It depends on your perspective

Living in Paraguay and being married to a Paraguayan has taught me a lot, mainly that people are different.

I loved the cold weather when we were in the States this year. Angelica could not seem to get warm. Each night I had nightmares about the heat in Paraguay, while Angelica lay beside me dreaming of the “lovely” sunny weather in Paraguay. Each Sunday at church, I longed for the more “rock-n-roll” music typical in Paraguayan services, while Angelica cherished every fleeting moment of our traditional music and the choir. I fidgeted in the pews, missing being able to wear shorts to church, while Angelica enjoyed getting up early to dress-up.

Both Camila and AnnaBelen had differing views on our time in the States as well.  A few days after our arrival, AnnaBelen began longing for home and Camila started in about how our time in the US is never enough.

In our family, as in most I assume, we don’t see eye-to-eye on a lot of things, but we all agree that we appreciate and feel blessed with a great maternal and church family. We are incredibly thankful for everyone who has helped us along the way and/or is helping us now. We do not feel like we are here in Paraguay alone and know that God has put each and every one of y’all in our lives for a reason. That we can agree on!

Good Decisions

Somewhere along the line, we made the good decision (I insist was my idea) to invest much of our time in the youth of Paraguay. Actually, it was an invitation by the Bishop that got us involved with the youth. Every time we are together, I come away thankful for the opportunity to work together with these young people in sharing Christ in Paraguay. I am always amazed by their ability and boldness in living a Christian life. They have made my time here more enjoyable and the ministries more effective.

Angelica and I are delighted to have the opportunity to work with the National Youth, and now also as the chaplains of the National Adolescence. The churches in Paraguay are very connected. Many members know members in other churches, especially the kids. We get together for a lot of spiritual, social, and sporting events. The younger generation is the most active generation in the churches in Paraguayan culture.Students2

We are looking forward to working more with the churches in the Interior of the country: working to help them build the community that we have in the capital of Asuncion and working to help them develop better kids, adolescent and youth programs. We have a great team of youth to help us with this and hope to involve some of the younger kids as well. This has been a dream of Angelica’s for some time and we are looking forward to getting started.

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Paraguayan Fact

Paraguay is “melting.” We have had 15 days and counting of 103 to 108 degrees.

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Time and location can really change perspective

I always looked forward to summer and “camping” when I was a kid. I remember we use to set up out in the barn, up in the hay loft. Cool breezes and light shadows from the moon made it seem like we were in another world. The smell of a camp fire and pretending that we did not have access to power made it seem like we were roughing it.

It just does not seem the same now days. The breezes aren’t so cool and there is no way to keep the smell of burning brush out of our house. Being without power is not a pretend game and can be really quite annoying when the temperature is in the 100’s.

Angelica says that my character changes (negatively) with the coming of the long summers. I guess it all depends on your perception. Being outside and exposed to whatever nature has to offer is not called camping in Paraguay. It is just living.

Double Graduation

A few weeks ago, we celebrated what could be the last year of education for our friend and fellow worker Karina, and the end of the first year for some of our little friends in the Interior. Karina, the Kindergarten teacher at The Susana Wesley School, has just finished her teachers’ degree. We celebrated this event along with her students who have now finished their preparations to enter into First Grade.

Like most events, we held the graduation outside. Thank God the weather was conducive to an outside event. As I have mentioned before, education is not a high priority in the interior of Paraguay. Angelica is slowly changing that notion in Quinta Linia. Both the kids and the parents came in their “Sunday Best.” There was food for everyone and a great time was had by all.

We would like to say “thank you” to all those back home who have supported the Susanna Wesley School and the kids of Quinta Linia for so many years. These children have received a chance to learn more about the world and God, a chance that many of their fellow countrymen will never have.Kindergarten_print

Just a Little Something to Help

Our friends Doug and Becky Neel were here about a month ago. Doug is the former director of Agrimissions and has visited here at least 10 times. They always bring something to make the Paraguayans’ lives a little easier and this time was no exception. They brought down irrigation kits and we had a demonstration on how to set them up. Gardening is something that we have been working on introducing for quite a while. It has finally taken off and gardens are popping up all around the area in which we work.

