Monday, October 6, 2008

Paraguay 2008 Slideshow

Last week we shared on our experiences through Romans 10:5-10:15. We made this little slideshow to show some of our experiences during the trip.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Paraguay Sunday

This was our Paraguay Sunday and it went VERY well! It began with all of us joining the worship team to sing the Hillsong Hosanna doing the chorus in Spanish. For the offertory there was a slide show set to Brandon Heath's "Give me your eyes". Then Karl shared how the missions team came to be, Rick Elola shared the scripture (Rom. 10:5-15) and then all 6 of us shared some story from our experience in Paraguay. We concluded w/ Bob's video Paraguay: Field Overview.

Afterwards we had some Paraguayan treats on the patio (the mixes I brought back and cakes w/ the dulce de leche frosting, chipa) and sold jewelry to support the San Lorenzo women's ministry so they can hopefully get some dishes before the next tea!

We had a Q & A time afterwards in the fellowship hall to answer questions about the trip and start forming the team for next year's trip. It's time to start forming the team - lots of interest from the Tilleys, some of the Mattson-Boze family, Lindsey and others. Biggest challenge will the 10 person cap - we may have to schedule two trips if interest remains high.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Funding Mariscal Lopez

When we were in Paraguay, we got a real heart for the church plant efforts underway for the neighborhood we were staying in the greater Asuncion area, called Fernando de la Mora. The church will be known as Mariscal Lopez, and is being led by Pastor Marcos Bernardini and Pastor Forest Schell. We worked with both the Pastors with the Vacation Bible School they ran, and with some neighborhood outreach visits.

Last Sunday we met with the CBNC missions team to discuss using some surplus funds given for Paraguay to fully fund the roof for the church. The missions team approved us bringing this request to the Elder Board. Next Sunday I will make the request to the elder board.

CMA has a special account set up for individuals wanting to donate for the church construction.

Give to Mariscal Lopez Church Construction Fund

Monday, July 28, 2008

Caught up

Things got a bit overwhelming with no computer access to modify and upload pictures the couple days we were touring in Brazil, followed by the 26 hours door to door it took us to return from Paraguay to the Bay Area, followed by a quick jaunt up to Eureka Friday and back Saturday, and now a plane ride to North Carolina for business (Hi Brenda - I'm in Charlotte).

Anyways, I've posted more pictures from the touring - at the bottom of the page, click on Older Posts, until you get to the page with the Chiperia Maria Ana post, then read forward again.

Next step is start tagging pictures and making them 1024 x 768 for our slideshow for the Missions Sunday that we'll present the trip.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

In San Francisco

It's been a long day, but we're finally on the ground, heading to our gate. It's been a fabulous trip, but it's good to be home.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Browsing magazines

I'm having a panic attack, they've made last call, and Susan was browsing magazines. Grace...

Boarding, where's my wife

The team's all on board, and Susan is nowhere to be seen.


After dinner, Fran, Jenn and Dominique had to test one of the many Starbucks kiosks at the Miami airport. I was happy with just the cafe con leche at the Crown Room in Brazil. Susan said the hot chocolate there was delicious. Lisa was the only one smart enough to partake in the hot chocolate at the hotel in Brazil. All of us that tried Bob's iced coffee were pleased with it, but I suspect the greatest pleasure will be sleeping in our own beds tomorrow morning. Flight now showing a 9:40 departure and 12:30 SFO arrival. At least we've already cleared customs.

Sleeping Beauty

We all have different spiritual gifts.

We have one team member that loves to sleep and can sleep anytime,


even with bright sun shining on her face.

Of course, you miss things like this sunrise.

Imagine my surprise when half way through our 8 hour flight from Sao Paulo to Miami, she and I were the only two team members awake. Imagine my further surprise when she said "Joe, I wrote a blog entry."

Here it is:

As I'm leaving Paraguay, I leave with a new vision, a new understanding. I've been playing the words of 1 John 4 in my mind.

V. 7 "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God."

V. 11-12 "Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us."

I am learning that it's okay, it's encouraged to receive love, because God is love. When I receive love from someone, I am actually accepting them as meeting a need I have, as they are empowered by God.

I have always prided myself on being independent. I am learning that is more of a rejection of the love God wants to offer through others.

These weeks, I have needed people as never before. I have needed people's prayers. I have needed help understanding language. I have needed people to keep me from getting lost in the markets. I have needed provision of communication with people at home. I have needed instruction on how to work. I have needed people to encourage me, comfort me, feed me, laugh with me, and cry with me. I have needed much.

All of these needs were met by our host missionaries, teammates, friends, Paraguayans and family. Each of you has stepped up to use the gifts God has given you to show His love.

And just as I have this deep need for, in essence, love, so do many in this world. And just as others had gifts to show me God's love by meeting my needs; so too, have I the ability to love people in the world and in God's love and grace, meet their needs.

