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.)
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.
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.)
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!