Showing posts from 2005

Home ministry

We arrived home on the 28th November after managing to change our tickets to leave ten days early. Eileen's mum has contined to have health problems and was again in hospital last week with severe internal bleeding. We continue to pray for her health to improve. It was good to get back home a little early and be able to support the family during a difficult time. We also will be visiting some of our link churches over the next six weeks to talk about our work in Paraguay. As well we will be at the SAMS Ireland conference this year on the 13th January. If you are able make this we will see you there.

President passes by

I realized today that the president of Paraguay, Nicanor Duarte, drives past our house everyday. I was walking to school this morning for our Monday early prayer meeting, at 6.45am, when he drove past in his cavalcade. Ten minutes later the troops in uniform, flak jackets and rifles are picked up by a cattle truck style toop carrier. As he passes so often I'll have to start waving. It's also commendable the time he starts work everyday.

Eileen's mum in hospital

Eileen's mum was admitted to hospital yesterday with a possible stroke. Please pray for family back in Northern Ireland and us here in Asuncion. We are awaiting results of a brain scan to confirm diagnosis.

Remembrance Sunday Service

The Remembrance Sunday Service went really well. It is one of the most popular Sunday services here as many expats see it still connects them to the UK. Some of them with long ties to St. Andrew's church had family members from Paraguay who fought and died for the British in the Second World War. Having so many visitors it gives us a chance to reach out and welcome those who do not normally come to church. For the first time in 5 years the weather was good, we did not have torrential rain. We were able to have refreshments and chat outside in the sunshine.

Child minder's last day

After six years of looking after our children Diana is moving on. Friday was her last day with our kids. She started looking after Elijah when he was a baby of just 8 months and has been with us almost every day we have been here in Paraguay. She helped Eileen when little Hannah was born, and has really been a part of the family that we love and trust over the years. Diana has just got a full time job to give her office experience while she continues her faculty course in Administration. From next February both children will be in school a full day. Both children are growing up...

Exams and the end of the year

November sees exam time in St. Andrew's College Asunción. In secondary the students are in the middle of their international GCSEs and primary exams start on Friday. Elijah is busy revising, and he is only in 1st grade (Primary 2). There is a heavy load of exams in the Paraguayan school system. I'm writing and marking exams and normal classes end next week. Eileen is building up to the end of the year events in pre-primary. She has practices everyday for the Christmas play. Hannah is taking part in this and enjoys singing to us after school everyday. We are also gearing up for our home ministry trip during December and January. We'll be visiting our link churches and spending time with family and friends. I'm currently working on the Powerpoint presentation you'll see when we visit your church. We're really looking forward to getting home to see everyone again. Sunday is Remembrance Sunday which is a big event for the expat community here. Many Engli

National Taiwan College of Physical Education in Asuncion

Last night we went to a spectular evening of Chinese dance and acrobatics. The National Taiwan College of Physical Education came and the students did some fantastic dances and physical feats - juggling, contorsions, unicycling acrobatics. I didn't bring a camera but here is a picture of the same dancers.

Parents' Sports Evenings

Last Thursday and Friday the school held a Parents Sports tournament. There were footballs and volleyball tournaments with the parents playing for their children's coloured team. Great fun was had bey everyone who took part and money was raised for more repairs on the Cubas school. Also the staff member who was shot is recovering after an operation to remove the bullet from his thigh.

St. Andrew's Staff member shot

Last night a member of St. Andrew's maintenance staff was shot when riding home on his motorbike. Some teachers and staff members had just been to the Paraguay vs. Columbia World Cup qualifier. Teofolo was on his way home to a town several miles out of Asunción when someone shot him as he passed by. They were attempting to steal his bike. At the moment he is in hospital having an operation to remove the bullet from his thigh. Please pray and thank God that it was not worse and the operation will be simple and without complications.

Hot weather returns

It's extremely hot here today, the official temperature is 38C. That is recorded at the airport which is outside the city. It's probably nearly 40 where we are. At this time of the year the sun is extremely brilliant too. The tropical summer is approaching.

TrewsNews October 2005

Our latest newsletter has just been published on-line.  Please download a copy and print it out.  If you would like to subscribe to the email list to receive the prayer letter go to to and click the 'Join this Group' link above the photo.

