Today, Saturday, was our last day of painting. For our devotion this morning, we read Revelation 21:1-4; 23-27 where John talks about the new Jerusalem. The new Jerusalem will include the glory (Amplified version: splendor and majesty) and honor of many nations. We have been given a foretaste of this by visiting Paraguay. Many things are different here than in the U.S., but we have learned to enjoy the beauty of the land, the slower pace of life, and the friendliness of the people here. Each of us should take home something from our time here that has touched our life that we can share with others.
Oscar had requested that for our last day we concentrate on applying a second coat of paint on the exterior walls. Besides the exterior walls and posts, the interior stairwell also requires painting, connecting the two floors in the old building with a common color.
We also applied a little additional trim where needed and finished cleaning up by taking down the painter’s tape (i.e. making the obligatory soccer ball), wiping the floors where possible, and finally cleaning our equipment so it would be usable the the next team or individuals.
By Noon we were finished. There wasn’t enough room in the car for all of us, so Brian volunteered to take the bus and Steve volunteered to ride in the car. Rod and Sarah decided to go with Brian for the bus experience. We bid farewell to the school, the local store owner, and headed toward the bus stop.
Just before the bus stop, Brian noticed that one of his favorite empanada shops was open (It had been closed due to construction for most of the week) so we had to stop for a snack there.
Finally, we got to the bus stop and after about a 15 minute wait our bus came. Our bus was air conditioned so we were charged extra 3,300 Guarani apiece (about 60 US cents). There wasn’t room to sit, but we stood and enjoyed the roller coaster effect. As with Brian and Steve’s bus this one veered off the main road and went through some of the neighborhood side streets. Having learned from Brian and Steve’s experience, we stayed on the bus and eventually it turned back onto the main road and dropped us off at the entrance to the Las Garzas neighborhood.
We had just stepped off the bus and navigated around the huge mud puddle that tends to form at the corner, when a horn honked at us from behind. It was Blanca, Marcel’s sister-in-law going to the Quinta for the kid’s camp. She offered us a ride and dropped us off at Oscar and Karen’s street. Karen prepared us fried mandioca (like french fries only better), as well as rice and beef for lunch.
After a brief siesta, we drove to “Stock”, the grocery store and filled up our cart with things we wanted to bring home. The grocery store was well-stocked with Zucharitas (Frosted Flakes); however, the gluten free section with only two items seemed a little thin compared to the U.S.
In the evening Oscar drove Rod, Sarah, and Brian to the Bañado church, which we had worked on repainting after a flood two years ago. We arrived early to church and the gate was still locked, so we did a little shopping and took in the neighborhood sites while we waited. When we arrived back at church three minutes before the service was scheduled, the front gate was open and we were greeted warmly by the people there.
The Bañado area is one of the poorest in Asuncion. It is also next to the Rio Paraguay which tends to flood every so many years. The land is in a flood plain and the government looked the other way and allowed people to come and live there. Now, however, the government would like to extend the boulevard by the river in downtown Asuncion North (as well as South), shore up the flood plain and move the people living here into government housing. According to Oscar this plan is not going over well with the Bañado neighborhood and they are fighting against it.
At 7:30 there were only about six of us in the church, but once Frank showed up and began playing the guitar our crowd began to swell. We ended up with about 16 adults and several more children. Everyone sang heartily and the cement floors seemed to provide excellent acoustics for the room, making the music sound like we had double the crowd. Pastor Alberto is the regular pastor here, but tonight Pastor Oscar led the service/discussion. He recounted the story of Naaman from 2 Kings 5:1-14. Naaman was a captain in the Syrian army. Syria had taken over Israel at the time and Naaman had an Israeli maid who waited on Naaman’s wife. The maid told his wife that the prophet in Samaria (Elisha) could cure Naaman’s leprosy. Naaman went to Israel to find the prophet to be healed of his leprosy. Eventually he found Elisha and was told to go wash in the Jordan seven times and he would be healed. Naaman was upset by this because the Jordan river was not known as a beautiful river (Editor’s note: any similarities with the Rio Paraguay are purely coincidental). Eventually, Naaman’s servants persuaded him to go and fulfill the simple request that Elisha had made of him and he was healed of his leprosy. Today, we don’t need to go searching for a great prophet to heal us of our leprosy (sin). We can go directly to Jesus. Just as Naaman only needed to obey a simple request to be cleansed, so, we to can be cleansed from our sin by coming to Jesus and fulfilling his simple request for obedience. We can have our leprosy (sin) taken away and be healed completely.
After the service, we stayed and visited for quite a while. It was nice to feel the results of the air conditioning units which were installed two years ago (while we were here painting) working. Sometime around 9:30 we had to say our farewells and leave for dinner. We arrived late at Dom Dario’s home for a supper of empanadas, fish, and other Paraguayan delicacies. After supper, we bid them good night, and headed home for a good night’s rest.