In order to reside here and pursue a ministry, we need to follow the correct paper trail. When we first got here we had to apply for a temporary visa. They’re good for a year, and about 1-2 months before they run out, we’re supposed to apply for a permanent visa. They went through and we received them last January. So right now, we are in the process of applying for the permanent visa. Upon receiving that, we can apply for our cedulas.
This is not a cheap process. The permanent visas will cost just as much as the temporary ones did: $400 per person. And we are six—no discount for the kids! We will probably receive the cedulas pretty quick after the permanent visas, and there’s a charge for them, too. But thankfully it’s only about $100 each.
Of course, we are excited about completing this process. With the permanent visas and the cedulas we can live and work here for years to come. Thank you for your continued prayers throughout this process.
I probably don’t have to tell you that driving in Paraguay is another adventure all on its own. After driving (and leaving) our vehicle several places around Paraguay and even once in Brazil while Mindy’s parents were visiting, we went to some missionary friends’ house for a barbeque. With the truck parked on the street, I was in the back of the house when I heard the newly-installed alarm going off. I had heard of alarms being sensitive and going off if someone drives too close to them, but I ran through the house anyway to check on it. With the controller in hand, I pushed the button to reset the alarm and looked out through the front gate. I didn’t see or hear anything, so I went back in. Two hours later when we left, I walked around to the driver side to see my side window lying on the street! Someone had broken in, but I bet they weren’t really happy with what they found. They just threw some paperwork from the center console out on the floor, so they must have been scared by the alarm and took off without anything. Thankfully, they didn’t get any further, because Mindy’s purse was under the passenger seat. It was a pain driving around without a window, but I was able to get that replaced within about a week.
Besides break-ins, there are other things to watch out for.
Three-way Go: One intersection close to our house had one stop sign and three ways with no stop until very recently. There are now two stop signs, but it is still a very interesting intersection. The majority of the time, those without the stop sign stop, and those with the stop sign are the first to go. When it comes down to it, I think it’s the one that’s brave enough to go first who has the right of way.
Rocky Road: The main roads and some side roads are paved, but even these have many potholes. However, the majority of the side roads are cobblestone which are quite course and not quaint.
These along with some other little quirks make for a different driving experience around town: public transportation buses sometimes run red lights, the horn is a polite reminder, lines and lanes are arbitrary, and ambulances—well, let’s just say I hope I never have to rely on one. But here’s the thing, every place has two sets of driving rules—those dictated by law and those lived out on the road. Whether you live in the US or in Paraguay, if you want to not get tickets you must obey the first set of rules and if you want to survive you must obey the second! As I’ve adjusted to both set of rules, I’ve actually started to enjoy driving here in Paraguay—maybe a little too much.
We are so grateful for God’s blessing in our lives. We believe that God wants all believers to be involved in taking the Gospel to every corner of the world. The corner in which we’ve found ourselves is Paraguay, and we believe that God will provide for all that He thinks we need to fulfill His purpose here. About six months ago, we started looking for the vehicle that would be necessary for our work in the interior of Paraguay.
God has blessed us with both the finding of a vehicle and the funding to purchase it. She even has a name: La Suprema! We are so thankful that through the prayers and generous giving of supporters we have been able to buy the vehicle with cash leaving no monthly payments. We do, however, continue to trust the Lord for the funds to cover the high gas prices and even higher maintenance costs.This paragraph is for those that care about the details. It is a 2004 manual 4×4 Nissan Patrol. This vehicle is not sold in the States and it is much more rugged than the Pathfinder and Armada sold there. It was originally designed specifically for the Middle Eastern desert and is a perfect fit for the Chaco desert of Paraguay. It is a 4.2 L motor without turbo, which also makes it better for withstanding the dust of the Chaco. It easily seats up to eight adults; we’ve fit ten people, but I’m sure we’ll squeeze more than that in sometimes. When figuring its mileage (“kilometerage” here in Paraguay), we do it the way the Paraguayans do it. They calculate how many liters it uses to go 100 kilometers, and they call it liters per 100. Driving around town we use about 13.7 L/100 and out on the open road about 9.9 L/100. This translates to about 17.4 mi/gal in town and about 24.1 mi/gal on the open road. That’s better than any other vehicle we’ve had! As for the fuel, it is a diesel. The price of fuel is government-regulated, so it’s the same no matter what station we go to. With the current exchange rate, it’s about $5.13/gal.
