Gwen & Mags Prayer News recently received into the SAMS office:

Dear Friends,

It seems we have swapped climates for now! We are freezing here, with temperatures down to zero this morning, whilst you all seem to be roasting. It’s been cold all week and the Ministry of Education declared an extra weeks holiday last week knowing it was forecast for cold weather now. We debated having classes anyway as we have heating in school but in the end we decided to take the week too….just as well as it seems to have been colder than expected! There was already a lot of flu round school before we finished classes for the holidays.

It was great to get a break a week after all our 50th anniversary celebrations…we were all ready for it! We still had a visitor here for the first week. Pat stayed on to see people here whilst we took advantage of being able to have a few lie ins. We also managed to get quite a lot of things done and it was great that Olga was well again and able to come back and get the house back into shape. The extra week has been an added bonus and meant we were able to do even more. We went into school on Monday to prepare work to send home and then tomorrow, we go in again to get things ready for Monday. Apart from that we have been sewing, knitting , washing and Mags was painting the patio chairs today. We also managed to prepare our church service for August 4th as well as a few assemblies and meditations we have lined up.

As we go back we have our inter school sports competition on August 3rd. This is the one cancelled due to rain in July. We have a number of primary schools taking part in this. On the 30th of July we celebrate Friendship day and then on August 15th we celebrate Children’s day. The primary pupils also have exams in August…life seems one long exam for them as they have them three times a year from 6 year olds upwards!!At the end of August we have our official IGCSE certificate ceremony and we are so pleased to know that the British Embassy is about to return and that the new ambassador will be here then to hand out the certificates. In between these events we hope to get down to some work too!!

As we went down town the other day we noticed people moving up into the centre from the Chacarita area. They were putting up plastic tents on a side street. However, by yesterday they had gone again . The river isn’t flooding as we have a new coast road which stops the river from overflowing into nearby land. We think the flooding was caused by so much heavy rain before the holidays and maybe the new road stopped it all flowing out down to the river. We hope to find out if any of our annexe pupils were affected by this.

Many of you know that we invited Victor Santa Cruz to move from the annexe into the college to help us and be in charge of the official Paraguayan programme. Many wonder what happened to the annexe…well, we appointed one of the teachers there to be head. His name is Catalino and he seems to be settling in well there. Victor still goes at the end of most days and to oversee what is happening and support Catalino. Gwen goes down most weeks and Mags goes when she can get there.

In these holidays we sent in the builders to knock through from the old kitchen into the infant classroom and so make the classroom bigger. By all accounts the teacher is over the moon with her new, larger classroom! The kitchen was then relocated into what had been a school shop but didn’t prove to be very viable. Recently the builders had been in to drain the floor here as it seemed to collect water from the whole block. The school patio floor was also levelled out as a tree had lifted parts of it making it unsafe. Our next big job there for the summer holidays is to totally re-do the toilets there as they are the original ones, 40 yrs old!! Any money we make from our celebrations is going to pay for  these. …so far we have raised  about a quarter of what’s needed with some help from folks in England…thankyou to those who gave for this!

When a family there seem to be in real need the school sends down their social worker to see what’s needed. Some of the kids live in brick houses but others still live in precarious homes. For those who really haven’t enough we provide a scholarship and often send down food for them too. Otherwise the parents there pay about  4 pounds a month per child. In this way we hope they will value the education their children receive. This is far cheaper than the other “free” schools in the area! The fees go to pay the electricity and water bills, with the main college still paying most of the staff wages.

Many thanks for all your prayers and support. We hope to see a lot of you in January. Please get in touch about visits.

God Bless and love,

From Gwen and Mags xx