First Baptist Church St. Marys
Friday, November 16, 2018

Quasts 2011

Other pages with the Quast's adventure: Quast Archive #1, Quast Archive #2

Quasts 2011: In Paraguay

 

Year-End Wrap Up

December 27, 2011

 

Once again, hello from Paraguay! We hope that you enjoyed your Christmas celebrations as much as we did. While most of you were likely celebrating with your own traditions, we had fun forming some new traditions for our family. (For those who won't read till the end, please check out our youtube page to see our Christmas video!)

This email update's purpose is to serve as kind of a year end summary. We want to be able to show you where we have been, where we are, and where we are going so that you can be informed and in tune with exactly where things are at.

    

Where We Have Been

Recently on Facebook, I was commenting on how crazy 2011 has been for our family. To put some things into perspective for you: in January 2011 we were at 9% of our recommended financial support, and we were doubtful we would even be able to come to Paraguay this year. However, thanks to a supporting pastor's consul, we begin to pray differently. The voice in our hearts had never changed, we knew that May 2011 was the right time, but where were the finances to do it?

We launched a prayer team, many of you are a part of that. This prayer team prayed for us every day. We also stepped out in faith a bit. We had the money for plane tickets, so we just went ahead and bought them trusting that it was the right time and God had 4 months to raise our support. While we didn't get to 100% of what our mission recommends (we receive about 60%) God has met every need we have had since arriving in Paraguay 7 months ago.

For those who have kept up with the news updates you know we had a slow start in Spanish study when we got here. It took just over 2 months to find a house, but the story of how we got it was so amazing. If you haven't read it, click here. Then it took about a month to get settled in. Its hard moving into another country! And then right when we got language helpers and everything set up, we got surprise baby number 3 on the way. It was a rough first trimester for Jen which robbed her of alot of study time.

Where We Are

Well, with all the struggles and setbacks we have been able to make progress. Last month I emailed you all on why we are committed to learning Spanish and Paraguayan Culture before going to plant a church in the tribe. I hope it come across clear our need for this and our goals during this time. Periodically our mission evaluates our progress. We would like to share that progress with you.

Jen's most recent evaluation from November 1st placed her at Basic Mid in the language. Basically if you were to divide a language up into 12 levels, she would be at level 2. Now, she has no background in Spanish or language learning in general so we are very pleased with the progress. Also we personally feel like she's a little bit beyond that but because of some nervousness in her evaluation it was hard to get a clear picture from the evaluation.

Jon's most recent evaluation from November 8th placed him at Capable Mid in the language. Basically if you were to divide that language up into 12 levels, he would be at level 8. Again, Jon lived a year in Argentina from 2003-2004. This definitely has aided him. Not to mention his brain just ticks for language.

When it comes to culture we share everything we learn together. Jon in his evaluation was placed at Capable Low in culture. (Jen wasn't evaluated on culture) This would be level 7 of 12. This progress was extremely surprising and exciting as we both came in knowing nothing of Paraguayan culture. Our goal for both language and culture is level 8. If you are keeping track, Jon is at level 8 in language. And only one level to go in culture. So....

What now? Well, we are committed to BOTH of us reaching level 8. Obviously if Jen is cooking, cleaning, wiping snouty noses, hanging laundry, making the bed...well that doesn't leave a ton of time for language study now does it? We have been transitioning to a switheroo the past several weeks. Jon is taking over more of the household responsibilities giving Jen a fulltime language load (at least until the baby is born May 1st).

Where We Are Going

We have a personal goal to get Jen to level 8 by December of 2012. It's just a goal, not an ultimatum. We think its doable, but also very challenging. We want to be setting hard goals, goals that will push us, but also we want to keep them in the realm of reality. What will make this goal challenging will be the baby Jonas coming in May.

We should also have a better idea of where we are going next as the year progresses. Our mission field's leadership has been defining and clarify our church plant needs and goals, and has good direction for the things we are still investigating. Also several couples in our mission who are in the same stage as us right now should soon start transitioning into church planting ministries, which will also give us a clearer picture of where we personally are going.

