John and Rachel McDonough

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News from Paraguay August 2022

We are in the throws of winter here in the southern hemisphere. It is nice to have cooler days with Southern winds bringing up fresh weather fronts. However, the damp and cold climate, coupled with houses that are not the driest means that a lot of chest infections do seem to be constantly going around. Everyone here seems to have been sick, several times, this winter. Not nice.

After over two years of not being able to get to the UK to visit supporters and churches it was fantastic for John to be able to make the trip last month. A jam-packed 3 weeks included a conference, speaking with supporters and churches over 16 appointments and grabbing a few days with family. It was great to be with some congregations that we hadn't visited since 2018, touch base with supporters and spend time with Pastor Alan and his wife Gail, from Elim Carlisle, our sending church. Thank you so much to all of you amazing people who gave John accommodation, clothes washing and food. We love you so much!

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Gathered body of Believers

Recently at church we have been looking at John chapter 6 and what has been amazing has been seeing how the congregation were so struck by how Jesus taught people. How close to them He was. There in person with them at the feeding of the 5,000 and just how involved and accessible He was to them. Not some far of deity they are instructed upon to appease, BUT God with them (us), guiding them (us), taking care of their (our) needs.

But this accessibility didn't cease when Jesus ascended to heaven, we know we still have access to Him, intimately, through prayer, through the hands and feet of our fellow Christians serving as He did and of course through His Word, the Bible.

If you are illiterate however, not being able to access the Bible is tough. Over the years here in Paraguay, there have been many amazing audio bible projects but currently, the availability of these bibles is very limited. One of our congregation who has a servants heart and works hard for the church, leading services and making sure all the benches and Sunday school area are always ready, didn't have access to a Bible because of his inability to read. He had to wait to get a family member to help him when they had time and even then the reading could be slow and hard depending on who was around.

Due to a technical issue with the website we use for the children's bible stories we were pointed in the direction of a Bible app that has the whole audio bible in Guarani. Not only that but there was the option to download the whole audio bible too. (Other apps have only had the New Testament recording or rely upon internet connectivity to work). Thanks to the kind donation of a smartphone and the wifi in our house (it took nearly 7 hours to download!) we were able to present our friend with his very own full audio Bible.

What's amazing is that with the development of phones, old smart phones being available and communities recently having electricity to charge the phones, we now have an easy and straight forward way to provide the Bible through bible.is that would not have been an option before.

The day we gave our friend the new audio Bible was incredible. His smile really did seem to stretch from ear to ear. He tells us how he now gets up at 4.30am every morning to re-stoke the fire and start his day, now spending time listening to God's word. What a joy and a privilege to be a part of helping people to feel and know how accessible Jesus is today.

Thank you too, to all of you for making this possible by facilitating us to be here. This man has his Bible in his hands today because of you all joining with us. Rejoice with us!

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We Mite have a problem!

Well the cold and humid weather brought us our first experience of damp mites. One morning we found a small white moving spec of dust which was strange, especially when the next day we found a few more in another room. Then for the next 24 hours we started to see these little dots appear everywhere.
What are these little critters? How did they get here? How on earth do we get rid of these?
Did my itching start because of them or is that just psychosomatic? (The answer to that is yes, it was all in my mind as damp mites don't bite.)

Well it seems that these infestations are not uncommon, especially in wooden huts and thatched roofs. The mites multiply and normally, those who live in huts, will build a new one and move into that, either burning down the old one or after gutting the structure, make it into a pig pen or chicken house.

Praise God we met a believer who has an agricultural fumigation business. Used to fumigating farm silos and customs warehouses, it made our small home an easy job for him to quickly fit into his schedule. And after two full house fumigations and 72 hours of us not being allowed in, we returned to find a bug free house. We then had a big clean up! To make sure all eggs were eliminated (it still makes me shiver to hear that word) our guy had us collect all books and some furnishings into one room, which he made air tight and fumigated with an industrial grade Acaricide pellets. That was 15 days ago and we have only just opened up the sealed room again.

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All in all, it has been a very strange and hard winter for us. Damp mites, colds and illness! The clean-up seems to be endless, but there is a good amount we have learned through this season, and lots of sermon illustrations we can draw out of it all.
This last month we have certainly felt like we have been through hardship and trial. So it was timely to read the newsletter of fellow missionaries, Keith & Barbie Jackson, where they reflected upon primary and secondary trials. They wrote:
"Not having home comforts is not a primary trial, those are real but they are secondary trials. Primary trials are times when we suffer for our faith, when we are 'cancelled' by a society that claims to epitomise tolerance, when we are shunned because of our faith."

Suffering, trials and tough times are to be expected. This damp mite infestation was a 'secondary' trial, most of the trials we face are secondaries. We were not hindered in proclaiming Jesus, we were not persecuted. It was JUST really really annoying! However, there was a message the Lord spoke to us through this season through the reflection in our friends newsletter and the message of James 2:
"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds. . ."
Count it all JOY.
Joy, wasn't our initial reaction to the mites. We had to learn that part afresh.

Wherever you find yourself today, whatever the challenges you face, however hard the hardships are or have become, however frustrating, annoying, painful or lonely it seems, WHATEVER you are facing, keep pressing on, keep going, persevere. Count it all joy. And be reassured by the words of Psalm 121:

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

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In 2023, we hope to return as a family for the Elim Leaders Summit and the Missionaries Conference. We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible and celebrating with you all the Lord is doing.

We love and appreciate you all so much.
Blessings.

The 4 McDs

 

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