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.

The Start of a New School Year.

“Para Dios todo es posible.” Mathew 19:26

By Christian Dickson

With the sound of flip-flops on a dusty floor and bad Spanish, another year of learning has The first day of school for students at the Suzanna Wesley School.begun at the Suzanna Wesley School.  For almost 15 years, the children at Quinta Linia in Yrubucua have been coming to this little school to learn about the world and God. The history of the school is tied with the history of the Methodist Church in the area. The school was started because of inadequate schooling in the area, and because the children were beginning to ask questions about their parents’ new faith.

The first facility was a three room building with an out-house. Through the years, with help from the United States and missionaries like the Bakers, we have built the nicest facility in the district — complete with fans and bathrooms with running water.

Students in the classroom at the Suzanna Wesley SchoolToday, the school has 134 students in kindergarten through 6th grade, three teachers, one teacher aid and a chaplain. A local pastor is our chaplain and has Bible class once a week. All the teachers have or are receiving their education through scholarships from our friends at home in the United States. Many of the children walk over a kilometer to attend class. For most of these kids, it is the first time that they are being forced to speak Spanish and not their native language of Guarani. Many of them are also active in the church, but attend without their parents.

Students playing outside the Suzanna Wesley SchoolMany of the parents cannot afford to pay for their children’s education. We have, in the past, charged a small fee of $1 a month but more often got produce or work hours instead of money. We still have parent work days.  Just last week, Angelica was approached by a mother, questioning the school’s policy of limiting the number of children in each class. She was concerned about sending her children to the public school where there is no power, running water and very little learning. In fact, one of the local public schools has closed. One of the teachers told Angelica last week that a parent came by to say that his children would not be attending class anymore because they do not have but one set of clothes to wear.

Here are the financial needs for the school:

  • $3000 for books and materials (in the local public schools they don’t even have books).
  • $600 more a month to increase teachers’ salaries.
  • $240 a month to help continue teachers’ education.

Children at the Suzanna Wesley School.We are thankful to all the people who have helped with the school over the years. Supporting and praying for a group of people who you have never and/or may never meet is a true testament. We don’t take lightly your involvement and feel blessed to be involved with the school.