Choir result and flooded roads

The school did not come first or second in the choir competition. The children really enjoyed it however, and felt they did well just to take part in a competition of very high standard. We went in our new car on Saturday morning and ended up driving through foot deep floods! Torrential rain and poor storm drains meant the water was up to the chassis. We survived without breaking down but managed to get a bit lost and a 15 minute journey ended up taking 1 hour!

SAMS Ireland website

SAMS Ireland have a new website and logo. Please have a look

Choir competition

Tonight there is a national schools' choir competition in Asunción and Eileen is conducting a primary choir from our school. Last year when they entered the same competition they came third. Eileen had a bit of a surprise when she turned up at the large Concordia church to find a thousand people and a grand piano on the stage! At least she knows what to expect this year.

Getting busy

The end of the school year here seems to start in September. Three months before the actual end of the year. It begins with Sports Days. It was Hannah's last week, Elijah has his on Friday. Yesterday it was Secondary's turn in the school sports grounds 20 miles outside the city centre. It was a beautiful sunny day and a perfect day for sports. Also starting this week are the IGCSE Exam practicals. Both international and Paraguayan exams continue until the end of November. It's a very long exam period. Eileen is practising with some primary children for a choir competition in a couple of weeks and gearing up for Christmas performances too. Then she has end of year reports to being to write. She has also been involved in a Purpose Driven Life group that the school is going to provide for parents soon. Last week our school also helped to repair and paint a local state school. Many of the young people and children went down dressed in old clothes and go

Painting Cubas school

Last week our school also helped to repair and paint a local state school. Many of the young people and children went down dressed in old clothes and got stuck in painting the Cubas School. It was one of the most dilapidated school buildings you would ever see. After a day's painting by everyone it was restored and the principal said it was better than new. They had a thanks giving service yesterday. Here are some photos Before painting After painting Elijah helping with painting

A little update

The good news is Eileen's mum is now out of hospital. After a week the doctors finally managed to sort the problem out. This week saw exams in secondary and the run up to the end of the year in school beginning. I've spent days marking exams and Eileen has started initial preparations for her Christmas plays. It's sports days soon with Hannah's tomorrow - always an excellent event when it's 4 years olds enjoying their races. We also booked our flights home for Christmas and New Year. We'll be visiting SAMS link churches and going to the SAMS Ireland conference which we are very much looking forward to having the opportunity to attend this year.

Please pray

Eileen's mum was rushed by ambulance to hospital yesterday with massive internal bleeding. She was stabilized and has several blood transfusions. The doctors will investigate the cause of the bleeding after the weekend. Needless to say it was a bit of a shock to get this news, so please pray for Eileen's mum (also called Eileen) and the rest of the family.

Family photo

Family photo Originally uploaded by stephentrew . Here is a photo of us outside church in August 2005.

The Weather and more visitors

Paraguay has some dramatic changes in weather during winter. Last Friday it was 38 Celsius, it dropped to 24 on Saturday and 14 degrees on Monday. This morning there was frost and it was 4 degrees. We have two jumpers and a fleece on and it still feels cold. Last Friday we wore shorts and T-Shirt. Some more visitors from Northern Ireland arrived last Friday (and commented how hot it was!). They are now freezing in Conception with our SAMS Ireland colleagues, Claire and Alison. Among the visitors is Hannah Collins. She is a great friend who worked with Eileen in preschool for a year. She returned to Ireland in February 2004 when her dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer. This is her first time back in Paraguay since then. She went up with the team to Conception on Friday and is coming to stay with us later tonight. It will be great to catch up. Secondary exams started yesterday so there is a large pile of maths papers I need to mark.

Link church visit

We're in the middle of two weeks winter holiday. Long overdue as the last term in school was 15 weeks without a break! Despite the holiday last week was one of 7am rises - because the landlord is repairing the leaky roof. Our prayers are answered. Hopefully our trouble with housing is over. Also this week we have a team visiting from a link church - Knockbreda Parish in Belfast. Eighteen months ago when we visited them we told them of opportunities to visit Pararguay and work with the church here. So they decided to send a team out. They are restoring a church building on the outskirts of the city and have come to see where we work. They came to church today and helped take the service. It's really great to have people from home to spend time with. We're hoping to get out to them this week and see what they have been up to. Here are some photos. Building work at an Anglican church in Zeballous Cue   The children's club Children's club.

