good at dancing and gymnastics. She is learning to cook and has already mastered some dishes, including farofa (a yucca-root dish), macaroni, rice, scrambled eggs, and green salad. At Primary, she helps the teachers and encourages the children to be reverent.

    Rodrigo (8) is an intense soccer fan and plays for the YMCA team. He hopes to play professionally someday for one of the teams in Rio de Janeiro. He is self-sufficient and has strong opinions about things. He likes to play hide-and-seek and to pretend. He’s a loving boy with an endless supply of hugs and kisses for his mom and dad.

    Elisa (2) is a whirlwind of boundless energy, and a night owl who would be up till morning if she could. She brings sunshine and happiness to the home. She is silly and funny and makes the whole family laugh.

    Even though Brother de Toledo is the busy bishop of Ilha do Governador Ward (Rio de Janeiro Brazil Andarai Stake), the family has plenty of fun together. They visit the beach, play at the park, go window shopping at the mall, and watch films on the VCR. They sometimes play soccer and volleyball. Board games are also popular with the family, and Rodrigo enjoys taking on his dad in button soccer, which is played with small discs on a tabletop soccer field.

    The family’s favorite time together is family home evening. Each person does the part of the program he or she likes best. It usually works out that Clarisse leads the music, Felipe gives the lesson, Dad makes some final comments on the lesson, Rodrigo says a prayer, Mom prepares the snack, and Elisa does a little bit of everything. They may invite others to join them for these happy times—often investigators or a new family in the ward.

    One thing the family never ever misses is family prayer. It’s a time for growing closer—not only to Heavenly Father but to each other. After the amen, everyone gives everyone else a big hug and a kiss.

    They all have chores to do, of course, beginning with cleaning their own rooms. In addition, Felipe cleans the bathroom each Monday, and Clarisse cleans it on Friday. The two take turns washing the dishes. Rodrigo specializes in drying the dishes, taking out the trash, and dusting the furniture. As for Elisa, whatever she sees anyone else doing, she insists on doing too. She is learning what her whole family knows—that helping others is the way to be happy.

    Photographed by Melvin Leavitt

    In spite of being a busy bishop, Brother de Toledo takes time to stay close to his children.

    Felipe; Clarisse; Elisa; Rodrigo

    Elisa is a live wire who has fun at whatever she does.

    Rodrigo and Clarisse pose in front of the chapel.

    The family enjoys visiting the beach. Here Rodrigo and Clarisse stroll by Guanabara Bay.

    The family enjoys reading. Here Mom is reading The Other Side of the Story.

    Clarisse and Dad

    Clarisse and Rodrigo go sliding in a park near the sea.

    Clarisse and Rodrigo play imaginary chess in a park near the sea.

    Each member of the family contributes to family home evening.

    The family enjoys playing soccer and basketball on the court at the chapel.