Monthly Archives: June 2007

Volleyball Thursday

Colegio Cerritos has a sand, volleyball court outside the gym. I haven’t seen many people play on it. It’s not in the best condition. There are all sorts of stones, shards of ceramics, and concrete rocks in the sand, and the poles are leaning inward with tattered banners of volleyball net that were once cut off or had snapped from the tension.

A few weeks ago I asked the Director if I could host an after school volleyball activity. I had the high school students in mind because they stay at school anyways. The Director sent out notices to the student’s parents a few days before. In the meanwhile, Shin and I went on a search for a volleyball net. We found a regulation size at Mercado 4 / Korean District. You can find just about everything there.

So yesterday was the day and I set up the net wondering if anyone would show. Shin came out as my moral support. It wasn’t long before the following people came: high school boy #1, but none of his friends wanted to play so he left, middle school boy #2 who stayed and played until the end, a flock of 6th grade girls with no idea how to play.

Then the PE teacher came. He’s very competitive or just wanted a really good game. The first thing he did was kick the girls off the court and set up a 2 on 2 match. Shin and I were on one side and he and middle school boy #2 on the other. We got rocked. But winning or losing, the weather was perfect for outdoor volleyball. It was windy but warm and not too bright for the eyes. I could have tricked myself into imagining that the ocean was just a few hundred yards away. Once the PE teacher sized everyone up he started insisting that loser buys Coca-Cola. We had enough for a 3 on 3 match and our side lost.

I walked across the street and bought a 2 liter for our losing team. It was great being in Paraguay at that moment because the vender only had 4 dusty cups he could give me. That stuff hardly matters. You just wipe the dust off and share cups (I only shared with Shin) and it’s “tranquilo,” or “whatevers”. I never knew how delicious Coca-cola is when you’re thirsty. Those few moments in the breeze waiting for the heart to slow down, drinking a cold soda and basking in the camaraderie was great. I asked the students if they would come next week for volleyball and they said yes. So we’ll see if there’s going to be another volleyball afternoon.

As everyone prepared to leave the Director showed up and chastised one of the players. It turned out he was supposed to be picking up trash the whole time! Then one of the other two guys was asking where I bought the volleyball and how much it cost. Next he asked if he could borrow it to play basketball. I asked for how long? And he said about an hour. I asked if he could return it to the house and he said yes. I showed him which one was our house and he kept looking back at his friend and chuckling.

I was about to lend the ball to him when it struck me to put an insurance clause on it. I was only thinking to cover myself in the case that it exploded, or in case one of them kicked it on the roof. I told him to agree that if he didn’t return it to me it would be his responsibility to pay me for what it costs. And it had to be returned in original condition. Then his friend said, “Just him. Not me” and I said, “Okay. Only he’s responsible.” Then the guy muttered something and left and his friend told Shin, “Do you know what he was trying to do? He was going to take it.” Honestly, I felt bad for even putting that clause on the ball. But after I found out his intentions, I felt good for acting on my intuition. That’s how you become a strong (Black) woman.

Ytororo construction

Hello everyone. Thank you for your prayers and support. Ytororo church has been under construction and the first phase of it is now complete. The skeleton of the building is up. We visited it yesterday with the pastoral team to pray. Here are some pictures of the site.

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More Ytororo Pictures

In the Cerritos School there’s a personal library of Christian resources that was left behind by another missionary family. All the books are stamped with, “Library of Isaac Hwang”. I’m very thankful they’re here. On Saturday mornings, the pastoral team uses that room to have meetings. Usually, my eyes are roving all the titles and looking for what to read next.

Today I’m just a few pages away from finishing a book called, “On Being a Missionary” by Thomas Hale. (I like how straightforward the title is). That book has been a gracious provision from God. I didn’t read it all at once. I read little by little for the last few months. As a result, the topics tended to coincide comically with the stages I was going through, like the chapters on stress, depression, interpersonal conflicts, etc. I laughed a lot while reading that book because of the humorous perspective of the author, but also because I’m such a typical case study. What I was going through mentally and emotionally was so normal- it was a great encouragement.

Although we’re here teaching others, we’ve been gaining such valuable training; directly through God from the Bible, through experiences, and through training sessions which they generally call, “Capacitacion”.

The Sunday School Director highly recommended us to go to a seminar on how to teach Sunday School. It was held at a presbyterian seminary this past Saturday. We arrived at eight in the morning and there were a bunch of Korean pastors! Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised 🙂 They were visiting from Korea and the next 7 hours were translated by two Korean-South Americans. I actually understood better in Spanish- my Spanish has officially surpassed my Korean language skills.

The seminar was actually addressed to seminary students. The first pastor opened his talk with an impacting guilt trip. He asked by raise of hands, how many times we had read the Bible. (I have never read the entire Bible once.) He asked, how can we teach others if we don’t know anything? But most importantly, he talked about the absolute necessity to pray for spiritual eyes to read the Bible.

