A letter from Farris and Thelma Goodrum in Brazil
December 18, 2010
Dear Friends and Family,
Greetings from Vitória, an island city that serves as the capital of the southeastern state of Espírito Santo. As I write I look out the window and see the ocean view from our apartment, and realize how we have been blessed with a beautiful place to serve. We moved to Vitória almost a year ago and are feeling very much at home here now. We have been warmly received into the community and are enjoying our activities in the churches of the Presbytery of Vitória.
Thelma and I were recently received as members of the United Presbyterian Church (UPC) in the Maruípe neighborhood of Vitória, and we have enjoyed our activities with this congregation very much. At “Maruípe” I have directed choirs, played the piano for worship services and taught piano lessons to enthusiastic students. Next year I will be involved in the training of Sunday school teachers, and I look forward to this activity very much. I organized a musical concert this semester which was attended by pastors and members of all of the eight churches in the presbytery. The choirs, bell choir, pianists, guitarists, drummers and singers all presented a program that was enjoyed by all who were present. Music is a very important part of Brazilian culture, and many commented on the community spirit that was experienced as a result of this concert activity.
Thelma’s activities have included leading prayer meetings, hospital visitation, singing in the choir at the Maruípe church and playing in the bell choir — which I direct — at the First UPC of Vitória. She also teaches children at the Second UPC, which has an impressive program for children from the neighborhoods near the church. There are close to 100 children who are among the poorest of the poor and who walk to church from their homes on a mountain close by. The lessons they learn and the positive attention they receive make a big difference in their lives. A snack is always served to all of them before they return to their homes.
Thelma and I have both taught at the extension of the Vitória seminary of the UPC in the town of Colatina, which is a two and a half hour car trip from Vitória. We go to Colatina, usually by bus, for long teaching sessions on certain weekends throughout the semester, although we are never scheduled to go at the same time so that one of us can stay home with Joel. We look forward to more teaching responsibilities in the coming school year.
Thelma also works part-time in the offices of the denomination in downtown Vitória and has enjoyed her responsibilities there. Friends of ours have commented that our being here represents a perfect “marriage” of gifts and talents with the needs of the denomination here, and it is always rewarding to hear comments such as these.
Our son Joel is now 13, and has just recently completed the sixth grade. Michael, our son who will soon be 19, stayed in Londrina to study at the state university there. He visited us here in Vitória for a couple of weeks in July, and the picture of the bell choir includes our whole family, as Thelma and Joel have participated in the choir and Michael stepped in to help when he was visiting us in July. Michael will be returning to Vitória soon to spend Christmas with us. At the end of the month all four of us will travel to the States where we will visit family and friends in Atlanta, Georgia and Houston, Texas.
For those of you who receive our newsletters through the mail, we will probably be back in Vitória, and will have resumed our activities, by the time you read this. The letters on the website always include our pictures in color, which we would love for you to see, and are usually posted very shortly after we submit them.
We want to thank you all for your interest in our ministry, and for your prayers. We wish much happiness throughout 2011 for each of you, and we look forward to keeping in touch.
In Christ’s service,
Farris and Thelma Goodrum
The 2011 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 306