Friday, November 30, 2007
We had such a good time at Timmy's birthday party! Although it rained the second half and we had to move everything inside, it was still a blast. In fact, he keeps asking when we can have more balloons and cake! Thank God for a healthy 2 year old.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Today we are celebrating Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, in Paraguay there is no day to give thanks. And there is no turkey to be found. I'm okay with that now, but my first Thanksgiving Day here 5 years ago was a fiasco. I entered into a mini (okay, major!) crisis because I couldn’t find turkey, cranberries, stove top ( didn’t know you could make homemade stuffing!) and there were no canned pumpkin or cherry fillings to be found in the store. I remember it was the only day that I cried about missing home. (I am still learning how to cook from scratch!) Looking back, I realize how much emphasis we put on the exterior of an event and we miss the essence of the celebration. (i.e. Christmas).
Well, this year we’ll probably be having chicken and eating yucca plant for our Thanksgiving meal, but we’ll also do what I love most…we’ll be sharing around the table our written list of blessings that we’ve experienced this year. We’ll also sing and make music. Norberto's family members are extremely gifted musicians and I just love hearing them “jam.” As for me, I just make a joyful noise! I think Timmy’s gonna take after his daddy cause he’s only 2 and he already has more rhythm than his mommy!
- Grace…I am a broken person saved by God’s mercy, forgiveness, and loving grace
My relationship with God continues to deepen and bring me refreshing
My incredible husband, best friend, lover, companion and ministry partner
My beautiful son who just entered the terrific two’s yesterday
My health and the opportunity to have health care
Our ministry partners
Family near and far
That we don’t live without our basic needs
Hot water in the shower
Email and the internet
We have fertile soil to grow food
We drink clean water
Our old and reliable truck
We live fulfilling, purposeful lives
So, what are you thankful for this year? What special treasures do you hold especially dear right now?
Saturday, November 17, 2007
We just had a work camp go home. They were definitely a unique bunch, and we absolutely loved them. They were all grandparents and one couple celebrated their 53rd anniversary this year. This group of folks worked as hard as any group of high schoolers and they had incredible attitudes and super flexibility. The truth of the matter is, they wore us youngin’s out!
If you think you’re too old to serve, think again. One woman, 72 years old, is going back to school to get her bachelor’s in theology so she can teach women the Word of God. One man said this was his 6th mission trip and was already planning his next one. My dear retired college professor was here, bad knees and in, last year teaching a women's seminar and it was fantastic. We have other friends that are coming down for the 5th and 6th time this January. They are both in their late sixties and are professional builders. They take their vacation time helping us build churches. Another couple is in their retirement and they want to spend it giving back to God. That’s why they decided to come to Paraguay. Serving is what keeps these folks young! Mature adults with a lifetime of experiences, stories and a love for God’s people make a huge impact on younger generations that are caught up in a “me-focused” solar system. So, what about you? What is keeping you from serving God with your hands, heart and feet? Is it your age? I hope not. God wants to use you, no matter your age, your wrinkles or your strength.
Friday, November 16, 2007
We have a group from CMA (Christian Motorcycle Association) with us right now. We are going to dedicate three bikes while they are here, which is always a special event. This bike is specifically used for the Letra Project, the translation of the Bile into the Ache language. A team of four Ache leaders and an Argentinean Bible scholar have already translated the Gospel of Luke, and are completing Matthew, Mark and John at this time.
Here is a picture of one of the CMAers handing over the keys to the Ache translator, Lorenzo. If you want to read more about Lorenzo’s testimony, read here.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Paraguay is ranked as the third most corrupt country in the western world according to a new study by the World Bank (Haiti and Venezuela are ranked first and second respectively). Corruption ruins lives, folks. This past weekend my brother-in-law, who lives in Asuncion, had his truck stolen in front of his work. He received a call the next day from someone who claimed that he had his truck and that for $1,000 he could have it back. However, if he made any contact with the police, he would be in great danger. He scrounged up the money and they arranged for him to send the money via western union to a random spot in the interior of the country and they would wait for the truck to be at a big supermarket in the capital city. Well, they sent the money on Monday morning to hold their end of the bargain and to their great dismay, their vehicle never arrived at the agreed location. So, they were robbed twice. Then, once my bil reported the entire situation to the police, he received more contacts from other policemen telling him that for more money they would help him recover his truck. Don't get me wrong here, but I thought fighting crime was what policemen are paid to do! So, it almost makes you wonder who ISN'T involved in the corruption mafia. The worst part is that my bil suspects that even the people in the insurance company may be involved because only a week ago he changed his insurance from complete coverage (including robbery) to collision only. Sigh. Poor bil.
Putting myself in his shoes, ideally it would have been great to contact police to get them involved in the sting operation and put those bad guys behind bars. However, the sad reality is that the mafia ring is so large here that he would be putting himself and his family in great danger in doing so. He would practically have to move and change all his telephones and start over, since they knew so much about him in the first place. It really does take one's security away knowing how terrible corruption is for a country. It oppresses Paraguay in such a way, that the country cannot grow, few international businesses want to invest here and there is a great exodus of the best minds to foreign soil. This corruption has to stop, as it is effecting public welfare, including my family. This is yet another reason why we believe education and training are some of the best tools we have to teach our friends a better way of life for all of us. It is a long, slow road to introduce integrity and justice into fractured corrupt systems, but it's the only hope for this small nation.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
We had a wicked storm on Oct 31. And I mean WICKED. It was Halloween night and right around midnight the wind started howling and the trees were cackling and I felt like Dorothy in Kansas. We grabbed Timmy out of his room and all retreated to the bathroom, the safest (and smallest) room in our home. We felt like there was seriously a cosmic battle going on around us and we began to pray for our safety, for our friends, our church and of course, the radio.
This morning we drove around town and couldn’t believe the terrible damage the storm incurred on our small town. Our competitor radio station’s tower split in two and collapsed on a neighboring house. My heart went out to homes that had entire roofs fly off. Trees were down everywhere. Our little town made the national news! Well, the whole day yesterday we had no lights and no water. Try trying to keep a toddler boy clean all day especially when it’s muddy outside! We did lose a huge avocado tree on our lot, but I just thank God for his protection.
Paraguay is known for it's tropical storms, but this one was different. The entire episode was extremely eerie, long-timers said they’ve never seen anything like it. Honestly, it made me more acutely aware that there is much more to life than the visible world. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” We in the western world tend to dismiss the idea of spiritual warfare and the supernatural world, but God’s word clearly talks about the reality of such things. I have seen evidence of witches in our area and I know that there are strongholds on our country. What do you think about spiritual warfare and about our role in the cosmic battle around us?