So... where was I? Paraguay? I should have written about it as soon as I returned. But you know how it is, at first you're playing catch up from traveling and are too tired, then you get back into the regular swing of work and forget. But yes, it was a great trip! I loved getting to know the very special family that we worked with there. We're working on a story about their autistic son Steven and the miracles God has worked in his life to bring him to a point where he is able to take the Gospel to Japan. He is such an impressive young man and a true testament to the dedication of his parents and the power of prayer.
I can't wait for the story to run! God has done so much to weave all the details together that I can only imagine what else He is going to do in and through Steven and his story. I'd love to tell you all about it, but I don't want to spoil the story, so I'll just share a bit about the rest of the trip.
|This is Steven. Join me in praying for him while he serves in Japan!|
|Port at Asuncion.|
During this coverage we were in Asuncion, Paraguay, a small city in the middle of the South American continent. The weather felt like home: hot and humid. One afternoon it even poured rain and lightninged! (<--Wow that word looks really weird written out...)
What do you know about Paraguay? If you're like me...not much. I had to do some research, but thanks to all-knowing Wikipedia and my handy-dandy Insight Guide to South America I was able to fill in some gaps in my knowledge. So here is my condensed "highlights only" version. (And yes, the highlights are kind of long so skip down about 5 paragraphs if you don't want to learn some crazy things about Paraguay.) :
Paraguay is a landlocked country in South America sometimes called the "Heart of America" because of its location on the continent. Asuncion, the capitol, was founded in 1537, by Spanish conquistadors who had left the settlement of Buenos Aires, Argentina to go a'conquering up the Paraguay River. After battles with natives and food supply issues, the remaining settlers from B.A. evacuated to the safer and more lush outpost in Asuncion as well, and it then became the hub for exploration of the interior portions of the continent.
|Me in front of the Presidential Palace|
|Our taxi guide looking over into the poor neighborhood behind the government buildings. I walked over to take a picture and he decided he needed to come protect me.|
|Poor neighborhood in Asuncion.|
|Some unflattering political graffiti by the presidential palace.|
Other ethnic groups have created small cultural pockets in Paraguay and manage to retain their language and culture. This played an important part in the story that is being done about Steven, since he was able to study the Japanese language and be discipled by a Japanese pastor and assist in the Japanese church, all in the heart of South America! Attending a bilingual church service isn't anything new to me, but attended one in Spanish and Japanese certainly was a new experience! The mix of cultures was remarkable. I had a great time watching the adorable kids play and using the few Japanese phrases I learned during our trip to Japan years ago. I never thought those would come in handy on a trip to Paraguay. Steven taught me a new word, "sugoi" which means "great" in Japanese. It's making my list of new favorite phrases. :-)
My favorite thing in Paraguay (aside from the wonderful people we met and the weather) was the handcrafts. They had so much neat stuff! And I definitely did my bit to help the Paraguayan economy by bringing home lots of souvenirs, especially the exquisite colorful lace pieces.
|Handcrafted Nanduti lace.|
|My new hand-tooled leather Bible cover.|
|Me with Steven and Cema.|
There was lots of awesomeness that happened during the few days we were able to be with Steven and his family, but one of the most exciting things had nothing to do with the story, Paraguay, etc. Nope. On February 18th my wonderful friend Della got engaged!
When we were silly freshmen in high school talking about our future husbands and getting married and all that fun stuff, never once did I imagine that I'd be staying up until the wee hours of the night in a hotel room in Paraguay to get to talk to her on the phone and hear about the proposal all these years later. Thanks to her sweet fiancé (so weird to say that...my best friend has a fiancé...woah!) he had kept me in the loop on the planning and had even let me be involved with arranging part of the proposal day. It kills me to be so far away during these exciting life moments and the wedding planning, etc. but I am so thrilled that I'll at least be able to travel back to the states to be Della's maid of honor. I can't wait!
As Steven would say, "Sugoi!"
As Steven would say, "Sugoi!"