As Angelica and I visit around Quinta Linia, we find that people are always eager to talk about what they are growing and what new things they may plant. They have learned that as a good Southerner, many of my conversations revolve around food. We start off taking about planting, preparing and eating food, eventually we get around to Jesus. It is little things like irrigation kits that help the Paraguayans know that we are interested in their lives.

Families_webAhhh! Christmas in the Cold

We are coming home for Christmas!

As always, I can’t wait for the cold and the girls are already talking about decorations and Christmas music. We love living and serving in Paraguay, but you can’t beat the Christmas season in The States. The girls don’t understand that much of the hoopla, for Christmas is secular. They think it is all done for Christ’s birthday. I choose not to spoil their fun!

We look forward to visiting with our friends and supporters. We will arrive in Alpharetta on December the 12th and will be there until January the 26th. See y’all soon!

Paraguayan Fact:

When someone graduates from college, it is a custom to bring a gift. One of the teachers showed up late because she was catching, killing and preparing this wonderful gift.

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Acts 2

fellowship_webDuring the month of July, Angelica and I had the pleasure of once again hosting some of our friends from home. I often think of the early church during the days that we are together with our friends.

Many of y’all may think that as missionaries we live life like the early Christians did in Acts. Unfortunately, just like many of y’all, we get bogged down in the everyday routine of life. We often find ourselves focusing on our “work in missions” and loose site of how we could be living. Camila_small

The few weeks each year that we have to live out the life presented to us in Acts: 2 are a tremendous blessing to Angelica and I, as well as to the Paraguayans.

We Don’t Have That Here

While Paraguay is changing (and I don’t hear it as much), I still hear the occasional “I don’t know what you are talking about” or “we don’t have that here in Paraguay.” A lot of times I can find what is needed after beating the bushes for a while. Angelica gets mad at me and says that I should just accept things, but my persistence is often rewarded. To my delight, this was the case with bagels.

Then again, sometimes I have to improvise. On more than one occasion, I have had to use something differently than how it is intended. Cutting wood planks with a chain saw comes to mind. Using a clear hose as a level is another. With some things I have just given up — like finding Philips-head screws.

As I have mentioned before, Angelica and I are looking into doing some different things down here. We are thinking about traveling more and maybe traveling to more remote places. We need to purchase another vehicle in order to be able to do this. We know what we want, but are having a hard time finding what would work best for us. We are confident that we will, at some point, find what we need and have the funds to purchase it.

A Shared Word

Over the years of serving here in Paraguay, we have come across a tremendous number of people who can do at least part of what we are doing and sometimes, they do it better. I have learned that communication is one of the most pressing problems third world countries have. To many, I am considered and expert in things that the Paraguayan should be better equipped to do.

Angelica and I spend much of our time helping people realize and develop their potential. It is amazing how much of what I learned in college is applicable to serving in missions. God has blessed people in third world countries with talents just like we have in the good old US of A — they just need to be drawn out of them. Because so many people in The States have invested in Angelica and I, we are able to help the Paraguayans reach their potential and follow through with their responsibility to share Christ in their own country.

Angelica always says that America is blessed because for years they used the gifts that God gives them to help others and if Paraguay wants to be blessed they must do the same.

PARAGUAY FACT

There is no such thing as a quick run to the store.

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Sometimes it works, even when it’s not working

A few weeks ago a man who carries the cross around the world  accompanied me on a trip to the Interior. He had traveled to over 200 countries and walked over 35,000 kilometers. Paraguay was the final country for him to visit in South America. In talking with him, I was surprised to hear that he had experienced assaults and verbal abuse while walking in the U.S., much more than anywhere else. Combining this information with problems that we face at a church near the school and Ag. Center, I was discouraged. I did not sleep well the night we arrived in the Interior.

