Thursday, July 2, 2015

Back to school after 13 years

I recently began to pursue my Master's in education. I had postponed my desire for more formal training for a while, and then with the accident in 2012, going to school was the last thing on my mind.  Over these past few years, however, I have had the chance to teach at various Bible schools in Paraguay and Argentina, and I see opportunities for helping in this area in the churches I am in contact with. I believe that continuing my education will help me to be a better teacher, pastor, and missionary.

Two years before the accident Julie and I founded ICCI, a small Bible-training center targeted at helping Paraguayans to discover their calling and preparing them for ministry. We had to give up this particular dream (although several students continued and are finishing their education this coming year at a sister institution), but training others remains at the heart of what I love doing in ministry. I love to learn, and I also love to help others grow and discover truth about God and about life.  God put incredible teachers in my path during my undergraduate and seminary days, and not only formal training but also informal experiences have nourished my desire to help others grow and discover their God-given potential.


I am enrolled in a two-year program at Universidad Nacional de Itapua, only 10 miles from my house. Our class meets every Thursday from 5 to 9:30 p.m. to learn about creating curriculum, educational policies, technology in education, and research. I hope these tools will help me better serve God and the people to whom I am called to minister. Lord willing, I will walk down the graduation aisle sometime next year.  Thanks for your support.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Highway Six, empty during soccer game

When Paraguay is playing soccer against another country, everyone seems to make time to watch the game. Such was the case this past Saturday evening. I chose to go on a jog to take advantage of the empty roads and enjoy some quietness.

Paraguay played against Brazil in game that is part of the Copa America 2015. After a 1-1 tie in regular time, the game was decided on penalty kicks.

I was amazed again, how soccer brings everyone to a halt this weekend. Brazil is a big rival, one that's hard to beat. So imagine the celebration after the game.

Our major interstate highway 6 stood practically empty during the 90 minutes of game. There are two games left in this cup. If Paraguay wins, it will be the champion of this Latin American cup. Paraguay so far won two cups, 1953, 1979, out of the 44 played.



Friday, June 26, 2015

My new Family


Since March 3, I am married to a wonderful, beautiful, godly woman who turned my world around. And, in addition to continuing to love and enjoy my little Anahi, who will turn 5 in September, I am now the proud dad of two adolescents, Mark and Nicole.





Mark turned 15 on March 14. He is becoming a young man. He loves to play his guitar and drums. Mark went through a lot when his dad tragically passed away after an accident at their farm when he was just 11.  He has a sensitive heart to God. He is gradually embracing me and making room in his life for his new dad.







Nicole is 11 and is in the 6th grade. She plays the harp very well. She loves to play with her cat, and in her spare time, she creates beautiful bracelets that she sells for a small fee. Nicole is very sweet and bright. She is very curious and loves her sister Anahi. I love getting her hugs and kisses as I come home from work or put her down to sleep.



Anahi is the little girl that God placed in our lives back in 2011. She has been my little angel, both before and after the accident. Anahi is 4 and currently in kindergarten. She is very perceptive and asks a lot of questions. She loves her pet parrot and spending time with her new mommy.


Nancy is the woman that I strongly believe God has placed in my life. I fell in love with Nancy in 2014 and could not let her go. We are now happily married, discovering life together and believing that God has given us a second chance to be happy and build a new marriage. Nancy is 34. She lost her husband four years ago. Currently Nancy is beginning a four-year theological training course. She is sweet, cute, and has a heart for God and family. I am so blessed.

 Norberto. You know me, but I will share some, too. In my spare time (of which there is very little recently), I read. I began running again and will be signing up for several races this year. I am currently beginning a two-year Master's class called docencia universitaria that meets once a week at the local university. I enjoy my new life and look forward to my new role as parent to three children and husband to Nancy.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Three things you will never regret doing


How to do you balance God time, family and work time? Its definitely a constant that requires wisdom and has its ups and downs. As I move into a new season of life, as a husband, father and leader in my ministry, I ask these questions more often

More often than not, I have been on the busy side of life. Busy attending my family, busy attending ministry opportunities, often sacrificing my own spiritual and physical health in the process.

