Gwen & Mags in Paraguay

Gwen & Mags Update recently received into the SAMS office:

Dear Friends,

It seems that Autumn has arrived as we have had some welcome low temperatures this last week. One morning we got up to 13ºC which made a nice change. We have also put our clocks back which means it is once more still light when we get up!

School has been busy but we have been able to get down to a lot of work so far…except for today! School is closed for the day as there is a general strike. Many people feared it would be violent. Roads are also blocked off although their efforts don’t appear to have been too effective! Anyway, with staff coming from far and wide we couldn’t risk opening school with the majority of staff unable to get in. We were also concerned for the children’s safety and know many parents wouldn’t send their children anyway. Even so, we did have a number of complaints about closing. Many other schools also closed.

The lower secondary managed to get away for camp the other week. The 7th and 8th grades went to our sports ground and camped in tents…until the rain came. Mags reckons the rain came just at the right time as they had the children playing games that left them very muddy so the rain managed to wash a lot of it off before they went for a shower. It was a very good camp and Pastor Ronnie and one of the teachers, Ariel, spoke on Noah. Mags came back saying how well it had gone apart from the lack of sleep!! 9th grade went to camp and climbed a hill where they had to cook their own food once on top. This involved a walk of 25kms altogether. Pastor Donald went there and again, spoke on the theme of Noah. That too was also a very good camp.

Last week we had our school anniversary service in which we also remembered our founder, Auntie Thea, who died in January. It was a lovely service and everyone seemed touched by it. The pupils listened well. Pastor Ronnie spoke on Zephaniah 3:17 which was the verse from Auntie Thea’s funeral. Ronnie spoke well with a great visual aid which involved a few of the children. It made them all laugh but he got his point over.

It’s been hard getting the secondary pupils to settle after the holidays. Many of them are not motivated to work hard as there are no national exams to pass to get to university. There are, of course, some who do work hard. The National University requires an admittance exam but many others just require fees! Many of our pupils know they’ll go to university and they’ll have a job afterwards which doesn’t urge them to work hard now! They also have an active social life and this also affects our school routine. The Ministry of Education doesn’t have a legal requirement of how many days the pupils attend school nor fines and punishments for those who miss school. Many of ours go off travelling in term time. We’d love you to pray for our secondary pupils, that they would settle and take school seriously and that they would know the Lord’s hand on their lives.

We were missing Munchie ( the dog who died in November) and this week we welcomed the new arrival. Splash, came all the way from Uruguay, brought by friends coming from Argentina. He’s now 6 months old and still finding his place in the family. I think he hoped to be the Alpha male but Viking has put paid to that!! He’s very sweet and cuddly and loves water…hence his name!

Well, we’ve had a very profitable day. Both of us have managed to get quite a lot of school work done and were glad of the time to do it. Mags is now baking with Splash tripping her up at every turn!

Thank you to everyone for all your support and prayers. They mean a lot to us.

God Bless, Love Mags and Gwen

Gwen & Mags in Paraguay

Gwen & Mags Update recently received into the SAMS office:

Dear Friends,

School is now well and truly underway! Our visit to the UK seems like ages ago! We started back in school the first week of February with just the staff for the first 10 days or so. We started our year with a service in the cathedral where Pastor Ronnie spoke about the fear of God being the beginning of wisdom.

After that it was all hands on deck to prepare the classrooms ready for the children and also for parents’ meetings. Before school started we had meetings for the infant, the new first grade and seventh grade parents. These all went well with the main question being, “How are we all going to get into school once they start to dig up the road?” Fortunately, we had a plan for this which involves going through the land round the chapel and the diocesan office and then taking a back route into school. Fortunately, this has gone well with many parents asking to continue this way once the road is finished. They seem to have finished digging up outside school now and are starting to fill in the holes but the dust in school has been awful. We have had many weeks with little rain making the dust worse. Yesterday we had a very big storm which has helped with the dust issue at least!

