March 24, 2009

And They'll Know We Are Christians By Our...

Last Monday was a long day for me. When Cora got out of school I was hot and tired and more than ready to go home and take a nap. As I started to back the car up to leave, however, I felt a slight bump and heard the sound of something falling to the ground. I jumped out of the car to discover that a motorcycle had been parked directly behind me and that it was now laying on its side leaking fuel or something. A couple of women witnessed the incident and helped me to upright the bike. I asked them if they knew who the owner was. They did not know and actually encouraged me to hurry and leave before he came back. That would not be an uncommon thing to do in Paraguay, and I was actually tempted for a second. However, much to their surprise, I decided to continue to look for the owner. After a few minutes he came out of the school. I explained to him what happened, but he seemed not to be phased by it. In the presence of the women I told him that if he discovered a problem that he could find me at the school most days. Unconcerned, he rode off while the women continued to stare at me in disbelief.

When I finally got back in the car, I noticed that I did not have enough gas (actually, diesel) to make it home. So, I stopped by the closest service station to fill up. The total came to 340,000 guaranis, which is the equivalent of $68. That is a lot of money, especially here. I handed the attendant my credit card to pay the bill. He came back and told me that the credit card machine was down. I hardly ever carry that much cash on me, so that put me in a bit of a bind. I then spotted an ATM down the street and asked if I could go get the money from there. This was agreed to as long as the attendant could ride with me. He hopped in and I drove down a block to the ATM. I could not believe it, however when the screen announced that the machine was Fuera de Linea (off line).

The attendant and I drove back to the station to discuss the problem with his boss. I told him that I passed by the station every day on my way to work at a Christian school and that he could trust me to come back to pay. Of course he was reluctant to trust me and explained that he needed to have all money accounted for by the end of the day. I sympathized with his situation and continued to think of a solution. It then occurred to me to call Emily, a short-term missionary working at the school. She lives in the apartment over the school, thus was nearby. I called her and asked if she had the money. Fortunately she just happened to have 400,000 that I could borrow. I reported this to the boss and told him I could go right over there and get the money. He thought that was a great idea, but again insisted that another attendant ride with me.

On the 5 minute ride to the school I had the opportunity to talk with the young man and share Christ with him. He seemed surprised that as a "Cristiana" that I was not condemning him for his Catholicism. I mostly shared the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He was also surprised that when we pulled up to the apartment, that Emily actually gave me the 400,000 without question and trusted me to pay it back to her.

As Christians it is not so much what we say that affects people as what we do. It is my hope that even though I was hot, tired and frustrated, that a little of God's grace was able to show through me that day.

As the song proclaims, "And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love, They will know we are Christians by our love."

March 18, 2009

A Paraguayan Hospital Visit

Last week Donald and I went to visit a church member who has been in the hospital for several days. His name is Domingo, or "Mingo" for short. He is 19 years old. He went in the hospital for a surgery and while there developed pneumonia. He is also in need of a kidney transplant.

The hospital that we use here is a private Baptist hospital. It is not quite the same as the ones in the States, but very close. We pay more than the public hospitals, but receive care in a clean environment with qualified physicians. In the 8 months that we have been here, we had never visited a public hospital. We knew they were much poorer, but did not know quite what to expect.

The hospital is called "Hospital de Clinicas" and is connected to the university where doctors are trained. From the outside it did not look too bad. Upon entering, however, I came face to face with the realities of health care in the 3rd world.

Since Cora was not allowed in, Donald volunteered to stay with her 1st while another church member and I went in to look for Mingo. She was unable to reach his mother's cell phone, so we started wandering around looking for him. There was no central place to ask, so we just started by questioning "official" looking people as they passed by. The hospital is not a single building. Instead it is sort of a campus of connected buildings. We wandered freely from building to building through rooms looking for him. We went through several rooms that were filled with half-clothed patients laying in thin metal rollaway beds. There was no sense of privacy or sanitary precautions. We also passed by people who evidently were waiting for beds. They were laying on the floors and benches both in the hallways and outside on the ground.

After what seemed like an eternity we were finally able to contact Mingo's mother and found out where he was. His room was no different from the others. It contained about 20 men lined up in beds against 2 of the walls. There was also a metal cabinet next to Mingo's bed that had cockroaches climbing in and out of it.

I found the following picture on the Internet. It shows the inside of the hospital. I did not notice any privacy curtains while I was there!

We prayed with Mingo, then I went outside with Cora to give Donald a turn. While waiting, I noticed a plaque that showed that the hospital had been built in 1894. It is almost 115 years old! That explains part of its condition, but not quite.

As I pondered what it would take to change the medical care of Paraguay, Cora pointed out something to me. Patients were actually being pushed to another building in their rollaway beds down a car filled street while passersby gawked and laughed. It will take much more than modern equipment to bring about change, a whole new mindset will need to come about. That will require education and a lot of prayer!

March 17, 2009

Residency Documents Turned In!

Just wanted to let you guys know that we finally got all our documents turned in to immigrations for our residency process! It is a relief to have that behind us.

As missionaries we have been approved for temporary residency, which is 1 year. In a year we will then apply for permanent residency which will be good for 10 years. Of course, we will have to get some documents updated. The good news, however, is there will be less paperwork to complete the second time around.

Thank you for all the prayers!

