Saturday, August 11, 2012

Visitors, Printing, and the Blooming Ipê Trees

These last two weeks have been especially busy here in our home, but we did have a few opportunities to snap pictures and I would like to share those with you.

Daniel with the Sukerth Family
L-R: Bro. Rudi, his wife Eliana, Daniel, Sabrina, Henrique
The busyness began with a visit from Daniel and the Sukerth family. Two and a half years ago when Daniel moved to São José dos Campos, he joined Igreja Batista Ebenezer, a small church that was struggling in various areas. The last pastor that this church had was unfaithful, and left behind some wounds which were still raw.  Also the church hadn’t found a new pastor, so Bro. Rudi Sukerth and some of the other older men in the church took turns preaching and leading the church. On top of those difficulties, the members in this church have always struggled with the doctrines of grace. Two or three families in the church, including the Sukerths, strongly believe the doctrines of grace. A handful of others don’t see all these doctrines in the Bible, but yet they don’t believe there should be contention about them. Then there is a portion of the members that feel very negatively about the doctrines of grace. Just a few months after Daniel moved his membership to Ebenezer, all of these problems began snowballing and despite the help of several pastors, who traveled in to São José to preach and counsel, the church voted in September 2011 to discipline all the grace members, plus a few of the non-grace members who had taken a firm stand against the contention.  

Daniel and Sabrina with Sis. Isabel
As you can imagine, this was a very hard time for Daniel and the Sukerth family. However during this time, Daniel began to really appreciate what he saw in Sabrina, Bro. Sukerth’s daughter. They developed a friendship, which turned into a courtship, and just last month it became an engagement. The purpose of Daniel and the whole Sukerth family making the seven hour trip to visit us was to celebrate this happy occurrence.

Pr. Waldir and his wife Sis. Miriam
Daniel and the majority of the other grace members from Igreja Batista Ebenezer eventually joined Igreja Batista Betel in São Paulo city. They now have to travel about an hour and a half to get to the services and another hour and a half to get home, but as Daniel mentioned, it is a real blessing to be able to serve the Lord in a church where people are united and at peace. Pr. Waldir and the brethren in Betel voted not too long ago to begin a preaching point in São José dos Campos. They found a small building to rent and are currently holding services there every Wednesday and Saturday evening. If the Lord would be pleased to open that door, Igreja Batista Betel would like to someday organize the São José dos Campos group into a new church.

Almost done with the collating 
The print room has also seen a lot of activity recently. The duplicator has been faithfully saying whirr, whirr, beep, whirr, whirr, beep as it prints the pages of a small book about the history of Baptist churches in our corner of São Paulo state. Pr. Gilberto finished writing his much larger book about the history of Baptist churches in the whole state of São Paulo and took exerts from it to make this smaller book. He was interested in having a few copies of this smaller version to give to some folks who helped him gather information and another pastor called Dad asking for a copy of it, so Dad printed off one hundred copies of the smaller book.

Punching holes for the spirals
Luis Carlos (the Hamburger Man) came over several days to collate the pages as Dad printed them. Once the collating was done, both men worked on cutting the books and putting them through the puncher. These machines added a crunch, crunch, thud to our everyday noises. The final step was to thread the spirals into the book. We spent two evenings working on this step as a family. The books are now done and a few have already been mailed off to their new homes.

As many of you already know, we are currently in winter.  So far we haven’t had a whole lot of cold, but it has been dry, extremely dry. The ground becomes hard and the dirt turns into a fine red dust which the wind blows all over. The wild grasses in the empty lots become dry and certain people find joy in setting the lots on fire. There was one week recently were every day there was a different empty lot burning near our house. The wind blows the ashes up and over our walls where they scuttle across the floors and eventually gather in the corners. This can be a discouraging time of year considering the dust and ashes, not to mention the constant allergy and asma problems which they bring.

Pink Ipê

However, we learned recently that it is this dryness which causes the Ipê trees to bloom. The pink Ipês are by far the most abundant of all the Ipês. They are the first to drop all their leaves and deck themselves with clusters of flowers.

Yellow Ipê

As the pink flowers begin fading and falling to the ground, the yellow Ipês burst into bloom. Dad especially loves these cheery yellow blossoms, because yellow happens to be mom’s favorite color. Dad had this picture of himself in front of a yellow Ipê tree taken especially for her.

It is snowing!

Last of all, the white Ipês exchange their leaves for flowers, and interestingly their blossoms only last about forty-eight hours before they are dropped and small new leaves appear. We sometimes refer to the old blossoms laying on the ground under white Ipês as “Brazilian snow”. This “snow”, by the way is very nice. You don’t have to shovel it or put down salt. Simply sweep it up once or twice a day and throw it away. :)

White Ipê

And here is one more picture of a white Ipê. Joy took this picture on one of her afternoon walks, and it was too pretty to not use it.  Just in case any of you are wondering, horse and wagons are not a common means of transportation here in Prudente. There are a few men, though, that earn a living by moving branches, construction debris, etc… with their horse and wagon.