A letter from Gordon and Dorothy Gartrell in Brazil
May the Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with each of you,
Brazilians are influenced by some different things from people in the United States of America. Some of them influence our church work. One of them is Children's Day.
HAPPY CHILDREN'S DAY
Children's Day is a VERY IMPORTANT holiday in Brazil. When our children were small they often asked, "Why doesn't the U.S. have Children's Day instead of just Mother's Day and Father's Day?" Our church had a fun party for the neighborhood children. The church was decorated with balloons, and we played lots of games. For some games we divided the children by age and played appropriate games. We had cake, ice cream (which a mother made) and soft drinks, plus small gifts for the children. It was fun to see how the mothers pitched in to make it a special party. One mother made two cakes (buying the supplies with money she had been given), a couple of mothers donated lots of candy that was used to fill party bags that another mother had made. As I mentioned, one mother made ice cream, and about 12 mothers came to help. It's just another way we hope to reach out to children and show the adults that they have a place in the church. The church needs them, values the part they can play, and would like them to worship with us regularly.
On Wednesday nights we have a fun Children's Meeting. We pray, sing, present a Bible lesson, and then provide them with an activity or two that reinforces the message of the story. Recently we have been studying about Jesus' life here on earth. The Gospel stories have been told in a creative way, hopefully enabling the children to remember them. One evening Dorothy told about Lazarus being brought back to life after being in the tomb for four days. Jesus (Dorothy) commanded Lazarus to "Come forth." Lazarus (Gordon) was in the classroom room and came out, unwrapping his ace bandages as he appeared.
Another story was when Jesus was asleep in the bottom of the boat when a huge storm began. Motions of the enormous waves splashing over the heads of the children and feeling the strong winds were portrayed. Suddenly, after slowly waking up, Jesus pointed at one of them and LOUDLY said, "Quiet, be still!" The children were amazed and still remember that story.
We have talked about the Bible: its two sections, and the New Testament being about Jesus and the beginning and growth of the Christian church. Recently the children were asked if they could name the first four books of the New Testament that talked about Jesus' life. We were happy when they could name the Gospels in order! Now we are going to study about the beginning of the Christian church. The other night Dorothy was Peter, one of Jesus' disciples. Peter began by saying he was present when Jesus performed a number of miracles, and he asked the children questions, which happily they could answer. Then Peter talked about going to the Temple and seeing the lame man (Gordon) asking for coins. Peter used the power of Jesus Christ to heal him. Then after the story the children either colored a picture about the story or worked on a Word Search Dorothy had made with 15 words from the story. A variety of options help us reach a wide age range of children.A 4-year-old boy, Lucas, joyfully runs to greet us each time he sees our car. He enjoys helping Gordon raise the metal doors of the church. When we have meetings, he runs home to put a T-shirt on and quickly returns to the church. He enjoys holding the Bible and has looked through the Children's Bible page by page, from cover to cover, quite a number of times. He often can be found stretched out under the Communion table leafing through the Children's Bible pages before the children's meeting begins. He has a number of favorite stories that he can tell even though he can't read.
In November we attended a National Evangelism Conference. The daughter of a couple we previously worked with was getting married near there. We worked out a way to catch a flight to the conference a few days early, take a 12-hour bus trip, and go to the wedding. At the conference we learned a number of new paths that will enable us to reach out to new people in our neighborhood in Belem, and we saw a number of friends with whom we have previously worked. Our daughter, Elizabeth, was in the wedding, so after the conference she visited us in Belem for two weeks.
During our first year in Belem, starting a new church, there have been many joys, challenges and questions about whether we're doing the right thing. It's wonderful to see the children's smiling faces and feel their uplifting hugs as we arrive at church. Some parents have thanked us for making a difference in their children's lives, but at the same time it is hard to see lots of empty chairs at the worship services. People in the neighborhood now realize and believe that we're there because we love the Lord. We want them to know that Lord and that they're special to us, even if they don't attend church. They're happy to assist in special activities for the children and attend activities for themselves. The Lord has laid it upon our hearts that even if one person comes to accept Him as Lord and Savior, we have added to His kingdom.
Recently our computer was "hacked", so we now have a new address. If you don't have our new email address, you can always reach us through our PC(USA) page, mentioned below, and we will get back in touch with you.
Please pray that our ministry in Belem will reach out to more adults and that we can put into practice what we learned at the Evangelism Conference. Prayers have been answered as Dorothy's health has improved. Your prayer support is crucial to our work.
Thank you so much for your prayers, letters and financial support. We would like to invite you to visit our page at http://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/missionconnections/gartrell-gordon-dorothy/ to read more about our ministry and learn how to contribute. Your financial contribution will enable us to continue working to bring the people of Belem the Good News. With your help, more days will be like Children’s Day as the love of Jesus becomes known through this ministry!
May the Lord's blessings touch each of you throughout 2013.
Love in Christ,
Dorothy and Gordon Gartrell
Caixa Postal 4037
66113-970 Belem, PA
The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, Brazil, p. 27-28
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