Tuesday, September 30, 2008
The group, "Huellas" or fingerprints, and "One To One" came from Argentina to give a great concert to kick off the festivities on Saturday. They packed out the house with youth and a few young-at-heart.
Pastor Marcos Kurrle gave the message and challenged the youth to be spiritual champions. He used examples from the Olympics of gold metal winners that persisted to finally achieve their goal.
The presence of the Holy Spirit was manifest through worship, adoration and the messages. There were several diverse musical groups, including the brass ensemble from Alem, Argentina, a quartet from Encarnacion, Huellas band, the Kurrle family and a choir consisting of all the pastors in Paraguay.
We were humbled to be ordained by the Church of God in Paraguay. The leaders of Paraguay and Argentina came to lay hands on us and the others being commissioned to Christian service. They gave each of us a special verse and prayed for us. All the servants have been active in ministry already for at least five years. This symbolism is found in the Old and New Testament to bless and give authority to leaders who are called to ministry.
These are the folks that were ordained. They are officially recognized as pastors in their respective ministries. One of the most moving ordinations, was of Tabita, who's 66 years old, who's been serving the Lord her whole life.
She (Tabita) and Martin retired from their leadership role as coordinators of the work in Paraguay this weekend. Although they'll never really retire from ministry; they handed over the "baton" to Alcirio and Marise Hobus in an emotional ceremony on Sunday afternoon. Martin preached on the Kingdom of God and encouraged everyone to make disciples. Martin and Tabita gave the Hobuses a staff as a symbol of their leadership as shepherds. He then covered them with an umbrella promising them that God is their refuge and will strengthen and protect them even in the most difficult challenges.
We thank God for the tremendous work that Martin and Tabita have done here in Paraguay over the past 33 years, and 7 in Argentina before that. They were presented with beautiful gifts, including a large leather map of Paraguay marked with all the churches they have helped plant.
We are so grateful for their sacrifice, devotion to God and each other and for the legacy they have left us. May the Lord bless them and Alcirio and Marise as they continue to lead Paraguay in a new season of growth.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
This weekend is gonna be great! We're having a huge youth concert on Saturday night with two bands from Argentina (Huellas and One to One). On Sunday we're celebrating the ordination of 14 pastors and in the afternoon Norberto's parents, Martin and Tabita Kurrle, will be officially retiring after 33 years of service as pastors/missionaries in Paraguay. We're preparing "full-time" as they say here. Stay tuned for pictures and more!
Thursday, September 11, 2008
It has been a very busy last few weeks in Ciudad del Este. We have been working in the heat and in the freezing cold to finish the classrooms.
The women in the group are extremely hard workers!
After raising up the brick walls, the group worked on making and filling the forms for the second floor!
On the last day, the group presented Pastor Roa and his family a huge basket of gifts for each person in the family. The most touching was seeing Theresa open up a toaster oven, something she'd been dreaming of owning for years!
What a beautiful group! Thank you South Meridian for your love, for your energy, your sacrifice and your example. We can't thank you enough for all that you've done for Paraguay. We'll keep praying for each other and believe that our partnership will continue to grow!
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Remember Michely?...the lady I had the baby shower for last week, Well, her water broke this morning and she called me at 7:00 to take her to the med center to have the baby (they only charge $25 for a delivery). We arrived there after a 20 minute drive and they didn’t accept her! They told her she was high risk because she wasn’t dilated yet and they sent her away!
I began to pray and ask God to give us wisdom on what to do. We went to a private clinic and the couple talked to the doctor while i waited in the car. He wasn’t going to accept her because she hadn’t done her prenatal treatment there. When I walked in and talked to him, (he is a personal friend of ours) he softened his tone and told me he’d accept her because of our relationship. Thank God for networking! However, the cost there is a two month’s wages for the couple ($500) becuase she didn't consult there prior. When I called the church to see if they could help pay for some of the expenses, they didn’t even have any cash to loan their youth pastor.
Clock This situation is very typical of Paraguayan culture. People don’t plan ahead. There is no savings for emergency situations (or planned pregnancies) and even the church washes its hands, because they are barely paying the bills. Paraguayans only think about the needs for today and don’t prepare for tomorrow. There are consequences to a lack of planning and we are reminded how important it is to teach Paraguayans a better approach to their finances. We are planning a special course this month (Sept. 21) called, “How to make it ‘til the end of the month” because even simple budgeting is a challenge for most families in our society.
Monday, September 1, 2008
This is the "before" picture of the church classrooms that will be built in the next two weeks. There are 6 classrooms and a bathroom.
We are grateful to have some plumbers on the trip. Here they are digging the pipes for the bathroom, with help from the kids.
The group is doing different kinds of odd jobs to help the church. Here some women are weeding the flower beds.
We visited the Saltos de Monday (the Monday Falls) on our day off yesterday, as well as Itaipu, the world's largest hydroelectric power plant and the zoo. It was a fun and relaxing time.
The South Meridian team shared some testimonies, a few songs and presentations in the church service last night.
It was a beautiful time of worship and building friendships.