Calling recent weather "spring" is precipitous, but hopeful. We, too have been wary of the weather. It's been hotter than expected, but the heat doesn't bring much rain. There is concern for nation-wide shortages of water and electricity. If there is no rain in our headwaters, soon it will be a difficult year.
ATTENTION!!! Check the address you have on file for us. DO NOT use the address that starts "CP" in Petrolina. The box has been closed and I don't know where any correspondence sent there will end up. If you get hate mail from the Post Master because I said that, just tell him it’s a simple truth not meant to reflect on his character. I would normally put an announcement like this at the end of the letter but I feared lest my pen share the golden gift my tongue has for curing insomnia and too many sleep ere I reach my third point.
I still feel kind of lost without the Island camp. New Years and Carnaval at home were new experiences. I have slowly been discarding parts of my horde and selling off the remnants of equipment. I have had to rescue a few things from the scrap heap, but you can actually walk into the garage now (most days). My grand ambition is to be able to store a bike in there. Fitting a car in the garage would share about the same odds as fitting a 747 so that's not even on our bucket list.
The church suffered another setback with the move of a key family to another city. A few new converts became newer backsliders. But overall, the group is strong. For the first time the congregation is struggling with finances. We would like to finish the parsonage but there are no funds just now. These factors together coupled with not being lead elsewhere led me to accept the invitation to continue here for the time being as pastor, but even that wasn't an easy process. When one delegates authority he must try to abide by the consequences or he defeats the purpose. This is true for young people and young churches. To validate the authority of the congregation and the mother church I waded (and waited) through the process they chose.
While in the US, William, our oldest, kept contact with the youth here and over time developed a missions trip project. This came to pass last month. For weeks they practiced stories and song and sketched the story line for the puppets and saved money. When van rental estimates arrived interest in including one adult with a big car began to look appealing. I took a low-key role so it would be "their" trip. I was very pleased over all with the group. They worked well together including with cooking and cleaning and once over the initial shyness were often self motivated in sharing the "gospel routine" we were using. A side note. Greyson, our youngest, saw an accordion while there. After a couple of agonizing hours (for the listeners) experimenting he figured out enough to play in a service the next night. He was loaned the instrument and has added it to the repertoire at church.
I restarted reading a Kindle book of a trip by Teddy Roosevelt in Brazil. I found it amazing that an ex-president would take such an uncomfortable and dangerous trip. At one point they visited falls he compared to Niagara and said anyone visiting Brazil should see as they were easy to get to. One need only steam up river for a few weeks (sometimes at only 1 1/2 mph) take an automobile across unmarked plains interspersed with a few days of horseback and you're there. And we complain about a couple of hours on the interstate or a jet plane. This he did, not to spare the souls of unknown tribes, but because someone found a river and he wanted to see where it went.
Dalton is doing well at the school though the much prayed for spiritual change has not come about - yet. Pray with us that he will respond to the Spirit's working. If you'd like to drop him an e-mail, the easiest way is to send it to us to forward. You can also mail postcards to him at the school address. Email us for the address or with your note for us to forward.
And last, in case you're an early sleeper… DO NOT use the Petrolina address. The Box is closed. Use the Sobradinho addres:
Rua Araras, 12 - Vila Santana
48925-000 Sobradinho BAHIA
Thank you for your prayers,
Byron Atha and family
*All prayers letters are written by Byron. If you would like to receive a paper copy of our letter, send us an email with your address.