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Showing posts from March, 2009

Celebrating 10 Years Together

We love to explore and this weekend we had the opportunity to discover new places in the department (state) of Caaguazu, Paraguay. We were invited to participate in the 10th anniversary program of our sister radio station, Mensajero (The Messenger) 100.9 FM in Tres Palmas, Caaguazu. It was a five hour drive; the last hour we were eating dust constantly and dodging enormous potholes on the 40 km dirt road stretch. There were so many turns and no signs, so we had to stop and ask directions nine times!

This rural colony, along with Bergthal, and Sommerfeld, were founded by Mennonite farmers. There are approximately 28,000 Mennonites living in Paraguay today. This radio is managed by the EMC (Evangelical Mennonite Convention). Here is a picture of Norberto in front of the station. The celebration was a testament to God's guidance and provision for this outreach ministry. We were so honored to be special guests and we are grateful that the hope of Jesus Christ is broadcasted in a…

Auction Items to Benefit Radio Alternativa

Our generator project, you can read about it here, called"Generating Hope" is burning in our hearts right now. It is our prayer that we can purchase this needed tool before we go to the States in May. We are auctioning off beautiful Paraguayan artisan goods to raise money for the generator. All items were purchased from locals at a fair price and all proceeds will go toward the generator. We still need $5,500. We have raised $2,500 to date. You can see the thermometer on the right hand side of the webpage.

Here are two lovely purses, perfect for your daughter, granddaughter or wife. They are made by the Macá Indians and are 6.5 inches tall.

You may bid on one or both. Just specify the color you like best.

Bidding starts at $0.99.

This is beautiful ñanduti. Ñanduti is constructed using needles on wooden frames and is Paraguay's most typical artwork. It measures 12 inches in diameter; is beige and is hand-woven. This elegant lace makes a perfect centerpiece or can …

Paraguayan Education is the Pits

Yesterday was one of those days where the weight of poverty was almost too much for me to handle. Our neighbor called us informing that her son Samuel had fallen at school and broken his leg. She went to the state hospital an hour away and they took X-rays and confirmed that the child would need a surgery with pins and plates! She left without one penny in her pocket and she asked if we could help pay the X-ray. I told her NOT to okay the surgery without a second opinion.

Since the accident took place at school, surely the school would take the responsibility for paying the medical bills. After calling the superintendent and having to talk to three different people, she told me that no such funds existed, the schools have no medical insurance for their students and to go personally to talk to the school principal because there is no phone in the school.

So, I went to visit the school principal. At first, she was on the defensive. "Impossible" was her response to helpin…

Little Brown Church in the Vale

On Sunday we traveled about an hour to a small village called Poromocó, (named after its river) to share with a country church there.

We preached, played the worship music and even sang our first special number as a family...Jesus Loves Me, in English and Spanish, to the 15 member congregation.

After church, we were invited for a pig roast and a day of relaxing on a family's farm.

We got to tour their farm and their different crops. We hiked about 2 hours and still didn't cover half their fields. Timmy loved petting the animals. This lovely family has a daughter Timmy's age and they had a ball together!

We are having a very dry season here and all the families are agriculturists and are very concerned about the drought. So, we prayed for rain in the middle of their fields.

That is yerba mate (green tea) on the left and sugar cane on the right.

Yesterday our friend texted us a message that it rained on his farm on Monday morning and we are thankful that God heard our pra…

Concert in the Park

As part of our 10th anniversary festivities, Radio Alternativa is organizing a series of concerts this year. On Saturday night we held an evangelistic concert in the plaza of Bella Vista. We had a choreograph team, a rapper from Encarnacion who shared his powerful testimony and a worship team from Villarrica.

We counted around 350 people who attended, the weather was absolutely beautiful and the mayor was so happy that we're trying to reach youth. He told us, "The plaza's yours anytime you want it!" and he made sure the grass was cut and the grounds were immaculate before the concert.

Here Norberto is giving the invitation to come to our next concert in Hohenau, on April 3.

Thanks for your prayers for our outreach events and for Paraguayan youth who need to hear the message of HOPE.

Radio Auction Item #1

As we mentioned in our newsletter (you can read it by clicking on the icon on the right hand side of the page), we will be auctioning off a few items to help us buy the generator! If you like Ebay, you're gonna love this. This is a silent auction, which means you don't post your price. Instead, please email us (click on the email us link to the right) and tell us your bid.