Over these four decades of my journey, I have found that there are three things that should never be an afterthought, and cannot be delegated. These are three things I never regret doing in any given day: time with God, time with family (wife, kids) time for exercise. I have failed on all three at different seasons, and had to come back to some kind of balance with the corresponding apologies.

As I plan some of my activities for the next three months, I am looking at Spending the early part of the morning, before the kids wake up alone with God. Then after the kids are in school, Nancy and I spent time reading, reflecting and then we look at our schedules as we are fusing two families into one. And for personal health, I signed up to run a marathon at the end of August.

Just thought I share about these three areas in life, which I personally consider being the lifeline to a healthy, godly and balanced life.





Friday, May 8, 2015

Internet after 61 days

About three hours ago I was able to connect to the internet from my home after 61 days of waiting. Since moving to Capitan Miranda, 30 min away, from Obligado my previous place of residency, I have been making some adjustments. I won’t tell you the very long story filled with disappointments, long calls and frequent trips to the internet provider to Encarnacion, our state capital.

This time my patience was pushed to the limit, since a lot of the way I communicate is by internet. I have even considered my waiting for the internet as one of Gods test to develop more of the fruit of the spirit. During a sermon a week ago, I shared how this issue was really stretching my niceness.

I have been logging on from my phone to answer urgent emails and once a week drove to the public library and occasionally to a public café. Since I was dealing with Copaco, the government internet provider, I knew things would be slow, but not this slow.

Hopefully for the rest of this year and beyond I will never have to wait 61 days to get a decent internet connection. I know some of you missionaries who work in the deep bush don’t have access to the internet. So I truly apologize if I am complaining.

I think though that for most of the civilized world does not wait that long for these services anymore.
So guess what I will do this weekend……download all kinds of stuff and leave my computer connected just for the fun of it. I am really due, for some serious catching up online.


Just thought I will share with you. . . 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Three years of healing

One year ago, Good Friday fell on April 18th, the anniversary of the accident and the anniversary of the day I died emotionally to my dreams and hopes.  When my wife and son were tragically taken to Heaven after our car collision, I went into my darkest hours, days, and months. I wanted to be gone with my family instead of facing the life I had left to live.

As I wrestled with my emotional death and my pain, I also wrestled with my theology. I knew that God is good, that He is omnipotent and could have kept us from this accident. I also knew that, for Christians, death is not an issue because we are citizens of another world.  Yet, even as I knew all that was true, I was still in so much pain and had so many questions. 

I relived my death that day, on April 18th, 2014, but only two days later, on Easter Sunday in Orlando, Florida, I was challenged to celebrate life. In my home church that day, Pastor Rob challenged us to hope and to live in hope. If the disciples rejoiced with the resurrection of Christ, who am I to wallow in the pain and hopelessness that death brings? That was the beginning, a key turning point in my journey toward healing and fully living again. I decided to personally incorporate the message of hope into my daily life.

One year later, I am married to Nancy, a beautiful, inside and out, and godly woman. I am father to three great kids. I have new dreams. I am gradually stepping back into preaching, teaching, and leading my new family. During my (very little) free time I am back into biking and running. So much good, so much hope, so much joy has filled my heart again.

No longer will April 18th be a date on the calendar that digs me into the past and into paralysis, guilt, and pain, but a day that drives me forward into resurrected living.

I believe that thousands of prayers have reached the throne of God. I am on a new path. I am still on this journey and the process is ongoing, but I am strengthened and transformed by the power of God. I did not choose this path, but it’s the one that I am called to live. 

Three years after the accident, I am smiling, hoping, and embracing life again. I would have never thought this to be possible after so much pain. Thank you, my friend, for being a part of my process of restoration. Thank you, God, for your presence.

