Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Thank you!!


2011 Paraguay Volleyball Team

Nicole, Dawn, Kendra, Courtney, Anysia

I’m back! I just want to say this trip wouldn't have been possible without all your prayer and financial support! I really feel privileged that you are a part of my support team. Thank you so much.

villageI knew when I went that the team would be playing volleyball and that volleyball would be the ticket to get into schools. It turned out to be that and much more. They estimated that we were able to directly minister to over 4400 kids in the 2 weeks that we were there! We teamed up with Sue Givens, a missionary at a Christian school in Asuncion. Her intern, Perla, and several drama teams from the school joined us for every presentation. There was much more hands on ministry than I’d expected (which I was glad about)! At each presentation the drama team led in singing, performed a skit, shared a devotional and then 2 or 3 girls from the team shared their testimonies. I was surprised that we were able to openly and clearly share our testimonies. Besides the singing, drama and testimonies, we spent quite a bit of time in coaching and teaching the kids volleyball skills.

For the presentation at the Indian village we had to carry in the posts to set up the net. They were anchored with concrete blocks and tied off to cars on either side to provide tension for the net.

defuseWe gave presentations to public schools, Christian schools and in an Indian village out in the country. Since volleyball is the 2nd most popular sport, everyone was hungry to hear us out and learn what we were teaching. We were able to worship with several different Paraguayan churches…several small ones and one that is the largest in the country and seats 10,000 people.

We spent time at an orphanage and fell in love with the kids. We painted the building, loved on the kids and raised enough money for 15 new beds, mattresses and pillows. One little boy hugged his pillow with glee as he told us that this was his very first pillow.

Kids at the orphanage after they got their new mattresses

painting at the orphanage croppedBelieve it or not, I prayed that God would teach me patience and humility on this trip. And guess what? Coaching a bunch of non-English speaking kids is very humbling and tests your patience for sure.

I saw many different kinds of ministries in action: sport ministry, ministry in public and private schools, an orphanage ministry, church planting, a medical/clinic ministry and a sustainable peanut farm ministry. Talking to a missionary nurse sparked an interest to get some basic medical knowledge before going to the mission field. I'm excited to see what God will do in that area.

Painting at the orphanage

Dawn & some of the christian high school girls croppedMy biggest low point would be having really bad stage fright when I gave my testimony. I would forget my points and start shaking but I hope God used it to bring someone to Him. My highpoint would definitely be the worship at the churches we went to. It was awesome. But it is hard to pick one high point out of so many.

Another high point for me was playing soccer with the college and career group at Sue’s church the very last night. I want to play more soccer now! I enjoyed getting to know the Paraguayan culture and food, but I enjoyed being involved in ministry even more.

Girls from a Christian high school 

dramateam croppedI praise God that the trip went great, but especially that God used the team to touch lives. Thank you again for being a big part in making it happen!

With love & appreciation,




The drama teams from the Christian school we teamed up with

P.S. I really covet your prayers... I still haven’t been able to find a job! And I’m very concerned about my financial situation for my upcoming junior year at Trinity. I strongly feel God’s call on my life to serve as a missionary and want to finish my studies here. If you wish to help, you can contact me at

Day 15 - Final entry from Dawn’s Paraguay trip

On Monday, May 30, our last few hours in Paraguay were spent in the airport. However, we weren’t in the airport for too long. Without us knowing, our departure time had been changed. We were checking bags and getting tickets and were being rushed but we didn’t know why. Our original departure time was 6:55am but the new time was 6:10. At 6am, we were going through customs, and after, we went through security rather quickly- the quickest any of us have ever gone through security. We made it on the plane and didn’t leave until around 6:25am to head to Peru. In the Peru airport, we enjoyed free samples of chocolate covered candies as we had done on our journey to Paraguay and ate some of the banana bread muffins Anysia and Kendra made on Sunday night. Also, Kendra, Anysia, and Courtney made a quick stop to the perfume shop and sprayed themselves with a fragrance before arriving at our gate.

