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Celebrating With Our Church Family

A letter from Gordon and Dorothy Gartrell, serving in Brazil

February 2019

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Dear friends and family,

In our church, members are very supportive of one another. We feel like we are part of a big family, and as such, we participate in lots of family events. In early January 2019, within a couple of weeks of each other, Maria Gálio celebrated her 80th birthday and Vane and Eliseu celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. Each family hosted very different services.

Weeks before Maria Gálio’s birthday, her daughter contacted Gordon and me about a date near her birthday when we wouldn’t be out of town attending the upcoming annual presbytery weekend meeting. We celebrated under an awning in her yard that helped weaken the sun’s bright reflection and deep heat. Six of her eight children and their spouses attended, as did lots of grandchildren. Many of the people she took in and helped raise were there, too.

The celebration began as lots of praise songs accompanied by a guitar filled the air. We all worshiped and thanked God for Maria Gálio’s 80 years. A friend sang a beautiful song, giving thanks to the Lord for her life. I spoke briefly, and Gordon gave a short homily. Brazilian snacks and birthday cake followed.

Maria Gálio is usually the first person at church: we often find her waiting on a bench near the church when we arrive. Because she lives a long way from church, she must get a ride to church from a family member, and someone in our church family takes her home. She always smiles, laughs and asks questions about how others are feeling or what’s happening in their lives. It’s relaxing and fun to be with her. Due to the danger in her neighborhood, she only comes to morning Sunday school, not evening worship.

Maria Gálio is loved and honored by the people in her neighborhood and is known for her care and help for others. On my daily morning walks, I pass her house twice. When I pass the first time, she is sitting inside by the door looking out. Though people passing her house can’t see her, they know that she is sitting inside by the door and that she can see them. I am amazed by how everyone greets her as they pass her house. When I pass her house on my way home, she is outside and greets and hugs me; then she asks how Gordon is doing and what’s up with the church folks.

Eliseu and Vane celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary during regular Sunday school time. Gordon led them in reaffirming their wedding vows during the service. The church was beautifully decorated by their daughters.

Afterwards, we all went to their house, and many friends joined us. We had special regional foods in the yard. Their eight children and spouses were present, as were grandchildren and a great granddaughter. Their children filled our cups with juice or soft drinks, plus made sure we returned for more food. Then, they sang songs special to the family and shared stories about their parents.

Most weekends, Eliseu and Vane have family who live out of town visiting. Vane cooks LOTS of food and makes sure their needs are met. At the party, she greeted everyone and found a seat for them. She made sure everyone was comfortable with each other. Eliseu, an 87-year-old town taxi driver, is a very happy man. He smiled ear to ear as he enjoyed the celebration.

In January 2020, we will be on a three-month interpretation assignment (IA). As usual, we will be living in Decatur, GA. We will be glad to travel across the United States to share more about our vibrant, loving community and our life in Brazil. We can share during worship or teach Sunday school. We can speak at youth group, prayer, and PW meetings. Whatever meets your needs. Please get us on your calendar before it fills up.

Gordon joins me in thanking you for supporting us financially, prayerfully and by sending email and notes. We enjoy hearing from you and will be glad to answer questions about our ministry or family. May the Lord bless you!

In Christ,
Dorothy


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