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Showing posts from January, 2008

Wrapping Up

It was a terrific day. We got to change from our normal 6:00 a.m. waking time and sleep in a little bit today! The group arrived at the church to fellowship, say thank you and farewell. They stopped by our house and our future home and did some final packing up of all the tools. Besides not having to work, today was full of fun little surprises.

Each of the cooks received a towel set from First Church

Jenny made cross necklaces with the cooks and they were so excited to make their own jewelry. What a special surprise! Then the church surprised us with a cookout for lunch. Yummy!

We went to the ruins with the folks who hadn't been before. We also took 7 kiddos with us and boy did they have a ball, especially when they found out we were having ice cream on the way home!

Dinner tonight was a DU (destination unknown). We went to the Parana River and had churrasco (meat buffet) overlooking the water. The Parana is the second largest river of the continent after the Amazon, so there was a d…

La Gran Fiesta (The Big Event!)

The celebration service was a fantastic 3 hour tribute to the goodness of our Lord. This is the highlight for all those who have helped serve in any way to make the dream of a new church building become a reality. Many of the contractors from the job site came to the inauguration. There were 300 chairs set up and filled, but I counted 200 more people outside on benches and sitting on the retaining wall, since the church was totally packed-for a grand total of 500! There were governmental officials, business owners and neighbors present. Many were curious as to how the church could have been built so quickly, since this same project would have taken at least 6-8 months in Paraguayan time. We hope that many will return to future Saturday night services at our church. Ten minutes to church time, the building was full, which is a small miracle because Paraguayans are usually never on time! Each individual from St. Joe received a special plaque from the Obligado church

Matt played with th…

Setting Up

We finished the construction today! Now we turn over to Obligado the diligent task of leading the congregation! We are just a few hours from the big celebration. We have been inviting many friends and neighbors to the service, so we are expecting a big turnout. Thanks for keeping this special inauguration in your prayers. Today the men of the group each received a special mate cup made of holy wood. The women received very elaborate Nanduti lace doilies made locally. A small gesture for all the work and sacrifice of each person from St. Joe.

Tomorrow I'll post the pictures of the celebration service, as I'm sure it'll go pretty late.

Cleaning Up

Well, it's the day before the big event! The excitement is mounting and we are working diligently to shine up the premises before the celebration service tomorrow. Here's a glimpse at the hard work that was accomplished on the eve of the inauguration.

Blessed by Rain

Today we were refreshed by morning rain. It was only in the low 80s today, which made working conditions just perfect. We decided to postpone our outing to the ruins 'til Wednesday, but that gave us time to finish the floor, practically finish the painting and prepare to plant flowers tomorrow.

The church service tonight was wonderful! Erik and Pastor Bob shared a few words, the group introduced themselves and the men's ensemble sang. Pastor David gave a challenging message on fueling your spiritual tank. He called people to recommit to being refueled and many people came forward.

Katie at church with her Child of Promise

Special call made by pastor at the end of the service

Working Away

We're only 3 days away from the big day! The inauguration is Tuesday at 8:00. So, we're working away to put the finishing touches on the church.

Looks like a lice check, but it's a paint check!

The walkway and the foyer of the church. It is VERY impressive. Tomorrow we get to sleep in one more hour and go to the ruins in the afternoon and participate in another great joint service in the evening. Thanks for keeping all us in our prayers.

Beating the Heat

Keep up the great work, JC!

Every day at 10:00 a.m. during break time we have a short devotional given by a group member. Today was Alice's turn and she eloquently shared how First church and Paraguay began their partnership.

Today was somebody special's birthday. We had ice cream and cake for our snack today. This evening we took him to an Italian restaurant and sang once more. What a blessed group we are to have a leader like Arden. Some are laughing even when it's over 100 degrees, people are welding on the roof and the electricity goes out for two hours! Tomorrow we work on the columns.

Adios, Hola and More Surprises

We said goodbye to our first week friends at 4:30 a.m.! Some of the other folks even got up to see them off! They squeezed into the bus and headed off to the falls, which is a spectacular sight. Thanks for all your help, week one! We then welcomed the second week crew around 6:00 p.m. We're so glad you're bringing fresh energy to the team. We need it! Laying the tile is a tedious task This is the tile work that was accomplished today thanks to the help of several to dedicated their day being on their knees. This is our local bus. Our driver, Reinhardt, is a hoot! He joins the group in singing "O Tenanbaum" since that's about the only German we know.

We are getting more and more visitors from the local church in Ciudad del Este, Bella Vista and Obligado-- All places where First Church has done previous work projects.

