Sunday, August 2, 2015

Week Eleven in Paraguay

One week from today we'll begin our journey back home. We are so thankful for our time here, yet also excited to get back to work at home. This week will be filled with lots of packing, finalizing/transitioning our work here, and goodbyes.

This week I met with one of my English students, and we finished up our eighth (of ten) lessons from the book of John. Each week i meet with this student I feel as though she's opening up more about discussing the Bible during our lessons, so I'm hopeful that after we leave she'll be interested in continuing on with Bible study once she completes all the English lessons. Unfortunately, I did not get to meet with my two students with whom I was supposed to begin Bible study using Searching for Truth. Hopefully they'll be able to meet this coming week. Trent was able to meet with his English student and they continue to progress through the English lessons from the book of John.

Monday night we met with one of the families here, and let the kids play at the park and then got pizza together. The kids always love getting to play with their little boy, and I know they are going to miss him!

Trent continued teaching in the Bible Academy this week. He finished up his class on Christian Evidences, and continued teaching Deuteronomy. He'll finish up Deuteronomy on Tuesday of this coming week. 

At the end of the week, we had the unique opportunity to visit Iguazu Falls in Argentina with Troy and Andrea. It was an amazing experience, and words and pictures cannot even describe the awesome nature of the falls. In 2011 Iguazu Falls was named one of the seven wonders of the natural world, and it wasn't hard to see why. I'm thankful that we had an opportunity to take our family there while we were so close (about a six hour bus ride away). While we were there we also had the opportunity to see many beautiful butterflies, monkeys (which I had never seen "in the wild"), and pesky, yet intriguing, raccoon-like creatures called coati. The kids really enjoyed the trip, and also greatly enjoyed their time with Troy and Andrea.
Riding the ferry across from Paraguay to Argentina (you could also see Brazil from the ferry).
Playing soccer at the place we stayed in Argentina. You can always find a soccer ball wherever you are!

Riding the train at Iguazu Falls.


Coati stealing food

Riding the ferry back to Paraguay.

Troy telling the kids a story about a boy with a dream. :)

After services today we were invited over to the secretary's home for lunch. We thoroughly enjoyed the fellowship and the food. The kids also enjoyed getting to play with her son whom they've recently been getting to play with quite a lot (because the kids here had winter break the last couple of weeks). 
Bible class

Troy helping hand out announcement sheets.

 Playing at lunch.

Knocking down lemons at lunch.

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Week Ten In Paraguay

We are down to our last few weeks in Paraguay. In many ways it is still hard to comprehend that we've been living and working in South America for ten weeks, but I'm thankful that we've had this great opportunity to work with the brethren here in Paraguay.

This week I was able to meet with two of my English studies, and we finished the last English lesson from the book of John. When we finished the lesson, I asked them if they'd be interested in continuing on with the focus being Bible study, rather than English (though we always discuss the Bible in our lessons), and they both said yes! We'll begin using the Searching for Truth material this week for our studies. Trent was also able to meet with his study, and although he only has one student now, I think his one student requires more effort and mental focus than all of my students combined. His lessons with her are so much more difficult because her English isn't as good as the students that I have. I'm thankful that he's able to work with her, even after he's had a long day of teaching in the Bible Academy, taking Spanish lessons, and then watching the kids while I teach my students before he ever begins teaching her. This week we also began discussing our students and the process of handing them off once we leave. Andrea will take over our studies when we head home, and I'm so thankful that she is here to continue on with our students.

Trent teaching English (please ignore the ugly reflections . .  . taken through two sets of windows!)

Teaching English (I promise I'm not mad . .  just got caught looking up at the wrong time!)

Ella teaching English :)

Trent continued teaching Christian Evidences and Numbers in the Bible Academy this week. He finished up Numbers, and will begin teaching Deuteronomy next week which means he's going to get lots of practice saying "Deuteronomio"  - a particularly hard word to say in Spanish. He also continued with his Spanish lessons, trying to get in as many lessons as he can before we leave. Trent was also able to have another Bible study with the young man that he studied with last week.

Trent giving a chapel talk to the students.

 Trent passing out his Numbers test.

This past week two men (a deacon and the preacher) from a congregation of the Lord's people in Florida were visiting the congregation here in Paraguay. This congregation has been a large supporter of the work here in Paraguay, and while they were here they discussed in-depth with the men of the congregation in Paraguay about their relationship with the work, and how they want to continue to support the work in Paraguay, particularly in the area of church planting. Currently there are only three known congregations in the entire country of Paraguay. Their trip was very enlightening to see how congregations of the Lord's people can work together and maintain autonomy. Their trip also allowed us additional opportunities to hear a lesson in English translated to Spanish which we have found to be very helpful with learning Spanish.