The next afternoon, I finished up a few things at the school and Ag-center, then headed out to find “the man walking with the cross.” I was surprised to find that he had not made it very far. As I stopped to pick him up, he said that he had not gotten far because people kept stopping him and asking him to sit with them for a while. He said that he was surprised by how many people knew me. One man said, “Yeah I know him — the priest.”

Angelica and I want people to know more than just who we are — we want them to know what we do and why.  Nevertheless, it is funny sometimes that we are not welcome where we think we are and don’t accomplish things through the methods that we think we will. The good thing is that an America walking in Paraguay and some missionaries working in education and agriculture — we can reach people.

On Tour

Angelica and one of the youth leaders, along with other church leaders, recently took a trip to Ciudad Del Este. This city is about 5 hours east of Asuncion on the Brazilian border. There are five Methodist churches in Ciudad Del Este. Most of these churches have only around 20 members, but they have lots of youth.

After spending time with Angelica and the national youth president and seeing what the youth are doing in Asuncion, their youth were crying for more. They begged Angelica to come back and show them how to reach more youth and liven-up their relationship with Christ. Friends_web

This has snowballed into an interest to travel to all the districts in Paraguay. Over the years we have been asked repeatedly to travel and visit, but have never really had the time. Leadership in our ministries, including great youth leadership, now allows us to consider this new option.

The one obstacle is the additional cost of traveling in Paraguay. As some of y’all know, many of the roads in Paraguay are not exactly the Autobahn and our vehicles are not exactly Mercedes. We would need to raise additional funding to pay for everything involved with this new ministry.Road_web

Just in case you wondered

I have internet just like y’all do at home and sometime I am surprised, and even a little discouraged, by how some people think Americas are perceived in other counties. I just want to say that hardly a week goes by that I don’t hear about how much someone appreciates and/or respects the U.S.  The Christians down here in Paraguay are very appreciative of what the American Christians have done for them socially and assisted in spiritually.

Paraguayan Fact:

AnnaBelen asked me if “Princesses” really exist. I told her “Yes, especially here in Paraguay.”Princesses_web

Grateful for our Partners

Over the past few months, Angelica and I have had the opportunity to spend more time with the people that make missions possible around the world, people that support us and others that support ministries in different countries. We have been in first grade classes to classes of senior citizens, around the dinner table to speaking at resorts. We have shared and listened to people who have rarely ventured outside of their hometown to people who have traveled all over the world.

While we are constantly aware of the connection that we all have in missions, it is nice to spend time with people who we usually only see as names on a report. I learn a lot when I spend time with people who support missions and I always leave feeling challenged.

Karina_webPassing it on . . .

Over the past few years, Angelica and I have dedicated more time to equipping and encouraging Paraguayans to assist us in our ministries. The Methodist churches are small down here, usually around 30 members, but they are full of young Christians that are eager to share their faith. We have discovered a “gold mine” of talent in these youth. We have been working with them for years and now could not imagine doing missions without them. We strive to challenge them, just as the Christians we know from home have challenged us.

Karina

Karina1_webAngelica discovered Karina one cold rainy day as we were sitting in her home drinking “mate” with a group of Americans. I had known her for a while but somehow her potential had evaded me. It was too cold and wet to work, so we decided to visit a few homes with the team. As Angelica spoke with Karina and watched how she carried herself, she began to see how different her character was from that of a typical young girl in the Interior. Late that evening, as the team slept and we prepared for the next day, Angelica mentioned that she saw something in Karina and knew God had plans for her. She began to pester me about finding a way to use her in our ministries. She began to pray about how God might show us where Karina could be used.

Shortly after our conversation, God put on Angelica’s heart to open a kindergarten at the school. She was concerned about the children entering first grade speaking only the Indian language of Guarani. Karina was a perfect fit, except that she did not have the education needed nor did we have the funds to pay her. In a short time, God provided both. Through Karina, the whole character of the school has changed; the kids, parents and other teachers love working with her. She is full of ideas and plans, and makes the school a more fun place to be around. She has also been instrumental in getting the youth from the interior of the country to participate more in national youth activities.

