In Part 1, I shared how my first move to Paraguay was at age 5. At that time I was a minor, following my parents around. But my second move to Paraguay was at age 25 when after college, I—or better said, we—decided to move back to Paraguay. This time, the Genesis was a letter inviting us to help pioneer a new radio station there.
At the time I had just gotten married to my college sweetheart Julie. We were both enrolled in seminary, enjoying just being married and going to school. Among our hobbies at the time was traveling the U.S. and to any country that we had the funds to go to. During those days, we began running seriously and trained for our first marathons and adventure race. Our first marathon was the Flying Pig marathon in Cincinnati, Ohio. Julie and I finished together in what I thought was a pretty good time of 4 hours, 12 minutes.
One day, a letter in our mailbox got us thinking about plans beyond graduation. The letter was from Walter Franz, inviting us to help establish the only Christian station in southern Paraguay. After about a month of thinking it over, weighing the pros and cons, and praying, we responded. We will go, we said, but we wanted to finish seminary first. From that day on, our thoughts began focusing on Paraguay again.
Julie and I both enjoyed living in the U.S. We were considering pastoring a church or serving in a church-related organization. At the time I was part of the CBH (Christian Brotherhood Hour), taking care of the bilingual correspondence the office managed.
Graduating was so much fun. Dreaming about going back to Paraguay, this time with Julie, was something I was excited about. Saying goodbye to family, friends, and a sense of financial stability was scary but exciting for two young, naïve missionaries.
Because traveling and seeing the world firsthand was something Julie and I both loved, we decided to travel to Paraguay by land. It would become a two-month trip through 13 countries and across some 12,000 miles in a 1988 Chevy Suburban. It was all we could afford back then. Our car budget for a vehicle was $4,500. I believe the Suburban is still running these days somewhere in Peru.
Thus began the journey. We left Anderson, Indiana, on September 5, 2002, and arrived in Obligado, Paraguay, on November 14 on a hot and humid afternoon. As we crossed the border into Paraguay, we both just cried. I think it was a mix of so many emotions that we had both experienced over the previous months. We were so thankful; God had protected us from accidents and thieves. We had lived together in very tight quarters for 70 days. The uncertainty of the new assignment was looming, and just the fact of sleeping in one place for more than one night was overwhelming.
I often compare this moment to the moment the Hebrews crossed the Jordan River into their promised land. As the years have gone by, I have often realized that I am still on a journey that is constantly unfolding.
In Part 3 when I will share about the beginning and development of some very cool things in our new home country of Paraguay.