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Showing posts from February, 2009

Arachnaphobia, Anyone?

The tropical rains this week have their way of bringing out the critters. We were coming home from working at the lot at dusk tonight and I went to the clotheslines to take down the clothes before the dew set in...when I almost stepped on a tarantula. At least I had shoes on (I don't walk barefoot, unlike my Indian husband) but Norberto was walking straight toward it, sans shoes!

Paraguayans call them pollito araƱas (Chicken Spider) 'cause, well, they kill chickens. It was about the size of my hand. I say "was" because my courageous husband dropped a 2X4 on it. Sorry for all the animal activists...with a toddler tromping around (he's a little barefoot Indian) we can't take any chances.

Paraguayan Weddings

On Valentine’s Day, we had the joy of attending the wedding of Sandra and Anastacio, young leaders in the church. Sandra is my assistant with Children of Promise and Anastacio, apart from his carpentry job, has a popular youth-focused radio program every night at 8:00 on our station.

We’ve been to quite a few weddings, and these are some of the uniquenesses of southern Paraguayan wedding celebrations from our North American culture:

1. Nothing is fancy. Emphasis is placed on the act of marriage and not on the decorations or food.
2. It is not an expectation that parents help pay for expenses. Most families just make it each month with regular expenses and cannot afford to pay for eleborate feasts. Most couples have to spend months saving for their own wedding.
3. Borrow as much as possible. Many times wedding dresses are borrowed 5-10 times, because few women can afford their own. Flowers, decorations, shoes and ties (Norb loans out his ties often...since he never wears them!) are …

When Cultures Clashes

We have some friends who are missionaries in Paraguay. They are not from the U.S., they are from another South American country. We've been observing them and we've noticed that they're struggling with fitting into the culture. One would think that because they did not cross the hemisphere or even the equator, that the cultural differences would be fewer. However, it's evident that Paraguayans do life very distinctly from our friends and the adaptation has taken its toll on their relationships.

Here are a few examples of how we've seen the cultures clash:

Our friends choose not to answer their cell phones at certain times of the day; yet Paraguayans like others to be available. They like you to answer your cell phone. They don't like talking to an answering machine. It's funny because we have an answering machine and the only people who leave messages are Americans! Paraguayans will continue to call,even up to 10 times, until they hear our real voic…

Sunday School in Guarani

It's been so fun to teach children's church on Saturday nights (our version of Sunday school). We've (Norberto and Julie) been creating dramas out of the Bible stories, doing quizzes and contests to those who listened and understood the story and have been singing songs in Spanish and Guarani!

Guarani is the second official language in Paraguay. It is the heart language of the people. While we live in a region of the country with many immigrants who speak German, there is still a good percentage of the population that speak Guarani here.

Last week we talked about Zaccheus. Norberto played the sycamore tree and all the kids wanted to be Zaccheus so they could climb up onto Norberto's shoulders! You can hear one of our helpers leading, "Zaccheus was a Wee Little Man" Guarani style AND as an extra bonus, you can even hear Norberto (the sycamore tree) singing in the background!

Now, doesn't that just make you want to go back to Sunday school!

I Love it When a Plan Comes Together!

We received an email from an audiologist in St. Joseph, MI that is more than willing to help us get the hearing aid that Jorge needs. The connections in the body of Christ continue to remind me how intertwined we are. The story will be told, another time. This, is the best news we've had all week! Honestly, I had been wondering where the money was going to come from and it was almost as if God said,

"Shut up, fool! Who am I? This is not difficult for me."

So, if you have donated to Jorge's hearing aid, THANK YOU! Your money will be used toward his fittings and extra batteries.

**Extra points if you can tell us what show these quotes come from and who said them!

Reaching Beyond Borders

This week we were visited by some of our listeners in Hipolito Irigoyen, a small village in Misiones, Argentina, about a two hour bus ride east of the radio station. A total of 17 youth crossed over the bridge for the first time to visit Paraguay, tour the radio and hang out with the youth from our church.

We took them to the ruins, had picnics and laughed together and yesterday, we dropped them off in the pouring rain to the Bella Vista port to catch a boat across the river.

Even though they were able to do a little tourism, they came primarily to thank Radio Alternativa 92.7 for their ministry to youth. One young man began a relationship with the Lord through our radio and now has his own Christian radio program on a secular station in his town! These young people use the Christian songs we play and make choreographs out of them to show in town squares and in churches.

Many of the youth shared some of their testimonies on air and all the radio staff were touched, even to tears, t…

The First of a Thousand Steps

We waited in the Doctor's office after a beautiful summer rain had cooled down our 100 degree temps. The Dr. (let's call him Dr. Depressing) was 30 minutes late. While we were waiting we prayed for God's work in Jorge's life and trusted in God's work in this young man. Apparently, Dr. Depressing had had a long week, because he didn't seem to remember us from our first consultation two days ago. He did an Audiogram and a Tympanogram. I waited outside with my pile of books to entertain Timmy during the exam.

He called me in after the testing to tell me gravely that Jorge had not responded positively. He did not hear even the loudest frequency and that he was afraid there was not much hope for him. I started launching my questions:
Would he benefit from a hearing aid?
What about cochlear implants?
Was there a specialized teacher that could help Jorge learn to read and write?

Dr. Depressing looked at me without smiling. In fact, he didn't show any kind…

Will Jorge Hear Again?

Yesterday I took Jorge to the doctor. When he was 18 months old, a case of meningitis took away his ability to hear. Now, Jorge is 13 and he has NEVER been to an audiologist or had an evaluation to see his level of hearing loss. Unbelievable for our culture, but fairly common here. Last year, I wrote about trying to get Jorge into a special school for the deaf. After one week in school, to my utter disappointment, he dropped out because it was far from home and he missed his family.

Tomorrow we are traveling to our state's capital to do an audiogram with the specialist. Thanks to special funds from Children of Promise, we will be able to know if Jorge will benefit from a hearing aid.

Jorge was so excited about our doctor's visit yesterday he asked his mom, in their informal sign language, if he was going to hear again.

"We'll see," she replied.

The doctor told us that since it had been so long after the illness that they are treating the child, the possib…

Personal Space Differences

Q. How many people can you fit into a Suburban?

A. Depends on where they're from.

Americans = 9 Paraguayans = 18

This is due to a few factors:

1. The personal space factor. Paraguayans have a much closer personal space than their North American counterparts. Latin Americans are touch-friendly, while Americans don't like to touch each other while sitting in a vehicle.

2. The size factor. Paraguayans are relatively slender people, in general. Americans, well, are not.

3. The necessity factor. Most Paraguayans in our region do not have cars. When people (especially youth) want to go places, they have to catch a ride if they don't want to walk. In this case, it would have been 30 km!

We helped out with a youth retreat this weekend with 63 young people. We showed the film "Facing the Giants" and had soccer tournaments, canoe races in the lake and ate fresh pineapple for snacks. It was a great and meaningful time! Here are a few pics from our weekend.

FYI: That …