Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Do You Believe?

     Making a list and checking it twice.... but this list has nothing to do with who is naughty or nice....

          We had the opportunity to go out with Pastor Pablo and his wife Stella to deliver Christmas gifts to the children that live in Tobati and come three days a week for a feeding program and gospel message here at Su Refugio. These children are from very poor families and the meals they receive are the only healthy food they get. Su Refugio would like to feed them five days a week but does not have the funds. These gifts were donations from the U.S. and a local supermercado but ultimately they are gifts from the Lord himself and are a small example of what He has given us.

As we were delivering them it reminded me of our traditions of Santa. Even our traditions enforce the belief that we have to earn everything we get. If you're not good then Santa will put coal in your stocking; if you are good you get presents! What kind of message does that send to our children? One of unconditional love? I think not.

     The message of Christ is that we can never be good enough. Our debt it too great to ever be able to pay. The good news is that we don't have too. Christ paid the price for us. He loved us so much that He paid the price for all our sins so that we could receive the greatest of all gifts. How contrary to our human thinking, how un-like us, to give to those who didn't earn it, even to those who will reject the effort. How great a God we serve.
Are your hearts open like these little children to receive the good gifts the Father has for you?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Ready, Set, ...

Two garage sales, selling as much as possible: check.
Move the rest into storage: check.
Farewell tour to tell family and friends in the Wild West goodbye: check.
Strengthening Your Interpersonal Skills workshop: check.
Equipping for Intercultural Missions course: check.
House rented: check.

Hey, I think that's it. All our prerequisites are done. What's left? Get on the plane and GO! We'll be flying out Sunday afternoon, December 15, traveling 26 hours before arriving in Paraguay Monday afternoon.

Wow, what a hectic schedule since finding out we would be moving to Paraguay to serve full time with Su Refugio just three and a half months ago!

In that time we have met such a wide variety of people, many who have impacted our lives significantly. The people at our garage sales asking if Paraguay was in Arkansas (minimal impact on our lives); old acquaintances and new friends in Las Vegas and Southaven as more people learned more about our calling (major impact); many other missionaries and their families at the seminar and course we took (huge impact). We are so thankful to be living in this age of electronics where we can easily video conference with others, keep up with people all over the world through Facebook and blogs, deposit checks electronically via email, the list goes on!

We plan to stay with Maximo and his family for a week while we work on getting our permanent residency ($2,000). Paolo (our "handler" to help us navigate the government offices and recorders) should be picking us up Tuesday morning at 8 for our first venture into the process. This is a huge prayer request, as many people will be on their summer vacations and Christmas is the following week. We've got activities planned daily, Tuesday-Friday, to get as much done as possible.

The next week we plan to spend with Pablo and his family at Su Refugio, experiencing Christmas in our new soon-to-be hometown of Tobati; how exciting is that! Being south of the equator, this is their summer. With temperatures around 93 degrees, not much chance of a "white Christmas" for us!

Around New Year's Day we will move to stay with Alcides and his family. Alcides is the main pastor at the church that oversees operation of its own elementary school, Heaven's Kingdom, and the Su Refugio facility. We hope to get his vision for how Sandy and I will transition into their environment. God is doing some absolutely amazîng things at Su Refugio which have the potential to change the entire nation of Paraguay. Suffice it to say we are working in the private enterprise at the highest levels. Stay tuned!

January 5 we head to Costa Rica for more language school. Sandy will be a full time student renewing her skills in Spanish while Bill will likely be working at the attached elementary school, Sojourn Academy, and pick up some tutoring along the way.

We plan to be back in Paraguay full time in early June!

Prayer requests:
-- Praise God for such a clear answer to prayer about where we would be going next
-- Praise God for the tremendously exciting journey He has allowed us to experience
-- Smooth and successful processing for our residency paperwork
-- Strength for Maximo and his family as they prepare for a new baby in late December (C-Section)
-- Peace for Pablo and his family as they face various struggles working at the children's center
-- Health for Sandy and I as we work and study in Costa Rica