June 17, 2023

It is bittersweet to write this update, as it is the last one I’ll send before Phoebe and I return to South Africa on July 5th, without Margaret.  Alberto has actually already returned!  Our year of furlough has slipped through our fingers.

Gratitude sums up our year.  We are grateful for a year of reconnecting with so many of you in our church family, both at Park Street Church and the First Hispanic Baptist Church.  We have spent time with my parents in Weymouth, Alberto’s family in El Salvador, and my sister in Denver.  We are grateful for Ana and Frenchie’s wedding last December, and the opportunity it gave us to go to Hawaii!

We were able to get Phoebe a diabetic pump, and put her in an autism program in Charlestown High School through Boston Public Schools.  Alberto was able to work on our Quincy house, which continues to be rented to the same lovely Christian family.  I was able to take three classes towards the Masters I started at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary many years ago, leaving me one class shy of a Masters of Art in Christian Ministries.  My plan is to take that last class virtually in South Africa.

Another goal we had for this year was to provide a home base for our roaming children, and that, we certainly did!  I will share more about each one below.

The only thing we haven’t completed is our fundraising.  Currently, Park Street Church supports us $1,000/month.  Because we are Partner Missionaries ministering in a country with a Christian population, we are not eligible to be considered Full-Support missionaries by the church.  Thus, our need to fundraise for ourselves!  God has been faithful through the generosity of many of you, for which we are grateful.  But, our budget has increased since we left for South Africa almost nine years ago!  Please be in prayer about supporting us monthly through www.parkstreet.org/give.  We are listed in the drop-down box as “Missions: Paradas PM” (partner missionaries).  We are happy to answer any questions about our budget or fundraising, should you want to email me at joanna@paradas.org.

Talking about fundraising is always a touchy subject, and not my favorite thing to do, which is why we have left it to the end of our time.  The other thing we are trying to squeeze in before my departure is a collection of cleats for the soccer ministry Alberto is currently involved in on Saturday mornings in Cape Town.  There is a drop-off box in the church lobby, should you have extra cleats you want to donate!  Thank you!

Please join us in thanking God for this incredible year we have been able to have in the U.S.  It has allowed us to reconnect with friends and family, and helped us reflect on and prepare ourselves for ministry in South Africa.  Please continue to pray for us!

Happy 16th birthday, Phoebe!  You inspire me by your ability to bring out the best in people!

Please pray for opportunities for Phoebe in Cape Town.  At this point, I do not know of a school that could accommodate her.  I will continue to research this upon my return.  I will also reach out to the autism therapists that used to come to our house, and try to restart home therapies as well.  I am, at times, overwhelmed by Phoebe’s care needs, but need to remember that God has always opened doors and provided, and will continue to do so!

Our amazing Missionary Care Team who loves us, prays for us, hangs out with us, and celebrates life events with us (such as Phoebe’s birthday and Alberto’s departure).

Phoebe and I recently participated in another Waypoint Adventure.  This time we cycled along the Charles.  Waypoint supports people with disabilities as they actively explore outdoor activities, and have an amazing staff and group of committed volunteers!

I recently had the opportunity to speak at a Joni & Friends fundraiser.  It was an honor to share our story of how real Jesus has been to us in our challenges, and I pray that this ministry will continue to flourish and bless people around the world as it has blessed us.

Alberto flew back to South Africa recently.  He is readjusting well, and enjoying getting back into the rhythm of ministry, where he is being welcomed back with open arms.  One of the projects he wants to complete before Phoebe and I return is to revarnish the kitchen floor.

He had varicose vein removal surgery before leaving, and thankfully, everything healed nicely!

Margaret finished waitressing at Puttshack and flew across the world alone.  She stopped off in Istanbul and has spent the past week in Seoul, Korea.  Tomorrow she flies to Amsterdam to start her backpacking trek on the Eurorail, as she visits various friends she’s met over the years.  In September she hopes to attend Leeds Beckett University in the U.K. and study social psychology.  This is, of course, a huge change from her original ideas of studying in Cape Town, MassArt, or SCAD.

It will be hard for me to return to Cape Town without Margaret.  This is a new chapter of life as it will be just Alberto, Phoebe and me.

Isaac surprised me with a game at the Celtics on Mother’s Day!  This was my first-ever professional sports event!

Isaac is bouncing around the country, having been in Florida, Pennsylvania, Colorado (with us), Oregon, California, and now back to Massachusetts.  He’s a bit fuzzy on his next steps.  I am enjoying his company while he is here in Boston with me!

Ana just celebrated one year in Hawaii.  She and Frenchie have had lots of overseas invitations this year.  You can read her latest update here.

Prayer Points

* Fundraising
* Blessings as Alberto reenters prison and the soccer ministry
* Safe travels for Phoebe and me as we return to South Africa July 5th
* A school for Phoebe
* Guidance for me as I juggle Phoebe’s care and my desire to be more involved with YWAM
* Grace as we readjust to the electricity shortages in South Africa
* Safe travels in Europe for Margaret
* Safe travels in the U.S. for Isaac
* Guidance for Ana as she desires to develop a coffee house ministry

Our Mission

We proclaim the hope of Christ to the incarcerated through Hope Prison Ministry, on the soccer field to young men who are at-risk, and to the nations through Youth With A Mission (YWAM).  If you would like to come and see what God is doing, please join Park Street’s short-term team to Cape Town in August.