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Our Loving Church Family

A Letter from Gordon and Dorothy Gartrell, serving in Brazil

June 2019

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Dear Friends,

In Brazilian churches, the month of May is known as the MONTH OF THE FAMILY. Churches integrate special activities to celebrate the family. Our church decided to have prayer meetings in members’ homes for a week. Customarily, if someone offers to host, on Tuesday nights we meet in members’ homes for prayer meetings. We meet in different neighborhoods, which helps more people be able to attend. During this special week, however, on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we met in congregants’ homes. Thursday night was a regular church night for Bible study and prayer meeting, so we met at church, our shared home. Then on Friday, we met in someone’s home again. The initiative came from church members. Nice!

In Brazil, Mother’s Day is the second Sunday of the month, just like in the United States. The children in Sunday School make something for their moms as a small gift. All the moms received a present from the church as well. Father’s Day is celebrated in August. To celebrate individual families and our church family, we will probably have a week of prayer in church members’ homes again in August.

We are delighted to be able to share other things that are happening with our Brazilian church family with you. Our church family is growing! We received two new members in the spring. In the fall, we plan to start a communicant’s class for those wishing to learn more about the church and church membership.

In addition to gaining new individual members, we are expanding our family to include those outside of our congregation. Since last year, Rev. Claudio Marcio, pastor of the Presbyterian church in the next town, has led a Bible study at our church once a month. Gordon does the same for their church, fostering good relationships between the two churches. Rev. Claudio is the moderator of the local presbytery. There is a congregation that belongs to the presbytery some 300 kms (187 miles) from here, a four-hour drive on a quite deserted highway. Each month, a pastor of the presbytery is designated to go and celebrate Holy Communion with this small group of believers. We went the first time in March and returned the last Sunday of May. We go on Saturday, have Sunday school Sunday morning, and the main worship Sunday evening when it is cooler. We return home Monday morning to avoid driving on the deserted highway at night. For the time being, the church meets in a garage.

We have two different couples in our church who are engaged. The church family is encouraging both couples in their walk with the Lord. One couple leads a Bible study in an adjacent town each Tuesday. It came about through their own initiative as a response to spiritual needs. The other couple participates regularly in worship and will be attending a young people’s convention for all young adults in the denomination later this month.

Our church family is also blessed with children. Dorothy is finding fulfillment in teaching the younger children, ages 4-8, in Sunday school. Before, all children up to age 15 were grouped together. Another part of her ministry and outreach to the community is teaching English as a second language. She teaches several different groups and individuals: young children 6-8 years old and two young women, one preparing for the national college entrance exam and one already in college. She volunteers at a learning center for students with learning challenges. It is fun to see the students’ enthusiasm and joy as they learn English.

We rejoice that in preparation for its 70th anniversary at the end of July, our church has completed some much-needed repairs. The sanctuary has been painted inside and out. The wooden benches have been upholstered, making them more comfortable. The rough cement walkway between the sanctuary and the classrooms where water infiltration was taking its toll has now been replaced with ceramic tiles. It looks totally different and is so much more inviting. We are proud of our church home.

We’d like to ask you to pray for one of our older church members. Dona Idalina is 88 years old and needs cataract surgery. She is on the government health plan and has been waiting for three years. She recently had many medical exams that will only remain valid for three months. If she is not called for surgery during that period, she will need to do the pre-surgery exams all over again. We are praying earnestly that she will indeed be able to have her surgery soon, and that it will be a great success.

As you can see, we love our church family in Brazil. We would like to give you, our church family in the U.S., a “heads up” concerning when we can speak to your church or specific group within the church. We will be on interpretation assignment (IA) in January, February and March 2020. You can reach us through our e-mail to set up a date when we might come and share stories of our work in Brazil and fellowship with you.

We very much appreciate being (PC)USA mission co-workers serving the Lord here in Brazil. Thank you for standing with us in the work of the church in leadership development and evangelism. Thank you for your constant prayers — they uphold us. Thank you for your financial support, for it allows us to do God’s work here. To God be the glory!

In Christian service,

Gordon and Dorothy Gartrell


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