With love and prayers,
Posted February 1, 2014:
Dear Praying Friends and Family,
Our hearts have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and prayers received over the past several days! In one day alone we received over 500 emails. It will not be possible to answer each one personally but please know that we appreciate each one that was sent The Lord has been so good to us! He has comforted and guided each step of the way. A Brazilian pastor advanced the fee for getting John into the hospital and a Brazilian friend gave us a burial plot and advanced the charge for the funeral. Several other pastors and friends were there helping with arrangements and registering for the death certificate. The love and affection shown by our Brazilian brethren have been overwhelming! Please forgive me for not getting the funeral arrangements to you right away. It was my intention, but we are at least two hours ahead of your time, and time flew by so fast that I never got back to a computer to send them. In Brazil, the practice is to bury within 24 hours. We were able to release the body for burial about 8 a.m. Thursday morning, January 9, and the viewing was from 9:30 to 3 p.m. The service was at 3 and the burial at 4:30. (A video was made of the service and burial. We have just received it, and both James and Sara will take copies to the States with them. It or pictures will be made available to those who want to see them. Let us know. It will be in Portuguese, but you might recognize the hymns and some of the happenings!)
The funeral was just as John would have wanted it: a happy celebration of his entrance into Glory! His favorite hymns were sung, and the deaf signed one of his favorite choruses, "His Name Is Wonderful". A wonderful message was preached and an opportunity for any unsaved to accept the Lord was given. It was a time of victory. Although we miss him dearly, we are thankful that God took John home to be with Him quickly as that is what he always wanted.
Monday morning, before John got sick and entered the hospital, I reserved our tickets to go to the States in June and July. We complete 50 years with the mission this year, and we were going to attend the Missionary Enrichment Conference in July. I still plan to go and plan to visit friends and some churches on the east coast on my way to the conference if possible. My plans are to stay in Brazil and continue teaching at the seminary and college and in a post-graduate course at another Christian college. Please keep us in your prayers as they have sustained us during a difficult time.
With love and prayers,
Jean Peterson and family
Posted January 9th, 2014:
The Bible tells us that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord! About 3 a.m. today, John passed into His presence! We will miss him dearly but we know he is in a better place. I am so happy that James and Sara arrived last evening, and the hospital allowed them to go in and be their dad for a few minutes while he was still alive. Please continue to pray for our family as we take care of the final arrangements. He will be buried here where his heart has always been. We thank you all for the outpouring of love and affection that so many of you have shown through your calls and emails. I will send specific information about his burial. It will probably be sometime this afternoon.
"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust!'" Psalm 91:1-2
Posted January 7th, 2014
At about 3 o'clock this afternoon John was declared brain dead. His kidneys have stopped functioning and he is breathing wityh a machine. They will only officially take him off the machines when his lungs and heart stop. I will advise you of whatever takes places as it happens.
Thank you so much for your outpouring of concern and prayers. I have received many, many emails and it helps pass the pain of the parting. The hospital was full of Brazilians, pastors and missionaries, including interpreters and deaf we have trained. God is good all the time! Returning to an empty house will be the hardest right now! Pray for me, please!
Posted January 7th, 2014
Dear Friends and prayer partners,
I am writing to let you know that I took John to the hospital yesterday afternoon with what we thought was an inner ear problem. Overnight, however, he evidently suffered a very severe stroke, and the neurologist says that seldom does anyone return from this. He is in a coma and unresponsive verbally or to pain. By this evening they should know one way or the other. Please pray that God´s will might be accomplished! God knows what is best!
Merry Christmas and a happy new year!!
Dear Friends and Family,
Greetings from Crato! It is hard to realize that a whole year has passed by already! So many things have happened of importance this year. The first thing that comes to mind is that I, John, have passed the 2 . year mark since my health problem. The Lord spared my life and continues to bless and give me strength. The second blessing is that the Ministry of Education (MEC) approved our Cariri Baptist College, and we were able to begin the year with about 36 new first-year students—and wonderful students they are! Of course, with this increase our classes were much larger. Jean had 42 students in one of her classes and that was a lot of grading papers!
