Showing posts from 2006

The end of the year approaches

The last month in St. Andrew's has seen Eileen and I busy with end of year preparations and exams. The international GCSEs are in full swing with my students taking Maths and IT exams. Eileen is busily writing reports and organizing practices for her Christmas plays. It's been a bumpy ride for us as Eileen's mum has been in and out of hospital over the last couple of months and has been diagnosed with Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis ( NASH ). She will need a liver transplant in the next 12-24 months. The stress of dealing with this at times was very difficult, but we're glad a rough period seems to be over for the time being. With the end of the school year approaching and Christmas on the horizon we are doing some Christmas preparations and the children are starting to get into the spirit. We dug out the Nativity set and Hannah is having great fun recreating the cattle shed scene many times over. It's hard to believe another year is almost done, time flies.

Spring Break

We we're back to school after a week's spring break. We had a short holiday in Buenos Aires which was excellent. Some pictures are in our online photo album . The week before the holidays was one full of activities. Primary had sports day, you can see Elijah doing long jump, and secondary had youth day as well as sports day. All the students really got into the spirit of it all and it was a great week. Next Monday is the start of the IGCSE IT practicals. My students are practicing hard and a little nervous about their first exam. I'm sure they'll be fine though.

Anniversary Photos

The chaco trip was great. It was amazing to see a church in so remote a part of the world celebrate 100 years. The old man in the first photo is holding a 1911 Bible in Exlet. This version is incomplete and is being revised by a SAMS mission partner - Tim Curtis. The inside of Makxawaya church was decorated with baloons and tinsel(!). It was good to see many of the local community turned up to celebrate this special service.  

Makxawaya church


100th anniversary of the Anglican church in Paraguay

Next Sunday sees the 100th anniversary of the first Anglican church in Paraguay. Special services will be held in the remote village of Makxawaya in the Paraguayan Chaco. At 4:30 in the morning we'll be catching the bus for the 5 hour journey to the middle of nowhere! There'll be a church service and a barbecue lunch. Then it's back on the bus for another 5 hour journey home. Should be very interesting. Some photos hopefully next week.

Photos of the prayer room

Here are some photos of the prayer room used for the 24-7 Prayer. The first is the lower floor with a comfortable chair and world map, and the other is the prayer wall - were everyone could be creative in their prayers. Update - the 24-7 prayer was amazing! We carried on for 2 full weeks of solid prayer 24 hours a day. This is very worthwhile doing in your church.

24-7 Prayer

This week we're taking part in a prayer marathon - non-stop prayer for 24 hours over 7 days. The Spanish speaking congregation have converted a room in the cathedral into a special prayer room with comfortable seating and things to help focus our prayers. It is part of a worldwide 24-7 prayer initiative , and 16 groups worldwide praying at this time. Members of the Spanish congregation, English congregation and pupils from the school are all taking part to pray for Paraguay, our churches, school and needs worldwide. Eileen took a turn this morning and found it really rewarding. Both of us have more slots later in the week. There has been a fantastic response with all the hour long slots being filled each day. We look forward to hearing how it develops.

Strange winter

This winter has been a strange one. We'd hardly had any cold weather at all, temperatures stayed in the mid 30s through all of July. Then last week it dropped, we had 4 degrees in the mornings and the maximum was 13. This week it is back to 36. This is more like mid summer weather temperatures. Last Saturday Eileen had the toy library again and 50 children came along to play with good educationally stimulating toys - something they would never get the chance to anywhere else. The children who come are street children, they get a shower and some breakfast then have time to play. They just love it. In church we are planning some shared lunches, aiming to invite some new teachers who recently came to the American school. Then later we hope to have another Alpha course. We pray we might make the contacts and be able to invite new people to church and the course.

Back to work

It was back to work yesterday. We had two great weeks holiday with some fine people. Last night was a bar-be-be-que for all the Project Paraguay teams, nearly all from Northern Ireland. We met some folk who had been in Concepcion, like Rachel and Noel from Donegal and Diane and Debbie from Derryloran.

Time with the teams

We have been having great craic with Hannah Collins and her lot from Dollingstown. They took the entire service on Sunday to give us a break, and excellent they were too. We've been cooking for them sometimes in the evenings and having such a laugh. We also went out to see the other group from St. Marks Parish Portadown, they are building a retreat centre about 30 miles outside Asunción. It's an isolated rural location (the middle of nowhere), and they seem to be suffering from food poisoning a bit and severe mossie bites. But the work they are doing is fantastic.

