Greetings from Paraguay to all at SAMS Ireland.  Everything has gone really well again this year.  I am sure that the experience will have deepened the faith of the SAMS Ireland volunteers and given them a greater understanding of what mission is about.  They have all been a great group.
Throughout the last two months of Mission Paraguay everything has gone more or less according to plan but yesterday something totally unexpected happened.   We left the Chaco and Concepcion on Monday to spend the final three nights in a hotel in Asuncion.  Yesterday morning we travelled by bus into the city centre to give everyone the usual tour of the sights of Asuncion which ended outside the presidential palace prior to us having lunch together.  As usual there were plenty of armed guards and security men outside the palace and as we looked across we could see some limo’s lined up and President Lugo standing with military people, men in suits and press cameramen nearby.   We were ushered away from the vehicle entrance by armed guards and as we were walking away the President and those with him approached us and he called us over.  He shook hands with everyone, asked where we were from and what we were doing in Paraguay.  Upon hearing that some of the group were from Ireland he took a particular interest and went on to tell us that he had visited.  After a few minutes of conversation he enquired whether we would we like a tour of the presidential palace and told a security man to take us.   The President then got into his car wearing a Mission Paraguay hat which he had been shown by Noel from Donegal.  Today photos of our meeting with President Lugo have appeared in four national newspapers with a short report which in a couple of cases mentioned Mission Paraguay.  As might be expected, there was emphasis upon the people from Ireland but no mention of the three from England who accompanied them!! This morning there was a short report of the incident on national television. 
David Orritt
Coordinator Mission Paraguay