Saturday, January 26, 2013
Jeff leaves today for a Timothy Training workshop. What an incredible opportunity for rural Paraguayans to learn Bible stories and how to teach others. This will be the fifth class in a year’s time and the first time the elders/deacons in San Francisco (Paraguay) have done the organizing ALL BY THEMSELVES (a HUGE step). They are pumped about the record number of people expected to attend. This is also the first time it will be hosted in San Francisco. Since there's no building on the church property, they'll be sleeping outside and showering under a make-shift shower head in the chicken coop.
An Update from Jeff:
The San Francisco church leaders organized, hosted and staffed the teaching positions for the January Timothy training, our fifth one since January 2012. It was the first one to be held in San Francisco and it was a great success. 8 men participated for the first time and there were over 25 Paraguayan men in total from 11 different rural communities. The women of the church served up some incredibly tasty meals for the Thursday to Saturday conference. The weather was hot, but for a Timothy first, it did not rain! This was good news since the San Francisco church has no building! Men slept on mattresses strewn all over the church property beneath the towering trees. Two men from San Francisco, Emiliano and Ruben, who have not been attending regularly, were really encouraged by the 3 days of Bible storytelling training and fellowship. We have seen a noticeable change for the better in both of them in the last few weeks. Dionisio, a member of an indigenous group called the Mbya Guarani, came with our friend Justin, an IMB missionary. He has been a believer for 30 years, much longer than any of the men participating. They really enjoyed his wisdom and he really enjoyed the new approach to Bible teaching. There is now talk of Pedro and Higinio, two of the San Francisco elders, going to visit Dionisio, who lives in the next state over, and training some of the Mbya leaders how to teach the Bible through storying. Pretty exciting stuff. Higinio brought two of his disciples from his weekly Bible study in the neighboring town of Maria Auxiliadora. They are beginning to reach beyond their Jerusalem and Judea into their Samaria. They’ll be crossing a cultural boundary in there, too! We are overjoyed to see their growing vision for Timothy training as a vital ministry of their local church. Through eyes of faith, they envision the training sessions swelling to over a hundred in attendance in the next 12 months and also see themselves going out from San Francisco to train other leaders in other states. They also have a vision for a women’s training session to take place this month! We as a mission are looking for ways to help them own and carry this vision into the future. Pray for the upcoming trainings for men in May and July, and perhaps a few for women as well! Pray for God’s guidance and direction as SIM Paraguay partners in new ways with the Iglesia Bíblica Ka’aguy Rokẽ (Forest Door Bible Church) to help them accomplish their vision.
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
With the holidays, heat, visits, car troubles, and a trip to Asuncion I felt like we’d been off our “normal” routine for ages. I decided to begin the school year up again Wednesday, January 2, 2013.
New Student...Micah will be joining in this year. I have really been praying for wisdom in working with him because he can be quite headstrong. When we have brought up the subject of school he is adamant that he will not do it – ever. We’ve tried starting a time or two since his September birthday but we gave in as it wasn’t worth the fight. So this New Year, I am praying for my new student and his new attitude.
Breaking a habit...Another big change for Micah this New Year is that he is supposed to give up thumb sucking. For a year we have tried everything in the book to get him to stop and nothing has worked. Our deal was that if he hadn’t stopped by the New Year, Jeff would cast it. Jeff did just that.
Potty training....Julia received big girl panties in her stocking this year and we decided the New Year was a good time to begin potty training. A week into, I cannot say that it is going too well. With 8 people and one bathroom, odds are someone is in the bathroom when she needs to go (or when SHE thinks she needs to go or when WE think she needs to go).
RESOLUTIONS: We introduced our children to the tradition of New Year resolutions. We encouraged each of them to make resolutions in 4 different categories following a Luke 2:52 passage – knowledge (and Jesus grew in wisdom...), a physical resolution (....in stature...), a spiritual resolution (...and favor with God...) and a resolution to specifically bless someone (...and man). It was great to hear their hearts as we shared our resolutions today at lunch.
