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October 2018

"The word of God ought to sound like our mother speaking to us." Martin Luther

Dear Judy

We’ve been living in Paraguay for a little over 7 months now and we are surrounded by Spanish and now Guarani.  Hearing English outside our family and team is rare. A few months back, we met with the other SIM missionaries for our Spiritual Life Conference.  Each morning we would worship with songs. Each morning I was brought to tears, not just because of the words we were singing, but because we were praising God in English. I hadn’t realized how much I miss singing with fellow believers in my mother tongue, praising God in the language of my heart.  It made me realize the power and importance of our first language.

Imagine what it was like for the thousands of people listening to Peter preach in Acts 2, where everyone heard Peter share the gospel in their own language. Or, think about why Jesus chose to be born into a common family, growing up speaking the language of the Jews, Aramaic.

There is a saying in Paraguay that a relationship begins in Spanish, but as two people fall in love, they switch to Guarani.  It has been an exhilarating first month of language learning, knowing that God has placed us here, to humble ourselves, make mistakes over and over, all in order to share God’s love for His people using Paraguay’s language of relationship. This is why it is called the heart language of Paraguay.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s very hard. But this task is God-ordained, making it completely worth the hours of difficulty.

Our Day

What do our mornings look like? Take a look at this video of our drive to language school each morning. 
Upper Left: Our Guaraní language class.  Upper Right: Ladies working with our language helper. Lower left: Men working with their language helper. Lower Right: Samuel quizzing Jodi using verbs and pronouns during class.  

PANning

We have a PAN (projects and activities notebook) book that we take with us in the afternoons as we walk and talk to our neighbors, shop owners, and friends. We use our “PANning” routes to practice new material, listen to Guarani, develop projects around the topics we are interested in, and build relationships. Please pray for our new friends that in our language learning we are able to shine Christ’s light and example into their lives.  

  • Our landlords, Nuchi and Gilberto, live in town. Nuchi loves flowers and gardens. She has helped me cook chipa and loves Elliot’s spunk. Gilberto is so patient as Aaron practices with him. He is an easygoing, thoughtful man.
  • Our next door neighbors, Amelio and his wife, are an older couple with time to sit, drink tereré, and hear our stumbling words. Theo and Abraham love their chickens. Amelio has helped us with our leaky roof, recommended an electrician, and given us so much of his time.
  • Santiago owns the small meat counter behind our house.  He has taught Aaron the process of using a traditional brick oven (tatakua). When I buy meat from him, he teaches me the correct cuts of meat and the twins get free bananas when they come.
  • The librarian at the bottom of our road is around my age, with a quiet demeanor. She told me, “Wow, you are already learning so much!” She has been nothing but encouraging to us. The last time I visited her she had a Guaraní dictionary that she had bookmarked with pages to practice.  
  • The hardware store owner is middle-aged woman with a wide smile that makes her eyes sparkle. She has sat with me, letting me repeat over and over the process of how to boil water and make rice. 
  • Mario owns the electronic store on the main street of town. A young man, he just moved to town to try to garner more business.  
  • We pay our internet bill to Ricardo. Not only does he work at the internet office, he is also the 3rd grade teacher at the local elementary.
  • Some afternoons, a handful of teenagers play handball across the street at our park.  Aaron and Samuel have joined in a few times. They have always welcomed them to join, taught Aaron and Samuel a few words, and wave when they see us driving by.  Pray for Samuel as this is the way he will use and learn Guarani, by playing sports with other kids.
  • Leno tends the park grounds. He is an old man, with stringy gray hair and a slight frame.  He has a JW study in his home once a week and invited Aaron to come. Please pray for Aaron and Leno as they develop this relationship at a spiritual level, that Leno would come to know the truth of who Christ is in his life. 
Using a tatakua to make chipa, a cornmeal/cheesy bread.  Would you like to see more pictures between our newsletters? Join our Facebook page or Instagram
Did You Know?
While we add suffixes and prefixes to words in English (like re-wire, or walk-ing). Guarani adds more postpositions when English would use a separate word. In just a syllable, a word can change into the future, or could mean “I want...”, or have added “through” or “on”.  Here’s an example of the beauty and complexity of this language: 

Please Pray...

  • Praise God for his provision! Naomi Coulombe, our homeschool teacher, is well on her way to coming to Paraguay. Please pray for her transitions of saying raising support, saying goodbyes, and preparing to move to Paraguay, hopefully in early November. 
  • Pray for all of our children as they continue to adjust, but most especially for Henry (9). He has struggled to make friends here in Escobar and is fearful of the unknown around him. Pray for one good friend who has the personality to take him under his wing despite the language barrier. Pray for courage and boldness on Henry's part to step out to make new friends. 
  • Praise God for a strong beginning to Guaraní, great classmates, and a teacher who challenges us and encourages us so well. 
  • Pray for creative ways that Samuel can practice the Guaraní he is learning, whether through playing handball, a friend in town, or some other avenue. 
  • Praise God for two wonderful girls that we have hired to take care of our three youngest while we are studying. The kids have grown quite attached to them and it makes it much easier to focus on school when we know they are being cared for so well. 
  • Pray for continued strength in the many tasks we have each day.  The day to day can be difficult as we juggle all we have to get done in a day. Pray for patience with our kids, for grace when we are tired, and perspective on the tough days. 

Although learning another's mother tongue is not for the faint at heart (at least at our age!), we know it is of utmost importance here in rural Paraguay.  Thank you for coming alongside us in all of the tangible and intangible ways you do.   

Serving Him Together,

Aaron, Becky, Samuel, Henry, Elliot, Theo, and Abraham
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