Happy New Year! We pray 2014 provides you with many blessings to come! It’s been a great 2013. The best part about the holiday season is not really the food, the presents, nor the decorations. The best part is the fellowship! Getting together with your brethren in Christ for dinners, special activities, or just visiting is the true beauty of Christianity! This month has been a stellar month for fellowship. There were lots of events and opportunities to show the world that “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35). We hope you enjoy this month’s report from the mission field of Paraguay!
DEVELOPMENTS AT AVENIDA SACRAMENTO
Andrea hosted the monthly Ladies Tea in our home for December. There were 24 ladies present with three of them being visitors. Two of the visitors are from active Bible studies that we have been conducting. Andrea delivered a powerful, devotional message on the subject of “Who You Are.”
Our annual “End-of-the-Year” dinner is always a lot of fun and this year was no exception. All three congregations were represented and there were many visitors who also came. After a wonderful meal (which included about 7 different varieties of Chipa Guazu!), there was a fun talent show. We were all rather impressed with many of our young people and their talented capabilities!
The men have been meeting every Sunday morning to discuss general business issues and to continue to reorganize our service ministries. It has been slow, but they are making some great decisions.
DEVELOPMENTS AT ÑEMBY CONGREGATION
The members are continuing to reach out to their neighbors and have been inviting several guests to the Bible studies and worship services. We are confident that their evangelistic spirit will soon see more fruit provided in the Lord’s kingdom.
On a sad note, there have been a couple of incidents where vandals have destroyed the toilets in the outside bathroom and have also tried to set fire to the front door.
ASUNCION BIBLE ACADEMY UPDATE
As the summertime heat is upon us and with the upcoming break being just a few weeks away, it is easy to see that the students are beginning to struggle with their attention span. However, they all continue to show great improvement in many aspects of their character and knowledge. We consistently hear compliments from the members about the students and how much they have grown spiritually. There is no greater reward for a teacher than to hear words like those!
Evangelistic Contacts / Bible Studies / Activities:
Last month, we reported that we had some exciting news regarding our study with Sandra Durarte. We explained that when she first came to study with us, she said that her husband, Rolando, was very Catholic and didn’t want her in a Bible study. After a few weeks she said he finally approved of her coming and then later, she informed us that he had lots of Bible questions and would like to come study with us! Well, we were blessed to have the study and it went very, very well. I went to the study with the intention of simply establishing the fact that the Bible is our only source of authority. Twenty minutes into the study, Rolando affirmed that he believed the Bible was, indeed, the only authority in religious matters! Ike Yegros assisted me in the study and the two of them made a really great connection. Andrea, along with Delci Enciso, have taken over the study with Sandra and are making a great connection with her, as well. We are really excited about the possibilities of this family becoming a part of God’s family. Please keep them in your prayers.
I also had the opportunity to study with our brethren, Enrique Albera and Leti Alfonso, who will be getting married soon in the month of February. They are both very strong in the faith and will make a fine example of a Christian marriage. We pray for a long, happy, and prosperous marriage for them both.
Most of our students in our “Learn English Using the Bible” program have been on break this past month. Andrea’s student, Oscar Parodi, finished the first program and will be starting “Searching for Truth” next month.
Our Leadership Training by Extension class finished up this past month. We studied through a book on “Hermeneutics” with Ike Yegros and Pedro Vera. They responded very well to the study and we pray it will provide valuable tools for them in their Christian walk. We will continue next month with more studies in Homiletics, which will include Cultural and Historical background studies.
Attendance was down considerably this past month in both Ave Sacramento and Ñemby. Many of our members have been traveling or taking vacations with the holidays falling on weekdays this year. January is the traditional time for taking vacations in Paraguay.
Other news and upcoming activities:
The ladies will be having a Ladies Retreat in January.
Karen Bennett will be coming to Paraguay to visit us again in January and lead the Ladies Retreat.
We plan to host a “Hawaiian Luau” in our home with the youth group, Enrique Albera and Leti Alfonso, as well as, Ramon Paredes and Elvira Dominguez will be getting married in February.
PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT AND ACTIVITIES
Andrea and I were so very blessed in 2013 with many opportunities to serve in the Lord’s kingdom and to witness several milestones being achieved here in Paraguay. We pray God will continue to use us as his “instruments for the Gospel” in the upcoming year. We are very excited about the possibilities for 2014 and look forward to the adventure!
We went out to visit our dear sister, Estela Curcio, this past month to celebrate her birthday and encourage her. We always enjoy our visit with Estela. She lives in Caacupé and rides the bus every Sunday for two hours, one way, in order to get to church! She has been a faithful Christian for more than 25 years.
We enjoyed a nice evening of fellowship and food for Christmas eve with our brethren, the Pedro Vera family, the Mirta Vera family, and the Delci Enciso family.
Our former mission teammates, Enoch and Laura Rinks and Perry and Alba Hardin came to have dinner with us in our home. We greatly appreciate these fine couples and all their contributions of service they have provided for the church. Enoch also preached for us this past month in Ñemby and Ave Sacramento. He will be teaching class in the Asuncion Bible Academy in January.
While I was teaching one morning at the Bible Academy, Andrea surprised me with a specially prepared “Happy Birthday” lunch. We shared with the students and enjoyed a nice hour of fellowship.
Personal study: I am currently reading / have read:
“Church History in Plain Language” by Bruce L Shelley
“The Paraguayan Reader” by Lambert and Nickson
I am happy to report that I finished one more course towards the earning of my Master’s Degree. “Poco a poco” as they say!
This month, I had the opportunity to preach at Avenida Sacramento and twice at Ñemby. I spoke on “God’s Kingdom” and about “Sanctification.”
I taught classes on Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Romans in our Bible study hours at Avenida Sacramento.
I taught “Acts 7” at the Ñemby midweek Bible study.
This quarter I taught “I and II Kings” and “Church History” in the Asuncion Bible Academy.
ANDREA ́S AMAZING ADVENTURES!
Andrea, whom I’ve always viewed as my "girly-girl from the city," has turned into a farm girl right before my very eyes! She used to have a pretty deadly black thumb when it came to gardening, but apparently, the hot, South American climate agrees with her because she has now developed a rather vibrant “pulgar verde" (green thumb, or manos de jardinero)! First, she grew several herbs, then she grew an outstanding green lawn, and now recently, she’s produced home grown corn! In addition, she also planted her first banana tree. What I find amazing is that she has to get her girly-girl hands dirty to do it - yes, those perfectly manicured, frequently exfoliated, regularly moisturized, with nails always painted hands .... dirty! ¡Impresionante!
Troy and Andrea Spradlin
To see the report with pictures, please click here.