Tuesday, October 4, 2016

September highlights. A month in Paraguay

I want to thank you for hanging out with us this past month. Every day was different. Sometimes I wish I had more of a routine. But in my missionary role, routine is not something I experience very often. Here are a few September highlights.

We traveled to Asuncion, to get some paperwork done. The trip to Asuncion generally takes six hours on a two lane road, with crazy traffic. We avoid these trips as much as possible. 

I was part of a Baptism ceremony in the Parana River. 28 people made a public commitment. The Parana Rive is the second one in size after the Amazon River.

I had a chance to continue my bible teaching at our local church on Tuesday evenings. I fill in various classes and find teaching very rewarding.

We celebrated Anahi’s 6th birthday with our immediate family. Anahi is finishing her preschool and will start first great next year

We celebrated Dominick’s 4th month. He also got his shots last week. Dominick has occupied the center of attention. He has been a great joy for all

Hanging out with the Roa’s family at a church in Ciudad del Este (triple border). This family loves the Lord and has a gift of hospitality. Several projects have brought us together.

I had the chance to perform a wedding ceremony for some friends. It is a joy to see couples commit publicly before witnesses and pledge their love to each other

Personally I got to out on wonderful jogs along Encarnacions river walk. As I share in one post, jogging continues to be a source for inspiration in my life.

Lastly, we got the chance to see Cerro Porteno, (one of Paraguays top teams) my son’s soccer team. beat Santa Fe (Colombian team) 4-1. Very emotional game. I had never seen Mark so alive. 

I have written more often this month than in previous months. Personally it’s been a great exercise in communications. Although I rather be present in a place and share face to face. So this is my final blog, for a month in Paraguay. I would rate September as an incredible month for me. Why?, because it combined great family time, ministry, and new beginnings.


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A month in Paraguay (Why did you leave Venezuela?)

This afternoon Nicole and I went on a walk around our city plaza. On the way Nicole noticed a lady selling wrist bracelets, made of goat leader, crocodile teeth and some other interesting products. We stopped and entered into a conversation with a woman who was waiting for her husband and baby to arrive. They have left Venezuela a few years ago, and have been traveling thru South America. Why did you leave Venezuela, we asked? The lady said, things are not going well in our home country she said. And they found Paraguay to be a quiet and peaceful place. She did not want to go into detail.

As we got home, Nicole asked why are things not going well in Venezuela? This question overruled all other subjects this evening at the dinner table. Mark gave his opinion, then Nancy, while Anahi listened in, trying to catch a little of what must have sounded like a foreign topic to her six year old mind.

When we were done, Nancy and I looked at each other and realized how our kids got engaged in a non-school subject. It was an awesome moment. I have come to treasure subjects that take kids into other worlds and address issues that expand their horizons. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Pastoral Care

I drove for about an hour to a location where I met with some pastors. Most people in ministry that I work with in Paraguay, have their support networks, but that is often not enough. From the outside everything seems ok, but underneath challenges and difficulties are always present. Whom to share this challenges is often the question? As a neutral person in some of my circles, I have had the chance to connect with many of these leaders. They just open up when they get the chance.

Caring for those that are caring is such a huge need. i learned that again today. During our conversation, some tears where shed, and questions were raised about ministry in the local church. I was glad to be there and just listen in to hear them speak.

I learned again today, how important it is to care for each other as pastors and missionaries. Many of you do that for me and my family.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Lasagna with Nancy

This week, Nancy taught me how to make lasagna. We took Sunday off to rest and make a meal together. In the afternoon we went on a walk and spent time with the kids. I am trying to keep the Sabbath clear and benefit from this day.

We enjoyed the time together. I learned a lot about Nancys style and abilities. She can cut the onions evenly at a high speed, probably 10 times faster than me. She also uses very few dishes. On the contrary I make a mess when I cook.

I also learned that I get very distracted and have a hard time staying focused when I cook. Nancy on the other hand is very focused. 

What about you, whats a meal you like preparing?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Anahi is turning 6 today

September is a wonderful month for our family. Anahi was born on a day like today. Nancy and I started dating on a September day. It’s the beginning of spring in South America. The weather has been incredible over the past days.

As you live a little longer on this earth you learn to treasure the season you are in. You realized nothing will last forever and how important it is to flavor the moment. Today we are enjoying the birthday of Anahi. Nancy is making something so we will share this evening as a family. I look forward to dinner tonight as I finish my work in the office today.

Over this past year, Anahi has learned to write, read and roller blade, among many other new skills. Every day I wake up I take a moment to thank God for the gift of my little girl.

