Wednesday, November 18, 2009

'El Puente' Children's Home

El Puente (which means The Bridge) is a Children’s Home in the heart of rural Paraguay set up to rescue abused and abandoned girls and provide a loving, secure Christian home for them to grow up in. Currently there are 15, ranging from 1 to 16 years old (photos below). The home is run by an inspirational Paraguayan couple - Osvaldo and María Luisa - and supported by an equally inspirational Christian charity called Operation South America (OSA). You can find out more about them from their website by clicking on their icon on the sidebar.

The home is in a beautiful part of the countryside and also runs a feeding programme and provides educational support for around 100 of the village's poorest children. FEISA recently helped them to set up their own Toy Library which is being used as an outreach to all the young children in the village and we also hope to take it to other children's homes and poor schools in the surrounding towns and villages to give them the opportunity to learn through play.

With the restructuring of FEISA, Samantha has now left the college to work in the Home as an Educator. She is currently teaching Maths, literacy and English as well as doing Bible studies and pastoral care with the older girls. She is loving it and feels like she has suddenly acquired 15 daughters! Rupert continues to work in FEISA and is planning to leave in 2010 after he has closed the 2009 accounts and trained a local accountant to take over. He hopes to get more involved in the Home next year helping Osvaldo set up some computer provision and training for young people in the village. (Rup with Osvaldo, final photo).

We feel excited by the new opportunites to serve in Paraguay and are delighted to be working with Osvaldo, María Luisa and OSA. You don't need to spend long in the Home to experience the love and grace of God in action and realise it is a very special place.

We'd really value your prayers for this next step in our lives and that we might be a blessing and support to Osvaldo, Maria Luisa and OSA.

Please also pray for Rup's health. Tests recently confirmed that he has a heart arrhythmia and the doctors are now doing further tests to diagnose what type he has and what course of treatment to give him. We have been extremely impressed with the quality of health care he has received in Paraguay and thank God for the care and thoroughness of the doctors here.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Moving on...

There have been some changes in our lives over the last few months which have brought with them many challenges.

FEISA has been faced with huge financial challenges this year. As a result, in July the new Bishop of Paraguay implemented a restructuring of FEISA and various people sadly had to be made redundant. His intention is to reduce the dependence on external funding and enable FEISA to be more locally sustainable. This reduced dependence gives more autonomy to the local leadership by reducing expatriate influence. Though painful, this has been a positive move for FEISA and has given it the best chance of surviving.

Please pray for the Lord to comfort all those who have been made redundant and to help them find new jobs after August. Also pray for the new leaders of FEISA, Ana and Gloria, that the Lord would give them wisdom and grace in all the difficult decisions they need to make.

We have also been affected by these changes. Rup is planning to complete the 2009 financial accounts and train a local accountant to take over in 2010.

Sam's role as Coordinator of Social Programmes ended with the restructuring (all social programmes closed down for lack of funds), so she has now left FEISA feeling the Lord leading her into new areas of ministry which she began to explore earlier this year. (Blog entry to follow)

We thank God for the privilege of being involved in such a life changing ministry and for the amazing people we have worked with, learnt from and developed lasting friendships with during our time in FEISA. (Photos 1 and 2, Rup and Sam with staff and friends from FEISA. Photo 3, the inspirational team of UK volunteers who have faithfully supported FEISA over the years.)

The future after FEISA? We shall write more about this in our next blog!

Please pray for Rup as he completes the 2009 accounts and trains a local accountant and for the new areas of ministry that the Lord is leading us both into.

Thank you so much for your very valued prayers, love and support.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Challenge and Change

After 5 years of developing educational programmes in indigenous communities, lack of funds means this will be our last year. However, as all the programmes involved training and provision of resources (teacher training, literacy, nutrition and Christian education) then we are encouraged that the communities where we have worked are able to continue without us. (Photo 1 shows the recipe books we gave to the women involved in the nutrition project.)

In February and March we gave training, supervision and the last of the resources to teachers and mothers from the 9 schools in the community of El Estribo where we were working last year. They were delighted with the preschool workbooks in their own language, Enxet, and the beautiful wooden calendars designed especially for their context (photos 2, 3 ,4, 5 and 6).

As I look back over these years I feel privileged to have worked with such an outstanding and dedicated team of professionals whose different but complimentary gifts have enabled us to develop such a wide variety of educational projects. I have learnt so much from each of them and have been made keenly aware of how important it is for the body of Christ to work together, appreciating the unique contributions of each member. It has been fascinating and illuminating to learn about indigenous culture and I feel honoured to have been able to get to know my indigenous brothers and sisters more closely. I am also humbled at the generosity of so many groups and individuals without whom these projects could never have been achieved.

As we finish the educational programmes this year, please pray particularly for the following projects:
1. Finishing the literacy resources for Enxet women
2. For the preschool workbooks we have produced to be approved by the Paraguayan Ministry of Education and funded by UNICEF so that all indigenous schools in Paraguay can benefit from them.
3. For the Bible Society of Paraguay to approve our children's Bible resources and produce books based on the Creation story for all Enxet children.
4. For the teachers and women we have trained to be able to apply and adapt all they have learned and make the most of the resources we have given them.
5. For funds to be able to do more supervision and support visits to the 9 schools in El Estribo.

New Anglican Bishop of Paraguay

After 16 months without a bishop, there was great excitement on March 29th at the consecration of Paraguay's new Anglican Bishop, Rev. Peter Bartlett (Photos 1 and 2).

The service, presided over by Archbishop Greg Venables (photo 3), was attended by bishops from different parts of South America as well as pastors from all the Paraguayan congregations. It was wonderful to see the variety of cultures and nationalities represented, worshipping God together (photo 4).

Please pray for Peter and his wife Sally as they settle into this new culture and especially for Peter as he begins this hugely demanding role. The Church and all its ministries in Paraguay are deeply affected by the economic crisis so pray for wisdom and strength for him as he leads the church forward in these challenging times.