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 Maní Guaraní. 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!!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Day 5

[Excerpt from the team’s blog….]

We did 4 presentations today working with 2 younger groups and 2 older groups.  It also was not totally centered around volleyball which we all enjoyed.  Sue’s school had prepared a song, some drama, and had a pastor speak and offer the prayer of salvation.  It was awesome that we could be used as a tool to get into the school, because without us, that school would not of had a chance to share that Gospel.  Dawn talked in front of the groups and did a fantastic job talking about pride.  She did not intend to talk about this, but the Holy Spirit put it on her heart right before she got up there.  it was a very powerful message.  Also, the students really enjoyed the volleyball aspect of it and getting the opportunity to play.

In between the morning and afternoon session, Sue and Perla took us to Cerro Lambare, a hill with a very popular statue which symbolizes all the curses and satanic forces that were put onto Paraguay by the Masons.  Lambare is the exact center of all South America. Many churches and Christians have gone there and prayed over the area.  It was amazing that none of us felt the dark, spiritual presence while visiting.  It was made so clear to us that the demons had to flee at the name of Jesus.

………….. [from Coach Tom]  Tom’s thoughts….I can see a difference in the girls already.  They are becoming one right before my eyes.  God is moving thru them to the people of Paraguay, but also changing them at the same time.  The more they give, the more they receive.  Continue to keep them in your prayers, they are getting pretty tired.  Sara and I have enjoyed having them and they are doing wonderful!!!

Thank you for your prayers – don’t stop now!!

Read the whole blog HERE

Day 4, the rest of the story

[Excepts from the most recent team blog…]

As we were preparing to go to bed, Anysia and Dawn has a problem with the way there deflating mattress.  It was hilarious to watch.  After the five of us got our  giggles (it was the first time sleeping together in the same room), we were ready to sleep.  Then, fireworks started going off because Cerro, a soccer team here, had won a championship that we saw at the museum and everyone that was a Cerro fan was setting off fireworks.  After the fireworks stopped for a while, then the rooster started crowing,  then more fireworks, rooster, fireworks, rooster…we figured that rooster was imported and didn’t know what time zone he was in.  needless to say, it was a fun night of delirium and laughs.

It seems like the team is not only enjoying ministry, but enjoying each other!  Keep praying for them as their schedule gets more intense – 4-6 volleyball presentations a day.  Pray that they stay healthy and that their enjoyment of each other as a team continues.

Read the rest of the blog HERE.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Day 4

[From today’s team blog…]

Today, we linked forces with Sue Givens, the missionary, and Perla, a 22-year old college student who works with Sue, and headed to Los Chacos. The term ¨chaco¨ is similar to the meaning of forest where there is a lot of land, plants, and animals. Los Chacos takes up 80% of Paraguay´s land, but only 10-15% of the population live there. We crossed the Paraguay River and headed into land that is not as populated as where we have been staying. Mainly, the people who reside here are native indigenous tribes who speak a dialect consisting of a mixture of Guarani, Spanish, and their tribal language. When we arrived there, we immediately saw the living conditions of the Indian village, which were similar to living in shacks and huts. We were told that the menParaguay River 2 will go out 4-5 weeks at a time and hunt. Needless to say, it is a very primitive community. They survive on what´s around them…the chickens live in the houses, the cows wander around, they make money from jewelry they make, and the trees are used to build their huts, etc.

We trekked a little ways to an opening where we set up a homemade net system that Tom made using lumber for poles. The pastor there had to shovel up manure off the court while we set up the net. At the same time, Sue and Perla did a little devotional with the kids. We finally broke the kids into groups and we worked with them on the basics of volleyball. Surprisingly, some of the kids knew what they were doing and as we were walking to the area we would be playing, we actually saw a few nets set up in the village. Eventually, there were about 15-20 people playing on each side. Dawn especially fell in love with this place! She said that this was her element and her favorite part of the trip so far. After playing, we bought some bags, trinkets, and jewelry made from seeds. We then said our good-byes.

(The picture is of the Paraguay River from the internet.  So far the internet is too slow to upload pictures, but they are working on another way to get a few pictures out!)

Day 3

[Excerpts from the team’s blog…]

Our day began with a presentation at Grace School and speOutline of vballnt 3 and a half hours there this morning. We played three versus three and then the girls split up and each took a group of students to teach them the fundamentals of volleyball. At the end of the sessions, the teams played each other for a bit. When given the option to take a break, two of the teams decided to keep playing because they were so excited to have the opportunity! A common thing that has been happening when we play volleyball with the kids here is that they always revert back to their soccer skills. Several times today, we would have to get balls down from a net hanging over the volleyball court because they had kicked them up there. Towards the end of our time there, we were given the chance to work with the school´s volleyball team. They were a group of 11 girls who actually had some basic skills and a love for the game! We became very attached to these girls and they to us. At the end, they asked us if we had Facebooks so they could look us up!

There’s also something about a restaurant with the meat on a sword and ten desserts; some shopping; a museum of Paraguayan heroes; the exchange of pictures and letters at the orphanage and finishing the painting there! Wow! Each day is jam-packed full!

