Saturday, May 30, 2009


Friday, May 29, 2009

Yesterday, we arrived in San Francisco in the afternoon. We unloaded at our house, prayed as a team, and then took the students to their new homes. I know from my experience Guatemala that staying in a home is a scary thing because you have no idea what to expect and can communicate only through gestures. Jeff and I have prayed so much over the families that we selected. We purposely chose families who were not involved with the church. We pray that these families will see Jesus through these students.

The group

This morning we met at our house at 8:00. Boy, did the students have a lot to share about their first night in rural Paraguay...rooster wake up calls, finding the outhouse with a candle, sleeping with lights on, going to be at 7:30, trying to identify meals….and the list of “news” went on and on. Everyone seems to be happy with their host family and I can already tell that God ordained some great matches.
After our cultural and language sharing, the team met our teammates, Tony and Jean Floyd. They shared their testimony of how God called them to missions and to San Francisco. They also explained a bit about the church planting ministry.

Next we switched gears and the students practiced injections on bananas and oranges. So now they are ready to tackle screaming, wiggling kids on Monday. The students are divided into 2 groups (A and B). Group B came back to our house at 2:00 for clinic. Unfortunately it was raining (and has been since last night) so only one patient showed up. But Jeff took advantage of that time to teach the students to take blood pressure, pulse and respirations and looking in each others’ ears. He also taught them to draw blood for anemia testing (they practiced on each other).

Practicing on oranges

David practicing giving injections

Friday, May 29, 2009


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Monday evening, tired from the day’s travel and the ropes course, we arrived at Andy and Lizet’s house in Escobar. Andy (a missionary from North America) has a Guarani-Jopara language Institute in the hills of Escobar (great view and great hikes) and is our former Guarani teacher. Lizet and Andy have built an incredible house and makes groups (like TIME) feel so welcome. His wife is an amazing hostess and cook and graciously welcomed 13 extra people into her home for 3 nights.

The first full day (Tuesday, May 25th), Andy reminded the group (me included) that language learning is so much more than just an academic exercise. When Christ become flesh and dwelt among us, he spoke the language of the common people. He didn’t spread his message in the language of the politically powerful (Latin) or of the learned (Greek), but he was born to a family who spoke Aramaic. In his day, speaking Aramaic was a sign of poverty and weakness, yet it was the heart language of the people. When we chose to invest time in learning the heart language of the people we are ministering to (in our case, Guarani), we are following the example of the Christ.

So with that, we jumped into our first three hour crash course on Guarani. Probably a bit overwhelming, but Andy made it fun. After lunch, Bob and Carol Givens, our “senior” missionary couple, came to speak on expectations and cross-cultural experiences. Their love for college aged students and passion for Paraguay oozes out of every story and I think the students were blessed by their testimony.
Wednesday we began our class time with singing in Guarani and then the students began practicing helpful phrases like…my name is Alyssa…I am from the United States….Can I help you?...hold still while I give you this shot. After lunch and a nice hike, Jeff and I shared about Paraguayan culture and then Andy shared about Paraguayan history and how it affects the present.

In the evening we had a time of singing (in English) and sharing. Jeff and I and Andy and Lizet had given our testimonies over the past days, so now it was our turn to hear the student’s testimonies. There was definite a theme of God’s faithfulness. Each student gave a prayer request concerning the next few weeks living with their host family. They asked for prayers about language, letting go of self, not being so timid, and making the most of every opportunity.

studying Guarani with Andy

TIME students, Andy and his family and our family

A side note about the kids…..
I am again reminded (because sometimes I forget!) how God has blessed me with incredible kids! At times like this, our schedules are different and they don’t always get the attention from us like they are used to. I was amazed at the way they play together and entertain one another. They definitely are good at just going with the flow. They rarely complain or make a fuss about situations. Through all our driving, our 5 children have been “banished” to the only remaining space in our Suburban – the trunk space (we pull a trailer with all the luggage). We tried to make it as comfortable as possible – bean bags, blankets, pillows - but they are awfully squished. After our first three hour drive Ryan said, “At first I thought I would be fun, but before we even got out of Asuncion I realized that it was going to a looooong way riding like that.”

The positive influence of having a group here far outweighs the “negatives” (lack of family time, change in schedule, busier pace). My kids get to see Godly young men and women serving God, praising God, and having a fun time doing it.


