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