Dear Friends,

This comes with Christmas greetings from a very hot and sticky Paraguay! We hear it’s quite a change from the weather you are all experiencing! Today we have a national holiday which is really a Catholic saint’s day but we’re just glad of an extra day off.

Life here has been hectic for the last two weeks and we are just coming to the end of two weeks intense activities as we finish off the end of the school year. The infants all had their special shows at the end of November. Gwen did a nativity play with her class. The parents love coming to these shows and were very appreciative. We had a very good year in the infant area. The primary, 9th grade and the 6th form all had special church services as they finished. The primary had a Christmas service which was very nice. Mags prepared her 9th grade for their service. It’s the official end of primary education and they had a church service and then they showed their work to the parents. Mags had her pupils write their testimonies saying what this year had meant to them . Four of the pupils read them out in the service and it was very moving to hear them tell of how their lives had changed with Jesus in them.

The 6th form seemed to have an endless round of Goodbyes. First, they have their last day in school, the last day of classes before final exams. We had a special surprise service for them and invited their parents to come along too. There were tears all round by the end. The next day they wanted to make an entrance and so arranged it all with Mags then we had a breakfast for them and their parents came too. The staff use that time to tell them what it’s meant to them to teach them and to encourage them. They’d  been an exceptionally good group and will be missed.  We also invited all of them round to our house for a sausage barbecue with the staff and we had a lovely time with them. Then, as they finished we had a special church service for them and their parents followed by supper in school. The service was very special as each pupil is prayed for individually and it means  lot to them and their parents. The next week we had their official graduation ceremony followed by their graduation party the following day.   In all the services there was a very good atmosphere and an awareness of the Lord and we were very thankful for all God had done for us.

We also attended all the annexe end of year activities. We went to their infant show and to their end of year service. We also went to the 9th grade leavers’ service and supper They too have now finished for the year.

Since then we have had staff training in school with Nelson leading sessions on a Christian  world view and a Christian philosophy of education. He’s had us all thinking and I think many staff appreciated his talks. We still have a service for our ex pupils tomorrow night. We invite those who left 10, 20 and 25 years ago to come back and to rethink what they learned then. We finish on Friday with a staff lunch for everyone.

Looking back  much has happened over the year. We had to take an extra week’s holiday in July as the president had signed a decree. This meant we then lost most of our September break to make up the days. The break we had was then taken up with the diocesan synod which went very well. In September we all had sports days and in November Mags finally got to take a group of year 10’s to the Chaco to build and paint.

They managed to do an amazing amount of work in a short time and enjoyed a good trip.  Gwen’s infant class also got a trip out to one of the pupil’s very nice ranch. In September the whole school had a science fair on Water and the parents came in to watch. Overall it’s been great to see the progress in all the children over the year.

We are still in the English speaking congregation and have been more involved in leading the services each week. Mags often spends weekends preparing the Powerpoint for the service. It’s very encouraging though as, even though we have a shifting congregation, there always seems to be new people coming. You never know how many people will be there. We arrived one Sunday to find we had two bishops in the congregation and we were leading! Still, it’s very encouraging to be part of it.

As usual our staff are constantly changing. We are just about to say Goodbye to Sue who joined us 2 yrs ago and has been a great help in the secondary school. One of our English speaking primary staff also left. Belinda worked with us for 2 years and has left to work more with her husband. Even so, the Lord has been good to us and we have had Neill Brice join us. He’s the son of SAMS missionaries and was brought up here. He was even a pupil in school for a few years . We also have a new primary teacher lined up to join us from England and 2 more short term volunteers coming out too. As far as we can see we have enough English teachers but are still looking for maths, ICT and business studies teachers to teach these subjects to IGCSE level and AS level.

We are both well and so are our animals. We didn’t have any puppies, sadly. The youngest cat has found an escape route despite a very high wall and she went missing for a few days last week. We thought we’d lost her but she arrived back at 4am crying and woke the dog up who then woke Mags up to let her in.

We leave here at the end of next week and make our way back to England via Barcelona where we’ll spend a few days with Mags’ brother and family. We’ll be home for Christmas and are looking forward to seeing everyone again but not looking forward to the snow and cold! We hope to visit some of our link churches in that time. We have had problems in corresponding with some of you as we have to rely on e-mail. If you would like us to visit please get in touch and we’ll see what we can do. You can ring us in England after Dec 22nd or email us here. Our phone numbers will be: Gwen  01625 875875 Mags  01925 764482.

It’s been a very busy year but it’s gone well and we’re very thankful to the Lord for His help and strength and for your prayers for us. This comes with our good wishes for a Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Gwen and Mags