We are currently in a time of transition. As you receive this, Andrea and I have now been in the mission field for five years, which was our original commitment to the work. We are so thankful and feel abundantly blessed to have been able to serve here in Asuncion. We also feel blessed to have this new opportunity before us and we look forward to the next couple of years of continuing the work in Paraguay. We hope you find this month’s mission report encouraging. Thank you and God bless! - Troy and Andrea
Javier Arce obeyed the Gospel call this past month after having studied with brother Ike Yegros for a few months. Javier is a close friend of our sister in Christ, Odila, who invited him and his family to come visit. We rejoice with the angels in heaven that another soul has been added to the kingdom of God.
DEVELOPMENTS AT AVE. SACRAMENTO CHURCH OF CHRIST
Our Vision 2020 Meeting was a great success! We had about 20 men come over to the house one afternoon and discuss where we were five years ago, where we are now, and where we want to be five years from today. It was rather emotional to look back and see how some things that were once just dreams are now a reality. It gives us more hope and courage to strive forward! There will be another meeting next month to continue the discussions.
We are excited to have the Trent Kennedy Family making plans to come to Paraguay and work with the church here for three months! Trent will be teaching classes in the Bible Academy while he is here. He and his wife, Lisa, will also be teaching English using the Bible and offering a family class for parents. They plan to arrive on May 15th. Please pray for this effort!
DEVELOPMENTS AT ÑEMBY CHURCH OF CHRIST
Evangelist and missionary to Ñemby, Eliezer Perez, returned to his home in Panama for furlough and to visit his family. He plans to return to Paraguay in early February. He will continue his work in Ñemby, but will also begin working full time as a professor with the Asuncion Bible Academy in March.
The ABA students spent a week in Ñemby making new contacts, visiting and doing maintenance projects on the church building.`
ASUNCION BIBLE ACADEMY
“Beta Class 2015-17” is currently forming. Several have submitted their applications and gone through the admissions interview process. There are still some considering. Classes start March 2!
GRADUATION is upon us! The diplomas have been printed, the cap and gowns are reserved, and the decorations are getting ready to be put into place. We are so excited to see this project bearing fruit for the Lord’s glory! We are also thrilled to have brother Luis Camacho joining us for the upcoming activities. Please say a prayer for these graduates and their future endeavors.
Contacts / Bible Studies / Activities
We are happy to have two new interns who have arrived in Paraguay to work with the church for the next year! They are, Pablo Yuri and Italo Rocha. They were both trained in the AME Brazil program and plan to primarily help with the youth group in different areas and projects. We hope they have much success with their plans and look forward to working with them!
I had a great study with Alan Suarez, the 12-year-old son of our sister in Christ, Eulalia. He wants to be baptized, but after our study it became clear that he doesn’t quite understand the purpose of baptism just yet, or what salvation is exactly. So, we plan to continue studying with him as he grows closer to entering that “age of accountability.”
We had a very interesting evangelistic study at Delci Enciso’s house this past month. Unfortunately, the lady who had come to the study insisted that she doesn’t need to study the Bible because God speaks directly to her. Even though I clearly explained that that isn’t possible according to Hebrews 1:1-2, she maintains that she has visions and receives direct revelation from God. I have to admit, that one was a first for me!
I have been helping one of our families try to heal some issues that have come through some recent marriage troubles. We have been reading “The Love Dare” together and doing the various tasks together to help them recover the zeal that was once very strong in their marriage. So far, there have been positive results, so it is going well. (PS: the book is a great tool for marriage counseling, but beware of the erroneous doctrinal slant regarding salvation).
English students – Andrea’s new students are doing well with their studies. Please keep Alison, Sonya, and Nelly in your prayers!
The Academy students are in full swing teaching classes, preaching, and actively involved in ministry. It is truly a wonderful sight to see such spiritual growth in action!
Coming Up Soon:
Karen Bennett from the Central Ave church of Christ in Valdosta, GA, is coming to visit and speak at the Annual Ladies Retreat.
Another Men’s Planning Retreat to discuss the desired direction of the church in Paraguay for the next five years. We are calling it “Vision 2020.”
Graduation for the Asuncion Bible Academy will be held on Saturday, February 7th, 2015!
A South America vacation to Guarapuava, Brazil.
March - A new class of students will begin their studies at the Asuncion Bible Academy on March 2, 2015.
April - Andrea and I will be returning to the USA for our annual furlough/reporting trip.
May - The Trent Kennedy family arrives in Paraguay.
July - Palm Beach Lakes church of Christ campaign. Margaret Street church of Christ campaign.
Surprise Birthday Party! - Okay, as close to a surprise as one can get by flying into town from South America outside of our normal schedule, inviting all the family down from all over the country to convene in one place, and all while trying to organize the event without the “surprisee” suspecting it. Still, Andrea and her family were able to pull off a surprise 85th birthday party for her mom, Joyce Parker. She was happy, Andrea was happy, the family was happy, so everybody is happy! But most importantly, Joyce knows just how much she is deeply loved by her family.
Our fellow worker in the kingdom and brother in Christ, Jorge Vera, lost his mother this past month. She had been battling various illnesses for the past several years and he had been responsible for taking care of her for a very long time. He is obviously sad for the loss, but his heart grieves even more that she never accepted the Gospel invitation, even though he proclaimed it to her many times. Please pray for Jorge and his family.
I have been reading (or, still reading):
“The Chronological Life of Christ” by Mark E. Moore
“New Testament Survey” by Merrill C. Tenney
“El Desafio del Amor” by Alex and Stephen Kendrick
I preached one Sunday at Avenida Sacramento on the topic of “What Separates Us from Other Religious Groups?”
From several resources on the subject, I have developed and have been teaching a series on “Spiritual Development” in Spanish. In the first lessons, we have been focusing on the first key element, which is learning about the will of God and that it is only possible through His revealed word. The following elements are: “The Community of Faith,” “Our Inner Life.” and “Ministry.”
Discovering Paraguay: “Kurusú Ara” Celebration
May 3rd is the celebration of “Kurusú Ara,” or “Día de la Cruz” in Spanish (Day of the Cross). “Kurusu” means cross and “ára” means day in Guaraní. During Kurusu Ára a special cross is used, usually one with historical or sentimental value to the community. The cross is placed in a dome shaped shrine made of laurel leaves which is then decorated with chipas, (cheese bread) in the form of rings as well as animals are hung from the branches creating a sort of Christmas tree. Once the ceremony and songs honoring the “kurusu jegua” (decorated cross) are completed these chipas are handed out to attendees.
The Day of the Cross is celebrated in Catholic communities worldwide but, as always, Guaraní culture contributed it ́s own special twist to this religious tradition in Paraguay. According to Margarita Miro Ibara, author of “Alimentación y Religiosidad Paraguaya, Chipa – Pan Sagrado,” Paraguay ́s Kurusu Ára festivities are an example of religious syncretism that occurred between Catholic beliefs and those of the Guaraní culture. She attributes the natural elements – the leafy shrine and animal shaped chipas – as paying homage to the Kurupí, a mythological Guaraní deity representing fertility in both humans and nature. “Kurupí” is still very much present within the Paraguayan culture. (Reprinted from discoveringparaguay.com). For more information on all things Paraguay, visit this informative website: http://discoveringparaguay.com.
Troy and Andrea Spradlin
To see Troy’s report with pictures, please click here.