September 5, 2012

Ita Paso School

Before the government of Encarnación flooded the lower areas of the city to make the boardwalk, they had to relocate the people living in these areas.  So in various spots just outside the city limits, little "villages" or subdivisions popped up.  I shouldn't say little, because even though the government-built spec houses are pretty small, each subdivision contains a whole lot of families.

How and why and where these families ended up across town is a long story for another day, but one I hear a lot, as we live a block from one of the lines that divided those who stayed and those who were moved.  Despite the sadness and complications that arose from the mandatory relocation, I'm told that the new, concrete-block homes of the villages are much more solid than many of the dwellings these people formerly lived in, so there's a little silver lining in their cloud.

Today we were privileged to get to know a Christian school inside one of these villages, on the outskirts of Encarnación.  A church began a soup kitchen in this neighborhood 11 years ago, and a few years ago they were able to purchase land beside it and open a school.  They now have preschool, kindergarten, and first grade classes, with plans to add a grade each year.  This is how many private schools in Paraguay operate, growing one grade at a time.  They also purchased an empty lot to start a small garden, which the children will learn to tend and eat the fruits of their labor, so to speak.

We got to meet the 85 students and a few of their parents this morning when we went to share a Bible story with them.  We were almost thwarted by an unexpected visit from the public nurse for that area, who strikes terror in the hearts of children young and old when they see him walking around with his little cooler full of vaccinations.  The preschool teacher shared with us that she fainted the last time he came, because 15 different children needed shots and she had the job of holding them as they received the injection.  So with a little smooth talking, and using us as an excuse, she was able to convince him to come back with his yellow fever vaccinations next week.  Disaster averted!

Here are the preschoolers and kindergartners saying their morning prayer before class starts.

 We gathered inside the soup kitchen, which functions as the church building on Sunday mornings, where we shared the story of little Samuel hearing God's voice.  In this photo Camille and Caroline are handing out coloring pages.  

I asked for volunteers to act  out the story, and since the point was that we're none too young for God to use, I wanted the smallest "Samuel" I could find.  The teacher sent up a little fella who sucked on his fingers the whole time and shook his head when it was time to act it out, so I improvised. When the story was done and I had the audience applaud our actor/volunteers, I noticed that the poor little guy was bawling and quite eager to return to his seat. Yeesh.  Sure didn't mean for THAT to happen!

And as always, Ken's beard was a big hit.  Here he's being attacked by the little fellas.  The boys were talking about which one of them would be able to grow one like that when they grow up, and they all yelled, "Barba!" to get him to give out high-fives as we left.  

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