Monday, June 17, 2013

Recap

We are on the plane heading home! We feel like the sailor without a country...or a sailor with many countries...Or something like that. We feel at home in Paraguay, but we feel at home in the States! We are sad to leave Paraguay, even for these two months, and yet, we are excited to be heading home...if the US is home :-)  strange, these human feelings.

The last five months have been a whirlwind and the next two months should be the same. We have the GCC Family Camp the week of June 10th and then we need to get things bought, packed and shipped to Paraguay. We hope to visit some of the meetings in the States as the Lord directs and time allows. We so look forward to the sweet fellowship with all the saints!

For the last five months we have been living out of suitcases, and it looks like that will be our lot for the foreseeable future. Living out of suitcases is something I would not wish on anyone, and yet we rejoice in the goodness of God and the small comforts and joys He supplies along the way. In visiting some of the places in Paraguay the pastors were reminiscing of the days when dad traveled to these places under much worse conditions than we do today.

Iruña
Iruña is a small rural community about 95 kilometers south west of Ciudad del Este. We had a small camp there the weekend of May 2nd through the 5th. About 100 people were in attendance on Saturday. It started raining Friday night and rained all day Saturday. Rain and mud...not just any mud...this is red clay mud. This mud will find you and stick to your shoes and clothes and anything that is not locked in the car and hidden from sight. This mud will penetrate your nice leather shoes and soak and stain your nice white socks.

We stayed at a couple's house that live right in front of the church, so we had the privilege of walking across the beautiful red, muddy road to and from meetings. I think if you slipped on that road you may end up sliding for at least two miles. They have electricity, but the current is so poor that the 220 volts was more like 180 volts. I plugged our fan in when we got there because it was hot and muggy. I thought someone had touched the dial on the fan because it was barely blowing. It was set on high! It took about half an hour to blow up our air mattress. They had a bed for us but is was a four inch foam on wood slats, and both Loida and I suffer from lower back pain, so I went to the car and got our air mattress. We had bought a new air mattress, but it burnt out on the first use at the Isla Vega camp. The transformer we had purchased was faulty.

Because of the low voltage, they were unable to use the sound system they had, which was very old anyway. One of the best investments we have made was in the 100 watt, portable, amplification system that we bought for $100, and one of the best decisions was to bring it with us to Paraguay. We hooked the system up to the car using a small converter, and used it the whole time without an issue. Not only did we use it for the messages, but on Saturday we had two guitars, a keyboard and the mic all plugged in and cranking out a very decent sound. Saturday night and Sunday morning the church was packed and people were sitting outside. Because of the sound system everyone who wanted to was able to hear the word preached clearly.

We used this same sound system for the funeral of Gustavo, a cousin of Loida's, who passed away suddenly at the young age of 34 from a massive heart attack. Having the sound system at the graveside was phenomenal. Over 200 people, many of them non-believers, were in attendance and the sound system, hooked up to a battery worked wonderfully, again allowing all to hear the gospel message clearly.

We have been made keenly aware of the need to pray for every detail. Every purchase. Every purpose. We knew we needed a vehicle and we asked the Lord to direct and He did, providing the perfect vehicle for our purposes. We are finding out that if we ask, the Lord he will direct in these natural things to free our thoughts and time for that which is most important, reaching as many as possible with the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Although the gospel of the grace of God is well established in Paraguay, the need for solid Bible teaching and establishing the saints in the truth is evident wherever we travel. As one pastor expressed, and it made me cry; "we are a small congregation and the sheep have good pasture, but over here (somewhere else) we see that there is greener pasture. That is what we want. That we might grow and become perfect". This pastor sent me a text message. "Please come over to (name of place) and help us". What shall we say to this? "Here am I, send me"? How we cry out to the Lord for wisdom daily to know where to go, what to say, what to do. I heard someone say once, "We need to be busy for the Lord, even if its making mistakes." How foolish! We don't need to be busy! We need to be obedient! We need to be willing! Please make us willing Lord!

Back to Iruña. Four accepted the Lord Saturday night and one young man accepted Christ as Savior and Lord Sunday morning. Sunday morning we had two messages followed by the Lord's supper. It was a good time of fellowship in the word with a total of eleven messages brought and maybe a bit over one hundred people in attendance.

From Iruña we headed to Ciudad del Este to spend some time with Loida's family and visit with some of the pastors in the area. I believe it was time well spent. I spoke Sunday night in brother Braulio's meeting and again on Tuesday night. Thursday night we had service in Franco with brother Arce where I also spoke. We had intended on staying the weekend in the area, but once again, seeking the Lord for guidance, felt that we should head back to Villarrica.

We headed back to Villarrica on Saturday. Sunday night we went to Oviedo for service, and that week it rained over seven inches. We stayed home mostly. Tuesday, 21st I spoke in Buena Vista. Wednesday in San Juan and Friday at the young people's meeting in Caazapa. That night we got the news that Gustavo Faria went to be with the Lord after a massive heart attack. We rushed back to Villarrica to be with the family, and since there were so many people at the wake the family requested that we have a service. Fide asked me to speak and the Lord graciously provided word for the comfort of the family and for the many unbelieving friends and coworkers that were there. On Saturday the family called and requested that we have another service at ten in the morning which we did. Since we were waiting on Gustavo's brother to arrive from Buenos Aires, and since he would not arrive until after dark, the burial was postponed until Sunday morning, and we had another service at seven PM. Brother Fide spoke at the burial service and the songs and message were beautiful. It is so hard to see a loved one leave us, and especially at such a young age, and leaving behind a wife and two girls (a 4 year old and a 3 month old). But the word of God went forth and hearts were comforted and challenged. We pray for fruit from this circumstance.

The assembly in San Juan has begun construction on the Sunday School building, which they will use as a meeting place until the church building can be built. At this point it is just a vacant lot. They also have another property that they need to sell in order to continue with the construction projects  please pray that the Lord will provide a buyer for the property.

The assembly in Villarrica is getting ready to start construction on a church building, as they have been meeting in the Sunday School building, which is very inadequate. They are also now in the process of purchasing a piece of land behind the Sunday School building that will be needed for parking and for special events. The purchase of this property had been put off because the owner did not seem to be in a hurry to sell, but that has changed. Another reason for purchasing this piece of land is to keep someone else from purchasing who might put a factory there or ball field or just about anything, as there are no zoning laws in Paraguay.

Please continue to pray for Paraguay. Please continue to pray for us, especially as we seek the leading of the Lord in regards to what we are to take back with us and how we might be a blessing while we are in the States.