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Report on Trip to Puerto Barra, Paraguay 2017

This trip was both to understand the work of two missionaries and help the Ache people by insulating and installing a shade over a community building and to construct shelves to be used in the walk-in refrigerator and freezer.

Paraguay Day 1

This is what would be considered a short night or a long night, depending on your perspective. Fred was in Peru, leaving at 11:30 at night for a 4 hour flight to land at 5:30 local time. Phil and Domingo had left Minneapolis at 6:30 in the morning and spent 26 hours in flight and airports to arrive a little later on the same Saturday morning. We stopped at the missionary home run by Tim and Robin Wagar. Everyone dozed and talked for the three hour ride to Dale Konkol’s house stopped for a meal along the way, then and sleep a little more. There was a young people’s meeting for us to attend in the evening, where Phil spoke about next steps for their life. There were a couple new people attending also.

Paraguay Day 2

The Lord’s day is a full day. The first meeting was at 8:30 with good participation by several. Many of the group are relatively new believers and first generation of Christians in their families. Domingo brought the message from the Word, being able to preach in Spanish. After the meetings we drove a family home that had ridden a bus to meeting and no rides available for several hours. We had lunch in the Konkol’s back yard. The evening was spent at a couples Valentine banquet. There were several unsaved in the crowd. Fred spoke about the love of Christ for the church as exemplified in the husband-wife relationship. After the games, picture, meal and talk, the couples stayed around afterward for more conversations. After clean-up we returned home for more conversation and got to bed about 1:00, knowing we could sleep in.

Paraguay Day 3

There was a catching up on sleep and much conversation during the day. At 1:00 we went to the radio station for a half hour preaching program, which Domingo did the speaking. Dale has arranged to take the program the first two days of every week. There were more conversations of the work, the people and the plans for remodeling the building before supper. In the evening Dale had arranged for an open forum for any to get to know us better and to ask any question they had in their Christian walk. There were 10 mostly young people there for about 2½ hours. Now another quick catch up before the night ends.

Paraguay Day 4

Another late night of discussions and plans for the future. We were able to get going earlier and determined to go see the work and encourage Roberto in Pilar, which is on the boarder with Argentina, two hours away. He was saved in San Juan under the ministry of the Konkol’s, but has now moved to Pilar. He is alone in the work, except for two older ladies that have kept the doors of the building open. Pray for the work there, someone to join Roberto in the work there, and for the San Juan assembly to know how to help and encourage. After our return we went to a home Bible study of younger believers and invited neighbors.

Paraguay Day 5

The day of change. We were trying to leave early to travel to Bjarnie Fostervold’s and take in the sights along the way. With few roads in the country we went southeast until near Argentina, then followed a road somewhat parallel to the river dividing the two countries. Along the way we stopped to see a ruins from the 1700’s the Jesuit’s built. Such a large set of buildings to house everyone and a huge cathedral, all for nothing for eternity. As we traveled, the country changed from mostly grazing and some rice production to large farms of soybeans. Harvest is in progress, so the trucks are constantly on the road, loaded one direction and empty the other. As we turned off the one highway, put in by the World Bank which changed the jungle to fields, we entered 8 miles of rutted mud road to the village. A later supper and sleep in a warm house.

Paraguay Day 6

This is a day to meet many and determine what we will do. First we walked around the village looking for Timothy, but in the process we met many of the people and became familiarized with the area. Then there was a meeting with the chief and several of the men to see what their vision is for the work to get done. There were many other activities the village was concerned with which did cause us to spend time waiting for the end of other meetings. We made plans for building shelves in the walk-in refrigerator and freezer and started thinking on the roof for the community building. Then we went to town with the village chief to purchase some supplies. After supper there was to be a village meeting, but some men had gone to the forest and the women were making bread in the cooler evening, so there were a couple hymns sung and a testimony given. Pray for Domingo as his digestion is upset. The internet is slow, so will send all without pictures.

