Our First Six Months in Paraguay!

Paul Jacquay – Paraguay

The transition has been smooth, for the most part, with the major stumbling block being the language barrier. I am doing well with communication anywhere in Asuncion now. I have to ask people to speak more slowly, but we are always able to communicate that which is needed. Marianne is not yet so fluent because of her English-speaking job, but she is coming along well.

Paul Jacquay – Paraguay

The transition has been smooth, for the most part, with the major stumbling block being the language barrier. I am doing well with communication anywhere in Asuncion now. I have to ask people to speak more slowly, but we are always able to communicate that which is needed. Marianne is not yet so fluent because of her English-speaking job, but she is coming along well.

Last week marked the beginning of another level of experiencing Paraguay when I purchased a mini-van. I will be using it to haul people and equipment to clinics, to travel to the other churches in Paraguay, and also to get out and see and experience this country first hand.

Speaking of clinics, we are now just completing a proposal for money to help start up three more outreach clinics in addition to the one at Don Bosco Rogas. These clinics will be in neighboring towns and associated with the Disciples churches located there. I have especially enjoyed working with Dr. Lilliana, both at the Don Bosco clinic, and also with planning these proposed clinics. She is a young family practice doctor who works more than 70 hours a week and makes about $250.00 a month. She is cutting back on some of her income-producing work in order to do this outreach work because she recognizes that the need for medical care to these people is so great. In addition to helping me to learn Paraguayan medicine, she and her fiancé helped me shop for cars and avoid the pitfalls that are always associated with the used car business. I will be sending a more detailed description of the outreach clinic later after we have completed the written proposal.

The new director of Friendship Mission, Rosa Lina, wants to start an English teaching program at the mission. Marianne has picked up where the previous missionary intern left off by volunteering to teach on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, and Saturday morning. Rosa Lina would like to expand this even further and has asked me to teach also. I have agreed to do so, but on the condition that I first learn how to teach English as a second language. As a result, I am now going through a training program at a very large and successful school in Asuncion that teaches English and also sponsors American cultural art and music programs. I need to observe other teachers for a total of 27 hours and also attend a 2-week training program. I will do some teaching at this school in order to get experience, and will also start teaching at the mission as the need arises.

As time and learning experiences have evolved, so to has the awareness of why we have been called to Paraguay. Now it is apparent that I have two missions. One is to use my medical and educational skills to establish the outreach clinic project with Friendship Mission. The other will be apart from Friendship Mission and will entail traveling to, and visiting with, the members of the other Disciples of Christ churches in Paraguay, identifying their needs, and working with them to accomplish these needs.

Hence comes the story of the church at Luque…

Luque is a city that borders Asuncion on the northwest side. It is a predominantly low income community. Pastor Roberta Martinez was working as assistant pastor at Colon, the nearest Disciples church in a barrio of Asuncion, when he moved to Luque in 1999. He recognized that there were church brethren in this community who could not make the trip to Colon, and he started offering services in the home of one of the members. The numbers grew, and they moved to a vacant building that had been a grocery store. Subsequently a plot of land was donated, and they started collecting money to build a church. They earned the money as we do in the states…with bake sales, fund-raising fiestas, and donations. Whenever they reached a collection of 1 million guaranies (about $175.00), they would buy materials and go to work. First was the concrete slab, then pillars to support a roof, and then brick walls to fill in the spaces between the pillars. They are currently working on completing the roof, but the corrugated steel panels are expensive, and they can only do a portion at a time. When they were forced out of the grocery store building, they moved services to a home adjacent to the church property. But their numbers were continuing to grow, and some Sundays they had 30 to 40 people crowding into and outside of the living room! They have since moved to the partially completed structure. The first service here was on the last day of 2005.

These are beautiful, warm, and spiritual people. They will continue to build their church as time and funds allow. But I have talked with them about People to People, a program offered through Global Ministries, and they would be very happy to welcome groups of people from the states who would come and work side by side with them to bring this project to a more rapid conclusion. I recently visited with a group of them and we talked about the presence of the Holy Spirit and listening to the call. I explained to them that I know I have been called to Paraguay, but I’m not exactly sure why. They said they know why. I am the answer to their prayers. I hope (and pray) that I can live up to their prayers and bring this project to fruition.

Paul Jacquay

Paul Jacquay serves as a long term volunteer at Mision de Amistad (Friendship Mission) in Paraguay. Paul works as a health consultant for the medical department and is a nurse trainer at the Mision de Amistad School of Nursing.