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A letter from Marta Carriker in Brazil

Winter 2014

Dear friends,

This summer the weather has been very different in Florianópolis.  We had the worst heat wave in the last 88 years.  It reminded us of the short time we spent in Northeastern Brazil and of the challenge to keep working in spite of the discomfort and the desire to either jump in a swimming pool (even if the water is warm) or go to a shopping mall because they at least have air-conditioning.

Marta and missionary family visiting Anhatomirim fort

The weatherman promised us cooler weather for this weekend and it has arrived together with some rain.  Meanwhile Tim and I have spent many hours reviewing the materials for the Mission Study Bible in Portuguese.  I really enjoyed and learned much from some of the footnotes and inserts written mostly by Brazilian mission professors and theologians. Tim was in São Paulo this week both for the long-distance Christian education project of our partner denomination and to talk to the Bible Society about any last details for the publication.  All seems to be running smoothly for publication before the next Brazilian Missionary Conference in October.

Tim working in his office in spite of the heat

In January we also had the privilege to have the missionaries of our local Brazilian church who work in Africa visit us for a whole week. One of the members of the church received them at their beach house, where they could rest with their children.  As part of the local Missions Committee I spent time with the family getting to know them better, sharing some meals together and listening to their joys and concerns. On Sunday the congregation heard their report about their church planting efforts. Their ministry in one of Africa’s countries (for safety reasons I will not mention it here) involves risk to their family and yet they are planning to return in September to begin a new term of witness among the people they have come to love.  Please help us lift this family up in prayer.  They are the Silvas.

Right here in Florianópolis we were also blessed to see a couple of former students coming to work with a local congregation.  Admilson and Paulinha were our students at the Missionary Training Center; afterward he received his training to be a pastor at the seminary in Fortaleza, where we overlapped several years back.  After their first pastorate in Minas Gerais, they are now facing the challenge of building up a small congregation of the presbytery.  Our church is helping to support them, but we also need your prayers for God’s direction as they uncover the causes for the dwindling numbers and address the needs of that neighborhood.  In their own words: “From the very beginning we knew about the difficulties and challenges we would face.  However, what gives us vision and encouragement for the road ahead is that we believe God has called us, given us this vocation, and prepared us.  We found a group of brothers and sisters who were reluctant and discouraged, but they love this church and its work.  That has given us motivation to press on.”

Church families helping clean one of the local beaches

Our local church celebrated its 60th anniversary last month.  We rejoice in the faithfulness of six generations throughout the life of this congregation.  Our pastor is a daughter of the church and many of the elders were her classmates growing up.  They remember fondly what their parents did to encourage them in their spiritual life and growth. When we first came to this church in 2000 they had a liturgical dance group and many are part of the praise team to this day. This was the fruit of their parents’ effort to provide activities for the youth at the time.  Many have become the new generation of leaders in our community, participating with their new families in the life of our community.  Meanwhile our church continues to look for interesting opportunities for the whole family. Two of the couples with teens have taken over the youth group and have promoted meetings every Saturday.  That has brought more young people to our church, many of whom professed their faith recently.  As church services are held in the evening, some of the other families recently spend a Sunday morning caring for God’s world by picking up trash at one of the local beaches.  Tim, who was part of that team, says that at the event a number of people asked why they were picking up trash, something that only trash collectors in uniform do in Brazil.   As a response, team members had an opportunity to explain that they understood care for creation as part of their Christian commitment.  One of these inquirers even joined the group in their efforts to clean up the beach. 

Finally, let me share with you what a joy it has been to have a baby at home.  Our granddaughter Gabrielle (Gabi) is now 4 months old and she is all smiles, growing up healthy and active, learning to use her hands and practicing rolling over.  I am sure many of you can identify with the fun of watching a baby at this stage.  Jenny’s health has been good, for which we are thankful.  We are still praying for another job for our son-in-law Michael, who hopes to teach English online.  Our daughter Sarah has enjoyed her job as a local English teacher.

Thank you again for partnering with us in this journey.  We appreciate your prayers and your financial support. May God bless each and every one of you throughout this year and protect you through all sorts of bad weather (I am thinking here of the bad snowstorms some of you have faced while we have suffered in the heat, not to mention the unheard-of ‘small earthquake’ in Charlotte). 

May God keep you under His care,
Marta and Tim Carriker

The 2014 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p.61
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