Hola! It is nice and toasty here in Paraguay on this wonderful Christmas day! That would not be because of the warm fire in the fireplace but because of the relentless rays of sunshine and humidity that don’t seem to know when to take a break. Alyssa wishes they would take a break and knows that all things are possible but I don’t think her prayers for snow on Christmas in Paraguay are going to be answered any time soon. Instead of waiting for snow to come down we shot fireworks up! A tradition we began in our Argentine days is becoming a Paraguayan tradition…shooting fireworks at midnight on Christmas Eve. You can find any fireworks you want all over the city. I don’t think they have the same codes as they have in the states on what you should be able to buy and who should be able to buy them... Needless to say, we had some awesome fireworks. It is such a fun way to celebrate the birth of Jesus with our friends and neighbors.
2013 is almost history! It is overwhelming to us to look back and think of all that has happened in this year and how fast it has gone by. The Lord has been so faithful in every step of our journey and His presence has been very powerful and unmistakable. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to connect with so many of you while we were in the states this summer. Home assignment is not always easy on missionaries but every one of you that participated in ours helped to make it a tremendous blessing! Thank you!
Barry is now working together with our regional director, Christian Sarmiento, to lead the work of the church in Bolivia and Paraguay. It has added a great deal to both of our responsibilities but we have been encouraged, challenged, stretched, and have learned so much watching what God can do when we are willing to be molded and used in His hands. It is a privilege to serve here and we look forward to all He has planned for the year to come!
Andrew is becoming an Aussie…he has had quite an experience living in Australia these last two years. Seeing him only once in two years isn’t easy on any of us but we are thankful for all the Lord has done and is doing through his life.
Alex is looking forward to graduating from high school and going to college...hoping to be Trevecca bound. He is always such a joy to have around…not exactly sure who is going to make everyone laugh when he is gone!? He has been a key part of building the youth group here in San Lorenzo. It is always a joy to see the Lord use our kids in the lives of others!
Alyssa is taking piano lessons, reading books, and has a new friend (not the human kind). We caved in after hours of listening to the meowing and crying out side of her bedroom window. Duchess, who was a lost and hungry stray kitty, is now a part of our family. Alyssa 1 Dad 0….he didn’t want the cat but Alyssa somehow gets her way with him. The score is actually WAY more than 1 to 0…not sure how much Alyssa has but Dad definitely has 0:)
On Christmas Eve we have another tradition that we started while we were missionaries in Argentina…Baby Jesus doesn’t go in the manger until after everyone is in bed. He just “appears” in the manger Christmas morning. Well, last night, or rather, this morning at 3 a.m. when we were just THINKING about going to bed after fireworks, putting Baby Jesus in the manager didn’t sink into our tired brains. When our kids got us up this morning (yes, our kids are high school and college age and they still wake us up at the break of dawn on Christmas morning…and by the way, 9 a.m., when you have gone to bed at 4 a.m., is the break of dawn!) we realized He wasn’t there. It was the first thing Alex noticed. Not only does it warm our hearts that it is the first thing our 18 year old son noticed, but it made us pause and think... Can you imagine??
Where would we be if He hadn’t come? Our lives, our work, our purpose here in this place would have no value. Many times when we place extreme value on something we say that it is “priceless” but the gift God has given us did have a price…His Son. We are SO glad that Christ did come and the amount of gratitude that we have for what He has done for us and through us is more than words could ever express! We are also incredibly grateful for each one of you!! Thank you for your prayers and support! The Lord uses each one of you, through all that you do, in more ways than you will probably ever know.
Have a wonderful and merry CHRISTmas and a very happy and blessed New Year!!
Barry, Charlie, Andrew, Alex, and Alyssa (and Betsy, Leonard, and Duchess)
To help with the many needs on the field you can visit www.nazarene.org or you can donate directly to our deputation account online at web.nazarene.org/goto/carney.missions