Since we last wrote to you all we have been to England twice, Chile & Brazil for the Elim Global Conference for Central and South America (Alicia has been on more planes in her first few months of life than I did before my 20th birthday) and we have been ordained Elim ministers. So not much then!!
We were really blessed to be able to attend Elim Chile’s annual pastors and leaders conference and facilitate three pastors from the UK who were joining John as invited speakers. It was an amazing time that helped us to build new contacts and to strengthen Elim’s international community. This proved to be helpful as we later attended the Elim Global Conference and not only had the chance to meet up with new Elim Pastors and Missionaries from all over the continent, but to see those with whom we had already started to build links with. It felt like meeting up with old friends. This is so important to us, as we can often feel a bit isolated in Paraguay. However, as John Glass said in one of his messages at the conference ‘we need to be building bridges to support each other better’.
Our time back on furlough this year gave us chance to catch up with so many of our supporting churches and to share in more detail all that has been going on in the last 2 years. We were really spoilt by so many of you with gifts for Alicia and encouraging us personally, talking with people and getting to hear feed back from you all spurs us on and lifts our spirit. Thank you for all you do for us and for those, which we didn’t get to see this time, please know you are at the top of our list for our next visit back. We also had the chance to attend the Elim Leadership Summit in Harrogate and that is where our official ordination took place (although we have had to put off the official service till 2017 as we couldn’t stay on till June). It was a special moment for us both and Alicia managed to sleep through the whole thing, meaning Rachel had to go forward with her in her sling, which caused some amusement.
The bible stories have been going well and it is always a joy to see how people are enjoying listening to them. When we were looking at Moses and the plagues it was great to see how Reina, the chief’s wife, really grasped the concept that God was using all the Israelites went through to reveal himself and them and the fact that there is none like Him in all the earth. It is moments like this that give us hope that we are building a good foundation of understanding in the community and we are sure it is giving some cause for conversation amongst the people. One week the shaman was ill and wanted to ask us for a lift to the hospital where he needed to get some tests done in the city. So he came to our meeting to be sure he could catch us afterwards. This was the first time he had been back to one of our meetings since we did the creation story and we pray it would of impacted him.
Sadly with the weather being so bad and unseasonably cold for a long period of time this year many of the people have been ill and a lot of the older generation, children as well as babies have ended up getting to the point where they had developed pneumonia. We spent many weeks taking people to and from hospitals in and around the city. Providing food and help with medication when needed and washing a lot of clothes as many of the people would end up having to be admitted for more than a week. This provided us with an opportunity to show love in a practical way and to have some great conversations during the car journeys. It was also helpful to learn some new names and to learn the names of the new babies that had been born in the last year or two. Please pray for those who are still suffering the effects of this season and for the children who have been hit the hardest as the weather continues to be bad. Whilst the weather has been so bad we were really blessed to be able to use a ministry gift we had to buy some fleecy tracksuits for the younger children and babies.
On one trip taking an old lady to the emergency room in the city we made a new contact with a Syrian Doctor training medical students here in Paraguay. He speaks English and was interested to know what we are doing here. He then linked us up with some of the other Doctors who decided to make our community the benefactors of a clothes and bedding donation they were running in the city. We are hoping that this may also lead to a possible visit from some of the Doctors to the community to help with medical aid in the future. This would be a great provision for the community.
Just this last month we celebrated ‘day of the child’ and made up some party bags to add to the treats that the teachers and chief had provided. It was a really fun morning and the kids loved their toy cars and Alicia really enjoyed celebrating for the first time, mainly because there were so many on hand to help her walk up and down the front of the school and offering to carry her for as long as she would let them.
The school has recently hired a new teacher and the shed we were living in on the school property was needed to house her during the week. Thankfully whilst we had been in England a group of mice, some spiders and a family of bats had taken up residence in our home and ruined our beds, meaning we had to get replacements and thanks to a very kind gift we were able to buy some lighter foldable beds. This meant moving to another location was not as difficult as it would have been with our old beds and we have been able to move into a hut next to the chief’s hut, which is a much smaller space. They have offered us a plot in his family’s area to tidy up and build a new place to stay. The plot used to belong to one of his daughters before she got married so the may space has already been cleared and it is a case of clearing the weeds and grass, but no trees etc. We are looking forward to seeing how this impacts our socialising with people and seeing if this will allow us to further our relationships and provide more opportunity to share deeper with the chief’s family.
We cannot thank you enough for supporting us and standing with us as we continue to work here in Paraguay. Please continue to pray for our health & protection and for the community to continue developing in understanding in all we are sharing with them. Pray that as we sort our new living space it will bring more opportunities for sharing and that there will be more shade and fewer bugs there than were in our old location (especially fewer mosquitoes please!!).
God bless, The McDonough family