Tuesday, April 1, 2008

APRIL 2008

Gladys cooking dinner



6:00am I am awaken to someone clapping at our gate (People who get up at 4am to milk cows have a hard time thinking that someone would want to sleep in till 7:00). I quickly don appropriate clothing and head outside yawning. There stood our neighbor from up the hill smiling and chattering a mile a minute in a foreign language (am I suppose to speak Guarani this early in the morning?) She eagerly hands me bag over the fence and I ASSUME it contains mandioca because I could make out a brown outline. I do a courtesy glance at the contents (I can barely see because I don’t have my contacts in) and am surprised to see a……..it took me awhile to register…….a chicken. Was it dead or alive? I opened the bag again. I couldn’t tell. It was dead I was sure….but then it moved…..or did it? The lady noticed my confusion and a remark. The only word I could make out was “kill”. I looked in the bag one last time. The eyes are closed and the neck cocked in an odd position and it wasn’t moving. I ASSUMED it was dead.

I came inside and threw the sack on the kitchen table and went back to bed (I’ll let our house help deal with that when she arrives, I thought). An hour later I wake up to Joshua asking why there is a chicken on the table. I tell him that our neighbor had given us dinner and not to touch the dead animal. I decide to move the chicken before a kid pulls it down and to my horrification the “dead” chicken jumped up and began squawking! Luckily my scream did not wake up the entire house.


I have become a Kinko’s lately. Last week about 12 students needed passport type photos taken and printed. It is easy for me to do and it saves them time and money not having to travel to Caazapa (45 minutes away) to get it done. One girl came at 10:00 and needed a photo before school time (1:00). I told her that I was schooling my kids and was leaving to visit someone at 11:00 and I would try to have it done at 1:00 but I made no promises. She left but then came back at 11:00 to ask for her photo. I was out and Jeff let her know to try back at 1:00. She came back at 12:00. Jeff was a little put out and told her to come back at 1:00. He said, “This isn’t my wife’s job, you know, to take pictures of people.” She walked away surprised.

A teenager came to the house and I ASSUMED he also needed a photo taken. It took a while to understand what he was really asking. He had a report written on lined paper broken up by various headings. He wanted me to type the 10 headings on a separate paper and later he would handwrite the rest of the contents. I verified over and over……just the headings, not the entire paper…..just the headings, not the entire paper. I agreed. It didn’t take long and by the next day he picked up his work pleased. I charged him 5 mil for ink.

Thursday a girl comes to the gate with a folder in hand. I ASSUME the word had gotten out about my computer work and she too wants help. She has a report written on lined paper broken up by various headings. Now here’s where the conversation got tricky. I ASSUMED she just wanted the headers typed. And I am sure I even asked her if I just needed to do the headers. I agree and tell her to come back Friday. I also upped the price to 10 mil because I do not want to make a habit of this.

Friday I show her the finished project (headers only) and she asks why I just did the headers. She wanted me to do her whole paper! I don’t know what to say. I feel sorry for her and stupid at myself. In the end, being the passive person that I am, I agree to type the rest of the paper but I tell her that I am busy today and can get to it tomorrow, Saturday. Well, wouldn’t you believe it but the paper is due tomorrow, Saturday. Thankfully God gave me a few quiet moments and I was able to lock myself in our bedroom and type the paper. I even delivered it to her house.


Today started like any normal day (although I am beginning to question what normal looks like) as I cooked breakfast for my family plus one (Romy, an MK Ginny’s age, is staying with us for three days). Jeff rushed off to work, the younger kids began playing outside, and I sat down to home school Ryan. I didn’t have grand plans for the day but the everyday plans of keeping my family fed, clean, and occupied is a full time job (no mom would contest that). I had high hopes getting Ryan started with home school and then teaching Romy, Ginny and Joshua. Of course, I would be doing all this while tending Micah, cooking lunch, and cleaning the house. I got ½ through Ryan’s spelling words when the phone rang. My time is not my own……

It was Jean, “Barciliza miscarried and is upset, would you go with me to minister to her?” Yes. Nilsa, my house help watched the kids. As Jean and I set off we pondered what to say and what to do in a situation like this. Barciliza is 16 years old. She and her 13 siblings were abandoned by their parent’s years ago. She now lives with her 14 year old sister. Two other sisters live close by. She was three months pregnant when she began to bleed. As we arrived, we were immediately shown the baby. There in a cup was a perfectly formed baby 2 inches long. Barciliza was lying on the bed, tears in her eyes. Her neighbors were gathered around trying to decide what to do.

