My One Second of Fame.

October 30, 2012

Several months ago, an Alliance media team came down to Paraguay to capture our ministry in video form. Here is a recently released short with snapshots of work being done worldwide, including a one second clip of me teaching Sunday School at Mi Esperanza. Check it out!

Torneo de Futbol 2012.

September 30, 2012

Last year at the Alliance soccer tournament, Mi Esperanza’s girls’ team was the laughingstock of the day with our rag tag group (going into this year’s competition, I still didn’t know the rules of the game…) and borrowed cotton t-shirts. But we mustered up a scrappy second-place finish, and vowed to return the following year for first-place honors in styled veteran savvy.

So in preparation of the arrival of September 29, 2012, we held intense weekly practices complete with an official coach, repetitive drills, scrimmage games, and serious determination. Additionally, S and I drew up plans for jerseys and spent many an afternoon on the phone debating colors, designs, and prices. We conducted extensive fundraising events to help cover costs for those who couldn’t front the money and when those efforts more than paid off, we added matching accessories to our ensemble as well.

Needless to say, we were looking and feeling awesome when we rolled onto the field (except for me; my athletic relationship with playing soccer has not changed one bit). The weather even felt like it was on our side–not like last year when all I can remember was how stinking hot and thirsty and desperately parched I felt all day long.

Unfortunately, despite the ideal conditions, our earnest training, and stunning good looks, we only managed to pull out a fourth-place result (out of five teams). But in the end, fun was had by all and we looked awesome doing so. Those are wins in my book.

Torneo de Futbol 2011

October 1, 2011

Las chicas de Mi Esperanza!

I had been dreading September 29th for months. You see, I was unfortunately born with very little (okay, none) athletic inclination. The only reason I ran cross-country in high school was because I did not posses the coordination or skill to do anything else. Running was just like walking…only slightly faster; it seemed simple enough. Not that I particularly excelled at racing either, but luckily, work ethic allowed me to be at least an average competitor.

So anyway…I suck at sports. Imagine my chagrin then when I received word from Paraguay that I had been placed on a girls soccer team at the church (Mi Esperanza). They were really scrounging for players, and since I was a warm, female body, I was good enough. The thought of mortifying myself as well as my teammates with my ineptitude caused a lot of anxiety. I certainly did not want to earn an embarrassing reputation as Futbolista Failure fresh off the plane from America. You can be sure I spent the ensuing weeks wracking my brain for day-off excuses. But after deciding that claiming “morning sickness” probably wasn’t going to be a good idea, I had no choice but to grit my teeth and suck it up.

Fast forward to Thursday, which was a federal holiday commemorating the anniversary of Paraguay’s key victory at the Battle of Boqueron during the Chaco War (history blogs to come). Everyone gets the day off at work and nobody has class, so per tradition, all the Christian and Missionary Alliance churches in Asuncion gather together to participate in a day-long soccer tournament.

This was the first year our tiny church was able to form a girls team. I was under the impression that the girls portion of the tournament was pretty informal, so our hodge podge gaggle showed up wearing borrowed, over-sized, neon yellow t-shirts and whatever else we could find to sweat in. Some girls didn’t even have real shoes. We walked onto the tournament site and saw every other team in matching, professional, custom-made soccer jerseys with their names and numbers printed on the back. Oh sh…naps.

In spite of the 100 degree weather, 65% humidity, the coordinated teams who had been practicing together for months, and me being on the team, our girls placed second in the tournament out of six churches! Woot. Aside from not sabotaging the success of our team, it was also wonderful getting to spend time with the younger girls as well as witnessing the different Alliance churches mingling together.

But let’s be honest. Between you and me, I’m glad it is finally over. The soccer nightmares can now go plague someone else and leave me to uninterrupted slumber once again. Sweet dreams!

La Iglesia de Mbokajaty

September 18, 2011

The rough cobblestone made for a jarring ride, and once I descended the vehicle, red dirt known as tierra colorada, clung to my shoes for dear life. Children swarmed the van to embrace the missionary couples, recognizing them from previous Kids Clubs held in the village, and gawked for a moment before diving in to give me enthusiastic hugs as well. (Some later confided bluntly that they had never seen a Chinese person before. I guess that would have struck momentary fear in my young heart too, ha.)

It was a festive gathering in one of the poorest areas of town. Trash littered the ground everywhere I looked. Corrugated metal and crumbling cement “walls” visible behind dilapidated, rusty fences stood for living spaces. The children were filthy. And somewhere after a maze of left turns rose a bare bones brick shell of a building.

What I’m told was previously posts and a roof too high to provide shade or shelter had been transformed with a cement floor, the red brick walls, and an entrance structure. This was the newly remodeled church of Mbokajaty, and tonight’s celebration was a gathering of all the Christian churches in Asuncion to rally around this particular community.

There was a lively worship session, a sermon from CMA’s B, prayers by some of the other pastors, and a presentation of gifts. Each church had taken up a special offering within their own congregations in support of the ministry in Mbokajaty, and all told, they raised 8,500,000 Guaranis (roughly $2200)! Keep in mind that many of these other churches are not particularly large or well off themselves.

Even though the need was 15 million Guaranis and the collective financial effort was, well, a little short, it was amazing just to see all these other local churches coming together so passionately to support Mbokajaty. CMA had a work team from the States come and assist with the manual labor of laying brick at one point, but how wonderful that it has largely been local investment that has furthered things along.

I can only imagine what unity this inspires in church at large in Asuncion. Afterwards, people were mingling, doling out cocido (a warm drink of terere, sugar, and milk), and rejoicing together over collaborative effort, fellowship, and the provision of the Lord. What a picture of church.

*Two biceps and a big toe were harmed in the writing of this entry. Mosquitos = death.