When we got to our gate, we had to go through security since we were about to enter the US. It marked the first time for most of us to be frisked head to toe!  Then, we were finally on our way home… or at least to Miami. We experienced some turbulence which consequently affected the movies we were watching or trying to watch on the plane. We arrived in Miami around 5:30pm and had to wait a bit to collect all of our luggage. We loaded up the cars and then went back into the airport for some food at Chili’s**. Then, we finally were on the road home to meet anxiously awaiting family!

The trip was so great and several of the girls are excited for next year and are already talking about how to make next year’s trip better! We couldn’t have done it without Sue and her school and everyone else that helped us!

**Bonus note….When Dawn called from the Miami airport, I realized that Dan had just landed there at the Miami airport too.  He was with a Haitian Sister Church pastor and his wife.  They had just come in from Lafayette, Louisiana where Dan had been translating for them for the past week.  They were able to connect at the Chili’s there at the airport and have a quick meal together before the team had to get in the van to come home.  Dan had to spend the night with the pastor to make sure he got on the plane the next day before he could come home.  We couldn’t have planned it better if we’d tried!  It was fun for them to meet for supper, a special surprise for Dawn.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Day 13 & 14

Day 13

Today, we went to the Asentimiento (spelling?) or the neighborhood built upon the trash dump as mentioned in the previous blog.  It was so cold in the morning, but it  eventually warmed up.  We were involved with “Hora de Feliz” (meaning Hour of Happiness in Spanish), a program put on every week by poor neighborhood in Asuncionthe Methodist Church above which we have been staying and which is affiliated with Nuevo Horizonte school.  Several of the students that we have been working with (they did the presentations) this past week are a part of this church and came out with us.  Together, we walked a few blocks down to an area which had a volleyball court and net already set up.  When we first arrived, we began picking up some trash around the park area…I guess you could call it a park.  There were glass pieces all around the edges of the court from broken liquor bottles.  So sad!  The students and the girls then split up into groups and went walking through the neighborhood inviting kids to come to “Hora de Feliz.”  When we had finished, we returned to the volleyball court and had a children’s service.  Not as many kids came out as expected because there had been Catholics and Jehovah’s Witnesses also in the community at the same time we were.  But all went well!  We sang about 5 or 6 songs, had a lesson, some skits, and then played some volleyball.  One of the skits performed was the Lifehouse drama which the students had been doing all week.  They were one person short, so the lovely Dawn got to be in it as “the other woman” who steals the guy from the girl at the beginning.  Funny thing…Dawn is around 6′ and the guy was like 5′.  The irony was hilarious!  At the the end of the presentation, everyone got into a big circle and all of the kids were given balloons as little treats to play with.  They loved them!

We headed back to the school, took some pictures, and said some good-byes.  Now was the time for a little packing and lunch.  Afterwards, we packed up the rest of our stuff and cleaned the apartment we had been staying at.  We had some time to kill, so we filled out some mission trip evaluation forms for Sue, journaled a bit, and rested.  Around 3pm, the adolescent students of the trip (mainly kids of middle school and 9th grade) were scheduled for a youth group type service.  However, many of them are a part of the marching band for school and had to miss the service due to practice, so service was delayed.  We played volleyball with some of the kids first and then around 4pm, we had service. The service started off with one of the girls giving a description of one of the girls and then the students had to guess who it was.  The lucky people who were described were Nicole and Kendra.  Next, the pastor challenged the girls to remember the students names.   A whole section of about 12-15 students stood up and gave their names; we then had to repeat all of them.  I’m happy to say that the girls were successful!  We had a worship time, praise report time, a testimony given by Courtney, and then a short message given based on David.  The pastor spoke on 1 Samuel 16:1-13* and talked about having dreams.  God doesn’t necessarily call the most popular, the most attractive, or someone of the “right” age, but He calls someone with the right heart just like David.  David was chosen at 16, but he was not used right away; he had to learn some things first.  God had given him the anointing of king, but it didn’t come without struggles.  The pastor summed it all up and challenged the students to evaluate their dreams and decide if they were worth fighting for.  He then made them aware that there will be obstacles, but those trials will make them stronger and experienced.  Afterwards, the students played volleyball with the girls to fellowship.

