We arrived in Paraguay just under 3 years ago with the purpose of going to the least reached in this country. It’s been a long journey of preparation, but we’re ecstatic that the moment has finally come — we’re moving! Yet, when we were giving the clearance by our leadership to move on to the next phase of life and ministry, we didn’t pack the car immediately. We began a very delicate process — we had to unplug from life here.
The task of learning how to live in a new country is a big one, and one that takes lots of friends and relations. We’ve constantly been meeting new people, entering their lives, meeting their families, doing what they do etc. Many hours have been spent visiting — building these relationships, as these relationships are the foundation for our learning to live in Paraguay.
And that’s why I use the word “delicate”. These Paraguayan friends are our friends. They’ve come to be very close to us. And we’ve also learned that the feeling is mutual. As we told them that we were leaving for the tribal community, they began to plan “despedidads” — goodbye parties. Apparently this is the cultural way to say goodbye. We had 5 of these goodbye parties just this past week.
So being that we are friends, we couldn’t just pack up and leave. It was a process of unplugging. We’ve spent a lot of meaningful time with them over the past couple months, affirming our friendship and preparing for our departure. It’s been slightly emotional — much like how it was when we first left the States.
I can now say with confidence that we are 100% unplugged from capital city life. But our relationships don’t end now anymore than our relationships back home ended when we came to Paraguay. As I wrote in a previous post, we are being sent on our way by Paraguayan churches. These churches have partnered with us because they have come to believe in the need among the tribal communities as well.
One of the very unique things we experienced with the unplugging process is the apparent cultural Christian practice of dedicating Bible verses to the person going away. Everyone wanted to dedicate us something. Among the passages dedicated were 1 Samuel 16:7, Acts 20:24, Daniel 10:12, Revelation 3:8, and Joshua 1:9. The truth is we were dedicated so many passages so quickly that I can’t recall them all.
During this time we’ve also tried to position ourselves for future ministry. Many young people in our churches have expressed interest in visiting us in the tribe. We are encouraging this desire as this will allow us discipleship opportunities with Paraguayan youth who perhaps God is leading towards missions. We can give them a glimpse up close and personal of missionary life, and engage them on what God is teaching them.
So here we stand: completely unplugged from the life in the big city, and ready for life in the tribe. Relationships have been affirmed, and we have hopefully positioned ourselves for future discipleship. Next on our list is to travel the 300-miles to our new home. We’re very excited — this is what we came for.