Varig troubles

A few days ago a group of 30 arrived from Northern Ireland, only 3 of their cases arrived! While they are all here Varig, the Brazilian airline they travelled on is in collapse . All the Varig flights have been cancelled and the team had an 18 hour wait in Sao Paulo trying to get another flight. Virtually any flight arriving into Asuncion has had luggage delayed by 24 hours. Great fun when you are going 500km north with only the clothes you arrived in!

Visitors from Ireland

The winter break starts on Monday 10th. We really need it. It's been a 13 week term and pretty busy with school and church to organize. We're looking forward to these holidays. Lots of people are coming out from Ireland over the next three weeks. Today sees our good friend Hannah Collins arrive with a team from her church, St. Saviours. They will be working for two weeks doing a children's holiday club and painting a mural on a foster home run by friends of ours. Other groups are coming our with Project Paraguay to work on building projects, children's clubs and medical work in Concepcion and an area outside Asuncion. It will be great to have some more Northern Irish accents around the place.

Paraguay out of the world cup

Sweden 1 -0 Paraguay.  We are out of the world cup.   Very subdued atmosphere here, everyone hoped they would do better. 

June 2006 TrewsNews Prayer letter

Our latest prayer letter has just been put online. We appreciate your prayers for our work in Asuncion. Please print it out and stick it on your prayer fridge. You can click on image below to download it in PDF format.

World Cup photos - 10 June

The Paraguay v England match on Saturday saw everyone glued to their televisions. The Paraguayans were dissapointed they did not at least draw with England as they played well in the second half. The English were dissapointed they did not play better. On Friday we took a photo and sent it to the BBC World Cup website. They published it : BBC SPORT | Football | World Cup 2006 | Your World Cup photos - 10 June

World Cup starts

At this moment the students are all in the assembly hall watching the start of of the World Cup 2006. Excitement is building here as tomorrow sees the England vs Paraguay match. Paraguayans are totally mad about football - the shopping centres will be packed with people watching it on the big screen. The BBC are in town and a number of English friends will likely be on Match of the Day tonight, they like to film the ex-pats abroad. I'll post some photos when I get a chance.

Funeral of Esmerelda

It was the funeral of Esmerelda today. First we went to the Memorial Funeral Home where her coffin had been since yesterday. Funerals here are the day after the death and many of her family and friends had not gone home at all. Then we followed the hearse on a 45 minute journey out of Asuncion to a large modern cemetery. Many of the families and students from our school where there along with students from another school she'd taught in. It was quite an emotional funeral, many of her family were in floods of tears and crying out or wailing. Being buried the next day the grief is short lived, but intense. They reckon she died of a pulmonary embolism - she'd had a broken foot and a blood clot caused a heart attack. It was totally unexpected. She was a faithful Christian and not married, so we all take comfort that she is now in heaven. The photo of her was taken at the Franklin Graham Children's festival 2005 at which she was a dancer.

St. Andrew's teacher dies

When we arrived at school today we heard one of our teachers had died of a heart attack. Prof Esmerelda taught home economics, she was 37.

Video of the Chaco Trip

Here is a little video of the students' trip.

Chaco trip photos

Here are some photos of the Chaco trip. This trip of final year students followed one of 1st year students (5th form) earlier in the week. They started digging the water storage well beside the church in Santa Fe community, the guys in our team carried on the digging to about 2 metres. The ground was very hard and digging was pretty hard work. We broke a pick axe and a shovel trying to remove the earth. Some of the local community will finish the digging to 3 metres and then line the inside walls with bricks. Guttering will direct rainwater from the church roof into the well. This water provides a clean source of water for the dry season - it will not evaporate and being covered reduces the risk from the Dengue mosquito that breads in open water. The girls painted the classrooms of the local school and it provides a really bright and stimulating environment for the children. The community was very appreciative of the help and it is good to think that the work the students did wi

To the Chaco

The school trip to the Chaco sets off early tomorrow morning. On this camp we are going to dig a well to store water during the dry season. This evening it's a trip to the supermarket to buy some toilet roll, mossie repellent, and batteries. There are lots if mossies, spiders and snakes at the minute! It's also a chance to encourage the young people to make real commitments to Christ, so please pray for us.

A Long Weekend

Yesterday was Labour Day, a day off, so we had a fun day at home filled with painting, dressing up, lego building, Horrid Henry books, Angelina Ballerina books, microwave popcorn (sen't from home!) and the new Wallace and Gromit movie! (cost: £9.50 in Asuncion). Elijah spent the day scared to go up the stairs in case the were-rabbit was there! Today was back to normal school with Stephen starting to prepare for a school trip to the Chaco next week. The weather has turned cold so the duvets and jumpers are bact out in force.

Update on Zeballous Cue

Last July a team from Ireland came out to visit us and start work on a church extension at Zeballous Cue, an Anglican Parish on the outskirts of Asuncion. It was a community that suffered much in the Supermarket fire disaster in 2004. The extension was recently finished. The team were delighted to see the finished results of the work they helped to start.

