Sunday, October 13, 2019

"You give them something to eat"

Dear Family and Friends:

In order for our educational outreach among urban Native communities to become an ongoing, sustainable ministry, we must get local churches and ministries involved. While our primary work is engaging the Ava and Mbya Guaraní, we also dedicate time to mobilizing Paraguayan Christians. For instance, we recently brought former students of ours from the Nuevo Horizonte School to spend a morning at an urban Ava community. Another former student took three other college students to help us with an activity at a Mbya community. Other similar activities are being planned for future weekends. These visits not only serve as volunteer opportunities, but hopefully are initiating relationships that will open doors for the gospel. Give thanks to God for our local ministry partners.

Our former student, Jhony, presented a humorous skit at the Ava community.
Amazingly, the Ava Guaraní community who received the Nuevo Horizonte students previously prohibited visits from Christian ministries, which is not uncommon in Paraguay. We recently received news from a Mbya community that started prohibiting Mbya Christians from gathering on Sundays. Additionally, the leader at the Ava community we most regularly visit wanted to cancel house church services; however, the outcry from the Christians in his community convinced him to not do so. Give thanks for our Native brothers and sisters who persevere in Scripture study, worship and prayer. Pray for the communities where there are prohibitions against Christian gatherings. Also, pray for our plans to start a weekend gathering at a Ava-Mbya community.

During a visit by public school students to a Mbya community, a chess match broke out between a visiting student (right) and Leticia (left). Leticia, who learned how to play this year through our chess club, soundly defeated her challenger
Thank you for your prayers for the four Day of the Child events that we organized in August. One of these events opened a door for to us to teach weekly Bible stories to children at a Mbya community where visits from churches were prohibited. At this same community, we have regular interactions with six young men and women who are interested in learning more about the Scriptures. Please pray for us to clearly communicate the good news about Jesus.

September was filled with a variety of different activities. Among them was a trip to Pedro Juan Caballero—Paraguay’s rough, northeastern border-town—to celebrate the inauguration of a new church. Its pastor graduated from the seminary classes I helped organize a few years ago with Dr. Gil Lain, Pr. Ted Gross and Pr. Fredy Pavez.  Then, there was a big first-day-of-spring event at Antoine’s pre-school, during which he recited via microphone the “Legend of Yerba Mate” to a crowd. Give thanks for Antoine, as well as for Gabrielli and Ana, who goes to camp this week.

Antoine's Presentation
The other night six college-aged Paraguayan Christians who had heard about our ministry came to our house to ask how they could get involved. Their compassion resembles what the Scriptures teach about Jesus. When he sees masses of hungry, "shepherd-less" people, he compassionately engages them. Then, he turns to his followers and tells them, “You give them something to eat.”  Please pray for more Christians in Paraguay, as well as everywhere, to accept the call to serve.

In Him,
Tim, Margarita, Ana, Antoine and Gabrielli

Thursday, August 22, 2019

To those who ask

Dear Friends and Family:

Almost a year ago I wrote to you about a machete fight that nearly broke out between squatters and landowners at an urban Mbya Guaraní community. At the same time, a similar situation was developing in another part of the Asunción metropolitan area with an Ava Guaraní community, whose leader was worried about what would happen to the twenty families under his care—including his wife and seven children. He recalled from his youth hearing Bible stories about people being rescued from oppressive situations, and he asked God for help. This year his community was joined with the Mbya community and both were moved outside of Asunción to land with a title in their names and newly-built homes.

Singing to our Great Father in Guaraní
Last month we shared a time of thanksgiving with the Ava leader for what God had done for him and his community. Every Monday since then, after we finish our tutoring session and serving lunch to the students, we meet with him and his family to listen to and discuss a chapter from the Gospel of Matthew on an audio Bible in Guaraní. Pray for God to grow our spiritual gatherings at this Mbya-Ava Guaraní community.

