Greetings from Paraguay! This is Bobby, Erin's newest Tekove companion. My name's actually Bobby/Boebby/Paco/Pakova. I started as Bobby, but the kids couldn't pronounce it and called me Barbie. And Boebby (long o) turned into Bobo which is a dumb person. I told Ben my middle name is Frank, so he turned that into Francisco for which Paco is the shorter version. Paco sounds like Pakova. In Guarini, the native language of Paraguay, Pakova means Banana. So we finally settled on Pakova, AKA Banana. (Such a CSSM-name story). The kids love it, they yell it the whole show and when we're leaving, or even when we see them around town. It's so funny. There are only two schools in the entire city of Limpio that Tekove doesn't do shows for, so we see the kids around alot. Anyway, I'm a product of Ashley's presentation at the Bush! So I got to Paraguay last friday, the 18th. Wow. This week flew by. Living without my phone hasn't been as difficult as I thought it'd be. I miss being able to tell someone something *instantly* but so far I've been ok. I just read, ALOT. I thought I had brought too many books, but nope. Not enough. I'm almost done with "Worldliness!" It's as good as everyone else who read it said it was. And thank you, whoever highlighted things. You guys know whats best for me muchhhh better than I do, so I took the notes to heart. Mary-beth and Deb have supplied around half of the books for this trip, so this is a shout-out/thank you to them. I'm also hitting the Bible pretty hard. I'm cheating and using my "Bible in 90 days" notecard for only the New Testament. I should, if all goes according to plan, finish it in 20 days. Basically, the only bad part of not having a phone is never knowing the time or what day it is. I usually just guess. I live in the Base, its a big building meant for like 40 people, but I share it with one guy, Samuel. He's pretty awesome, and when he isn't doing Tekove he lives in Paraguay, where he also teaches English. So alot of the time he is helping me say things in Spanish. After one week, I've been doing pretty well, I've started "thinking" in Spanish, like numbers and simple sentences and such. It's fun. We make our own breakfast and dinner on an old stove. For breakfast they have Dulce de Leche. It's pretty much caramel for your toast. Needless to say, I've been enjoying my fair share of it. Empanadas too. I've had around 2 a day since I've arrived. They're just fried amazing. The ice cream is good too. I like Passion fruit (mburucaya) and Coconut. It costs around 60 cents. I love this place. So anyway, I had a great first weekend pretty much taking in Paraguay, then Monday rolled around. The first program. We rehearsed it Monday morning because we only do afternoon shows on Mondays. I have one line in Spanish, it's in the memory verse. "Y yo le pedire al Padre." I have yet to mess it up too badly. We do the same show, every day, usually 6 times a day. For 5 weeks. Thats 150 of the same shows (if it doesn't rain. Yeah, rain here is like snow for us. They don't have school if it's raining. It's nuts.) It's pretty much some sick Beach Mission groundhog day. But it's just really cool. There's a trick for the kids that Benji does (Erin always says Ben is a Spanish Vic. I would totally agree, but he's also got an immense amount of Bumbles in him. I actually relate him to the main character from the movie Life is Beautiful. He's so goofy, I love it.) They do a memory verse, a puppet show, a dance at the end, it's like watching Beach Mission on Telemundo. I'm loving it. The kids don't get a chance to hear the Gospel like we do. It kinda makes you realize how much we take it for advantage. They really enjoy the show and it seems like they really get the Message. It's awesome when the puppets are praying (yeah.) and you look up and see the kids praying too. And the Bibles. They LOVE the Bibles. (I do too. Mostly the "stamping" and "stuffing" of the Bibles. Which means stamping the Tekove symbol and putting a small letter from us into the Bibles. Altogether they had 8,000. I was bored one day and stamped and stuffed 3 boxes with Samuel and 11 by myself. Thats 1400 Bibles. Yeah, I was that bored. But don't expect me to do this kind of work at home. Once I land back on american soil, my work ethic should probably go back out the window. Don't get your hopes up, Valley. Back to the story:) I have to keep them in the box when I walk to the 6th grade classrooms because if I don't, all the younger kids attack me for them. But the 6th graders really appreciate them. It's so awesome. And they all love the American boy. It's hilarious. One school learned I was ticklish, so I had around 12 kids chasing me around a futbol (I know, it's soccer. But I feel like if I type "soccer" a random Paraguayan will come up and kick me.) field, grabbing my shirt and holding me back so they could tickle me. Erin didn't have a chance to get her camera but all the teachers saw it and were laughing. Last night we had a small group meeting with Erin, Ben, Samuel and 3 German women who are here doing other projects. We sang ALOT, even some songs in Spanish. Very cool. Ben asked me to give my testimony, so I did, which really set the stage for the next day (today). Today was especially awesome because I was asked to talk to the morning set of 9th graders (with Samuel translating), because apparently they had been having alot of problems with drugs. I told them a brief version of my testimony and how terrible drugs are and how much havoc they can wreak on your life, intertwined with (what I hope was) a really clear Gospel message. I even used the "Good News" bracelet! Like I said, they don't get much of a chance to hear the Gospel, and apparently they don't really listen to anyone but they have a special connection with Tekove because they've been seeing Ben's programs since they were in 1st grade. At the end we gave them all Bibles and it just felt awesome. You could tell there were some who were legitimately listening and taking the Gospel to heart. It really worked out, too, because the first school cancelled on us, so we had alot of extra time to talk to the older kids. Too cool to be a coincidence. We usually have friday afternoons off, but Ben asked if we could go back so I could talk to the 8th graders of the afternoon (the schools here have 2 sets of kids, morning school kids and afternoon school kids. some only come in the morning, some only in the afternoon, kinda self explanatory.) We went and the Director (principal) told Ben that this class, on top of drugs, had some problems with suicide. So we went in, I gave a more in-depth version of my testimony, and again told the kids that no matter how terrible of a person you were, nothing is bad enough to negate fact that Christ died for your sins. For some of them, it may have been the first time they'd ever heard this. It just feels so amazing to share the Gospel with these kids and know you may actually be making a serious impact in their lives. Both times I quoted Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates His own love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us." or Romanos 5:8 "Pero Dios demuestra su amor por nosotros en esto: en que cuando todavia eramos pecadores, Cristo murio por nosotros." It was awesome to have some of them come up to me afterwards to ask where to find the verse in the mini-bibles we had given them. I also signed autographs. When I was done talking to them, I asked them to ask me questions. I wanted to know what these kids think about! They had some really good questions, and I just kept driving home the fact that no matter how bad you are, He still wants a relationship with you. Pinebush/Awana/CSSM have trained me well. Erin keeps sneezing, I think that means she wants to go get food. So I'm wrapping this up, hopefully you had a fun hour reading this long post. I can pretty much say anything I want right now because I don't think anyone has enough free time in their day to read this far into a blog. I do the same with the kids, because they don't speak English. Look them right in the eyes and say, "I have no idea what you're saying. I don't speak Spanish. I can say anything I want and you'll just smile because you have no idea what I'm saying either, it's okay." haha I look forward to seeing you all again, your lives will return to normal on October 25th, and hopefully I can blog between now and then to keep you updated. I've got a pretty decent prayer list going and alot of the people reading this will be on it, I also ask that you keep the kids here and the program in your prayers. Thank you, God bless, and see you soon!
(P.S.: Ivan, dude. I haven't eaten rice and beans yet. Haven't even seen it. Oh! and I'm sorry, but the toilets don't flush clockwise OR counterclockwise. They just go straight down. I don't want to let you down, though. I'll make sure to check every one I come across and keep all my findings in a scientific journal. This research could change modern science as we know it.)