Today Pastor Bob and his team presented yet another very special gift to the Obligado church. They brought four beautiful puppets that were handma…

Amazing Gift

The church was given an amazing gift and it came as a huge surprise to our pastors and church members! Whirlpool Corporation donated a refrigerator and two freezers. This comes in just the right size and color, because our church does not own a refrigerator or freezer! The team has not had the luxury of cold water during these hot days, so this will really help to cool us off next week. We cannot thank our friends at Whirlpool enough for their generous gift to Paraguay!

In case you can't read it, the sign says "Margaret." Our dear friend, we know your heart is here with us. We love you and are praying for your full recovery. We want to thank all of the folks who came to help us for the first week of the work project. We are praying for your safe return home! We thank your families too for making the sacrifice to let you serve us here!

Hand me another brick...or two thousand. This was a two hour brick passing assembly line that got everyone involved!

Paint, Pool Party

Today was huge. We started painting and finished painting inside the church! Tomorrow we start painting outside. The wall is almost up on the old church building and the tin roof is completely on.

Today was also the long-awaited party for our child-sponsorship program, called Children of Promise. The kids have been looking forward to this day for weeks. We started off swimming, then ate hamburgers and french fries and the sponsors had pictures and special time with their child. The weather was beautiful, the kids were excellent and the interaction between child and sponsor was priceless. Here are some snapshots of kids with their sponsors hanging out.

Full View

Here you see a full view of the new church on the right, the old church that is being reformed and added to and the Sunday school classrooms (already in existence) on the left. web-2008-obligado-construction-186.gif

The joint church service in Bella Vista was so special. Here's a photo of the children singing. We also had a men's ensemble, a trumpet solo and Pastor Bob did a great teaching on stewardship. Some of the group got to be reunited with their sponsor child and that was a definite highlight. I saw one child who is fatherless, literally throw himelf on his sponsor dad and hold him tight for what seemed like a half hour! It brought tears to my eyes.

Our little helpers Our littlest helper!

Settling In

By now most everyone has found their place on the site. We have the cement mixers (or as one previous work camper affectionately calls them...the slugs), the welders, the masons, the cutters, the electricians, the water gals, and the muscle men that do a LOT of lifting. We're all "in the groove" and it's really exciting to see that the progress continues to move at a fast pace.

Even though it was a shorter work day today, much was accomplished. Those who are leaving this week got a chance to see the Jesuit ruins of Trinidad and eat Italian ice cream, a very nice treat on a very hot day.

Hand in Hand

One of the most beautiful aspects of a work camp is the friendships made with the locals when working side by side. These are some pictures of the team sweating today together with the Paraguayans. Some of the locals are from our church and some are contracted workers, so this is a great opportunity to minister. Thanks for keeping all of us in your prayers. Because of the rain last night, things cooled off considerably. It was in the mid-eighties...almost chilly! Tomorrow we are working in the morning, touring the ruins in the afternoon and in the evening is the joint church service with the Bella Vista church. Those who sponsor children through Children of Promise will be able to worship together, so it should be a very special time.

Breaking Down Walls

Today some of the men got to take out their aggressions on the old church wall that needed to come down! For being the first full day on the job, the crew did a tremendous job. The morning was incredibly hot and humid. We had one person pass out from the heat! Thankfully, the rain that came in the afternoon helped to alleviate the humidity. Also, a pole from the break tent came down and grazed another work camper. By God's grace, she only received a little scratch. Tonight, a work camper is going to help lead the youth group meeting and they are going to pound out cross necklaces. Should be an awesome experience. The group loves to communicate as best they can with the Paraguayans and we know that by the end of their time here, they'll be leaving with new friends. We appreciate all your prayers for safety and for building relationships and for people to see Jesus in us.

Extreme Makeover

We are changing the face of this place forever! Check out the work that was accomplished in a matter of three days. We are right on schedule and the big group is coming tomorrow to help give a gigantic push with labor. We are looking forward to seeing our special friends once again.

Making Headway

p>Yesterday the crew worked like mad.  They raised the walls to the top of the window sills!  Our leaders were pleased with all the work that was accomplished before they arrived on site.  Today the crew is working on the front wall.  You can already see where the cross is going to go!  I can't wait for the big group to get here on Thursday.  It's going to be crazy, but in a good way.  I will try and post pics later this afternoon

Building Hope in 2008

We are about a week away from a huge event! First Church in St. Joe, MI is coming to help us build our new church. This is their fourth visit to help us build and are we ever excited. The only way to describe these amazing folks is to say it's like an Amish Barn Raising day. In 2 weeks our friends come, build and inaugurate a beautifully finished church building. The Paraguayans are stunned at this incredulous feat...especially since things happen so slowly here. We appreciate your prayers for safety on the site, for great fellowship between cultures and language barriers and for strength for all the translators (that's us). This tiny picture shows the church in its current state...just a foundation. We look forward to showing you pictures of the finished product after January 29! We are very excited about the hope that this new church will bring to southern Paraguay.