Documents Methodist

A Methodist Missionary in Brazil

This letter from the September 10, 1936 issue of the Advocate tells of the work of a South Carolina Methodist missionary in Brazil.  Some of you may know that Brazil and South Carolina have some long connections, and South Carolina’s own Cyrus B. Dawsey served as a Bishop of the Methodist Church in Brazil for a time.  The writer was Miss Clyde Varn, who was supported by the Charleston District.  Her parents lived at Islandton, S. C., and her home church was Wesley Chapel.

Bello Horigonta, Brazil,

July 11, 1936

My dear friends in the U. S. A.:

On the fourth of July, two years ago, I courageously attended an all day picnic at Wesley Chapel Church, and as the day ended, folded my tents and slipped away as gaily as the circumstances permitted. However, my “tents” consisted of two large trunks, a box of books, a Pullman bag, five suitcases, a hatbox, and a badly used but faithful Corona portable. Two years ago on the 7th I bade farewell to New Orleans, setting sail in a tub I scarcely considered seaworthy, but which landed me in Rio on schedule, July 25. I am beginning the third year of my second term.

Some of you have read my letter in the Press and Standard last year. The building I then called home has been razed to the ground, and home for me now is one of the two rooms of the former laundry, stuck off on a corner of the yard. Only a thin partition separates me from the church janitor and his garrulous wife. (I could give some of you wives points in successful henpecking.)  Cement tanks attached to the walls of this room when used for laundry purposes have caused it to have a very damp climate. In order to keep my books, shoes and other articles of leather from being ruined, a hole had to be opened in the roof of the porch to let in the blessed sunshine. The drying process has gone on rapidly, so that by the time the rainy season arrives, I shall be able to put the lid on the roof again.

And, oh, that something could be done to bring it on! (The rain, I mean, not the roof.) We have had no rain at all since March and expect none before October. How hard one works here to keep his shoes polished! And when it begins to rain, it’s just as bad; for then it is the season of white shoes.

Some of you probably saw Allie Cobb the first of the year.  She went to the States on her summer vacation. My month was well worthwhile. I went out into the interior of the State of Sao Paulo to visit the Dawseys (formerly of S. C.) in the little city of Morilia. It is a great coffee region. The country is new and is progressing rapidly. It was a great experience for me, for I had never been in that section. It took considerable sitting to get there but never more than sixteen hours on a stretch.

There have been many changes since the beginning of the year. We have a new principal, the other having returned to the States for rest. The present principal is Miss Mary Sue Brown of Texas, recently returned from the States and full of enthusiasm and plans for our school. She and I were co-laborers in Porto Alegre for four years.

We are badly in need of new buildings. These antediluvian structures just double our work. Miss Brown has plans for the new property, but we can’t build there until we sell here and we can’t sell here until we build there. We are trying to sell the least needed portions of this place (we have practically a city block in the city center) for a sufficient sum to put up enough of the new building to house us until we can complete our plans. But even the possibility of this seems distant, for the new property is not unencumbered. Soon a big bank building will be going up in our very yard. Across the street we have two lotteries, two bars and a billiard room. Often we are awakened by the sounds of fights and even shooting.

But before I close, I might suggest that if any of you are thinking of what present you might give to a missionary friend, ask her if she can use a Hectograph. A Sunday school class of Beaufort gave me this one and it has been a joy-the most useful present I ever received.  Useful not only to me but to the school and Sunday school.  It is grand for taking off worship programs, music, and outlining maps. (It never gets enough rest between times. I don’t know how long one lasts, but this has been in constant use and is going strong.

Note:  This was my September 2016 column in the S. C. United Methodist Advocate

By Phillip Stone

I've been the archivist of Wofford College and the South Carolina United Methodist since 1999. I'll be sharing college, Methodist, and local history, documents, photographs, and other interesting stories on this blog, which I've been keeping since December 2007.