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 the 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!
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!