I have decided to get back into working out – run/walking. Sunday our neighbor mowed our grass while we were at church and then refused to let us pay him. He said that he felt bad for me walking/running in tall grass.
Living on the mission field makes you thankful for the little things. For the first time EVER I found Dr Pepper and Root Beer in Asuncion! I secretly bought a case of each and gave it to the family on Christmas Day. They were thrilled and may remember those soft drinks over the games and toys they received!
Posted by Jeff and Amy McKissick at 9:16 AM
Friday, January 18, 2013
I guess I was more tired than I thought.
I decided to make a clock face cake for our New Year’s party with team mates. As I began piping the gold numbers onto the ganache icing background, I realized that the right side of the “clock” was nicely spaced, but the left side was terribly bunched up. I carefully lifted the chocolate numbers off and began again with smaller numbers. It looked better but I still thought it odd how smooshed the left side looked compared to the right. I went to bed thinking about the cake and I got up thinking about the cake. I thought about it off and on during the day and finally had a chance just before leaving for the party to look up a clock face on-line to see how “they” get all the numbers to look normally spaced.
Then I realized. Then Jeff’s comment the day before about my clock hands reading 1AM made sense. I had put the one straight at the top not the 12. I am a dork. I am sleep deprived. I am absent minded. I am in a hurry. Whatever the cause....Happy New Year just the same!
We had a great time ringing in the New Year with teammates. The kids swam while the adults tried to keep cool with terere and iced coffee.
We ate a great BBQ chicken and fixin’s dinner.
Kids played the Wii and watched a movie while adults played Apples to Apples.
We sang Happy Birthday to Ryan who turned THIRTEEN!
We ate fabulous desserts.
We toasted at midnight and set off fireworks.
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
I mentioned in a recent post that it can be hard to fully get into the Christmas spirit living in rural Paraguay, however, we have developed our own set of traditions over the years. Here’s what we do:
We begin reading an Advent story at the beginning of December.
After reading, most nights we tried to sing Christmas carols. We tend to move from Spiritual songs to the secular songs. After singing about sleigh rides and snowmen, we always end with Melekalikimaka because it seems appropriate to remember that Christmas can also be "warm and bright".
We look forward to our annual team meeting (I wrote about it here) up in the city which lasts several days. We all love spending time with our SIM family.
We decorate as much as we can. As you can imagine from what I mentioned above, Christmas decor isn’t easy to come by, but I’ve collected a few things each year.
Christmas crafts are often frustrating because a lot of times we cannot get the things we need in country or in our town, but sometimes we find just the right craft to do AND all the supplies.
Christmas baking is usually a 2 days process. Because it is too hot to have the oven on during the day, I bake what we’ve made at night. The following day the kids decorate the cookies or cupcakes, etc.
For dinner I try to come up with something different and special and something that doesn’t take three hours in the oven to make. This year I broke out my raclette table grill. Raclette is a traditional Swiss meal which includes breads and veggies and melted cheese. Jeff and I did raclette tons back in the US and in the days before kids. I brought the grill with me from the U.S. 7 years ago and have not used it once until now. The kids thought it was great.
We open stockings, watch a new movie from 10 to midnight and then at midnight we set off and listen to everyone else set off firecrackers.
We read the Christmas story then open gifts and begin helping build the new lego sets, playing new games, reading instructions and finding corresponding batteries. Even the animals get gifts.
I try to have something a bit different for lunch. This year I found shrimp in the city. We love shrimp.
We watch The Nativity, finish our advent story and sing carols.
Sunday, January 13, 2013
Merry Christmas from ALL of us to ALL of you!
December 23, 2012
We finally were able to get our Christmas decorations from Asuncion. It was fun decorating our little living room/kitchen area.
Reading Christmas books
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
I seriously think the Christmas season could pass without anyone in rural Paraguay ever noticing. It could especially pass without a North American living in rural Paraguay ever noticing. December just looks so different here in contrast to my North American upbringing where one can’t ignore the signs of the holiday season if they tried. Recently I have read many blogs and facebook status’ this season encouraging people (in North America) to slow down and keep Christ the focus, to spend less money and more time with family, and helping people deal with the stress and weariness that often accompanies this time of year. And you know what I think as I read those? I think, I wish our Christmas was busier and more commercialized.
