We arrived in Brazil 24 Nov. 1984, four families to begin a new work in Belo Horizonte.
Vicki, Micah and I left from Memphis airport, and best I recall, met the others in Miami for our flight to Rio de Janeiro. Once in Rio, the authorities examined our papers and sent the other families to do more exams since they considered them incomplete. (Our doctor in Paragould, Ark., was Dr. George Hobby, former missionary kid, who stuck in absolutely everything, since he knew about bureaucracy.) So our family babysat the luggage, while the others taxied to a medical lab to produce their samples on demand.
That meant our flight from Rio to Belo Horizonte was delayed. Glover and Margie Shipp, Bill and Marilyn Sweeton and Ray Meisenhalder were still there to cart our suitcases to the city from the new international airport opened earlier that year.
“We [our team and the other Belo missionaries] shared a meal and a devotional together our first day in Brazil and gave thanks to the Lord for guiding us,” I wrote in our first newsletter, “The Matheny’s BeloGram,” dated January, 1985.
That first issue began with the auspicious phrase: “Dreams do come true!”
Indeed, they do, and they continue to drive and inspire, because we remember not only 24 years ago, but 2000 years ago when God became man and gave himself for our sins.
That first year was spent in settling in, language study, visiting churches and final plans for the beginning in December 1985 of the congregation in Belo Horizonte’s south zone, where no work was being done.
Much water under the bridge, and here we are 24 years later, though in a different city and state, with no American families nearby, but doing much the same as we came to do: teach the Lord Jesus Christ to those who do not know him and encourage saints in the faith and service to God.