All Good Things Must Come To An End // Stories From Abroad: PARAGUAY ’17 – Part 4

The days that followed were everything I expected and nothing at all like I expected, if that’s even possible. I knew, having served with Peter before, that we were certain to get the Gospel in the hearts of those who truly needed it. And so we did.

The next four days led our small team into a different village each day. The villages brought new faces and more hearts unknowingly waiting for the Gospel we carried. I was so challenged by each new face and the need represented. It was inspiring to watch Peter, Pastor Sergio and Pastor Cipriano, as they worked among the Guarani. You could tell that their hearts were divinely connected, in a passionate pursuit of these people, a passion that could only come from the very heart of God.

(Here Peter is passionately proclaiming the Gospel in the tribal language Guarani and then he and Pastor Sergio lead another one of the Guarani communities in the prayer of salvation.)

Her Name Was Diana…

On my 2nd day of ministry, I found myself in a new village with more precious people. This day was different; more challenging. I can’t really give a good reason why. Perhaps, it was the heat that seemed to engulf us as the sun beat down. The refreshing breeze we had enjoyed on day one, was nowhere to be found and the trees providing shade were very few. The little shade we did have was a valuable commodity – one that we gave to the people who had gathered with us.

As the meal for everyone was prepared, myself, Emily and Joanna spent time connecting with the people and loving on the children. When along came a dirty faced, messy haired, little girl with one of the sweetest smiles you can imagine… She was all over the place, chasing other kids and just doing what kids do – she was completely rambunctious to say the least.

At first she smiled but kept a safe distance. Before long, she made her way closer and closer, and the connection began. 

She smiled and I smiled and it was all down hill from there or uphill, depending on how you look at it. We didn’t speak the same language so communication was very difficult, but as Diana literally began to climb my leg like a tree trunk, I got the hint that this little girl wanted to be held. So I held her. Off and on all afternoon, Diana was either at my side or in my arms.

What did she want? Simply to be held. To be loved. To feel special.

I love how the Gospel gives to each of us what we truly need – LOVE. Diana was a little girl who needed love. I got to be part of not only showing her love as a compassionate human being, but we got to give her the true love of Jesus Christ.

diana

(Me and Diana – sharing some smiles for the camera.)

Three Times The Gospel: English, Spanish & Guarani…

 On our fourth ministry day, we found ourselves ministering to a community near a local school. It was at this site, that I was given the honor of preaching the Gospel. The only problem, I don’t speak Guarani – and my Spanish is definitely not what it should be… God had a way around that – Praise Him! As I stood before the crowd that had gathered, I began to share the simple story of Jesus. As I shared in English, Peter would then translate my words into Spanish, from there, Pastor Cipriano would translate Peter’s words into Guarani. It seems a bit extreme, but it worked! The people were captivated in hearing the English language and even though they couldn’t understand, they wanted to know what was being said, so they stayed and they listened. Through Peter and Pastor Cipriano’s translations, the people not only heard, but also were able to receive.

Not only did we pray for people to receive salvation, but we prayed for healing as well. One of the people that came up was a woman who had suffered with a terrible headache. She had received Jesus into her heart and was completely healed of her headache! We later came to find out that this woman was the village Chief’s wife. What a powerful testimony she now has among her people!

three-translations

(Here we are sharing the Gospel in English, Spanish and Guarani.)

Each day gave our team the opportunity to make new friends – and get a few more selfies.

All Good Things Must Come To An End…

And just like every time before it, I came into this nation, blinked, and the ministry time was over. Fortunately for me, I had a little time left to spend with the Ratcliffe family.

During the little time I had left, I was so indescribably blessed to get to simply be with this amazing family. We laughed and cried. We talked, and talked, and talked some more. We shared our hearts; our hopes, our dream, the trials and challenges and together we looked forward to the journey ahead, as we all were, and are, continuing to simply walk out the plan of God.

Evi, the girls and little Joseph, took me hiking up the mini-mountain off the back of their land. We trudged through the forest and made our way to a clearing at the top. Here they shared with me of times they had come there as a family to simply be with Jesus. They sang praises that day and I got to share in another precious time with some amazing people.

joseph

(Here’s little Joseph as we were singing to Jesus. Isn’t he the cutest thing ever?!)

I even got to spend time with the Ratcliffe girls, simply having fun. They loved to play games and be read to. And I loved getting to fill the “big sister” role to such amazing little angels.

ratcliffe-girls

(Peter and Evi sure know how to make adorable children.)