Paraguay Day 7

There is still more adjustments to make and material to get. Shortly after breakfast we went to town with several from the village to get iron supplies and screws for the two projects. We went to this large and well organized hardware store to order iron to make our shelves. While there we also ordered some extra thick Styrofoam in smaller pieces and paneling to cover it. Next we went to the screw store to get various screws for the jobs. Then home over the bumpy roads for lunch. After a good nap we went to the closer town to pick up a vehicle, look at Bjarnie and Rosabela’s house in Naranjal, and picked up some lumber for the roof project. Before supper we looked at the various livestock production units for the community, and had an extended conversation with one of the men.

Paraguay Day 8

Time for a whole day of working on the projects. Fred started on the cutting of the purchased metal to make shelves for the refrigerator and freezer. One of the men here, translated Peter, knows welding, so once the equipment was set up and the cutting started, he proceeded to do the welding while Fred did the cutting of more material. Phil and Domingo spent the day working with some of the men on the roof and insulation of the container. Most of the work was doing furring strips and attaching paneling over the insulation. About half of one wall has been completed. The roof work was limited to digging holes for posts and the men going to the neighbors to obtain eucalyptus trees to be used as poles and rafters. Work stopped toward the evening and we are able to do a little more catching up with the world.

Paraguay Day 9

The Lord’s day and it is a short walk to the building, so could have a relaxed breakfast. The schedule is about a half hour after the village bell rings, and then some may not show up for another half hour. There was a lot of enjoyable singing, and then Domingo was able to preach, translated by one of the young men here (Bjarnie had other commitments). For us Americans it was hard, narrow pews for over two hours. The afternoon was the three of us discussing spiritual subjects. The evening was spent joining Bjarnie and family at a friends baby dedication in a denomination, followed by a discussion with Bjarnie of the work here.

Paraguay Day 10

Another work day. Peter, that Fred was working with on refrigerator shelves, had a teachers meeting in the morning, plus Fred was needed for the roofing project, so the shelving was put on the back burner. Domingo worked with some of the men finishing the wall of insulation. Phil and Fred worked with some other of the men putting in posts and trimming them to fit for support of the porch roof. Fred thought he had left the tamping in of posts behind when he retired many years ago. After lunch there was a village meeting about the placement of the coming houses and then an offer to help train men in the use and repair of equipment. There is a foreign company offering to help men learn how to use farm equipment over a 10 month period, both classroom and on location for a very reduced fee. Three men signed up. During the rest of the afternoon all the posts were fastened in place and the edge pole put in place. Much of the evening was spent by Fred doing personal contact while awaiting supper, while the other men talked waiting for supper. There was a village meeting going on, then we were to be invited to a birthday party for supper. We all quit about 10:30 and went to bed.

Paraguay Day 11

There was a longer talk with Bjarnie at breakfast, and then we went to work. The roof design was re-worked and the message passed on to the men as to how many more trees were needed to complete the project. Phil used the waiting time to sharpen a chain saw and drill some holes we needed while Fred cut most of the rest of the material for the shelves. After lunch Bjarnie took us to the river to see the barge ferry and bridge crossings, and then to stop at the location of their first house in the flood plain. While waiting for the logs to arrive the internet was tried, but the system seemed to be down and remained so the rest of the day. The logs arrived and we determined how to cut each tree to fit our needs, spending the rest of the afternoon cutting them up. With no internet available the evening was spent in conversation.

Paraguay Day 12

This is the day that the roof is starting to take shape. The first request was for a rope to enable the large logs to be lifted to the top of the container. Everyone knew there was a rope, but after much searching it had not been found. Finally someone realized a large coil was not wire, but the requested rope. After some tying off, the logs were hoisted onto the top, and proceeded to be put in place. Once the ridge pole and eve poles were in place the rafters were next. Most of them were too large for our available nails, so each needed to be notched, then put in place. Because the eucalyptus wood is very hard, each nail had to be drilled first. The most touching moment came before lunch as an older couple came to us desiring to pray with us. They have been praying for the village, the young people and our work. They thanked us for traveling so far just to help them and get to know them. We were a reminder of their grandfather who was tall, white and worked hard in the hot sun. Very humbling. Later in the afternoon a nice breeze came through and some clouds to cool us off. The only problem was the breeze also tangles electric lines, so electricity was off until mid morning the next day. With the aid of the battery powered drill we were able to have all the rafters in place near dark. After supper we had a candle light hymn sing, but not too long. Bed was early.