The kids (and we) have been so thankful for God’s provision in this. Now, instead of the normal hour-long one-way ride on a crowded bus to go to the mission, we get to ride 25 minutes in our own vehicle. Of course, this will have a huge impact on our ministry when we live where public transportation is not as available, too. And we are already looking forward to how it can fit into what we are doing now as we plan trips with Paraguayans out to the countryside. We anticipate La Suprema taking us many miles in whatever ministry God has for us in the future!
So, we went to the Chaco. What on earth did we do there? Well, the kids went to an education camp that the missionary kid school puts on twice a year. They had a great time attending classes every morning. They learned new songs, made new friends, and learned a whole lot about snakes and other reptiles. While they were in class, Bryson tagged along as another missionary shopped for a vehicle for a couple of days as well as did some shopping on his own. One morning, he also had the opportunity to teach a fellow missionary more about the program that we, as a mission, use to help with culture and language learning. This was fun to watch because the other missionary got really excited about what he could do and was very encouraged. Mindy, on the other hand, received encouragement by talking with the missionary ladies during the mornings, and she also helped cut veggies and bread for the kids’ lunch provided by the school.
Following the education camp, we had the neat opportunity of visiting a missionary family in their tribe. It was awesome to really see the work in action! We were somewhat able to communicate with the tribal members in Spanish; however, being that it was both of our second language, communication was somewhat limited. I cannot imagine how it would be to try to learn the tribal language with no common second language, however limited it may be.
Also during this trip, we had the opportunity to talk with some of the translators on our field. It was neat to see translation really happening, and we got to ask more specific questions as to how it works in a real life situation. As we talked with these translators, we began to get really excited about what happens next for us. We were really encouraged to press on and finish our studies here in Asunción, as people are dying without having had the opportunity to hear of Jesus’ death and resurrection in their own language.
So, we have returned, thankful for the opportunity to see what lies ahead for us. We are excited and encouraged to press on in the work that God has for us while we are here in Asunción.
PS from Bryson. Here are a couple short videos of our trip. The first is an overview of the whole trip. The second is the part of the Ed Camp program that our kids took part in. Hope you enjoy them.
Despite a dengue scare this last week which turned out to [probably] not be dengue, we are making a trip into the interior of the country. Tomorrow, Sunday, April 17 we are taking a six-hour bus ride up to the Chaco. We’re going up especially for the kids to be able to participate in an ed. camp.
The Chaco Christian Academy (CCA)—NTM Paraguay’s MK school—hosts an ed. camp twice a year for all the MKs, whether they attend the school or homeschool. They usually have someone come and teach a particular topic. It’s a good opportunity for the kids to mix with the other MKs from around the country and to learn a topic that they might not normally be able to study.
When the camp is done on Thursday, since we’re going to be up there anyway, we’re going to stick around and visit a couple of the tribal groups in the area. Being interested in doing translation, we’re going to try to visit some translators and talk to them about some of the translation process. We’ll let you know how this all goes went when we get back!
You’ve been given a new job description and a transfer. Not to the next floor up or the city down the road, but to a place where distance is not your only concern when it comes to getting there. The only way to get there is by driving, and one hundred-mile stretch of dust, mud, and ruts looks just like the next. And once you travel that distance over that exact terrain and arrive at your new residence, you won’t be in a city. In fact, you’ll be 3-5 hours from the nearest town. Yes, I said new residence, because you won’t just work there, you and your family will live there. Of course, you’ll have to buy groceries and the only place to do that is in that nearest town, so you won’t be going grocery shopping every week, but every month—or two. Plus, you’ll have periodic visitors to observe the work that you’ll be doing.
