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quarta-feira, fevereiro 22, 2006 

Family Santos

When we first thought about going to the USA, we wished to renew the ties of friendship and cooperation with Presbyterians there, as well as learn English and obtain materials for HERV (Presbyterian hospital foundation in Rio Verde). We did not know what great things lay ahead. God would provide not only these blessings, but also fulfill other dreams with the cooperation of our American friends. Thus we registered for our first passports, and together obtained visas granting permission to stay in the USA for one year. We had never been in the USA; we did not know colleges nor cities. How did we get along? God directed everything, placing people like the Woodalls, the Gordons, as angels to open the way before us. We experienced the truth of Psalm 81:10b, that says “Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.”. God gave success to our first project, in obtaining some equipment for the financially strapped HERV. Churches gave us 1,004 boxes of medical materials that today, 4 years later, still are used. Scrubs, mattresses, stainless steel carts for surgery and ICU, dishes, cups; all this was sent in a container from the Salem Mission Resource Center, with the help of some great volunteer packers and also Sandra Gordon, who negotiated the paperwork and red tape. Eudóxio first started studying at Maryville College, in an English as a Second Language program. Later I, Lúcia, and our children Cibele and Andre also studied. Our children enrolled in the local schools. We took their school records to the Brazilian consulate in Atlanta and later, in Brazil, had them officially translated; in this way they did not lose any school time. On the contrary, it was a very valuable year of studies, which is still helping them today. Perhaps some of you do not know how important it is to be fluent in English in Brazil. It’s very important! Eudóxio also completed some modules of Pastoral Care Education at the University of Knoxville. I also, had the chance to take some classes, as well as intern in the laboratory of Blount Memorial Hospital in Maryville, TN. When we returned to Brazil we felt the responsibility to continue “strongly in the service of the Lord, knowing that, in the Lord, our work would not be in vain.” I Corinthians 15:58. Eudoxio visited the Presbytery of Denver in 1998, where it was received with happiness and it participated of you vary meetings and through Dora Lodwick the Presbytery of Denver made partnership with the Southwest Presbytery of Goiás. And for two occasions we received the visit of several members of the Presbytery of Denver here in Brazil, visiting the churches and the Hospital, and Dr. Gordon Presbyterian Hospital received a great help for the reform of the Surgical Center, that was beautiful. These visits were wonderful and we can make several friends. And in 2002 Eudoxio was again in Denver to thank for everything that has been doing. We are now awaiting new visits in Brazil. Eudoxio went in the USA in April 2002 with our daughter Cibele. They visited churches: Thyatira Presbyterian Church, Prospect Presbyterian Church, First Presbyterian Church - Asheboro, NC, John Calvin Presbyterian Church, Centre Presbyterian Church, First Presbyterian Church, Salisbury, NC, Central Presbyterian Church, Providence Presbyterian Church, Fairfax, Virginia, Salem Presbytery and several friends who support several HERV projects: the Chaplain's office (training volunteers for visitation, acquiring the first Bible/hymnals for the chapel), Bread of Life (food distribution to 100 poor families), housing for the poor; and scholarship support. And Eudoxio visited Denver Presbytery and Covenent Presbyterian Church of the Covenant, to say thank you for the support to rebuild the surgery center at the Hospital in Brazil. The visit was very good. God continued to shape our plans... the idea of a Chapel for HERV, a dream of Eudoxio’s, was encouraged; a group of fellow Christians led by Charles Newsome and Bob Harris, visited us. We continued to pray that God would touch their hearts and make the dream real. During May, June and July of 2000, we received a total of 46 people from 8 churches: Thyatira Presbyterian Church - Mooresville, NC; Prospect Presbyterian Church, Mooresville, NC; First Presbyterian Church, Asheboro, NC; First Presbyterian Church, Salisbury, NC; John Calvin Presbyterian Church, Salisbury, NC; Centre Presbyterian Church, Mooresville, NC, Central Presbyterian Church, Anderson, SC; First Presbyterian Church, Greenville, NC; who came to build the chapel of HERV. The Chapel has been a Blessing. We have services (that previously met in the hallways) every morning at 7:00. In attendance are a good number of employees, nursing students, doctors and patients. We have been studying through the New Testament, and now we can also study the Old Testament and sing hymns. This is thanks to the choir of Thyatira Presbyterian Church, who gave us 100 Bible/hymnals (bound together in one volume). In the chapel we have hymn sings, we commemorate holidays such as the Doctor’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, Mothers’ Day, Pastor Appreciation, and so on. The children of the Helena Gordon Day-care center, mostly teeny children of the employees, also sing; among their songs are some they learned in English. We have held English classes for young people. The chapel has been designated as headquarters of the Presbytery of Southwestern Goias. Hospital Board meetings are held in the Chaplain’s