As I sit down to write to you this month it is with a great sense of joy in my heart and that is not just because we have finally found a brand of Paraguayan marmalade that tastes like it was made at home! Since Christmas, we have seen some wonderful developments in our work within the community. There is a real sense of anticipation now that we are looking at the studies about Jesus and the people are engaging in a way that shows that they are not only understanding the lessons but that they can see this is a faith which is open to them.
Since having our friend come out in December (play the guitar for usto sing the songs in Guarani) the people have really been pushing to sing, sing and sing again. Considering that neither of us can play an instrument and John refers to my singing as the sounding like a cat in pain, we have always hoped that one of the people who has moved into the community from the outside might be able to help lead the way in the future as we know some of them have learnt a few basic cords on the guitar.
Well, one of the ladies got a bit annoyed that she had remembered to bring the song book we gave her to our meeting and we still didn’t sing, we decided we would just have to push forward regardless.
So we sang and Alicia clapped her way through a few songs, the people worked to keep up and those who could read huddled around the song books. It was awesome! They loved the worship time and even though it was haphazard to say the least it felt so full of fun and happiness that we knew we would just have to keep doing it. Also, there is so much truth in these older hymns and chorus’ that it is great to hear them sung. The next week the chief (who decided that if this was as bad as we were going to sound he couldn’t make it any worse) offered to play the guitar they were gifted by our friend. He strummed away trying to keep in time and close to the cords and notes we were incorrectly hitting and we had a great time. So at every meeting we now include a worship time. It feels unbelievable that these people who are still learning about God and have yet to make a decision to be followers of Christ want to sing songs all about Him and what He has done. We know they are also beginning to be influenced by the outside world because of the increase of those who have battery powered radios and are hearing music different to their own style. But to know they understand the words they are singing and still choose to sing them with joy is incredible.
We have also gained another young person in the city over the new year, whom we are helping out with her adjustment to living in the city. She is completing with us some discipleship materials and practical life lessons in finance, planning etc. Alicia absolutely loves having her around and it is often the case that Alicia has to be napping or out at a park for study times to be completed otherwise she gets annoyed that her ‘friend’ won’t play with her.
At the end of January we set off to Chile to attend two conferences and facilitate delegations from the UK including Elim’s international missions director (our boss) and Elim’s General Superintendent, Chris Cartwright. It was an exhausting 3 weeks of traveling, translating and meeting up with missionaries and National leaders from all over Central and South America. But we had an amazing time and we were really encouraged by the continued relationship building, teaching and very much enjoyed the hospitality of all our hosts.
On returning from Chile we were able to pick up our car from the mechanics with all needed repairs and jobs done and thanks to some extremely generous support the whole bill was covered including the bank charges for withdrawing all the money! We were over the moon and so grateful as even though our general ministry costs may not be that high on a weekly basis, our work out on country roads takes a great toll on our car. But without it we would not have been able to work where we do and help as fully as we can with it.
After being away for so long from the community, it is always a bit hard to return, not knowing how they are going to respond to us. It seems hard to understand what we mean when we explain that we are traveling so far away and working somewhere else without them. But this time upon returning back to the community, not only did we get to pick up where we left off in our relationship with them, but the chief’s wife made us a meal of chicken and fresh manioca. Any form of meat in a meal is considered extremely generous as they mainly would eat beans, corn, mandioca and small fish. So we really felt the value of the gift and the love that we were being shown by having such a meal prepared for us. As we begin to prepare to return to the UK for two conferences in May, it gives us hope that even though we will be gone for a while, it will no longer have an impact on our relationship with people when we return.
Thank you all once again for helping make all that we do possible! Through prayer, friendship and finance you all make our life out here so much easier. Please continue to pray for health and protection. Pray that as we continue to share the bible with them that we will see more positive changes and that they will continue to grow through the teachings. We pray that Jesus will be exalted and known to them and that they will be transformed through his love. Please pray for the young people we work with, especially as we have some of them who are going through some personal difficult times and are struggling moving forward.
Finally, please pray for us as we prepare to return to the UK in a few weeks time, that we will have everything tied up in Paraguay and all the provision we need for the time that we are back in the UK and that Alicia will cope well with all the travel and the time difference.
Thank you all once again,
with much love,
X x X x X
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This article was written for the McDonoughs Blog here.