Tuesday, November 30, 2010
About 2 weeks ago Pedro (one of our future elders) received a phone call from his brother’s family in a nearby town. They said that a ghost or some other type of spirit had been disturbing their home. They were terrified. The family mentioned that they were considering asking a local pastor to come and pray out the spirit from their home. Seeing as how no one in the family is a believer, this was a big step towards evangelical Christianity. Pedro at once recognized this spiritual openness as an opportunity to once again share the gospel with his brother. He told me about his desire to go and pray over his brother’s home and share God’s Word with him and his family. I asked Higinio (another future elder) if he would go with us and he immediately agreed. So the three of us prayed up over the next 3 days and readied ourselves for what we thought would amount to an exorcism. His brother also had symptoms of liver dysfunction and wanted me to do a house call as well. So we took off in the car and drove half an hour down a dusty dirty road to Pindo’i where Pedro’s brother lives. We stopped just outside of town and prayed over Pedro that God would give him courage to share the gospel clearly and gently with his brother and family.
Upon arrival we were greeted warmly and invited to sit down and drink some cold tea, terere. As we shared tea, Pedro opened the Word and began sharing the story of blind Bartimaeus receiving his sight, a passage that he himself hand-picked for the occasion. It’s a great story of a blind man healed by his faith in Christ. After that, he asked me to share the story of the rich man and Lazarus, a vivid story of eternal paradise for the believer and eternal suffering for the unbeliever. Then Higinio shared a verse from James about how the things of this world will all pass away, but the man who does the will of God will live forever- a verse he had been meditating on that week. His brother listened closely and nodded his head to show that he understood the information being transmitted. His daughter and granddaughter as well heard and understood. We then learned that the spirit had left the house 3 days prior. We still went ahead and prayed over their family and their home and asked God to drive out any evil presence or any other obstacle of the evil one that may be preventing them from finding peace with God through faith in Christ.
I then attended to Pedro’s brother who was suffering from acute jaundice, loss of appetite, dark urine and light stools, vomiting and fatigue- all symptoms of hepatitis. I left a lab order slip and told him to come to my house after his lab results were in for a check-up and an abdominal ultrasound. Then they wanted Pedro to castrate their pig, so I got to watch the master slice open the skin over some poor pig’s unmentionables with a sharp knife, express them and then leave them lying on the ground for the dog to eat. But first the dog went nuts (pun intended) and chased the pig all over the yard despite being thrashed over and again with a branch. Pedro washed the blood off his hands and then we loaded up and left. We wait and pray that the seed of God’s Word landed on good soil and that it will soon bear fruit in Pedro’s brother’s home.
Please pray for Pedro and Higinio as they have been nominated for elders in our church. I am giving the believers 3 weeks to bring any objections to me before they begin their work on the 12th of December. Both they and their wives are eager to serve in this capacity. These are deeply spiritual men who have been taught the Word for many years under Tony and Jean’s ministry. We are excited to see our church maturing and moving into the next phase of self-governance. What we really long to see is the next self... self-reproducing!
Here are some of our church members and people you can be praying for:
Church service outside under the trees
Sandra, Palina, Amelia (holding Julia), Antonio, Amalia and Ignacia
Gasparina, Antonio, Ignacia, Rosi (the mom of these kids) and Ale
Jeff, Higinio, and Pedro praying over Aniceto. In his testimony he says....I had problems breathing and I couldn't even walk to my neighbor's house, but when I started coming to church and you all began praying for me I not only was healed of my sickness but I also decided to follow Christ."
Euginia (mom to these kids), Baby Darles, Maribel, and Diosnel
Pedro (future elder)and his wife, Josefa
Friday, November 26, 2010
If you followed my blog or our newsletters over our last term, you would have come upon a recurring theme – our unreliable vehicle. For 4 years the “Green Monster” was a thorn in our flesh and a drain to our bank account. We had to be towed 8 times, we ordered multiple parts from the States, and spent endless hours dealing with Paraguayan mechanics who never knew how to say, “I’m not sure what is wrong”. The first year it spent more time in the shop than at our house. The second year it broke down every time we tried to make vision trips to rural Paraguay. The 3rd and 4th year we lived 5 hours from the capital and needless to say, breaking down out there was never convenient.
