Sunday – As promised, Luciano and Helmo picked me up at dona Zeze’s house this morning at 7:30 a.m., and off we went to the beach. It was overcast and rainy, but the weather did not deter us. They decided to take me to Porto de Galinhas, a well-known tourist spot with excellent beaches, about an hour from Prazeres.It was still overcast when we arrived, but that provided a bit of cover for my white skin. I bathed first in sun-screen, and we dove into the waves. For the first time since I started swimming, I felt at ease in the water, as Luciano and Helmo and I swam out to the rope marking off the swimmer’s area.

Helmo had diving goggles, so time and again we watched fish with our faces in the water or dived to swim with a school of small fish or watch the brilliant blues or black and white stripes of the species that swam among the rocks.

I had no idea of the time and stayed in the water over two hours straight. Another dip after that, and we were off to look at another beach before heading back. At the Muro Alto beach, Luciano dove in, and when I registered concern about burning my shoulders, Helmo told me to keep my shirt on, since it wouldn’t hurt his car. So we stayed another 30-40 minutes in the water there.

Needless to say, I burned, but not as badly as I expected. We lunched at a churrascaria near downtown Recife. They returned me to dona Zeze’s around 3:30 p.m., and by the time I showered and napped for a few minutes, it was time for the church’s meeting.

I preached on “Jesus, the Joyful,” one in the series I’m doing at SJC and since we dealt in the seminar with imitating Jesus and living with him, I thought this attitude of Christ appropriate. Then in the Bible school class I finished the Total Transformation series, #13, on submitting ourselves to the discipline of God, using Hebrews 12 for my text.

A couple of people celebrated their birthdays today, so people stayed around to consume the two cakes and drinks provided. Helmo gave dona Zeze and me a ride to her house, though she only lives about three blocks away. He expressed how much he enjoyed the weekend and the day together the beach and for lunch.

MONDAY

I slept fairly well considering my burns, getting up at 6:45 a.m. Luciano came at 7:30 and he, Lene and their guest Marilia took me to the airport. Quick check-in, immediate boarding, timely take-off. I sat next to a young mother and her son, must have been about 3 or 4. He was fairly well behaved, she even spatted him a couple of times. We landed in Sao Paulo at 12:05 p.m., so I went and bought my bus ticket to SJC for 1:00 and called Vicki to let her know I’d made it.

EVALUATION

The Prazeres church paid my way to Recife, and took care of all my expenses while I was there. My plane ticket cost R$637. Other than the bus to and from the Guarulhos airport and a couple of snacks at the airport, I don’t recall spending any money in Recife during my trip. Several times I offered to help pay for lunch, but my offers were rebuffed. This says much for the maturity of the church in Prazeres. Already they pay a full and worthy salary for Luciano. Some (read, progressives) consider Luciano a radical, but with the congregation doubling in size in the last couple of years — growing more than any church in Recife — and paying his salary, it would appear he is doing a fine job there in the congregation.

I also had opportunity to talk to several brethren about different matters, such as the conversation with one brother Sunday night about divorce and remarriage.

About 45-50 people all total attended some part of the seminar. The Prazeres church made available to participants copies of the handout.

Recife participants

(Above, participants fill out the exercises given after each module. Picture taken Saturday.)

This course provided participants tools and concepts by which they could change their lives in the image of Christ. While illustrations and stories were used, it is based on the exposition of biblical texts.

It also demonstrated to the congregation (which little needed it) and to the Recife churches that we are not radicals who can only preach and speak about disputed doctrinal matters. Some in the city have spread lies about our work, because we have preached the same gospel that was first taken to Brazil.

Participants were present from the Boa Vista, Paulista and Sao Lourenço churches. We dealt with how to take advantage of one’s time, deal with those things which squelch the good, the necessity of wanting to change, the reason for it all (fellowship with God) and decision-making, among other topics.

A feedback sheet allowed participants opportunity to tell what helped them the most and least, as well as general comments (soon to be published).

The most common suggestion was to have more days for the course, to spread it out more, since Saturday all day is a tiring schedule. This same suggestion has been given frequently in other places, but I’m at a loss as to how to implement the idea, since a weekend is all we usually have in which to do it.

Overall, I was well pleased with the seminar, it warmly received. Luciano said it came at a great time for the congregation and would be very helpful to the saints there.

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