Don’t get me wrong. I love living and serving here, and I love the parts of Christmas that I can give my children, but each year there is a part of me that misses “it” – whatever “it” might be - that extra special thing that makes my idea of a North American Christmas season different from the other months. So here are some of the conflicting thoughts that I wrestle with each year:
I miss dressing up for Christmas parties, pictures and family get-togethers. I love to dress up, I love parties and I love pictures! Here we don’t dress up for anything. In fact, jeans are considered dressy, but who wants to wear jeans when it is 100 degrees outside and the function is hosted outside? On the flip side, it is rather freeing coming to church in shorts and flip-flops, sitting under big shade trees and noticing the person next to you has no shoes and holes in their shirt. No need to play “keeping up with the Jones’”. I think I spent too many Christmas’ trying to show off new Christmas purchases or find the perfect holiday attire for me and my kids. Well, there is no such thing out here – just simple and casual.
I miss the cooler temperatures. Granted, I’ve never really had a white Christmas, but they haven’t all been 100 degrees and oh so humid, and I haven’t always lived in a house without air-conditioning. I miss cuddling by a fire and sipping hot chocolate. In the weather here, no one would dare turn on the non-insulated oven and risk raising the temperature one iota more (except for lunch or dinner and even then it’s negotiable). There’s no escaping the heat, it’s just as hot inside the house as it is outside. My kids will always associate Christmas with a pool instead of a fire, watermelon instead of turkey, sipping terere instead of hot coca and flip flops instead of snow boots.
I miss looking at Christmas lights and decorations in store windows (the cute snow scenes with mechanical Santas). In my small town, there are no houses with Christmas lights, doors with wreaths, or mantles hung with stockings. There might be a handful of Christmas trees in our town, but all are 3 foot and fake (I’ve yet to see a live one in this country and I do miss the smell of a live tree). And what about those store windows? Well, we don’t have those kinds of stores that have those kinds of windows that display those kinds of fancy displays. Our stores are a room in people’s houses.
I miss shopping for Christmas gifts. I don’t miss the crowds, wading through traffic, or the expectation to find the perfect gift for everyone. But I am a gift giver, and I do enjoy placing something special under the tree. Buying gifts for my kids is tricky. I order them months in advanced (usually in May) and send them to a team coming down. That limits weight and size (and cost) because it has to fit into someone else’s suitcase. In December there are no Christmas fliers promoting the latest and greatest stuffed into the mailbox (no mail service out here), no department store catalogs littering the house, no commercials convincing you that you’ll be happy if only you had their item (we don’t watch local TV), no store displays loaded with toys. At holiday time my kids’ “wants” list doesn’t consume them and I don’t see greediness that accompanies the holiday time. For this, I am so thankful. Out here, gifts aren’t exchanged at Christmas. Besides not having stores out here to buy gifty things, people just don’t have the money to buy impractical things. Spending Christmas among the poor keeps my focus off of material possessions and Lord knows I need that refocusing every now and then.
I miss hearing Christmas music (in English) on the radio and in stores – those fun catchy tunes and those deep, meaningful ones and those new trendy ones. I tried to order albums off of itunes this year because I was in desperate need to hear some, but our internet connection is too slow and I couldn’t even connect to the site. In church we don’t hear special singing or a Christmas message or watch a cute pageant.
I know that all those things aren’t the true meaning of Christmas and I know that people probably think that missionaries shouldn’t be so superficial as to miss wreaths and turkey, but what can I say? I’ve spent all but 7 years of my life with that kind of Christmas. Memories, ideas, ideals, traditions are hard to break.
So what do we do to make Christmas Christmas in rural Paraguay? you'll have to read the next post....
So what do we do to make Christmas Christmas in rural Paraguay? you'll have to read the next post....