Monday, May 24, 2009

One of our desires during the TIME trip is to introduce the students not only to the work that we are doing in San Francisco, but also to the work that God is doing throughout Paraguay. We also want them to understand a little about SIM and what it means to be a part of a missionary sending organization. This morning Tom Stout, one of our co-workers, did an excellent job of sharing on those topics.

At 11:00 we loaded up and headed for the Eco Reserva Mbatovi. After pouring rains on Saturday and Sunday, God gave us beautiful weather! After eating empanadas in Paraguari, we hiked through the rain forest, walked on wire bridges, zipped over the canopy on a 150 meter long zip line, and rappelled a 60 foot cliff. The highlight was when David got ¾ of the way across the zip line. He got plenty of time to enjoy the view as the guide crawled out to him, wrapped his legs around Davids body, climbed up his torso and repositioned the mechanism.

The adventurous group

Julia hanging around

Paul rappeling

Just a side note about the car…
Oh, by the way, the drive shaft mentioned in the previous entry (that cost a pretty penny to buy) apparently wasn’t the part we needed. Jeff and I have always joked that the garage we used to fix our car would fix one problem and rig something else to break. Now, it seems as if we may have been on to something. In preparation for selling, Jeff took the car to an electrician because the automatic locks weren’t working. He showed Jeff a plug (behind the steering column) that had been taken out. In his opinion there is no way it would have fallen out – someone had to have physically stolen it – and all roads point to our mechanic’s shop. At that time, Jeff realized that he was more than an electrician and asked about a few other problems. He noticed that the other place has been putting the wrong kind of oil in our transfer case. That explains so many of our car problems (which has included a new transfer case)! We just cannot understand because they are the dealership representing the GM model cars here in Paraguay! They are the ones who told us that the drive shaft was the problem. The new guy printed off schematics of our car and explained in detail to Jeff about its workings. He also explained that the drive shaft wasn’t the problem. He was gracious enough to install it to prove his point. Good news, is that he can fix the problem. Bad news is that we have to wait until we are in Asuncion next – July 3rd. Until then we are stuck (hopefully not literally) without 4 wheel drive.

T.I.M.E is HERE!

Sunday, May 23, 2009

Tonight the 6 TIME students arrived. The flight was delayed 1 ½ hours (causing them to arrive at 7:15pm) but all their luggage arrived. Jeff was able to go back and meet them as they came off the plane. With them they brought a drive shaft for our annoying car. We had been praying that it would not have to stay in customs or that we would have to pay 20% on its value. The official asked for an original receipt which could not be immediately found. That didn’t make him happy. He said that it would have to stay in customs (it’s not an easy place to get things out of). Another official came over to decide what to do. Finally, through the grace of God, he just motioned for Jeff to pass through with the car part. As our assistant director joked, “We see more miracles happen in customs than anywhere else!.” Boy, it sure feels that way!

We dropped the luggage at the Guest House and headed out to dinner. We ate at a Churrasquerria where big slabs of meat are brought to the table constantly during the meal. We got home at 11:00 and (I think) we all went straight to bed. They looked a bit tired!

How wonderful to welcome our second annual TIME group. This year we have 6 students from Cedarville University in Ohio. All are on the pre-med track (two have just graduated) and have an interest in medical missions. This team has been meeting together since September 2008. Dr. Melissa Hartman has done an incredible job leading the group through Bible studies and preparing them for the trip. I am excited to see how God uses them over the next 6 weeks!

eating dinner at the Churrasquerria

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Jeff and I are celebrating 11 years of marriage today with an evening out! It was extra special because in the past year, we have been on only one date together. It’s not that we don’t want to go out or that we aren’t romantic, it is just that where we live there are no restaurants or movie theaters or any other place to get away and when we come into the city where there are those things, the issue of babysitting is difficult.

Another missionary family is in the city with us and they volunteered to keep the kids. Jeff and I went to eat at a restaurant called Un Torro Y Siete Vacas – a steak house. It was wonderful! I cannot imagine being married to a better man!

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Friday, May 22, 2009

We’ve spent 2 months listening to Ginny talk about her loose first tooth. Ginny spent the last 2 months with her finger in her month, looking into the mirror at every chance and asking to eat apples. I have spent two months wiggling her tooth and replying, “Yes, it does feel wigglier than an hour ago.” She was so obsessed with the tooth that Jeff decided to try to pull it out with dental floss, but it didn’t work.