We then had dinner, our last meal at Sue’s house.  At 7pm, there was a youth service for people of high school and young adult ages.  We first played a game where we passed two volleyballs and when the music stopped, the two people holding a ball had to say one word describing why they were at church and/or how they feel at church.  If you were caught repeating a word, you had to go to the front of the room and do an unknown action.  One boy was caught and had to do 10 jumping jacks.  Among the people who  ended up with the ball were Dawn and Courtney.  Dawn said relief, and Courtney said freedom.  It was a fun game of Hot Potato and a great ice breaker.  We had a time of worship, and Anysia and Kendra gave their testimonies following it.  They did an amazing job.  I know they touched some hearts!  Sue got up and gave the message about 10 things we can learn from sports and being on team; this had been the subject of the devotions we had been doing with her throughout the latter half of the trip.  Again, everyone played volleyball after, but it eventually turned into a volleyball game and a soccer game going on simultaneously.  For the record, Dawn would like everyone to know that she scored a goal!!!  It was awesome!  We then left for Tom and Sara’s apartment to sleep and call it a night!

Day 14

This morning, we got up to go to church service at CFA (Centro Familiar de Adoracion), an Assemblies of God church in San Lorenzo. When we were driving up to it, we saw how massive it was.  There is a school on the church campus, but it was still big nonetheless!  We sat in the front middle section of the church, were greeted, and then were given these headset things which would translate the service for us.  A pretty cool ministry!  The girls appreciated it!  (But, Heather, don’ worry, Courtney didn’t use it!)  We had arrived kind of early, so a few browsed the book store that the church had.  Service began at 10AM with a very energetic worship time.  Boy, was it a lively service!!  All of the girls loved it despite the language barrier!  There was no denying that the presence of God was in that building!  After worship and prayer, all of the first time visitors were greeted and asked to come to the front of the church to be prayed for.  All of them were then ushered into a side room where they were given information about the church and about salvation.  The girls had gone up and went into the room but then were told they didn’t need to be in there because they were missionaries from America.  We went back into service and sang Happy Birthday to the Pastor; his birthday is June 1st.  He was told that there was a group from Florida, and he asked us to stand up in the service.  He had actually asked the group from Miami to stand up, but we knew it was us.

The pastor preached mainly on Romans 8:15-25* and talked about faith requiring action and not living under the bondages of slavery.  He was very animated and a great speaker!  At the end of the service, he called up a medical mission team from Oral Roberts University that has been there for the past few weeks and prayed for them.  We were surprised to see other Americans there and found out that they are also leaving tomorrow.  Who knows, maybe they’ll be on our flight tomorrow.  Afterwards, we met with the pastor and found out that he had lived in Miami for a bit and learned English there; he also knows of Pastor Dan Betzer.  He said that he was headed up to Springfield in June for a missions conference, so he would be in the States soon.  It was really great to meet him, and we thanked him for an amazing service!

It was now lunch time, so we headed to God’s Pan, the first restaurant we had ever eaten at in Paraguay.  We had definitely come full circle.  Next, we went to Salemma, a grocery store, to buy whatever else we wanted to bring back with us. The main mission of the trip, though, was to buy dulce de leche. :)

We got back to Tom and Sara’s and signed all of the volleyballs that we had brought.  We are giving them to the schools and orphanage that we have visited during our two weeks here.  Next, some packing, cleaning, laundry, and preparing for dinner.  Tonight, we are having a family dinner with Sara’s family to say good-bye.  Tomorrow, our flight leaves at 6:55AM so we will finish packing, cleaning, and doing laundry tonight, and we will be going to bed as soon as possible.  But we have the feeling that bed time is going to come pretty late tonight.  Oh well!  We have all day to sleep on the plane tomorrow!  Everyone is anxious to come home, to see family, and to check their Facebooks!

They come home today, Monday, May 30!!

