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 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!
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 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
•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 - https://www.themissionsociety.org/people/paige. Please designate it for our car fund.
Link to February Pictures: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=17293&id=1332236838&l=888bb
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: http://www.seasoninparaguay.blogspot.com
Love and Blessings,
Donald, Carol, Cora and Lucy