Even though the Paraguayans are known to take life at a little more casual pace, it never seems to be slow or mundane in Paraguay! April proved to be just as busy as all its predecessors! The month kicked off with our annual congregational retreat which was held at Campamento Sion in Aregua. The theme for our camp this year was “The Lord is my Helper” (Hebrews 13:6). We had 56 in attendance with several visitors and first-time campers. Josh Blackmer directed the activities and all the Academy students assisted with the logistics and various other areas. We had wonderful weather to compliment lots of great Bible study. It’s always a great fellowship experience and this year was one of the very best! That event was followed by several new projects starting up that we have been wanting to get done. Some are still in process, while others have been completed during the month. We praise God for so many blessed opportunities! For example...
WE NOW HAVE A NEW BAPTISTRY (FINALLY)!
Ever since the congregation moved into it’s new location, it has been without a baptistry. We have been blessed to have friends at a hotel just up the road which have allowed us to use their pool anytime we have needed it for a baptism. One of our sisters in Christ has also allowed us to us her pool on occasion. A while back, there were even donations given by some kind brethren in the USA to help the congregation here pay for a new baptistry. However, it’s just been a matter of what and where to build one which has lead to a long time without one. Our first idea was to build a mobile baptistery that could be wheeled into the auditorium when needed, but the project got stalled when the carpenter became too backlogged to build it. Then, someone finally had the idea to use the “Quincho” out back as a space for the baptistry. Since we never use the BBQ grill that is there (and it was broke), the men decided this would be a great place to install a permanent baptistry. It already had water installed, it would be covered from the elements, and many people could easily gather around it to watch someone being born into Christ! A contractor was hired, materials were ordered, and now we have a beautiful baptistry for those who decide to obey the Gospel call. We thank God for this blessing and pray that we have to use it repeatedly for many years to come!
Evangelistic Contacts / Bible Studies:
•Andrea and I are continuing our studies with our “Learn English Using the Bible” students, Adriana Rodriguez, and Sergia Frutos using “Searching for Truth.”
•Andrea’s study with Dina Aycock is going very well as she continues to ask more questions and she comes to realize the truth of God’s word.
•My study with Marile “Romi” Balbuena is going well. Her interest in Revelation has afforded the opportunity to teach many other parts of the Bible as we progress through the book.
“Comfort in Times of Grief” is a group study program that was designed to help those who have lost a loved one by focusing on God’s word while sharing their grief with others who may have experienced the same thing. The team developed the program to not only help our grieving members, but also as a possible form of community outreach. Brittnea Yegros has done an outstanding job in getting this program going and the current group that is meeting is composed of several visitors. We pray it will be a useful service to the community, bring souls closer to God, and ultimately glorify Him.
Asunción Bible Academy update:
The students and teachers have settled in nicely to their routines and have already completed several courses. The students are showing great promise in their efforts and attention. They have finals the week of May 6, then a short course with brother Donnie Bates. There will also be a campaign in Ñemby. The campaign will be an evangelistic effort with a focus in finding new contacts and potential Bible studies in the area in order to prepare and coincide with the upcoming church plant in that city.
Perry and Alba Hardin have arrived at the end of their agreed time of commitment with the mission team. Perry has been invaluable to the work here in Paraguay and the Lord’s kingdom has certainly been blessed through his efforts. Although he will no longer be serving on the team, he and Alba will be remaining in Paraguay as he will be serving as Academic Co-Director and teacher for the Asuncion Bible Academy.
•We are preparing for mission groups who will be coming down to work with us this summer in June and July.
•Eliezer Perez, (from Panama and an ITL graduate) will be coming to work with the church here in Paraguay in June.
PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT AND ACTIVITIES: HIGHLIGHT(s) OF THE MONTH:
Not sure if this is exactly a “highlight,” but I have spent the entire month focusing on getting some of our long awaited projects completed by working with local construction workers. A truly big highlight for me has been entering the building every morning and hearing all the activity among the Academy students. It has created quite an enjoyable atmosphere!
Visitation / Other Activities:
•We have been concentrating our spare time on getting everything ready for our upcoming furlough. It gets a little easier logistically each year, but it is still no less stressful!
•Andrea held yet another “Pinterest Party” where several young ladies of the church came over and worked on special crafts together. They are working on crafts for an upcoming wedding.
•Andrea took a little trip to Santa Maria de Fe in Southern Paraguay with the Las Amigas Club. Several ladies from the club went to deliver some food donations, as well as, to investigate the possibility of giving the community some vocational scholarships. They got to tour an Artesan’s workshop, a medicine garden, and one of the local schools.
•I completed (and passed) my first course toward my Master’s Degree in Missions! Hooray! I am now working on the assignments for the next class, “Introduction to Missions.” I’m pretty excited about the material!
•I am currently reading / have read:
♦“The Pentateuch” by James E. Smith
♦“Spontaneous Expansion of the Church” by Roland Allen
♦“Mission in the Old Testament” by Walter Kaiser
♦Rereading "Missions: Biblical Foundations & Contemporary Strategies" by Gailyn Van Rheenan.
Cultural or language discovery:
•Construction practices are very different in Paraguay! I have lots of experience in construction from the USA but a good deal of it just doesn’t apply in the same way here. For example, in the US, you usually hire a contractor and he does the entire job, including obtaining all the materials (which is calculated within his estimate). Not in Paraguay! You have to go get all the materials yourself and really, there is no such thing as a General Contractor. Instead, the Architect who designed the building usually serves in the capacity of site manager. Oh, and there isn’t a lot of layout or preplanning, either. You just build the wall, then, if you want water, electricity, or air conditioning in that location, you just chip away at the wall where you want to install it. Presto! So, a lot of things are very different from not only the materials used, but also the practices employed. BTW, the permitting process is a whole other adventure.
Troy and Andrea Spradlin
To see their report with pictures, please click here.