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A letter from Farris Goodrum in Brazil

January 2014

Dear Friends,

Farris teaching Sunday school in Vitoria

Greetings, again, from the island city of Vitoria, in southeastern Brazil. We have enjoyed the Christmas holidays and are awaiting all of the normal activities of the New Year and the new semester. We had much rain throughout the month of December and on into January. This state of Espirito Santo was especially hit with excessive rainfall, and there was much flooding throughout the state. There was a death toll of 23, and many people lost their homes, especially those who live near rivers or on muddy hillsides.

One day during this rainy season, while on the way to a rehearsal at our church, I found myself on flooded streets and had to jump curbs or go the wrong way on one-way streets, as all the other cars were doing, in order to escape the streets that had become like rivers and return home safely. A few days later I was going to the church again, this time with Thelma and Joel, on the way to our Christmas service, when we found ourselves in the same situation and turned back toward home. Relieved to arrive at our apartment without getting stuck in the floods, we called the church and found out that the service was cancelled due to the flooded streets.

Thelma with seminary students in Colatina

The Christmas service was rescheduled for the Sunday after Christmas, and it was no less of a celebration because of the delay!  I played a duet at the piano with 12-year-old Juliana, who is an excellent student of piano, and the choir that I direct, and in which Thelma sings, sang beautifully.  A couple of numbers were accompanied by a group of handbell players, which included Thelma and Joel and Juliana, and Joel also played guitar for the congregational singing as he is one of the regular guitarists for worship services.

Another beautiful Christmas service in which our choir and youth choir had participated (just before Christmas) was the Ecumenical Christmas Cantata, which we have every year. Choirs from two Catholic churches, a Lutheran church, and our United Presbyterian Church perform in a Christmas worship service each year, and these churches alternate hosting the program from year to year.  Adult choirs, youth choirs, and children’s choirs all participated this year, and it was a very nice program.

Thelma and Elissandro de Jesus

During the Christmas season we enjoyed dinners in the homes of friends and also enjoyed having friends to our home for dinner (when the weather permitted!). Two of our guests were Elissandro de Jesus and his wife, Marluce, who, while seated around the dinner table, shared their concerns about their neighborhood of Jardim Tropical (“Tropical Garden”), where Thelma and Elissandro have been involved in an evangelism project for several years. Elissandro grew up in this neighborhood where there are many gangs and where the fear of crime is a daily part of the lives of the residents of the neighborhood.  In an attempt to do his part to make Jardim Tropical a safer place to live Elissandro has become a leader in the Neighborhood Association, which seeks to rid the neighborhood of criminal activity such as the buying and selling of illegal drugs.  He fears, however, that he is being stalked by drug dealers who are not pleased with the work he is doing toward controlling gang activity.  Elissandro has been a Christian since he was a youth and has said that he has always felt God’s protecting presence in his neighborhood. Putting himself in a dangerous situation for the good of the neighborhood is something he believes God is calling him to do. Please pray for safety for Elissandro and his wife as he seeks to do his part to make Tropical Garden a safer place to live.

The church in Colatina at upper left, with flooded streets

Last semester I enjoyed teaching a five-week course in Sunday school about the importance of music in worship, and Thelma and I both taught courses at our seminary extension in the town of Colatina.  She taught a class in Old Testament theology to a group of students who will graduate as soon as they complete their final thesis, and I taught a Christian Education course to one student who was not able to take this course when it was offered for his classmates.

A river runs right through the middle of the small town of Colatina, and this river overflowed during the recent flooding.  Seminary classes are held in the United Presbyterian Church of Colatina, and we were distressed to see the damage that was done in the church, where all of the wooden pews were ruined, as were two pianos and other instruments, refrigerators, sound equipment, and many other things. The church is in the process of doing what needs to be done to get the church back in order.

Farris teaching in Colatina, before the church was flooded

We are inspired by those who gracefully suffer hardships, and we are also inspired by those who are preparing themselves for ministry in the church as well as those who desire to use their God-given talents in service to the church. We are pleased that God uses our gifts and talents here in Brazil, and that we are able to be a part of the community of the Presbytery of Vitoria. We thank you for your interest in our ministry, for your financial support, and for your prayers, and we count on your continued support of our ministry.

In Christ’s service,
Farris Goodrum

The 2014 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 61
Read more about Farris and Thelma Goodrum's ministry

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Individuals: Give to E200349 for Farris and Thelma Goodrum's sending and support
Congregations: Give to D506380 for Farris and Thelma Goodrum's sending and support

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  • Praying for you and your ministry. Thank you for the newsletter. We all enjoy receiving it. by Maria on 03/03/2014 at 6:40 a.m.

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