A letter from Farris Goodrum
Dear Friends and Family,
Greetings from the island city of Vitória, which is the capital of the southeastern Brazilian state of Espírito Santo, where we have been serving the United Presbyterian Church of Brazil since January 2010.
We had many interesting experiences in 2011. Thelma was ordained as a pastor by the United Presbyterian Church of Brazil in July of last year, and this has brought many new challenges and responsibilities for her. She serves as an assistant pastor at the “Maruípe” church, where we are members, and is also working in an evangelism project at another church in the presbytery called “Tropical Garden.” Due to unresolved conflicts this small church had lost a number of its members, but Thelma and a seminary student organized a visitation project to stimulate interest in revitalizing the life of the church, and several families have become active once again. The next phase of the project will be worship services in the homes of each of these families.
Thelma continues to work in the office of the United Presbyterian Church here in Vitória and teaches Pastoral Theology at the seminary extension in the town of Colatina, where she also orients several students in the preparation of their final thesis.
Last year I enjoyed teaching a Christian Education course at the seminary of the United Presbyterian Church. The results of this course were very positive for me and, I believe, for the students as well. I especially enjoy observing the student-led classes at the end of the course. One of the students, who is a member of our church, commented that the course came at just the right time as he is now the principal teacher for the young people’s class at church this year, and the course gave him a better understanding about how to plan creative, participative Sunday school classes.
I also enjoyed teaching a five-week course about the spiritual gifts for ministry to the youth and adult classes last year. This year I hope to teach about the importance of music in the church to these classes, and I look forward to this possibility.
Our son Joel, who is now 14, enjoyed the long summer vacation in December, January and part of February, but is now back at school in the 8th grade. He also enjoyed the church retreat during Brazil’s yearly “Carnaval,” where Thelma was one of the Bible study speakers. We have been very pleased with Joel’s involvement as one of the guitarists in worship services at our church. He also plays in the bell choir, which I direct. I direct a bell choir at another church in the presbytery called "Ibes" as well, and Thelma participates in this bell group. I enjoy directing children’s and adult choirs and I teach piano lessons in two churches. Several of my piano students have begun to play in church services, and it is always rewarding to see their progress.
Our son Michael is now 20, and we enjoyed having him with us during the long summer vacation. He had been studying at a university in Londrina, in southern Brazil, and when it came time for him to return to Londrina we all went together and had a wonderful week in the town where we had spent many years before coming to Vitória two years ago. It was great to see many dear friends, and the week was filled with much enjoyable activity. The church where we had been members in Londrina was celebrating its 13th birthday the Sunday we were there, and Thelma was invited to preach and I was asked to play the piano for the service. It was wonderful to be a part of the celebration and to see so many friends all at one time!
Michael has decided to transfer to a university in the States, so we are pleased that he will be going with us when we leave for our “home assignment” in July. We look forward to seeing many of you during the months that we will be in the States, and we will keep you informed of our plans in upcoming letters.
Thelma and I appreciate your interest in our ministry, and ask for your continued prayers.
Sincerely, in Christ’s service,
The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 27
I'M THANKFUL THAT BY GOD'S GRACE, YOU'VE BEEN ABLE TO UPHOLD "TROPICAL GARDEN" ... I'VE READ YOUR LETTERS AND I'M SO INSPIRED THAT YOU'VE BEEN ABLE TO DO ALL THOSE CHURCH ACTIVITIES.. I PRAY THAT GOD MAY CONTINUE TO SATISFY YOUR NEEDS IN EVERYDAY..GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY ^_^