A post trip dessert is taking place in Cape Coral Tuesday evening, 7 p.m.  The girls will share about their experiences and show some pictures.  If you are interested in joining us, please call Debbie at 239-209-7634, ASAP!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Day 12

[From the team’s blog…]

Today, we went to two different schools, both of which we walked to.  One was a Baptist school and the other a public school.  We did two presentations at the public school, and one at the Baptist school.  At the public school, we taught them the song “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.”  They were a very rowdy group of kids that we got to play with and attempt to control.  Also, at this particular school, Tom´s engineering skills were tested a bit as he tried to set up the volleyball net around a tree, but he succeeded in putting it up.

Tom and Sara's apt.For lunch, Tom and Sara made tacos for all of the administration and staff who have helped us this past week.  It was interesting to have one side of the table using their hands to eat (the Americans) and the other side of the table eating tacos with a fork and knife.  One of the best parts of the meal was the Taco Bell mild sauce packets!  Anysia had never had it before and made the comment, ”I didn’t think the first time I would have Taco Bell sauce would be in Paraguay where they don´t even have Taco Bells.”  One of the group´s lunch rituals has been to eat apples and dulce de leche.  The Paraguayans are disgusted by the thought of this but, nevertheless, we got some of them to try it.  And guess what?  They loved it!  They definitely asked us for more!

After lunch, Sue gave the girls a tour of a neighborhood built upon a trash dump, and  this is where Saturday´s morning presentation will be.  She was preparing us for what we would see…all of the poverty.

We then headed to La Hermosa, the Baptist school.  We all loved the Christian atmosphere there.  It was really nice to watch and listen to the students say the Pledge of Allegiance and sing their National Anthem.  The girls actually got to demonstrate a little 2 on 2 play and found out that the kids really liked to watch them do the volleyball roll.  When each class got the chance to play, it was so fun to chant for each grade and get involved with the kids!

For the third and final presentation of the day, we headed back to the public school.  There, Kendra and Courtney shared their testimonies along with 2 of the kids from Nuevo Horizonte.

view from Tom & Sara's apt.For dinner, we went to Sue´s house and wrapped up the devotionals she had been taking us through.  We also reminisced about how the trip has gone and all that we’ve done.  Shortly after, the girls, Tom, and Sara headed to the movies.  We were supposed to go to a Spanish Christian concert; however, the lead singer was sick, and the band got stuck in Texas due to tornados.  So, we saw Pirates of the Caribbean in 3D.  The movie was in English with Spanish subtitles.  We actually got in our theater just in time for the previews to start, so we got stuck in about the 4th row near the front.  Needless to say, tall, volleyball girls were a bit uncomfortable, but they still enjoyed the movie!  It was a nice break!  We then went to our third ice cream shop of the trip, a restaurant called 4D.  Boy, was it delicious!  Afterwards, it was time to head back for some much needed sleep.  The only problem with the night…the temperature dropped significantly, and we were all freezing.  Other than that, we were ready for our last day of presentations.

** The top photo is Tom and Sara’s apartment.  The bottom photo is one of the view’s from their apartment.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Day 11

[From the team’s blog….]

IMG_0773Today, we visited two schools, doing 5 sessions.  The first school was a very poor school and the second was a 4-story building.  All of the presentations went as they have been with skits, songs, a message, and volleyball, but the most touching one of them was the third one.  It consisted of students from 7th-12th grades.  When the ministry team did the “Everything” by Lifehouse skit, the majority of the students were glued in.  There was at least one girl crying for sure and a few others on the verge of tears.  When the Pastor was talking to them afterwards, he had their undivided attention!  It was amazing to feel such a strong presence of God here!  God definitely had His hand in our presentations!

