When we approached the last security checkpoint before reaching Paraguay, we were heating up in our clothes. We had a few fears that the Missionary might not find us. But an older, Paraguayan gentleman handed me a note that said, “I’m waiting for you. Welcome! Pedro Cho” and on the back it said, “To Shin Kim & Annie” so in bewilderment we followed the man, claimed our bags, and exited the gate. There we saw Missionary Cho and his daughter Arah (11).
We got into his suv and headed onto the road. The sky was cloudy, and the roads were paved in asphalt. It began to trickle and we saw all the markets on either side of the street with people standing in the doorways. The signs were colorful and mostly hand painted. There was a train station-looking area with watermelons and other fruits piled up in masses. That was the wholesale produce market.
In only 10 minutes or so we reached the Mission Center. There was a big church looking sign that had service times. At this moment I can’t recall where each of the buildings were in relation to each other. I just remember seeing lots of green everywhere. It was so… tropical.
Missionary Cho pulled in front of his gated house and we climbed out and greeted his wife, Gina. As we walked up to the door, the sounds of birds chirping was peaceful and edenic. Then, suddenly, all 3 of their dogs started barking at us. Their names are Pinky, Winky, and Cookie. We also met Michelle (14), the first daughter.
Immediately, upon putting on house slippers, we ate a huge bowl of bibimbap with kimchee and soup sides, followed by apples. Despite the cautions to drink the water slowly and adjust to the food, we ate a lot and drank the water, luckily it’s from bottled water. Anyhow, as it is only the first day, its too early to know if that was a mistake or not.
After a good conversation, we walked over to see our new home for the next year. There was a cheerful sign that Michelle made for us!
The home was beyond our expectation. Missionary Cho’s family had lived in it up until about 2 months ago so they had left it furnished with a sofa sectional, a dining table, and a shabby chic bedroom set that had a mildly Korean feel to it. The floors were all tiled in a cool, peachy tone.
The bathrooms are different in Paraguay. It includes a separate toilet/sink combination which is their bidet.
I set to work unloading our suitcases while Shin took the laptop and headed to the missionary’s office to set up the wireless internet. I had to kill my first insect in Paraguay today. It was a spider in the wardrobe, not a fantastical discovery into another world. Its guts smeared over the wood. Then I chased around one of those weird, diamond shaped insects but couldn’t catch it. So I decided to ignore that one and started putting in the clothes.
In the middle of folding, I suddenly heard the blast of raindrops hitting the roof. I looked outside and saw a shower of rain. It reminded me of Forrest Gump in Vietnam.
Shin came back and we opened a gift from one of our students, I’ll call her “Meme.” We opened it together but it turned out to have one layer of wrapping paper over another. Shin was convinced it was empty inside and told me I could stop unwrapping it after just 3 layers! But after unwrapping paper and bubble wrap, we finally uncovered a tiny, 1″x1″ white box that rattled when shook! So we thought it was gum, but it was a handmade necklace! So sweet! Thank you!
At around 5pm we walked about 30 feet to the Missionary’s home and he gave us an official tour of the mission center. The school is on vacation but we looked into the elementary classrooms, saw how the hallways were decorated, the volleyball(!) trophies in the glass cabinets, and the loveliest surprise of all, the computer lab.
Apparently, 2 months ago, Cerritos Presbyterian Church members pooled together and donated brand new computers to the school. They were upstairs in the lab covered in sheer plastic, but all connected. I saw the awe on Shin’s face and his mental gears going into action. It made me feel extremely excited for him.
Btw, Shin was given a Spanish name today. He didn’t get to retain his Mexico Missions name, “Nacho” or “Simone” for his english name. He is now known as “Samuel.”
There is also a newly completed gym. To be accurate, it has four walls, and two car sized entrances without any doors. The fourth and final wall of the gym was finally completed this year, making it a 10 year project overall.
By then, it was around 6:30pm already. We parted with Missionary Cho until dinner. At 7:30 we came back and met his dinner guests. I forgot their names, but the entire family arrived. The father is a famous radio host for the third most popular Christian station in Paraguay.
We listened to them speaking rapidly in Spanish, and letting us hear Guarani. It was a great tutorial to hear and interact, and to get direct translations. Then over homemade cookies and hot tea, they urged Shin to play the piano so he played a hymn, “Old Rugged Cross” and then “Shout to the Lord.” It was beautiful.
Mostly, it was fascinating to see how the missionary family interacts with the community, and to see what the Paraguayan people are like. The children here are very respectful and family oriented. It would be rare in the States to find teenagers willing to go to dinner with their parents to meet their parents’ friends. The dinner concluded with prayer and a kiss on each cheek.
Then we came home and called our parents around 10:30pm. The time difference is 3 hours in the northern hemisphere summer and 5 hours in winter, so when we called it was only 5:30pm there. The first question my mom asked jokingly, “Oh Annie! Are you back in the States?”
I’m excited about tomorrow. I’ll be fitted for a teachers uniform, and visit the market with Gina, (who will be called “Directora,” “Hermana,” or “Samonim,” depending on the situation). And we’ll find out as we go, what we will be doing.
-Safe flight, easy passage through security points, and all belongings intact.
Please pray for
-the filling and leading of the Holy Spirit
-The missionary family as they plan the teacher and class schedules for 3 schools
-Opportunities to share God with the people we encounter
Dios Le Bendiga!