I started this letter in July, intending to send it while still in the UK. Then my computer gave up. Three rushed days later, I was back in Brazil. As a result, I now have a lot to summarise in one letter!
Recap: Home Leave
"May God bless your time in the UK, restoring your health, refreshing your mind and giving you joy and peace in His Son."
That was a friend's prayer for me in December 2001.
How did God answer?
Yes, Home Leave provided refreshment as I caught up with family and friends, had a holiday and read. I thoroughly enjoyed all that.
It was an important time for renewing contacts. I appreciated every visit to churches, prayer groups and conferences around the country.
Rest & Recuperation?
Even before a friend commented to me, 'You've nothing in reserve for returning to Brazil,' I had realized that I could really have done with a few months at home with no obligations. After ten years at MTC with increasing responsibilities, community living and fairly continual low-grade stress, I needed a longer rest. A good (though short) break before and after WEC's leaders' conference in Germany helped a lot.
However, as my 'batteries' weren't fully 'recharged' when I got back here in July, I am aware that I must pace myself carefully at MTC. And I've been told that a short Home Leave with no commitments in the next couple of years needs to be scheduled.
The theme of WEC's leaders' conference was 'Renewed to Run for Jesus'. The three weeks proved to be a time for renewing our passion for Jesus and for the lost, through gripping testimonies from all around the world; devotionals from leaders seasoned by experiences with God on the mission field; informed prayer times; and through informal interaction. It was a privilege to take part.
Personally, I was given many insights to take back to the MTC and was ministered to in many ways, including being part of a spiritually sensitive music group and a caring prayer triplet.
What's been happening at MTC & locally this year?
In a recent letter to prayer partners, a colleague wrote of encouragements:
"Members of the roller hockey team which was started in a church by one of our students were invited to speak about their sport and their faith in an anti-drugs campaign in a secondary school. And local political leaders, from a suburb near MTC with huge social problems, are begging Christians to evangelise there. They say, 'We're supplying social needs but that isn't enough; we need spiritual input.' "
Release of Flavio's CD
A year ago, I mentioned being involved in a friend's CD. On arriving back here, I was surprised to receive the finished article - including one song sung in English by yours truly. Flavio wants most of the proceeds to go to help missions.
I was grateful for what my colleague Ann organised in my absence, coordinating teachers, timetable, meetings and outside speakers, interviewing students, informing prospective students, etc. She went on Home Leave in July and I picked up the reins again.
With only a week to finish essentials before term started, I simply did what I could. Flexibility continues to be the operative word, as changes continually have to be made, because of a teacher's illness or a visiting speaker's extra commitments.
At present, we're reviewing many areas of our acceptance procedure, our syllabus and requirements for moving from our basic course to third or fourth year level. Reviews are necessary but, for some, the changes will be a bit threatening. We'd appreciate prayer for wisdom in our discussions and decisions - and for me, in particular, in implementing the changes!
The MTC has had various knocks this year, but we went through our toughest time in October. One of our married students was found drowned in a river bordering our property. We had organized search parties on Monday evening, after Davi's wife alerted us that he hadn't returned from a walk. Finally, on Tuesday, emergency services recovered his body. It was a great shock to everyone.
The funeral was here at MTC, and so we had the task - and the privilege - of organizing this and of comforting relatives who arrived, shocked and questioning, from Sao Paulo.
We'd appreciate your continued prayers. It's been terribly hard for Viviane, but she wants to continue her studies. (Three years ago, she lost her month-old baby, but she and Davi still came to college. The Lord has given her a lot of courage.)
Friday and Saturday of that week were already scheduled as Prayer Days. That proved to be very important for our college family. We needed those Prayer Days - to receive, to sing and pray together, to hear testimonies. We're trying to get back into the routine of classes, but things certainly won't be the same.
Requests for Prayer
Rosifran is much better. Pray that he and his family will have a good rest in 2003. They'll be living out for the year, taking the first six months as 'Home Leave'.
1. Acting Principal
Pray for me to have good chats with Rosifran and Alicia this semester. As I'll be Acting Principal from Dec. 2002 to July 2003, we need to talk through various things.
2. Ways to relax.
I had a refreshing weekend with Rosi, our Field Leader's wife, in Belo Horizonte. It was a long journey, but great to relax, chat, pray.
Water aerobics & walking are my ways of exercising. (I haven't succumbed to joining MTC's female footballers yet.)
I'd like to keep visiting friends and maintaining exercise.
Pray for the Lord to continue to speak to me, encouraging and giving wisdom, so that I'll know priorities and that - with students, teachers and staff in general - I'll act and speak wisely, rather than react precipitately.
I'm enjoying my classes. And Carol helping with English has lightened my burden.
Pray that I can share more fully what I gleaned from the Leaders' Conference.
6. WEC Brazil: New Leaders
I'm on field committee. At present, we're discussing and praying about nominations for future leadership.
Please pray for a good number.
Praying for you...
May each of you have a blessed Christmas and experience the peace and presence of the Lord throughout the coming year.
With much love, Karina.