After the presentations, we headed straight to the orphanage. The kids were so excited to see us. They did not expect to see us tonight. As soon as one kid saw us, they all came running. The girls began playing games with them, such as tic tac toe and hangman, and sang a few songs, too. Then around 6 pm, the delivery truck showed up with the mattresses.  The kids and the orphanage parents had no idea that we were delivering these gifts!  They all were completely stunned and all clapped when they saw what was in the truck!  We quickly took pictures and then placed all the beds and pillows in each room.  When we were taking out the old mattresses, it was so exciting to watch them being replaced!  They were quite disgusting and one of the boys didn’t even have an actual pillow…he had a blanket stuffed into a pillow case.  All of them were so grateful!!!  It was awesome to see their smiles!  Afterwards, we got to hang out with the kids and make them an American breakfast for dinner–pancakes, eggs, and bacon.  Boy did they love it, especially the bacon!  For the next couple of hours, we loved on the kids and enjoyed being with all of them for the last time until next year.  They wanted us to sign their walls, notebooks, etc. along with taking a bunch of pictures with us.  It was a sad time of saying goodbye, and it will for sure hit us when we get back to the States!  Nevertheless, the opportunity to be with these children while on this trip has touched every single one of our hearts and the memories with them will never be forgotten!

3 more days – keep up the prayers for Dawn and the team!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Day 8, 9 & 10–This is why we are so tired!

Paraguay Indian women playing volleyballDid you know that volleyball was invented in 1895?  In 1900 the first official volleyball was produced.  And in 1912 it made its way to Paraguay.  That means Paraguayan volleyball is 99 years old!  It is played year round.  Paraguay has national men and women’s team that actively participate in international competitions!  It is the nation’s 2nd most popular sport after soccer.  So interest is very high in what Dawn & her team are doing.  [Note: the pictures are of various volleyball venues in Paraguay…indigenous Indians in a rural village, a game at a school and in a city park – they are NOT pictures of the team’s experience.  Unfortunately due to the slow internet connection those pictures probably will not be posted until they return.]  They’ve had a very heavy schedule.  Here is the updates, in their entirety from the team’s blog for Day 8, 9 and 10:

Day 8

It rained all day today, which put a damper on our presentations, but it was still a God-ordained day! When it rains here in Paraguay, many students and teachers don´t come to school because the roads are too dangerous and there can be flooding. So, the students who come basically get a free day when it rains.

Since we couldn't play volleyball, the students from Sue´s school did their presentation and skits inside in a crowded room. Also, Nicole, Dawn, and Courtney gave their testimonies to the kids. We had a morning and afternoon presentation, and during the afternoon one, Courtney gave her testimony in Spanish. It was a great day of sharing God! The director there is a Catholic and has a Mormon, a Jehovah´s Witness, other Catholics, and some Protestants on her staff. Some of the teachers did not show up to our first presentation because of the evangelical aspect we were bringing. The director, in a way, reprimanded them in front of the students saying, ¨We all serve one God!¨ She loved having us there and really wants her students to know God and to learn values. She even told Sue that if she had any videos or other materials, she´d like to borrow them. The door is wide open there for evangelism!

At lunch, we had sandwiches, vegetables, fruit, and this amazing rice and chicken stir-fry dish. While eating at Sue´s house, we found out that one of her house helpers has a 14-year old son named Julio who attends the school. She told us that when he was 4, he woke up with a sore throat and a cold, but told his mom that he had to go to school because his friends would pray for him, and he would get better. Julio is the reason why his mom became a Christian. Within the past couple of years, he was diagnosed with Leukemia. With much faith, he said that he would not lose his hair, he would not vomit, and he would not get sick at all. And all of that has come true while he has been undergoing Chemotherapy. What a testimony! To us, he seemed completely healthy and normal! He hasn’t even missed a day of school due to sickness! Oh, and he feels called to be a pastor! With faith like his, God is going to use him powerfully!

Today was also Sara´s mom´s birthday. So, we went over to Tom and Sara´s apartment to prepare a whole bunch of food, and, in the process, cleaned what seemed to be a never ending load of dishes! We had barbequed meat, prepared Tom´s ¨almost famous¨ baked beans, coleslaw, potato salad, mandioca, brownies, and ice cream! And we can´t forget the most important thing we had…Sonny´s sweet BBQ sauce. An American dish for sure! Sara´s family loves it when Tom is down to cook for them! In the down time we had in between cooking, we made banana bread. It is one of the best recipes we’ve ever had! (Naturally, while making brownies and banana bread, we, college students, most definitely ate some batter!) We also played another intriguing game of ¨Who am I¨(that 20 questions type game mentioned earlier). Another hilarious game for sure!