Prayer Requests

  • We are spending all this week getting a good working plan in place. We have had one of these up till now, but we are refining our plan based on current needs and priorities. Pray for us to make wise choices in our plan.
  • Pray for Jen. She really wants to be able to communicate at a higher level than she's able right now.
  • The logistics of having a baby here in Paraguay (medical and legal)
  • Patience. Living and learning in another country is stressful, and in stressful situations the first thing out the door is patience.

Praises For 2011!

  • For the opportunity to be your arms and legs here in Paraguay this 2012
  • Our kids who provides us with endless smiles
  • Our recent field conference where we got to meet all the missionaries with our mission in Paraguay. We feel part of the team now :)
Till All Are Reached
Jon and Jen Quast

Spring in November

11/10/2011

Hello from Paraguay! We are enjoying beautiful spring weather down here. Highs in the 90's, flowers are in bloom, and eating watermelons galore. Just thought some of you would like to know that, especially those buried in snow right now :)

The time goes so fast. I believe that will be the sentence I always use to write my second paragraph. But it is so true. Our days seem to all blur together sometimes because of how fast things move. Language and culture study is going good. Jen has 3 language helpers now. We praise God for this. Jon is also getting opportunities to experience culture with some of his friends. We both recently had our latest evaluations, and as soon as we know the results from that we will try to get the word out so you can thank God with us for how we are progressing. Its easy to think sometimes that if you just study you can learn a language. But as God said to Moses "who has made man's mouth?" God definitely plays a part in our language learning, and thats why it's important to thank Him.

I wanted to take this email to talk about a question some of you may have over why we take the time and effort to learn Spanish and Paraguayan culture in the first place. After all, when we get to the tribe we'll be at square one again with language and culture. It is an issue that I myself at times have not understood completely. Sometimes it seems like an enormous expenditure of time and resources, and it sometime can be hard to see the payoff.

There are practical advantages. Learning Spanish and Paraguayan culture in big city is a nice stepping stone to a tribal situation. It's hard to imagine the shock our systems would undergo if we went straight from Georgia to Guaraní Ñandeva, and still be expected to just jump in and live and learn. It would be pretty tough, and having to learn to live and learn to learn in a city situation with a language like Spanish which is distintly related to English is a nice starting place. The other practical advantage is the fact that we will be able to function in our new home country. While Spanish won't serve us much in the tribe, it does serve us when going to the hardware store or settling a dispute with a local authority.

But we have come to realize that the advantages are more than just pracitcal. We have strategic reasons why we are learning Spanish and Paraguayan Culture. We are part of a church here in Asuncion. In the past missionaries bypassed local churches, and went straight to plant a church where there was no church. The end result was a church planted completly by foreigners and isolated from the national church community. When the missionary left to return to their home country, the church they planted was left without outside influence. If the church began to falter, stray, die...well, there wasn't anyone to come along side. Also churches in tribal communities have something to offer to our churches as well, but have rarely been given much opportunity.

As we step into the role of missionaries here in Paraguay, we must take this into account. Our city is full of Spirit-filled believers. The same Spirit that we have, and God is just as willing to use them as He is willing to use us. Part of our job as missionaries is to be people who stand in the gap: the gap between the unreached in this country, and the Christians that God has already placed in this country. We desire personally and as a mission to have Paraguayan co-workers to join us in planting a church in a tribal community. We also look forward to the future of tearing down the notion of Tribal Church and Big City Church, for we are all one in Christ. We could not be people ready to step into this role if we didn't understand the people in our local church here, nor could we do this without speaking their language. While there are benefits in the present, we are sowing seeds to the future.

There is still much to be done, but we are excited with the little things we are seeing now. The chances we have had to share about the need and how they can make a difference is a message Paraguayans aren't used to hearing from missionaries, but it is the Word of God.

Prayer Requests

  • The ability to course correct whatever needs correcting when we review the results of our evaluations.
  • The strength to be able to get in our alloted language study time. We try to get in a minimum 40 hours (Jen) and 20 hours (Jon)
  • The logistics of having a baby here in Paraguay (legal and medical)
  • Wisdom in finding the balance between being a learner, and taking advantage of teaching opportunities.