This is an authentic Paraguayan tereré set. See this post for a better explanation of this traditional Paraguayan pasttime. This is a genuine 100% leather thermos with matching guampa (cup). It includes a bombilla (straw) as well.
You can see that it is very well made with extra strong stitching. These incredibly talented artisans are Christians and are friends of ours. This hand-painted, matching set says Jesús and is brand new.

Even if you don't drink tereré, this is an excellent cold water thermos, just in time for summer! If you are not interested in the auction, you can STILL help us buy …

Daily Life in Paraguay

Since most of you will never have the opportunity to visit us here in Paraguay we are trying to bring life in Paraguay to you! We'll show you videos of our Sunday School, of us in our daily life (washing clothes) and show you where we live and what we do. Here's a snapshot of one of our favorite activities-cutting down a banana bunch.

Since we grow our own, we were able to share bananas with five families (with this particular bunch). When a banana bunch is ready, we go bananas! We dry bananas, we freeze them (for smoothies), we make banana bread, banana cake, banana pancakes, fruit salad and we'll try just about any banana recipe you give us (hint, hint).

So, this is our "How to cut down bananas, when they're ripe" video:

When the bunch is cut, we leave it outside in the shade for about a day, so the sun doesn't scorch the bananas and we let the bunch set outside so all the critters (spiders mainly) have a chance to take a hike before we bring them in …

Prayer Breakthrough

It was 6:30 when I got on my motorcycle to begin riding the 20 min to the Papillion restaurant where we meet with a number of pastors for our monthly prayer breakfast. This is the 6th month we’ve sponsored the event, thanks to a generous gift from Missionary Ventures, Canada. Every second Saturday in the morning all the local pastors of the three nearest towns (United Colonies) are invited to fellowship, eat breakfast and pray.

This morning was special. Since the Rotary Club had to use our normal room, we met in the back yard, by the swimming pool. We had the yard to ourselves, very close to nature. The early morning birds were chirping, a late summer breeze was passing by...The air was pure; it was a great time to meet and pray.

One of the older pastors shared a few testimonies, we laugh and the prayed. At one point in the prayer, pastor Pedro asked us to join hands in a circle and for one moment time stood still. His words were, “Father speak to us, allow us to reach the lost, help u…

Bibles Are Here

We’ve raised $3,030 for the Bibles to date! Unfortunately, we’ve had to enter “PLAN B” on this project since our 10,000 free Bibles are no longer available, (we don’t know why). We got a great deal from the Paraguayan Bible Society on a Bible for $2.45 each, so that brings us to a total of 1,216 Bibles that we were able to buy. This is a picture of the Bibles that just arrived today!!
We are going to work through churches and evangelists that are associated with the APEP (Association of Evangelical Pastors in Paraguay) to distribute the Bibles. We will ask the churches to give a very small token donation, so they don’t take more than what they really will distribute. The idea is not to give the Bibles to Christians who already own Bibles, but to people who have yet to own their own Bible (unfortunately, we do have some Christians without Bibles in our churches).

We are very excited about this project coming together. We are so thankful for your sacrifice to get the Word of God i…

Running Across Wildlife in Paraguay

On our way to a church assembly this Sunday in Alto Parana, where deforestation of the natural rain forest is occurring at 10% per year, we ran across (literally) this rain forest specimen on highway 6 and killed it. Snakes are common here, but it’s rare that we would spot one so big. It was about 8 feet long. This is what we learned about it, thanks to the expertise of Herpetologist Roy McDiarmid from the Smithsonian Institute:

Dear Norberto,
Yes. I know that snake from other places in Latin America, from southern Mexico south to Argentina. It is called Spilotes pullatus (Tiger Rat Snake). As you can see it is a large (~3 m), diurnal, terrestrial to semiarboreal harmless snake that occurs in forests and especially along forest edges. It kills by constriction and eats rats, mice, squirrels, birds and their eggs. This snake can put on quite a display extending its neck and throat and making lots of noise; primarily this is to discourage predators. Often times it will move with its hea…

Modesty-Isn't That Just Old Fashioned?

I haven't always been a modest dresser. When I was in high school I let the fashion of magazines such as Seventeen and Vogue and my circle of friends influence my dress more than what God had to say about the issue.

While I was more careful in my dress after marrying my college sweetheart, I still would like to show off my curves when we went out. It wasn't until I moved to Paraguay that I realized that different cultures have different understandings of modesty. Shorts that were considered "normal" in the U.S. (mid thigh length) are not considered appropriate here. Most women do not wear shorts. If they do, they are knee-length.