Late last night the day FINALLY arrived and Ginny placed her tooth under her pillow for the Tooth Fairy. Growing up…..

Ginny...proud owner of one less tooth

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Only in the last two months has Mariela (the same girl we through a birthday party for) come back to live with her mom. She immediately noticed a difference in the way her family (extended family too) prayed. She began asking questions and coming to church and Bible study. She told her cousins (all pre-teens) that she wanted to be baptized. They told her that she needed to first ask Jesus to come into her life and then led her in a sinner’s prayer! Today we had the awesome privilege of witnessing her dying to her sin and being raised up alive in Christ!

Again I had a full house Sunday afternoon. We made donuts, which are a novelty here. I couldn’t help but use the analogy of a “hole in our heart” which only God can fill. They thought it was funny because I had a flashlight without batteries and I kept trying to fill the hole with money or a boyfriend (Ginny’s Polly pockets), clothes, and a car. Obviously nothing made the flashlight work until I put batteries in it. Why? Because that is what the hole in the flashlight was made for. We have so many desires and wants, but nothing can fill that void in our hearts but Jesus. Our hearts were made for Him!

Mariella's baptism

How many kids can fit on one slide?

Amalia tasting a doughnut for the first time...yum

Monday, May 18, 2009


Twice a week I teach English to two girls. We are having a lot of fun. Last week Mr. Potato Head taught us colors and this week we dressed up Ginny's stuffed animal bears to learn the names of clothing. Next week we’ll be playing Bingo and Uno.

English class

Friday, May 15, 2009


Today is Mother's Day in Paraguay...Aren't I blessed to be able to celebrate TWO special days!!!

by Amy McKissick

For mothers who grab McDonalds on their way to gymnastics practice,
who are hoarse from cheering at high school football games,
who sew elaborate Halloween costumes and spend a fortune on their daughter’s wedding dress,
who search for just the right gift to give on Christmas Day
And for those who don’t.

For mothers whose kids go to bed hungry, who are hoarse from yelling at disobedient children,
who have no money to buy new clothes, and whose daughter becomes a mother but never marries,
who has nothing special to give on Christmas Day

For mothers who read stories at bedtime, who pick up toys off the staircase, who waken in the middle of the night to comfort away a nightmare,
who rush sick kids to the ER and kiss scraped knees,
who serve warm cookies after school
And for those who don’t.

For mothers who cannot read to their children,
who pick up bottle tops and plastic tubes their kids call toys,
who comfort their kids in the daylight where nightmares are real,
who pull remedies from the garden because there is no doctor,
who work all day in the field and bring food home on their back
For mothers who hold pudgy hands, change mounds of diapers, and wipe endless faces, who comb tangled hair and who tie and retie sneakers,
who sing about Jesus and tell stories of his love,
who frame photos for the wall and paste them in an album,
who attend PTA and help with science fair projects
And for those who don’t.

For mothers whose arms are empty and mourn without anyone to hear,
whose kids have mud in their hair and whose feet have never seen shoes,
who haven’t heard about Jesus or knows he loves the little children,
whose pictures are only in the form of memories,
whose kids do not go to school and never learn about science

For those who work 9-5 and those who run carpools, those whose quiver is full and those who are mothering alone, those who love life and those who cannot find the strength to carry on, those who cry tears of joy and those who cry tears of deep sorrow, those who laugh and those who love, and for those who have nothing and those who seem to have it all.

Your message is the same.
He loves you. Is 54:10, 1 Jn 3:1 He cares for you. Matt 6:25-32, Matt 10:30
He created you and knows the number of hairs on your head. Is 46:4, Ps 139:13, Matt10:31 He watches over you. Ps 1:6, Ps 33:14, Ps 121:3
He knows your needs. Is 58:11, Mat 6:32 He calls you by name and he delights over you. Is 45:3, Is 62:4
He has adopted you into his family. Rm 8:17
He comforts you. 2 Cor 13:4 He strengthens you. Is 40:31, Phil 4:13 He heals you. Is 53:5, Jer 30:17 He seeks you. Is 62:12 He forgives you. I Jn 1:9 He redeems you. Is 54:5 He is your mother and your father. Is 66:13, I Jn 3:1
He is your husband. Is 54:4 He is your friend. I Jn 15:14 He is Jesus.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


No book is really worth reading at the age of ten that is not equally worth reading at the age of fifty. C.S Lewis

You will find a lot of books in my home – home school books, how-to books, pop-up books, medical books, song books, devotional books, novels, Bibles, dictionaries, and picture books. I love to read and my kids enjoy books too.