Praises

  • The US dollar has rebounded 8% in the last 2 months. For us its as if we got an 8% payraise.
  • The cheap delicious watermelons that are coming into season. Fun times.
  • Jen has all the language she can keep up with. She has 3 language helpers now.
  • Some youth in the church are opening up to me (Jon) They want to hang out to see why it is that I would leave the US to come to Paraguay, since all their dreams are to leave Paraguay to go to the US. Praise God!

Till All Are Reached
Jon and Jen Quast

First Birthday

September 23, 2011

Recently we had an experience that was bound to happen sooner or later. We had our first family birthday since we have been here in Paraguay. It was Jen’s birthday.

It may seem obvious to us that everyone celebrates birthdays the same way, but actually they don’t. Paraguayans celebrate birthdays much differently than we do. In first place there is the issue of kids birthdays. We have had the opportunity to attend several kids birthday parties now. Some observations that we made that may strike some of you as unusual: Chocolate milk is a must, bouncy houses and music are the norm, while the kids play the adults eat a meal that is provided, gifts are given anonymously, all the kids in attendance also get gifts from the child whose birthday it is, and you should probably show up an hour late to the party to be on time. Some of these things are important to know. Can you imagine how we felt when we arrived to a birthday party 15 minutes late, only to realize that we had arrived 30 minutes before the parents of the child whose birthday it was had even arrived!

When it comes to adults, it is typical for adults to throw a party for themselves and invite people over. This to us is very different. Most adults in the States don’t have birthday parties (unless they are turning 50, or 65) and even if they do have a party its thrown by either a spouse or a friend…however, here it is the norm to throw a party for yourself. That being the cultural norm, it is also a cultural expectation from your friends that you are going to throw yourself a party and then invite them. Imagine the let down they’d have if you didn’t throw yourself a party!

We are blessed by having Paraguayan friends who know that we are knew here. They helped us as we planned out Jen’s big day and what we would do. In the end it was a great time of fellowship with two families who have been very close to us during our time here. We commented that it was a great experience being so far away from our real families, to have had the opportunity to spend the day with our Paraguayan families.

Keep praying for us as we dig deeper and deeper into the culture and mindset of the people we now live among.

Til All Are Reached,
Jon and Jen Quast

 

The Latest from Paraguay

September 18, 2011

It is such a joy to be behind a keyboard every couple of weeks to inform and update you our supporters and prayer warriors. We thank God for the team we have. Not every missionary out there is as blessed in this regard as we are.

We have now been in Paraguay for 4 months. One thing sure in life is that time just keeps on ticking. I feel like we are more aware than we used to be of the importance of every moment. Our society in the USA is a time oriented society, yet when you have been made an ambassador of the Gospel to a group of people who have never had the opportunity to hear, and the only thing keeping you from fulfilling that role is your proficiency in culture and language, and the only the only way you gain said proficiency is by putting in time in study...well that all contributes to seeing how important the time that we've been given is.

Our weekly schedule in our language and culture study still isn't quite what we want it to be. Our mission sees the value of getting in proportionate time in Plan, Participating, Processing, and Practicing. As in planning out what we need to learn, participating in conversations as we get opportunity, taking time to process what we have learned, and getting in practice time with a language helper. Over the past month our schedule has leaned very heavily on the participating side. We have been building friendships with several individuals and couples from our church, and to build these relationships we wind up spending a good amount of time with them.

The only problem with having a schedule that is just "hanging out" with people is you can't be very structured and intentional in language study. It surely is helpful, but the other aspects of our learning are indespensible and all work together in tandem. However just recently Jen began to meet with a lady on Friday afternoons for 1-2 hours. This is a huge move in the right direction! Shortly thereafter I (Jon) was introduced to a man from another church who is retired and wanting to help out with missionaries. I am now meeting with him on Thursday mornings. To top it off Jen just yesterday had another lady from our church agree to help in this way as well! Time and day are still being worked out but we are thankful for her willingness to help in this way.

