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. 

Sincerely,

Tim, Margarita, Ana, Antoine and Gabrielli


Friday, February 1, 2019

Goooool!

Dear Family and Friends:

In any neighborhood in Paraguay you can easily follow the score of a soccer game without turning on the television or radio.  All you need to know is which team is favored by the different neighbors around your block.  You know their team has scored when firecrackers go off and they scream “gooooooool”!  If the number of those moments exceeds the amount of times you hear profanities and the crashing of furniture, then you know that their team has won the game. 


In November you prayed for our goals for a recent trip we made to the United States.  Join us in thanking God for successful, fun and safe travels.  We spent time with many family and friends.  We reconnected with supporters and shared our ministerial vision for engaging urban Mbya and Ava communities.  Furthermore, all of the funds for ministry materials were raised, and we found 4 of the 5 new monthly supporters that we needed.
One of Ana and Antoine's goals was to make a snowman.

An additional goal was to learn.  I took a seminary course that brought me deeper in my Scriptural understanding.  Margarita and I met with seasoned First Nations ministry workers.  Willie and Megan Krischke described how they started a Native college ministry in the Four Corners region.  Dr. Randy Woodley, a Keetowah Cherokee, and his wife Edith, an Eastern Shoshone, emphasized the primacy of relationship in ministry to Native people.  The most important relationship is one of wholehearted devotion and unobstructed listening to the Creator. Only then can a ministry worker begin to build effective relationships with Natives and discover how the Creator is at work among them.  
Breakfast with the Woodleys

Please pray for Margarita and me as we have already started to reconnect with the Mbya and Ava.  Also, keep the following 2019 ministry goals in your prayers:
1) Develop and carry out effective educational strategies in partnership with local ministries and the Department of Education during weekly visits to at least 4 urban Ava and Mbya communities.
2) Begin at least 4 individual Bible studies or discipleships with Mbya and Ava men and women.
3) For Tim to move beyond an intermediate level in his Guaraní language ability.
4) Organize at least 2 opportunities to mobilize local churches to engage urban Natives.
5) Dedicate daily quality time to Ana, Antoine and Gabrielli.



More than simply achieving goals, in 2019 we aim to run the race marked out for us with our eyes fixed on Jesus.  Pray that we help others also fix their eyes on Jesus, who endured the cross and enables anyone who trusts in him to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.

Yours truly,
Tim, Margarita, Ana, Antoine and Gabrielli
Gabrielli, the experienced traveler.



Tuesday, December 11, 2018

What do you give a shaman for Christmas?

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 enamored 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 had a great time at Crossroads Church, where we met a Paraguayan family who invited us to their house for a delicious dinner of “vori vori.” 
From New York, we traveled to the Pacific Northwest.  We’ve since 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.  They saw exotic animals at the Portland Zoo and slept to the sound of crashing waves at the Oregon Coast.  Thank you for your continued prayers over our U.S. visit. We've enjoyed our times with loved-ones, and everyone has been healthy.  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 need to find four new monthly supporters.   
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 family and friends. From there 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 give thanks for a successful year of work with urban Native communities.  There was an increase in discussions about Scriptures and opportunities to share Bible stories.  We witnessed students’ academic progress. For instance, 13 Ava Guaraní women and one young Ava man earned Spanish literacy certificates.  We foresee opportunities to start Bible studies and discipleships with women and youth in 2019.  Our 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, which means "savior," 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 guestroom will 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.

Sincerely,

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.” 

Sincerely,

Tim, Margarita, Ana, Antoine and Gabrielli