Later in the morning we went to Tim's host home by taking a bus to the Botanico, and then walking through it to Tim's neighborhood. The Botanico is a large park, about the same size as Central Park in New York City. The entry is beautifully landscaped and very green.
|several bottle trees in the Botanico|
We had lunch with Tim's family---I forget the name of the meat, but it is a fried breaded meat, and it was served with mashed potatoes, and ice cream for dessert.
We went back to Tim's home for the rest of the afternoon, which included conversation in Spanish without Tim's help, and a siesta. Then we had guiso for supper before going back to the hotel.
David and Judy and their Paraguay children were there, having gathered to help their daughter, Wendy, and her husband, Sammy, move into the apartment at the hotel. We enjoyed getting reacquainted with them a bit before going to bed.
On Sunday morning, Tim was scheduled to play in the worship band at church, so we got ready early and Francisco picked us up in time for Tim to get to an early rehearsal. We relaxed at the home of Francisco and Mercedez while Tim was at church, and walked to church when it was time. My first impression of the church was that the sanctuary was quite dark. The worship band was at the front and Tim was seated at a drum set, which seemed unusual. People were very friendly and greeted each other and us. It was nice. I took a few pictures, but only one turned out.
|The worship band rehearsing at church---Tim and Cara were both helping.|
We really enjoyed worship with Tim's church. Chuck had written up a greeting to share, and did very well with that. After church we got to tour the guardaria where Riley and Katie work. It was inspiring to see that kind of momentum from a small congregation.
The pastor's family joined us for lunch at Tim's home.
Tim went to play basketball in the afternoon with some friends, and we reconnected with a classmate of mine from high school, C. Paul Amstutz and his wife, Hildi.
Part of our conversation included how God had used small things to lead in ways we could not expect. Hildi had enjoyed learning English in school. Her teachers had encouraged her to learn even more English so she took extra classes beyond what was required. Because of her proficiency in English, she was recruited to be part of an MCC team in Bolivia. She needed the English for team meetings, because most of the other members of the team were from the United States, including C. Paul.
I thought about this in relation to my goal for the year, to look for how to be part of 'thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven'. My tendency is to look for some big thing to become a part of...some major change...some huge sacrifice. There have been major changes and sacrifices for C. Paul and for Hildi, but they began with the small choices right in front of them.
Chuck's cousin David Schmidt and his wife Judy were missionaries in the eastern part of Paraguay during the early part of their marriage. One of the first people to come to Christ was a woman named Alicia.
After a while Alicia moved away, and still later, David and Judy moved to Asuncion to begin church planting there in the city. Soon after moving to Asuncion, they reconnected with Alicia. She was living in the city, and she joined them in the work of planting a church, and also became their maid, living in a small house in their yard with her young daughter.
After a while Alicia became sick, very sick, and they did not know what was wrong or how to help her. David and Judy were unfamiliar with the public health system because they had insurance and used a private hospital, so they had to learn through trial and error. Fortunately for them, and probably by God's providence, the first hospital they tried happened to be the one that specialized in the disease that Alicia had. That disease turned out to be HIV/AIDS. Over the next couple of years, walking with Alicia through the course of her illness became Judy's calling. As Alicia became more and more sick, Judy cared for her. In hospitals in Paraguay it is expected that family members will accompany the patients and provide most of their daily care. Judy became Alicia's nurse, and for the last 18 months of Alicia's life, with only short breaks of respite care from Alicia's family members, Judy was with Alicia most of her days and nights. Judy even took on giving lessons in English to help pay for medications. When Alicia died, David and Judy raised her daughter.
Through this experience, David and Judy became aware of the extreme needs of the Paraguayans who have HIV. In Paraguay persons with HIV are so ostracized that family members abandon them, fearful that they also will be ostracized, just because of the association. Medicine at that time was difficult to get and expensive. People from outside the city had to travel to the hospital and had no one to care for them or visit them, and no place to be while waiting for appointments and treatment.
David and Judy began visiting others with HIV in the hospital while they looked for a way to be even more involved in ministry to those who were suffering. Through contact with a ministry in Africa, they realized that a drop in center would be an ideal support. A house across the street from the hospital became available and they found a way to buy it. It became too small for all the needs they were trying to address, so they tore it down and built bigger, and then bigger, and then still bigger.
Currently they have support groups, medication clinics, and food distributions. They serve breakfast and lunch every day. They have a program for the children. They go out into schools and businesses in the community and educate them about HIV. Many have come to faith, but that is not a prerequisite for receiving help at all. Churches from all around Paraguay, and even internationally, have become involved in the ministry and it continues to grow. You can learn more at their web site.
|David and Judy Schmidt|
This day was a special day for the program for children. A Quincenera was planned to celebrate the fifteenth birthdays of those young people who come to Alto Refugio.
A Quincenera is a celebration often as big as a wedding in Latin cultures, and the families who come to Alto do not have the means to provide this for their children. Alto also has to do it on a smaller scale than a wedding, but they did it very well. The upstairs area was decorated beautifully and there was a huge decorated cake, gifts for the fifteen year olds, favors for everyone, and plenty of pop and pizza for all. There was a program that included a testimony from a young woman, a devotional from David, and liturgical dance. There was the traditional waltz, and many many opportunities for families to take pictures and celebrate the growing up of their children.
We did not take any pictures in order to respect the privacy of those who come to Alto. No pictures can be posted online of clients at Alto unless those people have expressly given permission.
In the evening we visited more with David and Judy, and that is where we heard most of the story above. We also had the chance to visit one more time with their son, Anton, and his wife, Faith, and their children.
|Anton and Faith|
|Emily, Jordan, and Nyah|