office. Seeking souls have been brought the good news of Christ; recently Eudóxio has formed a group of 40 volunteers for hospital visitation. At their completion of the training course, each received a diploma, and a jacket identifying the volunteer, thanks to a church in Anderson, SC. We rejoiced at he participation at the graduation of Dr. Woodall and his family. He gave an inspiring message on the volunteer work in which he participates in its city and the good things that come of it, thus stimulating the people who were beginning as visitation volunteers. When the advance construction crew came to consider building the chapel, we visited some of the very poor homeless families of the city. With their consciousness thus touched, the American brothers and sisters and decided to come back to construct and contribute, so that 6 houses were made in cooperation with the association of the employees of the HERV. Families who had lived in plastic tents now had a home. This was so wonderful! In the celebration of the first anniversary of the chapel, the keys of these houses were delivered to the 6 families at the dedication service. But everything was not finished... when they were here, these brothers and sisters also saw the hunger felt by the poor people of the city, and they could not stand idly by. After the anniversary celebration, when we took the leftover cake to the very poor quarter of the city, it was unbelievable: a child of not more than 4 years of age, naked and shoeless, came running in our direction. When she saw that I did not have more cake, she licked my fingers to get the icing that I cleaned from the serving knife. I confess that at this moment I could not be calm, I had to move away a little ways and to cry. To cry because it was our responsibility to support that child. That is a command of the Lord Jesus. Have you stopped to think about the importance of the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:35? Whenever we feed one of the least of these his brothers and sisters, it is Jesus whom we feed! But what to do? Where to get financial resources? You know, when the events, the situations of the life are beyond the capability of our hands, they fall in the Hands of that One for whom everything is possible. This was no different. God continued to move people. The “Bread of Life” Project was born then, under the direction of Mr. Bill Lefler, who was there and witnessed the need. Last week we went back to this neighborhood, and we registered 100 families to receive food through the Bread of Life project. The experiences that my husband, I and my children Cibele and Andre had, are almost indescribable. Honestly, when looking for those needy families to be enrolled in the program, we find human beings living in a totally unhealthy place, without plumbing, many of them without electricity, living in a squatter’s village. The black plastic tents are not sufficient to shelter children. The floor is of beaten soil. One lady, very pregnant, came running to our booth, asking to be registered. She was expecting her eighth child! In another hut, was a gentleman of 67 years of age living with a young woman 19 years old and already with 3 children; unemployed, without skills or profession. One lady cooked wild grasses to give to her hungry children, who were crying of cold and hunger. Cibele, in one of the tents cried out to Eudóxio to come. There was a man crying, begging: “Please, help my children to get out of this situation, send them to school so they won’t be hungry when they grow up, nor their children either.” In another tent one blind lady cried when she heard that we would bring food , for she did not have money to buy even her needed medications. We have so many other stories we could tell. We confess that the situation is so dire that we had we had to come home to rest a little; my sister Denise, her husband and children had also been helping us and they had felt the same thing. We feel a mixture of emotions, joy and sadness. Joy for being able to do this and sadness for their condition of life. Andre was our driver. As we walked and became tired, he could pick us up for a rest. As it is the rainy season, also we needed the car sometimes as shelter. It became clear to us that we need a church to partner in this project, along with the Chaplain’s office of HERV. We feel that only those who have already experienced this poverty, and have come out of it with help, can truly understand the situation. Such a community is that Vila Rosalina home mission church. A critical step for this congregation is to be officially chartered as a church, and for this they need a building. God is providing this also, through a group that will be directed by Bob Harris that is on the way to help them to raise a sanctuary. We know that electrical engineer Mr. Winston Ezzell, who assisted in the chapel construction, would like to help in the Project Bread of Life. We dream of constructing a shed as a night shelter and soup kitchen, and during the day, literacy or vocational training center. Instead of roaming the streets, adolescents and adults could learn a trade, or make home crafts such as brooms, sewing, carpentry, etc. This last project is still in the dream stage. What does God still have for us? We do not know! But we can surely affirm: “Here we are Lord, send us!” Isaiah 6:8 Who of you wants to join us? We need your prayers, your encouragement, and also your contributions so that these projects happen. A big hug from your brothers and sisters in Christ, and friends, the Santos family. Eudoxio and Lucia