July 25, 2018

A Restorative Justice (RJ) campaign took place last week at Pollsmoor Prison, which Alberto participated in.  Although it is open to all prisoners, only a select few decide to take the challenge and complete the six-day course.  Now that it is over, the follow-up starts.  Families and victims are contacted so restitution can be made.  It’s a long road for all involved, but Jesus is the foundation.  The number of men who commit their lives to the Lord each time is just amazing. Of course, the challenge is to walk out that faith.  The following verse encourages us all to do that.

Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents– which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. (Phil 1:27-28.)  Amen!  May we all conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel.

August 9-23 PS’s short-term mission team will be here to do prison ministry.  We are very excited for their arrival!

Isaac is in Zambia, or possibly Zimbabwe.  If he hadn’t given away his phone, I’m sure he would communicate with me more regularly, right?  I got an Instagram account to follow some of his teammates, but even they have not been posting recently.  I think they are actually far from the reaches of the internet, thoroughly immersed in their two-month outreach as part of their Discipleship Training School (DTS).  (I am grateful for the one picture I have received!)

Isaac and his team started in Asia, as you may remember, and had an incredible time exploring God’s creation and delving into His truth.  It’s been life-changing, to say the least, and Isaac’s love and commitment to the Lord has grown exponentially.  He returns to Cape Town mid-August, just in time to catch his flight to Messiah College in PA, U.S.A.  I miss that boy!

Ana and Margaret are pictured above on the 4th of July at Camp Deer Run, where Ana is a counselor and Margaret was a camper.  This camp holds a special place in their lives, and we are grateful for the Christian community that makes it the girls’ home away from home.  Margaret just finished camp actually, and is now with my parents in South Weymouth.  She returns to cold South Africa next week, when school starts again!  I can’t wait to have her back.

Ana returns to Cape Town next month to staff the ETW DTS.  Ok, those acronyms stand for Experiencing The Word Discipleship Training School, through YWAM (Youth With A Mission).  Got it?  She is still in the process of raising money for this ministry, which you can read about in her letter here: Ana’s newsletter.  Please contact her directly at ana@paradas.org if you are interested in supporting her.

Margaret graduated from middle school just prior to her departure to the U.S.. She starts 9th grade on Aug 1.

For the second year in a row, friends from the Church of the Holy Nativity sent money to the preschool that our friends started in Worcester.

While the older kids were away during the winter break, Alberto, Phoebe and I went on a camping/road trip with friends to Namibia, the arid country to the north.  We appreciated the barrenness of the desert, lions in the game park, unusually-shaped rock formations, and refreshing hot springs.  My favorite part of the trip, however, was sitting around the fire talking to our Christian friends!

Etosha National Park, although almost completely dry, does have a few remaining water holes that attract animals from far and near.

Fish River Canyon, the largest canyon in Africa.

Phoebe was a great traveler and companion.  It was not always easy to get veggies and meat to make her diabetic-friendly meals.  I am in awe of God’s provision and care for her, as we didn’t have a single moment of worrisome blood sugar levels.

Our camping companions, friends from our days in Worcester.

Alberto celebrated his birthday in South African style, with a braai.

Phoebe celebrated her 11th birthday on May 30.

Today an autism consultant observed Phoebe in her preschool setting, and will give practical suggestions to Plaky (and us) as to how best work with Phoebe.  I am thrilled that the school is so committed to helping her learn and grow.  They really do love her!

Drought Update

Thank you for your prayers.  We have had some great winter rains lately.  Despite this blessing, our dam levels are still low, so our drought status continues.  That means we are still under tight water restrictions.  There has been no mention of the proposed desalination project.  I heard the project ran out of money.  (Budgeting is a bit of a challenge here!)

Praise God for openness to the Gospel in the prisons.
Praise God our kids have the opportunities that they have!
Praise God for our safe camping trip.

Prayer Requests

Alberto: the power of the Gospel to manifest in the lives of the prisoners, and that their changed lives will be evident to their families and victims, so that healing can begin
Joanna: wisdom as she coordinates details of kids’ comings and goings
Ana: fundraising for YWAM
Isaac: his team to touch many with the Gospel of Jesus Christ
Margaret: grace as she returns to South Africa and starts school again
Phoebe: helpful guidance from the autism consultant
Financial Opportunity

Thank you to all of you who have made it possible for us to be here.

If you would like to support our work in South Africa through YWAM and Hope Prison Ministry, please make a donation to Park Street Church with our name in the memo. The online giving link is parkstreet.org/give.

July 28, 2015

Praise God for our house!  Thank you to all of you for your prayers and financial support which made this possible.  It is very exciting to finally unpack and start to feel settled.

South Africa is cold!  With temperatures just above freezing at night, and in the 50’s during the day, we are cold most of the time.  There is no heat, but we have a fireplace to huddle around.  Our house also has an indoor barbecue area, which is typical for Afrikaans homes in this area.  Now we can cook over the open fire when we are cold and when the power goes out (which renders our electric stove useless).