After an incredible time in Paraguay, I found myself saying goodbye too soon. Hugs were given, cheeks were kissed, and promises were made that this would not be the last time I would step foot in Paraguay.

From there, Peter, Joy and Joseph drove me back to the airport. We talked and laughed along the way, soaking up the precious moments that remained. Then came the final farewell. Peter had dropped me off to go start the check in process, (Joy came with me and Joseph went with Peter to park the car). I was standing in line as Joseph came running up to Joy and me. “Not that one!” He said, pointing to the black ball cap I had worn off and one throughout the whole trip. “This one!” he said, handing me a bright pink Paraguay cap. He was so adorable, how could I possibly resist?! I immediately removed the black cap and replaced it with the priceless gift little Joseph had brought me. It was a little gesture from such a little guy, but he totally stole my heart… and all it took was a new hat.

Who knew? My love could totally be bought…lol! What can I say… gifts have always been my love language. 😉

pink-hat-joseph   (Joseph and my beloved pink cap.)

**Funny side story, I placed this cap in my backpack while going through security. Afterwards, I headed to the restroom and opened up my backpack to get out my cap and put it back on. And I couldn’t find it. I searched and searched and immediately started freaking out on the inside. I retraced my steps and did my best to communicate in broken Spanish that I may have left my cap at security – no luck. At this point I was crushed but there really wasn’t much more I could do. So I went to my gate, sat down and opened my backpack one more time… too my surprise, there it was! I almost cried – seriously. **

Although we avoided it as long as possible, the time came for final hugs. And with that I was headed home. So much had happened during this trip – way more than time will afford me to blog about and to be honest, a lot of it was things that God was speaking to me directly, things I’m not ready to share with everyone… yet.

I will return to Paraguay. It may not happen as quickly as I would like, but mark my words, my adventures with the Ratcliffes have only just begun!

paraguay-sunset

With that, I’ll leave you with this beautiful sunset taken before I left Paraguay.

 

IF YOU MISSED PART 1 – THE ARRIVAL, PART 2 – THE JOURNEY CONTINUES, OR PART 3 – WHERE FOOD & FORGIVENESS COLLIDE, BE SURE TO CHECK THEM OUT!

Jamie Lynn Sivak Signature

© 2017 JAMIE LYNN SIVAK ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

May’s “Check It Out” List

In honor of my upcoming departure for eight weeks in Asia, this month’s “Check It Out” list is devoted to my travel must haves. Each year I leave my home and travel abroad 4-5 times. With each trip, my packing changes to meet the climate and needs of the overall agenda while I’m away. There are a few items though, that are a part of my packing requirements – the “must haves” for all trips.

screen-shot-2017-05-06-at-5-32-08-pm.png1.) My Travel Bible & Journal

I try to never go overseas without my Bible. It’s the most important thing I own and has gotten me through some really tough times. I also have great ambitions of recording all my adventures in a written format and with such, I always bring a journal. I rarely write in it, but I always bring it. Don’t judge, I’m trying. One day I’ll find the magical journaling discipline.

Screen shot 2017-05-06 at 5.24.14 PM2. GoPro

This is the most recent addition to my adventures, and although it’s only been on one trip with me, I can’t imagine not having it. So tiny and absolutely perfect for capturing video footage and photos.

Screen shot 2017-05-05 at 9.07.31 PM3. Baby Food

Yes, you heard me right. Baby food. I don’t bring a lot, but squeezable pouches are perfect for travel and  when I find myself in the middle of a jungle and need some easy nourishment, these are my go to. I have tasted many brands and all sorts of flavors, these two are some of my favs – Earth’s Best Organic and Beech Nut. And generally my go to flavors have mango or sweet potato.

Screen shot 2017-05-05 at 9.09.15 PM4. Beef Jerky & Slim Jims

Usually I just plan to eat whatever is provided, but somehow over the course of my 14 years of missions travels, these two items have not only become my comfort foods, but also a necessity. Plus sharing these items is a great way to make friends – trust me.

Screen shot 2017-05-05 at 9.08.23 PM 5. Kleenex

Just trust me on this. Every once in a while you may have to pee in a Cambodian field or deep in the Amazon Jungle. And I can speak from experience – these two particular locations do not have toilet paper readily available. So you better be prepared with your own. Worst case scenario, I suppose you could find some leaves, but I do not recommend this method.

