A letter from Gordon and Dorothy Gartrell in the U.S., on Interpretation Assignment from Brazil
Individuals: Give online to E200489 for Gordon and Dorothy Gartrell’s sending and support
Congregations: Give to D506355 for Gordon and Dorothy Gartrell’s sending and support
Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery).
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Six months of IA (Interpretation Assignment) in some ways seems a long time. But in other ways it has gone quickly. We have visited churches in eight states, including Washington state. Our calendar filled up quickly. More churches extended an invitation for us to share our story, but we have run out of Sundays and have few midweek days left. Some of the churches we have visited have been supporting churches since 1990. Our children remember some of the churches we visited years ago when they were growing up. We have visited new churches as well. In each place we have been received with open arms. It has been a real joy to share our missionary story with interested groups and churches, to see old friends and also make new friends.
This has been the first overseas assignment that our children were not with us. Children open so many doors for ministry among a town’s people, school and their friends. Being “empty-nesters” puts us in a different category as far as ministry is concerned. While in the States we have reconnected with family. Our three children are all back in the States living lives as responsible adults. We have had a little time to reconnect with brothers and sisters, cousins, nephews and nieces, too. We catch a quick visit in between speaking engagements. We are thankful for those times that we can reconnect with family and close friends.
Dorothy has made time to take a couple of short courses at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga., to help in our ministry as we return in a couple of months. Our time in the States has also been used to “charge our spiritual batteries.” We need this time to be nurtured and nourished in the Lord. It is a joy to be saying the Lord’s Prayer during worship, and reciting the Apostles’ Creed, in English. It is fun sitting in the pew and hearing the choir sing. Since we work mostly with small churches, we don’t have choirs. As we worship in the many places Gordon has enjoyed seeing so many elders distributing the Communion elements. He thinks to himself, “It would be nice to have that many adults in worship.”
People in the U.S. and Brazil have asked us, “Do you like living in Brazil?” Yes, we are passionate about our work on the mission field. We love living in Brazil. We love the people and the culture. When they ask, Gordon answers, “Our call, our work, our vocation is in Brazil but we will retire in the United States.” As much as we love living in Brazil and have many roots there, it is definitely different from life here in the States. It is not that one place is better than the other—just different. When we are in Brazil we enjoy our lives there very much. When we are in the States we enjoy being here.
We spent eight days in Kentucky, speaking in various churches in Gordon’s home presbytery, the Presbytery of Western Kentucky. We had planned to stay with one of Dorothy’s high school friends in Nashville on the way home to Georgia Sunday night. Frigid winter weather was bearing down on western Kentucky and Tennessee and other places as well. Instead of being snowed in along the way home, we drove seven hours on dry roads to get home Sunday night instead of Monday. Western Kentucky had nine inches of snow and Nashville had six inches of snow, bringing the cities to a standstill. Friends were caught in Nashville because of the wintry weather. It was certainly a change from the tropical weather we are used to seeing.
Our work has changed over the years. We continue in evangelism, but we are also doing leadership development in the local church. We will be returning to Brazil April 23. We will be living in the city of Governador Mangabeira in the interior of the state of Bahia. We will be living a couple of hours away from the large city of Salvador. Our belongings have already arrived at the new location and are in storage in the church basement, waiting our arrival. This is the location the United Presbyterian Church of Brazil (IPU), in partnership with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), has said needs our services. Once we get there, we will need to be patient and truly see what their needs are before jumping in and doing what we think needs to be done. It is not easy to sit back and take stock before “jumping in with both feet” and then realizing that was not the direction God or the local church wanted or needed to go in.
We thank you for the chance to serve in Brazil. We need your prayers so we may have an effective ministry. Thanks so much to those who already support us financially. We need more churches and individuals to support us financially so we can stay on the field. We are excited about returning to Brazil to a new location and to a new assignment. Thank you for your support.
Gordon & Dorothy Gartrell
235 Inman Drive, Apt. 2B
Decatur, GA 30030-3834
The 2015 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 49
You 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.