At another urban Ava community, a faithful group gathers for prayer and Scripture reading on Sunday mornings.  We brought a short-term mission team from Arkansas there a few weeks ago.  Both the team and the community members shared their stories with each other during a meal. In the emotional farewell, one Ava woman gave her bracelet to one of the team members. This was a significant step for her to trust more in Ñandejara (Jesus) since she had previously trusted the bracelet to protect her from evil spirits.  Join us in giving thanks to God for his work among the Ava. Additionally, pray for “S.,” a Mbya woman who started studying the Bible with Margarita last week.

Ana with her friends at an Ava community
In the past month I made two visits to a missionary training school in southern Paraguay called Parque SAMM. The first visit was to co-teach a course on teamwork in ministry teams to a promising group of Paraguayan and Uruguayan missionaries. The second visit was for the first-ever conference on ministry among the Mbya Guaraní. People from all over the region came to learn about Mbya culture and dialogue on best practices. Ana joined me for this visit and played with children from multiple cultural backgrounds: Mbya, German, American, Paraguayan, Bolivian and Uruguayan. She enjoyed the short break from third grade, which is turning out to be a lot harder than she thought. Give thanks for Ana as she turns 8-years-old this month.

Many of you are probably familiar with the organization called “Operation Christian Child.” We recently delivered some of their gift boxes to the children at the Ava-Mbya community for Children’s Day. They played games, ate a delicious lunch, and heard a presentation about Jesus’ love for them. 30 or so children, teens and adults entrusted him with their lives. This event was possible because of the support from our ministry colleagues as well as from you. Of course, the good gift of new life is possible because of our gracious Father in heaven, who gives it to those who ask him.

In his love,

Tim, Margarita, Ana, Antoine, and Gabrielli

This boy’s box could only have come from Oregon

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Children Climbing Mountains

Dear Friends and Family:
Paraguay doesn’t really have high mountains, but 1,230-foot Cerro Corá stands among the nation’s highest mountain range. “Cool and scary” summed up Ana’s impression of our recent ascent of Cerro Corá on a brief trip we took during the winter vacation. When she gazed upon the size of the obstacle that she had overcome, she realized that with determination, persistent steps, and a little help from her grown-up relatives she had achieved a seemingly insurmountable goal. 
Gabrielli made it 3/4 of they way up the mountain, but then stopped to eat and play.
Understanding the unique culture of the Mbya Guaraní and engaging them in a manner that counteracts the long history of unedifying experiences they’ve had with outsiders presents a significant challenge to us and our non-Mbya colleagues. We recently visited a German missionary who has served as a nurse and educator with the Mbya Guarani for over 30 years. Her advice to us was to “love with patience; be persistent in biblical teaching; and wait for God to reveal his power.”  Pray for us and our colleagues to show the Great Father's love through our educational outreach among the Mbya.
The winter vacation is ending, and we are resuming our work in the urban Native communities. At one community, we teach students and train a young Mbya woman, “E.,” to develop her skills as a new teacher. I continue meeting with the shaman, who teaches me Mbya language and culture. Our discussions frequently touch on themes that open opportunities for me to share biblical stories. Margarita hopes to soon start a Bible study with “S.,” who might be the only community member with a church background. Please pray for God to reveal himself to the Mbya. Additionally, pray for visits by short-term mission teams from Illinois and Arkansas as well as for a number of outreach events we have planned in August.
Students at the Ñendua Mirĩ Mbya school.
Margarita and I thank God for the house church that is forming in a nearby Ava Guaraní community. Thank you for your prayers last month for “Juan’s” brother, who lives in this community and is recovering from his surgery. Your support enabled “C.,” a young Ava leader, as well as “E.,” a young Mbya man, to attend a Christian Native youth camp last weekend.  Furthermore, the students in the literacy class at the Ava community are already reading texts. The class includes a devotional and a children’s time, and is the product of collaboration between local churches and ministries that represent five different evangelical denominations. Give thanks to God for mobilizing the Paraguayan Church to do his work among the Ava.
Ana and Antoine at the top of Cerro Corá.
Four-year-old Antoine proudly states that he also climbed Cerro Corá. What he might not say is that his father was with him every step of the way, bracing him, lifting him over rocks and even carrying him in the steepest parts. Likewise, when we look closer at the mountains we’ve overcome and jungles we’ve cut our way through, we might see that it was really our loving Great Father who brought us out into a spacious place--and one with a beautiful view.
Yours truly,
Tim, Margarita, Ana, Antoine and Gabrielli

