July 29, 2012

Now THIS I Recognize!

One of our goals for these first few months in Encarnacion, is to investigate and, when possible, participate in other outreach and mission work already happening.  It's all part of the process of avoiding "duplication of services" and learning what needs exist, how they're being met, and how we can work to meet the ones that aren't yet addressed.  

I told you that this is a whole different world than where we've lived before in Paraguay, due mostly to the access to the river, the border with Argentina, and a higher population of immigrants.  But we figured that just out of the city limits, we were sure to find the Paraguay we're used to.  Where food is cooked on fires outside of the one-room houses, where Guarani is the language of choice, and where women are diligently sweeping the dirt of their front yards.

Lining up for a game
So we tagged along with an outreach team to a community about 5 kms from our home.  As we pulled up, about 50 kids came running out to sing, hear the Bible story, and play games with the handful of young adults who come to be with them one afternoon each week.  It was quite chilly, and I shuddered at their lack of warm clothes, but they were all smiles and already beginning to sing their songs.

As Ken, the girls, and our guest Thiago hung with the kids, I was ushered to the adult work (OUCH!).  Several of us women and a pastor gathered at the home of a young lady who has some sort of undiagnosed sickness and can't really leave her house.  Actually, she's normally in bed, but she'd gotten up and was sitting in a chair in expectation of our Bible study.  It was a lovely time of sharing and singing (in Guarani--YAY!) but I didn't make it all the way through before someone came by and asked me to join her at another house.

We made our way down a long hill, around a curve, and to the end of the row of houses, finding about 10 kids hanging around a spot across from the little creek.  Their early-40's mother was inside, lying in bed in the last stages of cancer.  Three of us ladies rushed in, closing the door against the cold as quickly as possible, only to have it opened and held open the whole time we visited.  The kids and grandma wanted to listen, too.  ;)

We all talked with her for a little while, and my new friend began to explain God's plan for salvation.  After she took her sweet time going through the original plan, the Fall in the Garden, Jesus' sacrifice, and various other topics, she led this beautiful lady in a prayer to give her life to the Lord.  Then she asked me to pray for her healing, and I looked into the wide eyes of her little ones, staring up at me in a look of desperate hope, not sure what to think of us but eager for us to stay by their mommy's side.  Phwew.  Tough to pray with a giant knot in your throat.

Next week, we hope to visit some other ministries we've found, but we'll be praying for the wonderful work going on with this team, and for the community they are impacting.

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