A letter from Marta Carriker in Brazil
We have been back in Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil, since June 2008. It is a beautiful city on the coast. The population of about 400,000 swells up to more than a million in the summer. The climate is subtropical and right now it is fall; the temperatures in the mountains have been below zero already. This is one of two states in Brazil that get some snow. This is where Brazilian apples come from. Florianópolis was settled by people from the Azores, and we have fishing communities. Right now we are all eagerly expecting the schools of mullets that come our way every year.
We first moved here in 2000, and then we spent a few years in Fortaleza, in a completely different region of Brazil. When the denomination closed the Seminary there, we came back to this area. Our ministry in this city is connected with the Independent Presbyterian Church of Estreito, where Tim is part of the pastoral team and where I am involved in a ministry with women. This church is to me the best thing about living in Florianópolis. It is a fairly small church of under 200, very friendly and eager to grow.
To accomplish this purpose we have been meeting in small groups, cell groups, for a while. These meet in the homes during the week and each member is encouraged to testify to his/her friends and later disciple those who come to faith. After a while the groups are modified to include others and to keep the number of people up to 14. We also have a different group that focuses on non-Christians in the neighborhood called Campeche. Tim is responsible for supervising this group. It is always encouraging to talk to new Christians and to be able to help them understand our walk of faith. Not too long ago we spent one of the evenings encouraging one of them who had complained about persecution after coming to Christ. This week we asked her if things were better. Unfortunately, the answer was “not really.” But she did have a blessing to share about her father helping her during this time of need. In Christ we are not promised lives free of problems, but we have seen God’s presence with us, taking care of us all the time.
On Tuesdays at the church I meet with women, many of whom are not yet Christian, for crafts. During our coffee break I lead devotionals that focus on our relationships with God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and one another. Through this ministry we have seen change, for which we are grateful to God at work in us. Some examples are Z., who is feeling much better from her depression and compulsion and is now bringing others to the group, and D. who told us we are her only friends and who also brought her mother to the group. This week R. shared with us about her alcohol-dependent husband and we prayed for them. Prayer is an important part of these devotionals.
Outside Florianópolis I have been an interpreter and facilitator for groups that come to visit the missionary projects of the denomination we work with. These go to the Northeastern, Amazon and Southern areas of Brazil. Next July the Presbytery of Mississippi is bringing a group to visit the Northeast, where they are helping a congregation build a manse and Sunday school rooms.
Another aspect of our ministry is related to the Brazilian missionary movement. My part in this has been in the care of missionaries. I am part of a group that provides support through a monthly forum via the Internet that discusses subjects of interest to those involved in missions. I am the moderator of this forum.
Last but not least, I am a homemaker. Our daughters live with us; one is married and the other is in college. Our son lives in the States. We have two grandchildren we don’t get to see as often as we wished we could. We are thankful to God for our family.
The 2011 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 306
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