When I went back to the States on our first summer furlough, I was so used to wearing long shorts and capri pants that I was a little taken aback seeing women wear the short-shorts I used to wear. My goodness, they were exposing almost all of their leg! It was then that I realized how blind I had been to the strong cultural current of…

What's That Hiding in the Banana Leaves?

Since we don't have a garage we hide our lawn mower in the banana leaves during the day and bring it inside (in our living room) at night. In fact, our living room is our storage place for all our gardening tools, mower, and motorcycle! It is not a big living room, either.

When our lawn mower was stolen we had no idea who knew where it was hidden. We were crushed to learn that it was a young man (Luis) that Hubby had been mentoring weekly. He had taken it while we were out and sold it to his neighbor! His mom, who is a Christian, found out and went to the neighbor and threatened to report him to the police (since he knew the lawnmower did not belong to Luis).

The man turned over the lawn mower to Luis' mom and she gave it back to us. We've had to pray about how to deal with the situation because we were very hurt by Luis' actions and yet we want to show grace and love. We are thankful that we were able to recover our lawn mower and for the honesty of Luis' m…

How To Use a Wash board Sink (Or Things That You Never Thought You'd Do on the Mission Field)

My first time washing clothes by hand was a complete disaster. We were on our Pan American excursion. We were in Peru and we had no clean clothes left. We stopped at a rustic hotel in the middle of the desert and to my utter surprise, there was no washing machine to be found (how naive). I stared at the washboard sink for about 10 minutes completely clueless as to how to begin washing clothes. I fumbled my way through the process never dreaming that I would one day become a washboard whiz!

Here's me staring at the sink:
While my supportive husband was doing this
Three hours later (I'm not kidding), I managed to kinda wash all our clothes
Now, I wash clothes by hand five days a week. We get really dirty with the red dirt here, so while we own a standard washing machine, it doesn't leave our clothes clean. Upon request of a children's ministry in the States, I made a "how to" video on washing on a washboard sink. It's what works for me. I now can…

Tribute to our Truck and a Request

"Blue Cruiser has been with us since day one in Paraguay. In fact, she drove us here without even a flat tire! When we purchased her back in 2002, it was not heard of to buy vehicles online, but it was a great match. We both knew she was the one for us!

We dedicated her to the Lord and the prayer team at church laid hands on her and prayed for her before we departed for our Pan American Adventure. She took us through the rivers of Nicaragua, the mountains of Honduras, the deserts of Peru and and Chilean Andes to arrive in Paraguay 70 days later. Incidentally, it was the same model ('88 Suburban) that broke the world's record of driving the entire PanAmerican highway. God didn't steer us wrong!

Last year, she brought us safely back from an adventure through blockades, broken bridges, narrow, dangerous roads in the Andes and safely back from Arequipa.
She's hauled 16+ work teams, hundreds of Paraguayans and she's been a true blue vehicle for our family. W…

Tereré - More Than Just a Drink

After being completely spoiled with a cold front last week (80 degrees instead of 100), we're back up to high temps. In our home, we live on tereré. Tereré is the cold version of Mate Tea. Everyone in Paraguay drinks it in the summertime. Tereré was introduced by the Guarani Indians in Paraguay and the tradition has been borrowed by the Southern Cone (Brazilians, Argentineans, Uruguayans and Chileans).

Very few Paraguayans drink plain water, so tereré's crucial for hydration in this humid heat. Day wagers take tereré breaks (our version of a coffee break) at 10:00 a.m. and at 3:00 in our area. They gather in a circle and one designated person serves to each person in the "ronda". Each person takes his turn sipping their serving of the cold tea and immediately returns it to the server. It is considered bad etiquette to hold on to the tereré too long! Paraguayans definitely take tereré seriously!

You can use lemonade, limeade, orange juice, pop, or cold water…

Enough is Enough!

We were in church and Timmy got tired and so we laid him on the floor with a blanket. During the prayer time a man in front of us turned around and started to stare at Timmy. His eyes got really big and I looked at our sleeping son and screamed (sorry, God!)

A tarantula, even bigger than the one on our front lawn, was four inches from his head!

Norb immediately took off his shoe and killed it, without even waking sleeping beauty.

We can only guess it climbed in through the side window. We are grateful for God's protection and are hoping for no more spider scares this season.