And, I guess this is as good a time as any to say this...but we're expecting baby number 3. This is a HUGE shock to us. We had made our plans (that sounds familiar) to be content with 2 kids and to call it a family. God had other plans apparently as He stunned both of us with a positive pregnancy test. We are also excited, and happy, but I say we are more dumbfounded at the moment. On a slightly different note all our Paraguay friends are really happy. Kids are cherished in an incredible way here in Paraguay. Also, to a Paraguayan, our child won't be American, they'll be Paraguayan because they'll be born in Paraguay. To a Paraguayan, it matters more WHERE you are born, not so much your nationality or what your passport says. When the baby is born, we will be on the inside of Paraguayan society in a way we never could have been without this pregnancy.

So yeah, things are moving in the direction we want to go. This is a twist we weren't expecting, but doesn't change anything for the moment. Obviously, anything in life can change in an instant, but we haven't heard anything different from God than what we have heard all along. We keep moving forward as if nothing ever happened.

Prayer Requests:

  • We need one more language helper for Jen to have our schedule filled up the way we are hoping.
  • Pray for Jen as she is experiencing more morning sickness than she did with the previous 2 pregnancies.
  • That we would be able to get in our alloted language study time. We try to get in a minimum 40 hours (Jen) and 20 hours (Jon)
  • The logistics of having a baby here in Paraguay (legal and medical)

Praises:

  • Our new little guy (girl?)! God's continued provision especially with a weak US dollar. 
  • The cheap delicious oranges we get to eat all the time to keep our bodies filled with Vitamin C.
  • Our church is beginning to open up more to us and trust us more (this is a little difficult to explain, but let's just say we are breaking out of a typical missionary mold by wanting to be friends with these dear people)

Till All Are Reached,
Jon and Jen Quast

THE LATEST

Sunday, August 14, 2011

 

It's been too long since I sent out an prayer and praise update, and appreciate y'alls patience with us on that. First an update on life.

We have been in Paraguay for 3 months now! Can you believe it? We sure can't. In some ways it feels like we just stepped off the plane. We have also been in our house now for a month. We have a hard time believing that, too. It feels like we just walked through the door. Time is flying by. But although it feels like we just got here, at the same time we are feeling settled in our house, and feeling comfortable in our new city. By comfortable I mean we generally know where to go to get certain things done and also what bus to take to get there.

The reason I clarify that "comfortable" statement is because Jen and I have been experiencing a fair bit of what is called culture shock. You may be familiar with the term, but what we mean by it is our systems are in shock over how different life can be. All our lives we have known what is available in the grocery store, how to pay bills, what church is like, how to maintain friendships, etc. All these things have been turned upside down in Paraguay. The things that were so normal in our "past life" are no longer normal. And our subconscious is rejecting this different-ness. Hence, culture shock.

This has been a hard time, but also a time to grow. Jen experiences more culture shock than I do, which is normal for wives. However, I am a bit surprised because I had convinced myself it wouldn't happen to me. I have traveled the world and "seen it all," so how could I possibly experience the stress and fatigue that comes from culture shock? Well, I am. But every weakness is an oppurtunity for grace and growth. One practical thing we are doing these days is expressing thankfulness to God for the things that are system shocking. He knew, and He knows, and all things He does to make us more like Jesus Christ (Romans 8:28-29). What greater blessing is there than for God to take time out of His busy day to make us more like Jesus? It's truly reason for thanks.

Spanish and Paraguayan Culture are always at the top of the to-do list. One thing that is challenging for us right now is the difference in language ability for Jen and I. As many of you know, I lived in Argentina for a year. Recently my language evaluation came back that I was at a level 6 out of 9 levels of language ability. We most both reach a level 8 before moving on to tribal church planting. Jen, as any newcomer into a language is, is at level 1. So studying together isn't really an option. We are studying different things in the language, which means we both need our own time to study. Couple that with the fact we live in an urban context where everyone has jobs and kid's soccer practice and ballet lessons, and finding time just to sit and chat with our friends becomes more difficult.

