By Johanna Esparza
I'm home! I'm sorry to have been silent so long, as you must have been wondering about the trip to Paraguay, which you have so graciously supported.
As planned, I left with the Parkview team out of Iowa on July 15. After many flights and several airports, we arrived in Asuncion, Paraguay the following morning. Then it was a four-hour drive to San Juan Nepomuceno, where we stayed the remainder of the week.
The pastor of the local church, Wilson Paiva, and his wife Wendy, provided our transportation all week, set us up in a hotel, and arranged our meals for us. We also spent a lot of time with a local missionary family, the Words.
Everyone we met was very kind and hospitable, from the hotel manager, to the restaurant owners, to the church brethren. We were wonderfully blessed by each person we came into contact with, and formed many relationships.
During the week, the men on our team built a wall in back of the church, with some help from the women in the mornings. The men did a great job, working all day for five days straight.
In the afternoons, the women ran Kidz Klub, a Bible club for the local children. The club ran about two hours each afternoon, Monday through Friday, and we had between 50 and 100 kids each day. We played games, sang songs (my personal favorite was "Yo Tengo Un Amigo Que Me Ama"), read Bible stories, and did crafts. The kids loved it and we all had a great time.
There are three things I absolutely loved about Paraguay, and which I will remember it for always?he people, the cornbread, and the pina flavored soda.
Of course it was the people we interacted with who really made the trip. It was difficult at first for me to feel comfortable talking to anyone, since I am not very confident about my Spanish, but it quickly became apparent that anyone I spoke to cared much more about just having a conversation or communicating at all than they did about my grammar.
What I saw more than anything during my time in Paraguay was love and kindness and generosity. Each member of our team went on this trip hoping to be a good witness to the people we met in Paraguay. It never occurred to us that they might be a good witness to us as well.
We left San Juan on Saturday morning, July 23. Several of our new friends came out to see us off. We were very sad to leave, but once in Asuncion, it was wonderful to have hot showers again! Our plane left on Sunday and four airports later we were back in Iowa on Monday.
I flew out of Cedar Rapids two days later and arrived safely home. It's good to be back, though I have the occasional craving for that wonderful cornbread and hot cocido (tea), and I don't think a day has passed that I haven't thought of the people I met in San Juan.
All in all, the trip was a wonderful success and I am so thankful to God and to each of you for making it possible for me to be a part of something so beautiful. Thank you for all your prayers and your financial support.
Johanna studies Psychology in Tempe, Arizona and is connected to mission trips through a fellow-student. She is a native of San Bernardino and attends in Glendora when she is in the area.