Students pray for school

Today during assembly we challenged the students to 'Choose today who you will serve' Josh 24:15. We asked them to decide to commit themselves to follow Christ and for it to make a difference to their lives in school. We asked those who wanted to commit more to Christ to come and pray in the school patio at 1:30 during lunch time. Thirty students from several classes came along and we all prayed for each other and for the school. They want to keep praying every Friday for the school and teachers. This was an amazingly encouraging and exciting development! Some of the other teachers said we may be breaking new ground.

Skin Cancer pathology results

Good news today, I do not have skin cancer after all. Dr. Mihm, the skin cancer specialist spent Saturday with Dr Bachetta and they examined the biopsy. It turns out to be a minor skin condition that affects 1 person in a 100. The surgeon wants to remove a slightly larger area of skin and that should be it dealt with.

Friends moving on

Today in church we had three families leave. They are moving on to other parts of the world with their jobs. It was a time to reflect and for them to share how their lives had changed over the two years they had been with us. It was amazing actually. Jeff and Maria are moving onto Switzerland. Jeff shared how he had really come to a serious commitment to Christ. He had done an Alpha course last year and it really spurred him onto to reading his Bible daily and taking his faith seriously. They are looking for an Anglican church in Zurich now. Jeff and Maria Christine is moving back to London. She said how she had initially come simply for social contract with English speakers. Now she is leaving with a real sense of commitment and has made contact with a Christian group in her new job and wants to do an Alpha course pretty soon. It was all very encouraging. What have we learnt through this? Being a friend is the most important thing in sharing you faith. Being natural an

International Exams

This evening was the St. Andrew's College Asuncion prize giving for international exams. Our school is the only one in Paraguay that offers international GCSE and AS level exams from the Cambridge University International Exam Board. So it was quite an occasion for the students who were obtaining their certificates. Christine Winterbun, the Charge d' Affairs from the British Embassy, was the guest of honour. It was her last official engagement for the embassy which is now sold. There will be no more British diplomats here after she leaves next Monday. The highlight of the night were two ex-students who returned from studying in the UK and USA. I taught computer Studies to Guillermo in 2001. He's now a majoring in Computer Animation at a university in Florida. They said how much they valued the international education they got in St. Andrew's and how helpful it was to them in their studies. It was nice to hear students appreciate what we do. St. Andrew's ex

Last offical embassy event in Asuncion

On Monday evening we went to the last official embassy event in Asunción.  The British government announced last year the embassy would close to save money.  It was in the Ambassador's residence that has a big for sale sign outside and furniture borrowed for the evening.  The house is normally empty as the ambassador moved on in April and all the furniture is gone.  It was an opportunity to meet the Honorary Consul and our new Diplomatic representatives from Buenos Aires, who now have charge over Asunción. It was actually a very nice evening, the food was excellent.  It's a shame the embassy will no longer be here to pay for the occasional buffet dinner. 

Pathology results

I got the pathology results yesterday and they are not sure what the results mean! They recommended that an expert pathologist, Dr. Martin Mihm from the USA, who is visiting Paraguay on June 25th, has a look at it. Not sure if that is good news or not.

Skin cancer surgery

4:58 pm I'm sitting in the waiting room of Dr Bachetta, the plastic surgeon who removed my skin cancer last Friday. It was a straightforward procedure, a quick local anathestic and 15 minutes on the table and that was it. He will have biopsy results I think. To see a consultant here is pretty easy. You just need to ring up their private clinic and make an appointment. All you need to have is the money to afford treatment - $150 to have skin cancer removed. Our school has health insurance which covers general hospital visits, but your average Paraguayan struggles to find the money to see the doctor or buy medicines. Often people are begging in the streets because their child needs medicine. The daughter of members of our church recently had twins 12 weeks premature, they needed a week of neonatal intensive care - at £2000 a day! Hearing figures like that make you thankful for the National Health Service we have in Northern Ireland. 6:14 pm Dr said it is healing well, but no patholog