Friday, March 27, 2015

My story with Nancy

I met Nancy towards the end of 2013. We were introduced by a pastor, a mutual friend of ours, who knew about our losses. Nancy lost her husband in September 2011 in an accident at work. I lost Julie and Timothy in April 2012.

In the midst of grieving, neither of us was looking to rebuild our families for a long time. So when this pastor said to me, "Norberto, there is a beautiful widow you should meet," I was not really interested. As a favor, I went to his church, and Nancy and I were introduced to each other after the service. We exchanged numbers and agreed to get together sometime.

However, neither of us was ready for a relationship at the time. But over the next seven months, we met a few times, our kids played together, and something began to stir in our hearts for each other.

That was when I left for my sabbatical, last year in April. During that time, Nancy and I stayed in touch, praying for each other, committing our feelings and each other’s lives to God. Neither wanted to get emotionally involved, and we resisted a deeper relationship for some time. Both of us were cautious of affecting our kids with our decisions.

In September 2014, we started dating. God answered prayers and we fell in love. On December 30, I proposed to Nancy. She said yes. We got married on March 3 in Encarnacion, Paraguay. The pastor that performed our wedding was the one that introduced us. 

Although close friends and family have been part of the process, I have not shared our story publicly via this blog until now.  

More about Nancy and her two kids (Mark, 14, and Nicole, 11) in next posts. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Looking back - 2014 A year of healing

2014: A Year of Healing
Fifteen years ago, in 1999, Julie and I were making wedding plans. We were in seminary, and the big news was about Y2K. Still in school, we wondered what the future would bring after we finished our degrees.
In August 2000, Julie and I were married. We were both so excited about beginning a joint future together. A few months later, we embarked on one of the longest possible drives on Earth. We drove for a period of 70 days, crossing 13 countries to arrive in Paraguay, exhausted but excited to begin our lives as full-time missionaries.
As I look back, I realize just how much we were able to enjoy and do as a family over this past decade:
Between 2002 and 2010, we helped pioneer and direct what was, until recently, the only Christian radio station in southern Paraguay. Today the station is self-supportive and under national leadership, and is now launching into television.
Between 2002 and 2012:
·        Dozens of teams served in construction, teaching, and training. Classrooms and churches were built, and the people here were empowered by these teams.  
·        Resources were delivered to ministries and leaders. The largest purchase was the transmitter for the radio station.
·        Young people were hosted for short- and long-term internships, and now serve in missions locally and internationally.
·        Dozens of motorcycles were delivered to national pastors and leaders across the country.
·        An interdenominational prayer breakfast was started. Pastors come to enjoy good food, to fellowship, and to pray together.
Between 2004 and 2011, we helped establish the Paraguay Children of Promise, a child sponsorship program. Today, more than 100 kids in various locations in Paraguay and Argentina are benefited. Julie had been training Sandra who, one year before the accident, took on leadership of the program.
Between 2007 and 2010, we had the privilege of building our own home with help from friends, an inheritance, and a mortgage.
Between 2009 and 2013, we began ICCI, a training and discipleship center. I stepped down as director after the accident. Five students who began at ICCI will soon graduate from a sister Bible-training school.
Between 2011 and 2013, we became interim pastors at a local church. We were asked to help transition the church after a painful past. Today, a congregation of more than 200 is moving forward, strong under the leadership of their new pastors.
Between 2002 and 2012, I learned to love one woman, who brought out the best in me, who made me a husband and a father, and who inspired me to dream and never quit. I treasure the life we had and thank God for allowing me 12 incredible years with Julie.
Between 2005 and 2012, I learned to love and care for my first son. This boy gave me tremendous joy to his very last hours on this earth. His inquisitive spirit is a legacy that spurs me into a new chapter every day since the accident.
Between 2010 and 2011, Julie and I went through the adoption process to become the proud parents of Esther Anahi, who brought so much joy into our lives.
Since 2011, I have had the privilege of being the father of the cutest little blonde, who gives me kisses and hugs every single day. She is a reminder that life continues, and that love exists.
Since 2012, my sister Nila has blessed us with her presence. She has become like a mother to Anahi, and has accompanied me in my darkest moments. I am excited for her upcoming wedding on February 28, 2015.
Every day since that very dark morning in April 2012, I have been picking up the pieces and gradually crawling out of the deep pain. Healing is slowly happening, joy is returning, and I am beginning to dream and hope about a pleasant and exciting future.
As I look back on 2014, I can see that it was a year of healing. I intentionally retreated, taking a sabbatical season to rest, explore, be present in Anahi's life, and ask some life-changing questions. I stepped away from all major activities to focus on my inner life, and on letting the rhythms of life determine my pace. Getting to this point, even just acknowledging the need to carve out space, has been a slow process, but it’s a process that's probably saved my life.

