Sunday, January 9, 2011

coming home

So much to say, but I am too tired to post. Tomorrow we depart, so you probably won't here much from us. The airport in Chile and the airport in Miami both charge for internet access and I am pretty cheap, so I probably won't pay for it.

Please be in prayer for us as we travel - we will be in transit for more than 24 hours. We will leave the guesthouse at about 8:45 tomorrow morning and our first flight is a little after 11am. We arrive in Chile around 2 and have an 8 hour lay-over. From there we fly to Miami (from 9:50pm - 4:25am), there we will go through customs and everything then catch our flight to Cincinatti at about 7:30. We should arrive in Cincy around 10 and then claim our luggage and a 3 hour drive. Hopefully, we will be back at school a by 3pm. At which time, I am going to feel like sleeping until Wednesday.

Also, a couple of team members have been struggling with upset tummies, pray for restored health and comfort during travel.

It is crazy, part of me wants to stay.

The last full day here

Today marks two events. The first is the last full day we will spend in Paraguay as a team. The second is my BIRTHDAY. Twenty two today, but I don't really feel any older. Well like I said it is the last full day here and we have had a blast. We have been able to do so mcuh while we have been here and God has really blessed our time here. So much was done that we never would have ever dreamed of, but God is good. We finished the house we thought we were only going to be part way through with. We were able to see a lot of paraguy and see the dam that was built on the border of Bazil and Parauguay. It has been a blast. We are sad that we are leaving, but are at the same time looking forward to getting home. We hope to see you guys soon. Talk to ya'll later.

a picture post, a picture post

Mark putting the finishing touches on one of the walls, this is our part almost finished. They did the foundation, we did the walls, they will put on the roof. How great to have been able to finish our part.

One of the greatest blessings to me was to be able to work with the Paraguayans on the work project. These are the two that I most connected with Yolanda and her grandfather Juan. It was wonderful to work and laugh with them.

the building under the orange tarp that made the bricks look orange.

Not "the" waterfall, but a beautiful waterfall. In the midst of the water there were rocks. Some had plants on them, they were beautiful, green, and full. What a cool picture of the relationship we have with Jesus. If we are firmly planted in the rock, we can be healthy and florish in our spiritual life, no matter the power of the forces moving and pushing around us.

a movie

So we watched a movie the other night about missionaries in the 1750's to the Guarani people. It gave us some background to the Native people of Paraguay and the missions of the early church. It was heartbreaking and challenging, basically, the Jesuits and the slavetraders were competeing for the rights to the same people. The Jesuits were concerned for their souls and the slavetraders simply wanted to profit from selling them. Sadly, politically and in the Catholic Church, the slavetraders won. Days later I am still thinking about the movie.

Thinking about the people in the community that we have been in that are of this history that are Christians. That even though the church pulled out, God was still here. God loves these people and has blessed them.

Though the movie was difficult to watch I think it was very helpful to better understand the people.

On a side note, I had no idea how "marine-like" the Jesuits were. You had to be pretty serious to be a missionary in the 1750's - the few, the humble, the missionaries - I don't know, sounds sort of catchy.


This morning as a team we will be singing "God is so good" in English, Spanish, and Guarani. The other day we when we were still at the Bowen's house we learned this song, Andy was teaching us the words. TJ was learning to play it on the guitar. He was having a little trouble with the transitions and so as we sang the words, Andy started saying the chords. His four year old son, Timmy heard him "singing the chords" and joined in by singing in ABC song in a loud voice. It was so funny we all stopped singing to laugh at which Timmy proudly declared, "I sang my ABC's"

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Journal entry

Part of leading this trip is for my internship to graduate from KMBC this year - one of the requirements is a journal. Below is an entry from my journal.

Friday January 7-So much to say. Some things that Andy has said over the last couple of days have really struck me. He mentioned a note about the ministry of strangeness that we have as missionaries and as Christians. Also, I really thought about how Satan tries to use our own testimonies against us-If we are born in a Christian home, we feel that our testimonies are not that exciting; If we are born in non-Christian homes or go through many difficulties and struggles with sin, we feel that our testimonies are inferior or that we are. It was good to remember that we are saved by grace and any testimony is a story of who God is, how wonderful!

One of the men who has been coming to work with us is named Juan. I feel great victory in bonding with him enough to get him to laugh. As a team, We made a commitment to pray for Juan and his salvation, and Andy will tell us when he comes to salvation.