British Community

On Sunday we went to a British Community Open House dinner. The British Community in Asunción is made up of a mix of old school ex-pats and a new breed of younger (less than 60) families on contracts. The best-seller 'At The Tomb of the Inflatable Pig', gave a colourful caricature of some of the more eccentric ex-pats. Many of them were there on Sunday. We used not to go to these events, but with more families around these days we feel a bit more comfortable. In fact, the invitation mentioned there would be a bouncy castle, and because of that we went. With a six year old and three year old, child entertainment is a priority at these things. I met a larger than life guy called Pete. He'd retired 6 months ago to Paraguay with his Paraguayan wife. He said he was totally non religious, but I invited him along to our small group anyway. I told him it was fine to be non religious in the small group setting, in fact you can ask any question you like no matter

The return of the Irish

Yesterday we dropped Denis and Andrew off at the airport for their return to Irish soil. We managed to spend more time with them than we first thought, thanks to the generosity of our school principal who gave us time off school. On Thursday I went with them to a community way across the Paraguay River called Remansito. It used to be a shanty town but has matured over the years and now has brick built homes with the occasional shack. We saw the new Anglican church in Remansito which various teams from Ireland and England have built over the last three years. It was really good to see the finished church. I'll try to get some photos on-line soon. Then on Tuesday Eileen was able to visit Zeballous Cue with them. This is where a team from Ireland will visit in July and do some construction work for the church there. It is also a poorer area on the fringes of the city. It is a community badly affected by the supermarket fire in Asunción last year. It goes without sa

Franklin Graham

Press reports here say there were 40,000 people at the Franklin Graham Festival of Hope each night. On Saturday 60,000 children and families went to a large youth event.

Irish visitors

Our 'boss' arrived today! We'll not really, Denis Johnston is the secretary of SAMS Ireland . He does have overall responsibility for SAMS Ireland staff though. An old friend Andrew Forster also is visiting, he was Church of Ireland chaplin at Queen's University Belfast when I worked there. Great to see him again. We're having dinner later. It was a bit of an adventure getting them from the airport. I was to use the Bishop's pickup to get them and thought I'd get it a early, it was well I did. It had a flat battery and needs to be push started, twice! Then it was low on fuel and because of the another power cut this morning none of the petrol stations had working pumps (welcome to the developing world!). But it was without mishap and I picked them up without hitch at the airport. Another thing starting today is the Festival de Esperanza with Franklin Graham - son of Billy. A massive evangelical campaign that aims to fill the national football sta

Darkness descends

It's been a busy week this one. We are looking after two boys for a week, their mum has returned to the UK to sort out a new house and school for them when they return to the UK in July. Elijah and Hannah get on with them very well and things have been swimming along nicely, no problems. But by the end of each day we are pretty exhausted and going to bed early. This evening was our second week of the small group - Christianity Explored. Again it was a good meeting. Everyone was very open about where they are at spiritually and hopefully they will feel comfortable to come back and open up some more next week. Just after everyone went home there was a nation wide power cut, the whole country was plunged into darkness. We could not see a thing in the house and did that thing where you use your mobile phone as a torch, to find a proper torch. The sky outside was fantastic, a beautiful starry night. Something we never see because of the light pollution. The Milky Way was very

Small Group

On Wednesday we had our first small group meeting of the year. It was a good night. A mix of those who had done the Alpha Course last year and some new ones. We shared a meal and got to know each other better. Based on the group we decided to do a course called Christianity Explored , which is similar to Alpha. It allows those interested in Christianity to ask questions and explore what the Bible says about Jesus. It felt really good to have a small group up and going again. We believe being part of a small group is an essential thing for any member of a church. After our experience with Alpha we learnt the informal setting that allows seekers to ask any question is a wonderful thing. We're looking forward to the weeks ahead and sharing more about Jesus to our friends.

Winter arrives

In the southern hemisphere winter is from April to September, and don't we know it today! It's absolutely freezing! Actually its not, it's 14C but with a stiff wind making it feel about 6C. But when it was 36C last Thursday it feels really cold. So we are all in our winter woollies and the blankets are coming out for the beds tonight. It's also the season for colds and sniffles. Hannah was off 3 days last week with a fever. Then on Friday she came out in spots and we were sure it was Measles. So we whisked her off to the doctor but it tuned out to be just the virus she had coming out in spots with the heat. They have quickly gone with the wind, the freezing breeze. The next day, Saturday, Elijah was at the doctor with an ear infection. Then yesterday I lost my voice. I'm so croaky now I should be a bar maid in Corrination Street. I'm just about to go into 9th year maths, the loudest class in the school. So a wee test was just photocopied

Alpha Course

We have had significant interest in the Alpha Course recently. So much so that we are going to start another within a couple of weeks. So pray for people to come and make committments over the next three months.