Sounds like the team’s hearts are being touched as much as they are touching hearts!

Read the whole blog here,

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Day 2

[Excerpts from the team’s blog….]

t-shirt croppedWe commuted to Siloh Christian School where we did two presentations, the first one was for fourth-sixth grade and the second was for the seventh-ninth grade of the school. The kids got such a kick of playing volleyball.  We were playing it by ear as to how the presentations were going to go. We ended up playing 2 versus 3 for the first presentation and 2 plus Tom versus 3 for the second one for about ten minutes and then we let the kids serve back and forth. We placed targets on the ground for the kids to serve and hit. The winners were given soda as a prize. It was amazing to see how much the kids here share with each other. We saw the sodas being passed around down a line of kids as each person took a sip. For the older kids, they were given the opportunity to play against the girls… and they loved it! At the end of the first presentation Courtney spoke to the kids about Philippians 4:13 and then Nicole spoke about faith and prayer for the second one. When we told the kids that we were leaving the nets for them, they all applauded and cheered. They have never had a volleyball net before and were sooo excited to be able to play. Last night, the principal was telling us that he had to board up the building with the volleyball court to keep kids out from wanting to play. When we arrived this morning, there was a piece of plywood up against the opening saying that they were prohibited from coming in.

Read the rest of their adventures, including their return to the orphanage HERE.

P.S. The t-shirt is the team’s “uniform”.  2 Passions…1 Purpose, Volleyball with a mission.

Day 1

team picture at the Miami airport

Team Paraguay:

Nicole Horton, Mississippi College (she’s from Colorado), Anysia Weicht, St. Leo University (Ft. Myers), Courtney Creamer, Mississippi College (Ft. Myers), Kendra Altemeyer, Newberry College (Ft. Myers), Dawn Shoemaker, Trinity College of Florida (Ft. Myers) and Coach Tom Baxter (Ft. Myers).

[from Dawn’s mom, Debbie…..]

I received a message from Dawn while they were on layover in Peru then was able to chat with her via instant messenger yesterday.

They had a good but very long trip. Costa Rica was beautiful. She had some severe pain in one ear as the planes took off and landed but that eventually went away several hours later when her ear finally “popped”. They didn’t arrive in Asuncion until 3:30 a.m., an hour late, but got all of their luggage and didn’t have any trouble in customs.

They are staying at Coach Tom and his wife, Sara’s (who is Paraguayan) apartment. After a bit of sleep, they had lunch at Coach Tom’s favorite restaurant. Dawn had beef and it was really yummy. She’s already having a great time. It’s been fun to get to know Sara better and see her in her home country. She likes what little she’s seen of Asunción and noted that there’s poverty, but not to the extent of Haiti’s poverty.

Excerpts from the team’s blog:

The time finally came for us to head to the orphanage. We built a fire, cooked hot dogs, introduced S´mores to the kids, and most importantly, fell in love with the kids there…..At the beginning, it took a while for everyone to warm up to each other, but it did not take long for God´s love to pour out of us! We played games, painted the girls´nails, laughed with each other, and ate together. ….One of the most rewarding and touching things about tonight was to see a husband and a wife with three kids of their own and a fourth on the way take care of 14 other children as if they were there own……..All in all, tonight was AMAZING and we can´t wait for what the rest of the trip has to offer!!!

Read the full blog entry HERE. Click on the title “May 16th- Officially Day 1 of our Trip” to read the entire entry.

The itinerary is HERE. You can keep up to date on the day’s projected activities there.

Pray for the team as they have their first presentation this morning. The team has played together at different times in high school and in club ball, but since they all just finished the school year at their various colleges, they haven’t practiced together as a team. It shouldn’t take long to get their rhythm down though.

Part of the afternoon’s activities will include painting at the orphanage.

Dawn’s burdens for this trip:

*That she play well to give a good showing of volleyball skills

*That she can effectively share her testimony and will be able to share the Gospel in a way that will bring people to Christ

*That she will be a blessing and encouragement to her teammates

Pray for her for these things please! Feel free to send her encouraging notes at: Internet is limited but she will be able to access it from time to time.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

On the plane!

May 15, 2011

Need I say more?!

First stop, San Jose, Costa Rica,

then a long layover in Lima, Peru,

then finally Acunsion, Paraguay ….

at 2:30 tomorrow morning!

My bags are packed and I’m ready to go


I’m packed and ready to go!

1 suitcase, 50.0 lbs., 1 backpack and 1 purse.

Yes, that’s my passport and an “Indiana Jones” style journal that I found at a bookstore this afternoon.  Pretty cool, huh?

One huge praise!!  This afternoon I received word of a large gift that enables me to pay the airline portion of my costs!!  There are still a few costs to cover but I know that God will supply it.  It’s so clear that He wants me on this trip.

Pray for us as we drive to Miami tomorrow, Sunday, at 3:30 a.m.  It is going to be a very, very long day.

Another praise, the last visa was found at a closed Post Office and we were able to find someone working in the back who was willing to open and give it to us.  It was a close call!

God is already at work, making all the details fall into place in just the last 2 days.

Friday, May 13, 2011

What a day!

