Support the church’s response to Hurricane Ida — Give now

A Rewarding Visit with You

A Letter from Gordon and Dorothy Gartrell, serving in Brazil

March 2020

Write to Gordon Gartrell
Write to Dorothy Gartrell
Individuals: Give online to E200489 for Gordon and Dorothy Gartrells’ sending and support
Congregations: Give to D506355 for Gordon and Dorothy Gartrells’ sending and support
Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery)
Subscribe to our co-worker letters


“The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.” Psalm 121:8

Family, friends and supporters,

We have been in the United States on Interpretation Assignment (IA) from January through March. It has been a short visit, but we have been very busy and were able to visit most of the churches we had hoped to visit. We hope to visit our other supporting churches the next time we are in the U.S. We have spent every Sunday visiting churches in eight different states. It has been wonderful. We have also been able to visit friends and family members between church visits.

We divide our responsibilities wherever we are, whether in Brazil or on our IA in the U.S., making the entire process more enjoyable. Dorothy sets up most of the speaking engagements and does most of the clerical work. Since Dorothy’s epilepsy prohibits her from driving, Gordon has done all the driving, over 7,000 miles! He also helps out with communication as needed.

One extended visit was in Kentucky, where we lived from 1986-1990. Gordon still is a member of Western Kentucky Presbytery. When we served in Kentucky, Dorothy helped with Christian Education locally and in the presbytery. Our two oldest children, John and Elizabeth, were born in Kentucky, so our family experienced lots of new and different things there. This time we went to the Western Kentucky Presbytery meeting, where we spoke about our ministry, and shared our display. We then visited two other churches and longtime friends.

Visiting many different churches that support us was joyful and educational. One church had many choirs for children and adults, as well as a handbell choir. Some churches were very formal, and others were more modern. We taught a variety of Sunday school classes. Some were children’s classes, others were youth and adult classes, and still others were adult classes where adults of various ages gathered together.

We remember how sad our children were many years ago after we spoke to children’s Sunday School classes. Most of the students had a very distorted idea of Brazil. They only knew about the Amazon jungle and the celebration of the Mardi Gras in Rio de Janeiro. The Sunday School children thought only of the two extremes: natives living in the jungle and the people living in the large city. Our experience in Brazil is not so limited. We have lived in a town with a population of 2,000 and a large city with a population of 2,500,000 people. We know and love all Brazilians wherever they live.

On this IA, we witnessed a lot of things that we hadn’t witnessed before. During dinner one Saturday evening, and lunch the following Sunday with pastors, church leaders, and members of the Mission Committee, many people asked questions about the lifestyle in Brazil. The things they knew about Brazil were not up to date. We talked about the ways new Brazilian leaders were taking responsibility for the people they represent. They are trying to provide health care, education, and environmental protection for their constituents.

We talked about how smart and well-educated Brazilians are and how the churches are very different than they are here. Many churches participate in ecumenical activities with other churches.

During our two-week vacation in December, we were able to spend LOTS of time with our children. On Dec. 26, for the first time ever, our three children, two spouses, and two grandchildren were together! John, Elizabeth, and Daniel each spent individual time with us.

In late February, we began to have unplanned medical needs. Gordon had a regular eye exam and found out he had cataracts. He was able to have them both removed while we are close to good medical care. Dorothy hadn’t had seizures for over two years, but she fell when we were walking inside a mall. She went to the emergency room and had stitches in her mouth, on her lip, and her forehead. After the CAT scan, while at the emergency room lobby, she had a grand mal seizure and spent two days in the hospital. She was prescribed additional medication and is doing well after a few days of adjustment. IA does not always happen as we plan it, but God is still in control.

Thank you for your constant prayers and generous support for our ministry. Please continue to lift us up before the Throne of Grace. Our heavenly Father knows our needs better than we do ourselves. Pray for continued effectiveness for us in our work for the Lord in Brazil. Thank you for standing with us.

In Christian service,

Gordon and Dorothy Gartrell

Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

  • Subscribe to the PC(USA) News

  • Interested in receiving either of the PC(USA) newsletters in your inbox?