Sunday, August 12, 2007

Meeting the Presidents

During the month of July, I had the privilege of travelling to Iowa, in the USA, to attend a Masters summer programme in Education at the generous invitation of a Christian university called Dordt College. I went with my Paraguayan friend and colleague, Ana, for whom the trip was a once in a life time experience, having never travelled outside of South America. (Photo 1 visiting Mount Rushmore with the first American Presidents.)

Ana only received confirmation of her visa one week before travelling so last minute arrangements were quite stressful. We left Paraguay exhausted and not knowing what to expect, particularly Ana who left 3 children behind. We found ourselves in a beautiful, peaceful, small town in the heart of the Midwest - corn country - with wonderfully warm and caring people and a town that did not have a blade of grass out of place! We read in the local paper that people were being asked to report any neighbours that had weeds growing in their garden! That would appear to be as bad as crime gets in this town! (Photo 2)

What we experienced was God´s provision in the most incredible ways. The course consisted of 3 modules: Week 1 Spiritual Formation in the Classroom; Week 2 Current Issues in Education; Week 2 Structuring Curriculum. (Photo 3 with our classmates.) All 3 modules were outstanding and we learnt more than we could digest in just 3 weeks. We plan to begin implementing some of what we learnt over the next few months as the leadership team looks again at the vision, mission and educational goals of FEISA.

On the second day we investigated the possibility of doing some tourism, only to discover, disappointingly, that Sioux Centre had neither a tourist information nor a single bus to take us anywhere! Later that day, in the supermarket, a kind, elderly man stopped to ask where we were from and invited us to tea. As we got to know Lawrence we learnt that he was a Christian and his wife had recently died from cancer. From this moment on we had no opportunity to feel bored or lonely as we experienced his wonderful kindness and hospitality taking us out for meals and picnics with his friends and family. To our amazement, he offered to take us touring in South Dakota , where we stayed with yet more generous and kindhearted people who took us to Spearfish canyon (photo 4), Mount Rushmore (photo 5 with Lawrence) and Crazy Horse (photo 6 Native American history.) It was beyond anything we could have asked for or imagined. He was truly heaven sent.

All our thanks to everyone who prayed for this visit. Our prayers for visas and finances were miraculously answered and the experience was a truly memorable one. We came back refreshed and inspired and would now appreciate your prayers for wisdom to implement all we learnt in ways that are appropriate for the context of Paraguay. Please also pray for our dear friend Lawrence as he adjusts to life after the recent loss of his beloved wife Audry.