Hey everybody!!!! This is Levi again! We’ve officially started to go and visit churches to talk about how we will soon be part of the mission work in Paraguay (the picture here is from my most recent visit). I’ve made the last couple of visits by myself, while Jael has been in transition back to the States while getting ready for our wedding in July.
With my visits that I’ve already made, it’s been great to catch up with some old friends and meet lots of new people, and it’s been very encouraging for me. I also hope that God has been using (and will continue to use) me to be an encouragement to the people that I visit. In addition to talking about the mission in Paraguay, I also want to encourage people to be sharing the Gospel in their own communities. After all, the Great Commission is for all believers, and not just “professional” missionaries. –Levi
One of the other challenges that we will face in the heavily-Roman-Catholic Paraguayan culture is Mary Worship. As we mentioned last month, Catholicism in Paraguay is different from Catholicism in the United States: it is seen as a separate religion from Protestantism/Christianity. According to Victor (the Lutheran pastor that we’ll be working with in Paraguay), even though Catholics claim to worship the same Trinity as Protestants, in reality it’s different. In Catholic culture, Mary is the channel through which all prayers and intercession must go. Only through her can Jesus and God the Father be accessed.
In practice, they worship Mary as the supreme deity of their trinity. The most celebrated holiday in Paraguay is on December 8 and commemorates the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. The second person of their trinity is Mary’s son, Jesus. And worshipped almost as an afterthought is God the Father. So, instead of truly trusting in the one, true God and having a relationship with him through faith, many are instead clinging to the lie that Mary can save them (when of course the Bible shows that she was simply a willing servant of God). So breaking down this misconception of the Trinity will be another of our challenges.
Since January, my life has consisted of a lot of wedding planning (since our wedding is this July). Because of the 6,705 miles between my current location (Seoul, South Korea) and the location of the wedding (Southern Illinois), this process has been a lot of fun. I got to buy a dress I had never seen and hope that it fit (it did). Levi and I got to go through out list of friends and figure out how many we could fit into our limited church and reception spaces. My parents and I got to look online for a reception hall that would hold all the people that would fit in the church. That particular challenge was met in a way that only God could: the dual ministerial circuit my Dad was a part of in Southern Illinois offered to coordinate AND host our reception at one of the churches! What an amazing (and unexpected) gift! Besides that, I’ve gotten to puzzle out how to do bouquets for the bridesmaids, how to reserve hotels when I have no idea how many people are coming, and how to see everyone I want to see without going crazy. It’s been exciting…and often stressful…but God has been good. 🙂
FUN FACT: It is a very common sight to see some house cleaning happening on Friday nights at many homes in Paraguay, especially when it comes to cleaning the front porch, and especially if a young lady lives in the home. In Paraguay, guys traditionally are only allowed to call on their love interests on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, and the two lovebirds usually end up talking outside on the front patio. Thus, the girl will usually be working the day before the guy can visit (hence why the house cleaning often happens on Friday nights) so that the place is clean when he arrives. –Levi
- That we would quickly learn the multiple languages that are spoken in Paraguay. Specifically, Jael is learning Spanish right now, and Levi (who already knows Spanish) is learning Guaraní and Portuguese.
- That God would prepare the hearts and minds of the people of Paraguay to receive the Gospel.
- That God would make us vessels fit for His service.
- That God would give us wisdom and discernment as we work toward getting to Paraguay.
- That everything would go smoothly with our upcoming wedding, and that God would be glorified through it.