A letter from Tim and Marta Carriker in Brazil
June 4, 2009
I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God’s Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present.
Philippians 1 (The Message)
On May 29, after a meeting that lasted about three and a half hours, the partnership between the presbyteries of the Northeast (Brazil) and of Mississippi PC(USA) was renewed. The meeting took place in Natal, at the CTM (Missionary Training Center), after I had the privilege of once again accompanying a short-term missionary journey to the interior of the state of Paraíba.
During this meeting the presbyteries recognized three important elements for the continuation of the partnership: (1) Attitude. Both sides expressed their desire to work together and a felt need for the partnership to strengthen both churches. (2) Dialogue and flexibility. Hearing the opinions, understanding the frustrations, and apologizing for misunderstandings are foundational for building a long-term relationship. (3) Appreciation. Love between brothers and sisters in Christ should be expressed through appreciation for the work God does through them.
All of these elements were present at this meeting. We also knew that there had been preparation and prayer, which we believe contributed to a smooth meeting. If we hope to work together cross culturally, we need the Holy Spirit to bind us in unity. I believe that the partnership will strive to broaden its actions to include other churches of the presbytery of the Northeast and that an important contribution from the Brazilian church will be made to the presbytery of Mississippi after this meeting. A committee from both partners was appointed to work on a document.
Group visit to Sertão Project II
Participants of this group, which was led by George and Linda Bates, came from Mississippi, Minnesota, and Oklahoma. A representative of PRENE (Presbytery of the Northeast) also joined us—Rev. Edmilson, from João Pessoa, the capital of Paraíba. The first thing we did was to visit the central office of the Independent Presbyterian Church of Brazil in São Paulo for orientation. In Natal, we participated in a talent evening with members of that presbytery, students from the CTM (Center for Missionary Training), and staff.
After traveling about five hours to the interior, we worshipped at the church in Patos. On Monday and Tuesday we had training for mothers of the pre-school students about the use of clean water. On both mornings we spent time with the children, helping them with crafts. All of them seemed very happy, which attested to the dedication of the teachers and staff of the pre-school.
One afternoon we joined Jango and a social worker from city hall to meet some of the victims of the recent floods. One woman invited us to come inside. The level the water reached during the flood could still be seen, and even though the walls were still wet inside the family had already returned to their home, at their own risk. City hall is paying six months of rent for those whose homes were destroyed altogether. We left some food contributions to be distributed later to these families.
From Patos we traveled about an hour to the city of Pombal, where we visited missionaries Raimundo and Valdívia. Raimundo is recovering from surgery to remove his thyroid. He is now undergoing radiation therapy. When we were at the church, Linda asked Valdívia, who has a beautiful voice, to sing for us. Raimundo accompanied her on the guitar and had a difficult time keeping from singing, which he enjoys very much. Later Valdívia sang another song “Do not fear,” holding his hand, an unforgettable demonstration of her trust in God and of her support and love. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room.
From Pombal we went to Cajazeiras, where we worshipped at a new church development, part of Sertão Project II. Missionaries Adão and Lígia have been there with their family for a couple of years and have recently been joined by the Rev. Jango Miranda, the coordinator of this project, and his family. The church service was lively with the participation of local soccer players who were special guests that evening. The visiting group was impressed by the creative approach of the missionaries to evangelize that city.
This was a very encouraging trip and once again I am thankful for all of you who support us in prayer and financially.
Tim and Marta
The 2009 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 295