Everybody received a free Spanish Sunday school book that was produced by the Korean Sunday School Association. He demonstrated how to teach Bible stories creatively using our own visuals. The visuals he showed were all made by teachers in his church. Here are a few pictures.

As he was showing them, the Marangatu people in my pew exchanged excited glances and nudges. The Sunday School director said something like, “I’m going to put you in charge of making these.” Currently, here are some of the materials they are using right now. They’re effective, but maybe a little outdated.

The third speaker, was an elder. Briefly, this is how he came to believe in God. The first twenty years of his life he had lung problems. He had never believed God existed. Then he ended up in the emergency room for his breathing problems. He needed to remove a lung. But his other lung needed to function at least 60%. So he prayed to a God he didn’t know. Two weeks later his second diagnostic revealed his lung was functioning at 62%. He said that for a believer this would seem possible. But for someone who had never seen answered prayer, this was amazing.

But the other major obstacle was the steep cost of surgery. Economically, the country was recovering from the Korean War; Everyone was poor. He wrote a 7 page letter to the Korean president asking for help. He even offered the doctor to take out one of his good eyes to pay for the surgery. He was desperate and could only ask God again. God provided through the American soldiers stationed in Korea. They made a donation to the hospital to allow 40 patients to receive surgery. However, he was not on that list. So he prayed again and he was somehow moved to second place on the list.

Afterwards, he determined to thank God for whatever God gave. God also showed him that he shouldn’t love material things of the world. Third, was that God gives the grace to have true faith. Before he received that grace, he had what he called a “sickness of faith.” He was in the church but, for example, he had no joy when he sang hymns. On the contrary, he would grumble that they needed 5 stanzas just to say the same thing. Even as a deacon he would listen to the pastors’ sermons and criticize them in his heart.

After he received the grace of faith, he was a new person. When he read the Bible, he once literally had the taste of honey. He must be in his sixties but he has been living all this time with one lung. He ended by saying that in life we will lose valuable things. He lost a lung, and a rib in the surgery. But in exchange, he gained Christ.

I learned so much in that seminar. And I also gained a fire in my heart to work on producing new Sunday school materials. A few years ago, I went to Mexico with wlakc to help present the Bible to children. Shin put me in charge of making crafts based on Bible stories like Noah’s Ark, Jonah, and Abraham. I came up with a craft idea, drew characters, made them fun and easy to cut and assemble. It was so enjoyable I said to Shin afterwards, “I would love to make VBS materials for a living.” I forgot about that until now.

Thankfully, I’ve developed a lot since then. Maybe this is God giving me an opportunity. If so, it’ll be a blessed endeavor. My prayer request for this project is that God’s hand would be on it from beginning to end.

Quick Update

Hello everyone. Thank you so much for not forgetting about us and continuing to pray for us. The last few weeks we were extremely busy with school, and church projects. After that, we both caught a cold which we are in the middle of right now.

There have been some significant events that passed during the past weeks after we got back.

1) Ytororo first stone May 13: The church has finally started its construction and just 2 days ago, the foundation was finished. The day that the first stone was laid it rained yet when the pastors and the congregation arrived, there were over 40 kids standing there waiting for the first stone ceremony. The kids there have a sort of ownership of this church. It is amazing to see the next generation show such dedication and excitement for the building and growth of the church.

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MORE PICTURES OF YTORORO

2) Congreso Prayer: This year is the second annual 40 days of prayer held in Paraguay. It was started after the Billy Graham crusades came 3 years ago. It is a unique inter-denominational and country wide event. On the final day of the 40 days of prayer (each day there’s a prayer request,) Christians from around the country gathered in front of the capitol building, had worship and prayed together for the country. It was an all day event.

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MORE PICTURES OF CONGRESO PRAYER

3) Pilgrims Progress Play June 1 & 2: This play was held in our Cerritos campus gym 10 feet away from our home. This event was not just a church event, but a city wide evangelical movement. 4 churches worked together with the support of other churches and organizations, including the Christian and Catholic schools in the area and Paraguay’s Christian Radio station. More than 50 members of three other churches volunteered as counselors to pray with new believers and receive their contact information after the theatrical. Each of the new Christians will be contacted by their local church.Others diligently visited schools to spread fliers and walked through neighborhoods to invite them to the play. The actual play which was done on the most part by Marangatu was perhaps only 30% of what this event’s part and purpose. People at Marangatu worked hard to prepare for the theater portion, while the other churches and Christian/Catholic schools around spread flyers and invited others. There were more than 50 counselors who received information from the people who accepted Christ. The other 70% of the purpose of the event is getting the new believers connected to churches so they can grow.

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MORE PICTURES OF THEATER PREPARATION
MORE PICTURES OF THEATER DAY 1
MORE PICTURES OF THEATER DAY 2