Rachel and Charles Biel
Iguazu Falls, Brazil, 1969
My Aunt Marian kept many of the letters my mother, Donna Biel, wrote to her. She returned them in 2010. Most are recorded here. They were not entered in chronological order, so the best way to view them is by year, found in the index on the sidebar.
Dear Marian and Frank,
I had this letter written before Thanksgiving but never got any further. We are busy with Christmas poems for Sunday School, two plays which include youth and adults. This time of the year it is difficult to start practice early as the school year ends in December and many are taking final exams, but for those who did well all year, they don't have to take final exams or at least, not in the subjects where they did well.
This year we had Thanksgiving at our church with 90 people present. Almost all who came have children that go to the mission school here. Last year it was held at the mission school with 60 and it was crowded. The school children gave an enjoyable program. Of those present, one other couple are Lutheran, some Baptist and most are from the United Missionary Society.
The first week in December we were gone for four days to the beach where we had two days of business meetings with our mission representative from our Board. Rachel and Charles stayed with members of our church. We were not to take our children along, but took Helen and there was one little girl for her to play with. We enjoyed seeing the other missionaries but had to travel one day to get there and another to get back. On the way back, Helen had a fever and was vomiting.
Helen will have her tonsils out on the 30th of this month. We have a doctor who is a specialist in child anesthesia. She will be at a Catholic hospital run by Germans. Helen recently got over a light case of the chicken pox. Last month she had the mumps. Charles recently had German measles with a high fever for one day. When he had the mumps, he was in bed for almost three weeks due to re-swelling and fever. Rachel has been very healthy and hasn't missed a day of school.
The children continue to be much larger than those of their age. In the small mission school, Rachel has to sit with the 4th graders who are her size and her classmates, the 2nd graders, sit in smaller desks in front of her. Grades 2-5 are taught by one teacher in a large room. There are fifteen- five of these are second graders. Rachel's teacher says that she is reading very well.
In January we will go to a family camp called "word of Life" which all but two of the mission families from our church will attend. Some of the families I hadn't seen for three years as we went on furlough, then they did when we got back and we live too far away to make a visit unless we take a vacation.
In the end of October, we had our yearly festival in the church with dinner of barbecued steak and potato salad, cakes sold in the afternoon plus a bazaar of clothes. This year everything was sold. Now with this money plus money that the members have pledged we plan to finish the church tower and put in bells. I helped with the bazaar held for Charles's school. They are working on the construction of the Japanese Methodist church where services are held in the same building.
We have applied for a three month furlough from June to August in 1971. Then we plan to come back to Maringa. Time seems to be going very fast and before we know it, we will be visiting with you. Soon two of our neighboring missionaries will be gone on furlough and the only American of our mission nearby will be Gaylord Grant in Londrina. We have become good friends with the German missionaries in Campo Mourao, an hour drive from here. The only other American missionary in this state where we have our church is a nine hour drive from here and the rest are 12-30 hours drive in other states. This state was where our mission work started but now that we are a part of the Lutheran Church of Brazil and many of our mission churches don't exist or only remain only as preaching points, we can go to wherever we receive a call.
Cliff has become a good photographer. He takes photos for weddings and confirmations and makes the copies that they want, thus he didn't have time to get our pictures done yet from the vacation in July.
Wedding at Querencia do Norte
We went to see the waterfalls of Iguacu which are higher and greater in volume than the Niagara Falls. They are in our state, a seven hour drive, mostly on dirt roads.
Sete Quedas with Kathy Fedde
By the time you get this, Christmas will be over. We hope you will have had a joyous one.
We haven't gotten your new address. How do you like your new home? I suppose that by now, Erik is a busy little toddler, getting into things. Does he walk yet? Here there is never a dull moment.
It seems like a long time since we have heard from you, but I realize you could say the same to us. Hope you are fine and will write soon.
Donna and Joey