A letter from Gordon and Dorothy Gartrell serving in Brazil
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Dear friends and family,
We are south of the equator, so this time of year is our summer. It’s been very hot and unfortunately seriously dry. Our church work has NOT been dry, but lively and refreshing. Presbytery meetings here are held yearly and last from Friday to Sunday, beginning with committee meetings on Friday afternoon. We have only seven churches in our presbytery spread out over this large state. The last few meetings have been in a meeting center in the capital, Salvador. We hosted the January 2017 meeting. It was a wonderful experience for us and those who attended. There were about 40 people there. Our church members have the gift of hospitality and are realizing they can serve the Lord by opening their hearts and homes to others. They are good cooks, so their meals are delicious too. The attendees spent two nights and ate five meals with us. They slept in our homes and ate together at the church. Our church used to have an elementary school, so it has a small but nice kitchen in which large meals can be cooked. The presbytery meeting began with a meeting of the Adult Group on Friday afternoon. Some years ago the Women’s Group and the Men’s Group merged into one group. Our church has reinstated its Adult Activities Group. The presbytery meeting continued to deal with issues for all the churches, like meetings in the U.S. Here we divide into committees that deal with the issues. The committees read the pastors’ and committees’ reports of their work and then they read their summarized report to the whole group, where important decisions are acted upon.
Our Adult Group is offering a variety of activities, including two “diaper showers,” when people brought gifts of diapers for needy women, a monthly food drive, a service celebrating International Women’s Day, and a week of prayer meetings. The meetings were an enriching experience, uniting the church members. We learned about different examples and types of prayer and ways it was used in the Bible. We talked about how we could enhance our own prayer life and develop it into a deeper part of our lives. We had about 20 people each night. Unfortunately our town has become violent due to drugs. We met in homes, so people could walk to the meeting when it was near their house. Most church participants don’t have cars.
Now it is summer vacation for the schools. Before vacation began the Children’s English Classes had a final party. The students sang a song and performed the song “Head Shoulders Knees and Toes,” because they had learned the names of the body parts. Then we enjoyed an American snack—chocolate chip cookies. In Brazil we have other types of snacks and cookies, but Brazilians always enjoy chocolate chip cookies. The adults wanted their classes to continue during vacation, so they have. Dorothy tutors two adult groups. One of her students is an elder from the church who is in her 70s. The other session is with a “stay-at-home mother.” She worked until the week before her daughter was born, so she was a little scared to stay at home, but she loves motherhood. She was a teacher and in the past taught middle school, including English. She is studying to improve her English with the hope of getting a job in the future. She studied before with an Australian woman, so her English is a bit different from ours. Isabella, now 6 months old, also participates in the classes with a smile, google or cry. School begins again March 6. Once school is back in session, English classes with the children will start again.
There was a problem with the PC(USA)’s mailing system in 2016, so letters we had written in the summer and fall weren’t sent. Both we and the church are sorry. Finally, our last letter was sent three months after we wrote it. Our newsletter can now be received via email, if you would like to receive it quickly. Go to www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/missionconnections/gordon-and-dorothy-gartrell/ and press the blue bar, indicating you’d like to receive our newsletter.
A new school year is beginning soon and many people will be returning into “normal routines.” Please pray that the church will be a part of their routines and the church will daily grow stronger. Thank you for your prayers and your financial support. Your gifts enable us to continue our work here, bringing the love and joy of Christ to these people. May the Lord bless each of you daily.
Gordon and Dorothy
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