Its hard to believe that we have been in Paraguay now for a little over a month. Time has flown by! Much of it has been spent learning our way around and getting acclimated to the culture. We were told before coming to not take on any "official" duties for the first couple of months. Now we know why. Everything is so different here, and it is taking awhile to learn how to navigate through life. That does not mean, however that God has not been working. He certainly has. Let us share a few things:
Our Two Churches
Since coming here, we have been attending two of the Methodist churches that are close to our home. The first church, Pozo Azul (Blue Well), is about 15 km from us, but it takes about 30 minutes to get there due to the roads. A year ago the church was struggling and down to 4 members. The president of the denomination appointed his son-in-law to pastor it. Now there are about 30 people who attend on Sundays including children. Most members live within walking distance in very humble homes. We have spoken to the pastor, and he would like us to help do some Bible studies in the future.
The second church, Cristo Viviente (Living Christ), meets on Sunday evenings. It is about 5 minutes from our home. It has more of an urban feel than the other church. The people there are also more exuberant in their worship. Right now the sanctuary only has 2 walls and a roof. However, they do have an electric guitar, drumset and keyboard. Carol will start playing her trumpet with them next Sunday.
We shared last month about the Alpha course we have been involved with. It continues to be a blessing for us as we learn from others and see lives being changed. We have also formed a relationship with one of the families. Ricardo is in Donald's small group and his wife, Monica is in Carol's. They have twin 4-year-old boys and a 6-year-old girl. They have only been Christians for a month. Last Tuesday we picked them up and they showed us a good place to eat typical Paraguayan food. We then spent some time fellowshipping in their home. They shared with us how God has transformed their marriage over the past month. We praised God with them, prayed with them and shared some about spiritual warfare. We are going to continue to meet with them on a regular basis for discipleship.
A God Encounter
Before coming to Paraguay we were told that there are very few black people in the country. We have found that to be true. For most Paraguayans, their only experience with black people are the Brazilian "futbolistas" (soccer players). So, when people on the street see Donald, they either stare or shout something about fútbol. It is even more unusual to see an interracial couple. Needless to say, we stand out here.
Anyway, last Wednesday we went to one of the malls in Asunción to meet with a friend who is helping us with our residency paperwork. While we were in the food court (yes, they have those here too!) a black man came up to our table to speak to Donald. He was happy to see another person of color. He is from the Caribbean and speaks English. He is married to a Paraguayan and has lived here 6 years. When we told him we were missionaries, it was like a door was opened. He told us that his wife had recently had a miscarriage and that he was thinking about becoming a Christian. We were able to share with him a little and exchanged contact information in order to meet with him and his wife.
After the conversation our friend pointed out to us that our "uniqueness" in this culture is what drew this man to us and opened the door to share Christ. It will be cool to see how God continues to use this in the future!
Over this past month, Donald has been trying to make some contacts with other silversmiths. There are several in this area that make jewelry and small things, but none that do the same work that Donald does. Last week we were able to visit a silver factory in a town called Caacupe. It is about one hour from our home. Donald had called beforehand and spoke with the master silversmith's son. He spoke English very well and seemed excited that we were missionaries. He said that they were Christians also. When we arrived at the shop, however, it became clear that there was a misunderstanding. They are Jehovah Witnesses, and had thought we were Jehovah Witness missionaries. Even though we explained that we were not, they still let us tour the business. Donald was familiar with many of the techniques they used and was pleased to see that they were doing much by hand. As we were leaving, the master silversmith said that he would be happy to help Donald in any way possible. He will be a good resource and maybe we will even have a chance to evangelize some with his family as well!
Nuevo Horizonte (New Horizons) is the name of the school that Carol will be working in. It was founded by missionaries in the year 2000 in response to the lack of the availability of quality education in a poor area of Asunción. The goal is to provide a good Christian education and equip future leaders of Paraguay. It started with preschool and a grade has been added every year. Next year Nuevo Horizonte will include 8th grade and consist of over 450 children.
Carol has had a chance to visit the school and participated in two meetings. She will begin working there officially in September. That is when they start the registration process for the preschool. There are 45 openings and about 200 children will probably apply for them. Each child is tested and then a home visit is made. Since she has a background in social work, Carol will be the main person doing the home visits.
Cora got off to a bit of a rough start first by developing bronchitis, then getting bit by the dog. She is adjusting well, however. She loves living in our home with the dogs, cats and trampoline. There is plenty of room for her to run around and play. She has also started making friends with the children in both churches and Alpha. Since she started spending more time with the children, Cora's Spanish has improved immensely. She understands a lot and is trying to speak it more and more.
There is more that we could share, but this is getting kind of long. Guess that is what the blog is for! To view some pictures of the last month, click on this link: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=3419&l=532ef&id=1332236838
Please continue to keep us in your prayers. That is what keeps us going! Here are a few prayer requests:
* Language Acquisition
* That we will be bold witnesses for Christ everywhere we go
* All the people we have mentioned in this update
* Our physical and spiritual health and safety
* Individuals willing to donate money for our automobile fund