Career overseas missionary work is all about living here and there, and often means a lack of long-term relationships. For our family other missionaries became "uncles" and "aunts." We often spent holidays with regional missionary families, just as we would with family in the USA. Our boys were actually very blessed in this area of M.K. life.
Friendships with Brazilians were always a tougher thing with moves and responsibilities. Byron and I have been privileged to have several important, close friends through the years even with moving to another state. We were able to "keep them up" when the boys were young and we frequently returned for activities at the American school in Fortaleza.
One such family was that of Erinaldo and Ivanete Vieira. We first met them in 1995 when William was just a baby. As we worked to see a church built in their community they become true friends and "uncle" and "aunt" to our boys. When we moved to Bahia, they came a year later with their three little girls to help in the camp ministry.
When all the boys were small, I went to the interior where Naldo and Neta were from for holidays with their family. We often stayed at his parents' farm. I believe those were some of my best memories of our time in the state of Ceará as the little community reminded me of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.
Even after the American school closed, the camp was sold, and Erinaldo became the pastor of a small interior church in Ceará, we managed to see each other every few years. One of the highlights of those years was when Dalton brought his family to Brazil in 2017 and Tio (Uncle) Naldo came to see him with a car full of family.
This past week Byron and I made our way to that interior place where Naldo had been raised and had taken up the call to pastor. It was with a grateful heart that I was once more given the opportunity to see the green hills of Madeira Cortada. It almost felt like I was coming home.
Sadly Pastor Naldo was no there for this visit. He had passed away the week before. Burials here in Brazil must be performed within 24 hours and we had not been able to travel fast enough to be a part of the memorials services and the funeral. Perhaps we could have tried, but more often than not service times end of changing and we were just too far away.
But we went. A week late perhaps, but I believe we were right on time. We were able to visit with Naldo's parents. We stayed with Ivanete and her daughter's family. I had the opportunity to give a brief word at a ladies' meeting at the church, and Byron was asked to preach on one of the nights. His message was an incredible tribute to Naldo and a call to action for the church.
Please pray for the family and for the church. Naldo passed away after battling brain cancer. He preached almost right up to the end. His testimony will leave on for years to come.
I'm coming home, I'm coming home Tell the world that I'm coming home Let the rain wash away All the pain of yesterday I know his kingdom awaits And he's forgiven my mistakes I'm coming home, I'm coming home Tell the world that I'm coming... Home
Coming Home, Nehemiah Project, Building Block 1.5