A letter from Thelma Goodrum in Brazil
September 15, 2009
Greetings from Londrina, in southern Brazil. Our last letter was written at the end of May, and in that letter I told about the invitation we received to work with the United Presbyterian Church of Brazil (IPU) in their seminary and in their churches in the city of Vitória, the capital of the southeastern state of Espírito Santo.
The IPU graciously paid to have us fly to Vitória, with a stopover in Rio de Janeiro to meet the IPU’s moderator, the Reverend Enoc Wenceslau, and the first secretary of the IPU’s Coordinating Council, the Reverend José Roberto Cavalcante. Rio has two airports, and because of late flights and missed connections, we were rushed from one airport to the other, and back again, by Rev. José Roberto, as we tried to make a connection to Vitória. Unfortunately we only had a minute or two with Rev. Enoc, who was waiting to meet us at the gate of a flight that we missed, but we enjoyed talking with Rev. José Roberto in the car as we went back and forth between airports in Rio’s rush hour traffic!
We arrived at the island city of Vitória after dark, and the view of the city from the plane was breathtaking. We were pleased by our warm reception and by the well-organized weekend we spent there meeting with and getting to know leaders of the IPU and visiting some of the IPU churches in Vitória.
The Reverend Manoel Miranda, pastor of the First IPU of Vitória, invited either Thelma or me to bring the message at church on that Sunday night, and Thelma accepted the invitation. Her message was well received by the congregation. We had enjoyed Sunday school and lunch at another IPU church that morning. The Rev. Manoel and his wife, Sandra, took us out for meals and gave us guided tours of the city, which we enjoyed very much.
Our job description includes teaching at the IPU seminary, which is called the “Center of Theological Formation ‘Richard Schaull.’” (Schaull was a Presbyterian missionary who is much admired by the IPU.) We will also be involved in Christian education and music in local churches, and Thelma has been asked to help out in the office of the denomination as well. We expect the work to be rewarding and challenging, and we look forward to becoming a part of the life of the United Presbyterian Church of Brazil in the state of Espírito Santo, a part of Brazil with which we were previously unfamiliar.
Meanwhile, here in Londrina, I (Farris) continue to teach at the seminary of the Independent Presbyterian Church of Brazil, where I have been on the faculty since 1997, and from which Thelma graduated in 2007. Thelma and I have enjoyed many opportunities for ministry in the areas of Christian education and music at our local church.
Our son Michael is now 17 years old and plans to take the entrance tests for several universities here, with the hope of remaining in Londrina as a university student. Our younger son, Joel, has just turned 12 and is probably a bit apprehensive about the move away from Londrina, where he was born. We believe that he will adapt quickly to life in Vitória, however, as the people there are very friendly and hospitable. We would appreciate your prayers as Michael considers remaining in Londrina and as we begin to plan for our move to another city, another state and another denomination. Many well-wishers have already told us that they have been praying for us, which we appreciate very much!
The seminary of the Independent Presbyterian Church here in Londrina will close at the end of this year. Its large, beautiful campus was sold last year, and we are meeting in a rented house for this last school year. I drove by the old property the other day and saw that all the buildings are being torn down so that new construction can take place. Times change and doors close, but new doors have opened to us, and we look forward to new challenges and interesting experiences.
Thelma joins me in sending our greetings, with special thanks for your interest in our ministry here in Brazil.
Sincerely, in Christ’s service,
The 2009 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 295