Friday, June 14, 2019

The Best Shelter to find refuge in

Dear Friends and Family:

The Mbya Guaraní teacher woke up a little after midnight to the sound of her pre-school student crying in a nearby house. She went over and found four-year-old “Hector” with his nine- and two-year-old brothers and six-year-old sister alone on a mattress on the concrete floor. Their mother committed suicide two years ago, so they lived with their father; however, he left the day before to work for two weeks in another part of Paraguay. The room temperature that night dropped to 40 degrees. The boy was crying because he was cold and had nothing to cover himself with. The teacher gave him her blanket and prepared a simple, warm breakfast for them.

One of the Blankets for Hector and his Siblings 
When Margarita was pregnant with Ana (who, by the way, just graduated from second grade), she was introduced to a “prayer quilt ministry.” In such a ministry, church women gather to talk and make  beautiful quilts with tassels for hospital patients and families going through challenging times. Then, they tie a knot in a tassel as they pray for the recipients. Last Saturday, Margarita made four “prayer blankets” with the Nueva Esperanza Church youth group for Hector and his siblings. Later this month she plans to organize a day to make prayer blankets with the Mbya and Ava Guaraní women at Hector’s community because dozens of other children there still need blankets for the winter. Pray that the residents of the Ava-Mbya community at Itá will find refuge in the shelter of Ñande Ruete (“Our One True Father”).           
Ana at her second grade graduation.
The Mbya teacher recently attended a conference with Margarita for an international Christian pre-school ministry called PEPE. She was the star of the evening as everyone was awestruck by her perseverance and dedication to being the only teacher for thirty students whose grade levels range from pre-school to fourth grade and with practically no support from the Department of Education. Thanks to three Christian foundations, as well as your support for Margarita and me, her students receive school supplies, a weekly hearty lunch, and biblical teaching. Furthermore, Margarita carries out a discipleship with the teacher, who knows very little about the Scriptures. Give thanks to God for his work in the teacher’s life, and keep her in your prayers.   

Your support also helps provide teacher training for a young Ava Guaraní man, whom you prayed for in April. He assists us in teaching a literacy class for teenagers and adults at his community. He decided to follow Jesus and has a bi-weekly discipleship with a colleague of ours. He and I have long conversations about the Scriptures before and after the literacy classes. Pray for this young man’s spiritual growth and for him to be able to attend a Christian Native youth gathering in July with “Juan,” another young Ava man. Also, please pray for Juan’s 14-year-old brother, who is recovering from surgery.  

Gifts for the mothers were provided by the Barreto Family in Long Island, NY
Last month you prayed for the Mothers’ Day celebration at Hector’s community. “Connection,” a partner ministry, did a fantastic job helping us put on the community's first ever Mothers’ Day activity.  The mothers ate, sang, made bracelets and heard a message of peace. 13 of them prayed to trust in Jesus as the cornerstone of their lives. Give thanks to God for his work in this and the other Native communities near Asunción. Give him thanks for the "Cornerstone," through whom everyone has access to Our One True Father.

Happy Fathers’ Day!  

Tim, Margarita, Ana, Antoine and Gabrielli Revett

Friday, May 10, 2019

Pray for Strength

Dear Friends and Family:
The Guaraní word “mbarete” translates into English as “strong.” However, it’s really quite a versatile and important word in Paraguay. During the Stroessner dictatorship it referred to the government agents who committed acts of torture and maintained order. Nowadays it carries a more positive connotation, referring, for example, to a soccer player who runs hard despite exhaustion in the final minutes to try to win an intense game. A working, single mother who raises and keeps her multiple children in line also is “mbarete.” The Mbya Guaraní tribe, from whom the term probably originates, considers it to have a spiritual significance.