I love you Anahi. Happy Birthday!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Technology in missions

As I started my day, within a few hours, I had a list of things to do. By 10 am I had enough items to keep me busy for a week. After several hours in the office, I was able to send audio messages and video conference with people on both side of the Equator. I sent letters out to several people in just a few seconds. I posted on FB, and I googled some maps while listening to a webinar.

Did my grandparents or even my parents have these technologies? The answer is no. David and Lilian Meier left on a steam ship the port of New Orleans in December of 1935 towards South America. All the field knowledge they had was a letter from a German missionary who wrote to America saying. Will someone come to Brazil?

That was the beginning. Their first trip lasted a decade serving in several places in South America. There where no phone calls, no daily FB updates and no cool Instagram pictures. Few words on a telegram, or when letters were written they delivered weeks later were the ways of communication.

I am excited about the possibilities for missions today in a very connected age, but at the same time I am a bit worried on how fast things are changing, and not to maximize the use of these tools.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

A month in Paraguay (on a day like today)

Today, five years ago, Nancy lost her husband. He was working at his farm and died in a work related accident. It devastated Nancy and her two young kids. At the time Mark was 11, totally in love with his dad, Stephen. Nicole was 8, also daddy’s girl. 

Why they lost their dad, and then had to go thru so much pain, is something we will probably have to wait to understand until haven. Less than a year later, I lost Julie and Timothy. I could have been the one going home, and this email would never have been written. I can only trust God and continue forward, believing that God is in control. 

Nancy held on to her faith. She focused on God and her children and continued moving forward. Her life came to a halt on a day like today. If you have lost someone special, you understand the pain. But as christians we also undertand the hope that awaits us. We will raise again. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Jogging, Source for inspiration

Almost every time I get out in the open and jog, my thoughts start flowing. I have come to consider this time valuable and very fruitful. Here are some benefits. I stay fit, I eat anything I want, I pray, and I explore new areas of my city or country.

This morning was no different. I began jogging and immediately I seemed to be transposed to a mental state of inspiration. When I got home, I wrote down ideas, that who knows might become sermons, books or seeds for a project.

A number of years ago, I used to think that jogging was a waste of time, now I realize how wrong this thinking was. Jogging is on the schedule now. Regular jogging remains me of one of the things John Maxell said about the rule of five. If you have a chance, listen to that audio about the rule of five. I think it’s inspirational. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4AG2qrJCXeY

I also realized, now that purchasing tennis jogging shoes needs be on the budget too.  What about you. What is something that inspires you?

Sunday, September 11, 2016

A month in Paraguay, Sept 10th and Sept 11th

Education, education, education

I went back to school last year thanks to a friend who encouraged me to consider some formal training again. I graduated in 2002 from seminary. Nancy has been very supportive of this decision as well. What motivates me? First, to better understand higher education in the context of Paraguay. Second, is to better be equipped for the ministry I am involved. 

Last year according to records of the ministry of Education, only 14,520 Paraguayans graduated from 60 university’s in the country. This represents 0,22 % of the population. This country is experiencing and awakening in many fronts and higher education is just one of the many fronts to be pioneered. 

This lack of education translates into a lack in many areas of leadership for society. This country’s resources and its hidden potential are starving for leadership. Churches and any type of Christian or secular organization has work cut out. As the saying goes, when there is a problem the opportunities also lay ahead. I am constantly looking for opportunities to maximize my time and effort in ministry.

Baptism in the Parana River

This man traveled all night to for his baptism
Right before going into the water. Twenty 28 baptized
This morning I had the chance to baptize new believers in the Parana River. It felt great, and it was an incredible experience. One man took a bus and rode most of the night, for his baptism. Twenty 28 people said yes to this public step of obedience. Four couples decided to be baptized together.

I realized again today, that very few things on this earth surpass the joy of leading people to Christ and walking alongside them as they grow.

On Saturday night, we spoke to a group of teenagers and youth at the quinceanos birthday. Camila was the birthday girl. It was a moving night. Camila wanted to share the message of Christ on her birthday. I thought about the two girls in my house, Nicole 13 and Anahi 5, in a few years, going thru this passage of rite in the Latin American culture.

Thanks for hanging out. More tomorrow. 

Friday, September 9, 2016

A month in Paraguay, September 9th

Learning about Paraguay

Nicole, Anahi and Mark all went to the fair today. Their school participated in various presentations. Nicole went as a part of her schools reading club. In the afternoon my mom came to Encarnacion. I helped her buy a dvd player and my dad and mom also came to hang out with the family for a little.

I am learning so much about Paraguay during this five day book fair. As I shared before, this country is awakening, not only spiritually, but in many other fronts. There are so many opportunities for young people. I believe the challenge is now, getting the right training in place to help people develop their God given gifts.

More tomorrow.