Tuesday, April 8, 2014

March Newsletter

Con Hno Fermin y FamiliaMarch has come and gone and here I am trying to get a newsletter out. We have had many changes in the weather, from drought to one week of rain and from highs of 95 to lows of 53. On March 23rd we went back one hour while in the States you went forward one hour March 9th. Here the days are shorter and a bit cooler but still seeing a high today of 89. We have not had to use the air conditioner all month.


General Diaz

Culto en General DiazThe weekend of the 8th we traveled to General Diaz with Bro. Fermin and his family. Fermin's wife, Lea went to Bible School with Loida. General Diaz is a small fishing community about 6 hours (280 miles) South of Asuncion. We traveled to Asuncion on Friday and spent the night at Loida's sisters house, Noemi and Frylink. We left for General Diaz about 6:00AM. After heading South on highway 1 (towards Encarnacion) and turning on to highway 4 heading West, the scenery begins to change, with marshland as far as one can see. Some have told me that this can be a very ugly and dreary drive with nothing but water on each side. In our case, it was green and lush with all kinds of birds and wild animals. 

We were told that this area is teaming with crocodiles, snakes, eel, fish, wild pigs, and other wildlife. Before this highway was built (finished about 6 years ago) this was a very difficult place to reach. Imagine a dirt road through swamp land. If it rained you could be stranded for days or even weeks. The only other way in or out was by river. Out of this small community four people attended Bible School back in the late 80's.

Our weekend in General Diaz was very profitable. We had a service Saturday evening and another service Sunday morning with a good number turning out for meeting. The church building is in disrepair and there is no Bible teacher here. Bro. Fermin and his family live in Capiata, near Asuncion and the other Bible School students that came from this town live in Argentina and Spain to the best of my knowledge. Bro. Fermin's brother does what he can to give the word. 

Asuncion

En AsuncionWe spent Monday through Thursday in Asuncion with doctor appointments and working on my immigration papers. We are so grateful to the Lord for His leading and provision. I should have my Paraguayan ID card in a week or two now. That would mean that I am all  up-to-date on my legal status here in Paraguay.

Loida had several doctor appointments at the Baptist Hospital, mostly just regular checkups. We both had eye exams and both need new glasses. We went ahead and ordered glasses for Loida from the Nessi's; a family of believers here in Asuncion who have several eye glass businesses. In the States we had insurance that covered most of our eye care needs and did not realize the high price of glasses. We went ahead and ordered Loida's because her prescription more than doubled.

Loida's surgery

Loida y NoemiLoida was diagnosed with a gallbladder stone back in 2008 in the United States and over the years it has not given her much problem. Since we have been here in Paraguay she has had three severe biliary colic attacks and the decision was made to have her gallbladder removed. We traveled back to Asuncion on the 20th of March and she had the surgery on the 21st. They removed a 2cm, perfectly egg-shaped stone from her gallbladder. I tell people that I finally bought my wife a very expensive stone. We are grateful beyond words to Loida's sister Noemi who made the arrangements at the Baptist Hospital where she works. We are grateful to the Christian doctor who performed the surgery, Dr. Rodrigues, for his kindness and attentiveness, to those who came to visit and for the many love offerings received.

Brother Genaro Ullon

Hno Genaro's FamilyThe end of 2013 Bro. Genaro turned over the pastorate in Caazapa to his daughter, Alicia Ocampos. Alicia had been pastoring in San Juan for several years. The congregation in Caazapa wanted to have a special meeting to celebrate the 27 years that Bro Genaro pastored there. They held a special service on the 30th and it was put together nicely with testimonies from several of those who first came to Christ in Caazapa. There were special songs and plenty of food after the service.

I believe it was important and profitable, especially for the young people to hear from those who came to Christ from Catholicism and who suffered persecution. The Catholic leaders in Caazapa had vowed that the Gospel would not be allowed in their town. Businesses were instructed not to sell to the heretics. People were told to scrub their chairs if a believer had sat in it. Bro Genaro and his family were openly despised and ridiculed for their stand for the Gospel. They immediately started having family services, praying and singing and studying the word daily. They handed out tracks and preaching to whoever would listen. Those who did believe soon felt the harsh consequences of open persecution. One new believer (he now leads the singing) was told he had a week to leave the building he was renting for his business and home because he received Bro. Genaro into his house.

There is a large congregation of over 100 believers in Caazapa now. What we call second and third generation believers. They have had 27 years to grow in the grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ. The fruit of Bro. Genaro's labor is evident; the result of a life of prayer and solid Bible teaching. Not only has the congregation in Caazapa grown in number and in material blessings, but they have also opened several meetings in the area like Isla Sacá, Yegros, Zanja Pytâ, San Juan and others. These meeting are supported both spiritually and financially by the meeting in Caazapa. There are many stories that I personally could tell of Bro Genaro as I worked very close with him for over a year back in 1992.