TrewsNews - April 2005

Our latest prayer letter was sent out today. You can print it off and stick it up on your prayer fridge. We went to a local shopping centre this afternoon only to find it in darkness and all the shops shut. There was a power cut as a transformer in a street nearby had exploded. All the street lights around were in total darkness. Power cuts like this are not infrequent. Last year there was an outage that cut power to the entire country for about 4 hours. Also phoned the dermatologist today, but he does not have the liquid nitrogen to remove the skin cancer. Delayed for 2 weeks.

Skin Cancer

I went to the doctor today and he told me I had skin cancer. It's a very mild form, Basal Cell Carcinoma , and easily treatable. Still it's a bit of a shock when you're told you have cancer, even if it is mild. I have a month's immunotherepy and then the dermatologist will remove it with cryosurgery - freeze it off with liquid nitrogen.

Valentine's Day and School starts

Valetines Day! I had ordered perfume from the UK and had it was a wee surprise for Eileen today. Later I found it on sale in our local supermarket!! Bizzare. Also it is the first day of the school year today. Back to the fun of teaching IT and Maths in English to Spanish speaking students. Hannah starts the second year of preschool and Elijah starts 1st grade - the first year of primary. They seem happy to be back.

Travelogue - Florianopolis

A few days ago we returned to Asuncion from Florianopolis via Foz do Iguacu. We had a nice time in Santa Catarina island - a top tourist resort island in southern Brazil. Excellent sea food especially. Fisherman landing their catch, Santa Catarina Eileen's parents return home tomorrow and it has been great having them here during January. It is the hottest time of the year at the moment but we have been spared with temperatures only in the high 30s. Apparently it had been well in the 40s the week we were in Brazil. in a few weeks time school starts again so until then we plan to enjoy spending some time getting the house and garden in shape.

Travelogue - Coach travel

4:06 am Travelling by coach can be a bummer sometimes. We had arranged the coach from Curitiba to Florlianopolis for Friday at 11:15 pm. We turned up at this time only to find we had been booked on the bus that left two days before. They let us on anyway when they checked there were enough seats. What we thought was going to be a 7 hour journey turned out to be only 4, so we are going to arrive in Florianopolis in the middle of the night. 8:27 pm We arrived in Flori at 3:30 am! We spend a dreary 3 hours sitting doing nothing - it added up to a full night without sleep. At 6:15 we taxied to our holiday apparments hoping someone would be there to let us in. We arrived only to be told it would not be ready until 2 pm - in 6 hours time, and we'd had no sleep all night, and were unwashed in 24 hours. The lesson I learnt? Call ahead a day or two before to check arrangements. There was nothing we could do but make the best of it, so we got the bus back to Flori, and spent a nice

Travelogue - Curitiba

We're on holiday. We arrived in Curitiba yesterday after a 17 hour bus journey from Asuncion. We came on the Pluma coach from Asuncion - Pluma is by far the best coach company we have used. It was the Cama (sleeping) service which was extremely comfortable and an easy way to cover the 17 hours. We're staying in the Hotel Del Rey which is a very nice hotel and reasonably priced for one dead in the centre of the city. We were blown away by the shopping in Brazil, it's just like a european city. You see how poor Paraguay is when you compare Asuncion to Curitiba. Curitiba apparently has one of the best public transport systems in the world the guide book says. There are these cylinder like bus shelters and super effecient various coloured buses everywhere. Curitiba centre


We're in the house two weeks now. There are only a few small leaks! The first time it rained we noticed a few drips, but nothing major, the and landlord said he will sort it out. The builder's rubble has been transformed into gardens front and rear after the purchase of grass and some plants. Christmas was spent with some friends of Eileen. We did have turkey and Christmas pudding, but 35 celsisus made it a different not so much in the bleak mid winter. For New Year we had Eileen's parents to visit and invited some friends for food and fireworks. We're going to Brazil for ten days holiday starting the 5th of January Lots of love, Stephen, Eileen, Elijah and Hannah