August 25, Salvador
I'm writing from Salvador, Bahia state, 800 miles or so north-east of Montes Claros.
Teaching. I was here in January 2004 to teach Module 1 on World Religions. Logos Seminary, where I'm giving the classes, is an evening Bible School. It is run by a church in Salvador which has sent us several excellent students. Quite a few MTC staff have taught here over the last two years. And now it's my turn to give World Religions, part 2.
Itanacy. Salvador has beautiful beaches and interesting historic buildings. Unfortunately, there won't be time for me to be a tourist during my week here. However, I hope to meet up with Itanacy, an MTC graduate. She has just returned after a year in Canada improving her English. Ita gets married next week to Izaac whom she met at MTC, Canada. They hope to head for Asia in a year.
We're looking forward to having them at MTC in Oct./Nov. I'm sure Izaac will sort out at least some of our mechanical and other maintenance problems! Ita helped me in the office when Lindi was on maternity leave 4 years ago. Lindi's 2nd maternity leaves starts in November, so maybe Ita will help me again - at least for a few weeks.
Transition Year. Sergio, Ann and I are getting on well together. We have obviously had adjustments to make and various challenges to face (such as not having a full-time Administrator). But we're learning together. Jane has been a big help to Sergio in the office but is in England at present for a 6-week break. Rosifran visited MTC mid-August and seemed encouraged with the general atmosphere.
Student attitudes. Many of you prayed about some juvenile attitudes shown by a few students last year. You'll be encouraged to hear about one of the means the Lord used to answer prayer.
Two of our Salvador graduates are Cleber and Neide, a gifted, perceptive couple. They spent time with us in April, teaching and sharing in various ways.
At the end of one of his evening classes, Cleber felt that he needed to challenge the male students about their general lack of the maturity and leadership qualities which he would have expected to see. He didn't mince words! After his talk and prayer, students sought him out individually. There were lots of touching testimonies the next morning.
Over the past few months, we've seen the fruits. In July, for example, when only three students were around to help staff look after kitchen, cleaning and campus, we saw Ishmael take to his responsibilities as if he were looking after his own home.
Seeds were sown over months (and years) by staff; but God used a visiting teacher with insight and courage to bring about the breakthrough.
Classes in Salvador are over and my bags packed. I was touched to be given a gift by students here - a CD I heard in the home of Vera (my hostess here). I had quoted part of the opening song in my first class, and the students picked up on it! I was struck by how the truth in the lyrics was in such contrast to key concepts in the religions I was to teach. And it linked in with my reading during the Member Care course (USA) in June.
Member Care Course:
I recognise who I am
before You, Lord.
I know my value.
I am who I am by Your love, for Your praise.
These lyrics encompass many testimonies we shared during the Member Care course.
I think the reading we did during the month will give you an idea of some of the course emphases.
- When People are Big and God is Small reveals some of the subtle ways that we give too much importance to people's opinions and miss out on God's perspective.
- Attachments helps us understand relational styles - our own and those of others.
- Christ-Centred Therapy has lots of useful articles. All the books and sessions emphasised God's sovereignty, sufficiency, grace and goodness.
There were useful seminars on how to help people who have gone through a crisis (eg, evacuation from a mission field); understanding Anxiety and Stress; Personality Tests; etc. As I expected, it was personally challenging as well as helpful for ministry.
Visit to the U.K. It was good to have 3 weeks in the UK after that, to continue processing the course and to see at least some family and friends. The horrific London bombs happened just days before I left, so security was even tighter than usual in London and Miami.
August 29, Montes Claros
I'm back in Montes Claros and it's time I finished this letter.
(I passed through Belo Horizonte on the way back, but there wasn't time to visit Rosifran and Alicia there. I stayed with them a month ago, however, when Regina's sister married John from Edinburgh! Alicia has been in pain all year because of a hernia on a disk; but the family in general have adjusted happily to Belo…. A chatty passenger made the 8-hour bus trip from Belo feel shorter. Eva, a Brazilian who's been a missionary in Bolivia for 20 years, could be a good contact for MTC students….)
This morning, at MTC, I've had an hour with Gilmara, catching up on general happenings during my week away. The new college brochure which she, Rafael and I have been working on is almost finished. My time with Gil was followed by an hour with Lindi, finding out what went well and what needs to be sorted out on the teaching side of MTC life. (There are always encouragements and challenges!) And I've answered the more urgent E-mails, including one from Maria Celeno (USA), interested in coming in 2006 as a voluntary helper and asking for visa information. We'd welcome her help with English teaching and will be praying for her to be granted a visa.
I also had a look at Internet air ticket prices for Barbara Burns, due to teach Ethnography here, the first week of October. As she lives near Recife, north-east Brazil, she definitely needs to come by plane. (She heads for Sao Paulo on the 10th, for the Brazilian Missions Congress. Gil, Rafael and I will also be going to it, listening to some Congress talks and manning the MTC/WEC stand.)
Monday Afternoon. I've had my daily portion of rice and beans (today, with mince and salad) and watched the lunchtime news. Since I got back in July, 90% of the news here has been about the political crisis in Brazil, with many politicians being accused of corruption. The other main item has been the continuing investigation into the death of the Brazilian mistaken for a terrorist in London.
Having no classes on Monday (students have the morning and afternoon free) gives staff a chance to catch up on office work. This evening, a Christian psychologist will give Part 2 of a study on Personality Types, helping us understand ourselves and others. He gave Part 1 while I was away, but it's something I studied at Bible College and at other times - including during the Member Care Course.
A regular part of Tuesday staff meetings this year (following on from discussions in Holland last Oct.) has been a review of our training programme. We'll continue this in Sept./Oct., hopefully having some specific suggestions to make to Traugott and Hanni Boeker (from WEC's International Office) when they visit ( Nov.).
Questions regarding 2006...
Will Gilmara get to Canada in January? After English studies, where will she spend her year of cross-cultural experience? How will we manage without her!
Will Nita's Retreat Centre for Missionaries (on the coast) be up and running?
Will Rafael help me during Lindi's leave or will he be on Candidates' Course?
Can I fit in a week's teaching at a seminary in Belo (May) before my niece's wedding in Inverness (end of May)?
Thanks for praying that God would guide in all the above.
God bless. Much love,