February 16, 2009

I Found God Mommy!

Cora starts school on Wednesday and is very excited. She will be in the morning 4-year-old class at New Horizons. Last week there was an open house for the children and parents to get to know the teachers and classroom. She would not take off her uniform or backpack for the whole rest of the day!

Going to school has also seemed to spur a whole new interest in learning new things as well as speaking more Spanish. Last week she learned how to ride her bike without training wheels. (Of course, stopping is a whole other thing entirely!) She also wants me to read more of her Spanish books to her. There is one in particular that she has memorized.

Last night I was reading to her from a book called Here Comes Heaven!, a child's version of Bill Johnson's book entitled When Heaven Invades Earth. At one point she asked me to point out the word "God" to her. I showed her and continued reading. She turned the page and immediately pointed to the book and exclaimed "I found God, mommy!" She then proceeded to point out where God was in the entire chapter. She was so excited that she even had to run to the living room and show her daddy where God was.

The first written word Cora has learned to recognize is "God." How cool is that?

February 9, 2009

Praising God with Toads and Bugs

Last Thursday night an Evangelistic Campaign was started at one of the new Methodist churches in Luque. It is not exactly a church, but an annex to one of the churches we have been attending. It is located in an extremely poor area where people have moved in waiting for government homes. Hundreds of families are living in shacks constructed out of cardboard and plastic trash bags. Most of them are 8 x 10 feet with maybe 1 or 2 rooms. They usually cook outside on small charcoal grills in one pot and wash their clothes in buckets and then drape their clothes to dry over the barbwire they have surrounding their lots to keep the cows and horses out.

The area is not only physically poor, but spiritually poor as well. During our time there we have seen several people staggering around drunk. There is also a lot of witchcraft. One of the pastors pointed out a witch's home just around the corner from where the church meets.

Every night people have been coming up for prayer for healing and accepting the Lord as their Savior. It has been awesome! The campaign was supposed to end Saturday night, but everyone felt that it needs to continue. So, it will continue through next week. Everyone involved has been asked to fast and pray for a spiritual breakthrough in the area.

As all of this has been going on, I must admit I have also been a bit stretched out of my comfort zone! Nope, its not the healing or praying in tongues or pentecostal preaching style that is stretching me (I love to see the way God is moving!). Its the bugs and toads. I'm not talking about cute little bugs or tiny leaping frogs. There were literally millions of HUGE flying bugs and GIANT hopping toads. I was okay while sitting back in one of the chairs, but as soon as I stepped into the light to play my trumpet, they were surrounding me. As I was playing, I could feel them landing on me and some even going down my shirt. The toads, some literally the size of small cats (only a little exaggeration) were happily jumping around my feet and eating them. I tried to take it all in stride, but I'm not sure how well I did!

All I know is that God helped me through it and it did not take away from the awesomeness of the demonstration of His power that night.

We Got Our Drivers Licenses!

For 7 months we went around to the magistrates in different cities trying to get our driver's licenses. All of them told us that we needed to have our residency card before we could get a license. Well, as many of you know, our residency process is taking a LONG time without a resolution in the near future. So, what have we been doing?...

...Driving Anyway! Where we live is at least a 30 minute drive to many of the places we need to go and even longer by bus. In Costa Rica the buses were a great option for us, but here they are a lot more dangerous. There are robberies and injuries reported every day. The bus drivers do not drive well at all and some barely stop to let you off.

The downside of driving without a license is that if stopped by the police, a big fine is paid and they may even ask for a bribe. We have been blessed to have never been stopped, which is pretty unusual.

Anyway, as a last ditch effort and with a lot of prayer we went with a Paraguayan friend to yet another magistrate to apply for licenses last Wednesday. To our delight they told us it would not be a problem. We gave the main secretary copies of our passports and the results of our blood type, hearing and vision tests. Our hearing test had been pretty sophisticated; the doctor put his wrist watch up to each ear and asked if we could hear it ticking!

After we gave the secretary all the paperwork, we had to do a written test. Our friend, Angelica told them we didn't speak much Spanish and was allowed to interpret for us. We went to a room with 2 guys and her. They handed us a piece of paper with 10 multiple choice questions about road signs. We were allowed to miss 3 and I missed 1. Donald, on the other hand took advantage of all the help he could. In the end all 4 of us in the room were helping him with the questions. He did not miss any questions! They were pretty impressed.

After the test we were told to come back on Friday. The computers were down from a storm and they could not enter our information. On Friday we came back and did a lot of waiting while the paperwork was processed. It was kind of interesting to sit and watch the goings on in the building as we waited. We definitely knew we were not in the States!

The first thing we noticed was the huge dog sleeping on the floor. When we asked about him, we were told that he was the boss' dog and that he came to work every day. It was also funny to see a man come in selling a stack of bootlegged DVDs in front of the police officers. He might have even been selling them to the police officers.

After it took about an hour to process our licenses we went to another place in the building to wait for a judge. Evidently she needed to look over our paperwork to make sure we did not pay more money than we should have. We didn't, and that was good. When we left, however, I was wondering if she even thought about the legality of our whole license process.

Regardless we are now legal to drive both cars and motorcycles and no longer need to worry about being pulled over for a year.

The next big hurdle is our residency process!

February 8, 2009

February Update

As we were looking back through our updates, we realized that it has been a very long time since we filled you in on our latest happenings. November 5th was the date of our last emailing, and as you can imagine, much has happened since then.

