Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Book

Entering into a smaller room of the Chaco history museum, I came across this book. Gigantic in size, it was the book used to keep track of everyone’s account. Items bought and from whom, items sold and to whom, who owed a favor to whom, if a debt was paid in full and if not, how much was left of the debt. In short, fascinating! My thoughts wandered off to another book that we read about. Where everything that everyone has done is written down. PTL! On top of my account, it’s written PAID-IN-FULL.

 

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                The Book                                                                                                  Someone’s account from long ago.

 

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                                                                     And one more. A macro shot of a old guitar.

EJ

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A Excerpt That Challenges

Many missionaries who return home make the process of fitting back into their church difficult for themselves. They approach things with an attitude that stinks. They expect the church to adjust to them., instead of adjusting themselves to their church. In so doing, they neglect the example of Christ, who humbly adapted Himself to our world in order to enter it and minister life to people.

Much clamor is heard today as people criticize the Church. “The Church is too liberal. The Church is too worldly and materialistic. The Church has lost its vision for the lost. The Church is too political.” The list goes on and on. Christina books, magazines, television, and radio as well as the secular media, pour forth criticism of Christians and the Church. Some of it is justified.

However, what a pastor longs to hear is not another voice in the clamor, but someone who will say to him, “ Pastor, I’m committed to this church and to your leadership. I want to serve this body of believers. I’ll do whatever needs to be done.” Such an attitude avoids the pitfall of criticism which has tripped so many other returning missionaries. Remember, the battle is not with other people but with spiritual powers (Ephesians 6). When a situation at church distracts or irritates you, you have two choices: become critical and judgmental or become an intercessor.

Again from the book, “Re-Entry”; this time page 87-88. In reality, all though this was written in a book for returning missionaries, this should be a challenge for any stable Christian. Are you committed to building the church or to critique? Do you come to church with your spiritual toolkit or nail pouch? Or have you brought a 10lb sledgehammer and a stick or two of dynamite with short fuses?

 

EJ

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A Quote

It is wonderful when people recognize what you have done, and the sacrifices you have made. But you cannot demand such treatment as your right by virtue of what you have done, You have no rights; you surrendered them to the Lord Jesus. You went to serve on the mission field out of obedience and because of your love and devotion for Him. If you went for any other reason, it was the wrong reason.

If you come home from the mission field thinking you deserve special treatment, you are going to be disappointed. The only thing the Bible declares that we deserve is judgment and separation from God. But by the grace of God, our names are written in heaven. We are God’s children; we do no need the approval of others for what we have done. His approval is sufficient.

Taken from page 75 of Re-Entry. Written by Peter Jordan, this book speaks in great detail about “making the transition from missions to life at home”. Reading it this morning and it stood out to me. Especially considering that in 2 weeks, I WILL be home and be in the middle of an adjustment period.

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These Latter Days

There’s not much to write about, or so I think. In 2 weeks, I’ll be home from this adventure in Paraguay. My days are filled with running here and there, doing training for the person that will take my place, drinking tea with friends who want a piece of my time and trying in the midst of all this bustle to remember what it is about Paraguay that I have come to love so much. The clear days. The almost perfect weather. The relaxed atmosphere that pervades the country…..thanks Senor Terere. Yes, when it’s blazing hot, it’s terrible dusty. The winters have a added chill to them in un-insulated block buildings. But on a day like today, I don’t think I could ever leave. But the reality is that in a week, I’ll be on to El Salvador for a week before, ultimately, heading home.

So instead of waxing eloquent on nothing, I’ll just add some photos. Sometime, I want to post some highlights about the past 2 years but not today.

 

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This is the board on which much strategy is conducted. A favorite of we of the clinic, this game has travelled internationally. Currently, it’s in Argentina, waiting for use.

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Another year, another trip to the Paraguayan Chaco. All of these were taken there.

 

EJ

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A Book Excerpt

 

The Christian has put his hand into the strong right hand of Christ. In the language of the popular opera, he has by an act of conscious faith “put his hand in the hand of the Man who stilled the water”, and in that hand, the omnipotent hand of the omnipotent Christ, he has found strength: strength to stand upright in a world that is tumbling all around him; strength to walk erect into a new day; strength to stand tall despite the pressures of adversity; strength to stand up for what is right; strength to resist temptation in whatever form – or having fallen, to tread the path of the prodigal back to the Father’s house.

