Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The Shaman's Captivating Gift

Dear Friends and Family:
When the Mbya Guaraní shaman heard the words of Genesis 1 in his native tongue, his eyes widened and he immediately took the audio Bible. This was Margarita’s and my gift to him, along with a bag of multivitamins. As we bid him farewell, he was clearly captivated by his new gift, which he continued to listen to as he walked into his house. You prayed for him to overcome an illness a few months ago.  Give thanks to God for his recovery, and pray that the audio Bible will achieve its purpose in the life of the shaman.
At the Oregon Coast
Two weeks ago, we arrived in the United States.  Our trip started on Long Island, New York where my cousins and I raked their yard so that Ana and Antoine could have their first experience of jumping into a pile of leaves. Our teenage niece, Jazmin, who also came with us, was too “mature” to jump into the leaves, but she did get to visit places in New York that she had only seen in movies. Additionally, we visited Crossroads Church, where we met a Paraguayan family who invited us to their house to eat the delicious Paraguayan dish, “vori vori.” 
From New York, we traveled to the Pacific Northwest.  We’ve visited many friends and have shown Jazmin some of the region’s famous sights.  Gabrielli and Jazmin played in snow for the first time at Mt. Hood.  We saw exotic animals at the Portland Zoo and slept to the sound of crashing waves at the Oregon Coast.  I also successfully finished my first seminary course. A foundation pledged a very generous donation to cover all our ministry materials for 2019.  Now, we’re looking for four new monthly supporters.  Everyone has been healthy, and our times with friends and family have been very enjoyable. Thank you for your continued prayers over our U.S. visit.  
Later this month we’ll be in Northern New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle, which is where we’ll stay until mid-January. We will visit churches, youth groups and Sunday school classes.  We will also catch up with church leaders and supporters, as well as with family and friends. I may briefly visit Oklahoma.  From Texas we fly to Boston, and then will board a plane from New York to Paraguay.  If you’ll be near any of these areas and have a moment to meet, please let us know.
Ava Guarani Graduates
Margarita and I are very thankful for the progress of our work with urban Native communities in 2018.  There was an increase in discussions about the Scriptures and opportunities to share Bible stories.  We designed lessons and witnessed students’ academic progress. For instance, 12 Ava Guaraní women earned Spanish literacy certificates.  We also foresee opportunities to start Bible studies and discipleships with women and youth in 2019.  These new friendships with the Mbya and Ava are a gift to us, and, in return, we hope to share the gift of the story of a child born and given the name Jesus, because he rescues any person who calls on him.
Merry Christmas!
Tim, Margarita, Ana, Antoine, Gabrielli, and Jazmin
We are very grateful to everyone who helped us build our house!  The guest room should be ready in early 2019.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Thankfully, there was no machete fight

Dear Family and Friends:

Two weeks ago, when we showed up at the Zarate Isla Mbya Guaraní community for our lunch and tutoring outreach, we found their leader holding a machete and staring down two men next to a parked pick-up truck. Thankfully, a machete fight did not break out (which has happened before).  Tensions arose due to land ownership issues, but now the National Indigenous Institute claims to be working on a solution.  Pray for peace and positive outcomes to the various Native land disputes in in Paraguay
The new Tarumandy chess club (with chess pieces that reflect Mbya society). Earlier this year, the boy on the left lived on the street and had a destructive glue-sniffing habit.  Now he’s one of the top chess players.
All this year, you asked God to help us build relationships with Native communities around the Asunción metropolitan area.  We have visited 9 communities, all of whom invited us to return, and work at 3 to 5 communities each week.  Tarumandy, where we visit the most, rarely welcomes non-Native visitors.  A teacher who has witnessed this community’s rejection of outsiders recently asked us how we earned their permission to work at their school each week.  We didn’t know how to answer.  We give thanks to God, for he is good and blesses us with friendships with these communities.

Additionally, we give thanks for the life of our healthy, energetic son, Antoine, who turned 4 this week.  His little sister, Gabrielli, appears to be a natural dancer.  She instinctively moves when someone starts to play a drum.  Ana is finishing her first semester of 2nd grade.  Since classes are also coming to an end at the Native schools, we’re starting to wind down our activities, plan for next year, and get ready to travel to the U.S. We arrive there in two weeks and request prayer for the following requests:
1. Fun and restful reconnecting with friends and family. 
2. Meeting financial needs:  5 new monthly donors and $4,500 to cover ministry materials for 2019.
3. Learning from seminary courses and conversations about ministry.
4. Safety and health.
Margarita with the Zarate Isla students who waited in the rain to learn.
One day last month, the Zarate Isla school was closed due to rain.  Margarita and I still decided to show up there.   When we arrived, three of the students had been waiting for over an hour in the rain.  Soon, other students began to appear.  Moved by their dedication to learning, Margarita and I spent the rest of the morning giving improvised math lessons, a Bible lesson, and then served lunch.  Please keep the Zarate Isla community in your prayers, in particular, for a possible opportunity on Monday, November 12th to share with them about Jesus, who promises that anyone who seeks him will never go hungry.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tim, Margarita, Ana, Antoine and Gabrielli