You will not find a lot of books in our town. Students don’t use books in school because the school cannot afford them. People don’t read books because they aren’t available. The closest library is 6 hours away.

Paraguay is a poor country and we live in a poor community. We have a high illiteracy rate, a high high school drop-out rate, and a high teen pregnancy rate. There is little opportunity for youth to receive higher education even if they finish high school mainly due to finances. Many people in this town were born here and will live here their entire life without ever visiting the next town over.

To me an education is very important and reading books is a good place to start. Over the Christmas holiday Jeff’s mom sent several books in Spanish for me to start a little library. Also, a church in Georgia sent money for me to buy books. In Asuncion I found titles such as Little Women, The Little Princess, Treasure Island, Tarzan, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Alice in Wonderland, and several Christian biographies.

I presented the books to a few teens who come to my house on Saturdays and they were absolutely thrilled! I wish I could have captured their expressions as they looked at the covers and flip through the pages. They each took home several. Since then, they have finished those initial books and have come back to exchange them for different ones.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Saturday, May 9, 2009 (celebrating a week early)

Joshua lives for birthdays. He measures all events by where they fall in the list of his sibling’s birthdays. The minute we finished celebrating Joshua’s 5th Monkey George birthday, he asked for a Grinch 6th birthday party. The entire year he did not waver from that decision.

So today some of his friends gathered to celebrate Joshua’s 6th party, but there was a problem. Sometime in the middle of the night the Grinch came and stole Joshua’s birthday. So the first thing the kids had to do was find the balloons, decorations, cake and party bags, and party games (good thing he left clues as to where the things were stashed). After everything was found and the kids decorated the room we played “put the bugs on the Grinch’s teeth”. Next the kids tried to toss a ball into tin cans to find the candy that the Grinch had hidden. After we ate sandwiches, French fries, and fruit salad on green plates and drank green juice out of green cups, we ate green cake with mint chocolate chip ice cream and sang Happy Birthday to the birthday boy.

Although I had been dreading making a Grinch cake all year, it actually turned out very cute (can the Grinch be described as cute?). Joshua had a great time and so did his friends. Tonight Joshua prayed, “Thank you, God, that the Grinch stole my birthday and that we were able to find it again. Thank you for my Cat and the Hat birthday next year.”

Happy 6th birthday Joshua!

playing games

Eating green cake and green ice cream

Very Grinchy good bags

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Monday, May 4, 2009

Four years ago today we landed in our new home country and began our adventure in Paraguay! We have totally enjoyed the journey! We decided to celebrate by….getting Joshua’s cast off. Ryan said, “It’s already time to get it off? It has only felt like he had it on a week!” Joshua was quick to disagree. Joshua said, “I like my cast and don’t not want it off.”

But at last the day arrived. We drove 5 hours to Asuncion and Friday morning we all took a taxi to the hospital. We noticed that the hospital was uncharacteristically quiet. Jeff called the doctor and he said, “I am out of town. I forgot about the appointment. Can you come back Monday?” Sure. Joshua was relieved. “I didn’t want it off anyway,” he said as we left.

Today we went back up to the hospital. I wish I could say that Joshua didn’t make a peep throughout the process of sawing and cutting the cast, but that would be a big lie. In fact, Joshua cried for a good 30 minutes after the cast was off and he screamed while they took x-rays. Next, the doctor pulled/yanked/jerked the pin out of his arm/bone. Joshua wailed and the rest of us moaned as we watched it….ouch! The doctor turned to Jeff and said, “You can take the stitches out later today. You will be more patient with him.” I wasn’t quite sure how to take that comment.

We celebrated with ice cream….a definite cure-all.