Along with working with boys in the community, Alberto has also started visiting a rehab center where men are recovering from their addictions to alcohol/drugs.  These men are very thirsty for answers in their lives, and are very receptive to hearing about God’s unfailing love and forgiveness.  Most of them have never had access to a Bible or stepped foot into a church.

Picture Captions:

Some neighbors came by with this cake! Afrikaans is the preferred language here, so the sooner we learn it the better! (Isaac, Margaret and I just finished our second term of Afrikaans!)

Isaac left for the U.S. for a month of camping at Camp Brookwoods, made possible through a generous scholarship! It was his first time traveling alone internationally.  He is pictured above in Boston.  He is coming back this week!

Cape of Good Hope, at the tip of South Africa, is where Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias first rounded the Cape in 1488, thereby opening trade with the Far East.  Many boats have crashed on the rocky coast and choppy waters.  Included in our picture is Lydia Bruce, who came from Boston to visit Ana!

We had an outdoor service at YWAM, to publicly declare God’s sovereignty over the base.  Dinner was also served. Potjie is a typical meal here, which is a stew cooked over the open fire in large cast-iron pots.

Phoebe’s favorite place is the kitchen. Here she is pictured helping make rice for the community outreach.

Some of the boys Alberto is befriending.

We met up with the Park Street Church short-term mission team, who came to spread God’s Word in the prisons. Andrew and Anne May were the hosts. It was a very cold night, but wonderful to see friends!

Prayer Requests/Praises

  • Praise God for His provision of housing.
  • Praise God for a good school break for the kids.
  • Pray for the boys Alberto is working with, that they can know the hope of Christ, and live lives of hope, despite their destitute circumstances.
  • Pray for the kids as they return to school and continue to adapt to a different style of eduction.
  • Pray for Ana who graduates later this year, and is considering many different options.
  • Pray for a muscle I pulled in my shoulder right before we moved. The timing was very inconvenient.

July 1, 2013

Happy 4th of July for next week!

It is with much joy that I share our good news with you.  We have received our church’s blessing to be mid-term missionaries!  Last month when I wrote to you I told you we had passed through one committee, and were awaiting the larger committee’s approval.  Well, the larger missions committee met, and we got the green light!  Thank you for all your prayers and well-wishing!  It is very important to us to have the church’s spiritual and emotional support as our sending church.  We have waited for this for awhile, since we believe it is the first step in building a ministry plan.

So, this is the plan.  We will leave for South Africa next summer.  We are making a 3 year commitment.  We will spend the first year with YWAM (Youth With A Mission) doing Bible classes (as recommended) and participating as we are able in the outreach YWAM does.  (See their impressive website here:http://www.ywamworcester.com/)  The second and third year we will be involved in full-time ministry.  After 3 years, we will return to our church for a re-eval.  Well, that is the plan at present.

Although we have the church’s blessing, we do not have much financial support from them, unfortunately.  At this point, they have committed 10%, which is a far cry from 100% (like we had in Paraguay.)  But, we are not discouraged.  We are embarking on a giant-scale fundraising effort to fund ourselves in South Africa for the next 3 years, at least.  A large order, indeed, but we are excited to watch as God provides through supportive folk like yourselves.  We will be sending out a letter through snail mail with more information on how to start giving to our account at church, but I wanted to get the word out to you here as soon as possible.  (If you need to update your address with me, now is the time!)

Many of you may wonder why our missions-oriented church is not supporting us 100% again.  They have a policy which allows only people going to certain areas the ability to qualify for full funding.  Since South Africa is not one of those areas, we are, in essence, on our own financially.  That is ok though, since there is a certain freedom to not being under a policy.  And we know that policies can change, which is why we had to leave Paraguay in the first place.  So, we are following God’s leading, and believe that we can raise the necessary funds.  We know through our experience and watching others go before us that a trickle in the bucket eventually fills the bucket.  Bit by bit, we will see the provision.  So, as you await our fundraising letter, please be in prayer about supporting us.

Thank you for your friendships!  May God continue to bless you all!
Alberto, Joanna, Ana, Isaac, Margaret and Phoebe Parada

May 9, 2013

Quick update…
We have applied to YWAM in Worcester, South Africa for July, 2014.  We are planning on spending the first year in classes while we work with the area ministries. Tonight we are meeting with the mid-term missions committee at Park Street Church.  Please keep us in your prayers!
Alberto, Joanna, Ana, Isaac, Margaret and Phoebe Parada

May 8, 2013

Quick update…
We have applied to YWAM in Worcester, South Africa for July, 2014.  We are planning on spending the first year in classes while we work with the area ministries. Tonight we are meeting with the mid-term missions committee at Park Street Church.  Please keep us in your prayers!
Alberto, Joanna, Ana, Isaac, Margaret and Phoebe Parada

March 28, 2013

Happy Easter to you all!!!

