Life in Paraguay is never dull or predictable! We are now into the third week of our winter holidays. It was supposed to be a two week break and we’re still not sure whether or not it will be lengthened yet again! First of all the holidays were brought forward by a week a few weeks before they were due to start and now we don’t know when classes will resume! It’s all due to Swine flu and trying to cut down on the illness. There have been quite a number of cases here and some deaths. It’s also the middle of winter and it has been very cold and wet which doesn’t help. There have also been an unusually large number of ordinary flu cases too.
June and July have been extremely wet months when usually very little rain falls. This was an answer to prayer, especially in the Chaco where drought was taking hold. The city was also lacking water but we have now been well blessed by some very heavy rain. I think we can safely say that the drought is over! Our new roof didn’t stand the test of some of the heavy storms and rain poured in at one point. The men had to go back on the roof to fix it all. That wasn’t as easy as it sounds as they had to wait for the tiles to dry before walking on them and we had rain for days on end!!
The rain also brought many more serious problems. In the Chacarita a house slipped as the ground moved with so much rain. As the house fell the gas bottle set light to the house and the family were burned and hurt. They had a daughter and two grandsons in the annexe school. The girl in 5th grade had a fractured skull but made a good recovery and the boys had burns. The family were all in hospital but had no home to go to anyway. The pupils and parents here in the college responded extremely well and we held Bring and Buy sales etc raising quite a good sum of money to help the family. The annexe pupils did the same. Some parents donated building materials to help build a house for them and the man’s workmates are helping to build it. Victor, the head of the annexe school, insisted it should be built elsewhere and so take them out of the Chacarita and the precarious conditions there.
School was going along well with all its usual challenges! We’d managed to pack quite a lot of activity ( and work) into the months building up to the break. The trip to the Chaco for the oldest pupils was cancelled in March due to the drought . In June , after the rain , it looked like they would be able to go and they all set off ready one day only to find that rain had fallen heavily in the Chaco and access to the area where they were hoping to dig a water tank would be almost impossible. So, it was cancelled again. The plan was then to go after the winter break but the extra holiday has put all the plans out and it won’t be possible now until September. The year 11’s did get their trip to Concepcion where they painted a poor school and dug latrines in a poor area. Mags also had a week’s trip to a sports camp in Brazil with a group of pupils.
In the last few months we have celebrated lots of events. The main ones being Mother’s day and Father’s day. The primary did two separate shows for their parents. The little ones did a big show for mums and dads together. We also made the usual gifts from the children for parents. Gwen ended up sewing 60 cushions and covers for the children to paint! The annexe school also celebrated in the same way. With the holidays being brought forward the shows came at the same time as reports and so it was a mad rush to finish the term and get everything done but we made it!
The children are not back yet but the staff are all in. On Monday we all came in to prepare work for the pupils to collect and do at home. They came for that yesterday. Today we had a doctor( a parent) come to talk to all the staff. He talked about Swine Flu and what we need to do in school to prevent it spreading. The parents are watching closely to check we are doing all we can!!
We are now planning how to celebrate Friendship day ( July 30th) when we usually make presents for the annexe school and visit them. We are all ready in pre school to make our presents but I think the visit will be out for the time being. Soon after that we celebrate Children’s day so we have lots of things to get ready for.
Last Saturday we waved off the Butler Family after 15 yrs in Paraguay. The children were all pupils here and the two oldest found it hard to leave their classmates who were all at the airport to see them off. Patrick and Rosie had a done a great work with our older pupils in running the Youth encounter meetings and Patrick had also taken assemblies each month. They had made quite an impact on our youth and we will miss them. It’s been great to see some of our ex pupils getting involved in the Anglican church as a result of the Butler’s ministry. Not only will they be missed by the youth but we’ll also miss them in the English speaking church which Patrick had led for the past two years. Last weekend we also said Goodbye to our latest volunteer, Andy Poole who’d been helping us for the past 6 months.
We managed to get a few days away last week when we took a short break in Brazil , in Curitiba … our favourite city! We had a lovely 3 days there looking round, walking lots and enjoying the shops!! We had lots of plans for this break but most of them needed sunny weather and so haven’t happened yet! We did manage to get in the garden for a few hours the other day with the new kitten leaping on us whenever we tried to do anything. Misty is our newest member of the family. She’s a grey cat cross between a Persian and a street cat! She’s very sweet and very naughty! She has no fear and still pesters the other cats and even the dogs!
Thank you for all your prayers and support. They are very much appreciated by us both. We’ll send some photos separately.
God Bless, Love from Gwen and Mags