Gwen missed the start of the new term as she had a bad migraine the day before school started. She was still being sick by evening and so was taken into hospital and put on a drip. You can’t take chances in 40ºC as it is very easy to get dehydrated. Anyway, she was in hospital for 2 nights and so missed the first 2 days of school.

Mags had to carry on with the start of the school year. The 6th form came in well in the rain and we had our church service at the end of the first morning with Pastor Ronnie speaking about God’s word being a lamp. All the more appropriate as we nearly had to postpone the service because of a power cut. On the Monday we were both back in school and ready for full days. It’s always hard after a holiday and the pupils always find it hard to settle after being off for two and a half months. They are starting to settle now.

Mags is back with her maths classes and says the pupils seem to be settling and working well. She went to 6th form camp last week which was to prepare the 6th formers to lead on other camps during the year. It went very well.

Gwen is back with the infants and has 30 in the class. They are still very challenging and learning to sit still! One boy went into melt down the other day as he didn’t want to write his letters to fit into the space in the book; he wanted to do big letters and there was no convincing him. The same boy  decided he’d never eat another apple after hearing the story of Adam and Eve! Gwen is also in 5th grade 2 afternoons each week and enjoying the challenge of English grammar!!

Since the start of term we have had yet more parents’ meetings and they all seem to have gone well. The parents seem quite calm and happy with things. The 5th and 6th grades are out at camp now until Friday 28th. They went in the rain but it should be warming up.

We came back to school to find our science teacher announcing he was going back to the USA. It wasn’t a good time as the timetable was all finished and now would have to be altered again. The physics teacher also said he was unable to come. We asked another teacher in school to take physics and she was happy with that, but it’s taken a number of interviews to find a science teacher that could cope with books in English and be a Christian also. We now have a full staff and the timetable has been sorted out yet again!

The storm yesterday was very bad and many people couldn’t get across the city because of flooding on the roads ( like the UK?!). We couldn’t get out of the house for a while as the water from various streets meets in front of our house and then goes down a huge drain. It was under our gate and heading up the drive so we waited for it to go down ….  as did many others in school. Still, it made for a nice, cool night with temperatures around 17ºC  which made a pleasant change from 40ºC and more. I think this month has been one of the hottest ever with most days being over 40ºC.

We are both fit and well. Our animals are in fine fettle too and there is the promise of a puppy in the next few weeks( we hope). He has to come from Uruguay and so is dependent on who can bring him!! Again, it’s through friends that we are given these dogs.

Many thanks for all your support and prayers. They are much appreciated.

God Bless and lots of love,

Gwen and Mags xxx



Gwen & Mags in Paraguay

Gwen & Mags Update recently received into the SAMS office:

Dear Friends,

Greetings from Paraguay! We’re now back in the heat after about 29 hours of travel (from door to door) and are still unpacking and sorting things out. We came back to an enthusiastic greeting from our dogs. The cats were less enthusiastic but seemed pleased to see us. Olga and her son were there to welcome us back home after they had stayed in our house for 6 weeks and looked after the animals.

Our journey back wasn’t uneventful!! We landed in New York a bit later than we should and this left us very little time to pass immigration (even though we were only in transit), and to collect our luggage and deposit it for further flights. We were given a pass to rush us through but nothing could speed up the slow arrival of our bags! Anyway, we finally made it to the security check and they rushed us through and off we set at a race to the gate. It was quite a long way and we were relieved the plane was still there when we arrived. They asked for our passports and it was then that Mags realized she’d left hers in security, probably in the bin used to pass objects through the machine. They told her she had 10 minutes to go back for it then the gate closed. Gwen didn’t think the distance was possible to cover in 10 minutes but off she set. Meanwhile Gwen was trying to decide what they could do if they were stranded so she was most surprised to see Mags back with passport and the plane still there. We reckoned she must have managed the 4 minute mile!! The rest of the journey was plain sailing. However, when we arrived in Asuncion there was no one to meet us. Gwen had sent messages but no one had picked up their mail. In the end we rang and the school driver was sent for us. It gave us time to catch our breath, get a drink and get used to the heat again.

