Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you". (Matthew 5:1-12 NIV)
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Finally, we are somewhat settled - nest is made, winter here now, so a little chilly, 6° C (43° F) outside and a two little heaters cranking out! I am sitting by one of them. We are getting accustomed to the frequent powercuts, a little interesting if you are in the shower, and we keep candles and matches at the ready. We decided to relocate, gently, our tree frog who loved to echo his croak at night in our bathroom sink, and we have reduced the tarantula population somewhat but only after finding several inside and out. We found the grandpa of all tarantulas! We moved in, unpacked and settled all while Joseph and Becca were fighting that horrible cough - actually that situation was truly a huge attack against their lives. Becca vomited every day, several times with every coughing fit, until one night Jesus walked in her bedroom and touched her back! We believe he touched Joseph too, just he is too young to tell us about it, praise The Lord he was healed also.
No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the Lord. Isaiah 54:17 NIV
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
II Timothy 1:7 NKJV
And there are lots more! So, I woke Peter up and we prayed these scriptures together, sleepily at first but then as the fear tried to enter through our bedroom window like a thick threatening atmosphere, our prayer became more fervent. Was there someone outside, prowling around? We don't know. But certainly satan tried to convince us so. Peter went outside at one point to take a look around, in defiance to the Spirit of fear we both sensed. And there is a real situation here of burglaries, not as bad as some other South American neighbours, but enough to cause missionaries and Paraguayans to warn us about it. We took authority over the spirit of thieving that has plagued this land, lifting up our neighbours in particular, declaring a freedom from fear for them also. Peace began to replace the fear, a comforting knowing that the Lord is greater! I began to think upon the Heavenly hosts that God has appointed to watch over us, remembering God's promises to never leave nor forsake us, and the role of angels as our guardians. I could almost see them, with my spiritual eyes, standing around the borders of our place over our house. Satan had tried to come, as a thief in the night, but now we were getting so excited about how powerful our God is, with His heavenly armies and began to worship Him! If any of our dear readers suffer from fear at night especially, I thoroughly recommend that you look up scriptures regarding God's protection for you, and His covenant promises, and then just as we began to do, see it all with your eyes of faith! And then thank God for it!
Morning came, and we were all fired up!! We could now naturally see outside, the birds hopping around the bushes, the mist lifting. We needed milk, so Peter and I ventured to the corner shop to buy it. As we waited for them to milk the cow (quite literally), we began to get to know our local store owner. We discovered she was a believer! I knew there was joy about this lady, I thought. I asked if there was anything we could pray with her for, and she mentioned a recent operation on her eyes that had left her with a lot of pain. We leaned over the counter and grabbed hands, squeezing in ministry to this dear lady before her next milk customer. Glad to have made this first connection in our neighborhood, we began our short walk home.
As we passed the village school, we decided to ask the Principle if our children could attend to learn Spanish quickly and find friends. She was very welcoming, and invited the children to come along that very morning! I wasn't sure if they would be brave enough - they have always homeschooled, in English! But they were, and after a quick breakfast with our delicious fresh milk we walked them to school. Peter decided in his heart, 'If I am leaving my children here, I need to share Christ with the teachers!' And he did. They listened and smiled and agreed, as Peter told them we are all sinners, in need of a Saviour....His name is Jesus Christ. Would you like to receive Him in your hearts this morning? You can pray with us right now, and make Him Lord of your life, it's simple but very powerful!' They looked at Peter in amazement, holding snacks and 'mate' in their hands. "Si, Si," they nodded, with expectant smiles. "Close your eyes, and pray this from your heart, out loud." And they did, all seven of them. These ladies were all Catholics. We hope and pray they encountered the Lord that morning, and have begun a true relationship with their Saviour. We look forward to exampling Christ as we are part of their community. Our children will be lights in effectively a religious or perhaps more accurately a secular environment. We said goodbyes to our brave children, putting our faith in God who had this planned, and we were just walking it out.
So, after a night of spiritual struggle, in one day we had met neighbours and prayed with about 15 people, including a known neighborhood thief! What if we had panicked, began our day in stress and given into the plan of satan? I believe we had a breakthrough for our area that day, which opened the door for God's Kingdom to come! We will walk our little cobbled, dusty or muddy streets, and build on these relationships, teach and share more of what it is to be in the Kingdom of light, free from the weights of sin and death. Pray for our catholic neighbours, that they may enter into true relationship with our Lord Jesus. And also pray for our few brothers and sisters in Christ here, that they may reach out to their community without fear.
On one of our exploring journeys of our area, we ventured up a very steep hill. We had been told of this road, which was built by Bolivian prisoners of war back in the early 1900s. Once you arrive at the top, there is an incredible view of Paraguay, and we wanted to see it for ourselves. It was a Saturday morning, and we were taking the road as a back route on our way to visit Samira and her family. Up we climbed, enjoying the fact that our vehicle was not challenged by the gradient, nor the unevenness of the terrain. We met a group of red cheeked youngsters, huffing and puffing for breath, taking an evidently much needed pause. We waved and smiled. It was not reciprocated...then we saw an elderly man with his stick, striding on, seemingly unchallenged by the hill. We offered him a lift. He smiled and accepted, but as he climbed in, a bouncy ball rolled out of the car and down the hill it bounced away. The gentleman hopped out, ran after it and got back in!! We were amazed. We let him catch his breath, but then introduced ourselves, welcomed him, and began a small conversation. He spoke little Spanish, but we managed. His name is Don Mateo, and he is 82 years old. He climbs up and down this mile and a half hill at least once a week. It takes him about 20 mins. I doubt we could do it in 1 hour! We fell in love with this precious man. We took him home, right to the top and spent a little time with him. He has a stutter, and loves to teach us Guarani, so communicating is slow and needs patience. But there is no rush. We are here for him. He picked some delicious clementines off his trees and started to peel some for us. He was so grateful for the lift. We told him we would come visit when we could. He was so happy. While he talked to the children, I told Peter we need to ask him if he knows Jesus, as he is closer to stepping on to Eternity. He gave his life to the Lord with us, right there and then. "¡Eso fue muy poderoso, me alegro mucho/that was very powerful, I am so happy!" We said our goodbyes, the children giving big squeezy hugs, and drove off waving! He looked so happy waving back at us. I knew in my heart the Lord had sent us to him, and given us a grandpa for those special hugs!