Wow!  Today was amazing.  I finished packing and cleaning my room.  I can’t believe my sophomore year is over.  It was sad and exciting at the same time.  My parents arrived just before 1 and we went to eat a quick Chinese lunch with several friends.  They surprised me with an “end of the year” present:  my visa for the trip!  Yep – it arrived!!!!

When we got home (after a 3 hour trip-ugh), we unloaded everything then my mom and I went to get our hair cut…and shopping at Wal-Mart for things I need for the trip.

So far I have about half of my support.  Gifts are coming in and it is so encouraging to read some of the notes enclosed. 

I can’t believe I leave in just 1 day!  Here’s some facts:

~It is estimated that we’ll be sharing the Gospel with over 4400 kids through our volleyball exhibition games.  What an amazing opportunity.

~We’ll be partnering with a Methodist missionary, Sue Givens, and some Christian youth from the school that she works in.

~With each volleyball “presentation”, the youth will do a skit, we’ll play volleyball, share our testimonies and the gospel will be presented.

~We’ll be in more than 6 school, working with a church and working at an orphanage.

~It’s fall, going into winter there and it’s in the same time zone as Florida.

~It’s a 24 hour trip (Ft. Myers, Miami, San Jose Costa Rica, Lima Peru then Asunción) to get there.

~Our team of 8 has been whittled down to 5 girls.  We are going to have to work even harder in the games.

~Volleyball is the 2nd favorite sport in Paraguay.  Our presentation will be given to kids of all ages, 1st grade on up to 12th.

~The trip’s leader has posted our itinerary on the trip’s blog HERE.  It’s an intensive schedule!  Pray for strength and no injuries for the team.  Pray for the kids who will hear the gospel and the ministry that’ll be doing the follow up after we are gone.

I can’t wait to experience the Paraguayan culture and try the food.  I love new cultures & different foods!

Thank you to all of you who have given so far!  And thank you for your prayers.  God is already answering prayers (my visa came in time for me to go!!!).  I’m so excited to see what God is going to do in the next 2 weeks.

I’ll do my best to post some pictures and keep you informed via this blog.  Check the team’s blog, too, for updates.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Progress Report

I received my passport!!

Next challenge: Paraguayan visa by Saturday so I can get on the plane with the team on Sunday May 15.  PRAY please!!!!

I received my first donation toward the trip!

What an encouragement.  Wow.  Keep praying, there is a way to go still and it needs to come in quickly.

Finals – almost done! 

By Thursday I’ll officially be a junior.  I can’t believe it, what a relief.

Friday I head home.

I’m packing and will be ready when my mom and dad come to help me move out of the dorm.

Pray for the visa process please!!

I have to have the visa to fly on Sunday.  Pray that the Paraguayan Embassy process it quickly and get it in the mail in time for me to get it by Saturday.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

2 Passions, 1 trip

April 25, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

clip_image003Until last week, I didn’t know where Paraguay was. But then I received a message from my high school volleyball coach, Tom Baxter, asking me if I was available to join the volleyball team outreach that he was taking to Paraguay! This trip will combine 2 of my passions: missions and volleyball.

The trip is 2 weeks long, May 15 to May 30 and will be in the Paraguayan capital, Asuncion. We will be teaming up with a local ministry, New Horizon Methodist School, who are organizing the exhibition games we will be playing and translators to translate as we share our testimonies and present the Gospel. Besides some Christian schools, we’ll be able to use volleyball as a tool to share Christ in several public schools. The team will also work with a local church in the countryside. It’s going to be a busy time – we’ll play several games a day and be involved in many kinds of ministry!


I have never been on a trip like this and I am looking forward to see how God works as well as how a sports evangelism trip is operated. I am also very excited to put my love for volleyball and my love for the Lord and missions together and use them simultaneously.

The trip will cost $1,500 round trip. Because I have come into this a bit late, I’m urgently praying that God will provide the funds quickly. Would you be a part of my support team? Gifts are tax deductible. Checks should be made out to RMI and sent to:


5475 Lee St. Suite 301

Lehigh Acres, FL 33971

(They’ve graciously agreed to receipt funds for me and forward them to the missionary I’ll be working with in Paraguay. Be sure to enclose a note that the gift is for Dawn Shoemaker.)

Would you be a part of my prayer team? Without your prayers, God’s work cannot move forward! I need your prayers!

The trip is only 3 weeks away, I still have papers to finish and finals to take to finish up my sophomore year here at Trinity College. So pray for me as I finish up my classes, pack up my room, work on getting my passport, Paraguayan visa and pack (it’s almost winter there!) for the trip.

Pray that we have a safe trip.

Pray for the salvation of those who we get to talk to.

Pray God opens hardened hearts.

Pray for spiritual growth of the team going down.

Pray that God provides for the trip financially.

Pray for our leaders on the trip.

Pray especially for me for spiritual growth, to grasp the missionary aspect of the trip, to be able to evangelize beyond the language barrier, to be a living witness to those around me.

Excited to serve God!




Questions for me? My cell is 239-848-2478 and my email is  I’ll be posting updates on my blog again,

Questions for my dad? His cell is 239-222-9793 and his email is