Easter Letter, 1974

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 friends in Christ:

Greetings to you all!  Did you have a good Easter?  And, you mothers, was your Mother's Day a happy one, and bright?  A salute to you mothers!  A child's such a messy little thing, so slow to grow and learn.  It's born with a will full-blown, a gale wind that fills its sails yet has no captain to chart its course.  Slow, so slowly, by fits and starts through long slow years of creeping growth, the child, weaned, blends into his destiny.  Some call their mother blessed, whose years of youth and strength in the slow years, a mother's strength molded to the child's weakness.  And, then it's mind, a darkness into which, probing, pushing, come filtering the first weak tentative rays:  words the child hears, repeated, first empty sounds, that pattern themselves into its life, and then spill out in childish jargon groping for the sense of what's about.  And when the mother's there it's her wisdom that first lights its mind, putting the tiny hand to the wheel that steers life's course.

To all who have a mother's heart, this toast!  God grant the grace to have joy and peace in fitting His children to their destiny.

We've been having a busy time of it.  Some of the highlights:

At the Maringa church there was a record number of communicants on Good Friday:  96.

We dedicated a church in Ivaipora.  They have just a small congregation:  18 families.  However, they managed to build a very nice little church without any aid from outside the parish.

Until now we'd met in the home of a member.  I am temporarily taking care of the church and have been for the past two years.  We have services twice monthly, when possible.  Until then, the maximum they'd had was services six times a year.

At Borazopolis, which is on the same road, we had the special joy of seeing a family reunited which had been split by business dealings mixed with avarice and wine.  They all communed together on Holy Saturday.  The wounds heal slowly, they only get together under the sign of reconciliation: worship, in the name of Jesus.

Sunday school seems to have been rejuvenated in Maringa by moving the hour to the same as worship and calling on mature members as teachers.  About 35 are enrolled.  On Mother's Day they did a very nice program in the afternoon.

A new man has come into town: a Swiss who speaks English, French, German, Spanish, Swahili, and a little Portuguese.  He's an engineer and worked for many years in Africa, then came to South America and is "trying out" Maringa.  His driving interest seems to be making money and loneliness brings him to church.  He's an outspoken, rabid racist and and anti-Jewish.  He has been strongly influenced by a so-called "Jewish Manifesto".  Now this is where I want some help from some of you.  Who can tell me anything about a "Jewish Manifesto"?  I'd be much obliged.  The copy he's got was published in Spanish, in Argentina.

Right now I'm a little laid up with a cracked ankle-bone.  I'll have a cast on until the end of May.  coming soon after a bum knee makes me think I'll have to give up playing futebol de salao (court soccer) with the young adults.

We had very good participation in a Bible camp in February.  About 30 youth from the parish went.  Now we are looking forward to the retreat in July which we will be in charge of as it will be on a farm near here.  The farm belongs to a doctor and it is used mainly for retreats.  With the bunk beds, there is room for 75 people.  The theme will worship.

Helen's bladder problem was finally diagnosed and operated: a cyst near a urethra.  She was operated on in Sao Paulo by a surgeon considered to be one of the best urologists in the world, and is recovering well.  She is still taking medicine and has monthly urine check-ups in the nearby city of Londrina.  She has no more wetting in the daytime, but still needs diapers at night.

Rachel is doing much better in school lately, is as tall as her mother, has begun confirmation study, works on her stamp collection and is teaching English to a class of neighborhood children she got together.

Charles goes every day after school to a nearby park to visit the animals there.  His allergy to dust has been bothering him.  He is taking a vaccine by drops for six months which we hope will relieve the stuffed nose and sneezing.

Power to you all, in what's right.

Clifford Biel and family

P.S.  Farmers are hurting: soybeans are only $4 a bushel (30 kilos)

+++++++++++++ On the backside of the above, typed letter, a handwritten one to the Beiwel's:

Dear Frank and Marian:

Well, the last ones on my list!  I've been writing letters all yesterday and all day today, to my family and Donna's.  Today I was to have gone to a meeting in Joinville, traveling all night by bus each way.  But my foot swells to much yet when it's down, so I didn't go.  Instead, I've been sitting on the bed, listening to the record player and writing letters.

We gave Rachel a record for Christmas and enjoy it more than she does!  Andy Williams, "Alone Again".

You really shouldn't spend money sending candy every Christmas- We eat it all up and then - wait.  For the next Christamas!  We hope to be home for furlough for Christmas, '75.  We're talking about that.  It fits the kid's school vacation and they want to see SNOW!  and feel COLD!  Yek!  And, maybe everybody won't be so busy like they are in the summer.

Sounds like everybody is really skimping there in the States.  We're also pinched, but I think we'll break even this year.  The cost of living here has jumped 25% in three months while income has held steady.

Saturday we're going to Marilia (about four hours drive from here) for the silver wedding anniversary of our colleague there.  I'll be preaching, but what can you say to somebody who's been hitched that long?

There was a hilarious cartoon in TIME.  Gold Meir and Willy Brandt were sitting on a park bench.  He says to her, "If this were a week earlier, they'd call our meeting a summit conference."

A girl just stopped by and gave us an invitation to her wedding in the Catholic church.  Five years and she's never come to church here.  Her brother is Antonio Roberto, who is studying to be pastor (Lutheran).  Her mother is a spiritist.  She's marrying a Japanese.

Well, carry on.  Let us hear from you.


Joey and family

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