Without Karina our ministries in the Interior wouldn’t be what they are today. We would not be nearly as affective in helping the Paraguayans live better lives and know Christ. Karina is just one of several young Paraguayans that we have invested in. We look forward to the day when one of these youth may be allowed to go elsewhere and share Christ to another people group.

Paraguayan Fact:

You have heard of “a man and his dog?” Well, here it is “a boy and his horse.”

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Happy Endings?

I recently let my 5-year-old daughter AnnaBelen drag me to a movie. Sitting in a comfortable seat in the air condition for two hours is what really sold it for me.

The movie was pretty bad but AnnaBelen seemed to like it. As the movie was ending, everything came together:  The bad guy was caught and the main characters were reunited. In the closing moments of the movie, I had tears in my eyes. Hoping no one would notice and think that this movie had touched me so, I quickly wiped them away.

What saddened me was how in real life, in our ministries, we don’t always have these nice endings all tied up in a bow. Despite our efforts and hard work, people sometimes are not reunited.

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Left-Right: Meriam, Sheyla, Rosia

As the movie was ending, I was thinking of Meriam, an 11-year-old girl in our Bible class, who has to move back to the Interior. She has not been with us very long but has been very active and always wants to talk. She is always happy to see us and told us that if it were not for our time together, she would be glad to move back to the Interior.

She is like so many kids in our Bible class that get moved around like pawns because their parents can’t get along. We often talk to parents, but it almost always seems to fall on deaf ears. There is only one kid in our class that has not moved in, moved away or moved around because of family problems.

New Experiences

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Pastor Pablo Mora

This past month, The Evangelical Methodist Church of Paraguay elected a new Bishop. This is the third leader that the Methodist church has had in 25 years.

Our former Bishop, Pastor Pablo Mora, has been involved with the church from the very beginning. Angelica and I enjoyed working for and with Pastor Pablo Mora. He was always supportive of the things we wanted to do, encouraging us and occasionally reeling us in. We never had a bad experience with him and felt comfortable working under him. Angelica, like a good Paraguayan, is a little emotional about seeing “Grandpa” go. We wish Pastor Pablo and his wife Claudete the best in their next endeavors.

Pastor Pedro Magellanes

Pastor Pedro Magellanes

Pastor Pedro Magellanes is our new Bishop. Pastor Pedro and his wife Carla are Brazilian and have served here in Paraguay for over 20 years. Angelica and I look forward to working with the new Bishop and the new leadership that comes in with him.

Some Things Get Better With Time

In just a few weeks, classes will start at The Susanna Wesley School. This will be Angelica’s sixth year as Director.  Like every year, the kids will return to nicer classrooms and improved teachers. We have been blessed with a great group of teachers that are dedicated to the children and to improving their teaching skills.

Without spending a little time in the Interior of Paraguay, this may seem like a small triumph, but it is much more. In the Interior, there is often little thought put into improving education and most teachers are under-qualified and under-motivated. Establishing an atmosphere of improvement can be difficult without significant monetary incentives. Angelica has surrounded herself with teachers that see her vision and want to implement and improve it.

Our work in Agriculture is on the cusp of a new era. Up to this point, the project has been a huge learning experience for me. It has also been an outreach of the church and a way for us to come to know and share with the families around us. This year some of our experimental projects will begin to produce. We will also start with our first full year or teaching and training with the help of the government.

Paraguayan Fact:

We no longer mix by hand. Horse_web

Feliz Navidad from Paraguay

Christmas with the Bats

We just had our graduation and Christmas program at The Susanna Wesley School. It was a great night of celebrating the coming of Christ and the accomplishments of the kids. Angelica, the teachers, and the kids put on a super show but my attention was on the bats.

We always have bats in the interior and I normally don’t pay them much attention. It was just interesting to see them flying over the Baby Jesus and the kids as they danced. It made me think of how diverse this world is that God created. This Christmas season, whether it is cold or hot, whether you enjoy time with the family in front of a fire place or outside in the late evenings, whether you are drinking hot chocolate or frozen pineapple juice, we hope y’all  have a Merry Christmas.