We enjoyed visiting our link churches and were very encouraged by them. Thank you to everyone who looked after us and gave us such a warm welcome. It was great to meet old friends and to get to know new folks too. We are very grateful for all the support and prayers from you all.

The Lord was very good to us in our time away and we felt very blessed by so many things. One of these was the weather. We had gone dreading snow and frost, especially if we had to drive. The weather, although wet, was great for us and made our travel so much easier. We spent a few days over in Northern Ireland meeting with folks from the SAMS office. It was lovely to be there and they spoiled us and arranged for us to meet many of the people we have worked with over the years. It was very special to meet up with old friends again.

Both of us were able to spend time with family again. Gwen met her new one week old great nephew and her 18 month old great niece as well as spending time with the rest of the family. Mags spent time with her 3 nephews and her family too. She met her new “great nephew” as well.

We ‘re slowly getting our house sorted out and are busy clearing out cupboards etc. School starts next week for the staff and we’ll start with a service on Tuesday. Meanwhile the water board have decided to dig the whole road up in front of school. We knew this was planned but they had promised they would do it December/ January. The whole road is now impassable and that means our school entrance is very difficult to get to even by walking! They say it will only take a month but we’ve heard that before. It’s going to be a very difficult start to the school year as access won’t be easy and parking impossible. Classes start again on the 13th of February and it will probably be chaotic as the parents try to find the best way to get into school.

Last year was a very difficult year in school for many reasons but we know that the Lord carried us through and we praise Him for His faithfulness. So we enter this new school year not knowing what lies ahead but trusting in the One who has it all planned out for us and goes before us.

Thanks again, for all your encouragement and prayers,

God Bless,

Love Gwen and Mags xx

Esperanza Foster Home

Greetings! At the beginning of 2014 we want to thank you for your involvement in the Esperanza Foster Home project in Paraguay – and of course wishing you every blessing for the year ahead.

The beginning of 2013 was difficult for the Esperanza Project as Juana, the main foster mum, had decided to move on and it was no easy task finding her replacement. However, with a strong recommendation from one of the

Anglican school mums, Inocencia was taken on in the middle of the year. She has had a number of helpers as, with the economy picking up and there being more job opportunities than there used to be, and working with young children being seen as a low status sort of job, filling posts with suitable staff is not easy. Prayers for this would be much appreciated.

There has recently been a change of government in Paraguay with a different political party in power. This meant that many of the key contacts in the State Adoption Centre were replaced and Esperanza needed to sign a new agreement with them. This was achieved in June after much frustration, and 2 year old twin girls, F and F, arrived soon afterwards. They were very serious initially but are now much more happy and confident. We are awaiting news of a hearing with their birth mother which will dictate whether they can return to her care or may be adopted.

In October, 4 year old M arrived with severely delayed development and malnutrition. Through the contacts of one of the Esperanza leadership team, free medical insurance for all the Esperanza children has been offered and this was a real blessing for M who saw a top neurologist. He was amazed at the difference in M after just a month in the Esperanza home. Initially he was not making eye contact, responding to his name or able to say any words. But with loving care and stimulation he is now a different child, laughing and enjoying physical contact. Those who saw the change in him described it as miraculous and his case epitomises what the Esperanza project is all about. M’s paperwork has now come through and he has gone to live with future adoptive parents, a nurse and a teacher/youth worker who would seem pretty ideal! Meanwhile, the ladies have just welcomed 2 new siblings of 3 and 1 into the home.

We are delighted that Esperanza is still able to help Paraguayan children in this way. A recent article in the press stated that there are currently 1600 children known to be in institutions awaiting judicial decisions about their future. Social Services are convinced that a family fostering model is by far the best option for these children but there are very few families or homes like Esperanza where they can place them.

So THANK YOU for all the support you have given. If you would like to make a further donation to Esperanza, or set up or change a standing order, then please do contact us as this is easily done through our friends in SAMS UK and Ireland.

Murray and Penny Metcalfe


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