February 2003 - Christmas messages
As always, I was encouraged as I received Christmas greetings from all around the world and read personal messages. One theme caught my attention, in the light of various attempted robberies here in December:
"Thinking of you often. Hoping all is well and that you're feeling safe."
"The Lord will strengthen and protect you." (2 Th. 3:3)
"Do not be afraid... For I am with you and no one is going to... harm you." (Acts 18:9-10)
Thank you for praying
For us, these were definitely 'words in season'. With no students and only part of the staff around in Dec/Jan, we can feel vulnerable. The MTC is only a mile from the outskirts of Montes Claros, near enough for local troublemakers to try their luck at stealing but far enough for us to feel a bit isolated.
We got up one morning to discover that some cables of the new electricity system had been dug up and taken. Other attempts were in broad daylight, during rainstorms, when no-one is likely to be outside. Thankfully, Jane saw thieves trying to take off with a TV and video (having sawed through the metal window bars), and she raised the alarm. On another occasion, an indignant pig alerted us by squealing loudly when a group tried to make off with her! We also discovered holdalls full of CDs and electrical goods in an outbuilding, which the youths would have returned for at night.
Since then, we've had a night watchman throughout the week and someone on patrol during the day at weekends. Extending our alarm system has also helped, plus putting padlocks on windows. Long-term, we need to build a high wall right round the campus.
Please pray about this project.
Rains & Travel
Our region was in the news in Dec. and Jan. because of heavy rains (600mm in Jan. in Belo was double the normal.) Thousands are homeless.
Remember them - and the new president, Lula.
The MTC college track was only passable by minibus (with difficulty) during that time.
When I travelled to the UK in January, I covered more than 10,000 km each way and had various adventures. However, in some ways, the hairiest part of the journey was the precarious little road linking MTC with the outside world!
My 'excuse' for returning so soon to Scotland was my niece's wedding, giving the opportunity for a tremendous family reunion. Three weeks away (in Edinburgh, Stornoway and Inverness) gave me a chance to switch off from work and catch up with friends. I certainly felt the better of the trip. Thankfully, I returned to find nothing stolen and few things mildewed.
Thanks for remembering me.
Let me give you an update on some MTC graduates.
Cristina (Brazilian) and Luis (Venezuelan) are back in Equatorial Guinea with their little girl, Talitha, after Home Leave in Brazil. They're looking forward to continuing work with the local church and the Bible School there.
Nina, after eight years working with the Church of Scotland in discipleship, is set for a change of climate. She is to marry a C. of S. minister in May. Then the happy couple head for mission work in the Bahamas!
Sergio has finished his University course and so will be able to give more time to teaching and counselling at MTC this year. His wife, Regina, is expecting a baby.
Tharso, Flavio and Elana are all working with churches in Montes Claros and will continue to help MTC by teaching theology, biblical studies and sign language. Tharso's wife, Flavio's wife and Elana are all expecting.
Marilena is involved with her church in Salvador in evangelism, work with the deaf and with the mission support group. Yes, she is expecting a baby.
Gilvania trained as a social worker before studying with us and feels called to children's work in Cambodia. She has been a great help in WEC's Girls' Home during the last year, while she works on raising personal support for going abroad. (The financial climate is still volatile.)
Jonnathas and the couple, Luis Carlos and Eliane all have a burden for unreached peoples. They are spending this year with their home churches. We hope they will be able to do Candidates' Course next year.
Students in Training
We've a week to go before the new term officially starts, but the Students' Council and various students just back from cross-cultural trips have already arrived. Halley (Student President) has returned enthused about his time in Paraguay. Romantic ideas about mission have gone and he has learnt more about church planting, about other cultures and about team work.
Gabriel has a call to work with Indians in the Amazon. He almost didn't come back from his time with the WEC team in northern Brazil! However, he's decided he should prepare himself a bit more at MTC.
Viviane, widowed last year, is about to start Candidates' Course, rather than do a 4th year at MTC. We feel it is a wise decision.
Please pray for them all.
The story of the boy who wanted to help the struggling butterfly out of its chrysalis and ended up with a butterfly that couldn't fly is a salutary lesson for those involved in training. Working in a residential college, staff here are aware of all sorts of struggles that students have. It's easy to step in and 'help', when God actually wants to use the challenges to make the individual grow, trust more, work through relationship problems and theological questioning.
We need spiritual sensitivity.
My Role in 2003?
"May you face 2003 confident in God's sovereignty and provision." I appreciated this message on a Christmas card.
Some aspects of my MTC role will be unchanged this year. I'll continue as Dean of Studies. I'll counsel and teach (but a colleague has agreed to take one subject from me).
I trust in God's provision for my needs in these areas.
New Role: Acting Principal
Until August, I'll be Acting Principal. I'm delighted that Rosifran is having this time off and that he is already feeling the benefit. I'm sure I'll grow through challenges. But it'll be a relief to have the boss back!
With staff, a lot of my time so far has been as a 'manager', seeking to motivate spiritually and professionally. A special verse has been: 'The wisdom that comes from heaven is...pure;...peaceloving, considerate,...impartial and sincere.' (James. 3:17)
Praise God for working in the team. Pray for wisdom for me.
With students, I'll have a more 'up front' role in leading services and business meetings. Student Committee will be my 'tutor group'.
As we've been without an Administrator for the last 18 months, Rosifran was covering part of that area. Ann Rocha has, thankfully, agreed to coordinate Admin. for now, and so my role there is general oversight. (On the negative side, she won't be able to give me as much help as she wanted in the Teaching Dept.)
Please pray for us all.
- Jan. holiday/wedding!
- Prayer partners. (Thank you!)
- Main building - changes over holidays à more functional; I have my own office; Lindi - office; etc.
- Personal growth
- Seeing growth in others
Visits: Richard Hibbert (March); New Tribes leader (Ap); Hans S (May)
With much love, Karina.