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A letter from Farris and Thelma Goodrum in Brazil

May 26, 2009

Dear Friends,

Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. (Psalm 30)

Dear Friends and Family,

We send greetings from southern Brazil, where we live in an apartment near downtown Londrina. In the mornings I often make the 10-to-15-minute walk to get our mail at the post office. I remember those frequent walks downtown during the heat of December, January and February. There were many things on my mind then, as my father, who celebrated his 91st birthday in December, was in the hospital and then in a nursing home. After having been active for most of his 91 years, he suddenly became too weak to get around by himself and needed constant care. Besides my concern for my father, Thelma had been having health problems that could have been serious. On top of this, I was concerned for our future, as we had just learned that the leadership of the Independent Presbyterian Church of Brazil (IPI) was planning to close all three of its seminaries at the end of 2009 and open a new one in a central location near São Paulo. We learned that after these changes the IPI would not need as much help from PC(USA) mission co-workers, which left us concerned about our future ministry in Brazil.

Photo of Farris Goodrum standing with four young men on a tiled patio.

Farris with seminary students.

I remember feeling grateful for the family and friends that were praying for us. Because of the prayers of many, I knew that there would be “joy in the morning.” I just didn’t know how or when! It was comforting to receive many messages of support from friends.

In my last telephone conversation with my father he had, with typical optimism, encouraged me concerning future work in Brazil, which he believed would become a reality. Sadly, he died on Valentine’s Day, having told my two brothers how grateful he was for an interesting and blessed life. His life was well celebrated a week later at his memorial service at Oaks Presbyterian Church, in Houston, Texas. I was not able to be there, but received reports and pictures on the day of the service. Many family members and friends were present at the service, and flowers were sent to the church by the Presbyterian World Mission staff. This was especially meaningful since my father and my mother had spent many years as Presbyterian missionaries in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Thelma came home from the hospital here in Londrina on the day of my father’s memorial service, having had a hysterectomy due to severe anemia. The results of blood tests that had concerned the doctors seem to have been resolved by the surgery, and Thelma has recuperated very well.

Photo of seven people standing behind a table covered in a white cloth. Behind them on the wall is a thin wooden cross.

Thelma (far left) and Michael help out in the bell choir of Joel’s age group.

A couple of days before her surgery we received an email from the Presbyterian World Mission office indicating that the United Presbyterian Church of Brazil (IPU)had seen our profile on the PC(USA) Web site and was interested in inviting us to work with their seminary and their churches in the beautiful island city of Vitória, which is the capital of the southeastern state of Espírito Santo. We have accepted this invitation to begin a new ministry with the IPU at the beginning of next year. We look forward meeting the leadership of this denomination, possibly in July. The name of the city when spoken with the name of the state, “Vitória do Espírito Santo,” means “Victory of the Holy Spirit”! We look forward to sharing with you more as we learn more.

Meanwhile, we continue to enjoy our activities here in Londrina. The seminary property has been sold, and we are meeting in a rented house this year. I enjoy my teaching and my contacts with students and teachers, and I am grateful to be here for the last school year in the history of this seminary. Thelma is preparing to teach the youth group for five Saturday sessions beginning in June, using The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren, and I look forward to leading a five-week creative teaching workshop at the church next semester. Thelma and I and our sons Michael and Joel are all involved in various ways in the music ministry of the church.

The Mission Connections office of the PC(USA) has asked that we tell to you about World Mission Challenge, where 40 PC(USA) mission workers will visit hundreds of congregations across the United States this fall to tell how God is at work around the world. This is a reprise of a similar event in 2007 and will be held from September 25 to October 18, 2009. Learn more on the Mission Challenge Web site or by calling Ellen Dozier at (888) 728-7228 x5916.

World Mission Challenge will conclude with the World Mission Celebration, a large gathering for Presbyterians who care deeply about mission. This event will be held October 22-24 in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and the adjoining Duke Energy Center. Learn more on the Mission Celebration Web site or by calling Lis Valle at (888) 728-7228 x5279.

The season has changed now in southern Brazil, and yesterday I walked downtown in the cool of a winter morning. I felt much different than I did when I had made that walk during those hot summer days. The prayers of many have been answered, and we are now looking forward to new experiences to add to the many interesting and meaningful experiences we have had as Presbyterian missionaries in Brazil. Yesterday I felt relieved and very grateful, as if a long night had ended and joy came with the morning!

Thelma joins me in sending special greetings.

Sincerely, in Christ’s service,

Farris Goodrum

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


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