March 9, 2009

March Update

I was holding off on writing this update in the hope that we would be able to share that all our residency paperwork had been turned in. Well, we are very close, but still not quite there. We praise God that our FBI reports did arrive safely and we were able to get them to the immigration office via the US embassy without a problem (thank you for the prayers). After that, however we have spent the last two weeks running around the city of Asunción collecting all the other required documents. It has been a challenge because all the government offices are only open in the mornings and none of them are close by each other. It also seems like every time we go someplace and think we have everything they could possibly need to give us a document, we are usually missing just one more thing. It has been quite a frustrating process to say the least, especially since everything has to be done in Spanish. It also does not help that every day it has been in the 100s and the air conditioning went out in the car we are borrowing.

Needless to say, last week as I was sitting in the middle of the downtown traffic with sweat streaming down my face, trying to locate a building in a city with few street signs and even fewer building numbers, trying not to listen to the protests of my beautiful but tired, hungry and hot child in the back seat, hoping that we would arrive before closing…I was not feeling very “missionary-like.” It was right at that exact moment, however that God spoke. His words flowed through me as a beautiful and encouraging thought; “Aren’t you thankful that you didn’t have to go through all this for your salvation?”
He’s right! Through His amazing grace He welcomed me into His kingdom with open arms. I did not have to jump through hoops or complete just “one more” requirement. Jesus Christ paid the price for me through His shed blood. All I had to do was believe in Him and come before God with a repentful heart. That is good news (the best news) to those in this world who are weary and heavy laden.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30

This is the message we are to bring to the people of Paraguay and the message that all Christians are to share with those around them.

Donald Update

Donald is continuing to build relationships with local silversmiths. At first he thought that there were maybe 20 of them, but has since discovered that there are well over 100. He has also discovered that each one is working for themselves even though they may work in the same place. They make their own items then go from shop to shop selling them. The good news is that Donald has been invited to work with a couple of them and they plan to take him out next week to price equipment. The challenge will be affording the tools and what to do with the pieces that he makes. He does not want to be in competition with the other silversmiths. He is currently seeking God’s wisdom in this situation and asks that you add your prayers to his.
Another area where Donald has been working is Alpha. As many of you know, we had helped with an Alpha course in one of the churches. Because of its success, Donald had been talking with the church president about starting courses in the 2 churches we have been involved with. In the beginning of February we found out that the president decided to take that idea a step further. Donald along with another missionary couple has been put in charge of starting Alpha and training leaders in ALL of the Methodist churches. Another cool thing was that our home church, New Town UMC, had just sent us all the materials needed (in Spanish) to start a course. Praise God!

Carol Update

The new school year started in the beginning of February and Carol has been busy helping at New Horizons. There are about 525 students in the school this year from preschool through 8th grade. Carol and Emily (a new short-term missionary) took all their pictures and helped to prepare letters from each child to be sent to their sponsors in the States. Carol was taken away from her school duties for a couple of weeks in order to work on residency stuff. Eventually, however, she will begin to work more with the families through visiting homes, praying with them and helping to find solutions to specific needs.
Carol has also continued to play her trumpet in both churches and with the Methodist choral group. In addition, next week she will begin giving trumpet lessons to the son of one of the Brazilian missionaries. Over the past few months many people have expressed an interest in learning to play. However, trumpets are expensive and hard to come by here. Trumpet books are also all but impossible to find in Spanish or English. Actually, this is the case for all wind instruments. Carol has begun to pray about this as a possible ministry area.

Cora Update

Cora started school in the Jardín class on February 16th. She absolutely loves her teachers and is making a lot of new friends. Several of our Paraguayan friends have also commented on how much her Spanish has improved during the past 3 weeks. At home she keeps herself busy playing with her new puppy named Lucy (yes we have a new family member) and riding her bicycle. A couple of weeks ago she learned how to ride without training wheels. It is the stopping that she still needs to work on.


In addition to the 2 churches we are involved in, we began helping with another church start. A Paraguayan couple from the Pozo Azul church has gone out as missionaries to start a new church in San Carlos, an extremely poor area of Luque (the town we live in). People have moved there in the hopes of receiving a government home. 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. 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.

An evangelistic campaign was held there every night for 2 weeks straight. Many people came up for prayer for healing and accepted the Lord as their Savior. A group of us are continuing to fast and pray for a spiritual revival in that area.


Alpha Material – We praise God that the Alpha material sent to us will be used in a bigger way than we imagined
FBI Reports – Immigrations accepted them straight through the US embassy without first going through the consulate in the States!
Barrio San Carlos – The good work that was started in this poor area.
Cora’s School Adjustment – Cora loves school and has made new friends

Prayer Requests

New Horizons School – that there will be a good start to the new year and that every child will have a sponsor
Barrio San Carlos – that spiritual revival will overtake that
The Silversmiths – that God will continue to open doors for Donald as he pursues a relationship with them and for wisdom
Our Witness – that we will be faithful and bold witnesses for Jesus Christ everywhere that we go!
Residency Status – that all our paperwork will be accepted and turned in by the end of the week
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 - Please designate it for our car fund.

Link to February Pictures:

Also, in case you’re interested, a link to some Lucy the puppy pictures:

Because of the slowness of our internet connection, we are now using Skype instead of our previous internet phone service. We still have a Virginia number and voice mail. It is (757) 637-6655.

A DVD presentation of our first 6 months in Paraguay was sent to several of our supporting churches. If you are interested in viewing it, please contact us.

In addition, Carol made a New Year’s Resolution to post more stories on our blog. Check it out and become a follower:

Love and Blessings,

Donald, Carol, Cora and Lucy