After another late night of visiting, we awoke with a start to find out that it was 8:30 a.m. already and church was scheduled to start at 9:00 a.m. Thankfully, we only had to shower, change our clothes, and make our way to Oscar and Karen’s front porch.
After singing, Pastor Oscar shared the Word from Ezekiel 3:15-21. Earlier in chapter 3, Ezekiel was given a scroll to eat. It was very sweet when he ate it, but it became bitter. He went to see the captives by the river. At first he just sat with them and didn’t say anything for seven days. We all have had difficult experiences in life or know of others going through them. We need to learn from Ezekiel. He just went to these captives/slaves and sat down next to them showing empathy for them and feeling what they felt. When people brought the adulterous woman to Jesus, Jesus showed empathy for her when everyone else was attacking, pointing fingers at her. Jesus understood her soul. Ezekiel understood the pain of the captives’ souls. This is what God wants us to do with our neighbors. Love them, feel their pain, and keep sitting with them. We aren’t called to be on the rolls of a church. We are called to be Christ’s servants. We are called to take God’s word to our neighbors. This means starting by listening to them and drinking tereré with them. This is how we start to share Jesus’ love with them. We can visit them in the hospital even if only for an hour. It means so much to them. Be the one who is bringing the “Good News” to them. Ezekiel had a difficult message to bring. There would be consequences to him if he didn’t bring the message. If we don’t bring the message to our neighbors, we will be held responsible also. People may not always be happy to hear the gospel, but we can’t stop. We need to keep visiting them day after day. I (Oscar) wasn’t always happy to hear the gospel. Sometimes, I wanted to run from the person who was bringing it, but eventually, I accepted it and was converted. We must confront sin, but always, pick up and forgive the sinner. Always be merciful to people and seek restoration and healing. We can’t make excuses for our weaknesses. Like Ezekiel we have been called to become weak to win others to Christ, but Ezekiel did not remain weak, he arose and taught and exhorted them. We need to go forward as Ezekiel did with a forehead like a rock (vs. 9) to free others who are in danger of death. God knows our hearts. He knows if we don’t want to go and are making excuses. We want to hear Him say to us “Come, faithful servant, enter into your rest”. So let’s love others, not just in word, but in Spirit. Let’s show God’s love to our neighbors, to our children by showing empathy. Let’s all be towers for God like Ezekiel was.
After morning service, some of went to lunch at a churrascaria. Besides the many different kinds of meat, there was a buffet with many other dishes and salads. There was also a dessert bar, and the traditional pineapple coated with cinnamon and sugar.
And, let’s not forget the free entertainment: keyboard and accordion duets for some and soccer/rugby on TV screens for others.
Our next stop was Asuncion’s newest mall, the Paseo La Galeria. The mall is built between two uniquely shaped towers. The stores seem to be mostly high-end and the prices are very expensive. Prices in many shops were listed in US dollars and/or Brazilian Reais, with some in Guarani, but it seemed like the primary target audience was well-to-do tourists; although the food court appeared to be doing a brisk business with help from the locals.
We found two shops that sold local Paraguayan goods, the rest were mostly large global brands. After mostly window shopping, we bought some items from the Super Seis grocery store in the mall, where prices were comparable to elsewhere in Paraguay.
Arriving back in Las Garzas, Brian was excited to find a soccer game taking place in Pastor Pedro’s back yard. The temperature hit 100 degrees Fahrenheit today, but that didn’t stop the young men and boys from enjoying their football (soccer) games. We finished the evening with a late dinner at Karen and Oscar’s home and then the young adults went over to spend some time at Gabe and Hadassa’s house. Sadly, tomorrow we are already scheduled to begin our trip home.