Our tutoring time at a local church is the only school these Mbya children have each week.
Last month our strength was renewed from a retreat hosted by our mission. We enjoyed reconnecting with colleagues in other South American countries as well as meeting new missionaries. Many wanted to hear about our ministry. As you probably know, our main focus is pursuing integral, sustainable transformation of urban Mbya Guaraní and Ava Guaraní communities. The following is a general overview of how we currently carry this out each week, and can help guide your prayers for Margarita and me:
·        Monday: Teach math, Spanish and Bible lessons at a combined Mbya-Ava school.  Then, Tim leads a Bible study in one Ava family’s home. Margarita disciples a Mbya woman.

·        Tuesday: Tim attends meetings, prepares lessons/teachings, has lunch with a Mbya shaman, and occasionally visits the Esperanza prison. Margarita stays home with Gabrielli.

·        Wednesday and Friday: Teach math, Spanish and Bible lessons along with learning disability support at a Mbya school. Then, teach a literacy class and a Bible study at an Ava community.

·        Thursday: Tim prepares lessons/teachings, works on seminary assignments, and has a discipleship with a young Ava man. Margarita stays home with Gabrielli.

·        Weekends: Family time, outreach to Mbya children, and local church ministries (youth ministry, children’s ministry and Bible teaching).
Thanks to two local foundations--Jesus Responde and the Project for the People of Paraguay--we've received the means to start serving lunch at one Mbya school and during the literacy classes with the Ava. Ask God for volunteers from local churches to help with food preparation and children’s activities. 
Easter Gifts
Last month, we celebrated one of the days of Holy Week by bringing presents given to a Mbya community from Tigard Covenant Church in Oregon. We also shared the Easter story with them. For Mother’s Day, we’re planning a special activity with a combined Ava and Mbya audience.  Pray for open hearts and an inspired message.  Furthermore, the days are cooling down and the “cold and flu” season is starting up. Our children struggled with sicknesses during this season in previous years.  Please keep their health in your prayers. 

Antoine, Ana and Gabrielli, like most Paraguayans, prefer to drink their oranges.
During a recent lunch with a Mbya shaman, he explained to me that when people from his community need to be "mbarete" to get over sickness or a difficult situation, they contact him and he conducts a ritual for them in their “opy” (prayer house). I shared with him about a similar practice in the Christian tradition. In times of affliction or sickness, we're encouraged to talk with others who can pray for us. Moreover, that prayer doesn’t have to take place in a certain location with certain people. Anyone can confidently approach the Creator anywhere, at anytime and find grace in times of need.
Happy Mothers Day!

Tim, Margarita, Ana, Antoine and Gabrielli

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Our Growing Family

Dear Family and Friends:

Margarita, Ana and I arrived home one recent afternoon to find a monkey turning over paint cans and running around our porch. A neighbor said that the monkey suddenly turned wild. In attempt to sedate it, the owner, who lives around the corner from us, put beer in its water bowl. Instead of calming down, the inebriated monkey escaped to wreak havoc in the neighborhood. The police came. They watched the monkey for a little bit, but then left, stating that they hadn’t been trained to capture wild animals. Eventually the monkey returned to its home and there were no problems, aside from the mess. It was an exciting spectacle for our children and, especially, the newest member of our family, our puppy Bella.   
Bella with Ana
In mid-March, we celebrated Gabrielli’s second birthday. Our house was swarmed by little children and she received many great gifts; however, perhaps the most special gift of all was Bella, our rescued street puppy. Ana, Antoine and Gabrielli are now learning how to take care of a pet. Margarita and I are thankful for their healthy development. Please keep them in your prayers. 

Two-year-old Damián, whose health and family you prayed for last month, has improved. His father, “E.,”and I have been meeting for Bible study and prayer. I’m starting to mentor a young Ava Guaraní leader, “C.,” to teach bi-weekly literacy classes for his community. Give thanks to God for E., who has professed faith in Jesus, and pray that C. will get to know "Nande Ruete," the One True Father.