So that's a quick update on life. Now on to Prayer and Praises

Prayer Requests

  • We need some language helpers for Jen. The girl who had been coming over is now enrolled in a university so doesn't have time to come over anymore.
  • Jon's evaluation has been a big help for him in showing him where he still needs to go in the language. Nothing like constructive criticism to help the process along. Pray as he works on those things  
  • For Jen as she strives to communicate with very little Spanish at the moment.  
  • For Jamen as a common thing that he says these days is "I don't like Spanish." Pray for him as he seems to be experiencing his own little culture shock experience.

Praises

  • It's warming up! Believe it or not it got down pretty cold for awhile and rainy, but this past week has been sunny and in the high 70s.
  • Our landlady has been so friendly to us. It's a little strange for us to have this kind of relationship with her. In the US these kind of relationships can be more business only, but here we have a pretty good friendship developing with her.  
  • We finally met our neighbor! In our neighborhood a lot of people work from sun-up to sun-down and then come home. But the homes have a 8 foot wall all the way around with a garage door on the street, so it possible to never see your neighbors. We are very excited to have finally met one :)
  • All of you. We thank God often for your faithful giving and prayer support. Our financial team is very faithful, and our prayer team never ceases to lift us up. If we are ever going to be effective missionaries in this context, it will have been because of you.

Till All Are Reached

Jon and Jen Quast

A Quick Update

 
 
We took a new family picture for our churches back home so they wouldn't forget us.  We tried to wear some Paraguay colors, and get the shot in a Paraguay location.  Behind us in the picture is the Paraguay River and behind the Paraguay River is a geographic region known as the Gran Chaco.  The Gran Chaco is a vast semi-arid wilderness where the majority of the unreached people groups of Paraguay live.  It's amazing to think that on the other side of a river from a thriving metropolis that this could be, but its true.  I've found that most Paraguayans here in the city fear the Chaco.  Most when they hear that we will be moving there with our two kids almost faint at the thought.  They can't understand why someone would ever go there.  This has been a great opportunity to explain the worth of the gospel and the worth of all human life.

Our first two months in Paraguay have been good, but not quite what we expected.  Just this past week we got out of the mission guest house and into a house that we are renting.  This was a challenge and as a result we really haven't got into much language learning yet.  It was hard to invite people over to a guest house.  We have been however been able to build relationships by breaking the mold of a typical missionary.

I share a story not to build us up but rather it encouraged me so I wish to share.  Just a couple days ago a guy from our church came up to me and said "I want you to know something.  I don't like Americans.  Don't know why, but they don't sit well with me for some reason and I just don't like them.  Then they told us in church that a missionary couple was coming to our church from America and we had to help them learn the language.  I thought to myself 'great, here come the rich Americans in the 6 story house, going to come here and tell us everything that we're doing wrong.'  But then you guys came.  You show up so simple.  You don't live extravegantly, you live like us, so simple.  You want to be with us.  You like us, you are genuinely wanting to be our friend.  And then God started working on me that you aren't what I had in mind an American is.  You are here to reach people in my country that I've never given a second thought about.  Jon, you are killing me.  It's killing me to think that an American family is here, sincere simple and genuine to reach the lost that I'm not willing to reach.  We Paraguayans should be ashamed."  To which I replied, "Julian, I'm not American, and you're not Paraguayan.  We are a new body in Christ."

Pray for us as we get settled in our house and optimize it for language learning.  Thank you for letting us be here and fulfill our call.

Till All Are Reached
Jon and Jen Quast

How We Found Our House

June 28, 2011

A just wanted to share this story with all of you. This is one of those neat stories that you’ll always remember what God did to strengthen your faith.

We had been getting a little bit discouraged in searching for a place here in the city to rent for our time of learning Spanish and Paraguayan culture. It would seem that our church here in Paraguay that Jen and I will be attending is in one of the most expensive areas in the country. Our goal was to live close to the church since the majority of our contacts and activities will be taken place there. We aren’t planning on having a vehicle during our time here, which means we use the public transportation (buses) to get from one part of the city to the other. Everything in our price range seemed to be a couple bus rides away. Everything close to the church was out of our price range.

