We pray that you are well and blessed and full of the peace of our Lord Jesus. Most of you will be enjoying a hot summer! Here it is still ‘winter’...
Peter and I completed our Guarani language course on July 1st, and received a beautiful certificate! Of course it’s up to us now to further our studies and practice till perfect, or almost! But we have an excellent foundation, thanks to our gifted teacher, Andy Bowen. He and his dear wife Lizet celebrated our last day with a delicious feast, after which we said teary goodbyes to our helper, Ña Migdonia, Joseph’s nanny, Joana and the Baker Family.
We said goodbye to beautiful Leah too, who had come from the USA to teach the children while we studied. It was very hard to let her go, but may I take a moment or two, to honor Leah for her 9 months of volunteering with us. God bless you Miss Leah Morie - thank you for all the teaching, music, cooking etc you did for us to selflessly serve us as we studied - we love you! Dear readers, please pray for Leah, as she transitions into what God has prepared for her next - we know He has awesome plans.
My dear friend and neighbor Petrona, whom you may remember from previous blogs, wants to come but her husband doesn’t allow her. One monday evening, after I had finished a bible study, she came to my fence to talk with me. “I wanted to come today. I got washed (a big deal here in the fridged cold of winter with no hot water) and dressed to come, but my husband was very drunk and got angry that I was coming.” Tears filled her sad eyes. “I had to stay and obey.” “I understand,” I told her, “just know that Jesus loves you no matter what! We will pray for Don Jose, to be at peace.” I prayed for her as she gripped her chest and gave a huge sigh. Please pray for her, and for her husband to be delivered from anger and alcohol.
“I know!” his friend responded. We smiled, watching two life long friends talk so familiarly with each other. Peter explained that Jesus takes away sin as well as sickness and disease and the man received the good news and prayed to God for forgiveness of his sins in Guarani as Peter lead him. We then commanded the pain in his leg to leave. He tried to raise his knee up, as he explained he couldn’t do it without pain. Then all of a sudden his face changed, as he realized the pain had gone. He began to walk, with no pain. And then we told him he could even dance, and right there and then, he did a joyful jig! He said goodbye, and with such joy he walked away, off into the sunset. We then sat with Mateo, who just smiled. We sang, we read the word together, and we prayed. He was so at peace and received every word we shared with joy. Pray for him to live out his latter days in the peace of knowing His Saviour, and his friend, that they may grow in their new journey of faith together.
Daniel: I remember, as we pulled into a gas station on our way to Asuncion (my parents were out of money) my dad said "Ok kids, this is it!" He held up a zip-lock with a few coins in the bottom of it. We were running low on gas, so to make it to Asuncion we all looked in the car for more coins and my dad took what we found and the bag to a little table and counted them out with the gas station worker. It was just enough to get us there to meet the soon arriving guests!
Peter: As I counted those coins with the attendant, I thought to myself, 'OK Lord, here we are ready to go, but with nothing left to go with'. But the Lord is faithful: as we arrived that night to the guesthouse (that we'd have to pay for), with a broken vehicle that wouldn't start and was overheating (that was about to take us across Paraguay), we received a gift online that would cover the cost of the repairs and the first days of the trip...!
Evi: Peter made last minute preparations, and we prayed God would give Peter wisdom about how to fix the car! At the airport, having welcomed our guests after a long journey from the USA, they then had to push-start our car in the airport parking area!! How embarrassing…back at the guesthouse compound Peter managed to fix the issue - after a recent engine overhaul there shouldn’t have been any, but as I explained in the previous blog, here things don’t always turn out the way you expect. He had to buy some parts and an expensive specific tool to tighten the engine block. We were almost out of money again, and here we were about to embark on an epic tour around half of Paraguay, staying at hotels and eating out, wanting to host our guests in style by occasionally buying them a meal or two…now we could barley afford to pay for part A of the trip, which Peter and local Pastor and friend Alcides Roman had put together, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. What do we as a family do now? Do we send the team on and admit defeat, or do we go on in faith, taking each day as it dawned? We would go in faith. The day came when we ran out - and we had to borrow from our children's small savings accounts. That hurts a lot. Our guests had already very generously done more than their fair share, paying for a lot of the expenses, but still we couldn’t make it. The Sunday morning service was over at Coronel Oviedo. God had brought restoration to many in the church and there had been several salvations over three days of ministry. As goodbyes were being said, Peter and I sat in our car with the children asking God what now? We drove off, leading the convoy, trying to decide if we should just come up front with our guests and explain our situation, swallowing our british pride. We came to a junction where Home was to our right, straight on was to another hotel bill, more meals and not to mention more stretch. We were exhausted. I wanted so desperately to go home. Peter and I looked at each other - we know to obey God is always better, and that He always provides. God had spoken to Peter in the service through a song that Pastor Rhonda sang - no turning back, no turning back. We drove on past our turn. "Oh Lord, renew our strength like the eagles so we can run and not be weary, and show us the way forward." We borrowed from the kids again. We don’t believe this was God’s answer necessarily, but we were doing all we could to keep going. And I share these details not for sympathy but for the reality of missionaries all over the world - we are called to Go! But we need those who can send us!
My favorite part of this whole tour was our time with our dear friend and Pastor Cipriano and his dear wife Carmen, at an Indigenous Leaders meeting way out in the boonies (no wonder our car needs so much tender loving care!). There were new challenges for me for this part of the trip: I was in charge of the food - I had never planned or cooked for large numbers before. About 60 people in total needed feeding two meals for two and a half days. A menu made (me trying to think Paragayan food), a list for shopping at a dirty and poorly equipped supermarket, a few conversations with Carmen for her advice (in Guarani, of which I could understand 1/4)…Oh Lord, help, please don’t let these dear people starve! Bless and prosper what I put my hands to! Well, I know that food is the least important thing, but I wanted these precious servants of the Lord to be well taken care of while they attended powerful meetings where they would be encouraged in the Word of God. There was such a powerful presence of the Lord, tears flowed from a people known for their lack of emotions, a resilience to serve the Lord through all their trials was born and with such joy and refreshing we celebrated together with them all that the Lord had done! And everyone had more than enough to eat, so much so they took food home! I also had the privilege of working along side Carmen, a true servant of the Lord; we cooked together, chatted and laughed - my Guarani improved leaps and bounds! Thank you my dear patient friend!! And thank you to Lorraine for sweating it out with me!
And as a teaser, in an upcoming blog we will share with you two amazing announcements.