Thursday, April 30, 2009

pictures and a video

I have posted pictures here in a file called April 2009. You may need to put in a password: paraguay

You can also watch our video on youtube here

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


April 25, 2009

“Let no one look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, and in purity.” I Timothy 4:12

When I was 7 years old I went on my first international mission trip. My parents had just completed a YWAM Crossroads DTS and the group planned to spend 3 months ministering in 4 Asian countries. Even though I was young, I have vivid memories of that experience. One memory is of painting the figure nails of children living in the dumps of Manila. As my mom (whose nails were always painted) and I walked through the little village, children of all ages pulled at my hair, ran their dirty hands over my white skin and tugged at my dress (I hated wearing anything but dresses or shirts). During that week, I meticulously painted their figure nails – numerous times. When I finished, they wore the biggest smiles of anyone I had ever seen before.

I am so thankful that my parents show me how I could be a servant even at such a young age. I learned on that trip that I had something to offer. I couldn’t give money. I couldn’t build a house or fix a roof. I couldn’t give medicines or dig a well. But I could make these beautiful children smile by giving my time and a little nail polish.

Today I (my finger nails are always painted) walked with my daughter, who is 7 years old, to a poor Paraguayan barrio. In one hand, Ginny (who insists on wearing a dress or a skirt) held a sack full of nail polish. As she sat on the grass, a bunch of girls gathered around to choose their favorite color. Ginny meticulously painted their nails and when she was done, the girls walked away smiling. I hope she is learning that even though she has no money to give or the strength to build a house, she can still be a servant with her time…and a little bit of nail polish.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Sunday, April 19, 2009

“He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor.” I Samuel 2:8

Usually I have girls club on Saturdays.

Usually a bunch of kids flood my house Sunday to play.

This weekend because I changed the girls club to Sunday, I ended up with a full house! 13 girls came (we haven’t have that many since school started) which was very encouraging. And (a record) 13 kids came to play. The kid’s room looked like a day care! But I loved it. I love that we can offer our home to others and not worry about earthly possessions (the things mold and dogs can and do destroy!). Seeing all the Duplos scattered, the car box dumped out, the doll clothes miles away from their place, the stuffed animals hanging from the rafters…I am reminded how blessed we are.

I made pancakes with the girls (we 8 timesed the recipe!). After serving the kids on a blanket outside, the rest of us ate. I shared a story (from the bible) about a King who prepared a feast and invited all the wealthy and important people, but no of them had time to come and rejected his offer. The king then became angry and decided to invite all the poor, homeless, and sick. They all came and were given white robes and enjoyed eating the finest of foods. I encouraged the girls to make a decision now to follow Christ whole-heartedly. Jesus is inviting us to partake in his banquet and yet so many people have no time Him. One day, he will come back, I said, and I sure hope he can give you a white robe!

Making pancakes

Kids eating pancakes

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


April 2009

We have let our garden go because we won’t be here for the next harvest. I feel bad watching all the weeds sprout up after we try so hard during the year to keep them down. Apparently the garden looks great to the cows passing by. One cow in particular comes by around 10:30 every day and rams the front gate trying to open it. When he succeeds he enters and promptly walks to the garden to munch. The kids think it is great!

While Ryan and Joshua were arguing over the last piece of candy, Ryan says, “Joshua, I thought you’d be nicer after you broke your arm!”

While making Jeff’s birthday cake, Ginny exclaimed, “I want to hatch the eggs!”

Micah’s new words are “look”, “ah, man!”, “wait” and “cool” which he says a hundred times a day. He also says quiet often, “I hold you” (can you hold me?) and “lease I help you” (can you help me”. There is no end to what he gets into, eats, breaks, destroys, climbs, and messes with….

Joshua says that he likes having a cast on because now he gets to learn to write with his left hand….always a silver lining!

Tyler speak a form of Spanglish with his Paraguayan friends, “Put it aqui.” “Quiero the pelota.” “Mira at este.” Quiero mas food.” “We’re trying to get alla.”

We had a family celebration for Jeff’s 33rd birthday. He was pressured by five little ones to choose waffles for his birthday breakfast. He opened homemade cards and gifts. For lunch I surprised Jeff with one of his favorite meals - surubi (fish) and shrimp that I had brought in Asuncion last week. Chocolate cake followed.

I have a new baby. This baby doesn’t wear diapers or needs to be fed every 3 hours. My new baby has a flash and clicks. After 6 years of (healthily) obsessing over a Cannon Rebel digital camera, Jeff and I finally bought it. As if my picture taking didn’t border on an obsession before, I now have just raised the bar.

Joshua electrocuted himself plugging in the TV one afternoon. All of a sudden I heard the loudest scream I have ever heard in real life. You know those screams in movies where the video camera pans to the outside of the house, then to the neighborhood and then to a landscape shot of the city to indicate that the scream reached that magnitude…well, it was like that….and it lasted a full minute. I ran into the room and Joshua was limping, holding his non-casted arm and letting out short bursts (still very loud) of screams. After he calmed down he said, “I couldn’t let go of the plug, my whole body was dancing around and it really really hurt!”

