Did you know that volleyball was invented in 1895? In 1900 the first official volleyball was produced. And in 1912 it made its way to Paraguay. That means Paraguayan volleyball is 99 years old! It is played year round. Paraguay has national men and women’s team that actively participate in international competitions! It is the nation’s 2nd most popular sport after soccer. So interest is very high in what Dawn & her team are doing. [Note: the pictures are of various volleyball venues in Paraguay…indigenous Indians in a rural village, a game at a school and in a city park – they are NOT pictures of the team’s experience. Unfortunately due to the slow internet connection those pictures probably will not be posted until they return.] They’ve had a very heavy schedule. Here is the updates, in their entirety from the team’s blog for Day 8, 9 and 10:
It rained all day today, which put a damper on our presentations, but it was still a God-ordained day! When it rains here in Paraguay, many students and teachers don´t come to school because the roads are too dangerous and there can be flooding. So, the students who come basically get a free day when it rains.
Since we couldn't play volleyball, the students from Sue´s school did their presentation and skits inside in a crowded room. Also, Nicole, Dawn, and Courtney gave their testimonies to the kids. We had a morning and afternoon presentation, and during the afternoon one, Courtney gave her testimony in Spanish. It was a great day of sharing God! The director there is a Catholic and has a Mormon, a Jehovah´s Witness, other Catholics, and some Protestants on her staff. Some of the teachers did not show up to our first presentation because of the evangelical aspect we were bringing. The director, in a way, reprimanded them in front of the students saying, ¨We all serve one God!¨ She loved having us there and really wants her students to know God and to learn values. She even told Sue that if she had any videos or other materials, she´d like to borrow them. The door is wide open there for evangelism!
At lunch, we had sandwiches, vegetables, fruit, and this amazing rice and chicken stir-fry dish. While eating at Sue´s house, we found out that one of her house helpers has a 14-year old son named Julio who attends the school. She told us that when he was 4, he woke up with a sore throat and a cold, but told his mom that he had to go to school because his friends would pray for him, and he would get better. Julio is the reason why his mom became a Christian. Within the past couple of years, he was diagnosed with Leukemia. With much faith, he said that he would not lose his hair, he would not vomit, and he would not get sick at all. And all of that has come true while he has been undergoing Chemotherapy. What a testimony! To us, he seemed completely healthy and normal! He hasn’t even missed a day of school due to sickness! Oh, and he feels called to be a pastor! With faith like his, God is going to use him powerfully!
Today was also Sara´s mom´s birthday. So, we went over to Tom and Sara´s apartment to prepare a whole bunch of food, and, in the process, cleaned what seemed to be a never ending load of dishes! We had barbequed meat, prepared Tom´s ¨almost famous¨ baked beans, coleslaw, potato salad, mandioca, brownies, and ice cream! And we can´t forget the most important thing we had…Sonny´s sweet BBQ sauce. An American dish for sure! Sara´s family loves it when Tom is down to cook for them! In the down time we had in between cooking, we made banana bread. It is one of the best recipes we’ve ever had! (Naturally, while making brownies and banana bread, we, college students, most definitely ate some batter!) We also played another intriguing game of ¨Who am I¨(that 20 questions type game mentioned earlier). Another hilarious game for sure!
We went back to the school in shifts for the night. Nicole and Anysia had gotten back first, and then, Courtney, Dawn, and Kendra. The last three didn’t get back until around midnight, and unfortunately for them, the guard was no where to be found. So they made noise to get Nicole and Anysia´s attention. They came down in t-shirts and spandex, had towels wrapped on their heads from showering, and their toothbrushes and toothpaste in their mouths. It was quite a funny site! Those two girls took what the other ones had been carrying with them, and the three hopped the fence. Don´t worry, parents, no one was hurt in the process; it was only a hilarious circumstance! We finally went to bed around 1 AM giving us an ample amount of sleep… NOT. We had to get up at 5:45AM the next morning! Oh well, God will give us energy!
Today, we had four presentations, two in the morning and two in the afternoon. Like many of the other schools we have visited, we played in an outside courtyard area. It was a beautiful day outside, and the skits and presentations went rather well. However, the first two groups that we had were a little rambunctious (or however you spell it!) and had trouble paying attention, but all was well! Courtney gave her testimony in Spanish again (without a notebook for reference) three of the four times. One of the times, the kids were out of control and too anxious to play. Kendra and Courtney additionally jumped into one of the dances that Sue´s school has been doing at the presentations! It is to the song “Momentum” by the group Rojo. It was so fun to watch the girls getting involved! The girls have also remarked that it has been awesome to watch another human video that the students do over and over again; it is to the song “Everything” by Lifehouse.
