3 John 4 “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are living according to the truth.”
Missionaries usually apply this verse to their spiritual children, as was John’s intention when he penned these words. We do have great joy to think of Fernando and Helderlânia serving in Venezuela, Mouzinho and Haildelene in Mozambique, Heron and Laura in The Gambia, and many others living the gospel in various parts of Brazil.
But if it were possible to have an even greater joy, it would be to see our physical children also “living according to the truth.” This was the case during this past week as we visited Joy Anna and Fabio who are serving as missionaries in the southernmost Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul. Though they are still in Brazil, the people are different, the weather is different, the culture is different, and even the Portuguese is different.
As we arrived at the airport, we were welcomed by the cold. With temperatures between 40 and 60 degrees, this was not near the cold we are used to seeing back home in Minnesota. But the buildings are just like in Northeast Brazil, open and without insulation. So the cold is more “in your face.” Fortunately, a native loaned each of us a pala, sort of like a wool blanket with a hole in the middle for the head. We even looked sort of native, since most of the people are descendents of Germans and Italians.
Fabio and Joy Anna are church planters, working with two church plants in different communities, as well as various Bible studies in communities where someday they hope to have a church. We not only enjoyed meeting their co-workers, but we also visited and helped minister in both of their church plants.
The people in Rio Grande do Sul eat well. This is the part of Brazil that supplies tons of beef for the world. Fortunately, some of that beef stays at home, and we had some of it. A native “gaucho” family from one of the churches had us to their home for a real churrasco gaucho. It was as much standing with the men around the grill as it was to eat it.
While we were in Rio Grande do Sul we enjoyed getting together with some of our former students who are
also serving the Lord in that state. Roselane graduated from Bible college with Fabio, and she was the one who first challenged him to consider missions in her home state. Mario and Iracy brought their young family all the way across the country to study at our Bible college, back in 1996. Today Mario pastors a small church in Nova Petropolis. There son later studied at our college and today pastors a church in our state’s capital, Fortaleza.
We arranged to spend two days with Joy Anna and Fabio in a resort town up in the mountains called Gramado. Though the temperatures did not get down to freezing, they did dip into the 40’s while we were there. We did a lot of walking, talking, eating, resting, and just having fun together. Of course Fabio had to learn how to play Rook, in order to fit into our family.
Though we had a lot of fun, we were ready to return home to Northeast Brazil. After two airplane flights and an overnight bus ride, 20 hours later we arrived in Crato. It will be nice to get back onto our schedule.