Joshua reading to Reader Rabbit

Dyeing Easter eggs

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Happy Birthday Mariella

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35

Today we had the fun privilege to be a blessing. Tuesday Mariella turned 15 years old. The 15th birthday for a female in this country is very important. We had seen some pretty elaborate parties from people who seem to have very little. For the entire year prior, they begin saving up for this event. Mariella’s family is very poor and had no means to do anything out of the ordinary for her special day. Imagine a birthday without balloons, candles, or cake!
Today, with the kids help, we made over 50 cupcakes and frosted them pink. We blew up balloons, made a couple of birthday signs, and mixed juice. We headed to Mariella’s house about 5:00 p.m.

It was fun to see the smiles on everyone’s faces when I told them I was bringing a fiesta for Mariella. It was very simple. Since it was getting dark we stayed just long enough for the kids to go nuts over the balloons, for Mariella to blow out her candle, and for the kids to devour the cupcakes. As I packed my things, Mariella gave me a hug. Her family and the neighbor kids thanked me over and over.

Thinking of all the parties I have given my children – the crazy themes, the abundance of games, the difficult cakes I have tried, the weeks of planning and hours in the kitchen, the goodie bags – I felt a bit sad that we didn’t do more. That’s about the time Ryan looked up at me and said, “Mom, this was one of the best parties I have ever been to.” Yes, my son, it is far better to give than it is to receive.

The birthday crowd

Mariella, the birthday girl

Little Ale loved the balloons

Friday, April 17, 2009

Color for Paraguay

April 14, 2009

Networking is fun! A missionary couple working in Ciudad Del Este (5 hours from us) found our information through a series of internet links. They paint Bible stories on big boards and donate them to schools, prisons, churches, and orphanages all over Paraguay. They wrote and asked if they could come and bless our community.

Jeff wrote in response: “I know teachers at a small satellite school who will be VERY encouraged by this ministry. Several of the teachers are evangelicals and suffer a lot of persecution for their bold stand for Christ, especially from the teachers at the main school in town. They have always felt slighted and left out when money is given to the local school system. They often feel that their students are in a sense punished for their teachers’ beliefs. They will be thrilled to see you! The school has 6 teachers, 127 students, and 5 classrooms.”
Marion wrote in replay: “It is exactly the type of school on our hearts, and we have seen this type of religious persecution many times. God has seen it as well and hasn’t forgotten them. He's going to bless them out of their desks.”

And that is what they did.

As well as hanging an enormous color mural of a Bible story with an associated verse in each classroom, they also handed out pencil bags filled with supplies to each kid. Once the kids realized that they weren’t there to give vaccinations (one 1st grader was in tears over this thought), they were so excited.

It was a blessing to get to know this couple. They have donated over 350 murals! Painting is only one aspect of their ministry. They work with the very poor and meet any kind of need that comes up – counseling, medical, chauffeur (usually to the hospital), meal provider, youth leader, English teacher…and on and on the list goes.

Check out their web-site!

Jamie and Marion bringing the murals to the school

Happy to receive the school supplies

Osfalda's class in front of the new mural

Monday, April 13, 2009


Saturday, April 4, 2009

If there was ever a time to cancel Bible study, tonight was it. Dark clouds were pregnant with rain, the sky was smoky-gray, and winds ripped through town sending the dust whirling. I was surprised when Nilsa showed up at 5:00 p.m. ready to teach.

We went to a part of town where God has really been moving. Over the last year 8 people from this barrio have been baptized, two couples have been married, several have attended marriage classes, and a weekly Bible study has grown to 15 adults and more kids than I can count. We recently had a mobile clinic in this area and as a result, Zulma invited us to start a study in her house. These families are some of the poorest we minister to, yet they are some of the hungriest for God’s word.

As we greeted Zulma, her 8 year old son ran to tell the neighbors of our arrival. Within 15 minutes there was a room full of people. Zulma’s house consists of just two rooms. A small bedroom has just two beds. Clothes are piled in the corners or hung in plastic sacks from nails in the wall. The only evidence that her second room is her kitchen is the pile of ashes in the corner where Zulma cooks over an open fire and a pot laying on the floor. This is where we huddled. Some sat on low milking stools, others crowded onto a plank suspended between two plastic buckets, and others squatted on the cool floor. Wind howled through the missing planks in the wall. Plastic two liter bottles had been stuffed below the wall where the dirt had been eroded. Dogs and chicken wandered in and out. A baby peed on the dirt floor and another child played with a headless doll.

“Can we still have the study if the lights are out?” asked Irmalinda.

“Yes,” replied Nilsa. “We do not need lights for this study because there is no reading involved. It is all done by memory.” One lady in the room had been to 1st and 2nd grade, the others had never attended school.

