Monthly Archives: February 2017

Responding to Life’s Challenges

 

 

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scan0089“Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.” Anon

In the last blog I mentioned that I would not have been much of a missionary without Doris. Pictures of her, though few, spark many memories about her ministry. Because she played the piano and organ so well, we purchased an electronic organ that we could transport to ministry locations. Long before that we purchased an accordion—it was especially useful in open air programs. Playing the accordion seemed to come natural to Doris although in the interior at times it was more convenient to use a small portable organ.

My beautiful picture

When a ministry was needed, Doris stepped in. She started Sunday Schools, taught children in Junior Church and began weekly youth gatherings. There one of the attractions was the cakes she made for ;them. And the ladies who came to these church plantings projects needed encouragement–so Doris began special get-togethers for them.

All this was added on her mothering of our two small children with our son Vernon just a baby for he was born in Brazil. When we moved into our home in Neves it was not only part of the building where we held services but our apartment was still under construction. At that time we could carry most of our belongings in suitcases. Doris had courage to face it but she did say she’d never again move into a house until it was finished.scan0074

Now I want to review a little of her upbringing. Here Doris stands as an eight-year-old with her parents: Sparling and Elsie Craig with her sister Iva and baby brother Eldon. It is a Godsend to even have this picture for those were hard times for this Craig family. You see, the family house burned just before Doris was born. At that time Pa Craig struggled with stomach ulcers, had the farm to care for,  build a house and care for his wife with their baby Doris. 

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Everything changed when Doris’ dad came down with a kidney disease. That left him a semi-invalid for a long while. The summer when Doris was about 14, she and her mother did all the work on the farm. Doris said that she helped milk the cows morning and night—though she had been milking long before that summer. She then delivered the milk to the factory that was over a mile from the farm and she did all that before going to school. As we chatted about it, she put her hands on my desk and made the same motions she’d have made when milking by hand. She said, “I think I could still do it.”

The Craig family were part of the Standard church in North Gower. The church children were encouraged to memorize sections of the Bible and here is Doris’ certificate as proof. As well, it was expected that every child would be able to rhyme off the names of

 

the books in the Bible.scan0072

Doris wanted to be a nurse but was too young to be accepted at the Ottawa Civic Hospital. So she spent a year in Brockville Bible School; that was fortunate for me, for we met there. Later she graduated and by the end of that week we were married. During many of her years of ministry in Brazil, Haiti and here in Canada, the Christian Ed. courses she took stood all of those churches in good stead. As well our family had its own private nurse. Wow!scan0048

It is so true the words of Scripture, “All things work together for good tp those who love the Lord.” As I write this I find no other way to explain how our lives have worked out.

 

Not Forgotten

“It’s not how much we give, but how much we put into giving.” Mother Teresa

If it were not for a picture taken years ago and now in a scrapbook, I would not only have forgotten his name but the story that swirls around him. Unfortunately I missed putting his picture in my last blog.

scan0086The quality of the pictures fades over the years.Here is José now–Doris had written down his name. It is so good to have a wife that is organized. José is looking over a small hymnal that we used in services.  The rest of his name is lost but I’ll pass on the part of the story I remember.

At that time we were living and working in the interior of the state of São Paulo; it seemed we were busy day and night with church planting projects and ministering to workers on the huge coffee estates. But in all of this José contacted us.

He invited us to come to his town of Poloni and hold a service in his yard. So that is what we did. It was a big dirt yard with his home and a number of very simple homes both around it and close by. The yard was crowded with adults and children as we showed a film strip of the life of Christ. Those films strips were a great attraction for, if I remember, Poloni did not have electricity.

 

My beautiful picture

I recall one family we had met who lived close to José that sent a message asking me to visit them. After clapping at the door of this poor home, the lady there explained that her husband was not yet home from work. So I waited till he came. You see it would have been improper to only visit with the lady of the home. In a short time he pulled up with his donkey hitched to a two-wheeled cart. The reason they wished me to drop by was that a couple of their children had eye infections and wished my prayers.

My faith was so very small for what little I knew of medicine indicated that the children needed an antibiotic. But these poor people had asked me to pray so what else could I do? The next week at our service I found out that the children had recovered. Perhaps it was as my dad used to say, “The Lord has mercy on fools and children.”

Interest in the Gospel was strong enough in Poloni that we rented a small hall with Doris and me holding services there once a week. An interesting sidelight: the couple from whom we rented the hall had not spoken to each other for 20 years though they lived together in the same home.

scan0087José has the white shirt and glasses with some who gathered in his yard. Some day I hope to meet José, his wife and others from that back yard.

Doris would have a lesson geared to the children though the adults also loved to listen in. And of course Doris provided the music on her accordion while all I added was a short Gospel message. I said to Doris the other day that I would not have been much of a missionary without her. So true!

One week we found we were in some trouble with the group that came to the services. We had thought that if we gave candy to the children that learned a Bible verse from week to week, it would encourage both memorization and attendance. It did the opposite for the complaint was that we discriminated unreasonably among the children. That was easily resolved.

