Gwen & Mags Update recently received into the SAMS office:
Having met up yesterday with friends from our time in Paraguay, including one of our Paraguayan teaching colleagues, I realised I haven’t been in touch with you about the Esperanza Foster Home since last Christmas. There has been some very exciting news recently as twin girls F and F have been matched for adoption with another ex teaching colleague of ours, Gloria, and her husband. Gloria is an amazing person, not least because she was one of only a few survivors of the terrible supermarket fire in Asuncion in 2004. Although her survival seemed miraculous, she spent a long time in hospital. She now teaches some of the poorest children in the city and we believe she will be a wonderful mum. Siblings M and J remain in the Esperanza home and have been joined now by one year old L who arrived with bronchitis but who has made a good recovery and has just learnt to walk.
Inocencia remains committed as the main foster mum, working long hours, but it has been difficult to find the right helper for her so, if you pray, this would be a good point to include. On the plus side, Inocencia has had help from some local volunteers this year and donations of clothes and nappies have come from parents at the San Andres school where we used to work. One aim of the project is to become less dependent on help from abroad and, although your donations are still very much needed, Esperanza has now managed to get independent charitable status in Paraguay which we are hoping will help in terms of donations from within the country. The ladies who run the home ran an Open Day back in April and encouraged visitors to consider giving on a regular basis. We hear that a few people have already committed to doing so. In theory, the State Adoption Centre should be providing all the milk for the Esperanza children but sadly we hear this is rarely the case.
You may have seen in the news that the people of Paraguay suffered terrible floods earlier this year and thousands lost their homes, many of them from the area of Asuncion where Esperanza is based. Thankfully, the home itself wasn’t affected and in fact is benefitting from a new roof.
As always, we are so grateful to you for enabling the project to continue and make a very real difference to children’s lives. The hot weather we’ve been enjoying recently has often made us think of life in Paraguay, although these temperatures are more likely to be experienced in winter than summer over there. Our children find that hard to believe!
Those of you who know us personally may like to know that we are all well – the children are growing up so fast with Alber going through a growth spurt and going in to Year 11 in September, Jack to Year 9 and Luli to Year 6 – only one more year of trawling up the hill to the little Primary where they have all been very happy. Murray is still teaching at Kingham and will be Head of a boys day house in September. I have just started a new role supporting adoptive families in Gloucestershire with anything relating to education and find myself drawing on my experience with the children of Esperanza and of course closer to home !
We wish you all the very best for a great summer.
Penny and Murray
Gwen & Mags Update recently received into the SAMS office:
The weather has taken up much of the news here recently as the river has flooded and we have had lots of rain. Throughout the country people have had homes flooded and have had to move. In the Chacarita many have had to move up to higher land. In our Annexe school 64 families have had to move. Government agencies have been helping by supplying wood and corrugated iron for the roofs. They also send in chemical toilets but there aren’t very many for the number of people affected. Very near to our house the local plaza is now host to a good number of families. In school we have been collecting food and clothing to help the children and the families of the Annexe school. More rain is forecast for this week and some even predict El Niño’s return which could be disastrous. Many parts of the Chaco and other parts of the country are also badly affected.
On a more encouraging note we had a meeting for ex pupils from the Annexe school at the beginning of June. We held this one Saturday morning and over 20 turned up even though it was raining hard at the time. They were all so pleased to be back in school and thrilled with the new bathrooms. Pastor Donald spoke to them. It was encouraging to hear them and one boy was brave enough to stand up and admit he’d been involved in drugs but that the Lord had freed him. We hope to repeat these meetings monthly and they have been invited to the church youth camp in July. They all seemed quite eager for both things.
This seems to have been a very busy month in school and reports are due out next week. Some of the older ones have been hard to settle and the 6th form are planning their dance competition this week and then their trip to Cancun in the winter holidays. Likewise, the 15year olds are all planning their trip to Disney in the winter holidays. That, along with all their 15th birthday parties (grand affairs!), don’t make classes with them easy! We have had quite a lot of illness in school too, mainly coughs, colds and chest problems due to the cold and damp.
Please pray for our pupils as we see they tend to believe in Jesus but they struggle to let Him make a difference in their lives and to put Him first. Peer pressure and a busy social life don’t help here.
On Saturday we had our inter schools sports matches. We invited 12 other primary schools to our sports ground to play football and handball. The weather was fantastic; the sun came out, the sky was blue all day long and there was a slight breeze which meant the temperatures were also great. The Lord blessed us with a great day. Turn out for the day was also excellent with well over 1,000 people there. Mags was chief photographer and Gwen was counting points in the office. It was a long day but it went very well. The weather was amazing considering it hasn’t stopped raining since then.
Some of the older classes were due to go to the Chaco in the first week of July to dig latrines…but it has rained again! They really wanted to go to the Chaco as they haven’t been able to go for the last few years due to weather problems..(either rain or drought!)
