“Fire is the test of gold; adversity is the test of strong persons.” Anon
Were we negligent in our plans when the Hustons were not home when we arrived at their mission residence in Asuncion? Not at all for phone connections were non-existent, as it was with every other means of checking in with them. We had chatted with them once in the U.S.A. about dropping in on them. But in any case we found the mission residence but none of the Huston family. We learned however that Ernie, was out on his motorcycle travelling somewhere doing missionary work. And Lucy with the family were in the U.S. So the four of us just took over the house, lock, stock and barrel. Well, what else were we to do in such a situation over 50 years ago?
But there was almost nothing to eat so Doris decided to bake something. She went through the cupboards and found everything she needed including the flour. But when she opened the container she found it full of weevils. A person might cook, with the weevils adding protein but Doris and the rest of us did not have a hankering for this kind of biscuits. Or was it cake? I suppose when anything was cooked, the weevils could be mistaken for a whole wheat mix. Doris was ready to throw it all out with my permission. Then Ernie arrived and he was adamant, “No, absolutely not. I bought that flour across in Argentina. It was expensive and in any case any flour a person might buy would have weevils.” The solution was to sieve them out before baking began. So the cooking went ahead.
While there Ernie took the four of us across the river to visit an Indian village in Argentina. I don’t recall much about our time there except that when we got out our cameras the ladies began to pull off their blouses. Ernie quickly explained that we did not want pictures of them semi-naked and we would not pay to take such pictures. We did get pictures of the chief in his gorgeous dress, one where he holds a huge anaconda snake around his neck. Vernon and Monica are included in the photo standing close to the chief but as I recall, they were not excited about that adventure
There was so much we learned about Paraguay on that trip. Most educated people there speak Spanish but the language of the ordinary person in the street was Guaraní, and still is. This language has captured the hearts of the people and comes from the Indian Guaraní people. We also met a professor at the University of Asuncion, a Dr. DeCoud la Rosa who was well known then for his recent translation of the New Testament into the Guaraní language.
We also met a Rev. Minoru Tsukamoto who worked among his people, the Japanese immigrants in the country. He was small of stature, a humble hard working man with a mission to help his impoverished people. The newcomers were trying to settle in an inhospitable land and people. He and his family were so poor I wondered how it was possible they did not starve. There is no one I will ever respect more than Minoru, his wife and children.
Minoru told us stories of the Mennonites who left Europe to find a new life but discovered instead their non-combatant stance made them victims to any Paraguayan with a penchant for evil. Policing in the remote interior did not exist. Minoru told of men breaking into Mennonite homes, raping the women and robbing them of anything they wished. All this while the men would do nothing more than kneel in prayer. Draw your own conclusions but I say in this case religion had gone awry.
Much of the rest of our time there has faded from the synapse of memory. I do know this that we did not return by bus, not wishing to spend days on the road because of a possible prolonged rain. My assumption—correct me if you have any details I have forgotten—but I seem to remember we flew home on a direct flight from Asuncion to São Paulo.
Because of that visit we developed a great admiration and appreciation for these two missionary families in Paraguay. Above all else I remember that this call, to spread the Gospel of Jesus to all peoples in the world, extends beyond our friends in Paraguay, to all of us. And that has been our privilege in Brazil, Haiti and wherever we have been.