A neighbor, Sulma mentioned that when she lost a baby in the womb she didn’t know what to do so she just buried it in the ground. She said she had nightmares after that the baby was calling out that it was hungry and cold. Jean and I thought it might help to have a service to burry the little baby and bring closure to the situation. Barciliza liked the idea and we agreed to meet at 2:00.

I got home at 11:30 and saw Valeria waiting on my front porch. Valeria just graduated high school; she is smart and easy to talk with. I have enjoyed getting to know her over the last year and it was sweet that she came to visit but in the back of my mind I kept thinking that I needed to be getting lunch ready. My time is not my own…..

12:15 I start on lunch and rush the kids to dress for Paraguayan school.

1:05 we arrive at school. The teacher kindly reminds me that school begins at 12:40 now. How can we be so late all the time when we live so close!

1:30 I arrive home after visiting with teachers and going to the store for school supplies.

Between 1:30 and 2:00 I spent time praying for Barciliza. She is so young to be having sex and so young to be getting pregnant. Is it better that the baby didn’t make it instead of being born into this endless cycle of poverty and teen aged mothers? How can we expect Barciliza’s life to turn out any different when there is no example of purity among her sisters and neighbors? Many suspected Barciliza used herbs to abort the baby, but no one wanted to ask. If this is true, Barciliza may also be feeling guilt or remorse or relief. How do I feel offering my sympathy when she deliberately killed her baby? What I should be doing is challenging her to live her life not for men but for God (How do you say that in Guarani?).

2:00 I head back to Barciliza’s house for the burial. Tony dug a little grave, read Psalm 139, and then we all sang. Barciliza decided to name the baby Alcide after the father. Her boyfriend knew that she was pregnant but didn’t know about the miscarriage. She said she would have to tell him on Sunday because he only comes around once a week to visit. Jean asked, “He doesn’t live in San Francisco?” With a surprised tone, Barciliza answered, “Yes. He lives just over there,” as she pointed to visible houses. After the service Jean and I stayed to visit with the ladies and I was glad to get to know them better. The conversation turned to light and fun and even Barciliza was smiling again. Driving home I begin to plan the next hour….clean up lunch, start dinner, prepare for 6:00 bible study, talk to kids about their day at school….

5:00 I arrive home and see Austeria waiting for me on my porch. My time is not my own…..I haven’t talked with her in a while so I am glad that she has come. Ginny and her grand-daughter played while Austeria and I chat about our gardens, her children, and the weather.

5:45 she leaves just in time for Jeff and I to get in the car, drive the kids to the Floyd’s house, spend 10 minutes in prayer, and get to our neighbors house for bible study.

7:30 the study ended and we drive to the Floyd’s to pick up the kids. We spend some time with our team mates recapping the day’s events and rejoicing in what God is doing in San Francisco.

8:30 we arrive home. The kids are hungry (there was no time for dinner) and tired. We rush to feed and dress them for bed.

9:15 kids are in bed and I finally have time to myself. I think I fell asleep after reading the first paragraph of my book. My time is not mine own and I don’t want it to be. I want my time to be Gods and my agenda to be His.

Barcilia with cousin Diosnel


I never knew there were so many questions to ask about a culture before beginning a bible study. One thing that our SIM team has been researching and trying to answer is: How can we BEST minister to rural, illiterate Paraguayans and make it reproducible in order for the Paraguayan to teach someone else. In light of this, Jeff has written a 6 weeks bible study highlighting the different covenants of the bible (Noah, Abraham, David, Jesus and us). The believers that can read have recorded the study onto CD. The idea is that even those who cannot read will be able to lead a study. The study is full of repeating themes and scripture memory. Jeff made a picture time line to be hung up representing the different covenants.

