Support the church’s response to Hurricane Ida — Give now

Planting Seeds and Witnessing Growth

A Letter from Gordon and Dorothy Gartrell, serving in Brazil

October 2018

Write to Gordon Gartrell
Write to Dorothy Gartrell
Individuals: Give online to E200489 for Gordon and Dorothy Gartrells’ sending and support
Congregations: Give to D506355 for Gordon and Dorothy Gartrells’ sending and support
Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery)
Subscribe to our co-worker letters


Dear supporters, friends and family,

It is most touching for us that seeds that were planted in the mission field both recently and long ago not only have grown and given fruit, but also continue to grow and help the next generation along life’s different paths. Much like the parable in Matthew 25:14-29 in which people given bags of gold used them differently and had different returns … We want to tell you about two seeds that were planted in the past that have produced different gifts that bless people in different ways and in different locations. In this letter, we will share the stories of Eloide A.A. Botelho, a psychologist, and Veronica Macedo Aguar Marra, a lawyer we worked with when she was a young girl.

Eloide invited us to attend the Second Annual Mental Health Seminar about holistic approaches to mental health that was held in the city of Goiania in the heart of Brazil, near the capital of Brasilia. Gordon’s parents, Ethelbert and Sandy Gartrell, were Presbyterian missionaries in Brazil for 31 years. During those years, they made scholarships available for young people to study at the Edward Lane Bible Institute in the state of Minas Gerais. Upon graduation, these young people served churches in Christian education as teachers or in other roles.

When Gordon’s parents came to Brazil in 1951 and were in language school, Eloide’s mom helped around the house. In time, his parents sent her mom to the Bible Institute. Fast-forward many years. His parents likewise made it possible for Eloide to attend the Bible Institute. After completing her studies, she remained at the Bible Institute and learned music in hopes of helping in the work of the church. Then she asked Gordon’s mom where she should go and what she should do to serve. Gordon’s mom said, “It does not matter to me where you go, but whatever you do always follow Jesus.” She taught in a church-sponsored school for 20 years.

While teaching, Eloide went back to school and studied psychology. She now has her master’s in psychology, and her dream of having her own practice and helping others face their traumas and learn from them has become a reality. She and two other professionals are practicing holistic mental health, using both science and biblical principals in counseling sessions. Eloide wanted to honor Gordon’s parents for all they did for her family through the years and asked Gordon and his siblings if they would allow her to use their parents’ name in her practice. Gordon and his siblings have all given her legal consent to name her practice Instituto Gartrell.

Veronica, whose ministry is very different, is a wife and mother who serves as a lawyer in the state government of Tocantins in the Secretary of Finance’s office. During our first term (1990-1994), we worked where she grew up in Parana, Tocantins, a very small, rural town. Schools were not very good, with up to 50 students in a class and many students repeating a year or two before dropping out or graduating. Teachers were not highly educated. Veronica was a young teenager living in a dirt-floor house, and unlike many teenagers, wore plain clothes. She had no books to read or other things that teenagers living in large cities had.

Veronica began attending Sunday school at the church we were organizing. Later, she participated in youth group activities like a trip to the next town where her youth group met together with another youth group for a weekend of Bible study and recreation. In giving youth a chance to see another town and meet new people, the trip opened these young people’s eyes to the many possibilities for their own lives. When Dorothy began offering free English lessons to the youth in town, Veronica took advantage of the opportunity, studied hard and enjoyed learning.

After we moved to a new assignment in 1995, the state and town began to develop the education system and the town became more prosperous. Veronica started teaching in a local school in 1997 when she was 18 years old, immediately upon her graduation from high school. Later, she moved to Palmas, the capital of Tocantins, and began college. She worked and studied hard as a mother and student, earning her law degree in 2018. Veronica has two children: Bruna, age 20, is studying nursing, and Liza, age 16, is in high school and serves as a teacher’s assistant in English classes. Veronica’s husband works with computers.

In addition to serving as a state employee with the Department of Finance, she is committed to the church. She participated in the Presbyterian Church for 20 years and is now active in another church in the state capital. God’s faithfulness has continued to be with her through the years. We praise God for her continued walk with the Lord.

We are so grateful for our work in Brazil that allows us to plant seeds and witness their germination and growth. It is possible because of the financial support of individuals like you and churches like yours. Please pray about beginning or increasing your gifts to our ministry and that our work will continue to reach out to more people and help them strengthen their faith.

In Christ,

Gordon and Dorothy

Please read this important message from José Luis Casal, Director, Presbyterian World Mission

Dear partners in God’s mission,

We near the close of 2018 inspired by the hope of Christ. God is transforming the world, and you are helping to make it happen.

Thank you very much for your support of our mission co-workers. The prayers and financial gifts of people like you enable them to work alongside global partners to address poverty, hopelessness, violence and other pressing problems in the name of Jesus Christ.

Every day, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission co-workers are blessed to be able to walk alongside their brothers and sisters across the globe. Listening to each other in faith and in friendship, they learn from each other how to work towards a world in which everyone flourishes. Acting upon what they discover together, PC(USA) mission co-workers and our global partners strengthen the body of Christ.

Because you are an integral part of God’s mission, I invite you to become more deeply committed to Presbyterian World Mission. First, would you make a year-end gift for the sending and support of our mission co-workers? The needs in the world are great, and World Mission is poised to answer God’s call to serve others.

I also invite you to ask your session to add our mission co-workers to your congregation’s prayer list and mission budget for 2019 and beyond. Your multi-year commitment will make a great difference in our involvement with our partners. The majority of our mission co-workers’ funding comes from the special gifts of individuals and congregations like yours, for God’s mission is a responsibility of the whole church, not a particular area of the church. Now more than ever, we need your financial support!

In faith, our mission co-workers accept a call to mission service. In faith, World Mission, representing the whole church and you, sends them to work with our global partners. In faith, will you also commit to support this work with your prayers and financial gifts? With hope and faith, I await your positive response!

At God’s service and at your service!

José Luis Casal

P.S. Your gift will help meet critical needs of our global partners. Thank you!

Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou 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.

  • Subscribe to the PC(USA) News

  • Interested in receiving either of the PC(USA) newsletters in your inbox?