Denis arrived in Paraguay on Saturday 27th of October. He spent the first weekend visiting the Annex School on its 35th anniversary, seeing the Chacarita where many Annex pupils live, meeting Mission Partners and visiting local churches. This week he will meet with Elaine Hutchinson and Claire Holmes, and spend time with Bishop John and Judy Ellison in their last few weeks before retirement. Later in the week he will be joined by Bishop Clarke before going on to Chile for the SAMS International conference. Read more in the Pray section.
Denis Johnston and Bishop Ken Clarke are visiting South America during the next few weeks. Read more in the Pray section.
Hugo & Techi Vergara visited Northern Ireland this week. They are working with SAMS Ireland on project ‘La Caldera’. This will see the restoration of a church centre near Salta, Northern Argentina by a 2008 BTN team from Down and Dromore Diocese.
Raul Valdiviezo (Cecilia’s dad) was also with us for two weeks. It was a pleasure to welcome Raul to Ireland for his first time. Raul is held in high regard by all our Gap Year volunteers who participate in the Red Box Project as he is the person who does all their washing, amongst serving in numerous other ways!
The SAMS Ireland AGM was held on Thursday 11th October 2007. General Secretary, Denis Johnston, reported a very successful year, and chairman, Bishop Ken Clarke, remarked that SAMS Ireland is entering a period of expansion. The committee looked forward to another good year in 2008. Download the report.
Elaine Hutchinson, the latest SAMS Ireland volunteer writes –
It’s been a cold winter, but now it’s hotting up. It’s 30 degrees Celsius and the others say this is not even hot yet!
School is going really well, I’ve settled in, go to the gym and really enjoy it here. I’ve noticed how friendly everyone is and, even though they work really hard and long hours, they still have time to eat together and invite others for dinner. I’m enjoying inviting friends round for dinner in my wee flat too.
Church is going really well. I’m going to a local Baptist in the morning and the Anglican Youth congregation on Sunday evenings. It has really grown in the last few months. When I first arrived there were only a handful of people, now lots are coming. There were two baptisms on Sunday night which was very exciting. The Alpha Course is really interesting as the answers people give are very different, many still believe in Jesus as Lord, but it’s translating that to their lifestyle that counts.
I’m hoping for a holiday in December to escape to Chile from the heat of Asuncion.
Thanks for all your prayers,
Linn Tedman reports “In the Chaco there has been no rain for months and people are suffering a lack of water. There have also been fires on a scale never before witnessed in Paraguay. Whole regions of the country have been burned. Thousands of people have been affected and many have lost homes, crops, cattle, forests and livelihoods.
The Church has been supporting the Chaco Anglican communities through the problems of drought. With help from the Fire Brigade water has been sent to fill some wells built by our students. We hope to send more as needs arise. At the moment there is still a small amount of water in some communities. At El Estribo it is very dry. Apparently some of the Indians are lacking in vitamins as their vegetables in their veg patches have died for lack of water. Some Indians are also anaemic.”
God’s work in Paraguay
“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit-just as you were called to one hope when you were called-one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
Last September, I went to Paraguay to visit my friends and sisters, Claire and Raquel. It’s amazing the way God works things out. As most of you know, one of my deepest desires was to spend some time with Claire working with children, sharing our passion and love for Jesus and learning from one another. This time I was traveling with a friend from my church, who also is interested in mission, she is called Vanina.
I went there full of expectations, wishing to be used for the glory of God. I was hungry of his wisdom and hoping He could keep giving me the Passion I needed to keep doing this. He provided me with everything I needed; he looked after me as a Father can do. I didn’t need to worry about the time, money, a place to stay or even the company since I was not traveling on my own.
After many hours of traveling (32 approximately) we arrived at Concepción. There, my friend and sister in the Lord was waiting for us. Claire looked sleepy, well I think all of us, after all it was almost 4.30 a.m. when we arrived.
After resting almost the whole morning Claire came to see us and introduced to the rest of the people of the church. We could feel the welcome, the people were absolutely friendly. I just wanted to start working with Claire; I didn’t want to waste time. But she had some others things in mind, she wanted me to rest and do things little by little. I respected that, because I knew there was going to be a good result from all of this. She wanted me to have a time for myself, something that I hadn’t be able to have at home, may be because of everything I had lived with my mum’s illness or just because I never stop. I listened to her carefully because she had lived exactly the same thing as I was living, I knew in a way she could understand my pain. God gave me the opportunity to share with her my suffering, my concern about my family, about our future as a family… in few words I was able to let her know myself. “Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
We did many activities, working in the open areas, teaching the gospel to the children, sharing our time with teenagers in their classes, taking part in the prayer meeting and visiting and preaching the indigenous. We had ten wonderful days sharing the Grace of the Lord, it was a time to give and receive, a time to listen to our God and try to do what He commanded us to do, to preach and let his word be taught. I saw so many faces with the need of God in their lives, so many children who know that at least once a week they will be feed with the food of the spirit and also I saw so many adults who need the presence of our Lord in their lives because they know He is “the hope” for their lives.
As I mentioned before, God had prepared everything for us, this was the perfect time for us to travel, because as soon as we arrived we were told about the centenary of the Anglican Church. We were going to be part of that celebration; I was more than thankful to God because without knowing we lived that especial moment of the Church, the Christian Church. It was so nice to see so many people proud of the work of the Lord through so many years. I heard testimonies of people who trusted the Lord as their God and now they keep serving him and working for Him and teaching their family and friends, they have the same passion for the Lord as young kids full of life.
My time there flew, without noticing the ten days had gone and now it was time to visit my friend Raquel in Asuncion. It was a little bit sad to leave Concepción because the people had given us so much love, but we needed to keep going. Asuncion was different, (not the weather though) but life is faster than in Concepción. I spent some time with Raquel who was always running from one place to the other. It was good to see her again and be with her lovely family who opened their home for us. That was our social time, most of the days we went for a walk, visiting different places and meeting our partners from SAMS G.B.
That is how I spent my time in Paraguay, I promised the Bishop I will come back next year but may be for two weeks and with three of my kids. I pray the Lord will give us the material resources to do this, I know he will…after all we have a rich Father, don’t we?
My dear brothers thank you once again for this opportunity I had to visit the Church in Paraguay. May God keep blessing his work there, and may He keep encouraging people to have the desire of serving Him.