This weekend the Marangatu church was visited by the mayor of Via Elisa, the city that we are in. He and his wife gave a short few words during our service. This is them giving us a short speech.I heard that Via Elisa was usually run by a very liberal party and that he is probably the first christian mayor of Via Elisa.
Along with that in the very same service we had a special Paraguayan style praise song performance by a group during offering. Here is a video clip of their performance.
Today (Monday) is the official Dia De Los Profesores. It is “teachers day”. Last friday, we received many congradulations and gifts from students we didn’t expect. Here is a image gallery of items we received.
Also about a mont ago we discovered in the jungle of our back yard some fruits. We wanted to show you the varieties we have found. Here is a video of the fruits we have found.
This month everyone in the entire school went to retreat- but not all at once, thank goodness! They went in groups by grades. Cerritos had 5 campamentos and Marangatu had 3 (because they´re smaller). Some of the same grades from the different schools went together.
I went to a combined camp with the 4th, 5th, and 6th graders from both Marangatu and Cerritos Schools. Sorry to say, our team was the calm, boring type, starting with me and my co-leader! The other teachers were so competitive it was scary. They had group cheers that you hear at futbol games and they would jump up and down like a mosh pit.
Our team was in last place the first day. But suddenly, the tables turned and we went from last place to second place by scoring points for coming to service on time, being in line for meals, and reciting the Bible verse! Then the other teachers started grumbling and getting ugly(!) about how we were able to jump from last to second place! So on the last day, our team came together with great dignity and defended our place with fierce enthusiasm in the last competition! In the end, our group actually won 1st place! It was an unexpected triumph!
Overall, that camp was great for bonding with the students and being part of the school. It went smoothly for the most part except for kids breaking things, like a toilet tank and 2 church pews. In Paraguay, kids have the mob mentality. When one starts chanting, they all start, and when one starts pounding the desk, they all start pounding. It´s called, ¨golpeando.¨ Golpeando is how they broke two church pew shelves. That was sort of the main dynamics of my campamento experience.
¨Samuel¨ (Shin) went to campamento with the 7th, 8th, and 9th grade and his experience was also great. The students were motivated and friendly. The only things that required supervision was keeping time. During the evening worship service around 20 students rededicated or accepted Christ.
He also got jumped under sleeping cushions and then body slammed with knees and elbows by students. He ended up him hitting his head somewhere or by someone and getting a bump on his head. His group name was BO HA PEUH which means 3 in Garani. His group placed BO HA PEUH, so although they did not win first, they were happy with their BO HA PEUH.
SHIN´s account: On the morning of the second and final day, someone had brought fire crackers and at 5:30 in the morning decided to set off two of them. It came consecutively. I woke up with the first blast quick enough to see the second one flying with a tail of fire and then explode into pieces of fading gold. I started laughing really out loud because I thought it was funny. I laughed so loud that the principal (director) came over and asked me is everything ok. I told him I saw the ¨bomba¨ and thought it was funny and he said . . everything is ok. I´m sorry. Go to sleep. He probably thought I was crazy. It turns out the bomb didn´t wake up the studnets, but my laugh did and they were complaining to me that I woke them up too early.
Tomorrow the most difficult group is going to campamento. These are the ¨Bachilerato¨- 10th, 11th, 12th. During chapel today, the Pastor asked for hands of whose going and less than a third raised their hands. Many have had difficult home lives. Last year they destroyed a bunch of desks, unhinged and destroyed doors, and etched bad words in the chalkboards at Cerritos school. Of course the worst of them have long been expelled, but the rebellion, and the apathetic attitude still remain.
Pictures of campamento to follow!
Hello to everyone. First off, a sincere apology for not posting anything since early this month. We are late in sharing the first fruits of the ministry!
First, the church presented the theatrical, “The Passion of the Christ” on April 6 and 7. You may remember the posters in an earlier post. Shin and I were also involved with making the set design for this play: the rocks and the painted backdrop.
The Sunday before the play, a group of Sunday school classes, and teachers, walked around the neighborhoods to personally invite people and give out invitations. The turnout was great as a result, much greater than their previous Christmas play.