The road stretching from our rural town of San Francisco to Asuncion is a memorial for us of times spent waiting. Often we hear on our travels, “Remember when we heard that part fall off our car and had to pull into that gas station?” and then a few miles later, “Remember waiting for hours under that tree?” and then a few more miles, “Remember when we broke down there?” Unfortunately there aren’t air-conditioned, 24 hour service places open where you can wait in relative comfort while sipping Starbucks. When we break down in Paraguay, we are doomed to wait in rain or blazing sunshine for hours. If we broke down leaving the big city, we at least have food (6 weeks worth of food) to occupy our time and we often found ourselves just eating out of sheer boredom.
We learned to always request the big platform truck to carry our heavy Suburban. Twice they decided to ignore our request and sent a small tow truck instead. On just seeing our beast, they had to turn around, leaving us to wait again for hours. We also learned to inform the tow truck driver not to bring a friend along because there were 7 of us that would be accompanying him in the tow truck’s cab (it was a very tight squeeze). They always offered for us to ride in our vehicle which was fastened on top on the truck, but in the interest of safety, we always declined and crammed in with the driver.
So, in an effort to avoid all those above mentioned things, we decided to sell that vehicle while on home assignment (we actually sold it to the mechanic for parts), buy a car in the US and ship it to Paraguay (this is the first time someone in our mission has tried importing a vehicle). We bought a great car...a 10 year old Ford Excursion and shipped it July 2nd. It was supposed to get here August 15th but with dock strikes in Argentina and a low river due to drought, the car arrived in the Paraguayan port mid-September. And there it sits.
And here we sit 6 weeks later still waiting to see it. We have a Paraguayan working as a go between (for the port and mission), but we’re not really sure still what the process is. Whenever we check up on things, we get the same answer – our paperwork is being processed. We’re praying that they aren’t waiting for a bribe in order to proceed, because we won’t pay. The kicker is that we aren’t allowed to import a vehicle over 10 years old and come January 1st.....you guessed it....our car will be over that. So, we really, really, really need prayers that it comes out of customs soon.
We are anxious to drive our car, but more than that, we are anxious to get all our stuff out of the car. You see, since the cost to ship the car went by size and not weight, we packed the car full of camping equipment, kids toys, games, books and bicycles, Christmas and birthday gifts and other goodies. All of our homeschooling books are in the car and I am chomping at the bit to start school. I feel that we are already a semester behind and each week I feel a bit more stressed not simply for the academics but also that we need to get on a schedule.
So, will you please pray that our car is released from customs?
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Sorry there are no pictures with this post, but I wanted to get it out to you all quick because there are prayer requests at the end and I would love to have you all praying for the upcoming events. When I get some photos, I'll do better at uploading requests to the right side of the blog. Happy Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving is just 2 days away and we are getting ready to celebrate with our missionary family 2 hours away. We covet this time together and the needed break from ministry that it provides. God has truly blessed us and we are so thankful for the friendships within our team. We are thankful that our children have best friends among the kids and aunts and uncles among the adults.
We are also so thankful and encouraged by the body of believers here in San Francisco. Their spiritual growth over the last few years has been incredible. God took a handful of illiterate, fearful, non-influential people and empowered them to change their town. We have seen a fledgling church of inconsistent members grow and grow and grow to a consistent size of 50 and with new people almost every week. They no longer rely on the missionary to bring God’s word for the week, but each one is responsible to bring a verse and life application. They mutually encourage, edify, ask questions, and reflect together on various passages and Bible stories.
We’ve been waiting on God’s timing to name elders and we believe that the time is now. We couldn’t be more thankful for the two men who have risen to the top as leaders. It is encouraging to see their faithfulness, their passion for studying God’s word, their gift of sharing the good news, and their humble spirits. The best thing is that not only do Jeff and I see those qualities in them, but the other believers do too. Pedro and Higinio have been nominated by the believers to serve as elders and received the majority of the votes.
