A letter from Farris Goodrum
We have recently had a very positive experience with a group of 11 who came from First Presbyterian Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to paint a church and to do some other painting projects in churches of the Presbytery of Vitória of the United Presbyterian Church of Brazil, where we have been assigned since January 2010. There were 6 adults and 5 young people in this group, and we were impressed with the tireless way they worked, and with their positive attitudes and cooperation throughout their time with us.
Last year Thelma and I had seen that some of the churches in the presbytery were in bad need of a paint job, so we began conversations with friends at First Presbyterian in Tuscaloosa, which has long been a supporting church, and which has a strong commitment to missions and sends work teams to churches around the world that request their help. We were pleased when our presbytery here was chosen as a place to receive a work team this year, and we were further pleased by the positive reaction within the Brazilian community, because receiving a team such as this was a new experience for this presbytery, and we had hoped that it would be a positive experience for everyone.
There was a very busy schedule of work and play. Besides the work schedule we took the group to visit several of the churches in the presbytery, and they learned about some of the projects and plans of these churches, whose members and pastors became friends as the two-week experience progressed.
There was also time for tourism; we visited some of the beautiful sights and interesting places in and near this beautiful island city. The group was housed at First United Presbyterian Church in downtown Vitória, where they had many opportunities for social gatherings. There were also cookouts and parties and other interesting activities, and there was even a country hoedown, Brazilian style! Thelma and I were pleased to see how the Brazilian community reached out to these visitors and made them feel very welcomed.
On the one Sunday that the group was in Vitória they participated in Sunday school at one of the churches where they were painting, and that evening they participated in the worship service at the church that Thelma and Joel and I attend. It was a joyful service with much enthusiastic singing and special musical presentations, and the group from Tuscaloosa pleased the congregation when they ended with a song they sang in Portuguese. After church a large group, numbering around 60 people, went out to eat at a restaurant where typical Brazilian food is served. It took a while for our large group to get served, but a good time was had by all!
The closing worship service, on a Wednesday evening, provided the opportunity to say “Thank you” for the very special experience we had had. The people from the presbytery here expressed their thanks for a job well done, and for the new friendships that had developed between the groups, and our friends from Tuscaloosa thanked everyone in the presbytery for all that had been done to make it a very positive experience for them. Thelma and I thanked the group for answering our request to come to help out and make a contribution to the life of the presbytery here, expressing the belief that when groups from different communities in the Body of Christ come together, Jesus makes himself present in special ways, and that is what happened during the time that we spent together!
There are many special lessons to be learned from this type of mission experience, and we are grateful to God for the blessings received during our time together.
Our son Michael continues his studies at a university in Londrina, which is about 1,000 miles from where we live. Joel is soon to be 14, and it is hard to believe how quickly the years have gone by! Thelma and I would appreciate your continued prayers for our family, and for our ministry with the United Presbyterian Church of Brazil here in Vitória.
Sincerely, in Christ’s service,
(for the Goodrum family)