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Thank you for helping open doors

Dear Friends and Family:

A Mbya Guarani shaman became sick about three weeks ago.  Margarita and I offered to take him to the doctor, but his distrust in "white people’s medicine" led him to politely decline.  We assured him that our offer remained on the table.  We also would like to pray for him; however, because a Mbya shaman is the top spiritual and medical authority in the community, a simple invitation to pray for him could be interpreted as a challenge to his position, which, could result in significant barriers to reaching out to him and his community.  Pray for open doors, for wisdom, and for the shaman to recover in a way that calls attention to God.
A Tutoring Lesson
God continues to open doors for deeper relationships with the Mbya.  Our students’ families are seeing the positive results of Margarita’s learning disability intervention.  Our lunch-tutoring program, which includes a Bible lesson, is attracting more students.  They and their teacher are starting to ask spiritual questions.  Pray that our conversations with the Mbya will be full of grace.

Last month we visited a new, mixed Mbya and Ava Guarani community with the pastor of a nearby church, who is interested in reaching out to them.  We are beginning to discuss with this and another church about developing a vision to not just reach out to Natives, but rather to form multicultural congregations.  Pray for local churches to open their doors to their Native neighbors.

The Ava Guarani of another urban community are tired of being asked to sign documents that they don’t understand.  This is why we started a Spanish literacy class last month.  Through this class, Margarita is building relationships with the women.  While she teaches, I connect with the young men.  Pray that God opens a door for us to share about him to the Ava.
Ana is Excited to Travel to the U.S
We thank you for your prayers for our children.  Gabrielli is healthy and very active.  Antoine “graduated” from daycare.  Ana performed traditional Paraguayan dances with her classmates in early September. She now tells us every day that she is ready to go the U.S.  We will set foot on North American soil on November 24th, and very much look forward to seeing you.

A few Mbya youth attend a public school near their community.  Last week Margarita and I gave two presentations at this school, and about 50 students prayed to put their faith in Jesus. We give thanks to God for his work in Paraguay.  We thank you for your partnership in the good news of salvation in Jesus, who opens the door to whoever knocks.


Tim, Margarita, Ana, Antoine and Gabrielli

Margarita Presenting in the Public School

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

First time invited to a birthday party

Dear Friends and Family: 

Ana met the Mbya Guarani children of the Zarate Isla community for the first time in February.  After playing with them for a half hour or so, she told Margarita and me that she wanted to celebrate her 7th birthday with them.  As time passed, Ana attended one friend’s party after another at Paraguay's birthday hot spots like Burger King, McDonalds and Pizza Hut.  However, she never asked to have her birthday party at any of those places.  Instead, she consistently reminded us of her desire to celebrate with the Mbya children.  Last Sunday her desire became a reality.  It was the first time that most of those children were invited to a birthday party.  Ana picked “Moana” as the theme, and the party began with viewing the movie.  Then hot dogs and soft drinks were served, followed by cake and piñatas filled with lots of candy.  Everyone enjoyed the party.  Ana even said it was her favorite birthday yet.  When the party began, we explained that Ana’s desire was to show everyone there that God loves them and wants them to be in his family.  Pray that the Mbya children will sense their Creator’s love for them and recognize him.
Ana with guests (and Antoine poised to blow out the candle)
Last month you prayed for a new outreach effort at the Zarate Isla community.  Every Monday we collaborate with a local church to provide lunch and tutoring lessons for the Mbya children there. This is probably the heartiest meal these students eat each week.  In fact, the results of an improved diet are starting to show.  On the first day, the students could only get through half of the lesson in the allotted time, but now they’re completing the full lesson in half of the time.  As much as the physical food is fundamental, more importantly, we share spiritual food through a Bible story.  Pray that God’s word will go out through this educational program and will accomplish more than we imagine with the Mbya.
Zarate Isla Students
Additionally, Margarita and I coordinate another educational outreach at another urban Mbya community.  One of the students there, 12-year-old Trinidad, couldn’t read her name or identify any letters from the alphabet when we started.  Her family was awestruck last month when, after only two sessions with Margarita, Trinidad not only wrote her name without help, but also spelled it out, letter by letter.  Margarita credits God’s work in Trinidad’s life for the advancements.  We’ve heard from two Mbya Christians that “acts of God” were critical factors in their conversions.  Please pray for more “academic acts of God” to occur in Trinidad’s community so that they might trust in Jesus.  Likewise, pray for deeper friendship and spiritual conversations with a young couple from this community.