When we would find a place, we would call and it would already be rented. This can be hard for our United States friends to imagine, since back home houses for rent can sit vacant for a year. Here in Asuncion Paraguay, I’d say the average wait time for a renter is about 5 hours. I honestly don’t feel like that is an exaggeration. We would see a home listing on the internet listed at 8:00 in the morning. We would call before noon but many times the house was already rented. Actually, we only called in time to go and see 2 houses. One was out of our price range, and the sewer backed up when it rained at the other house. Yeah…

I came across an ad online that I missed before. It was about 7 blocks from our church, and the price was only 2/3 the price we had budgeted for rent. In this neighborhood homes typically rent for about 2-1/2 times the price that this one was renting for. The ad was 12 days old because it’s common not to take them down. Since normal turnaround is 5 hours, I was sure an ad 12 days old would be gone. I closedthe ad. I stopped and thought. I pulled the ad back up and took it to another missionary with New Tribes Mission who has been helping us find a house.

When my friend saw the ad, he concurred. The house was surely gone by now. No point in wasting our time by calling. After a few minutes of talking about other things he said, “Aw, what harm is there in calling?” He picked up the phone and called. Amazingly, the house  was still vacant and we could come see it in two days. I talked to some friends at church about it the next day and they said, “Wise up. If a house is vacant for that long there's a good reason.”

We went and looked at the house. It was small, but there was nothing wrong with it. Good neighborhood, park down the street, fruit trees in the yard, 2 bedrooms, and only 7 blocks from church. As the owner was showing us the house her phone was ringing off the hook with people calling and wanting to see the house. She kept telling them that she was there now and to come on by. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing. A perfectly good house, in a good neighborhood, for an incredible price, and currently a phone full of potential renters.

We had to know. “Ma’am, are we the first to see the house?” “Yes,” she said. “How is it that the ad is 2 weeks old and we are the first to see this house?” She began to explain that right after she listed the house online, she came down with a terrible virus. She couldn’t get out of bed. Her phone had been ringing off the hook the whole time, but her daughter was instructed to tell people that she was sick and to call back in a few days. We were the first to call after she was better.

As she told us this story some other people arrived to see the house. We could clearly see that God was in this. Before the other people had even seen the house we went ahead and told the owner that we would take it, and gave her a deposit. We didn’t have to step back and think and pray. We had already been thinking and praying. Then God answered, we were sure. Sometimes there is no question that God is in something.

We stand here shocked at what God has done. We went from feeling that we would never get out of the mission guest house. But now we see that God just had to do something pretty amazing, just to remind us that it was Him. Really we shouldn’t be shocked at all. These are the kinds of things God does.

We should be able to move in soon. The owner is a great landlady and is fixing up a lot with the house, and will turn over the keys as soon as she’s happy with how the house looks.

Prayer Requests

  • We have one language helper for Jen right now.  She is really learning fast on how to help Jen, but we still have some things to work on with our language sessions.  Pray that we can wisely direct our language study sessions.

  • Jon had an evaluation on his Spanish level and it is currently being evaluated by our consultants.  Pray that it can be clearly determined where he is at, and therefore what things he can begin to work on as we move forward towards the end goal of fluency

  • For Jen as she strives to communicate with very little Spanish at the moment.

  • For the kids since we don't have much of a daily routine at this point.
  • We need to find some more people who are willing to be some language helpers for us.  We are finding this can be hard since many people in our church have very good jobs but therefore are very busy already.

Praises
  • Our house.  It's really an amazing story and an unbelievable location and price.  We can't stop being amazed at how great God was in working this out.

  • Our new pet puppy "Brewster."  Jamen and Jade are really excited about this guy.  He will really help the kids feel like this is home now.  

  • Some new supporters.  This increased support is really an unexpected blessing!

  • Jen is proving to be quite the natural at language learning


Till All Are Reached
Jon and Jen Quast

Father's Day in Paraguay

June 19, 2011
 
Last week a man in our church here in Paraguay came up to me and said he had something to ask me after church. That can be kind of a nerve racking statement sometimes. You see, we are new here to Paraguay. While people are people worldwide, everywhere people have their own distinct cultural assumptions and expectations. As newcomers to a culture, you don’t know the culture and therefore when someone asks a question, sometimes it can be hard to determine HOW to answer a question to get the desired result.
 