We went back to the school in shifts for the night. Nicole and Anysia had gotten back first, and then, Courtney, Dawn, and Kendra. The last three didn’t get back until around midnight, and unfortunately for them, the guard was no where to be found. So they made noise to get Nicole and Anysia´s attention. They came down in t-shirts and spandex, had towels wrapped on their heads from showering, and their toothbrushes and toothpaste in their mouths. It was quite a funny site! Those two girls took what the other ones had been carrying with them, and the three hopped the fence. Don´t worry, parents, no one was hurt in the process; it was only a hilarious circumstance! We finally went to bed around 1 AM giving us an ample amount of sleep… NOT. We had to get up at 5:45AM the next morning! Oh well, God will give us energy!

Day 9

Today, we had four presentations, two in the morning and two in the afternoon. Like many of the other schools we have visited, we played in an outside courtyard area. It was a beautiful day outside, and the skits and presentations went rather well. However, the first two groups that we had were a little rambunctious (or however you spell it!) and had trouble paying attention, but all was well! Courtney gave her testimony in Spanish again (without a notebook for reference) three of the four times. One of the times, the kids were out of control and too anxious to play. Kendra and Courtney additionally jumped into one of the dances that Sue´s school has been doing at the presentations! It is to theParaguayans playing volleyball song “Momentum” by the group Rojo. It was so fun to watch the girls getting involved! The girls have also remarked that it has been awesome to watch another human video that the students do over and over again; it is to the song “Everything” by Lifehouse.

Click Here To Watch an Example of  The “Everything” Skit on YouTube.

Between each session, the kids had recess and time for the canteen. During this time, we got a little break and got to hang out more with the students from Sue´s school. Our girls also received gifts of fruit cups and candy from some of the girls at the school we were visiting. It was so sweet, and all 5 of the girls loved it!! Another thing about the school we visited was that the students were so loving! They were hugging all of us and holding our hands. The kids loved being loved and getting some attention! Oh, and every student kept asking the girls if they preferred Olympia or Cerro, two of the soccer clubs in Paraguay. Here, in Paraguay, students of all ages are very devout to a soccer club and are very competitive over it!

When we woke up this morning, Anysia was not feeling well at all and rested during the afternoon. At dinner, the house helpers at Sue´s house prayed with the team for her! They are members of the intercessory prayer team at the church, and it was so great to hear them pray with such passion! By faith, we all believe that Anysia will feel better! She even said after the prayer that she already felt better!

While the presentations were going on, Tom and Sara left to run some errands, one of which was to pick up the mattresses for the orphanage. Let me tell you, God definitely had His hand in it. When they got there, they explained why they were buying so many mattresses, and then 2 two things happened; 1) The store lowered the price, and 2) The store donated a bed! Because of the lower cost, Tom and Sara were able to buy pillows for the kids! How wonderful! Tom and the whole team were so excited and are still excited! We have not raised all of the funds for the mattresses, yet, so if you would like to donate, please let us know! You would be such a blessing to these kids in need!

The girls ended the night going to the church that they are living directly above. It was great! They had worship time, and the girls were so grateful that there was a projector that showed the words, even if it was in Spanish! Sue introduced the girls to the church, and during a time of sharing praise reports and testimonies, Dawn spoke from a passage in 2 Corinthians about facing trials. The person who spoke in the service was a lady who is a music and fine arts teacher at Sue´s school. The message really spoke to every girl. She focused on Deuteronomy 7:26* saying that we need to break everything that is abominable in the sight of God and that hinders us from completely surrendering to Him. God will bless our sacrifice! Sue translated quietly the whole time for the girls! What skill! She was definitely a blessing! Also, the pastor and his wife are so amazingly sweet. They are from New York and have been all over the world serving as missionaries! Afterwards, the girls discussed with each other the things that they no longer want in their lives and agreed to hold each other accountable! The group is most definitely becoming a close team!