Joshua getting teh cast taken off

Joshua's face says it hurt

Joshua showing off the pin that was in his bone minutes before

Ice cream - a cure-all

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Monday, April 27, 2009

Over the next three months, the local nurses are involved in vaccination campaigns. Every year they are responsible to vaccinate not only San Francisco (5,000 people) but also 8 surrounding towns. They go to the schools and also door-to-door.
I joined them this past week. Monday we stayed in San Francisco, Wednesday I drove them to Maria Auxilliadora and today we went to Karaguata. In previous years the nurses had to walk to all these towns (some are 15 miles away) since transportation is hard to come by.

Today we went to Karaguata. I dropped the first set of nurses off at the town’s entrance, then two nurses got off at the school (the middle of town) and I was on my way to drop the next set at the far end of town. I was almost there when I got stuck. I was up to the bumper in deep sand. We tried to dig out, but it wasn’t working. The nurses walked on since the car wasn’t going anywhere soon and Hector went to get help. 30 minutes later, he came back with two oxen! How I wished I had had my camera! At first the oxen were pretty ornery and did not want to walk, but after 30 minutes of trying, they threw their weight into their job and pulled me out!

Hector (and I) walked up to a random house and asked if we could come in and wait. Can you imagine doing that in the states? They invited us in - Paraguayans are so friendly - and we sat under a big shade tree, ate oranges and drank terere. The mom of the house and I bonded while I helped her shell red beans.
At 11:00 the nurses who were dropped off last, made their way back to us. After we visited and drank more terere, we continued going door-to-door until we met up with the other nurses. One lady didn’t know how old she was but she was certain she was over 60 years and thus qualified for the flu vaccine. We saw a boy, who looked about 8 years old, running down the street. He said he needed to ask his mom how old he was because the nurses at the school wanted to know. Since these nurses do this every year, they know everyone and every house. Every kid remembers them too! Kids began crying and running for cover as soon as they saw the nurses coming. One 4 year old had to be chased all over his field and was finally caught 10 minutes later. A couple children had to sign for their parents who couldn’t even write their name.

I am glad to could go and get to know the nurses better and hopefully lighten their load a bit.

* Hector drove the ambulance when we had one and now he….well, I don’t really know what he does now. Every time I see him, he is getting paid to sit and drink terere.

Friday, May 1, 2009

April Medical Happenings

April 2009

Besides Joshua’s arm, there seemed to be a lot of broken bones this month. Unfortunately we don’t have an x-ray machine in town, so most of these patients have to travel to Caazapa for help.

A drunk man fell off his motorcycle and broke his shoulder.

Arsenio broke a few ribs climbing over a fence.

An elementary student was pushed on the play ground and broke his upper arm.

A motorcycle accident brought a baby with a gash on his forehead and his mother with a broken collar bone.

Two women collided on motorcycles. One of the ladies was sent to Caazapa (45 minutes away) with a possible broken leg. The second lady was 9 months pregnant and the crash started her contractions. When she came to the clinic at 9:00 she was 5cm. She wanted to deliver in Caazapa but since this was her 4th child, the nurses persuaded her to deliver at the health clinic. Most women want to deliver in Caazapa (can you imagine a 45 minute bumpy bus ride while in active labor?). Those who cannot afford a bus fare deliver in town with a mid-wife. Deliveries at the clinic are few that it stocks nothing to help in such a time. Thankfully Jeff had ordered a “birthing bag” from International Aid which had everything he needed….drapes, gown, multiple gloves, amniotic hook, pads, bulb suction. Jeff let one of the nurses catch the baby, but she was going to do it in her dress clothes. Jeff said, “Wear this gown.” The nurses were all in awe of this concept and they all wanted to feel it. After the delivery Jeff wanted to thrown the bloody gown away, but one of the nurses stopped him, “We’ll wash off the blood and re-use it for future deliveries.”

A lady was kicked in the ear by a cow. She is lucky that only her ear cartilage was damaged (it was split in two).

We were woken up at 6:30 for Jeff to stitch a man’s foot where a tree had fallen on it.

Jeff pulled out a moth out of a lady’s ear – alive! I asked if it was like pulling a rabbit out of a hat.

Jeff diagnosed twins while doing and ultrasound. This will be the lady’s baby #13 and 14!

Jeff and I gave physicals to about 60 school kids.

Jeff stitching up a lady's ear

Jeff teaching about the body of Christ to those waiting to see him