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 :)

Read more about our time in Paraguay

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!

Read more about our time in Paraguay

Monday, July 13, 2015

Week Eight in Paraguay

This past week was very different from most of our weeks here, but it was a good busy week! Get ready for a longer post than usual! A group from the Palm Beach Lakes church of Christ in Florida has been here doing mission work, so many of our activities revolved around working and fellowshipping with them. It is definitely interesting and enlightening to be on the "other side" of a mission team coming down to work.

On Monday I met with all three of my English students, and the studies continue to go well. Trent also met with his English student, but his student who was really opening up to him has unfortunately dropped off the radar. I'm nearing the end of my lessons with my students, and I'm getting a little anxious to see if they'll be interested in Bible study when we are finished. One of my students (on her own) brought up a discussion about why there are so many different religious groups, and it was good to get to discuss that with her. 

The group from Palm Beach Lakes arrived on Tuesday, and Trent helped them get into their rooms (they are staying in the same "complex" as us). On Tuesday night, a family from the congregation had everyone over to their house for pizza and fellowship. It was a good opportunity to get to meet the team that came. The pizza was a fun experience as well - the group hired a man to grill made-to-order pizzas - they were delicious and made me want to grill pizza when we get back home.

On Wednesday the group from Palm Beach Lakes, along with Trent and Ella, went to the area of Nemby (where one of the other congregations is located), and had a devotional and lunch with some members there. On Wednesday night Trent and I were both pleasantly surprised when we each had one of our English students show up for Wednesday evening services. The same English student also came to service on Sunday, and told someone that we were not only studying English, but were studying the Bible together.

On Thursday, the group from Palm Beach Lakes worked on the physical building of the church in Asuncion. Trent brought Troy to the building with him to help with the work. Troy got to lead "This World is Not My Home" during the morning devotional, and though I didn't get to be there, I know he did a great job and was excited for an opportunity to not only lead a song, but to sing in English. For lunch on Thursday, we rode the bus to a Brazilian steak house, and ate lunch there with the group. It was a fun experience, and very yummy. The price was also very reasonable (much cheaper than the States - though I've never actually been in the States. . . ). 

Saturday Trent went with the group to hand out tracks or folletos in the neighborhood surrounding where we live. After that the whole family went with the group to lunch at the mall, and we got to enjoy some "Senor Taco" - which, while it wasn't Texas Mexican food, certainly hit the spot for some Mexican food . . . if only the salsa had been spicy! :) On Saturday afternoon we all went to a birthday party for one of the little girls in the congregation here whose family we've become friends with and who have really taken care of us while we have been here. The kids had a blast at the birthday party, and enjoyed, among many things, playing soccer. Saturday evening, we enjoyed another asado (BBQ) with the group from Palm Beach Lakes as well as a few members of the congregation . . . and my English study who had come to services on Wednesday night! I was quite surprised (and happy!) to see her there.

At the birthday party

At the birthday party

On Sunday, services were packed with lots of visitors including the group from Palm Beach Lakes, my English study, the family that we had a playdate with about a month ago, and many, many others. After services we had a going away lunch/potluck for the family whose little girl had the birthday party the night before. The family will be moving to the States in less than two weeks, and while we are sad to see them leave before we leave here, maybe we'll cross paths sometime when we are in the States.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday the Pope was in town. Paraguay declared a national holiday on Friday and Saturday for his trip. I found his trip fascinating to help me understand more about the Catholic religion. In some reading I was doing about his trip, I read that Paraguay is the most Catholic country in South America, with approximately 90% of the population being Catholic. Here in Asuncion you do not see a different denominational group on every corner like you do in the States, though we have seen a few particularly Mormon groups. With the Pope's arrival I was expecting for the city to be busy (and I think it was at times), but we were never near where he was so we never saw any of the chaos. We did hear helicopters flying around (apparently news reporters and security), and it was odd to hear them because we hadn't heard any helicopters during our time here. We watched some of his trip on TV, and it is so sad to me to see how he is worshipped. I saw this photo on facebook of the "displays" that different countries prepared for his arrival. I *think* the top one is from Ecuador, and the bottom one is from Paraguay. 

Read more about our time in Paraguay

Friday, July 10, 2015

Happy 22 Months Luke!

Wow, so close to two years old! You seem so big to me. You are getting difficult to pick up (for me) because you are so thick and strong. I'm not sure how much you weigh these days, but I'm not sure there is much difference in your weight and Troy's weight. You two are built so differently!

You are really coordinated for your age, with both your fine motor and gross motor skills. You do amazingly well with your fork and spoon, but also with just about anything where you need to use your hands. I've been meaning to write about it for at least a couple of months now, but you've been jumping (both feet off the ground and landing with both feet) for a couple of months now, and you LOVE to jump. We've also noticed that you do a few things that we call "gymnastic" moves at times. You hold yourself up with your arms in a way that reminds us of gymnastics, and one day you almost vaulted off of daddy (not sure you were intending to do that, but you did!).

Your speech continues to develop as well, and your communication gets better every day. We've been working on encouraging you to use your words more when you get frustrated instead of just crying and fussing about it. At night you love to yell "night night" to each member of the family (sometimes over and over again) from your bed, and wait for a response. If you don't get a response, you get louder with your "night night!"

You are generally getting better at listening and obeying, though you still have a lot to learn. You definitely have a better understanding when we ask you to do something, and it seems like you are doing a better job of following instructions. You can also be quite defiant at times when you want to do what you want to do, but we are also working on that. :)

You've really been enjoying playing games on the ipad, and you've been doing a great job putting puzzles together on the ipad. You've probably been getting to play on the ipad a little more than you would be if we were back in Texas, but with small spaces, and rain I'm glad that you enjoy playing on it.

On Monday and Wednesday afternoons you don't get a nap because we are teaching English using the Bible during that time. On Mondays we usually walk down and eat dinner after our English lessons. You've fallen asleep on the walk several times, and have even stayed asleep during dinner. I'm thankful that you are able to rest even though you aren't in your bed.

You also started giving kisses this month, but just like giving out high fives *you* have to be in the mood to give them out. You are so different from Ella and Troy in that way: they'd give out high fives or kisses to anyone who asked. 

Signs you do: more, finished, thank you, hungry, thirsty, please, sleepy, bath

Body parts you can identify: nose, ears, mouth, eyes, tongue, teeth, hair, face, hands, feet, belly (You can also identify many body parts by their Spanish name)

Animal noises you make: cow, duck, dog (I think you can do more, but I didn't take good note. . . .)

Favorite foods: Yogurt, chicken (especially chicken nuggets/strips), nutrigrain bars, donuts, mac and cheese, and foods you get to eat with a fork

Favorite activities/toys: Books, balls, little figurines (like Mickey Mouse), cars, buckle stuffed lion. You love to "put things in things" as well as throwing. You also love to play chase with the other kids. You also enjoy shutting doors and drawers. You also love to play peek-a-boo! You really love singing as well! One of your favorite things to do is to "wrestle" with your dad and siblings.

Words you say: I cannot keep up with the words you say anymore! You say so many things (in English and Spanish)!

Luke @ 21 months
Troy @ 22 months
Ella @ 22 months