We were only in the interior a short while till we found out that using the bus system would not get us to the towns where we were planting churches—well, at least on time. And we’d certainly not be able to get out to the coffee ranches. Well, we bought an old van, paid too much, fixed it up but it got us to where we wanted to go–to Poloni for example. In this picture of the van is Rev. Shimizu, a wonderful missionary in his own right, working among the large Japanese population in Brazil.

My beautiful picture

 

We have other memories of wonderful people and places there in the interior. However we’ll leave that for another time.

 

 

Deep Beauty in Life

 

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize there were the big things.”           Robert Brault

There are so many things to enjoy in Brazil and that includes the flowers. I remember the names of a few, not because there were so many but because my memory fails me. Take a look and remember the Creator who over millions of years put those flowers together.

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Then I recall not only nature but the beautiful cities Brazilians have built, often without much modern equipment. But what sticks in my mind is the beauty of a great number of people who spend much of their lives in ministry.

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When we lived in Neves Paulista, an interior town in the state of São Paulo, we were also planting churches in Rio Preto, José Bonifácio as well as ministering on coffee ranches. Then we had an invitation from the man pictured below from the town of Poloni, to begin services in his yard. His name is unknown to me but his face shows the hardship of his many years. But he is one of those beautiful people that we came to know in Brazil. His beauty and that of others came from giving a hand to people—in this case the poor families that surrounded his yard.

 

That sort of beauty will not fade but continues on in families and society as a whole. Here is a picture of Dr. Tércio Obara with a couple of friends. As a dentist he has taken teams to give medical help to the native Indians in Brazil, to groups in Africa and the Far East. He has been a key person in building a church in the slum area known as Eldorado. One day his wife said to me, “I don’t know whether he is a missionary or a dentist. “ tercio-obara

Then there are those that are remembered though in their graves, for they have had a helping ministry throughout life. Few in our Brazilian church stand out more than Rev. José Emerenciano and wife Dna. Irene. The school in Monte Santo, Bahia that located in a poor, nearly desert area is named after him. It began with 40 children and now exceeds 800. What a memory legacy!

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As for Dna. Irene, her ministry to people became one in which her hospitality extended to VISA teams that we led to Brazil. I remember her telling of directing a Sunday School group where a little boy would not leave her side. He came from a miserable home that I shall not describe; she gave him love and care so that he grew to be a respected person and citizen. Wow!brazil-july-07-028

 

We met Dr. DeCoud la Rosa in Brazil and again in Paraguay where he was born. I recall him for he gave me a Guaraní New Testament. Why so important? Dr. DeCoud la Rosa was not only a professor at the Ascunion U. but a faithful Christian who translated the New Testament into Guaraní. That was so important for Guaraní is the language not just of some indigenous people but the everyday language of the Paraguayans.

My beautiful picture

 

Then there is pastor Josué who though teaching at a university in São Paulo planted a church in São Bernardino. Pastor Josué is important to a number of us Canadians for we were a part of teams that contributed both money and labour to help build that sanctuary.

100_0278Pastor Josué blessing our VISA work team.

Then there are the Brazilian volunteers who drop their work for a few weeks to give a hand in building a church or a school. What a wonderful dedicated group! They look so ordinary but the beauty is there. brazil-july-07-133

There are more, many more from area churches here in Canada that have sacrificed to go to Brazil to give a hand in churches and schools. Beauty spilling out everywhere. It is not just the faith of these we have mentioned but the work of their hands that will bring rewards as we stand together by “…the river that flows by the throne of God.”

 

Of Cities and Children

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart. Helen Keller

The city of São Paulo with its twenty-three million is divided into many suburbs each with its skyscrapers. So from any high point it seems so endless and strange. See what I mean?

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But when a person gets down to street level it is so different. If I remember correctly this street, named São Bento is part of the center of the city and closed to traffic. Ordinarily there are no vehicles for people have taken over. Generally the

São Bento street is great for shopping even though there are shopping malls in all of the suburbs.

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All Brazilians have some artistic blood flowing in their veins and it shows in this city. Even in the center of the city where a meter of soil is worth its weight in gold, the city fathers have left space for parks that include beautiful palm trees.

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But no matter the beauty of their parks and skyscrapers, it is the people that are truly beautiful. No doubt during the Olympics you heard lots of negative things about this country—even the impeachment of their president. But I want you to see and remember the people—so wonderfully kind and welcoming to those of us who stumbled along with Portuguese. This picture of young people is the youth group of a congregation that our VISA volunteer group was helping with the construction of their church building.

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And we cannot forget the children—how wonderful and charming. Our churches reach out to them with church programs, schools and other efforts to encourage them along life’s way—a route at times that families and their children find difficult.

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The Volunteers In Service Abroad have worked with our bishop José Ildo de Mello and our valued friend and contact Luiz Roberto da Silva. Here we are making plans for the work of just one of our groups that have visited and worked there—with those children, youth—in fact everyone we’ve been able to touch.

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