Thursday, June 25, 2009

La Huerta- The Garden.

Last Sunday we had a great service with the kids. A friend and evangelist, Saul, visited the home and spoke to the kids. It was also our Sunday designated for recitation of the last four scriptures that were memorized. Eight children recited all four scriptures nearly perfectly and several others knew three of the four. I am so proud of the kids for working hard to memorize scripture. They are such intelligent children. I was especially proud of Miguel Paredes who normally has serious stage fright- he volunteered to come up as one of the first and spoke out every single scripture in a loud and clear voice. I wanted to cry with joy. The reward for those that recited all perfectly was a trip with us to the local ice cream parlor. This time, because the scriptures were longer, the kids were able to get FOUR scoops of ice cream. Honestly I did not think they would be able to finish their bowls, but I was wrong! So you can get an idea of how hard the kids work at memorization, I will put the scriptures below (I will put them in English, but of course they memorized the Spanish version):
  • Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37-39
  • Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6
  • This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. 1 John 4:9
  • Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Psalm 119:105
We are so excited that these children are not only receiving a safe home with plenty of food, but that they are also receiving the bread of life. Thanks to each of you for your prayers that make our ministries here a reality.

As a second part to this blog, I would like to recognize Mario, our house parent from House 1 for all of his hard work in our garden. Our garden is growing and has so many things growing in it that I don't even know what they all are. We have strawberries, lettuce, medicinal herbs, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, green onions, cabbage, carrots, parsley, radishes, tomatoes, beets, and a bunch of other things that I could not find a translation for in the dictionary. Eventually we hope for the food grown in the garden to not only be for our own consumption, but to also be a way of blessing our community and generating some revenue. See the pictures below to get a better idea of how beautiful the garden is.

Here is a view of the strawberry plants in a small portion of the garden.

This is Mario working in the garden with his son, Rodi.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Thanks for the Hats!

I would like to say thank you to Jamie and Marion (missionaries in Ciudad del Este) for the package they sent us that was full of fleece hats and some other great gifts. We had enough hats to pass out one to each of the children that attend the public school located on our property. It was so fun to pass out the hats, and even more fun to take pictures of the kids with them on.

Another update about the farming project: On Thursday, Shaun, Mario (tio from house 1), Roberto Carlos (in charge of the cows), and Nick Calfee (a youth from our church in TN that is visiting) cleaned out two tilapia ponds. We should be placing fish in the ponds next week. We also spoke with a neighbor who has pigs that will be born in a few weeks. We plan to buy four pigs from him once they are weaned and start to have our own pigs here to help offset the cost of buying meat.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Matias: Welcome and Happy Birthday!

The total is now at 19! We had been waiting for another little boy named Matias to arrive. He lived with the five siblings in House 3 before they were placed in children's homes. He followed them in some of their children's homes, but was left behind in one of the homes when they were transferred. They all call him their little brother and asked if he would be able to come. When the houseparents agreed to taking on one more child, we contacted Nilda, a child advocate, who was responsible for bringing the five siblings in House 3 here, the paperwork was fixed and Matias was able to be transferred here. House 3 now has 11 children. When he arrived on Tuesday we learned that his birthday was the following day!

On Tuesday Shaun went with the house parent in House 3 to find the home of Miguel Angel. He arrived here in January from another children's home with zero paperwork. We didn't have an official name, birthdate, or anything! He was an considered abandoned child when taken into Paraguay's child services. Miguel Angel remembers where he is from and occasionally cries to go back home. We decided that the best thing would be to take him back to his town so that we could find his family and discover a little about his past. Shaun said that the trip was very difficult and that he understands even more the need for homes like ours. The conversations were in Guarani entirely, so Shaun could only read the body language during their hour visit. Miguel Angel's mother is very young and has six other children. She had no idea where Miguel Angel was, nor did any of the other family members. I have given this story to explain that the family gave us Miguel Angel's birth certificate and we were finally able to know how old he was and what his legal name was. His birthday passed in April and he turned 10. Since we were about to celebrate Matias and Thalia's (she turns 11 today) birthdays, we decided to have a big party and celebrate for Miguel Angel as well.