Back from Easter holiday

We started back to school after a week's holiday. We had a very relaxing week that included a fishing trip where we actually caught one. Easter Sunday was good. The highlight was the kid’s illustration. We have a hollow stone that kind of looks like a tomb and it was used as a display at the front of church. Using a Playmoboil figure as Jesus we rolled toilet paper around it to represent the burial clothes. Just before placing Jesus wrapped body in the tomb I slipped the figure out. Hannah, being one of the women, came forward first to look in the tomb. She looks in, then turns and announces totally spontaneously, "He is not here, he is alive!". The boys came up next to examine the wrapped body. When they did not see the Playmobil figure they said in genuine surprise, "He's not here! Did you take him, did you do magic?” We think they understood the point. Afterwards we saw many of the street kids the Spanish speaking church is ministering to. Our church bought

Toy Library

This morning Eileen went to the Toy Library run by the Teacher Training Faculty attached to St. Andrew's school. They bring loads of craft, toys, games, and dressing up clothes to the church hall and children from the nearby shanty town communities come along to play and simply have fun. These children literally have nothing - they are othen dressed almost in rags and normally play with rubbish. So to give them a chance to play with educationally stimuluting toys is really worth giving up a Saturday morning for. Some of the same children are coming along to the Spanish speaking congregation on Sundays. They are given breakfast and go to the Sunday School. If they want they can have a change of clothes and their filthy clothes are washed. It is such a great work the Faculty and church are doing for these kids. Really the kind of service Jesus would do.

Easter Holidays

Today was a half day in school - the Easter holidays start. We have all of Holy Week off. We finished with an Easter Service where each year in primary did a reading or drama. It was a great service - Patrick gave talk on how the disciples saw what, for them, was a tragedy on Good Friday turned into a victory on Easter Sunday. This is something God can do for each of us when we allow the Cross to bring a change in each of our lives. Next week we are just taking it easy and getting some little jobs done around the house or head out of the city for a picnic.


In school this week there is a poster campaign to educate everyone on the dangers of Dengue - a disease carried by mosquitoes. The students have drawn posters and put them up around the patio. The disease causes a severe fever and terrible aches and pains. In rare cases it can cause cerebral haemorrhage! We have the mosquito repellent out and mossie killer is at the ready. You can pray that none of us catch it!

Chaco trip in May

We are planning a trip to the Chaco in May to dig a water storage well - an aljebe. A well is dug near a building and guttering funnels rain water off the roof into the well. It is stored in the well for the dry season. There have been severe droughts in the last couple of years and Aljebe's provide a constant supply of water in difficult times. The final years students will start digging and it will be finished off by Indian workmen. I shall be going with them to document the progress and challenge the students about their Christian commitment, so start praying now.

Asuncion in the rain

The other day I was taking Elijah to the opticians when it started to rain. The roads again flooded and we ended up driving through floods about 20-30cm deep. We almost gave up as we have heard of people literally getting washed away in these kind of rains.


Last Friday it was my turn to take assembly in secondary. I asked the students if they were ready to take a step and make a 100% commitment to Christ. Many of the students here come from very religious homes, most of them Roman Catholic. Lots are Christians to a certain degree, but most still lack that real total commitment. My real prayer for this year is that some students might decide to take that step to 100%, and then to stand up and testify about it. Keep praying for that.

Painting a home for girls

Eileen and Hannah joined her team of helpers from preprimary to paint a shelter for sexually abused girls. Hannah just loved getting stuck in with the pink paint. The girls did a fantastic job brightening up a home that provides such a worthy service.

Tropical rain and scorpions

We just drove home in the worst tropical rainstorm we have ever seen. The water was two feet deep in places and was raging down the road like rapids. Cars everywhere had their hazards lights on and were stuck in the middle of traffic. Our wee car rapidly filled up with prayer as we surfed home. The wipers struggled to let us see the four wheel drives ploughing water on top of us. We made it home safely and came into the house to find what is in the attached photo - yes a scorpion. Eileen and the kids rapidly jumped onto the sofa while I gave it the business with my trusty DM. Quite a night...  

Synod Begins

I'm in the opening service of the Synod. There are representatives from all over Paraguay - from Asunción, Concepcion and the Chaco. We've just had the reading from 1 Timothy in Guarani. The theme is the Church of the Living God. Prayers are said in Spanish, Guarani and Enxet. The worship is profound - it is always amazing to worship Christ with others from such different cultural backgrounds, it really helps you understand the worldwide Kingdom of God.