Paraguay Day 13

This proved to be the wetter day that was predicted. The morning was cloudy and a little threatening, but made the work much cooler because of the cloud cover. We started into getting the rafters put in place, with the drizzle starting before noon. Increasing in amount, so we broke for lunch a little early. The electricity came back on in the mid morning, so we were able to again enjoy the fans and lights. Since it was drizzling a little after lunch we worked on a light socket and the shower head so we would not have live shocks and warm water. Phil enjoyed the first warm shower in the evening. After the noon activities we worked on creating trusses before finishing the rafters so we would have more room to work. Enduring the drizzle we finished the trusses and completed one side and part of another of the purlins. The sun is up later, so the evening was later but uneventful.

Paraguay Day 14

The day was clear and sunny again. It does make the work hotter as we were working in the sun, but it allowed the beans to dry out so the harvest can continue. The Lord is giving a good crop this year. The ends of the roof were straightened and the tin roof was started. By noon one side was nearly done, but the slower side was yet to be completed. The second side was slower because purlins still needed to be added, the side was longer, requiring piecing of the material, and the roof cap to be added as we worked. By the end of the day we were tired and sunburned. An unexpected party was given in the evening for some to say their thanks for our coming and working with them. We were also given a time to give a word of encouragement. No pictures have been downloaded yet, they will come later. The is a planned party tonight and we start traveling tomorrow, so there may not be communication until we return to the States.

Paraguay Day 15

The final day in the Ache village. Phil was sick today, but by the time this arrives we will assume the Lord has given healing. Fred and Domingo worked with Luis getting the rest of the sheets on the roof, but not completing the work as we ran out of screws temporarily. After a break we completed insulating the end of the office/container. Pedro arrived from other work and Fred went with him to get the shelves put together. As the day and the time in the village drew to a close we were satisfied with getting the two main projects, getting a roof over an office and shelves made for the refrigerator and freezer, completed enough the people will be able to finish the work. Domingo has had many conversations with various people, encouraging and exhorting along the way. We have a much better understanding of the work the Lord has done among a small, disrespected indigenous people and the work involved in reaching them. They are a trophy to Christ and an example of God’s heart for all tribes and tongues and peoples. After supper there was the exected meeting with Bjarnie showing the connection the people of the Westby Assembly had with his mother and the funeral with the Ache people. Domingo was able to preach and encourage the people again.

Paraguay Day 16

Though it is the Lord’s day we have several connections to make, so needed to be on the road early. After a quick breakfast we proceeded to say good-by to the people. Many were gathering for their meeting, but when we approached, the building emptied to have all give each of us a hug in appreciation for coming to help and getting to know them. We also walked to the burial place of Irene, Bjornie’s mother. She is buried at the location of the first village after the Ache people came out of the forest. More hugs and we were on the road. There are few highways in the country, so we went north and then west, heading for Asuncion on the western border. On the way we stopped by to see Mink Meiers son-in-law who is a dairy farmer from New Zealand. Then we stopped to see Mike, talk about the work of missions in Paraguay and see the camp he is involved with. His vision is to reach out and have the local people reach out to all the farming villages in the eastern part of the country. After supper with his family and dark having arrived, we completed the hour and a half trip to the mission house in Asuncion.

Paraguay Day 17

Not an active day so we were able to sleep in a little. It was also nice to have air conditioning again. After breakfast we walked to the hardware store to purchase a pipe to hold Phil’s Ache bow and arrow, then we went shopping for other things to bring home. It was a national holiday so many of the usual stores were closed. After taking the Fostervold’s out to lunch, there was packing and sending Domingo and Phil on their way. Fred spent the evening getting pictures ready and then went to Domino's Pizza for supper with two of the Fostervold children, Brian and Silvia.

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(563) 271-1265

About TeamWorkers

TeamWorkers Abroad was started to assemble teams of believers from U.S. assemblies to work on building projects for assembly missionaries. While TeamWorkers Abroad’s focus is primarily on teams of skilled workers, there are opportunities for unskilled workers and young adults on most projects.