Today was a full work day down at the project. Breakfast at 7:30, Worksite at 8:00 (roughly), Work until noon (approximately, we were over enthusiastic about how much mortar would be used before lunch. Consequently, there was a lot of mortar left when we headed up to the meal that we put in buckets full of water), lunch at noon (closer to 1:00), break until 2:00, work at 2:00, back home at 4:30, supper at 7:00, team time at 8:00. Andy and Lizet shared during the team time and we gave them a card (really just a piece of paper with notes written on it) and some candy.

Mark fell in the hole at the worksite today, which made everyone laugh, including Juan. Some connections were made with the kids-at one point, Yolanda poured cold water down TJ’s back, who then made a sound like a startled chicken. We laughed and found a new meaning for PC-petrified chicken. Yolanda and I really have developed a special friendship, she even gave me a gift bracelet. Three walls were finished by the end of the work project today. Andy mentioned that our presence here and the project we are working on has made an impact on the community-people are talking. How thrilling to be the first work team that the Bowen’s have been able to host here in Escobar. On the way to the work project this morning we were privileged to meet the man that will be living in the house that we are building. We also met his sister Asuncion, who is his current caretaker, but due to failing health cannot continue to do so. So instead her daughter Dominga will be taking care of him down in the valley.

~Shushan (typed by John - oh the power that has gone to my head as team leader)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Fun in Paraguay

On Monday, we went to help a lady from the church in Asuncion. We went right to work. She had a concrete wall and a gate in front of her home for security. We sanded the concrete wall to prepare for painting and weeded in front of the wall. After sanding, we painted the wall white and the gate dark red. Mark cleaned out her gutters. While we worked, she came out and picked some lemons from her tree in the front yard. A few minutes later, she came out with a pitcher of lemonade made from the lemons she had just picked. There are so many fruit trees here. It's nice for the people here to just be able to go to their front yard and pick the fruit they want. The lady was very grateful for our work. We were glad we could help her.
The house we are helping build is looking really great. We will probably finish the brick laying tomorrow. There were some kids and teens that helped us this afternoon. We had a lot of fun with the kids. We learned some words in Guarani. We had fun spraying water at each other. One of the kids dumped some cold water down TJ's shirt. We all laughed for quite awhile!



I am so enjoying Paraguay - I really love it here!

Everything John mentioned has a story attached to it - they all make me laugh, I would love to tell you all about each thing. Truly, there is so much to tell, but so little time. We cleaned up from lunch - which was wonderful and prepared by some neighbors. We are getting ready to head out to the work project, I think this will be our last time there. I can't wait to show you a picture of the finished building, it is amazing!

Today we met the man who will live in the little house we are building, what a blessing to be part of this community and the ministries here. More later - thank you so much for your prayers, keep praying!


Flurry of Activity

The last few days here have been so interesting...and fun...and exciting...and busy...Well you get the idea. Just to fill you in on a little of what we've done over the last couple of days:
-Traveled cross-country twice
-Toured the largest hydro-electric dam in the world
-Spent time in Brazil
-Went to the zoo
-Got hissed at by Puma's
-Realized just how big "big" cats are
-Tried to tour water fall in Argentina
-Realized you need a multiple entry Visa to re-enter a country
-Enjoyed several ice cream cones
-Ate out at a sidewalk resturant
-Got lost
-Toured a large Catholic Church
-Visited a lake
-Saw more ceramic statues than ever in my life before now
-Went souvenir shopping
-Enjoyed a trek up the mountain to the house
-Saw water flowing both in and out of the same storm drains
-Realized a sudden desire to go into city planning
-Layed the last brick on the back wall of the building project


Thursday, January 6, 2011

On a more serious note...

So, God is so good. He has been blessing the whole team each day. He has been keeping us free from sickness and danger, and we've had no major setbacks. We've come here to be a blessing to the Paraguayans and in turn, God has blessed us more than we could've imagined. He's rerally evident everyday. Every night, we talk about our "God moments", or where each of us has seen God at work through the day. It's really amazing to see each other's perspective on the day's activities.
One a more funny note, John and I have had some quality bonding time doing dishes together once every day or two. He knows I'm allergic to dish detergent, so he kindly offers to splash me while we do dishes at various points throughout the day. He hasn't yet, though. That which I am glad of.
We have gotten to see some of God's amazing artwork in nature several times throughout the past few days. Mark and I found our way out to a cliff overlooking the valley where the view was breathtaking. We have gotten to see a few waterfalls, and even got flooded yesterday. We were driving back to Asuncion and it started raining. The streets FLOODED and at points, the water was over the hood of the van. The clutch started going out and it wouldn't shift into gear like it's supposed to. Praise God we got back to the Carrs' safely.
The driving here is crazy. We've seen a couple wrecks and several near misses. Some people here ride small motorcycles, some drive tiny cars, and a few drive horse pulled carts. GA friend- yes you who would love all the horses!
Please remember to pray for us!
P.S. The BIG sumbrero (spelling?) that I bought gets me funny looks from the Latin Americans here....