Screen shot 2017-05-05 at 9.09.04 PM6. Sleeping Aids

I have often been asked, how did you manage to sleep the entire 15 hour flight? Every once and a while, it’s honestly from sheer exhaustion. The majority of the time, it’s because I never leave home with out some sleeping aids. These are awesome to help get you re-adjusted to time when suffering from jet-lag.

Screen shot 2017-05-05 at 9.07.56 PM7. Bug Repellent

Aside from my cell phone, this is the one item I literally can’t survive without on a missions trip. I was blessed (or cursed) with blood that can draw mosquitoes from miles away. I swear, at times I can be standing in a group of 50+ people and be the only one eaten alive by mosquitoes. I guess you could say that I’m really “sweet”… Get it? Sweet. Cause my blood tastes so good to mosquitoes. Okay, laugh. It was cute.

Screen shot 2017-05-05 at 9.08.09 PM8. Dry Shampoo

This right here, NOT YOUR MOTHER’S CLEAN FREAK REFRESHING DRY SHAMPOO. This has literally been a game changer and saved me more times than I can count. Does it actually clean your hair? No, but it does remove (or canvas) the natural oils that make hair appear “greasy” and give it a refreshed look. Of course, given the option, I’m a “wash your hair every day” kind of girl. Sometimes schedules and location don’t allow for that. So this comes in real handy. I love this stuff. Seriously.

Screen shot 2017-05-05 at 9.07.45 PM9. My Trusty Ball Cap

This baby and I have quite a history together. When I saw this ball cap sitting unworn on a shelf in my baby brother’s bedroom, it was like love at first sight. He willingly gave it to me and we have since travelled the word together. This cap has protected me from the elements, served to block out light as I slept on planes and completed disguised my bad hair on those days when the dry shampoo just wasn’t enough.

Screen shot 2017-05-05 at 9.08.42 PM10. Pocket Knife

Last but certainly not least, is my amazing pocket knife. This baby has cut through fresh fruit, boxes and even a water bottle (that, was an accident). I’ve sanitized it and used it for a make shift surgical tool on some pretty nasty bug bites… Please note I am not a trained or licensed medical professional and do not recommend you take out your own pocket knife to start cutting open bug bites – do not try this at home. Regardless, it has served me in more ways than one and goes every where with me.

***Remember this item cannot go in a carry-on. be sure to pack in a piece of checked luggage so yours isn’t confiscated. It would be terrible to arrive overseas without it.

While my suitcase normally has several other items, like clothing, for instance, these are a few of my most essential items for overseas missions work.

What are your “go to”, “don’t leave home with out it”, “must have” travel items? Comment below and let me know. Who knows, maybe some of your ideas will change the course of history and my packing list. 😉

Jamie Lynn Sivak Signature

© 2017 JAMIE LYNN SIVAK ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

When Food & Forgiveness Collide // Stories From Abroad: PARAGUAY ’17 – Part 3

Sorry for the long absence, but these past few weeks have been jam packed with working two jobs and getting ready for my next adventure in Asia. I leave in just a few short weeks, so there has been a lot to do.

Before I head out again though, there’s still a bit more to my story in Paraguay.

PICKING UP WHERE WE LEFT OFF…

The next morning we rose with the sun. We gathered in Pastor Cipriano’s living room area for a quick breakfast and then the work began. We reloaded the SUV with the supplies for our first outreach, climbed on in, and we were off. Today would be the farthest we would travel from home base. With roughly 3 hours of dirt-road travel ahead, we had plenty of time for me to interrogate everyone and find out as much as I could about the country, the culture and the ministry that was about to take place.

As we journeyed onward, Peter and Pastor Cipriano shared with me about the Indigenous of Paraguay. Many people have said that the Indigenous are a “hard people, very difficult to get close to, and almost impossible to successfully preach to”. They explained to me that some people even still refer to the Indigenous as ‘Animals’, seeing them as inferior and having little value.

Pastor Cipriano was different though. He saw these people and saw their need, the need for the Gospel. The Indigenous, a people who were overlooked and even forgotten by most, were at the forefront of his heart.

Pastor Cipriano had diligently gone in to several of the Indigenous communities as a forerunner to the Gospel, building relationships and essentially opening the doors that were once closed to foreigners, so that our team could come in and bring the good news of Jesus Christ. And today, we would do just that.

