Monday, July 30, 2007

Cry, Cry, Cry

That's about the extent of the emotions shared yesterday at Palm Beach Lakes church of Christ as we said goodbye to our beloved family! I became choked up in the morning as I tried to address the congregation and then Andrea was choked up in the evening when she was talking during the "finger foods" gathering. But, hey! That's what happens when there is a lot of love between family! To everyone at PBL, thank you for all your kind words and gifts, we love you, and we are going to miss you!

All that crying turned into sweat today as we loaded the trailer with all our stuff! We have to say thank you to Kip Affron, Douglas Alvarenga, Ron Brackett, Josh Blackmer, Pete Brown, Dan Fuller, Jeff Goodall, Gorman Erickson, Clayton Parnell, Jerry Pittman, David Sproule, and Kevin Weeks, for all their help today! We couldn't have gotten it done so easily without you. Thank you!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Who has the right-of-way?

This was an interesting picture. These two policeman watch as a donkey cart attempts to cross the street. You don't see that in downtown West Palm Beach everyday!

Driving in Paraguay is very similar to........hmm, what's the word?...........RACING!
It is amazing how fast people drive in and around the city! I would regularly break into my announcer's voice, "...and the blue car takes it three wide into turn one! Whew! Close call there! We almost had a pile up on the track!" Yet, in the whole week we were there, we only saw one wreck. Mario Andretti would feel right at home in Paraguay!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Emma and Ella

There are two precious little girls in Paraguay.........
You better be careful or they'll steal your heart!

That is exactly what happened when we met Emma, the daughter of Chris and Vickie Fry, and Ella, the daughter of Ethan and Ashly Hardin. These little girls are the highlight of the crowd where ever they go! All of the church members just love to come up and talk to them or simply love on them.

It is really interesting to see young children of missionaries that are growing up in a different culture. What great and interesting stories they will have when they get older!

The top picture is Emma and Troy goofing around. The bottom photo is Ella's best attempt to savor one of her favorite meals - spaghetti! These two are just too cute!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Two Faces of Asunción

There are two faces to the city of Asunción. One side is a very pretty, elegant, painted, and even a little quaint. The other side is quite ugly and unpleasant. That is Latin America. It seems that in the few places that I have been, (Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, and Paraguay), that there are two types of people: wealthy and poor. There is not a "middle" class. That is never more evident than just looking at the neighborhoods within the city. It really causes a person to gain an appreciation for the country that we live in.

As illustrated here in these photographs, there are two extremes in housing. Asunción has some absolutely spectacular homes in many varieties and sizes. It also has some of the poorest dwellings that I have ever seen.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Long Flight Back Home!

Traveling to and from South America can be quite an adventure! I have experienced some hard trips myself and we have been told many stories about others who have had big adventures while traveling to Paraguay. Well, our trip home didn't fail to give us a surprise as our plane was delayed while we were on our layover in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. We were supposed to leave at 10:00 pm but after several changes, much confusion, and many hours of waiting, we finally boarded our plane at 3:30 am! That turned out to be an 11 hour layover.
Overall, it was a great trip and we are now blessed to be back home safe and sound.

This picture was taken on top of a big hill in Asunción that has a monument on top which overlooks the city. It was a great place to take a team photo.
Keep checking back often as I will be posting more pictures from the trip and also giving updates about our move to Texas.
God Bless! - TROY

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Returning Home

Well, our time in Paraguay has come to a close. Tomorrow we will board our plane back to the states. We have learned a great deal about the church, the people, the culture, and the way of life here in Asunción. We are thankful for the hospitality that has been shown to us by the team here and by the warm reception given by the Paraguayans. We will look forward to seeing them again.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Freezing in July?

It is freezing cold here! Actually, it's only about 52 degrees but with the humidity it feels like freezing. We have been shivering all day! Paraguay is usually very hot year round so cold weather is a bit of a shock when it comes. Most of the houses and buildings here are not built for cold weather and they are not insulated very well either. We went to an orphanage today to play with the children, but it was so cold they were all cooped up inside and going a little stir crazy. Once they warmed up to us, (no pun intended) they all wanted us to hold them or play with them. It was obvious that they were all starving for a little attention.
This evening the ladies had a Bible study in one of the member's homes while Josh and I toured a sock factory. Afterwards, we headed back to Chris and Vickie's house where we ordered pizza.
It's going to be a cold night.......................

Traditional Paraguayan

We have been blessed to be able to see and experience many wonderful things while here in Paraguay, but what we were able to see yesterday was truly unique. After our morning devo and meetings we went to the Expo which is a large fair that is held in Asunción every year. There were a lot of interesting sights including a stage where there were several groups performing traditional Paraguayan dances. The groups dressed in traditional costume and used many traditional props within their performances. The Paraguayan people have such a vibrant and colorful history!