So I guess, what I am challenging myself to do daily, every moment really, is to ask God how do I love people better and can you help me to allow myself to need others and be loved by You, Father God, in their actions. Mt final thought will be directed to you dearest, how will you love this world of needy people?



Basically on time arrival from Brazil, easy immigration and customs process and all our luggage made it. Now we are having food, since we have an extra hour with a flight delay to SFO.

Heading Home

We left the Bostons' around 2:30 am, got to the airport before the ticket agents arrived, and were first in line. We got through immigration quickly, and waited for our 4:40 boarding time, enjoying the oversweet complementary coffee, water and peanuts. Fran decided on a shopping excursion 5 minutes before boarding just to liven things up. It didn't work, with nearly everyone quickly falling into a slumber as the plane left for Brazil. The flight was smooth and uneventful. We're now in Sao Paulo, with Lisa, Susan and I enjoying a light snack at the Delta Crown room while Dominique, Jenn and Fran are wandering terminal 2, waiting for gate agents who are due at our gate around 9:30 to issue us boarding passes. I'm amazed that I can check my luggage all the way through in one step, yet it takes two steps for me to check myself in, once with the Brazilian airline to get those boarding passes, and a second time with the American flag airline.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ciao Paraguay....

Just guess who is up at 1:45 a.m. on this Wednesday doin' a blog?  Our bags are packed, but I'm not sure we are ready to go, though we are certainly excited to come home and share our experiences here in more detail.  I sit for a final time at this computer, I don't think Julio will be greeting us this a.m. as we'll be leaving in the dark.  I will miss that funny guy!
I will miss a lot about Paraguay---the Bostons, San Lorenzo church and it's people, so much--what a blessed, an amazing, an anointed time we have had here.  We hope that many of you have followed it every day---Joe has done an amazing job for us.
Please be in prayer for us as we take to the air again--it's a long, long day!  That all our connections would be made and that all our luggage would make it back home, safe and sound (not to mention, ourselves!)
We come home fired up to fire all of you up for the cause of Christ in Paraguay.  The Bostons are Matthew 10:37-39.  They have taken up the cross and are bringing the gospel that gives life, to Paraguay.  We will sooooo miss them.


Monte Libano

Tonight we had wraps (chawarmas) for dinner at Monte Libano. During dinner, we did a debrief with Brenda. Bob was off at church, so we haven't seen him since before the trip to Brazil. Brenda looks forward to another CBNC team next year, but has asked us to bring another laptop, a pastor and a youth, but not a pastor that acts like a youth. If we can find a pastor without ADHD, great, but it would probably be the first one she's met.

Are we there yet?

It's 4:30 and we're beginning to wonder if we'll ever get there. We left Big at 10 am.. Brenda fell asleep during Night of the Museum, so we drove by our lunch stop, but it's nearly dinner time, the drive has taken so long. She'll take us to a restaurant tonight for some pita like pockets. So much for a seven hour trip back.

Bad Diesel

We had stopped shortly into Paraguay for some fuel and a bio break. I noticed the diesel pumps had these filters that were the size of 55 gallon drums.

Apparently they are decorative and not functional, because our breakdown repair consisted of draining 5 gallons or so of fuel out and pulling a fuel filter, then replacing the fuel.

When the driver nearly done, this vehicle stopped, then returned again after the bus was running again. We think it was Paraguay's version of roadside assistance.

The engine sputtered on the first start - probably due to contaminated fuel between the filter and engine, but slowly rose to life. We'll see how it goes the rest of the trip. From Google maps on my mobile blogging terminal, it looks like we're half way back, but Paraguay is so out of the way, where we're at, Google maps doesn't even show any roads.

Brenda predicted a slow, 7 hour trip back with the lethargic pace the driver took yesterday and the rain earlier this morning. Not sure if a breakdown was included within or in addition to her estimate.

Somewheres in Paraguay

We just visited La Holanda dairy cooperative.

Brenda got a huge block of butter - a 5 Kg. I was eyeing the 25KG tubs of Dulce de Leche (caramel cream), but settled for a couple of the 2nd smallest tubs.

We all got soft serve ice cream.

Shortly after this we started seeing the large anthills. I opened the window to shoot a picture.

Right after this, the driver pulled over. He didn't pull over for better pictures, he pulled over because the bus broke. We're still smiling, praying for the driver to quickly fix the bus.

The driver under the bus checking things out. Notice the traffic - pretty lightly traveled road.

Plenty of cows to look at during our wait.

And a few birds.

If things get bad, the toll booth is only a kilometer away (just over a half mile).

Safely back in Paraguay

The bridge between Brazil and Paraguay is no man's land from a legal perspective, not policed by either country.

We safely crossed and are now back in Paraguay.

Big Geodes

Being rained out, we went to the chocolate factory, a large gift shop. It had a hugh selection of products, from geodes like the pair behind Fran. 