On Saturday we all went to the birthday party of a little boy in the congregation. The kids had a great time playing with all their friends! We also enjoyed getting to visit with many people whom we've gotten to know during our time here.

And, here's a few random photos from Sunday!

 Ella just lost a screw in her glasses . . . so she's missing one side of her glasses in the photo (thus the funny face). Thankfully we brought some duck tape, and will make it through till we get back and get them fixed. :)
Trent and Troy matching :)

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Week Nine in Paraguay

We've made it nine weeks! This week was back to our regular schedule as the team from Palm Beach Lakes left early Tuesday morning, and we didn't work with them on Monday. It is strange to me in a way to think about being so long in a foreign country that we have a "regular schedule," but we have, and I'm thankful for our time here.
Kids playing after services with one of their friends.

Trent continued teaching Christian Evidences in the Bible Academy this week, and also began teaching Numbers and Deuteronomy. He is now teaching in the Bible Academy five days a week which is a full load, and challenging because he's teaching it in Spanish. The students also have chapel everyday as part of their time in the Bible Academy, and he's giving a couple of the chapel lessons every week. On top of teaching in the Bible Academy Trent continues to take private Spanish lessons, although he's had to slow down a little on how much he can take. Trent also had a one-on-one Bible study (completely in Spanish!) with a young man that went well, and he is supposed to meet with him to study again this week.

We also continued with our English students this week. I was able to meet with all three of my students, and the studies continue to go well. Trent met with his one, very hard-working student, as well. Unfortunately Trent's other English students have quit coming. I had an interesting discussion with one of my English students about the Pope's visit. She was complaining quite a bit about bickering on Facebook about his visit. I'm not exactly sure what was controversial to her friends about his visit, but it was interesting to hear. Trent also had an interesting discussion with his English student about the Pope's visit. The kids had a great time playing at the church building with the secretary's little boy on Monday afternoon during our English studies (the kids here are on winter break for a couple of weeks).

Sleepy Luke (just woke up from crashing during Wednesday night services after no nap)

On Saturday, Troy took us sight-seeing outside of the city of Asuncion. The primary purpose of our trip was to visit the town of Caacupe which is a religious center of Paraguay. The Basilica of Caacupe is located there, and it houses the Virgin of Caacupe. The Basilica in Caacupe was one of the places the Pope visited when he was here, and while he was here he elevated the status of the Basilica. The Virgin of Caacupe is worshipped in Paraguay similar to the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico. Troy told us that when studying with a Catholic, you have to be very careful and spend a lot of time building before you can ever discuss the Virigin of Caacupe because she is held in such high regard in their religion. In Paraguay, on December 8, many Catholics will make a pilgrimage to the Basilica, and ask for help from the Virigin Caacupe. As we drove up to Caacupe Troy showed us different starting points where people begin their pilgrimage to the Basilica. After we left the Basilica, we walked around the shops in the area where you could buy your own "Virgin Caacupe" as well as assorted other statues of saints, etc. Between the Pope's visit last week, and our trip to Caacupe, we've been learning quite a bit about the Catholic religion. 

The Basilica

 Inside the Basilica
 Inside the Basilica
 Inside the Basilica (I don't know exactly what it is called, but I call it a shrine to the Virgin of Caacupe)
 Inside the Basilica (where you could donate to the Virgin of Caacupe)

On Saturday we also traveled to the lake town of San Bernardino. We stopped at an old hotel (built in 1888), and walked around. Inside there was a courtyard with monkeys that the hotel staff called monotiti. The monkeys were super cute, and just a little bigger than squirrels. The hotel staff brought out some crackers/bread and let the kids feed the monkey. They absolutely LOVED it! After we left the hotel we drove down beside the lake and walked around a bit. Thankfully we are here during "winter" or else we wouldn't have been able to visit the lake. Apparently San Bernardino and the lake are quite the party spot during the summer in Paraguay, and it is a crazy place to be.

Feeding the monkeys

 Walking the trails behind the old hotel

 Relaxing beside the lake

Relaxing beside the lake

On Saturday evening Ella, Luke, and I all attended the monthly Ladies' tea and devotional. Once again the Ladies' Tea reminded me just how far I've come with relationships with the members of the church since the first day we were here when I felt completely shocked as I sat among the group of Ladies. I'm thankful for the relationships we've built, and I'm thankful for the internet which will allow us, in a small way, to keep in contact easily with the Christians here. At the Ladies' Tea I was pleasantly surprised when one of my English students and Trent's English student showed up!

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