It was another late night on the road with our host family. We had just finished playing volleyball at our church and eating a great big “Asado” (BBQ) with some of our friends. It felt like it was somewhere between 12:30 or 1:00 A.M. but the time was not important. I had purposely taken off my wrist watch to avoid both the pain from a spiked volleyball and to intentionally put time out of my mind so as to not worry about how late my kids were up. The rickety Nissan changed gears and we all jerked backwards. I stared out the window and saw dogs running wild on the city streets, posters and graffiti everywhere, and shirtless troubled teens on virtually every street corner with orange hair from malnutrition. My family was tired and sweaty. As I sat there contemplating the difficulties I am currently facing, not being able to express myself in this new context the way I wish I could, my very close Paraguayan friend, David, looked over at me and stared. I looked back at him and he said, “You’re family now.” I looked at Leah in the back seat to see if I was understanding him correctly (Leah is much farther along in language from having lived in Paraguay for 12 years as a kid). Indeed, I was right! He did just say that. “Wow! This is huge!” I thought to myself. “We’ve been accepted by our ‘host family.’ They don’t just look at us as foreigners, but as dearly loved ones, family even!”
My heart was thrilled to hear these words. For over a year I had prayed for this family. Even though we had never met them, even though we didn’t know their language, we had prayed that God would give us people like this. For over a year I had prayed that God would give us what we need in order to work and live in Paraguay long term. From the time that we had decided that God was leading our family to serve in Paraguay I had been praying for good relationships with Paraguayans. And it seems as though God has answered that very specific prayer request. Sure, the language barrier is evident. Culturally, we are worlds apart from each other. But several things are the same. We’re four believers who are learning to rely on each other as the universal church to see people reached with the Gospel i.e. the saving life of Christ. God goes beyond cultural barriers. He goes deeper than language and misunderstandings. This was a huge relief for us as we’ve been on this journey to lose a part of ourselves in order to become something that we are currently not. And it all starts off with God giving us a family, part of the Body of Christ us to help us in this journey.
Since this time (4-5 weeks ago), our family has helped us immensely. Not only have they aided us in our language study, they’ve given us some of their most precious commodities, time, money, relationships, and beyond. They dropped everything and left work early to take us to the hospital where Gabe received his first stitches (He ran into a door frame while he was looking backward and playing). They have driven us all over the city of Asunción in order to price things for our house. They’ve left work several times when we were looking for a house to live in so that they could give us their opinion on price, quality, and security. They’ve driven us to church every single Sunday that we’ve been here. They’ve looked at us in the eyes and said, “Are you OK? Do you need anything? Are you feeling like this is home?” They’ve poured their lives into ours, and it’s only been two months since our arrival in Paraguay. Even though we’ve only been here a short while, things have occasionally gotten a little rough for us. Whether it’s been stress, frustration, etc. there’s one thing that has always encouraged me. That thing is our relationship with our “new” family. What a blessing these dear fellow believers have been.
Please continue to be in prayer for our family as we’re still making this transition and attempting to become Paraguayans. Also, praise God for providing people like our host family to assist us in reaching the lost here in Paraguay. Thanks for reading and for reaching people by praying for us and supporting us in this endeavor.