This may be hard for some to conceptualize. Imagine, my American friends, if you invited someone over to your house for dinner. Imagine if they showed up an hour late. Would you expect an explanation? Yes. Would you ask for an explanation? Perhaps, but you would word it carefully. You might feel the person very rude if he didn’t give you a reason why he was an hour late. And you would assume that the late person would know that you would think him rude if he didn’t give an explanation. That’s culture at work and a newcomer to America wouldn’t know that an explanation was expected. He may simply say hello, not give an explanation, and not realize that the relationship had been damaged because he behaved so “rudely” as to not give an explanation.
 
So needless to say I sweat a little when someone says they have a question to ask me. After the service the man asked if we could come over to his house for Father’s Day for a traditional Paraguayan BBQ. That’s an easy question. Duh, Yes Please!
 
We love days like this. But for some of our readers, prayer team, and supporters it may seem like we came to have a good time and eat steak (good steak today I might add). Today was so much more than a good grill out. Today we continued the process of becoming somebody we’re not, in order to effectively reach them for Christ. The entire day revolved around relationships, the basis for all ministry. These aren’t just Paraguayan folks. They are people. They are friends. They are a family. They’ve been married for over 25 years. They have two kids. We made friends today. Granted, our world’s of experience are world’s apart (literally), but we truly have become friends. As the relationship blooms, we will have an avenue into their life that we never could have without the relationship (and since they are brothers in Christ, they will have inroads into our lives as well.)
Inside of relationships we can then pursue other ways we are becoming somebody new. As the grill heated up, George and I walked around the yard as he was happy to tell me what every single plant in his yard was called. He showed me his house and the kind of wood that was used. Jen was shown how some things are cooked here and also learned some words for around the kitchen. As we ate our meal the conversation shifted from things about the weather to glimpses of how Paraguayans think: their culture. As we discussed an upcoming Paraguayan holiday, and the current national infrastructure, we got glimpses into their minds. We may be only seeing through the glass darkly, but some things were seen.
 
What for some would be a simple meal, to us was a process unraveling before our very eyes. We were learning a language and culture in a real life context, all with relationships as the center. Be it ever so small, we became a little more Paraguayan today than we were yesterday. I pray that God will use this process to make our ministry in Paraguay more glorifying to Him.
 
This is really no different from what we will be doing in tribal church planting context. We will have to become “as one of them” so we can reach them for Christ. If we can’t speak to them, we can’t communicate. If we can’t speak Like them, they won’t be able to track with us. If we don’t understand them, our ministry will likely be irrelevant. And if we don’t build relationships, there will be none to minister to anyway. If we cannot “become” Paraguayan, there is little hope that we can “become” tribal. But if we can “become” Paraguayan, we can take what we have learned from this experience and apply it to a similar situation in the tribe. With God’s strength we can see the gospel Go further than ever before, and we can see the gospel be Received once it gets there.
 
Till All Are Reached
Jon and Jen Quast

Happy 200th Paraguay!

We are still living in a guest house owned by New Tribes Mission here in Asuncion Paraguay. We haven’t gone and looked at any houses yet because everyone in Paraguay is a little busy these days. Actually May 16th is the national holiday for the 200th year anniversary of Paraguay’s independence from Spain. This is kind of a big deal, and it was being celebrated from the time we got here until now. Everywhere and every direction you look the city is alive with banners, flags, colors, parades etc celebrating the Bicentennial.

I wasn’t around for the United States bicentennial so it is really neat to be a part of Paraguay’s. I consider myself fairly patriotic…I love my country. Sometimes its easy to forget that in other countries people are just as patriotic and love their country just as much as we do. It makes sense. Some of my favorite songs in English are patriotic ones, songs that speak of the stars and stripes, pine trees (Georgia), and fried chicken. (Ok, maybe fried chicken isn’t patriotic, but it should be). Why do these songs speak to us? Because they are talking about comfort things, things that have good memories tied to them; they are the things we love.