Graduation Ceremony

Ministry

It is very hot here. During the days, it is hard to really get much accomplished. The only productive people are the people that have jobs in the AC, and even they succumb to the heat during blackouts. We have been doing most of our work and traveling at night. Despite the heat, we have had a fair amount of rain and the crops are growing well.

The ministries at the school and agriculture project continue to open doors for Angelica and I to be more involved in the community of Yrubucua. We are finding that when we meet new people, they already know who we are and are very open to communicating with us.

This week Angelica had to go to The Ministry of Education in Asuncion to get some papers approved. The lady at the office asked her if she is the Director of the school and if this is the school that is in Quinta Linia. She said the school has “fama” — loose translation, the school is famous.

IMG_3193_editedOne of the tools that has helped us expand the number of people that we come in contact with is having events. Cook-outs, tea parties, sporting events, cooking classes, movie nights, plays, devotionals and concerts all help us meet and interact with new people. These are all things that really don’t happen much in the interior of the country. Most of their time is spent trying to keep food on IMG_3208_editedthe table and a little money in their pockets.

Because so many people from home and the Paraguayan youth from Asuncion have committed to helping us share Christ, we have been able to put on these events.

Best Year Ever?

Looking back on the year 2012, Angelica and I are thankful for all the help we had in serving here in Paraguay. Never before have we had so many Paraguayans assist us in our ministries, never have we had so much input in the work we are doing. The youth here have been a tremendous blessing and have added new life to the IMG_3212z-editedwork we do.

Each year the teams that come down become more familiar with the needs here in Paraguay. Each year they are a little more in tune to the weaknesses and strengths of the Christian community in Paraguay. Having help sure seems to make our job a lot easier and much more effective.

We would like to state our complaint on the weather of 2012.

Coming Home

I will be in The States from December 30 to January 18. I will be alone but hope I can see some of y’all.

Paraguay Fact

When attending a party in the interior, you need to bring more than just your drinks.

Junior and Angelo

By Christian Dickson

Junior and Angelo want so badly to be a part of everything we do at church. They come to Bible studies for adults, show up to women’s meetings, drop in on youth activities and sometimes have to be carried home after falling asleep in the church. Usually before they leave, they ask if everything is over just to make sure they don’t miss out on anything. Often they inform Angelica that they have cleaned up and put on their best clothes to come to church. On occasion, their parents have been a little upset because the boys leave the house and wander up to church without telling them. The two boys are among the many kids that attend our church by themselves.

Last weekend we had an activity at the botanical gardens for the kids from all the Methodist churches in Asuncion. When we arrived at the church to pick up the kids, Angelica and I were surprised to see Junior and Angelo. Angelica asked if they had permission from their parents and they said, “yes” because they cried all night and both got up at 5:30 a.m. to nag their parents until they finally gave in. We had hours of fun with over 200 kids at the park. When we returned to the church, the boys were just hanging around, so Angelica told them that she would walk them home. They both questioned why we were not having our Bible study and Angelica told them because everyone had been at the park playing all morning and were tired. They questioned this and finally we had to admit it was because the adults were tired.

 Agromissions

This last month we reached a goal that was set years ago by other missionaries and Christians in the US. It turned out to be a little more of a long-range plan than was first anticipated, requiring the efforts of many people other than the original people who were involved. Through lots of prayer, sometimes not so pleasant discussions, and work, the Agriculture Center (Centro Agritenico Metodista) in Yrubucua has had its first classes in the community on Agriculture.

We have developed a relationship with The Ministry of Agriculture and hope to build on this in our efforts to assist farmers. This is an area in ministry in which the nationals are playing a very important role. We are really coming in to help the Paraguayans help themselves. It is a blessing to be a part of a team, to see everyone contribute and to see what was once just an idea start to develop and contribute to the community and toward the plan of sharing Christ.