Herman W. Gockel

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A Transfer Peace

The yellow, crumbly and still slightly warm chipa* was handed forwarded. “Gracias”, I said and after a few seconds of mentally scrambling for the right word, “Aguijay” (spelled phonetically). Instantly I could tell by the tenor of his voice that the old man’s heart was gladdened and in my mind, I could see his darkened face lighting up. He thought he had made a rare find. A American that speaks his native language, Guarini. He was in for a minor letdown.

 

I was on a transfer that turned long. It started off being a normal transfer for Caesarean surgery at a hospital a hour away to the west of Camp 9. John, my replacement, was along as part of his training. Everything went fine and we had already left the hospital, heading for the clinic. It was Thursday night and I was looking forward to a evening of relaxing with the staff, enjoying the last couple of times that I have with them. 10 kilometers out, the clinic called Rhonda, the midwife that went along, and wondered if the hospital didn’t call her. Apparently, after we left, they had decided that they didn’t have enough staff to take care of the patient. We’ve had some struggles with this hospital before in accepting some of our patients. Mostly, their issue is that they don’t want to be responsible in the case of something going wrong. Granted, all of our transfers are transfers because of some medical issue that we can’t resolve here at Luz y Esperanza. And this patient was said to be early, 28-29 weeks, although her eco (sonogram) said otherwise. Amongst ourselves, this particular hospital is notorious for coming up with cover stories that attempt to hide their unwillingness to take care of patients. Such is the sad state of the healthcare system here in Paraguay. Saying all that, the hospital was pushing the patient back on our hands. The only other option we had was going another hour and a half further west. After discussing our options, Rhonda and John jumped on a bus headed east to Camp 9 and I went on with the patient and her family. We stopped in Caacupe which is a small town that is the site of the Cathedral of the Virgen of Caacupe, one of Catholicism’s most holy sites in South America. Here the grandpa of the patient, the dad of her mom, climbed aboard and it was this gentleman whose heart I had gladdened by a strategic use of my extremely limited Guarini.

 

I was driving and although not fatigued, I tend to fall into a zone when I’m travelling for hours. Any conversation is welcomed and I had unwittingly primed this Paraguayan’s pump. He was through and through proud of his country and language. He said that although I can speak Spanish well, Guarini is much harder. This point he stressed for about 2 minutes. There are few Paraguayans who can spell Guarini correctly. I forgot to ask him how he did in Guarini grammar in school. He even, with pride in his voice, told me how that Argentina is asking for people to come over and teach Guarini to their people. This I took with 3 grains of salt. But from his perch in the middle of the van, he kept up a stream of conversation so thick and fast that it was hard for me to put a word in. Not that I really wanted to. I had long ago learned that speaking Guarini to a Paraguayan is the fastest way to get them to open up to me. Although his Spanish was clear and his manner harmless, I couldn’t stop from laughing inwardly at him. He was slightly hard of hearing, typical of older men, and I almost got the impression after he found out I couldn’t talk Guarini, that I couldn’t find my way around and needed a guide. This I did find amusing as in my presence, most of the conversations he carried on with others was in Spanish, which I could understand with virtually perfect clarity. And even after we got to the hospital and his 23 year old granddaughter was being admitted, he wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to run off on them. I reassured him that I wouldn’t be leaving them that night until they were admitted to some hospital somewhere. When it was all said and done with, I left them at the hospital in Itagua with the status of a angel amongst that family. Well, maybe not quite. Smile 

 

But what hit me on the drive back was that even with all the changes of plans and having to suddenly work more than I had planned was the peace that was there through it all. That confirmation was something that I had been unconsciously looking for. At that time, I wasn’t supposed to be at home with my family or in a bible school somewhere. I was supposed to be there, that night, in that driver’s seat, eating a chipa and making conversation with a family that was facing some uncertainties. And when that realization hit, all I could do was thank God.

 

* chipa. a round doughnut like bread made from cornmeal, cheese, and almidon, which is starch that is extracted from mandioca, a potato like plant extremely common here in Paraguay. Mandioca is also known as yucca.

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