We are thankful for the three weekly Bible studies that have started back up. Jeff has been teaching the past month about the role and qualifications of elders and deacons. All our teaching is geared toward oral learners so we teach using stories, pictures or hand motions. It can be challenging at times for us, but it is very rewarding to see the believers retelling stories and applying them to their lives.
We are thankful that God has put upon our hearts various ideas to implement in the near future. This is where we need your help...PLEASE PRAY for these events:
December ? – Baptism class taught by Jeff, Pedro and Higinio. There are several who have expressed an interest but are waiting for.....well, that’s what we hope to uncover during the class. A couple teens want to be baptized but their parents (who don’t attend our church) don’t agree with that decision. Pray for wisdom in dealing with these situations.
December 12 – A BIG church service followed by lunch, baptisms and the installation of elders. Pray for these men as they seek to lead the church in humility.
January 4 – Amy beings teaching English classes two days a week that she’s offered to the community. Pray that the classes will go beyond academics and relationships will be formed.
January 8 - Installation of deacons. Pray for the elders as they select Godly men to serve under them.
January ? - Evangelism class will be offered to the believers. We’ve offered this before and the believers seemed to really enjoy it. We go over topics such as how to give your testimony and how to answer specific questions about your faith. Pray that the believers will be bold in speaking about what the Lord has done for them.
Mobile clinic – Last term we did a mobile clinic monthly. We aren’t sure how the Lord wants us to use the mobile clinic this term. Pray as we continue to seek God’s best.
Church based leadership training- We are in the very early stages of planning for the first of many 3-4 day seminars scheduled throughout the year to teach rural Paraguayan men from all over this region a collection of 28 hand-picked Bible stories geared toward this folk-Catholic people group. The leaders are excited about these plans and the training they themselves and many others will receive. It will be a survey course of God’s plan of salvation from the beginning to the end of Scripture. Our prayer is that this whole region, even the small towns we’ve never been to and have never heard of, will be impacted through this type of training.
Currently the youth group is not meeting even though we have several faithful youth attending church meetings. Youth is not an area where Jeff feels especially equipped nor does he have the desire to oversee youth meetings. However, Jeff has just begun teaching the piano to one of our youth and I pray that it becomes a good inroad.
In January I will begin again meeting with girls every Saturday. This is something I did last term and I really enjoyed it. Pray for these precious teens that so desperately need to hear that God’s loves them more than any male companion can offer!
Jeff and I would love to start a marriage class and we have a couple couples in mind. However, convincing them that they would benefit from a class is a different story! One such couple is our house help and her boyfriend. She is a Christian and he is not. He wants to be with her (they have a child together) but has no desire for marriage. Pray that Jeff’s and my relationship will continue to be an example of a Godly marriage and that others will want that too.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
We ordered fish for the first time and this is how it came! At least it was already dead! It is called Surubi and it has a good flavor.
When we order pork, this is how it comes. Then we have to play butcher and cut the meat off the bone. Pork is the cheapest meat option around here because everyone raises pigs. Thankfully we all love pork (Ginny is a BIG meat eater!) and I have converted several of our chicken and beef recipes into pork recipes. Our guests asked if it was hard to butcher a pig. Jeff’s reply, “Anyone can butcher anything if they put their mind to it. It’s not like brain surgery.”
Ginny LOVES pork and doesn't let the fact that she has been missing her front teeth for over a year now stop her from eating.
(The other things we make our guest do...help carve pork and try local foods)
We sometimes order a whole (baby) pig to put on the grill.
This is something we don’t order. This was given to us by a thankful patient. It is pig parts wrapped in (hairy) pig skin. It is tied with a sting and then boiled. It has a very chewy, interesting taste. I’ll just make you think we are good missionaries and ate it all up with smiles on our faces....I won’t tell you what I made for a “back-up” meal.
We don’t order this either, but another patient blessed us with this. It is blood sausage and it is made with pig parts, fat, and blood mixed together and stuffed in the intestine. My kids actually love this, but we adults have a hard time swallowing it!
