Good morning! We last updated you all in late October, shortly after a couple of busy weeks of travel and visitors. The last month has continued the theme of busyness. We had the opportunity to participate in a number of activities with other local churches and groups within our state association of churches.
On the second Sunday of November our family was invited to speak about missions at another local church. The church was particularly considering missions from the ministry of Jesus. Throughout our time here in Belém we have had a number of opportunities to be involved with this particular church, and we enjoyed our fellowship with them as always.
On Saturday the 23rd of November I was invited to speak at a semi-annual gathering of the youth groups of our state. Their theme for this gathering was “The Commitment of the Christian Teen.” Probably about 70 young people came for the gathering, including a few of our church’s youth. The morning started out with a message, and then group studies until lunch time. In the afternoon the young people all went to a local camp that had a pool, soccer field, volleyball court, and playground. It was a very enjoyable day. The evening finished with one more message before we all went back home. I was encouraged by the attentiveness and response of the young people.
The following Friday, four days ago, I was asked by the youth group of another local church to do a presentation on salvation, particularly addressing the questions of Calvinism and Arminianism. About 25 people came out, not just from other youth groups, but also folks from other churches who were interested in the subject.
Our final commitment of the month came on Saturday and Sunday, the days following the lecture on salvation. The same church whose youth group organized the presentation on salvation was also celebrating their 33rd anniversary as a church. They asked that I be their speaker, following the theme of “The Supreme Devotion of the Disciple of Jesus.” The two-night conference went well. Folks from a number of other churches came to the Saturday night service. On Sunday night the church observed the ordinance of baptism as a new convert publically professed his faith in Christ. The church also had a baby dedication after the service. It was encouraging to see the signs of growth within this church.
But we also rejoice to see signs of growth in our own church which made all this possible. Our coworkers are still away on furlough, and the only way I could be away from our church preaching on so many occasions was because men from our church have been stepping up and taking the responsibility to preach and teach. We are very encouraged at the willingness and commitment that a number of them have shown to preach and teach. All the men in our church work many long hours, and it takes a lot of commitment to study and prepare for teaching and preaching after work.
Our church has also been doing a number of repairs on the church building which have been needing to be done for quite a while. This last week we had some external repairs done and a new painting finished. Admittedly, the colors are a little…different. Of course, there is a story there. Maybe you can ask us on furlough. But anyway, it looks a lot better than it did. We still need to paint the church name on the top, but that should be an easy project. We are also planning on getting an air conditioner for the sanctuary. It gets quite hot, especially during the evening service. And as we have more people attending, it does not cool off very well. So that is our next project.
I would be remiss to end this update without a word about Thanksgiving. Every Thursday throughout the semester Emily has had all the students over for lunch after morning classes. Last week was Thanksgiving, and she wanted to introduce the students to an American Thanksgiving meal. We normally eat very Brazilian, pretty much all the time: rice, beans, and some kind of meat. But this would be an exception. She began a couple days early and made a feast. It was very typical of a Thanksgiving meal. So we invited all the students over, told them the Thanksgiving story, and enjoyed a classic Thanksgiving meal. Our time is a couple hours ahead of the Eastern Time Zone, so we didn’t have any American Football with our meal, but it was a great time of fellowship (and amazing food!).
With that we conclude this update, wishing you all a Merry Christmas. Thank you all for your prayers for us.