Adventist Widow Fights Grief by Handwriting the Bible in Seven Years

In Brazil, 80-year-old says that copying God’s Word keeps her active and fulfilled.

Evellin Fagundes, South American Division, and Adventist Review
Adventist Widow Fights Grief by Handwriting the Bible in Seven Years
Maria Petrina Gomes started copying the Bible by hand in 2014, as a way of coping with grief after she lost her husband. [Photo: Ingrid Rísia]

An Adventist Brazilian widow started copying the Portuguese Bible by hand in 2014. Maria Petrina Gomes, now 80, recently finished her project after more than seven years of diligent writing. “I have used more than 10 pens until they ran out of ink, and I have filled out six notebooks with the words of the Bible,” she said.

After losing her husband in 2014, Petrina Gomes said she was very sad. A Seventh-day Adventist since 1983 and a resident of Itabuna, in the state of Bahia, Brazil, she had an idea. Why not start writing to fight the weight of grief she felt in her heart? “I thought, ‘Look, I’m going to write. I’m not going to do it in my own words, I’m going to copy it,’” she said. Since then, she has spent a few hours every week reading and copying every word of the Scriptures.

Her personal project helped her to cope with grief, she said. “For me, it’s a good thing, because as I keep writing, I keep learning,” Petrina Gomes said. “It’s very good because I am in close connection with God’s Word.”

Upon finally reaching her goal, Petrina Gomes celebrated with a worship service in the company of her family, some friends, and the local church pastor.

“It was a joy to copy the whole Bible,” Petrina Gomes said. “Even when I traveled, I took my Bible and a notebook to write so I wouldn’t waste time. I always copied it with prayer and with joy, but when I reached to copy the section about the coming of Jesus, I cried a lot as I was very moved,” she shared.

Petrina Gomes said she is always telling other seniors like her to follow her example. “I advise people, especially my age, who have fewer commitments outside their homes, to read and write. It is good to exercise the mind, because as we age, we tend to forget things.”

She said that what she did is part of her legacy. “I want to leave this material to the next generations — to my grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” Petrina Gomes said.

Her wish is not far from becoming true. Petrina Gomes’ granddaughter Aryedna said she admires her grandmother’s dedication very much. “Whenever she traveled and even when her suitcase was full, she would find a way to take her copy of the Bible, notebook, and pens,” Aryedna said. “Even if she had just a few minutes, she would copy at least five more verses. I find it wonderful.”

Aryedna shared how her grandmother would often recite Scripture and share the lessons she had just learned from the Bible verses she was copying.

In addition to spiritual comfort, Petrina Gomes reported that the habit of writing helped her remember her student days. Writing is something she values, knowing that it will not last forever. “I know that as I keep getting older, the day will come when I will be forced to stop writing,” Petrina Gomes shared. “Thank God, my handwriting is still fine. For me, the best thing in life is to copy God’s Word. I feel fulfilled.”

The original version of this story was posted on the South American Division Portuguese-language news site.

Evellin Fagundes, South American Division, and Adventist Review