“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.
Last 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.
- The 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 hose. 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.
We 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.
- 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.