I’m up to my elbows in paper, going through old files and crying as I throw away tons piles of historical documents relating to the work and the church in Brazil over the years. I have material in English and Portuguese starting from the 1960s and 1970s.
Months ago, I moved from my office space, which I had rented for 17 years, to a home office. There’s not room for everything, so most of the files must go. I have boxes of papers and files scattered around the office and the bedroom, and it’s past time to pare it down.
One of the great emotions I feel going through this material is gratitude. Many of the files are full of letters and studies from brethren. I’m thankful for the many people God has used to work in the country. I’ve know many, many wonderful workers in his Kingdom, both American and Brazilian and even a few other nationalities.
I’m thankful too for so many good opportunities to serve, first in Belo Horizonte for 10 years, and what will soon be 26 years in São José dos Campos. Not a few photos are floating to the top of the piles. I’m thankful to see the power of the gospel of Christ transform so many lives.
I’m thankful to have raised, together with a good wife, three children in the midst of challenging circumstances, but with the joy of a united family. I’m thankful to see them today in their faith and growth.
I’m thankful to have traveled much of the country to teach, able to meet so many saints and observe their faith under diverse trials. Their stories inspire me.
It’s good to be able to look back at our history of service and see the hand of God, remember his providence, feel humbled by how difficulties and blessings have made us stronger, and laugh at many situations that disturbed us then.
And the mounds of paper to which I say goodbye will perish, but the memories of God’s presence and blessing will remain and serve to guide us to an ever more joyful future of love and service in his Kingdom.
There are more memories yet to be made, more reasons for thanksgiving to note, and, in a practically paperless future, a lot fewer papers to throw away.