“By memory?” questioned Paulina.

“We will spend time practicing God’s stories, then you will be able to share those stories with your neighbors, families, or those you work with in the fields.” Nilsa spoke with such confidence.

I was secretly glad that the lights were out and no one could see me eyes well with tears as I watched Nilsa (my house help, one of my closest friends, and someone I have spent a lot of time praying for) lead her first study. This study is a work in progress. Jeff and our rural church planting co-workers have been studying the best methods to reach oral learners. The result is a 6 week evangelistic study which tells 5 stories (Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus), each of which highlights a different salvation theme and an appropriate Bible memory verse each week.

The first week, all participants receive an MP3 player with the account of Adam and Eve. Their homework is to listen to it 3 times before the following study. At study #2, the leader asks questions over the story as a review. Then the leader tells a condensed story of Adam and Eve by memory (they can do this because she has listened to an MP3 player earlier and practiced). Next, the leader breaks the story into three smaller sections. The participants recite the more manageable parts after the leader and then participants practice saying the story alone. The story may be repeated 6 or 7 or 8 times until all have it in their head. At first people are timid to speak, but soon they realize that mistakes are inevitable and learning together is fun, and they open up. After the story, we practice the one sentence theme and the key scripture. The participants go home with their MP3 player and the story of Noah for the following week and the promise to listen to it 3 times before the following study.

The exciting thing is that people have been doing their “homework”. They tell me about listening to God’s word while washing clothes or while out in the field. They tell me that each night their entire family gathers to hear the story again and again. They tell me that husbands are nicer and that neighbors have noticed a difference since they have started listening to God’s Word. God is at work!
What an incredible privilege we have to watch Paraguayans teaching other Paraguayans about the saving grace through Jesus Christ. What a blessing it is to bring the Word of God to those who cannot read the Bible for themselves. Paraguayans are now able to get spiritually fed through a little MP3 player and I guarantee you, this town is going to change!

Studying Noah at the second bible study.

If you would like to read more about how you can help bring God's word to rural houses check out the Guarani recording task force.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Chicken Sniffles

Jeff and I were out visiting and started laughing at a chicken that had a funny thing going on with his feathers. One feather on its neck was sticking out sideways, making a “t” with its head. Our friend said, “He has a cold, so I pushed a feather through the neck skin to cure him.” I was curiosity, “What symptoms did the chicken have?”

“He had a cold,” she said matter-of-factly. I had to ask my question again, “What symptoms did he have?” Now she was laughing at me. Everyone knows that when a chicken is congested and coughs and has a funny nose, he is sick with a cold. Even though Jeff and I asked several times we still couldn’t figure out exactly how a feather would help.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


March 20, 2009

It’s always the same about a month after we’ve returned from Asuncion – a near empty freezer and a sparse looking refrigerator. It has been about that long since my last big grocery shopping and I have lost all desire to be creative with the little food we have left. I was excited when I found canned mixed vegetables at our little corner store today and decided to make chicken pot pie with our last frozen chicken breasts. Between teaching an English class, Jeff seeing patients all afternoon and company, I got a late start preparing dinner. It was about 6:30 when I put the frozen chicken in boiling water to thaw and 7:00 when it was ready to be de-boned. I put it in a 9x13 pan, poured a soup mixture over it, dropped biscuit dough on top, and put it in the oven. At 8:00 my family was starving and we quickly set the table and thanked God for the food. As soon as Jeff cut into the dish a horrible smell consumed us. Jeff took one bit of the chicken and spit it out. It was rotten!

So at 8:30, after giving our dinner to the chickens, we all poured ourselves some cereal.

Sunday, April 5, 2009



Public school is underway again (the school year goes from February to November). It started mid-week but only a fraction of the kids actually show up because the first week is “just for cleaning” (I was told this by both parents and teachers). The second and third week more kids show up but there were several days off because teachers have meetings – district and local. Plus, they took a day off to get their pay check 45 minutes away. Rain has only affected the school day once so far (if it rains or is very muddy school is closed). At the end of the first month, my friend told me, “I think they have more days out of school then in school.” I believe it.

Each year the government promises to provide each student with school supplies and a snack of bread. The supplies are rarely available on the first day of school (or within the first few months). Some are too poor to afford pencils and a notebook and are too embarrassed to send their kids to school without them. This year the government has run out of money and is trying to back out of its promise. This week the teachers went on strike (no school for three days) lobbying on behalf of their students.

There are evening (1st through 8th grade) classes offered to adults who were unable to finish their education. Two big reasons kids don’t finish (or start) school is because they live in a town without a school or they drop out to help around the house or in the field. Adult literacy is very low and people are “stuck” with lack of opportunities. It is really exciting to see adults swallow their pride and make time to go back to school.

Elementary school assembly

Thursday, April 2, 2009

MARCH pictures

Just posted March 2009 pictures here.