Youth Ministry

Each year, Angelica and I discuss the possibility of not continuing as the Chaplains for the national youth. As Chaplains it seems that we are always having to balance between the “rebel” youth and the “boring” adults. The youth want to do things more exciting and the adults want the youth to calm down. We get phone calls from adults and e-mails from the Youth Partyyouth. We have to balance between being cool (which I am helping Angelica with) and keeping the kids in line. Sometimes this tug-of-war can get old. Just when we think we have had enough, we are replenished, refreshed and renewed through our time with the youth.


Meet the Children

Many of you have asked to know more about individual children so that you can pray for or sponsor a specific child. We will periodically be introducing you to the children at the Suzanna Wesley school and surrounding area. Regular updates will be under the menu item Suzanna Wesley School. Or, just click here to “meet the children!”


Truck problems

Paraguayan Fact

Paraguay is rough on trucks! Angelica and I have a lot of truck repair that we put off because of other expenses. With our current funding, it is difficult for us to maintain our trucks.

People Take Notice

by Christian Dickson

There is a saying in Paraguay for people who drop in uninvited to events. It’s used in the verb form and is called Pirateando (being a Pirate). When we have events at the school or the Agriculture Center, we get lots of people Pirateando-ing. There is not much happening in the interior of Paraguay, and the Paraguayans always jump at the opportunity to get together. We just say, “the more the merrier” and are happy to have them.

Missionary Children's Festival at the Agrimission Center in ParaguaySeveral weeks ago, we had an event at the Agriculture Center with Paraguayan music and dancing. I noticed a boy there who I had never seen before. After the event, Angelica and I were on the front porch as the young boy headed off into the distance on his bike. With tears in her eyes, Angelica told me this young boy had approached her and asked if he could attend the Susanna Wesley School. He said that he wants to be an engineer and knows that he won’t be able to get the education he needs from the school he attends. The boy had attended the Susanna Wesley School several years ago and had moved away, but is willing to travel a good distance to attend again. Unfortunately, he is just finishing up the sixth grade and the Susanna Wesley School only goes up to sixth grade.

There are so few opportunities for children living in rural areas of third world countries. Occasionally, there are kids who have the will to persevere and just need a little luck or help along the way. The ones who really want it will diligently seek out opportunities. Many of these opportunities come from Christian programs. While the Suzanna Wesley School may not be able to help this young man, Angelica and I plan to pay him a visit to see if there is a way we can help.

Jefry’s Story

Sometimes, it is not the kids that take so long to come around. Jefry is a boy in our Sunday school class, who has been either Angelica’s student or my student for over seven years. He had always been very active Sunday School, but has never been able to participate in any extracurricular activities. This has always gotten under Angelica’s skin. We know Jefry’s mom, as she lives right next to the church. In the past, I have told Angelica “some day she will lighten up.”

Jefry had been struggling with school and asked us once if God would help him make good grades if he prayed for it. We told him that he would probably get better results if he prayed for a changed attitude in study habits and paid better attention in class. This last quarter, he got good grades and the best math grade in his class. His mom asked him how he did it and he said, “I prayed that God would help me be a better student, just like Angelica taught me.” The other kids in class also took note that he would pray before tests. Now, Jefry’s mom says that he can go anywhere he wants with us.

Women's Bible Study/Tea Party in Paraguay

In July 2012, a missionary team from Alpharetta, Georgia hosted local women for a traditional American Tea Party, then offered a devotion.

I Always Thought Being Married to Angelica Would Pay Off Someday.

Being a family made up of both Americans and Paraguayans, Angelica and I have been able to benefit from our long relationships with friends from both countries. I have mentioned this before, but it is worth mentioning again. The Christian friends that we have here in Paraguay and in the US are a tremendous part of what we do down here. We have received so much help from so many people that I sometimes feel bad about taking credit for our successes and occasional miss steps.

God has blessed us with a talented group of youth here in Paraguay, who are always available to jump in and help us out. Every once in a while, God will put an idea in my mind and after a few phone calls home, the wheels are set in motion. So much of what we do here is relational, and it strengthens us to have such good relationships with people in Paraguay and the US. Almost nothing that we do here could be done on our own, and we thank God that we have other Christians to call on for assistance.