TWO PLACES AT ONCE:

As we were traveling, Peter and Pastor Cipriano mentioned how close we were to the Brazil border and that at one point, the road would actually briefly take us through Brazil. So of course, drawing from a previous experience where I stood with one foot in Nepal and one foot in India, I figured we should repeat history – this time, one foot in Paraguay and one foot in Brazil. So we did – and it was quite epic, at least I felt epic.

(Here I am standing in two places at once.)

Screen shot 2017-05-06 at 11.28.57 AM

WHERE FOOD AND FORGIVENESS COLLIDE.

Ministry this week would come through huge meals, known to locals as the Karu Guasu. Peter explained to me that the Karu Guasu was “traditionally the time when the Indigenous tribes would gather together in order to put right any disagreement between tribes or families; a time of reconciliation! Every now and again, they would share a big meal together and make things right.”

How perfect! We are taking in a message of the ultimate forgiveness and reconciliation and sharing it through a meal that throughout their history has symbolized reconciliation for their tribes.

Peter shared this in his own blog and I feel it sums things up perfectly.

“This is a coming together of the indigenous culture and the gospel to facilitate a natural and then spiritual time of reconciliation. It is totally aligned with their culture and a wide open door to proclaim the eternal reconciliation from heaven through Jesus Christ!  In my view, what Pastor Cipriano does is brilliant, ingenious and a wonderful combination of physical and spiritual ministry.’

THE FIRST COMMUNITY.

As we arrived at the first community, there were people already gathered. And while you could sense a bit of curiosity, the people seemed to be keeping a cautious distance. That didn’t stop us though. We unloaded supplies and gathered some of the woman of the community to begin preparing the meal. There were tons of veggies to chop and lots of chicken to be prepared. Once everything was ready, it was all thrown together in a large pot and placed on an open fire.

As the food cooked, Joana, Emily and I, set out to break the ice and build some relationships with the children. We made a plethora of balloon dogs, swords and hats. We learned their names and did the best we could to make them feel special.

As the cooking was almost finished, Peter, Pastor Sergio and Pastor Cipriano gathered the community to sit beneath a large tree. Pastor Cipriano would take time to share the brief history and purpose behind a Karu Guasu (mostly for the children). Then they shared the Gospel, simply proclaimed what Jesus had done for us all and what they could do to receive the free gift of salvation. And just like that, we had new brothers and sisters added to the kingdom of God.

Screen shot 2017-05-06 at 12.10.28 PM

After the simple message of salvation was shared and we prayed with those who wanted to receive, we shared about healing and prayed for those who were sick.

One of the most incredible things that happened during all of this, was that the Chief of this village/community, gave his life to Christ! And after doing so, was completely set free from the headache he had suffered from for a long time. This may seem like a small miracle, but the potential impact is massive. The Chief, the leader of this community, acknowledged his need for a Savior. He is ultimately the leader of his people and influences each of their lives. He has essentially become a catalyst for change among his community!

The Gospel is such a powerful force for change. And I have no doubt as Peter and his local team return for future follow up, we’ll truly begin to see these lives transformed!

(Pictured below is Peter praying for the Chief.)

Screen shot 2017-05-06 at 12.09.57 PM

After the conclusion of prayer, the meal was served. The entire community ate together, the same way that you and I, might sit down to Sunday dinner with our families. It was a beautiful sight!

As things were wrapping up, we distributed some clothing that had been donated from a church (where Peter lives) along with fishing hooks and fishing line. Why? Because the need among these communities is great. And anything that can be done to help, is worth it.

Day one was a complete success in my books. I was honored to take part in helping Peter’s team and anxious to start the next day. Only partly anxious though – I know how these trips go, you blink and they’re over. So as anxious as I was to get to the next community, I didn’t want things to go by too fast.

***BE SURE TO CHECK BACK OVER THE NEXT TWO WEEKS AS I CONTINUE TO PUT PEN TO PAPER, SO TO SPEAK, TO FINISH OUT THE STORIES OF MY ADVENTURES IN PARAGUAY. I PROMISE, YOU WON’T REGRET IT! 
IF YOU MISSED PART 1 – THE ARRIVAL, OR PART 2 – THE JOURNEY CONTINUES, BE SURE TO CHECK THEM OUT!

Jamie Lynn Sivak Signature

© 2017 JAMIE LYNN SIVAK ALL RIGHTS RESERVED