Letter to Marian, December 9, 1968

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 chronologically.  The best way to sort through them is to use the index on the sidebar and view them by year.

Dear Marian and Frank,

Thanksgiving has come and gone and soon Christmas will be here.  This year we celebrated Thanksgiving twice.  We were in Cianorte the day before Thanksgiving and seven families were present.  There were few children as most were in the hostel for school.  We had turkey for the first time since we have been in Brazil.  We didn't have a long visit as it had been raining and started again on our way home.  We almost spent the night on the road as it was terribly slippery.  I took us two hours to go 22 miles until we got to the tarred road.  The other dinner was here in Maringa with about 60 present- 2 Baptist families, 2 Methodist, about 7 from the United Missionary Society and us.  After dinner the school children gave a program.  Both dinners were pot luck.  I made 5 pumpkin pies and salad.

Our church held its annual fund raising drive the 24th of November.  Some of the men came here three days before and made wooden benches, tables and put up canvas on top for shade.  The women had a bazaar of embroidered pillowcases, aprons, tablecloths, and little girls' clothes.  Women made potato salad for dinner and steaks were barbecued by the men.  In the afternoon, cakes were sold.  We ended up throwing some potato salad away and cakes were sold very cheap to get rid of them as the attendance was poor.  It was a lot of work plus very hot in the days of preparation and the day of occasion.  It was a lot of work, but the fun and fellowship- and the profit made it all worthwhile.  One of our missionaries told of his church which prepared 170 chickens and 3 steaks and had 65 chickens left and many steaks.

On the day of our bazaar, Rachel woke me up at 1 a.m. to tell me that Velvet, our dog, was having puppies under her bed.  I thought the gestation period was 3 months instead of 55 days so thought we had premature puppies.  There are 3 male and 1 female.  They are mostly white with a little black on them and have a smooth fur- the mother is part poodle and all black.  The children are delighted to have puppies around.  We have an empty bedroom upstairs where they stay but at times Velvet moves them under Rachel's bed.

Rachel and Charles's baner-ha school had a bazaar for which I baked 9 duz. cookies and gave 2 aprons from our bazaar.  Rachel is having graduation on the 19th of this month from kindergarten.  She is over half-way done in first grade Calvert.  Rachel is doing very well in school.  On most tests in this course she has gotten 100.  She loves to read and reads her books to Charles.  We plan to send her to Brazilian first grade in February.  In August we hope the mission school here will have second grade.  Charles didn't get many stars for good behavior at nursery school.  He was the youngest one there and even though he couldn't sit still for long he has learned some songs.  While I teach Rachel Calvert in the afternoon he plays next door with a 4 year old boy and gets along well with him.  Helen is starting the "why" age.  She has several little friends that she plays with and older girls like to take her for a walk.

For Christmas we are expecting the Dahlen family.  They are in our language school.  I helped her shop in early march while our husbands were at a conference.  They have a girl Rachel's age and Charles age- a boy.  She will stay with me while her husband visits other mission homes which can only be reached by dirt roads and she doesn't want to go with due to arrival of a baby in February.

The middle of January we are going to a Bible camp about an 11 hour drive from here.  Other families enjoyed it while we were here on furlough.  All of our missionaries should be there and it will be the only time we get to see several of the families.

Once a month Cliff goes to where we lived before (Loanda) and serves 3 other places, too.  The farthest is a 4 hour drive from here.  When he goes, we won't have church services here.  Due to his traveling or having church services in the morning once a month in our country church, I give Confirmation two or three times out of four in the month.  It is held at the same time as Sunday School.  the youth in our country church and one here are planning to present a play for Christmas.  The Sunday School will have some poems and sing, our adult choir will sing two hymns and the same for the youth.

The end of October we had a one day women's retreat.  Women came from several cities nearby and from our country church.  In all we had 75.  Our women's group made chicken-rice soup for dinner and cakes for coffee in the afternoon.  Dona Ana from Curitiba was our speaker.  We discussed the ecumenical movement and evangelism in our church.  We divided into two groups- one German (led by a pastor's wife who is from Germany) and I led one of the two Portuguese groups.  The points discussed are to be sent to Switzerland in preparation for study of the Lutheran World Federation to be held in Brazil in 1970.  We think the study could have been more profitable had we been able to discuss this in each church before this meeting and leaders would have been better prepared for the discussion groups.

Since there is summer vacation from school now until the middle of February, we are planning to have a week of Vacation Bible School in the city and another in our country church.  VBS was held in July for the first time in these congregations and enjoyed very much by all.

We had some very hot weather- 98 to 100, but now it is cooler at 85 to 88.  We have had very little rain which has been bad for the crops.  Some larger cities have had to ration water but thankfully, we have plenty of water.

Pete and Elna Mathiesen
Karen, Mark, Kristine and Paul
(courtesy Karen Mathiesen)

We continue to have many guests- example this week- the family of the German missionary who lives in a neighboring town, an intern from a seminary in the U.S. who spent 16 months in church in Curitiba, and Mathiason's from Cianorte.  We enjoy the visits for we seldom had them in Loanda.  I have a good helper so the extra company isn't more than we can handle.  The lady who helps me now is married and a sister to the last one I had who left to get married.

We wish you a Blessed Christmas and happiness for the New Year.


Donna and Joey

 The day Rachel printed her letter to you she was mad at her friend Lillian and wouldn't put her name down.  Charles started coloring the picture.  Each stripe on the shirt is a different color and the girl has purple hair.  I will try to send it later.  How does Lisa like Erik?  Is he as good as she is?  Your son arrived on Brasil's day of Independence and Grandma Biel's birthday.

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