Couples encounter in BHte

For the first time in the 12 years since we’ve been gone from Belo Horizonte, our family flew into the Confins international airport, some 50-60 minutes north of the city. Garibaldi, a BH Christian man, was there to scoop us up, patiently waiting after our 15-minute delay.

From there we went to Gustavo and Elisa’s house, our hosts for the time in BH. Gustavo and Garibaldi are brothers and both attend at the Contagem church. We stayed up late chatting with them, Gustavo and I called it quits around 1:30 a.m.

Up around 7 a.m., we had a huge breakfast, item of special interest was the pao de queijo (cheese bread) as only the state of Minas Gerais can make it.

The couples encounter was supposed to start between 6:30 – 7 p.m., but one of the organizers had announced it as 7:30, so we actually didn’t start until 7:45 p.m. After a period of songs and Marcos Sacramento’s presentation of us and a prayer, the men and women were divided up, and we began in earnest.

The men went upstairs to a classroom, first time to be used. It was extremely hot, had caught the sun all day, so I soon had rivulets of sweat running down my face and body. We had more than 20 men in that room, so it stayed warm.

But they paid good attention during the hour and 10 minutes I spoke. Vicki and I used the same basic material, a 7-page outline on marital commitment that I put together in the week and a half since we’d received the invitation, and adapted it to our respective audiences.

It was good to see many people we knew, worked with, or had friendship with during the 10 years we lived in BH. One of the organizers said they were expecting fewer than half of the 40 couples that came for the event.

The encounter was the third meeting of what they’re calling the Couples League, a bimonthly meeting to talk about marriage. They tell me a large number of couples in the church have separated and divorced, even among some of the most active Christians.

For pics of the event, the church building and the Sunday worship at Contagem, see this photo gallery.

The brethren here have done all the work with their own resources. I consider them to be a model for the church in Brazil. They have confronted doctrinal problems and faced the financial challenge of building facilities. The men take turns teaching and preaching. Over 70 Christians meet in this congregation.

Sunday afternoon, we had lunch at Gustavo’s house, with other brethren present: Alexandre and Delta, who invited us and who began the work in Contagem; Garibaldi and Karen; Roberto Mauro, who preached that morning, and Vania, couple from the California congregation in Belo Horizonte.

Sunday night, we went out with Otavio Resende and his wife Paula. Glenn Robb and I studied the Bible with Otavio, and I spent a year in weekly discipleship studies with him. They also invited me to officiate at their wedding, so we’ve kept in touch as good friends over the years.

Those who participated at the couples encounter pooled their resources and gave me R$482 for our expenses, which paid for mine and Vicki’s airfare. So I was grateful their generosity.

We took Leila with us, since she was born in BH, and has formed a number of friendships with the young people there.

For lunch Monday we went to Eddison and LaJuana Fowler’s home and enjoyed visiting with them and the two children still at home, Marlinda and Bryan. We came to Brazil together in 1984. Eddison and the kids also deposited us at the airport Monday afternoon.

We had about an hour and a half delay by the time we walked out of the airport in Guarulhos (São Paulo), but our hired driver was waiting on us and whisked us back home by around 11:30 p.m.

J. Randal Matheny

Be pithy.

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