Living in community as we do at WEC's Missionary Training College in Brazil, I suppose it's inevitable that we're quickly aware of any losses suffered by community members. MTC has only been in session for a month but already we're feeling the various types of losses experienced by students and staff.
A new student gets word that her grandmother has died suddenly. Thankfully, as Mirtes is from Montes Claros, she's able to go home for the funeral. On the other hand, missing all the orientation makes her first month more complicated.
We pray for Guiomar (Director of Student Ministries) and her husband, Janolov (Maintenance), back from a three-month visit to see their teenage children and relatives in Sweden. The time together was special, but now both parents and children are feeling the distance between them.
Deda, another local student, falls and breaks her ankle. Alicia and another staff member spend the day with her in a hospital corridor waiting for a bed to become available. It's a bad break, requiring a pin. Although now back at MTC, Deda is virtually immobile with her huge cast. All fourth-year classes and various meetings are currently being held in her student house, testing the flexibility of teachers.
Billie May gets an E-mail informing her that her mother passed away several days previously in the States. Because of problems we've had with the telephone system, Billie's family were unable to get word to her more quickly. One feels very far away from home at times like this. Billie's consolation has partly been the special memories of her 80-year-old mother's visit to MTC in December. (My mother's visit to Brazil last July apparently helped to inspire the needed courage to make the long journey.)
Vanusa, a third-year student, is shocked to learn that her father has died and she leaves immediately to spend a week with her family. Her town is just three hours from here, so several staff and students attend the funeral.
The normal grieving process has been complicated by her family's insistence that her duty - being the youngest unmarried daughter - is to stay with her mother. The family is strongly Catholic, unable to understand her evangelical faith and her call to mission work. On the one hand, she wants to be a dutiful daughter. On the other hand, she feels that the pressure to make her leave Bible College is part of a spiritual battle. Since Vanusa's married sister lives very near her mother and since Vanusa's brother lives at home, the family could be supportive of her desire to complete her studies if they were interested.
Roberto, a first-year student, shares with the College that a special aunt, partly responsible for bringing him up, has died. He's from south Brazil, and so can't get home for the funeral....
Roberto learns that another aunt is critically ill. His pastor suggests that, with all the difficulties his family is experiencing, he should give up MTC and return home. Robert, doubtful that this is the Lord's will, asks for prayer.
Carol Green, helping this semester to fill the gap left by Joan Mundy in terms of English teaching, receives some difficult news. Her parents in England ring to say that her brother, who'd fought various addictions for years, has passed away.
Carol heads for home. She hopes to be back in a few weeks to complete the term. In the meantime, I share out her classes amongst those of us who teach English.
Viruses going around result in lost classes for some and extra duties for others. Students who spent their holidays on placements (Chile or Bolivia) are struggling a little with tiredness but have shared a lot about the Lord's faithfulness to them. The "losses" they experienced during the trip were mainly
positive ones: less ethnocentrism; less pride; less independence.
Losing colleagues whom one appreciates is always hard. This time, it's our Administrator, Telma, who feels she should move on. As well as the loss of her professional capabilities, we'll feel the loss of a friend, an intercessor, a student counsellor.
Of course, this type of loss is tempered by the assurance that God is faithful. He can meet all MTC's needs and also treat our colleague's burnout. But we're very aware of needing prayer for those who, at least in the short-term, will have to deal with various extra responsibilities.
Linde, my secretary although at present only working mornings, is questioning whether she should continue her job since she's losing so much time with her five-month-old daughter....
...Over the last month, I and others here have shed tears with those who've been bereaved and also because we feel the loss of various colleagues. If Linde now decides to leave, my emotions may be a bit different, as the loss will be for a very good cause. However, there will obviously be work-load implications for me and the Teaching Department.
I hope the above gives some direction for prayer. Although it gives the impression of a tough beginning, we're constantly aware of God's goodness. For example, while very sorry that the Dwyer family had to return to Canada in February for family reasons, we're grateful that Ann (ex-Dean of Studies) and her husband, Jose Rocha, are living at MTC this year and helping in various areas.
Continuity – and Change
At WEC Brazil's January conference, Rosifran was elected MTC Principal for another three years.
I continue as Dean of Studies but have gained the title, 'Vice-Principal'. With added responsibilities. I'm grateful that I now have my own house, allowing a bit more flexibility in my routine. (Billie May is now in the end house. As it's a peaceful setting, she feels she's gained from the move!)
Grateful for your fellowship.
With much love, Karina.