November 2008

We were blessed to share Thanksgiving with a group of missionaries and their children. Some improvisions were made in traditional dishes with local ingredients, but the hosts were able to find an imported turkey. The oven had been moved outside in order to not heat up the house. The children also played in the swimming pool.

Another big event was the seminary graduation. Four Paraguayans graduated and will be sent out to pastor churches. Our friend, German, was one of them. He came to Christ a couple of years ago when a church was doing door-to-door evangelism. Since that time God has given him a passion for the lost. He will be a great pastor!

During the month of November, we established more of a routine. Donald helped with the church construction and I worked at the school during the day. Most evenings were filled with church activities, visiting with friends or Donald’s Spanish classes.

Link to November's Pictures

December 2008

Our new routine was quickly broken in December as summer approached. The church construction was put on hold due to a lack of money and school let out for summer break. Remember, in South America our seasons are opposite. School lets out in December and does not start again until February.

Because of the extreme heat, the “Christmas season” felt a little strange to us. The only decorations we had were a miniature tree that Carol bought for a dollar at one of the churches’ rummage sales and a stocking for Cora. We did make sugar cookies and ate our traditional Christmas morning “creamed egg on toast.” On Christmas day Cora opened a few presents from grandparents then we went over to another missionary family’s home for dinner and swimming in their pool.

The cool thing about it not “feeling” like Christmas is that we were not distracted by the whole commercialized hype that goes with it. It was easier to stay focused on Jesus. There was also the constant reminder of Him as we passed by hundreds of manger scenes every day, even in government buildings.

Carol had the opportunity to play her trumpet with a choir that was composed of people from all of the Methodist churches. They practiced for weeks to put together a Christmas presentation. A special program was done for all the churches. The group also sold hamburgers to earn enough money to make the 5 hour trip to Ciudad del Este. It was a good time of fellowship and ministering in a church there. The final performance was done at a nursing home for men. We sang a few songs, and then took some time to pray with them. Of course, Donald and Cora participated in everything that we did.

A little later in December we made another trip to Ciudad del Este with all of the school staff from New Horizons and their families. We got to see a hydroelectric dam (considered one of the modern 7 wonders of the world), waterfalls, and a zoo and camped out at a wildlife preserve. It was very hot, but a great opportunity to form closer relationships with the staff.

The highlight of our December was Baptisms! Over 30 people were baptized in the pool at the Methodist campground. Four of them were people from our Alpha group. Three of them were guys that Donald had been doing construction with. It was awesome to be able to share with them during this important step of their faith journey.

December Photo Album Part I
December Photo Album Part II

January 2009

We flew from Paraguay to Costa Rica on New Year’s Eve. The first week we attended a regional gathering for all Mission Society missionaries serving in Latin America. About 80 people were there including family members. The Costa Rican mountains were very cold compared to the Paraguayan heat. We had a great time though, seeing old faces and making new friends. We also had a lot of good teaching from the Word as well as on the problem of dependency in missions.

Since we were already in Costa Rica, we decided to take 2 more weeks for a vacation. It was the first vacation that we had had in almost 2 years! We rented a car and traveled to the beaches and mountains. We visited missionary friends serving in Costa Rica as well as national friends that we had made during our time in language school. We also had plenty of time to relax and enjoy the beauty of the country.

Costa Rica Regional Gathering
Costa Rica Vacation Part I
Costa Rica Vacation Part II

What’s Next?

Since our return from Costa Rica we have been busy trying to get back into the swing of things here in Paraguay. Cora will be starting Jardín (4-year-old preschool) at the New Horizons School next week. She is very excited to have a uniform that matches her mommy’s and a new backpack full of supplies. Carol will be helping in the school while Cora is in class.

Our street guard introduced Donald to one of his silversmith friends a couple of weeks before our Costa Rica trip. Donald went to visit him and started making friends with other silversmiths as well. He has started hanging out with them a few days a week. Yesterday they told him that they were going to get a desk for him in their shop. He is excited about the opportunity that God is opening with them.


Baby Antonella – The baby of 2 New Horizons staff members with spina bifida. She just had her surgery in Florida and everything went fine. The neurosurgeons and hospital donated their services and their plane passage was completely paid by donations from churches!
Drivers Licenses – We finally got our Paraguayan licenses yesterday after 7 months of being told “no” everywhere we went! We can now drive without worries of being pulled over by the police and paying high fines.
Flooded House – Our bedrooms were flooded during a big storm last Sunday. We praise God for our safety and that of our possessions. Only 2 books were ruined.
Car Donations – So far we have $3,149 in our car fund. Only $6, 851 more to go!

Prayer Requests

New Horizons School – that there will be a good start to the new year and that every child will have a sponsor
Our Churches – that the leadership will continue to be guided by the Holy Spirit in all decisions that are made
The Silversmiths – that God will continue to open doors for Donald as he pursues a relationship with them
Our Witness – that we will be faithful and bold witnesses for Jesus Christ everywhere that we go!
Residency Status – that our FBI reports will arrive here quickly and the process will go smoothly after that
An Automobile – In order to reach all the places we are doing ministry, we need to be able to buy a car. We only have $6,851 more to raise.
Tax deductible donations can be made on The Mission Society website - https://www.themissionsociety.org/people/paige. Please designate it for our car fund.