Thursday and Good Friday are national holidays and everybody rests. So on the night of the play the city was very still. The buses weren’t in circuit, the majority of shops were closed and the streets were quite dark. But as we approached the church it was a warm light surrounded by darkness. It was a beautiful impression.
The church was crowded that first night with regular church members and newcomers. All the kids had to sit on the floor in the front to make room. The ushers brought in additional adult chairs and then they had to bring in the children’s chairs too-for the adults! And people were still standing in the back. Somehow, even a stray dog came in and refused to go out!
Please watch the clip of the play. It was amazing. And the majority of the actors are younger than 25. One of the most impacting scenes of the play is when they put Jesus on an actual cross. I was awestruck to see something so spectacular and yet NOT Hollywood. Seeing an actual man on a cross and knowing that’s what Jesus went through touched many people. Over those two nights, more than 40 people accepted Christ as their Savior.
In the first week of June, the Department of Arts will be presenting another skit, “The Pilgrim’s Progress.” We will keep you updated!
In Paraguay, a common sight on the streets are small, house-shaped monuments with a front door. Sometimes the door is solid so you can’t see inside. Other times the door is made of glass with protective iron bars. Inside there’s usually a candle, some fabric, and other articles.
At first, I thought these were shrines of pagan worship. But I learned that they are called, “Casita,” which means, “Tiny House” and they are a memorial for deceased babies. At first I felt gross thinking they were graves although they were cute in a dollhouse sort of way. I never gave much thought to what they must mean to their families, who see it everyday. It wasn’t until recently that I felt a deep empathy for the mothers. It was after a recent change that came over me.
I have been thinking about our plans to have children.
Before coming, Shin and I had a few options we talked about. Primarily, it was to remain childless for one year. A second option was to try and come home around 7 months pregnant. It was out of the question to bear a child in Paraguay.
Luckily, we made sure to cover this matter with the Missionary and his wife very early on to find out how they would feel about it. Their answer wasn’t a yes or a no. It was perhaps an indirect “no” or a neutral. But the last thing they said was, “If God gives you this gift, then well…..”
Since then, my tranquil “schedule” for becoming a mom turned upside down and suddenly is an intense desire to begin right away. So it led to many conversations between Shin and I about timing. One of the nights of discussion, I cried from 9pm until the early morning trying to reconcile my will with his. I still haven’t done so entirely. But in the meanwhile, I believe God is preparing us for parenthood through our circumstances in Paraguay.
First, He brought us here as teachers and gave us a closeup of how children act at various ages. Here, we don’t just teach one grade, we are teaching every grade between the two of us. We talk about what ages have been the most problematic, and what teaching techniques have worked with what grades. It is a firsthand experience in child psychology!
Secondly, I believe I’m emotionally recovered from the grief of our first pregnancy that led to miscarriage. I hadn’t had an opportunity to grieve prior to coming. I was too busy trying to appear ok and hopeful for the next one, assuming shame and responsibility instead of letting myself feel and process the pain. Then we received a calling for Paraguay just a month later, and moved in with our family, so we readjusted and got busy again with life.
Third, the Lord recently reminded both of us, within a few days of each other, of mean things we did to other kids during our childhood. He granted us forgiveness and release from guilt. He also gave me a glimpse of being our child’s emotional and physical protector one day.
Fourth, observing pregnant and new mothers informs me emotionally about the simplicity and naturality of birthing and raising children. I feel peaceful about delivery knowing that it is common, and successful here without a lot of modern technology. That is not to discount western medicine, but finding a balancing of depending on hospital care and trusting in the Creator.
Currently, I still struggle with my desire for motherhood versus my husband’s foresight. I remind myself that Shin is not anti-baby and is not withholding good things from me. He wants us to have the child under better circumstances- not while I’m shouting at students and being thrown around on the bus and working. More importantly, he wants God’s blessing through Missionary Cho’s approval.
So we are praying for a Special Gift from God in His timing. I’m rightly called “Ana” by the Paraguayans. That is the Spanish name for, “Hannah” in the Bible- the woman who prayed for a son.