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A letter from Farris Goodrum

June 2012

Dear Friends and Family,

Thelma at the Tropical Garden church with Dona Minalda and her son Marco

Recently a moving company brought boxes to our apartment so that we could begin to pack.  At the end of each term all of our belongings must be put into storage before we can travel to the States for Home Assignment, and the arrival of the boxes was a clear reminder that our term here in Vitória is coming to an end and that we must get busy with the packing process. This tiring task is probably the least enjoyable part of a term of missionary service, but it provides a good opportunity to look back to the day, two and a half years ago, that we moved into this apartment with its beautiful ocean view, and to remember how God has guided and directed us throughout all of our activities since that day.

Packing will not be our only activity as the term comes to an end.  We hope to have friends over for meals before our time here runs out (and before the dishes get packed!) and we have already received invitations for meals at the homes of friends in the churches here. One dear friend even moved the date of her birthday cookout back a couple of days so that we could attend since her actual birthday will be after we have already left.

Friends of ours have been talking about our leaving for months now.  “We hate for you to leave us now,” they often say, “as it seems like you just got here!” “It won’t be the same without you. Please hurry back!” Brazilians tend to be friendly and sentimental, and we appreciate the fact that they don’t want us to leave and are already looking forward to our return.  It is a special blessing to know that we have been appreciated.

Many of our regular activities will continue until our very last days here. Thelma continues to teach at our seminary extension in the town of Colatina on certain weekends throughout the semester, and she works each weekday afternoon in the office of the United Presbyterian Church in downtown Vitória. She is also involved in a visitation project in one of the churches of the denomination, with the hope of revitalizing the life of that congregation by bringing members back to the church who had drifted away, and by inviting people to be a part of the church who had not previously had a church home.  It has been a long, arduous task in the impoverished neighborhood called “Tropical Garden,” but the results of hard work are paying off.  One day Thelma visited an elderly lady, Dona Minalda, whose son had died after a long period of illness. She appreciated Thelma’s visit so much that day, and another of her sons, Marco, expressed his joy that he and his family had been invited back into the fellowship of the church. “I don’t know how we would have gotten through this difficult experience,” he said, “if you had not encouraged us to return to the church!”

The children's choir at the Maruípe church

We continue our activities at the Maruípe church, where we are members. Thelma serves as the assistant pastor and teaches the teenagers’ Sunday school class.  I direct the adult choir, in which Thelma sings, and also direct the adolescent bell choir and children’s choir.  My work with the small children’s choir (only about nine members when all are present) has been a great encouragement, as it thrills the church to see the children participating in worship services with so much enthusiasm. Not long ago the children’s choir presented a cantata, which was written by a local Brazilian minister of music. The children were pleased to have the opportunity to provide the message through song for the worship service that night.

Thelma and our son Joel play in another bell choir that I direct in a church in a neighborhood called “Ibes,” in the town of Vila Velha, which is the nearest town on the mainland from this island city of Vitória. This bell group will play in a special service at our church in Maruípe on June 17, and our last presentation will be at the Ibes church on the first of July. Bell choirs are not common in Brazil, so the music of the bells in church services is considered something very special, especially since the bell ringers are members of this presbytery.

The Maruípe church will celebrate its 60th anniversary at the end of June, and I have been asked to organize a musical concert for the occasion.  The choirs will sing, and the bells will ring, and there will be solos and duets and instrumental numbers.  I have been teaching piano lessons throughout our time here in Vitória, and I look forward to having my students play on this program also. The first pastor of this church, when the church was founded 60 years ago, was also a pianist and composer, so the church has a long tradition of musical appreciation. We have been pleased that Joel has become one of the guitarists for worship services at Maruípe.

When the semester comes to an end and when the task of packing is completed, we will travel to the States, where we will look forward to sharing with many of you in person during the 2012-2013 school year.  We plan to arrive at Mission Haven, in Decatur, Georgia, on July 17.  Joel will be entering the 9th grade at Decatur High School, and our son Michael, who has studied at a university in southern Brazil for two years, hopes to transfer to Georgia State University in Atlanta, so we are glad that he will be with us at Mission Haven also.

Thelma joins me in thanking you for your interest in our ministry here in Brazil. We appreciate your support and ask for your continued prayers.

In Christ’s service,

Farris Goodrum

Address after July 17:
167 Inman Drive
Decatur, GA 30030-3831
Telephone: (404) 373-3733

 

The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 27

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