I’ve known Tim and Betty Wyma for . . . decades, shall we say! Well, think about it: I taught their youngest daughter in high school, and now she has grown children of her own! Enough about age . . .
Julie and I worked for eight years in Paraguay, meaning we finally got to meet some Ayoré as we would visit friends in that people group. Indeed, that “visiting” led to our elder daughter marrying one of the MKs who lived among the Ayoré. And we helped some of the Keefe grandchildren in school and education camps. So, yeah, we do have a slight connection to the Ayoré.
Add to that our connection with Tim and Betty, and there is a perfectly good reason why I wanted to post their latest prayer letter on our blog. It speaks of history, it speaks of the future and it speaks of what is going on right now among the Ayoré. But let me stop rambling and let you read what they wrote.
God abundantly answered our united prayer [the end of August] in so many ways! The travel both to Paraguay and then the seven-hour road trip interior was challenging on my still-recovering back, but it was so worth it once I arrived and the conference began. To be in the midst of over 600 Ayoré singing and clapping and praising the Lord as we all entered the church still brings a lump to my throat as the memories of that three-day conference reverberates in my heart. There were representatives from 19 Ayoré churches; 12 from Bolivia and seven from Paraguay. The 150 Bolivian Ayoré rented three buses to take them to Paraguay and they contributed in many meaningful ways. This was no small expense, and as with all the other expense and planning, it was all orchestrated and financed by the Ayoré. This has been a year and a half in the planning.
The focus right from the opening celebration was thanksgiving to God that His plan included the Ayoré people being recipients of His saving message of love and grace. I wish you all could have been there. There were continuous expressions of deep appreciation and gratitude to all of us missionaries whom God used to communicate that message through the giving of our lives, some literally as the first five missionary men did who were martyred 75 years ago in Bolivia and then many more of us who have invested our lives in living and teaching and loving these precious Ayoré people to Christ. They carried Norm [Keefe]and me in on chairs hoisted onto their shoulders with the flag of Paraguay as a canopy over Norm and the flag of Bolivia over me. It was their way of celebrating all God has done through all of us. That includes all of you who are reading this who have lived and worked among them, been raised as missionary kids among them, as well as everyone who has prayed and given of your resources to see this happen. It was humbling beyond words for me to represent Bolivia and all of you along with Norm Keefe who represented Paraguay, as well as his son John Keefe and family and Bruce and Alice Higham who have lived and worked there in [Paraguay] continuously for many years. Each of us had time to share and seek to encourage those Ayoré who attended the meetings each day.
Another theme was celebrating the unity and oneness of all of us gathered together, as animosity and bloodshed and war had previously been the prevailing reality among the countries and people now gathered together in one spirit and heart. The Ayoré from Bolivia were constantly at war with the Ayoré from Paraguay, and even the two countries of Bolivia and Paraguay fought a long and costly war called the Gran Chaco War, and the ongoing slaughter of “cojñone” (non-Ayoré people) by the Ayoré and vice versa is legendary. [Yet] there we were, one seamless group of blood-washed saints sharing and praising and fellowshipping one God, one Lord, one Holy Spirit, one hope and one Word!
Words fail me to really do it justice, but I trust you can get a little glimpse of what God did in answer to prayer and sacrifice and obedience by all of us. So I pass on their “yacaranguipis” (thank you) to all of you from all of them. Your faces scroll through my mind’s eye even as I write this.
As you can tell, I’m still resonating in the reality of all of this,