Mark Huddle - Uruguay, Brazil - 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011 11:01 PM

Mark's General Letter from Uruguay and Brazil




Dear folks,


Artigas, Uruguay


This comes from the rustic, rural setting of Artigas.  We took an all-night bus 1 night ago, certainly one of my least favorite ways to travel, but we arrived safely and that's the important thing.  There were a group of 14, including friends and workers that worked their way into the city after the convention in Mendoza.  Our bus left at 10pm and we arrived at a bus stop a short walk from the convention grounds at 5am.  There are many workers that I had not met here as all of the Uruguay and South Brazil staff will be at Artigas.  We'll have 2 meetings for workers on Wednesday and then a 3-day convention.


Uruguay has, in general, been slow for the gospel but several workers started out in just a few years beginning in 1938.  The sister that started out in 1938 is with us.  Her mind is clear.  It's amazing how active she is for 97.  The sister that started in 1939 developed TB sometime her first year in the work.  The solution in that day was isolation so she spent her last months in a little cabin they built for her a few hundred yards from the main convention facilities here at Artigas.  No restroom facilities.  The bath was the little creek nearby.  We visited the little grave by the cabin.  She did what she could.


The weather here is interesting.  A couple of days ago it was quite muggy, there was no air-conditioning or fans in the meeting room, and it was 107.  I don't think I'll ever complain about cold weather again!  At present the weather has changed, a storm came through and today we have a gentle wind from the South as in the South Pole, which means it is very pleasant at present.


Uruguay would have less of a religious base than almost all the other countries in Latin America.  Many of the early movers in the country after the Spanish influence waned had their roots in the people and mostly agnostic thinking of the French Revolution.  They've had some interest in one of the fields there recently and 4 were baptized at the convention at Artigas that were ex-Mennonites.  In general there's not a lot of interest there or at least not as much as is in Brazil.  There may be as much or more than in Argentina.  Uruguay and the south part of Brazil share the same staff of workers.


Five professed at the last convention (Mendoza) of about 170.  This week and next will be smaller but like I've often said, The spirit and feeling are the same.


Manoel Viana, Brazil


It's hot and humid here but not like Wednesday last week when we had the 2 workers meetings in Uruguay.  Another rainstorm seems to be moving in so that will be good.  I've seen banana plants, mango trees and papaya trees growing here but not commercially.  We're really a little far south for that.


Central America, Peru and Bolivia were the most primitive of the other countries I've been in here in Latin America.  Chile, Argentina and Uruguay are better off.  This south part of Brazil is a step up economically from anywhere else I've been in South America.  It's still not like the USA or Canada but closer.  The government seems more stable.  There are less crime issues here (and also in Uruguay).  The prosperity also has a lot to do with less native peoples and more Germans and Italians.  Even when making the same amount the Europeans know how to save, keep things repaired and clean so that has a lot to do with how the countryside looks.  I do want to say again that there are a few out of every one of these countries in which, completely independent of their background and race, God had done a wonderful work!


They showed us a bug at the last convention grounds.  It looks like a big beetle.  They, sometimes, carry a disease that perforates the intestines.  Fortunately there is medicine that helps, at least some.  Unfortunately there is no cure.  There told us to be very careful and not touch the shower head (which wasn't all that high) when we showered.  Those kinds of electric shower heads are legal to sell in Brazil and illegal to sell in Uruguay because with the type of electricity Uruguay has some people have been electrocuted.  Anyway all is well.  The driving in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and the south of Brazil is much safer than in Peru and Bolivia.  Maybe this comes under the title of "Too much information," but it's interesting information.


One of our friends (the convention owner) in a convention meeting gave us his family testimony.  His father had been very poor.  He told the workers that he knew his house was very small and very poor and that he knew they wouldn't come to visit him but he was hoping for contact somewhere/somehow.  The workers did visit him and he came to love the gospel.  Brazil has been a land of economic opportunity the last years so the son that gave his testimony now owns and farms 2,400 acres of corn; 5,700 acres of flood irrigated (gravity fed from a nearby river) rice; 7,500 acres of soybean; plus some range ground/timber land for his 10,000 cattle.  His new project is a state-of-the-art grain storage (7,500 additional tons)/ cleaning/ drying/ weighing facility with the capacity to load railroad cars at the rate of 250 tons per hour.


Pelotas, Brazil


The drive here was mostly though cattle country.  There was some flood irrigated rice in the valleys plus some soybeans in the dry-land country.  The dry-land grass was all green.  We've been told that the higher plains to the east (an area I won't get to) are cooler, have much more productive soils, and are more intensively crop farmed.


We went an hour from the convention grounds to visit some farmers in among the green rolling hills.  Many of the farmers are of German decent.  This makes for neat, painted homes.  There's a lot of Italian influence here also.  Some land is in brush and/or timber.  The soils here tend to be better than in the flatter, lower ground where the convention is.  Small farms people raising corn, peaches and tobacco.  Tobacco isn't a food so the chemicals they use are MUCH more aggressive.  Many of the farmers die of cancer long before they get old.  But the money is good.


I have a room in the top floor of this building that we use for convention, cooking, much of the sleeping and parking cars.


My speaking schedule for this week included/includes lots of visits, 3 after-meal talks, an informal gospel meeting on Tuesday, Wednesday night bible study, Thursday night gospel meeting, a 2:00p convention meeting on Saturday (today) and a 9:30am Sunday convention meeting tomorrow.


About 100 people were here.  There were more contacts here than there usually are in a convention of 1,000 back in the states.  Many listened very well!


It is very nice getting acquainted with friends and workers here.  I thought the changing (with every country) Spanish accents were a challenge that's minor compared to Portuguese luckily many understand a little spoken Spanish even if they have difficulty speaking it.  Almost all the staff understands both Portuguese and Spanish.  Just to set the record straight:  I always speak in English in convention meetings, I generally speak in English between the meetings, and occasionally, with lots of accompanying hand signs, I'm using a few very limited and poorly spoken words that some might think is distantly related to Spanish.


Nova Santa Rita, Brazil


One delicacy we often are having is pickled, hard boiled quail eggs they're small and very good, much milder than chicken eggs.


About 400 were here Sunday morning so this is the largest of the conventions in Uruguay and the south part of Brazil.  As the standard of living increases people are more used to sitting and listening, and they are more able to read.  All this helps the attention span in meetings.


We said goodbye to this noble little band of workers, some of whom we had been with for 4-5 weeks.  I've enjoyed my time with this staff.  I have some very good memories of friends here!


Monday night was spent in Lima, Peru.  It was nice to see Trevor and others again.  My LAN flight was well over 3 hours late so that gave me a nice chunk of time to work on this letter in the airport.


And now, this comes from Ecuador.


Your friend,
Mark Huddle