Synod 2006

We've had a busy couple of weeks (what's new).  With all the activities of family life plus teaching full time and organizing church.  Last week we seemed to leave school then head straight to a birthday party, or after school activity, or the doctors...  Hannah had a mild infection.  It was also Stephen's birthday on Sunday we we though a wee party for that. This weekend sees the Synod which runs from Thursday through to Sunday.  We shall be giving a wee report on our church over the last two years and outline our vision for this year .  It's a good time to get an overview of the work of the Anglican church in Paraguay as there are reports from the Chaco, Concepción, Asunción and even Formosa in Argentina. We'll be having some visitors this Sunday in church from the Synod.  It's a family service which will be interesting.  Especially as our services are in English and the visitors only speak Spanish.  Meanwhile school continues.  Eileen has been doing abo

More Photos of Paraguay

  View of Asunción and the River Paraguay   A road in the Chaco   Paraguayan flag   A Toucan, native to Paraguay 

Photos of Paraguay

Paraguayan harpist Guarani Indian boys in the Chaco Guarani Indian elder Sunset in the Chaco 

Vision for the year

This morning in church we outlined our vision for the year. We we want to do until July is raise the profile of the church and invite as many new people as we can to come to special events or services. We're going to produce a wee leaflet explaining about St. Andrew's and use it to invite people. Then we'll start praying and preparing for an Alpha course starting September. So if you pray for us you can include those things in your prayer list. In school Eileen is preparing with some colleagues to offer a Bible Study course for parents. In Secondary we are praying for a breakthrough in the pupils' shallow nominalism that is often found in those from Christian families . Your prayers for these things are greatly valued too.

Missionary meeting in Subruií

Today all the missionaries and the Bishop met at Suburií - the school's sports ground. It's about 30 minutes out of the city in fields near the Paraguay River. We had a time of worship and sharing things that have encouraged us over the last while. It was good to hear of other work outside school. There have been successful small group Bible studies in the Chaco, and young people who have made commitments are growing into leadership at the Sunday evening Youth Service. We had a lovely afternoon as families together - the kids rode their bikes, enjoyed playing around the grass and tree stumps. It was a great day out. It was interesting to learn remote parts of the Chaco that are still without electricity and water, now have mobile phone coverage. One of the Indian pastors now has a phone he charges with solar cells.

Woman's world day of prayer

Thursday was the Woman's World Day of Prayer , this year for South Africa. Eileen was asked if she could play the piano for the worship as the musician had been injured in a car accident! It was all a bit last minute and in the end she did not have to as another Paraguayan lady stood in. It went very well with good attendance and interesting news from South Africa where the major prayer issues are Aids, Rape of women and girls (witchdoctors recommend it as cure for AIDS), and Malaria. Next Year the country being looked at and prayed for is Paraguay. We have had contact from Marlene Moore in Northern Ireland who is on the UK committee. She asked for photos showing life in Paraguay. Some of them might be used for WWDOP publications. I'll post the photos we've sent as they give a good over view of what Paraguay is like.

Assembly - Who do we live for?

I'm sitting in the first assembly of the year. Patrick Butler, the Diocesan youth worker is leading. His theme is, "Who do we live for?". Often we live for our friends - to keep in with the crowd, or our parents - to keep them happy. But God wants us to please Him. Tim Curtis a gifted linguist and SAMS colleague - who has devoted his life translating the Bible into Exclet - a Paraguayan Indian language, spoken only by 3000 people, of whom few are literate. Why does he do it? To please God. Stephen

Start of the school year

School started last Monday with some training days for teachers. The head teachers reminded us of the vision of the St. Andrew's, "to bring young people and children to Christ". It was a good reminder of why we are teaching here in Paraguay. They also outlined the 43 year history of the school and what has been done in recent years - the expansion of the school and Annex, outreach into the Chaco and community, building wells, painting schools, and helping build homes. This will continue again this year. Looks like are are off to a good start.

Back in Paraguay

We arrived back in Paraguay last Friday after 27 hours, 4 flights, and 5 airports. It is good to be in our own home again, even if it is hot and humid - 97%. The kids enjoyed the inflatable pool being filled today and cooled off by splashing about in it. School does not start for another week, but church is back to normal next Sunday. We're enjoying the few days rest before the balls really roll. Blessings The Trews

Back to Paraguay

We leave for Paraguay on the 26th January after 8 weeks in Ireland. If you pray for us then ask for the journey to be smooth, especially for the luggage - 8 big cases! Home ministry was good, we managed to see all our link churches and it was really good to make contact with you all. If you are from a link church why not leave a comment on the wee link below. The next week sees us unpacking and having a bit of a rest before school starts again the second week in February. We'll keep you posted and send some prayer topics in a few days. Blessings, The Trews