A letter from Gordon and Dorothy Gartrell serving in Brazil
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We arrived in Governador Mangabeira, in the state of Bahia, in late April. It is a town of 20,000 people. The town is 80 miles from Salvador, which is the state capital and has 3.9 million inhabitants.
We had spent six months in Decatur, Ga., on our Interpretation Assignment (IA). Our things were stored here. Our move was very smooth and peaceful. There were some difficulties, such as things lost in the move, but with our trust in the Lord, we handled them very peacefully. Our bedrooms and kitchen are smaller than in our previous houses, so it will take a while to know where to put things, etc. The people have welcomed us wonderfully. We will continue to use our email address email@example.com. You can contact us via Skype, also.
We know we are back on the mission field. We arrived on a Friday afternoon. Sunday morning we both taught Sunday School and that evening Gordon preached. The following Saturday evening was our Installation Service. Presbytery leaders installed us as mission co-workers assigned to this presbytery. About 100 people attended the service. The church had invited many people from the community. Delicious refreshments and socializing followed the service. Usually about 20 people attend worship. We are visiting people, inviting them to participate in the church. With a pastor there will be more activities for them.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him… Romans 15:13
As we began our new assignment we received news that the PC(USA) did NOT receive as many contributions for mission service during 2014 as was needed to continue all of the work of mission co-workers around the world. Seven mission co-worker families or individuals are being called back to the United States in the coming months and others might have to come back in the future. We are humbled by the great response of support we received while on our Interpretation Assignment. Many of the churches we visited while in the U.S. on our Interpretation Assignment have responded generously by giving a gift or increasing their support to our work. Thank you so much for doing that! If you can begin to support us or support us more generously, please consider doing that. Every gift that we receive will help us and other mission co-workers around the world to stay in our countries of service longer.
Please support PC(USA) World Mission by reading the newsletter that a number of former PC(USA) General Assembly moderators wrote. It can be accessed at the following Web address: http://bit.ly/1cgHkGj Read the letter, then sign it to show your support for PC(USA) mission work.
Meanwhile in Brazil, mission continues. Our partner church sends a van to a neighborhood on the edge of town, so there are regularly 20 children in Sunday School, ranging in age from 5 to 13. A retired teacher leads the class by herself, so Dorothy helps the teacher. She helps some of the children do the written activity and tries to enable others to stay attentive to the lesson. Mother’s Day is a VERY important holiday in Brazil, so Dorothy gave the teacher some suggestions of special things the children could do and shared some material she had brought from the United States and things we had from our previous work in Brazil. Gordon will teach Sunday School in the morning, preach each Sunday evening, and lead a combined Bible Study and Prayer Meeting during the week.
Moving includes a number of activities that took us to other towns. Just a few: Gordon had to transfer his driver’s license in a nearby town and in another town; we had to transfer our bank account. In a third city we bought a car and had it licensed in yet another town. In time everything will fall into place and we can begin to visit more people and see how we can strengthen the church.
We have learned that celebrating birthdays is done differently in the places where we have worked. In the first town where we worked people came to the person’s house at midnight to ensure the person that they were remembering it was their birthday and to begin the celebration. In another location it was considered bad luck to begin to celebrate the birthday before the actual date. In another place the person who was celebrating a birthday provided the cake and refreshments. There was not a marked time for a celebration, but people are expected to come sometime in the evening. In many places where we lived people have a worship service, giving thanks for another year of life. This year when the church found out Gordon’s birthday was in May, they wanted to have a worship service and then surprise him with delicious typical birthday foods.
One Sunday an elder led the liturgy in the worship service and the next day she took us to her farm where she grows orange trees. When her husband’s health began to decline, they built a house in town. Today she is a widow. She is very comfortable with the farm, having lived there for many years. She wore a linen skirt the day she took us to the farm and informed us that the oranges we were picking were not the best to eat off the trees, but better for juice. Brazilians usually peel the orange with a knife and suck the juice without eating the pulp. When she asked Dorothy if she was ready for another orange, she realized that Dorothy was slowly eating the pulp. She laughed and said she knew Dorothy was an American.
We appreciate your prayers and support as we settle into our new assignment here in Brazil.
Dorothy and Gordon Gartrell
The 2015 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 49
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