Letter to Marian, December 6, 1963

 Christmas Card 1963, Loanda, Brazil

Dear Marian,

Greetings from the hot interior of Brazil.  We have been having a terrific hot spell.  Rachel has a lot of heat rash.  We bought a fan which we appreciate very much even though the electricity goes off at 11 p.m.

My ankles have been swollen which sometimes makes it hard to walk.  I had an x-ray which ruled out twins.  The baby hasn't been as active as Rachel was so Cliff says we will probably have a boy.  If our baby is born here and not in Londrina during the conference, we will have to take our buggy to the hospital for they don't have a nursery.  We also have to supply sheets, diapers, blankets, etc.  for the baby which is probably just as well for we will know the things will be clean.

We were very shocked when we heard of Jack Kennedy's death.  When our neighbors told us I asked if he died of a heart attack.  We heard the details from Voice of America.  One of our neighbors said that 99% of the people want Brazil's president out of office and they wouldn't be surprised if he were assassinated.

We are going to spend Thanksgiving with the Olsen's in Cianorte, a four hour drive on poor roads, but since it rained for six days before, the roads were unfit for driving.  This last week we visited Jack Aamot in Paranavai, a two hour drive from here.  When we were there we bought toys for Christmas for Rachel.  I gave her some of them now.  She especially enjoys the buggy for her doll.

 Rachel with Doll, Loanda, Parana, Brazil.  1963

A Baptist couple from England will be moving here in March.  they were our back door neighbors for three months in Campinas but we didn't get to know them very well.  The lady is very quiet and was sick with morning sickness, thus I hardly got to know her.  As of now, we are the only foreigners here.  We have visited with a German couple in a neighboring town, Santa Isabel.  The wife speaks English quite well but her husband doesn't know any English and since we don't know German, we converse with him in Portuguese.  This German couple is strongly Catholic.

We had to buy water for a few days.  I was happy to see it was for only a few days for I figured that it would cost $12 a month for our small family.  Some of the people in this town have been buying water for months.

Rachel is starting to say words that include two words such as horseshoe, sun suit, watermelon, butterfly, etc.  She has learned some new Portuguese words but most are English for she seldom plays with other children.  Rachel gave me a scare one day when she fell from the top of the sofa-chair and hit her head hard.  When I picked her up, she couldn't breath.  I gave her mouth to mouth respiration and she was running around within 5 minutes.  I thought she was dying but she probably was unconscious for a few seconds.

 "Bye, Bobby..."  Rachel in the car.

Andy Olsen's from Cianorte visited us one weekend in November.  It was good to see them for we got to know them well when we were in language school together.  When they were here, our dog, Bobby, jumped the gate and followed the car about half ways to the neighboring town.  We didn't stop for we had just enough time to get to  church and I thought he would find his way home but we haven't seen him for three weeks.  Rachel still talks about him.  We are going to get another dog after conference in January.

Rachel Biel with dog, Bobby, in Loanda, Parana, Brazil

My small women's group in church will be making sacks of goodies for the Christmas program.  Many poor children will come.  My group of women think Cliff and I should go around and ask stores to give donations and other people such as some Germans who supposedly are Lutherans.  We don't agree with their idea and are going to keep it as work done by the church.

I went to the doctor to get my left ear irrigated for i couldn't hear in that ear due to excess ear wax.  We have been feeling fine and hope the same is true with you.

Donna ends here, Joey starts here.

I suppose that you'd like to hear a word about our work, too.  Right now it doesn't amount to much more than study (language and sermons and preparing Bible studies).  Naturally, I have plans for the future which include a lot of visitation and open-air meetings.  Right now I feel that preparation is of great importance.  This isn't to say that I've done nothing "evangelistic".  However, my contacts outside of the already organized work have been limited.

The coming conference in Londrina should be a highly decisive one. The main topic of conversation will probably be about our relationship with the German Lutheran Church of Brasil.  They have a critical shortage of pastors and are hampered by the usual diseases of the State Church and of the tensions of a transplanted culture.  In this case, they have little regard for reaching the Brazilians, and they try to maintain the German language and customs.  The young people, however are rebelling.  Doesn't all of this sound just a little familiar, to us in the United States?  Watch for developments.

Guess that's it for now.  I feel a little like the hypothetical man who was always promising to write more later, and on his dying day called for paper and pencil and scratched, "Sorry I didn't write much before, but MERRY CHRISTMAS!"

Another note from Donna:

We sent slides to our sponsoring church and put Saetersdal on the list so maybe you can see them.  We are sending a tape to you folks and hope it gets there for Christmas.  One side is mostly of Rachel.

We wrote and asked your parents if they would like to invite a Brazilian girl to their home for a weekend.  She is living with missionaries on furlough in Northfield.  We know the girl and thought some weekend you could pick her up on your way home.  This girl speaks English well and is going to high school in Northfield.

Did you contact the Peterson's at the Seminary?  The Landvik's in Northfield said they will bring anything for us when they come in July.


Donna, Joey, and Rachel

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