So let’s look at these factors again:
- The “road” on which you will have to drive is some of the worst terrain for driving with dust, mud, and ruts.
- It will be 3-5 hours of driving one way every time you need to go to town for any reason—groceries, mail and e-mail, emergencies, …car repairs.
- Your entire family will be with you living in those harsh surroundings hours from town.
- During your drives into town and back, along with your family you will be bringing one or two months-worth of groceries or some visitors.
What would you do? Really. Put yourself in that situation and think of what you would do.
This is the situation that we are expecting to find ourselves in as we move into a tribe upon finishing our Paraguayan culture and language study. We have been putting some planning and prayer into this and have begun looking at vehicles to see what would fit our needs and address the factors listed above.
Because of the terrain, we are looking for something with 4-wheel drive. Because of the dust and space, we are looking for an SUV, rather than an open-bed truck. Because of the amount of cargo/visitors/family, we are looking for a larger one with three rows of seats. Because of the distance from a doctor or mechanic, we are looking for something newer and more reliable. Because of reliability and parts-availability here, we are considering probably either a Toyota or a Nissan.
From talking with other missionaries, we’ve found that we could get an older vehicle and still get a few years out of it, but it will probably require a lot more maintenance. Maintenance here in Paraguay is quite pricey. Another thing to consider here is the type of driving a used vehicle has had; many people use these types of vehicles for farming in the country. So, our hope would be to find something with 5 or less years of city driving.
Purchasing an older vehicle would mean making maintenance payments for a less reliable vehicle, with more time in the shop. Purchasing a newer vehicle, with less maintenance, would just mean making payments for a more reliable vehicle for driving across those long stretches of desert, with less time in the shop. Unfortunately, even older vehicles are expensive here.
As for the timing, we have learned from Paraguayans that now through the next few months is the best time of year to shop for vehicles for finding lower prices. So, even though we aren’t moving yet, we are hoping to be able to find something during this window of time. I hope that you, as our supporters and encouragers, have mentally put yourself through this transition to the far side of the desert and can understand our desires for safety for our family and reliability for the work. This work is of utmost importance and we want to be as prepared as possible for its challenges. Would you please pray for wisdom as we look at different vehicles and want to be prudent with the resources God has given us? If you have placed yourself in our car seat and would like to be a part of physically getting us in and out of our tribal home, please send us a note and we’ll let you know how you can do that.
Wow, what an encouragement a little thing like having to get school supplies together can be! Yes, it is that time of year again – at least for the Southern Hemisphere. We are headed towards fall (although one could never tell from the weather), and school is gearing up to start again. We went out as a family and got most of the school supplies the other day. “So, what’s the big deal?” you might ask. Well, we actually were able to understand the list on our own this year! This marks the progress of our language. Last year, we were unable to understand the list and waded through the shopping, with the help of many people. When we finally got it all home and had to sort through it all, we spent an hour on the phone with an English speaker, trying to figure out what was what.
Another thing that crosses my mind as a note of encouragement is that we actually have more of an idea of what to expect this year. Hopefully, with our gained knowledge from last year, we won’t stick out quite so much as we did! I now understand that uniformity is important here – so important that the notebooks should all be the same color for the same class, the kids wear uniforms (which we only purchased part of last year), and there’s much more that I can’t think of at the moment. Since we understand the language and culture better this time around, we have the ability to fit in with the Paraguayans a little more smoothly. These are bits of knowledge that we learned a long time ago, but they just stood out to us when we had to use them. It’s encouraging to know that there are probably many, many things like that—that we will just know when the time comes to use it. – Mindy
On February 12 I took a trip with some guys out to an Aché community to participate in their new church dedication. It was encouraging to see yet another language and people group into which the light of God’s Word has shown. Here’s the full video of that excellent experience.