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