Each of the believers is encouraged to start their own bible study using these materials. For some it is intimidating and they have been slow to start. For some it is exciting and they have already heard the participants ask, “How can we be saved?” Praise God! Jeff and I decided that we would also invite our neighbors for a study.

We talked with Karaî Cansio and Nã Nenita before Easter and asked them to consider having a study at their home. All last week I was suppose to go over and get their response. All last week I found excuses not to go. It rained. My maid didn’t come. No one could watch the kids. Ryan needed home school help. I haven’t spent time with the family. On and on my excuses went for not visiting this couple. I don’t really know why I was so afraid to visit. I do know that it is easier to stay within my comfort zone and not venture out (my comfort zone is my home and speaking English).

On Saturday I told Jeff that I was going to go for terere time (about 10:00am). I finally mustered my courage to visit at 11:45. We talked about children, the fruit trees in season, and then I turned the conversation to spiritual things. When I talked about studying the bible she seems to have many excuses: people here are very Catholic and set in their ways, she doesn’t like to be out when it is dark, sometimes she goes to a friend’s house so she cannot commit to a weekly study. But I noticed when I said talk about the Bible she responded that she doesn’t understand the bible completely and she would like to talk about Biblical things. Her husband came in the room and we set a date – every Tuesday night at 6:00 at their home.

After my encouraging time with Nã Nenita I was kicking myself for not going over there sooner. God blessed the result despite of my timidity! I praise Him that He is a God of grace and second chances.

Jeff leading an outdoor bible study


When you cross someone in the street or when someone walks by the house they tell, “Adios!” Because “s” isn’t pronounced the word becomes “Adio”. And to shorten it even more, most people just say, “O”. I don’t know if I will get use to saying “good-bye” when greeting.


Paulina was 14 years old when she gave birth for the first time (she was 13 when she conceived!). She delivered at house in San Francisco with the help of a lay mid-wife. What a surprise when she delivered not one but two healthy baby girls. Now she is 19 years old and has four children. She is still with the man who got her pregnant (not married, of course). He is at least 10 years older than she. How can one respect him at all when he got a 13 year old pregnant?

Repeating Prayers

Because the Catholic way of praying is engrained in their heads, often when we pray for someone they will try to repeat what we say. They feel that they cannot pray on their own, only prayers that they have memorized (usually the Lord’s Prayer).

Praying Man

A lady found Jeff over at the Floyd’s house and asked if he was the praying man. She said that her brother was in the hospital in Asuncion and someone had told her that the doctor in San Francisco prayed. So she came. Jeff explained that it is not him but who he prays too. He told her that she too can offer prayers to the Lord.

Motorcycle Accidents

In the short time we have been here, Jeff has seen many people who have been injured in motorcycle accidents. It is no wonder when 10 year olds are allowed to drive around town, when teen-agers speed around corners, and when families of 5 or 6 ride together (all without helmets, of course).

Saturday we had a crowd form outside our house. A 16 year old was lying in the back of a truck writhing in pain. Jeff assessed him as having broken ribs and a broken arm. He was riding a motorcycle too fast around a curve and couldn’t stop in time when he saw a crowd of people standing in front of an almacen. He hit them.

One lady that was hit needed stitches above her eye. Her arm was bruised and bleeding and her writs badly hurt. Her baby was knocked to the ground in the commotion and we were sure if he was injured or not. Another lady had a huge black and swollen eye, plus some blood forming on her sclera. Her 5 year old was thrown out of the way and was a little bruised and limping a bit. Jeff sent them all to Caazapa for x-rays and other tests.

Earlier just that week Jeff stitched a man’s face that had started his motorcycle and pulled onto the street just as a semi was coming. Luckily neither was going very fast and the motorcyclist just collided with the truck’s side.

Baby Blues

You should have heard the gasps from the 4 Paraguayan women I was sitting with when I turned Micah upside down to kiss his tummy. I forgot that to Paraguayans turning a kids upside down is a horrible thing to do and will make there inside twist around and they will be sick.

You know that stage in toddlerhood when the kid plants his feet and touches his head to the ground to look through his legs? Paraguayans say that it means he wants a sibling.

Jeff and Micah

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