Monday, November 15, 2010
This is Ailsa, a doctor from South Africa. She stayed with us this past week. When she planned her 6 month long South American tour, she hoped to visit her high school friends (and our team mates) in Paraguay. However, our team mates’ plans changed (as missionary plans tend to do) and they went home on furlough. We are so glad that Ailsa decided to stop in Paraguay anyway. She was fun to have around. They kids enjoyed making paper with her. She painted Jeff a new sign with his hours of attention. She went to bible studies and visiting with us. She spent some time with Jeff in the mobile clinic and did a few house calls with him. And she even wrestled a pig with me at 2AM. Please be praying for Ailsa as she still has a month of travels before heading back to South Africa. When she gets back, she will be specializing in surgery and then......we’re praying that she finds her way back to the mission field.
This is Katie. She spent the weekend with us. The SIM school in Villarrica is always needing English teachers and last year Katie spent a few weeks teaching as part of an internship with her university. She liked Paraguay so much that she came back to teach again (and that isn’t even her degree). We were glad to have her spent some time with us out in the boon-docks. Please pray for Katie as she finishes her time in Paraguay. She is unsure of where the Lord will have her serve next (or perhaps there’s more schooling in her future).
Saturday morning I answered the phone and a panicky voice asked for the doctor. Her uncle wouldn’t wake up and they needed Jeff to come over immediately. Jeff went over, but it was too late. The man had died (of probably a massive stroke). Jeff was asked to embalm the body (first time for that request). He politely told them that he didn’t learn that in medical school.
Mid-morning I took my guest for a walking tour of San Francisco. Our first stop was to pay our respects to the family of the man who died (and who Jeff wouldn’t embalm). It is never easy to see a dead guy on a table.
OH THE THINGS I MAKE MY GUESTS DO!
While we were out, we decided to buy to pigs. These pigs weren’t for eating (just yet), but rather as pets for Ginny. Katie and Alisla carried them home.
OH THE THINGS I MAKE MY GUESTS DO!
Saturday morning at 2AM I was abruptly awakened by a high pitched squeal right outside my window. I knew immediately that our (sweet, loving, wonderful, friendly) dog was trying to kill the baby pig. Sure enough, when I walked outside, the pig somehow got out of his pen and was trembling under the car with Lady pacing back and forth licking her chops. Knowing my limitations – that I couldn’t catch the pig alone – I woke up Ailsa (she was rather fond of the pigs) to help. We spent about a half hour on our hands and knees on the dewy grass trying to corner the little guy. Finally, Ailsa stalked him from behind and......grabbed his back leg. It was awesome! The poor thing squealed and squealed and squealed. I am pretty sure he woke up all of San Francisco. We delivered the pig to his pen and barred the gate shut (our dog had somehow opened the locking devise).
OH THE THINGS I MAKE MY GUESTS DO!
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
1. “Hola” is pretty straight forward and used in many Latin American cultures.
2. “Adios! is said when passing by someone (which seems funny to me). Actually, the “s” is dropped so the word sounds more like “Adio!” Paraguayans shorten the word even more to just “O!”
3. “Nde Guapa?” is used like we would say, “How are you?” and literally means, “Are you hard working?” I think it is a pretty cool question. The implication is that if you are hard working, you are healthy and if you are healthy, you are doing ok.
4. “Mba’éichapa?” is “how are you” in Gurani.
5. “Nde gorda” is not a question, but a statement which means, “You’re fat.” Paraguayans don’t have a problem describing someone as being fat (even to their face). It just isn’t taboo like it is in the US. If someone is fat, then they are seen as being healthy. I don’t think I’d ever be comfortable saying this to someone AND I don’t think I will ever get use to people saying this to me. Julia was 15 days old when we went back to San Francisco and tons of women greeted me by saying that I was now fat.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Since being back Jeff has been attending patients each weekday morning at our house. It didn’t take long for the word to get out that “doctor Jep” had come back. Each morning he sees about 10-15 patients plus scheduling some procedures for afternoons. Of course, people come at all hours seeking medical attention. This morning – Saturday, he has seen two minor emergencies and it isn’t even 10:00.
Each morning Jeff shares a Bible story with those who are waiting on our front porch to be seen. More often than not, the patients speak up afterwards, sharing about what the story meant to them. This has generated some great life applications. Once, after Jeff told the story about the Pharisees asking if a man born blind was because he sinned or his parents, a lady shared that she had always wondered why her child was born with “special needs”, but now she felt encouraged knowing that God really does have a plan for his life. On another day, after hearing a Bible story Jeff told, A lady said “I want to follow that God.”