Last month I mentioned that two other urban Native communities, one Ava and one Mbya Guaraní, were combined and relocated about 30 minutes outside of the Asunción metro area. The Paraguayan education department has provided minimal support for the community’s school, so the local chiefs opened the door for us and our Christian partner organizations to help, which allows for the teacher, students and their families to hear biblical teachings alongside the Spanish and math lessons we give.  During a recent visit, a young Mbya leader, “T.,” prayed to receive Jesus. Margarita is now discipling her.  Please pray for T. to grow in her knowledge of God.  Also, pray for our efforts to mobilize local churches to do his will in this and other nearby mission fields.

The teacher with a chalkboard donated by Oklahoma-based Builders for Christ, who visited last month.
The chief of another Mbya community sat Margarita and me down at his house in early March and lamented that when their students leave the community’s school after sixth grade to attend middle school at a nearby Paraguayan public school, they find themselves significantly behind the other students. The academic challenges coupled with racial discrimination discourage most from continuing their studies past seventh grade. In fact, only 2% of Paraguayan Natives make it to high school. After Easter, I will start tutoring classes for the 5th and 6th graders with assistance from a young Mbya man named “P.” Pray for P. to seek the One True Father, and pray for our Mbya students to trust in Jesus, who promises to make all things new.

Wishing you a Wonderful Easter Week,

Tim, Margarita, Ana, Antoine and Gabrielli

Gabrielli's 2nd Birthday

Friday, March 8, 2019

"Instead of getting better she grew worse."

Dear Friends and Family:

When Margarita and I saw the Ava Guaraní chief’s grandson, Damián, who is the same age as our daughter, Gabrielli, we could tell right away that he suffered some sort of illness. He couldn’t stand on his own or keep food down. His bones were showing. Aside from crying, Damián made no sounds normal for his age. Margarita and I offered to bring him and his parents to the pediatric hospital. However, after experiencing two months of racial discrimination at expensive doctor visits that resulted in frustration for them and no benefit to their son, Damián’s parents had already decided to take him to an Ava shaman. So, we prayed. Some of you prayed too.

Damian and his parents on the way to the hospital.
The Gospel of Mark talks about a woman who, for twelve years, “suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet, instead of getting better she grew worse” (5:26). Margarita and I shared this passage with Damián’s parents at the hospital where he is now receiving good care. The doctors are still administering studies to see what his diagnosis is, but said that if his parents had waited two more days to bring him in, he could’ve died.  Give God thanks for Damián’s treatment and gradual recovery, and please keep him in your prayers.

Last August, I began praying for an open relational door with Damian’s father. Since the hospitalization, he and I have had good conversations and I’ve talked with him about trusting in Jesus. He and I are now studying the Scriptures together.  Pray for Damian’s father, who is a key person in the Ava community and someone God might be calling to reach his people.
Antoine and his friends, Daniela and Eliseo, on the first day of school.
Antoine, along with thousands of other students in Paraguay, started school in February (Ana’s school started the day after our return from the U.S.).  For Margarita and me, February was a month of preparation and reconnecting. We visited most of the Ava and Mbya communities that we worked in last year. The chief at the main Mbya community was excited for us to return, and asked us to continue helping at their school. Right after that conversation, we found a young woman with a Gideon’s New Testament. She, as well as at least one other woman in the same community, said that they want to study the Bible with Margarita. Pray that God will open doors among the Mbya.

In January, one urban Ava community and one urban Mbya community joined together and moved to a new location outside of Asunción. The Mbya chief asked us to help with their children’s educational needs. The Ava chief, who attended a church in his youth, wants help starting a Bible study and prayer time. Praise God for the trust extended to us by them, and pray for wisdom for us as we reach out to this community.
Mbya Guarani Chess Club
The woman in Mark 5 was left hopeless by her experiences with the doctors. Damian’s parents had also given up hope, but your support enabled us to be there at the right time and get him to the hospital--just in time. Your prayers contributed to his recovery and the opening of relational doors with his family. The woman in Mark 5 only had to draw close to Jesus in order to experience the peace she needed. Your partnership stokes hope that the Mbya and Ava will draw close to Jesus. Pray that not only they, but also people in your community and all over, will find peace through him. 


Tim, Margarita, Ana, Antoine and Gabrielli