My hope is that future newsletters will reflect more and more new plans, new activities that I hope will spring out of the new life and restoration that I am experiencing. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Prayer and Fasting

I felt led today to take the day to pray and fast. I believe we all know the power of prayer, but often have a hard time exercising prayer. I am very guilty. There is no need to quote a list of scriptures about how prayer was a part of Jesus ministry and how it can make a difference in our daily living.

Two interesting things happened already in the past two hours. One, I felt prompted to go and encourage my neighbor and remind him that he is not alone. His wife left him for another man, a year ago. He is grieving alone and trying to make sense of the live he has to face right now. I rode my motorcycle to his place and took a few minutes to talk with him. With teary eyes he told me about his kids, bills and hardships. He thank me for coming and for sharing time with him. I realized after coming back home, how easy it is to pass by people close to us and not realize how much pain they might be going thru.

The second incident has to do with Julie. I felt prompted to let go of her phone number. It might sound silly, but I have kept her phone, and paid a reduced ($2) monthly fee almost three years now for her phone just to keep her line active. For months after the accident, I lived in denial, as if I was expecting a call from her any minute. I wanted to believe it was a dream which I would wake up one day and everything was going to be alright. I loved when she called me. I had a special song programmed, designated to calls coming from Julies line, 0985-189-535. That was Julies number for almost a decade. I let it go today.

In letting go of the past, I realized that expecting a phone call from Julie was totally unrealistic. But I think it provided a link between us. I needed something tangible I could hold on to. So I went to the my phone service provider and asked them to cancel Julies phone subscription. I am not sure why I waited this long, but I believe this was the day to do it. And I also believe there is a connection with this day being a day of prayer and fasting. God seems to nudge me in days like these to take steps of faith.

I realized too, that today is the 18th. It marks two years and seven months since the accident.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Nila: sister, aunt, mother. For such a time as this.

Nila is my youngest sister. I am the oldest son, followed by Mark, then Priscila, and finally Nila. One day after the accident, Nila said to me, "Norberto, if you need me, I am here." My mind was foggy; I could not make rational decisions. I must have said, "Come and stay with me for a while." That same week she moved out of her apartment and into my house, where she lives to this day.

During her time with us, Nila has become an important role model for Anahi. We all cried together that first year, almost every day. She has
cared for Anahi when I needed to go on trips or attend meetings. She has done grocery shopping, cooked meals, and cleaned up after Anahi.

While others have given financially, prayed, and loved on us, Nila has given almost three years of her life to serve her brother and niece. I thank God for the loving family he has given me, and especially for Nila.

This year, she met Ricardo, a wonderful young man, in Asuncion, Paraguay. They have been dating for a while now and are planning to get married on February 28, 2015. Nila is excited and ready to soon begin a new chapter in her life with Ricardo. I am enjoying these times with Nila as she picks out colors and works on her wedding program. I believe she will be a wonderful wife and mother. Nila tells me that Anahi taught her indirectly about being a mom and loving unconditionally.


I thank God for Nila. I believe God will continue rewarding her for her service to Him and her family.