I will share a little about the three children that celebrated their birthdays:

Miguel Angel turned 10 in April. He is in the first grade for now (although we may try to change that now that we know he had already completed second grade before coming here). He scored perfect on my English exam that was this past week. He is very smart and normally extremely happy. Please pray especially for him as he is having a hard time right now adjusting to his family becoming a part of his life again. He was living on the streets before coming here and he desperately needs the Lord's help to heal him emotionally from the life that he lived before. Pray that he would feel loved and that he would be at peace living here.

Matias turned 7 years old and is in the first grade. He just arrived so I don't know him very well yet, but I have heard from his house parents that he may be quite a little handful. He is very energetic and already seems completely at home. He is very affectionate and already has a long list of things that he would like for me to buy him! :)

Thalia turned 11. She is a special little girl. She is in the first grade. Her favorite activities are singing and dancing and she is almost always either singing or dancing, or combining the two. She is very pleasant and a very good worker when it comes time for chores. The changes that have occurred with her since she arrived are amazing. She is becoming a lovely young lady.

Tuesday was a busy day! We also received a package from some missionaries that live in Ciudad del Este, Jamie and Marion (click to see their website). The package was STUFFED with scarves and hats for the community, prints of paintings Jamie created, hand-knitted teddy bears sent from a group of ladies in the UK, and a few exciting gifts for Abi. The children were so thrilled with their packages and have been sleeping with their little hand-knitted bears. Even the oldest boys showed me how they had their bears tucked in! Thanks so much to Jamie and Marion for these wonderful gifts!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Meeting the Neighbors.

I would like to share a little about our day today.  Thanks to some help from my parents, we were able to buy several blankets to pass out in the community around us.  With the nights dipping into the 40's and many of our neighbors with no way to close their windows and no doors at all, we felt the need to do something for as many neighbors as we could.  Our friends the Hagermans (check out their blog here) who live and work about an hour away from us gave us the idea to pass out blankets along with the Bibles we purchased recently.  They also began a family photo project with their neighbors, taking their family portrait.  This was one of the best ideas I have heard of as a way to get to know your neighbors.  I have started this project with our immediate neighbors.  

Some of the neighbors- What beautiful children!

Because we want the children in the the children's home to learn that serving others is an important part of our Christian faith, four of the older kids walked out into the community with us to distribute the blankets and Bibles.  They loved being able to help and are already asking about the next time we can go out for another project.  

Lysandry, Lujan, Nilda, and Carlos carrying blankets to pass out.

We saved a few blankets back to take to specific families from the school that I have recognized in my classes as having serious needs.  Hopefully tomorrow, we can pass those last blankets out.  Later in the afternoon a group of women showed up asking for blankets, but we only had the few left we had set aside and we were not able to give them anything.

While Shaun and I have done a lot of driving around the community, today was really the first time we went off the main roads and out into the smaller neighborhoods.  We found that the children's home is literally surrounded by homes in desperate poverty.  Mario (the house parent from House 1) explained that most of the wealthier people live on the main roads, but as you branch out on the literal pig paths, there are hundreds of homes with thousands of children, nearly all living without indoor plumbing and most in homes without windows or doors.  There is also a squatter village just a street over from the childrens home with about 200 houses (a guesstimate) made of scrap metal and wood.  Some days the unemployment and poverty that surrounds us is daunting.  We have so many resumes of people just wanting work, and even more informal requests for jobs.  Please be in prayer with us that the Lord would lead us in the way that we can best reach out to our community (meanwhile teaching the children in the children's home the importance of service) and that He would open the hearts of the people to learn about the Him.  

Another exciting update: Today we were visited by a government organization, SNPP, that offers help in the area of farming.  The group that came included three agricultural engineers.  They were excited about working with us and will be meeting on Monday to discuss sending volunteers twice a week to help us in the garden and also to teach the children how to garden.  The potential of our property here is vast.  We have 9 tilapia ponds that need some cleaning and maintenance to open, 6 chicken houses that can be opened after a little repair work and disinfecting, space for pigs, a growing garden, a worm colony (I am not actually sure how to talk about that in English, but something about earthworms), and space for additional cattle.  I am learning so much about farming and my vocabulary is expanding daily as far as agricultural lingo is concerned.  Our children's home is very blessed to have house parents and Roberto Carlos (the man in charge of the cattle and farm area) who are passionate about starting new projects and working to make the children's home a little more self-sufficient.  

If you are interested in helping with either buying more blankets for the community or in aiding in one of the agricultural projects, please contact us at  Thank you for your prayers.  The Lord is blessing the children's home and we are so thankful.