Between each session, the kids had recess and time for the canteen. During this time, we got a little break and got to hang out more with the students from Sue´s school. Our girls also received gifts of fruit cups and candy from some of the girls at the school we were visiting. It was so sweet, and all 5 of the girls loved it!! Another thing about the school we visited was that the students were so loving! They were hugging all of us and holding our hands. The kids loved being loved and getting some attention! Oh, and every student kept asking the girls if they preferred Olympia or Cerro, two of the soccer clubs in Paraguay. Here, in Paraguay, students of all ages are very devout to a soccer club and are very competitive over it!
When we woke up this morning, Anysia was not feeling well at all and rested during the afternoon. At dinner, the house helpers at Sue´s house prayed with the team for her! They are members of the intercessory prayer team at the church, and it was so great to hear them pray with such passion! By faith, we all believe that Anysia will feel better! She even said after the prayer that she already felt better!
While the presentations were going on, Tom and Sara left to run some errands, one of which was to pick up the mattresses for the orphanage. Let me tell you, God definitely had His hand in it. When they got there, they explained why they were buying so many mattresses, and then 2 two things happened; 1) The store lowered the price, and 2) The store donated a bed! Because of the lower cost, Tom and Sara were able to buy pillows for the kids! How wonderful! Tom and the whole team were so excited and are still excited! We have not raised all of the funds for the mattresses, yet, so if you would like to donate, please let us know! You would be such a blessing to these kids in need!
The girls ended the night going to the church that they are living directly above. It was great! They had worship time, and the girls were so grateful that there was a projector that showed the words, even if it was in Spanish! Sue introduced the girls to the church, and during a time of sharing praise reports and testimonies, Dawn spoke from a passage in 2 Corinthians about facing trials. The person who spoke in the service was a lady who is a music and fine arts teacher at Sue´s school. The message really spoke to every girl. She focused on Deuteronomy 7:26* saying that we need to break everything that is abominable in the sight of God and that hinders us from completely surrendering to Him. God will bless our sacrifice! Sue translated quietly the whole time for the girls! What skill! She was definitely a blessing! Also, the pastor and his wife are so amazingly sweet. They are from New York and have been all over the world serving as missionaries! Afterwards, the girls discussed with each other the things that they no longer want in their lives and agreed to hold each other accountable! The group is most definitely becoming a close team!
*Deuteronomy 7:26 "Do not bring a detestable thing into your house or you, like it, will be set apart for destruction. Regard it as vile and utterly detest it, for it is set apart for destruction."
Today, we got to spend all day at Sue´s school day, Nuevo Horizante. In total we did 6 presentations, three in the morning and three in the afternoon. The first groups of each session were Pre-K 4 through 2nd grade, the second was 3rd-6th, and the third ones were 7-10th. It was so fun to stay on location! We were able to hang out more with the group of students who have been doing the presentations with us! All the students have been encouraged to practice their English with us as we practice our Spanish with them! So, it´s been fun learning new words! They taught us a new word “Purete” which means something like “Cool.” It is so awesome getting to know these kids and playing some volleyball with them! As a thank you to them, we brought stuff to make S´mores and built a fire during one of our breaks! They loved it and exclaimed “Purete!”
During the presentations, all of the girls joined with the dance and Courtney gave her testimony. During the sessions with the older kids, the students had a worship time! It was so amazing! We found out that rocking out is universal!!! We were jumping all around and, because we stepped out of our boxes, the students stepped out of theirs and joined in the jumping and in the fun of praising God!
Another break that we had was filled with Sue giving us a tour of the school. The school started with Pre-K 4 and Kindergarten and those students now from those classes are now serving on the ministry team with us. The school started with 52 people and now it has expanded to over 600 students in the past 10 years. They have an early childhood center, a three-story school building, and are in the process of building a church and a multi-purpose building. They have been growing so much that there is not enough room for all the students who want to attend. Last year, they turned away 400 students. God is doing amazing things here and has definitely blessed all of the hard work that Sue and others have put into the school!
We had dinner and then headed to Sugar for ice cream. It was delicious! Most of us paired up and shared banana splits which were HUGE! We got to chose our own three flavors of it, too, which was a very hard decision- there were so many to choose from. This restaurant was definitely one of the nicest ones we’ve been to! After a little “Sugar” rush, we headed back to the school to get some needed sleep.
Pray for their strength during their last 4 days there!!!