The 5th Form organized a Prayer time for Arlan Fick. Everyone came in white Tshirts and held a white candle as representatives from each class prayed for his safe return. Arlan has been missing for 90days now and the ransom has been paid.
We have taken the service at church again this month and seem to have settled into the pattern of once a month. Our next one will be at the end of July. It’s been going well but our winter is the time when many foreigners finish contracts and return to the USA or other countries so we might see a diminished congregation soon. This Sunday we are having a farewell for someone returning to the UK.
Last week we were invited to the Queen’s birthday celebration here in Asuncion. The British embassy hosted it and it was a very nice evening and we were able to meet up with some ex pupils and ex parents there.
We are off to Atlanta, USA at the beginning of July for a conference which focusses on the management software that we use in school. We are into our 2nd year with it but we feel it could do so much more if we knew more about it. Four of us are going. We will miss the last week of school before the holidays. It finishes just as the winter holidays start so we have decided to stay on a week extra. We were only going to stay a few days extra but it would have cost more on flights to come back sooner so now we will also spend a few days in Miami…we had to change planes there anyway! We are looking forward to it as we had been wondering what we could do to celebrate a certain special birthday (Mags’)!!
Our animals are all fine. Splash, the puppy, is now 9 months old and very strong and strong willed but cuddly with it! He’s taken to eating books recently and also chews furniture so it’s been a battle with him. He’s full of energy and the others get cross with him every so often. So much so that even the Poppy, the oldest cat, has smacked him twice…that made him jump!!
Thankyou for all your support. Please keep praying.
God Bless and love from Gwen and Mags xx
Gwen & Mags Update recently received into the SAMS office:
It might officially still be Autumn but Winter weather has arrived. It came quite suddenly after months of heat. It meant a quick change of bedding to winter duvets and of clothes as out came the woollies. With it has come the coughs and colds that are affecting many of the kids at school. Some days we have up to 7 off in the infant class.
The beginning of the month was still warm and we enjoyed two days off to celebrate Worker’s day. Two weeks later that was followed by Independence day with 2 more days off. Whilst it’s great to have days off it gets us out of routine and the children take a while to settle back again. Independence Day was celebrated on May 14th and 15th. This meant we were back in school for the Friday which was strange. We used the day to celebrate Mother’s day and the mums were invited to breakfast. The kids had been allowed to put on little shows and the primary all wanted to do something. Sally Bartlett spoke first and then came the singing and dancing. It wasn’t the best due to lack of practice and it went on for too long…we’ve learned from that. Father’s day will be far more structured! That will take place in mid June.
Exams for the 6 to 15 year olds have also taken place and have now finished. The Ministry of Education excelled itself by reversing a previous decision yet again and decided we would go to two terms instead of three. This decision came out just as the kids were finishing their exams for the first term. The new ruling means exams should take place in June now! I think ours will be counted for June…we can’t put them all through it again!
Mags was due to go to the Chaco with some of the older pupils to dig latrines but they also had a lot of rain. They were flooded out in some areas and difficult to reach with flooded roads so that was postponed. They now plan to go at the end of June if the weather helps us.
The 5th form want to show support for Arlan Fick, the 16yr old who was kidnapped by a terrorist group in the North of the country. It is 57 days since he was taken. They are going to bring white ribbons for everyone to wear on their wrists and for the parents and staff to put on their cars to show support. Then next Friday they want everyone to wear white Tshirts and bring a white candle to have a special prayer time for him in our assembly. They hope that it will start other schools also to show support. It is Mags’ assembly on Friday. We are looking at the Names of God and it just happens to be “The Hope of Israel”. The kids are impressed that it has worked out since they wanted verses about hope for their prayers.
We have been taking the services in church once a month. It takes a lot of preparation but I think we gain from it almost as much as others. Our next one will be June 15th so we are already thinking of that. We’ve also both had assemblies to do.
We are both fit and well. Our puppy is growing fast and is very naughty but he’s also very cuddly so he wins everyone over! The lady who brought him put him into a dog show the other week and he won Best Puppy in show from an Argentine judge! …needless to say, it wasn’t for good behaviour!! Our oldest dog, Milly, isn’t very well at the moment and we aren’t really sure what’s wrong with her except she doesn’t want to eat. That in itself is most unusual!
Thankyou for your support. We really appreciate it.
God Bless and lots of love, Gwen and Mags xx
PS : Flooding in the Chacarita
Gwen was at the Annexe school today and Catalino, the head, told her about the flooding in the Chacarita which is affecting school families. 47 children have had to move, some to other family members, most into temporary wooden huts and one family to a food kitchen run by the big Pentecostal church. Catalino sent us some photos. The people put up the wooden huts with materials provided by the government. It is likely that two or three of the families will need help soon.