Preparing for Paraguay

When I first started telling people I planned to go to Paraguay to work with Global Ministries Partners, I got a lot of mixed reactions. Some people were excited, others were frightened, and some just thought I was a little crazy. The strange thing, I think, is that I had a mixed reaction too. I was very excited, very nervous, very frightened, and I often thought I was a little crazy.

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”  Matthew 6: 25 - 27

When I first started telling people I planned to go to Paraguay to work with Global Ministries Partners, I got a lot of mixed reactions.  Some people were excited, others were frightened, and some just thought I was a little crazy.  The strange thing, I think, is that I had a mixed reaction too.  I was very excited, very nervous, very frightened, and I often thought I was a little crazy.

What was I thinking, packing up 3 kids and moving to a country where I don’t speak the indigenous language; my Spanish is limited (although I am taking lessons), my Guarani is non-existent.  Paraguay is not known for a booming tourist economy and English is not commonly spoken.  I think, though, that waiting is the worst.  Sitting, going about life as if this huge change isn’t looming on the horizon, only gave me time to think.  Thinking only gave me time to worry.

Worry is a natural state in my family.  My mother used to tell me her Grandmother would worry about not having anything to worry about; I inherited that trait.  So, left to my own devices, I worry.  When thinking about moving to the other side of the equator, leaving behind my family and friends, starting all over with new people who will have grown up in a society I may never fully comprehend, I worried a lot.

The thing is, though, worry doesn’t produce anything.  Worry is a crippling, paralyzing emotion.  How many times have you ever heard someone say, ‘I had this idea, it was amazing, and I worried I would never accomplish it, and so I just did it…’?  I suppose it is possible this could happen, but usually worry ends with something more like, ‘I had this idea, it was amazing, but I worried about what all could go wrong, so I never actually accomplished it…’.

There have been times in my life where I let worry burden me, but the verses in Matthew gave me a whole new perspective; it is this perspective that has helped me prepare to leave my comfortable home with all of my family and friends and move to Paraguay.   I still worry, don’t get me wrong.  But, when I start to think I might have to accept I was temporarily insane when I agreed to this plan, the words of Matthew echo around in my head somewhere.

Our Creator feeds the trees, the birds, the vines, and will feed me too.  God clothes the flowers in the fields, gives the birds feathers, the fish scales, and will clothe me too.  Worrying indicates a lack of faith; an underlying belief that, somehow, God will not take care of us.

Working with Global Ministries and the partners is a calling, a gift, an adventure.  It’s also probably the most frightening thing I have ever done; however, the worry is growing less and less as the days pass.  Perhaps I am not worried because, having met with the staff in Indianapolis, I know there are kind, caring people who are there for me.  Perhaps I am not worried because I feel that going to Paraguay is really the right thing to do.  Perhaps I am not worried because I am studying Spanish.  Perhaps I am just more accustomed to the idea of going than I was a few months ago.  Or maybe it is a combination of all of these things, I don’t know.

What I do know is that where ever I go and whatever I do, God will see to it that I get exactly what I need, whenever and wherever I need it.  There is a comfort in that knowing which easily quiets even the strongest worry.  After all, every day is a journey that moves us forward in faith, closer to our Creator.

Catherine Schrader has been appointed to serve with the Disciples of Christ in Paraguay.  She will work at the Jack Normant Camp with the ecological educational program for children of the community and the local congregation.