For those who have to have these, this overpriced shop will sell them for about $40,000 each. There were coffee tables in front for around $12,000.

We found many interesting things - from leather goods, pretty polished rocks, gemstones, jewelery, wood products, clothing, postcards and chocolate. Here's our bus and driver that took us there.

From there, we went to Big, which is a big box store much like a super Kmart or Walmart. We stocked up on coffee and cookies to bring home, and Brenda stocked up on some stuff she needed.

Postponed Due to Rain

We were scheduled to go to a bird park this morning. We're also experiencing our first rain of the trip. No bird park this morning - it will have to wait until next year. The rain is so very refreshing.

Monday, July 21, 2008


Mega Pizza.

Imagine a pizza buffet with all you can eat pizza.

Imagine varieties like heart of Palm, Chicken Alfredo, Philly Cheese Steak and all you can eat fries and chicken wings.

Pizza varieties like tuna, corn and peas.

Okay, on to dessert pizzas. Chocolate and rice krispies. Chocolate and Coconut. Chocolate and peanuts. Chocolate and Strawberries.

Oh, and sixteen flavors of gelato.

Where's the Pepto Bismal?

Devil's Throat

Visited Parque National Do Iguacu - home of the Iguasu Falls - the biggest waterfalls I've ever seen.

These falls are over twice the size of the Niagara falls, and second in the world to the Victoria falls in Africa.

Some of the falls had rainbows and double rainbows.

Lots of vibrant butterflys, but only a few would pose for portraits.

This is the Devil's Throat section of the falls.

Here's a bit higher up, looking at the side.

Finally, looking at it from the top.

In Brazil

Safely made the trip across the border into Brazil. Did have immigration police board the bus, but he didn't ask for passports, which was good since most of us had expired or no visa for Brazil.

Itaipu Dam

We're now on a tour of the Itaipu Dam - the world's largest hydro-electric power plant.

Here's the spillway from the Paraguay side of the dam.

There are 20 turbines - 10 each owned by Paraguay and Brazil. They are under these white tubes - Paraguay's on the left (1-9B), Brazil's on the right (10-18B)

Paraguay uses 1.5 turbines for essentially all the country's power. Brazil uses its 10 and buys Paraguay's surplus power for about a quarter of Brazil's power.

Chiperia Maria Ana

Rest stop time - and breakfast - chipa - the warm bagel-like bread with the cheesy center we had earlier in the week.

They heat their tea in grills made from old tire rims.

Off to Brazil

Time to curl up on the bus and go back to sleep.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Today we had to say goodbye to a lot of the friends that we have made here in Paraguay.  It's hard to imagine that we have made friends in such a short period of time, but we have.  The people here are so friendly and nice.  They always greet each other with at least a handshake and oftentimes with a "kiss".  It's not really a kiss though.  What you do is put your right cheek against their right cheek and make a kissing sound, but do not actually touch your lips to their cheek.  Then you do it on the left side too.  So, as we said goodbye today we got lots of kisses.
I have loved learning about the culture and the people here.  They are very hospitable and the people of Paraguay will always hold a special place in my heart. 
Joe had the opportunity to share his testimony at the morning church service today and I had the pleasure of sharing mine at the evening church service.  I wasn't nervous to speak in front of people, but I was a little nervous because I felt like I needed to be more transparent with my testimony.  Of course I didn't share all that I wanted to, but I have no doubts that what I did share was used by God.  It was a little emotional for me, but I was glad I had the opportunity to share.
Tomorrow we leave for Brazil at 4 in the morning.  We have lots of traveling before we get to do more traveling to come home. 



We starting this morning with service over at the San Lorenzo church. Pastor Marcos was preaching, and started off with a script using a coke as a prop. We thought he was picking on us, given the coke we've consumed this week rather than drinking risky, unfiltered water. Given half the team had some stomach distress at one point or other during the week, it was a good thing. Turns out the coke skit was a segue to a video at the end about a man with no arms or legs.

Bob had me share my testimony, with Brenda translating. I started with I sinned, then found salvation. I then got better. Typical Paraguay testimony - no content. After a chuckle or two, I gave a short testimony.

We gave Hugo a bible to help him on his walk with Christ. I asked him to read it cover to cover by our return next year. He told me he's not very smart, but I told him most people can read it in a year by spending 15-20 minutes a day.

After the service, we went to have lunch at a Paraguayan Barbeque - much like a Brazilian Barbeque. Here' Susan being served a cut from the hump - a heavily marbled section from between the front shoulders of a Brazilian / Paraguayan cow.

Bob got a real kick out of the expressiveness of Dominique and Susan. They really enjoyed the diversity of flavors of the many cuts of beef we tried today.

The meat is rotisserie grilled in this oven.

Lisa and Brenda talking between courses ...

... while Fran and Jenn listened intently.

The finale was a barbecued Pineapple that had been rolled in cinnamon.