Monday, January 3, 2011

more pictures

I am excited about pictures! It is just a glimpse of what we have been doing. We did not all bring a camera - actually we just have 2 people taking pictures Mark and Kara, but I promise we will have more than enough!

Sitting at VBS, this is the unactive part of our activity

This is the house that we built

Our team at the Asuncion Christian Academy - where John and Kara are going to teach

a few more pictures

Success in picture posting! Here are a few more!

TJ sleeping in the airport in Chile.

This is the team arriving in Paraguay!


I have been trying to upload pictures without much success, so here is another try.

Josh and Kara - how cute they are!

Our team waiting to begin our travel adventure in Cincinatti - observe both TJ and John playing with their toys.

It is hot here in the summer

We are loving our time here, we have been able to do loads of stuff. One thing we all agree on is that it is a lot hotter here than it is in the states. However, we have stared to adjust and we are starting to get use to it. About the time we get adjsuted it will be time to go back to winter. We were able to experience our first church service and it was amazing. One thing we noticed is unlike the states people really accept you here and it is so cool for people who can't speak your language are still trying to carry on a conversation with you just because they want to make you feel welcome. This is a shorter blog but it is time to eat and that is my cue. Well talk to ya'll later for now goodbye. Josh

January Summer

Every now and again it occurs to me that it is January! I know that may seem like an odd statment, but everything around me tells me that it is summer. It is so beautiful and green here, the weather has been amazing, the sun and rain - no indication of winter here. Plus we have been out of school for a few weeks and my previous mission trips have all been in the summer, so somehow, I am completely confused. Someone will say soemthing about February and I will think that is really far away :-). I don't know what I will think when we come back to KY and it is winter again.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Don't drop rocks on toads in holes you have dug!

So, right now Mark is tying up the missionary, Larry Carr. Mr. Carr is a magician.
These past few days have been the most impacting on me personally. Yesterday, we worked on the block building. Shushan and I moved multiple cartloads of blocks from the front yard to the back yard on a wooden cart. The cart is completely wooden with a wooden wheel, much like a wheel barrow. The one thing that I disliked about it was the flat spot in the wheel that made it flop when rolled. Mark and Josh worked on building the wall while John kept the bricks wet and kept the mortar wet.
After working on the building, we went back to the Bowens' and got cleaned up for VBS. When we got there, Andy Bowen opened with a message and the story of Moses. Then came our times with the kids. They opened up to us more yesterday than they did Thursday. They wanted to hug us and take pictures with us while we played tag with them.
This morning, Mark and I gave our testimonies with an interpreter. Mark spoke about Annalysa and I gave a shortened version of my time from highschool until now. They response was awesome. People took in our words and were intrigued. Then after the service, we all had fellowship with the members of the church. Several girls tried speaking to me, but I couldn't understand. Then a suprise- one or two of the teens knew a little english.
This trip has already been making an impression on me spiritually and has opened my eyes about the way people live here.
P.S. Yesterday, I was walking around the hole I dug and the dirt around the edge gave way. I would've been perfectly fine from the fall had I not faceplanted a thorny bush! It hurt!

Back to Asuncion

Yesterday we got in our first full day of work. Both of the previous two days we have only been able to work a half-day. The rain threatened to cancel our afternoon work session, but it let up around lunchtime allowing us to complete 5 more layers of bricklaying. We tried to clean up before going to the evening's VBS, but while four of us were in the showers, the water pressure kind of nothing. The VBS was a much more satisfying experience than the showers. There were several kids who came and some members of the team really made connections, even through the language barrier (not that members of the team didn't try speaking-Shushan accidently spoke Russian to quite a few).

Today we went to our first church service here in Paraguay. We had to take two trips down the mountain (a total of at least 14 trips this week up and down this very bumpy trail). The church service was in the local community, where Anna's father is the pastor. The service was conducted in Spanish and a few of us were able to grasp some of what was being said. The music at this church was very varied, with some faster paced and some slower paced songs. The service started at about 9 and lasted until 10:30 or so. After the service and lunch we made the trip back to Asuncion where we will be spending a few days in the guesthouse.