*Deuteronomy 7:26 "Do not bring a detestable thing into your house or you, like it, will be set apart for destruction. Regard it as vile and utterly detest it, for it is set apart for destruction."

Day 10

Paraguayans playing volleyball 2Today, we got to spend all day at Sue´s school day, Nuevo Horizante. In total we did 6 presentations, three in the morning and three in the afternoon. The first groups of each session were Pre-K 4 through 2nd grade, the second was 3rd-6th, and the third ones were 7-10th. It was so fun to stay on location! We were able to hang out more with the group of students who have been doing the presentations with us! All the students have been encouraged to practice their English with us as we practice our Spanish with them! So, it´s been fun learning new words! They taught us a new word “Purete” which means something like “Cool.” It is so awesome getting to know these kids and playing some volleyball with them! As a thank you to them, we brought stuff to make S´mores and built a fire during one of our breaks! They loved it and exclaimed “Purete!”

During the presentations, all of the girls joined with the dance and Courtney gave her testimony. During the sessions with the older kids, the students had a worship time! It was so amazing! We found out that rocking out is universal!!! We were jumping all around and, because we stepped out of our boxes, the students stepped out of theirs and joined in the jumping and in the fun of praising God!

Another break that we had was filled with Sue giving us a tour of the school. The school started with Pre-K 4 and Kindergarten and those students now from those classes are now serving on the ministry team with us. The school started with 52 people and now it has expanded to over 600 students in the past 10 years. They have an early childhood center, a three-story school building, and are in the process of building a church and a multi-purpose building. They have been growing so much that there is not enough room for all the students who want to attend. Last year, they turned away 400 students. God is doing amazing things here and has definitely blessed all of the hard work that Sue and others have put into the school!

We had dinner and then headed to Sugar for ice cream. It was delicious! Most of us paired up and shared banana splits which were HUGE! We got to chose our own three flavors of it, too, which was a very hard decision- there were so many to choose from. This restaurant was definitely one of the nicest ones we’ve been to! After a little “Sugar” rush, we headed back to the school to get some needed sleep.

Pray for their strength during their last 4 days there!!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Day 6 and 7

Day 6

[Excerpts from the team blog…]

We left the market and headed to a very small Methodist church, but got there an hour late due to traffic. We were greeted openly by the pastor and his family and went to a local park to do a presentation. We walked through the neighborhoods inviting kids to come. We went back to the park to begin playing with the kids in groups, teaching them to pass and what not. We stopped and sang some songs and Tamara, a 22 year old who works with Sue, gave the message. (One of the songs that we did has become one of our favorites. We learned it earlier this week and it’s called “Adentro, Afuera, Arriba, Abajo” and it has actions. Our group can’t wait to demonstrate it to family and friends when we get back!) In the middle of the whole presentation, Courtney spoke about Romans 12:4-6* which related to team work and how each person is unique and has a specific purpose in the body of Christ.

As the sun began to set and darkness began to fall, we headed back to the church of maybe 10 members and attended service. Sue gave the message, Nicole spoke on Ephesians 2**, and Courtney gave her testimony. At the end of her message, Sue presented Pastor Herman with a laptop computer. He was so grateful and even joked that they have a table, but no computer. Sue’s school had even put Christian computer programs on it to be used as tools to help him. He was very close to tears!

We then left for an Assemblies of God church in the area and met with the youth group. Anysia stepped up and gave her testimony. Boy, was it amazing!!!! She definitely rocked it! We then repeated the presentation from earlier in the day except this time, Tom spoke a little bit. He talked about how a rope is made up of smaller strings and how the rope is only as Exspresso!strong as its weakest strand. He related it to a team and did a fabulous job! It was perfect timing that we had come to this youth group because they were starting a new program and needed to come together as a team. We then played outside in the dark, on a hill, for a little while and had some fun. All night, it was Team Paraguay versus Team USA. Funny thing was, everyone was mixed, so both teams had people from both countries.

