[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 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.
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.
We 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.
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!!