Next week we will start an adult literacy class at an urban Ava Guarani community in collaboration with a Christian teacher intern who is from the Pai Tavytera Native tribe.  Please pray for this class to open a door to the gospel among the Ava.

You are a part of a lot of good things happening down here in Paraguay, and we hope to tell you more in person.  While our plans are still flexible, this coming November through January, we’re planning on visiting New York, New England, the Pacific Northwest, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma.  We would like for you to meet Gabrielli and our niece, Jazmin.  We also want to see how you’re doing.  Please set aside a time to meet with us during those months.
Yours truly,
Tim, Margarita, Ana, Antoine and Gabrielli

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Letter from a Hospital Room

Dear Family and Friends:

I originally wrote this update seated next to Gabrielli’s hospital bed.  A cold produced a high fever on Tuesday, so Margarita and I brought her to the pediatrician.  Her condition straddled the line between bronchitis and pneumonia, and, due to her very young age, the doctor wanted her to spend a night under observation.  She soon began to show eagerness to leave the hospital by knocking over her I.V. holder and ignoring hospital workers when they entered the room.  We thank God that she is now home, but please keep Gabrielli in your prayers.     

Gabrielli bored of her hospital room.
Gabrielli’s hospitalization came right in the middle of a series of exciting advancements in our work with three urban Mbya Guarani and Ava Guarani communities.  Today we helped organize a clown presentation about God’s love for a Day of the Child celebration.  This landmark activity came by request from leaders of a Mbya community where no ministry had previously gained entry.  Pray for effective follow-up to the presentation as well as for another event with Ava Guarani children on August 17th.  
The young Mbya man who you prayed for last month lives in the community where we organized the presentation.  “Eli” is a follower of Jesus, and Margarita and I spent a considerable amount of time with him in July talking, listening to the Scriptures, and praying.  Next week I hope to deepen the discipleship, perhaps even moving toward starting a Bible study at his house with his family.  Please pray for this young man as well as for his community.

Most of July was focused on English classes at two different church youth groups run by Alaina, a high school student from Amarillo, Texas.  Impressively, she had never been on a plane or left the U.S. prior to this trip.  At one English class, three youth prayed to place their faith in Jesus and two of then began attending the church.  At the other class, the youth group grew and became more unified.  They also learned how to play ultimate frisbee.  Keep the Nueva Esperanza and Trinidad youth groups in your prayers.

Alaina with Ana and Gabrielli
After Alaina’s classes ended, 19 other people came from Paramount Baptist Church for a short-term mission trip.  They taught the Nueva Esperanza and Trinidad youth how to share the gospel.  They did a scavenger hunt-outreach project in Asuncion’s sprawling downtown market.  They told hundreds of public school students as well as residents of a village near a church plant about hope and new life in Jesus.  The group also visited two urban Native communities.  Give thanks to God for his work through Alaina and the Paramount team.

The Paramount Team with the Ava Guarani Community at Yvapovondy
Next Monday we will start a groundbreaking tutoring and lunch outreach to a Mbya community where Margarita took the Paramount team.  During our first ever gospel presentation there, a few of the children asked who Jesus was.  How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?  Because of your partnership in the gospel in Paraguay.  Pray for the new tutoring outreach, and continue to pray for the Mbya to clearly hear the message that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 


Tim, Margarita, Ana, Antoine and Gabrielli

Sunday, July 8, 2018

But that you may know

Dear Friends and Family:

"Only the shaman’s medicine can help him now.”  The teacher at an urban Mbya Guarani school was not feeling well went he left to visit his family for a weekend in early June.  He still hasn’t returned.  The community leader informed us that the medicine given to him by doctors didn’t work, so now he’s turning to traditional Mbya spiritual healing.  Margarita and I tried on two occasions to visit the teacher at his family’s home, but heavy rains made the dirt roads impassable. We contacted a Mbya church leader near that area about visiting the teacher. We also may try to go out there again, perhaps with a doctor colleague.  Pray that the teacher may know that Jesus has authority to forgive and that he can rise from his sickbed.
School keeps these Mbya children out of destructive situations.
In the teacher’s absence, the community school’s students are not attending classes. Sadly, we saw one of them sniffing glue on a street corner last week. Education is perhaps the primary means to help keep these children out of destructive situations. We thank God for a new partnership with a local church who will help us start organizing weekly tutoring sessions with lunch in August for this community’s students. We also thank God that the Mbya leader is open to this project. Along with the educational support, the students will hear the Scriptures. Please pray for success for this education-based outreach project for the students of an urban Mbya Guarani community.