Read the rest of the story HERE.  Things you don’t want to miss – an 8 1/2 hour bus ride with an inexperienced bus driver, eating chipas. empanadas, pizza and avocados the size of melons, dangerous bunk beds, meeting the Kurrle family (a missionary in that area with Missionary Ventures International) a bat and a cat with half of a tail.  

Day 7

We actually got to sleep in today until about 9AM. We never thought that we’d be so excited to sleep in! However, Kendra and Courtney got up a tad earlier to shower and had some complications with the shower. Neither of them could get it to switch from the faucet to the shower head. So when each of them showered, they had to squat down and creatively shower. After getting ready, we went to Julie’s house, which was right down the road, for breakfast. It was amazing! There was apple pancakes, regular pancakes, bread, guava jam, lemon jam, pear jam, strawberry jam, milk, coffee, orange juice, and tea. She really hooked us up! It was also so nice to hear worship music playing in the house that was in English! We, the girls, were thrilled!

Today, it was so nice to get to know Julie and Timmy better! Timmy is so adorable and such a talker! He knows Spanish, English, and is learning German. Currently, they do children’s ministry, help with the youth, and are in the process of building a peanut business. It’s a microenterprise which allows for youth to have jobs and support their families instead of them having to leave the country and find work. Their name is ManĂ­ GuaranĂ­. The Kurrle family has a peanut farm on their land because Paraguay soil is very fertile for growing peanuts. Julie told us that the peanut is native to Paraguay and was spread due to the colonizers from Spain. We bought some of their candied nuts which are delicious! They also are trying to get their peanut butter and peanuts into the local grocery store because they sell like hotcakes. Peanut butter is not sold in Paraguay anywhere.

Jesuit ruinsWe left the Kurrle’s house and went to the Jesuit ruins to do some sightseeing. They were pretty cool to see and walk through. The history is incredible! After seeing two different sites, we left for Lambare. On the way back, the ride began again with a bunch of napping! Typical college students! We made a couple of pit stops, one of which was for dinner at Villa Florida, a restaurant on the river. All of us got a Milanesa of some sort and papas fritas, a mix between a chip and a French fry. Here, the ketchup was kind of weird- it was watery and tasted funny. It made us miss Heinz ketchup for sure!

Finally, when we were back on the road we, the girls, were wired and awake. We played the memory alphabet game (I’m going to Paraguay and I’m bringing…) and telephone. Tom gave us some brain teasers, we had some girl talk, and then we had some pretty deep conversations concerning spiritual topics. We talked about suicide, angels, and demon possession. Some heavy stuff! Sue told us some stories of people that have been set free from demon possession in Paraguay, and it gave us goose bumps! We then started discussing about times the Holy Spirit has warned us in times of danger. We all felt a great spiritual connection to one another as we talked about the Bible and different topics. It was a great bus ride to say the least…despite our interesting bus driver!

Update from Dawn’s mom, Debbie

We were able to talk to Dawn on the phone Monday night for a short time.  She sounded good and was very excited about all the opportunities they have had to share the Gospel.  It’s been much more than just volleyball!!  She had wanted the trip to give her chances to really touch lives “up close and personal” and she has definitely had the chance to do that every day.  She’s also seen quite a number of different type of ministries – Christian schools, orphanages, a peanut farm, microbusinesses, and more.

Financial Update

Dawn sends her deep appreciation to all of those who have given financially to make this trip possible for her.  It has been such an encouragement to her and a real confirmation that the hand of God was in her going to Paraguay.  She still has about $300 to go to meet her goal.  She was given grace and told that after paying a portion up front with the funds we had in hand, she could pay the balance when she got back.  Will you be a part of Dawn’s support team and help her finish up this amount?  Send your gifts to RMI, 5475 Lee St. Suite 301, Lehigh Acres, FL  33971.  Include a separate note that it is for Dawn’s Paraguay trip.

The team has another 6 days of ministry left – stay tuned for further developments!!