Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
Our children have been such a strength to us since we announced to them God's call on our lives here, last August. There have been times we have wanted to give up, but they have encouraged and prayed for us to continue standing in the Lord's will for our family, their childlike faith pouring forth. So we thought you would enjoy hearing from them too, oldest to youngest!
Paraguay is an amazing place!
Living here has changed my life, and challenged my flesh, but it has also broadened my understanding of what serving God on the front lines actually means. When Jesus called us to this country it would have been direct disobedience to just stay in the U.S.A., and I also felt the urgency to be where God wanted us.
I was born in England, and when I was two, we moved to Israel. Five years later we traveled to the U.S., and 6 years later we were moving to South America. For me it was extremely difficult to leave my friends and home, but by then I had learned not to get too attached to things. I was also ready for more adventure! The untamed South American jungle seemed pretty epic to me!
When we left Oklahoma, I sold my horse which I had saved up for for 6 years and bought when I was ten.
It was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but God gave me grace to let him go.
When we began to travel all over Paraguay I had to work hard to pack our roof rack with suitcases, but after about 10 times, I became a skilled and tidy packer. I really began to feel at home on the road after a while.
The cows, the horses, the heat, the flies, and the lack of AC were all part of the adventure! I'm so proud of my sisters for adapting so well and getting on with life through the difficulties we faced!
Just before we left the U.S., a really good family friend gave me a camera and backpack full of gear. That has helped capture epic moments, amazing scenery, and nature from all over Paraguay! Most of the photographs on our blog were taken with my camera. It has been challenging trying to take photos in the car or on the streets, but with fast shutter speeds and image stabilization it's amazing what I am able to snap. I try not to be distracting or disturbing around people though. It's tricky to hide a big camera or take a shot without anyone seeing me.
When I bought my horse in the U.S. his owner kindly took time to teach me how to work with horses. Only one month after we arrived in Paraguay, I had already began working with a young horse owned by some missionaries we had met. A few lessons later, I rode her with an English saddle. I was amazed how fast she learned. Many times horses that have not interacted much with humans are much easier to train because they haven't yet learned how to be disrespectful around people.
Not long after that, in the community where my brother was born in the jungle, I was asked to train a wild white stallion named Spirit that had never been handled before.
I was so happy to find that I can still use the skill God gave me to help people with their horses in Paraguay. To be able to watch the sunset on a white stallion that was totally untamed before I trained him, on a mud road 1.5 hours from paved roads was worth giving up everything I had, just for that moment.
A few weeks after we moved into our house I began to go to the local school. In my class there are about 15 teenagers, 14-17 years old boys and girls. I was the tall white guy from out of town, so everyone was very distracted in class! In fact, the teacher said that the class should just get to know me on my first day, so we played soccer and chatted in Jopara (a mix of mostly Guarani and Spanish).
The next day, the subject was dating. So I had to write 'dating' in Spanish down the side of my page and then write a sentence about my girlfriend for every letter of the word. There was only one problem..... "I don't have a girlfriend" I politely told the teacher. She said "No problem... The boys will help you get one." Then there was another problem... "I don't need a girlfriend" I told her. She said "Well you do because you have to fill out your paper."
Clearly I was in a different culture.
After class one of the guys took me aside and told me he wanted to talk to me. "Que es tu problema?" (What is your problem?) I tried to tell him what I believe: "I don't have a house, a car or a job I'm 15 and I live with my parents... I'm not ready to have a girlfriend!" and he listened. I thought yes! How's he going to answer that! But then he said "But Daniel, here it's different." 😑
On another occasion when I had the opportunity, I told the whole class what I believe about my heart. I told them that every time you have a girlfriend and split up, it's like a small piece of your heart is always with her. So if you have lots of girlfriends then you're left with a tiny heart. I told them I want to save all of my heart for my wife. Everyone was silent for a few seconds. Then one girl said "I like that. I like the way you think..." then she looked at the boys in the room and said "Why do you not think like him?" From then on my classmates have had a different attitude around me.
I personally feel called to this amazing country, especially to its young people. I know God has as a plan for everyone's life. I know mine is here for now!
Paraguay is an amazing country, because of the people. They have a spirit of sweetness, generosity, love, and kindness.
God has blessed us so much with our beautiful little house. Our yard is wonderful. Parrots flying in the sky along side toucans some times. The sound of water flowing with butterflies dancing all around. Every citrus tree you could think of and an orchard of banana trees. In the year and a half of us being here (renting), we still won't have had enough time to give thanks for all He has given us!
Finding friends and going to school was quite an experience for me. You all might think I'm being a baby but they speak Jopara, which is a mix of Spanish and Guarani. Well, that's what they speak here. I may catch a few words: "You.………bananas……….hot…….…" "What?"...I am managing to speak a few words now.
I have amazing friends in America, but when I left, it was hard to believe I could find good friends here too. Well, God is so good! I have met lovely Tatiana, a christian who goes to my school! Their family are the only christians in our area.
I love Paraguay. It is my new country. I'm so glad we listened to Jesus and came.
Mummy: How are you doing here in Paraguay?
Rebecca: I am doing good, thank you!
M: Do you like it here?
M: What do you like about it?
R: I like the people because they are my friends.
M: What else? Anything else?
R: Well, I don't really like the food at school. (She had eaten liver-higado, a delicacy)
M: What do you miss about America?
R: Everything! I miss the cats.
M: Why has Jesus sent us here?
R: To preach the gospel. The gospel is Jesus.
M: When we first arrived what did you think?
R: When I first got here, I felt sick from the plane. I was happy though, because it
felt like I was home again.
M: You know how everything looked different, what did you think about that?
R: I was shocked.
M: Are you still shocked?
R: I am sort of used to the streets now.
M: What do you feel in your heart when mummy and daddy are sharing the gospel?
R: I know that it's good what we are doing. Sometimes I get bored.
M: Has anything special happened to you since you got here?
R: One night, we had to go on a trip to visit a church that was a long way away! I
was lying down in the back of the car, resting, cos I was still sleepy. Then I heard
a song. I thought it was the radio playing. Then when we were in the church, I
heard the same song being sung in the church by the people! I pulled Mummy's
arm and said "Mummy! Mummy this is the same song I heard in the car!"
Mummy said "but you couldn't have ever heard this song before because we
have never been here!" (We realized Rebecca must have heard the angels
singing to her in the car in the Ache language, preparing her for what we
were about to experience in a powerful and passionate Ache tribal church…
We hadn't had the radio on, the whole way)!
R: …and one night I was coughing, (she had had a nasty cough for about 5 weeks),
someone touched me. I said "Yes Lord, I am listening." I was afraid it was
the devil, but I turned and looked and there was no one there. I told mummy
in the morning. Then mummy said, "Maybe it was Jesus." But I said,"how was
it Jesus?" Then mummy asked me, "Did you feel at peace?" I told Mummy
I felt healed.
M: Do you like the food?
R: No. Yes. I like terere, chipa, fried Mandioca chips, Milanesa(breaded chicken),
mandarins and all the fruit.
M: What was your favourite place so far?
R: La Belleza and our new home. I liked it when Joseph was born.
M: Have you got anything else you would like to say?
R: No. Bye-bye!