Later this month, we will welcome a short-term mission team from Paramount Baptist Church in Amarillo, Texas. In addition to organizing a field day with the students of urban Mbya and Ava Guarani communities, they will help strengthen two youth groups, a university ministry and a church plant. One of their youth, Alaina, has arrived early to for an English-teaching internship that begins in a few days. We’ve challenged the youth groups to invite un-churched friends to attend the English classes. Pray that the classes and the short-term team visit will result in new followers of Jesus as well as encouragement for the local churches to continue reaching out to their cities.   
Mobilizing two youth groups to reach out to their city in July.
Last week, Margarita and I, along with 160 missionaries from different South American countries, received the very special blessing of a retreat hosted by the Tennessee-based Christian Hospitality Network. There was good food, massages, fellowship, and, most of all, rest. Please give thanks to God for caring for his servants on the mission field through organizations like C.H.N.  Also give thanks for Margarita’s family, who cared for Ana, Antoine and Gabrielli while we were at the retreat.

Just when Margarita and I had concluded that there were no Christians in one of the urban Mbya Guarani communities where we teach, we met one young man who confesses to believe in Jesus. He tells us about the loneliness and temptations that he constantly faces. We hope that he can be a light to his community, and this week we plan to start a discipleship with him. Pray for this young man.  Pray for us and our co-workers. Pray that our work will contribute to the integral transformation of communities as well as individuals, and that they may know that Jesus has authority to forgive.

Happy Independence Day!

Tim, Margarita, Ana, Antoine and Gabrielli

Monday, June 11, 2018

Keep kids off the streets

Dear Friends and Family:

Two years ago, you prayed for Pastor Eligio and his wife, Cynthia, after the death of their newborn, Elías Josue.  Before that tragedy, Eligio and Cynthia suffered three miscarriages and the death of another newborn.  With great faith they tried again last year to have another baby, and, in April, a healthy baby girl was born.  Her name is Janaí, which means “God responds” in Hebrew.  Give thanks to God for responding to Pastor Eligio’s and Cynthia’s long-suffering with the gift of their long-awaited child. 
Pastor Eligio, Cynthia and Janai
Children are indeed precious gifts.  Unfortunately, one can see many children in vulnerable circumstances on street corners throughout the Asunción metro area.  A number of these children are from the Ava Guarani tribe, and Margarita and I know some of them personally.  An Ava mother told us that when they have no money for their basic needs they feel that their only option is to take their children to ask for money at stoplights.  Through your support for us, you are helping raise awareness that sending their kids to school will contribute exponentially more to curbing their poverty than the coins they receive on the street corners.  Last month, Ava students with outstanding attendance at one urban community won fake money for a “shopping spree” of donated clothes.  Last week, the Ñanduti Organization provided a roof for their open-air classroom.  While these efforts support the students’ education, they also build the community’s trust in us and demonstrate their Creator’s love for them.  Pray for the parents to see education as an investment.  Pray for a door to open to make known the good news of Jesus to the urban Ava communities.    

The Ava School Before and After the Construction of the Roof
In mid-May, we traveled four hours deep into central Paraguay to visit a secluded mission among another tribe—the Mbya Guarani.  This region is the homeland of most of the people in the two urban Mbya communities where Margarita and I work.  In fact, we dropped off the teacher from one of those communities to visit his family on our way to the mission.  A German missionary, who has been in Paraguay for 30 years, shared about how it took 5 years for the first Mbya Christian in the area to decide to follow Jesus.  A Mbya Christian, who serves as a bi-vocational evangelist, said he placed his trust in Jesus when he saw that as he sought God through the Scriptures, his family began to experience peace—a peace that was absent during their years of following their traditional religion.  He additionally was drawn by the good testimony and compassion of the missionaries.  Pray for a harvest among the urban Mbya, and pray that Margarita and I, along with our co-workers, will represent Jesus well to them.

Road Trip to the Mbya Guarani Mission
Early in the month, we finished the Bible study in the Guarani language with the Ayala family.  During the course of that 5-month walk through the Gospel of Mark, their daughter overcame a serious illness and four family members decided to follow Jesus.  We concluded the study by challenging the family to go into all their un-churched village and proclaim the gospel.  Please keep the Ayala family and the people of the Yaguaron District in your prayers.  Thank you for supporting church-planting efforts there through your partnership with us.

Margarita is developing a close relationship with a young Mbya woman, who, like Pastor Eligio and Cynthia, has not been able to have any children.  Additionally, her brother recently died of AIDS, a disease that has ravaged some Mbya communities. Margarita left her awestruck by sharing the story of our friend, Nidian, who lost her son (a New Horizon School graduate) to leukemia last year.  Nidian found consolation in her son’s last words: “Mom, don’t worry about me. We will see each other again.  I am going in peace.”  Pray for the young Mbya woman, along with many others from her tribe, to place her trust in Jesus, who responds by giving a peace that surpasses all understanding.

Yours truly,

Tim, Margarita, Ana, Antoine and Gabrielli

Margarita and I thank you for helping keep these precious Ava Guarani girls off the streets and in school!