I know that the nurses and staff miss him at the health outpost. Several of them have come to our house specifically to ask him to come back. But Jeff tells them that he doesn’t have the freedom to preach about Jesus at the health outpost. At home, he can do whatever he wants. He goes over to visit them from time to time to trade out medical supplies, just to communicate that we still love them and that we’re all working together on the side of good health.
Some interesting medical cases:
A lady in a diabetic coma was brought to our house. Her blood sugar was 30 and she was unresponsive. Jeff and Pete tried to give her sugar water but she wouldn’t swallow. We had no IV glucose (the health outpost doesn’t either), so Jeff sent her to the nearest city (45 minutes away). The following day we heard that she was doing well.
A guy was in his field chopping wood with his “homemade” axe – a blade and handle attached together by wrapped cloth. He hit a hard knot in the wood and the axe head flew off and cut him very deeply in the face. He was bleeding profusely. We were afraid that he would have to drive the 5 hours to Asuncion to have his face sewn, but (praise God), there was a surgeon just 45 minutes away who was willing to help.
A 10 year old boy came with a 3 inch piece of wood stuck in his groin. Ouch!
A 20 year old swallowed poison in an attempt to kill herself. She was unresponsive and Jeff sent her Caazapa (45 minutes away). Not much else to be done, really.
We went to visit a friend of mine and while we were there their 4 year old daughter stuck her hand in an electric corn grinder. Her middle finger tip had been cut through the bone and was hanging on by very little. Jeff brought her home and did the best he could to stitch it back together. 3 weeks later, it’s looking great.
A 65 year old lady came with a very rapid pulse (about 190/ minute) with extreme fatigue and very low blood pressure. Jeff tried several maneuvers to slow her heart down, including massaging her neck over the carotid artery, squatting down while blowing air against her closed lips and nose, rubbing the sides of her eyeballs, plunging her face in ice water. Nothing worked. Then he started an IV and gave her a shot of Amiodarone, an antiarrythmic medication, and her heart rate returned to normal in less than a minute.
One lady had a blood pressure of 270/ 150 with no symptoms!
ON A LIGHTER NOTE:
After clinic hours a couple arrived with their son. When Jeff asked them what the emergency was they said, "We think our son's nose meat is growing." Jeff said, "That's not really an emergency. You need to come back during clinic hours."
Saturday, November 6, 2010
"talking" to us
laughs and smiles often
Doesn't mind getting passed from Paraguayan to Paraguayan at bible studies
Doesn't mind getting passed from McKissick child to McKissick child at home
Grabs for toys
Found hands...and once they are found, she puts them in her mouth
She is a blessing!
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Ginny and Spot
Joshua spent his money on 2 guinea pigs named Chewy and Snowy. They are cute things with big ears. They have really taken to Joshua and will make funny whistle sound when they see him. Boots, our cat, has been VERY interested in them.
Joshua with Snowy and Chewy
Boots, our cat, camping out in front of the cages.
A patient of Jeff’s gave us two baby chickens to show her thankfulness. Ginny loves her chickens. “Bird” remains her favorite (it was the very first one given to us). She calls it and it comes, she carries it around and dresses it up and the bird watches movies with the kids.
Will her sister share the same interest in animal?
Can you spot the chicken in the photo...watching the movie too.
We may not have bread or diapers out here, but we do have plenty of toads. In the evenings the toads come out in abundance. My kids love catching them and playing with them. It grosses me out to see one. They know that toads aren’t allowed in the house but we still every now and then will here, “Has anyone seem my toad who escaped in the kitchen?” YUCK!
Our duckies are doing well. They are growing fast. they are usually outside, but Ginny brings them in every now and then.
As you can see, Boots, our cat is quite interested in the ducks.
Jeff and Pete built rabbit cages. Thankfully Ginny has decided to wait until our garden is grown before she gets rabbits. Oh, and we’re having our pig pen made more secure....so stay tuned for the next “animal” news.