We had a wonderful banquet honoring the seniors on November 22, and on the 28th we celebrated Thanksgivng with a big dinner for everyone on campus. No, we did not have turkey, but the meat from the grill was great! But we did have it on the 29th when the missionaries got together for a typical American Thanksgiving meal! We had a small graduation on November 30 with 5 students finishing their course. It was a very nice night, and many of our graduates came back for it, so it was good to see friends again. The past year just whizzed by, and 2014 is promising much of the same! Isn´t it wonderful to be busy in the Lord´s work??
This year our project is to get the bilingual deaf school approved by the city government. That way the city will pay the salaries of the teachers and other workers needed. We will be teaching sign language to smaller children 3 to 5 years of age and then begin teaching Portuguese using sign language to teach the classes. When they are well grounded in sign language, they will be able to go into regular schools with interpreters if they want to do so—or they will be able to continue at our school if they prefer. This past year we went every afternoon Monday through Friday to the deaf school to help tutor deaf who are in regular schools but do not know sign language or Portuguese. We take our students from the deaf department with us to give them experience in using sign language and working directly with the deaf.
We are planning two weeks of camp for children 8 to 11 at the São Bento property, a boys week and a girls week since we only have 1 dormitory! We have the usual clean up and fix up before a week of camp because it has been a few years since we were able to have these camps. It is interesting and very satisfying to run into some young adults who have been to camp in the past! They all speak well of their experience. Pastors Naldo and Tadeu will be helping with the camp program. They have churches nearby and a big number of children in their neighborhoods. It has been extremely dry here for the past 2 years, but we have 2 wells to water our small soccer field and to put in the very small swimming pool—to take baths and cook with.
We just returned from Natal, the capitol of another state about 10 hours drive from us, where we attended an education seminar on bilingual schools. Unknown to us, they planned an homage and gave us a plaque in appreciation of the many years dedicated to deaf work. The University there is the leading one in this part of Brazil and the one approving Jean´s doctorate. This is our second honor of the year for deaf work. I forgot to mention that this past year I was named honorary citizen of Juazeiro do Norte, a city of about 300,000. I regret, however, that the honor doesn´t even give me the right to free parking!
This has been a profitable year in so many ways. They have been planning a Judgment House play, but we have not heard if it is going to happen. If it goes forward, I will be down there in the counseling room for 7 or 8 nights. The Crato exposition area has still not been moved. They cannot decide on a new location. They have a number of different people who want them to buy their property—at a high price, of course!
Our graduation service always begins with the Brazilian national anthem. I decided to have my sign language choir do it in sign language. They agreed! First they wanted a director so they did not have to work so hard to learn it and could just follow. I said “NO” because in the future they would be asked to sign it themselves, and they would not have a director. It took 2 weeks to accept this idea and then I told them they must sing the words with the gestures. That took a little convincing also to get us all on the same page.
Finally, in order to make sure everyone knew the words, I had them write it out on paper. It is in classical, poetic Portuguese, and most of them didn´t know it or understand the words. Finally, 13 of them presented it at the graduation, dressed in black and wearing white gloves. It was very nice! My class is a strong-willed but wonderful group of students!
It is great to be here in Brazil serving the Lord and helping prepare these young people for the Lord´s work. Thank you all so much for making it possible! We wish you and yours a very merry Christmas with family and friends. We know your church programs and cantatas will be very beautiful. Wish we were there to enjoy one! Be assured of our prayers and our love for each one of you. God bless you all and give you many opportunities of serving and witnessing in the new year! Happy New Year!
Our love to all,
John and Jean Peterson
P.S. Thank you for the many cards we have already received. God bless you for your thoughtfuness!
John E. Peterson