November has been a month full of activities and blessings for the children here in Itaugua. Carlos, our oldest boy in the home, was finally able to have his front tooth repaired. It had been broken off for over two years. Thanks to your support, we were able to pay a dentist to perform a root canal and crown the tooth. Carlos was so amazed that his tooth looked just like it did before! He is already smiling more. Carlos is a wonderful young man that constantly surprises us with his even temper and desire to work and serve in the home. His love for baking bread in our bakery only grows with time and he has already asked to work with Milciades (our head of maintenance) during his summer break from school. While Carlos was a small child when we met him nearly three years ago, he is now six feet tall and seems to be growing daily! We thank the Lord for his life and for all that God is doing in his heart.
Carlos with his broken front tooth
Carlos' smile back to normal after his root canal and crown!
About a month ago, our pastor announced that on the 20th of November there would be a baptism. Three of our oldest girls immediately expressed interest in being baptized. At the time their house parents began a course with them about living a mature, Christian life. Their desire to make their commitment to the Lord known through baptism only grew during the last several weeks and this past Sunday Nilda, Soledad, and Lysandry were baptized! It was a chilly, rainy morning, but despite the waters' cool temperatures, each of the girls shared with the congregation that Jesus Christ was their only Savior and that they wanted to be baptized. It was a morning overflowing with joy. Their openness in embracing the Lord is a wonderful example for the younger children in the home and for their friends in school. The plans that God has for these three girls will be something amazing! Please keep each of them in your prayers as they continue their walk with the Lord.
Soledad, Lysandry, and Nilda following their baptisms
On the 11th of November, Shaun and several of the male staff went to see Paraguay play Ecuador. It is hard to describe the level at which Latin American nations support their soccer teams, but it is something incredible to witness. Pictured is Milciades in his Paraguay jersey. Paraguay won the game, of course, 2-1!
Milciades in the Paraguay stadium
As the school year is coming to a close, our kids are finishing all of their final exams and presenting their final programs. Last week, the children put on a giant English Exposition. Our missionary English teacher, Dana Williams, worked long hours to prepare all the students and it was an event to remember. Parents filled the auditorium for a chance to hear their children sing and act out skits in English. The children worked very hard preparing and it showed in their performances. Dana served snacks she had prepared to all present (over 200 people) at the end of the presentation. I have never seen so many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or so much chicken salad in one place! The families and children loved tasting the American food and our school parents left proud of the English their children are learning. Dana has now returned to the United States, and we want to say "thank you" Dana for all the hours (and hours) you spent teaching, planning lessons, and getting to know each child this past year.
English teacher, Dana, on the far left with the first grade class
December is a month of summer vacation for our children. Santa wears swim trunks in Paraguay. Traditionally on Christmas Eve, Paraguayans eat a large dinner at midnight. On both Christmas Day and Day of the Kings (celebration of the magis' visit to baby Jesus celebrated on January 6th), children receive simple gifts. Also, legally in Paraguay workers receive a full, extra month's salary in December. Essentially it is a Christmas bonus, but it is not optional for the employer. It is a requirement. All of these traditions (and the one law) translate into quite an extra expense in the month of December for our home and school. If you are interested in helping offset these costs, please send donations to "Serving Paraguay", P.O. Box 6090, Mesa AZ 85216.
Shaun and I can never express how grateful we are to each of you for the part that you play in the lives of the children here in Paraguay by supporting them with donations and by lifting them before the Lord in prayer. We recognize His hand moving so frequently that we can testify that your prayers are making a difference in the lives of many! May the Lord richly bless each of you during this Christmas season!