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A letter from Tim and Marta Carriker in Brazil

October 2009

Dear Friends,

Photograph of three people sitting a pew. Half a dozen other people are standing and sitting in the background. They appear to be talking to each other and laughing, engaged in separate conversations.

Elder Themis Mello (PRENE) sits with hosts Roger and Linda Soons from Meridian Presbyterian Church in the Presbytery of Mississippi.

I have just returned from a trip to Mississippi, where I had the opportunity to accompany and interpret for a team of Brazilians who were visiting the Presbytery of Mississippi. The partnership between the Presbytery of Mississippi and the Presbytery of the Northeast (PRENE) has been in place for eight years. Usually, teams coming from the United States visit the Sertão Project and other churches in Northeast Brazil. This time, representatives of PRENE were invited to visit the United States.

In Mississippi, the eight participants were divided to visit four different clusters of churches. Each group had its own interpreter, and I was sent with Themis Mello and Nataniel Santos Silva to Laurel, Meridian and Hattiesburg in the eastern part of the state. Our task was to present the work being done in Brazil, to thank the churches for their participation in this partnership, and to encourage our brothers and sisters as we participated in different meetings of the churches and worshiped together.

We were very well received by “the hospitality state,” visited several historical sites, homes and museums, and we were introduced to the ministries of the local churches in this area. We were impressed by the social outreach ministries supported by the congregations, such as soup kitchens and stores for the needy, educational programs and homes for substance dependents.

Photo of nine men and women standing in a line singing. One plays the guitar and another holds a microphone. They appear to be clapping their hands.

The group of visiting Brazilians sang at First Presbyterian Church in Natchez, Mississippi.

Brazilians were amazed by the structure they found: good church buildings and many Sunday school classes and libraries, pipe organs and comfortable pews in the sanctuaries. They were surprised not to see many children and young people, especially because, in Brazil, evangelistic work attracts the children first and many churches have more children and youth than senior citizens.

After spending a week visiting churches in the different clusters, we returned to Natchez, where we all attended Presbytery meeting. Edimilson, one of the visiting pastors, brought a short message and encouraged those who were present to remember all that has been accomplished by this partnership to bless the people in Northeast Brazil. Cisterns, pre-schools and six churches were built. He used the phrase “God is in this business,” which was translated literally from Portuguese. Later, we heard that the phrase was repeated a couple of times during the presbytery meetings that followed.

Indeed, God has been in this partnership, and He was with us during our visit to Mississippi. There are many people to thank for making this possible. We only want to mention George and Linda Bates who were the instigators, but we think of all of our wonderful hosts who made us feel like royalty. May God bless you as you have blessed us.

We will be praying for this partnership, for our brothers and sisters that we now call friends, and with the psalmist we declare: “How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!” (Psalm 133.1).

Marta and Tim

The 2009 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 295

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