Paraguayan Fact: Missions is fun!

Mission team member in Paraguay riding on the back of a motorcycle.

Prayer Requests

  • Pray for an event we have planned for August 24-25 at the Centro Agritenico Metodista. We have invited someone from the Ministry of Agriculture to teach.
  • Pray for a baseball clinic that we are hosting in conjunction with a medical team in September. Pray that this will open up new opportunities for us to share Christ.
  • Pray for AnnaBelen in her new class this year in school.
  • Pray for AnnaBelen’s teacher. The teachers at the school are missionaries and sometimes have difficulty in the first months.

Thanks For The Help

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

By Christian Dickson

This year, as we get ready to host a few teams from home, Angelica and I are reminded of how important other people are to the ministries in Paraguay. Sure, the ministries seem like ours. We even sometimes call them “our ministries.” But more and more, both Americans and Paraguayans are playing an important role in what we do here. Angelica and I have been blessed with a few skills, but we rely tremendously on the skills and ideas of other Christians around us. As some of y’all that are coming down to visit us will see, many of our Paraguayan friends are assisting us in ministry.

Youth in Missions

For almost 10 years, Angelica and I have served ministries in the capital of Asuncion and in the interior of the country. For almost four years, one or both of us would make the four-hour trip to the interior each week. These days we don’t go as often, but still spend about seven days a month in the interior. Some of the youth that we have been working with for years in Asuncion are now helping us in the interior.  Many of them have skills that Angelica and I don’t have and will make a tremendous difference in the ministries there.

Youth Leaders from AsuncionLast month we took a group of Paraguayan youth from Asuncion to the interior for 5 days. These are kids (youth) that I have known since my first weeks in Paraguay. It is a treat for us to work together with them in missions as well as a treat for them to see the vastly different world of the interior.

Angelica and I have been busy developing the school and agriculture ministries. We know the people in the area where we work, but have always wanted to spend more time in their homes. With help from the youth, we visited all but five of the 137 students of the school. Here are some things we learned.

  • Family from Paraguay InteriorThe average number of children in the home is six.
  • The average income is a little less than $100 a month.
  • Most hardly ever have cash on hand and usually barter.
  • Only two families have bathrooms with toilets and an electric device to heat water — they are both families who work with us. Most have a hole and a A toilet in Paraguy interiorhose. Some don’t even have a hose and get their water from a hand dug well.
  • Most of the kids share a bed and often the boys sleep with their dad and the girls with their mother. Five or six to a bed is not uncommon.
  • All but two families cook over an open fire.
  • Most of the parents went to school until 4th grade and many can’t read even on an elementary level.
  • The majority of the children that start at the school do not have birth records.

Living quarters of an average family in the Paraguay interiorWe want these children and their families to know about Christ, but we also want to help them have opportunities to advance socially. We plan to continue visiting these families in their homes, sharing with them and learning more about their individual lives. As we begin to address some of their problems, we look forward to doing it with help from Christians in the US and Paraguayans from Asuncion.

God Knows Best

Good decisions don’t come easy. Angelica and I have learned that just because we want to do what is best for the ministries that have been entrusted to us; sometimes our hands have to be forced. Due to financial difficulties, we were forced to let a teacher go. We had spoken often about getting rid of this teacher. She had several shortcomings and a few parents had complained about her. But we wanted to give her a chance to improve and we feared legal difficulties. Because of finances, we were given no option but to make a decision. It has been a difficult decision for everyone, but the school is better off because of it.

Paraguay Fact: Paraguayan youth are weird too.

Youth leaders having in fun in Paraguay

Prayer Requests

  • Pray for the teams that are preparing to come down and serve with us — that they will bless people here and be blessed as well.
  • Pray for our first opportunity to use the agriculture center for teaching, as we are having teachers come from the Ministry of Agriculture.
  • Pray for Angelica and I as we think about getting involved with other ministries.