Worship With Our Brethren

Sunday was a cold and rainy day, but it was warm and bright in the church buildings of Capiata and at Sacremento Street! We had the opportunity to meet and worship our God with these two wonderful congregations. The brethren were very welcoming to us and invited Josh and I to participate in the study hour and the worship. The photo shows Josh teaching the Bible study. I was asked to preach for the worship service and although it was unexpected, thankfully I had a sermon with me that I had been practicing for a later date! It was a very uplifting day and great insight to how well the mission work here in Paraguay is growing.
Please keep us in your prayers! - TROY

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Sightseeing and Shopping

After our devotional and team meeting this morning, we finally got around to something that the ladies have been looking forward to: shopping! I do believe Andrea and Cara enjoyed themselves on our little trip to downtown where we ate at the Lido Bar and also saw several interesting sites. We saw things like the Monument of Heroes, the President's House, the Senate House, the Port of Paraguay, and several other places. This picture here is of Andrea looking at jewelry from a Guarani Indian lady. Andrea has learned a key phrase in Spanish, "Cuanto Cuesta?" which is "How much does this cost?"

Reunion de Jovenes

Tonight we went to Enoch's place where we had a bar-b-que and the teens had their weekly devotional. It is so amazing to hear these young people singing the same songs that our teens sing back in the US, but in a different language. They are also just like any other youth group, they love to talk and cut up with each other. It is very encouraging to see this happening within the mission work here in Paraguay.

Q & A (times a thousand)

Yesterday was Q & A Day. We must have asked a thousand plus questions! Chris and Vickie has been doing such a wonderful job of giving us information and answering our questions. We have learned so much that we feel like our brains are about to pop! But, we still have much more to explore and to learn.
Let me say this: this is an exciting work!

Yesterday we went to the Yacht Club and had lunch while overlooking the Rio Paraguay. Clubs are a common thing in Asunción for recreational purposes. All the things like tennis, basketball, and racquetball courts, including golf are all part of a club. These also include water parks, weight rooms and many other things. If you want to use these type of facilities, then you have to belong to a club. It's an interesting part of the culture here.

Last night we went to visit some of the team members homes to see how and where they live. We spent time with each of them "picking their brains" for more information about the mission work here, as well as, their way of life. We had dinner with Ethan, Ashly, and Ella at a little Italian trattatoria and then, afterwards we went to a coffee shop to have a team meeting. Tomorrow looks like another busy day!
God bless! - TROY

Thursday, July 5, 2007

A Productive Day!

Our first day here in Paraguay was very productive! We started the day with a devotional at the church building and then, we sat in on the Asunción Missionary Team's weekly team meeting. Afterwards, we looked around a supermarket, went to some medical facilities, and checked out some general sites around the city. We've been asking the team a million questions and they have been graciously patient with us. We are very grateful for their hospitality!

This is a picture of some guy juggling in the middle of a busy intersection who was just trying to make a buck. (Actually we gave him 1000 guaranies, which is about 20 cents).

We also went and checked out "Death City" which is a Catholic cemetery across the main street near the church building. The place is pretty creepy, but it is very interesting to see! It has these little "houses" where the caskets of the dead are laid upon shelves that are stacked on top of each other. During the Catholic holiday, family members go into these little houses to pray for their deceased family members.
Chris has a pretty busy schedule for us while we are here so that we can learn as much as possible about the culture and the work here. Tonight we went on visits to church member's homes which was very enjoyable. The Paraguayans are such a friendly and open people.
We've only been here a day, but we're liking it already!

'Til next time! - Troy

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

We Arrived Safely!

Thanks to a little thunderstorm in Miami last night, we were delayed about three hours getting out of the airport. Three hours is what our layover in Brazil was scheduled for, so it looked like we were going to miss our connection to Asuncion, Paraguay! My first thought: "Here we go again!"
Fortunately, all the planes were delayed coming into Sau Paulo, Brazil so we were able to catch our flight. We arrived safely in Paraguay about 1:00 pm and we received all our luggage!.
We're tired but we're glad to be here!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Heading South of the Equator!

Josh and Cara Blackmer, Andrea and I are all heading to Paraguay, South America tomorrow July 3rd. We are going on a survey trip to visit the church and the mission team there to see if it is a place where we would like to go into the mission field. We are excited about this opportunity and we will try to update the blog as often as we can with pictures and news. Please pray for us!

This picture was taken just a few weeks ago at Juno Beach as our PBL Mission Team photo.