It’s interesting, Asuncion has to be the greenest city I’ve ever been to. Not green meaning they recycle, but green meaning plant life. Trees and bushes and flowers abound even in the downtown downtown area. It was interesting to listen to a lot of their patriotic songs referencing the flowers. These are the kind of songs that speak to them, because of the comfort factor of the flowers.

People have different cultures and different languages, and even different worldviews. The differences are apparent. But sometimes its neat to find the things that are strikingly similar between us.

Till All Are Reached
Jon and Jen Quast

 
 

Requests and Praises

 

May 22, 2011

Wanted to take a moment and send a special thank you to our Prayer Calendar Team.  You guys are awesome and I really appreciate you all choosing a day and lifting us up in prayer.  I am 100% convinced you are the reason we are sitting in Paraguay this evening even writing this email.

I also wanted to take this opportunity to remind you to keep praying!  The prayer calender wasn't just so we could get to Paraguay, it was to pray for the ministry.  At the time, we were developing partner relationships.  Now we are learning a national language and culture.  But the only reason we are doing either is so we can plant a church in an unreached people group.  Thanks for your prayers, and keep praying!


Prayer Requests

- We have a possible house to look into tomorrow.  The district we are looking in is close to our church, but happens to be the most expensive district in the city.  However this house is actually in our price range

- Jon is going to be evaluated on his Spanish level soon.  Pray that it can be clearly determined where he is at, and therefore what things he can begin to work on as we move forward towards the end goal of fluency

- For Jen as she strives to communicate with very little Spanish at the moment.

- For the kids since we don't have much of a daily routine at this point.

- Deciding early on where and how to spend time.

- For us as we look to identify people who can help us with language.

- Safety as we travel in the city


Praises

- We are caught up on sleep

- The kids have adjusted magnificently!

- We are already making friends at church

- Our support team from the mission

 

Till All Are Reached
Jon and Jen Quast

Jon and Jen
 
Jamen wastes no time getting a girlfriend.
 
Jade and Jamen

Host Family; Host Pastor

 

May 16, 2011

A host couple makes sure that we have everything we need. Right now they are helping us find a place to live. Once we find a place they will help us get the things we need to move in. It’s so important that we have Paraguayan friends who can help us do this because as Paraguayans they will know where to go to get stuff, and also they will now what is a good price and can help us from being ripped off. In short they are our “in” to the city.

Our host couple will also help us with language and culture, although not exclusively. It’s dangerous to learn language and culture from just one person. For example, in our country, how many 16 year old boys and 80 year old women view life the same way? They do share some common beliefs that our latent in American Culture, however there are also great differences in thinking. If someone learned culture from just the 16 year old, they would be severely limited in their understanding of Americans. Same with language. How many people in America talk the same way? We understand each, but consider the differences between Mississippi and Massachusetts in accent. Consider the difference between a 15 year old girl who inserts the word “like” (I was like going to the store and like a saw my friend who was all like…) every couple words, to the elderly deacon who prays in King James English. There are vast differences in how a language can be spoken. Therefore it is important to have multiple culture and language helpers. Our host pastor can assist us in this way by coordinating help from others in the church.

Till All Are Reached
Jon and Jen Quast

Host pastor to extreme left and host couple to extreme right


WE HAVE ARRIVED!

May 11, 2011

God gave us a vision a long time ago, to see a church established amongst a people where there is currently no gospel witness. After years of training, additions to the family, churches visited and partnered with, and many miles put on the ol’ Ford, the day has finally arrived where we have arrived in our new home country. On Tuesday May 10th we flew all night to Asuncion Paraguay, our home for the next couple years.

We thank you all who have had a part in arriving at this momentous day. Many of you have sacrificed your time and resources to see us arrive at this moment. We could not have done it without you. In the next couple of days you are going to get a lot of new blog posts as we relate our first few days in Paraguay. Until then, as they say in Paraguay, chao!

The Quasts: Jon, Jen, Jamen, Jade


Jamen with some luggage