This is an exciting update, and one I have been wanting to write for years, but haven’t been able to.  Things are finally falling into place for South Africa!!!  Praise God!  It is so encouraging to watch as the the pieces start to take shape.  It has been a long journey, as you know, but so worthwhile.  Ever since we came back from Paraguay (almost 4 years ago), we have been wanting to return overseas to be missionaries.  Living overseas being a missionary is the most exciting life we can imagine.  Being a part of what God is doing is an honor, and leaving behind some of our physical comforts and friends and family make us depend even more on God.  Seeing God work as He does is addicting!  When you make the decision to be completely available to Him, He uses you for His purpose!!  And what is His purpose?  To redeem creation…God wants to be in relationship with each and everyone of us.  That is why Jesus died on the cross, to pay the price for our sins and restore that relationship with God.  And when people get that, they are released from their pasts and freed to live a life of hope!  Of course, showing people love through addressing their physical needs is how it needs to happen.  We are God’s instruments.  Faulty instruments, but available instruments.

So, that is why we have wanted to go overseas ever since we returned from Paraguay.  We were only planning on being here for a year, but everything came to a grinding halt when Phoebe was diagnosed with autism on top of her Down syndrome almost three years ago.  (Phoebe is turning 6 in May.)  But now, a few years later, we feel like it is possible to embark on the journey again.  The timing seems right, since Phoebe is doing well, and contacts in South Africa are going really well.  I could not say this last year.

As you may remember, the missions committee at our church, Park Street Church, recommended that Alberto take some more Bible classes.  We figured the best way to do this would be for him to take the classes in the place we intend to minister.  So, we looked at YWAM, which stands for Youth With A Mission.  We worked with YWAM in Guatemala with Ana and Isaac in 2001, so the ministry is not new to us, and is very close to our hearts.  Although the first YWAM base we looked at in South Africa had a one-year program, that particular base was not set up for families at all.  But, the base in Worcester, South Africa is very much set up for families.  Not only any family, but even special needs families.  The family I am in touch with at this base also has 4 children, and one of those kids has Down syndrome!  Talk about God confirming the placement and preparing our way!  The mother has been instrumental in answering every single question I have, which, as you know, is quite a tall order!  This base offers not only a condensed Bible course, but they also offer a Family Ministry class, and a counseling class, which would be super useful for Alberto as he is still considering the prison ministry after he finishes his classes.  On top of that, we visited this base when we were last in South Africa, and we really liked it!

So, the details are as follows: we are in the process of applying to YWAM.  We plan to leave next year, June ’14.  That gives us just over a year to prepare and fundraise.  (Our church Park Street Church will not cover all our expenses like they did in Paraguay, unfortunately.  But they will act as a collecting agency for us for the first year.)  Our God is big, and you all are our faithful friends, so I am confident we can rise to the challenge of raising the support we need.  Support being financial and prayer.

When Alberto finishes his classes, which will take just under a year, we plan to stay in South Africa as  missionaries.  At this point, we are making a 3-5 year commitment, with the hope of extending.  During that first year, we will have plenty of opportunities to explore God’s calling at the jail ministry or elsewhere.  (In case you don’t remember, we have dear friends conducting Bible studies in some of the area jails.)  I also have a burning desire to work with forgotten children, so it will be interesting to see how God guides and shapes our vision during that first year in South Africa.

In terms of our family, Phoebe continues to make good progress with her new doctor.  Her thyroid has finally stabilized.  She is starting to put words together, and her energy has increased significantly.  We are grateful that we could be in the US for this critical time in her life.  Now though, I am stocked with so many resources that I am bursting at the seams!  And the doctors I will need to follow-up with are available in South Africa.

Ana and Isaac will be able to complete another year at Boston Trinity Academy.  Ana will leave before her senior year, which some people think is crazy, but I am so happy Ana will have a year with us in South Africa before embarking on college!  She is excited, so that is a huge blessing!  Isaac and Margaret are ready to leave today, so that is also a blessing.

So, please pray for us as we get our application completed, and prepare for our talk at the missions committee at church early May.  We definitely want their blessing! We will start to fundraise after that, so please be praying about your involvement, whether it be monthly financial support, one-time financial support, prayer support, and/or anything else that will help us get from here to there!!!  Thank you faithful friends.  You have been with us for a long time, and we appreciate you all!!

Love Alberto, Joanna, Ana, Isaac, Margaret, and Phoebe Parada

Dec 22, 2012

Dear Friends and Family,

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!  May God’s blessings be upon you all this Christmas season, and next year!  Thank you for all the lovely Christmas cards we have been receiving.  One day I will get back into sending an official Christmas card through the mail.  For now, though, please accept this e-mail version!
As far as an update, life continues to be super-busy on the home-front!  The first praise is that Alberto recently finished his job in Springfield!  Having him gone so much was really taking a toll on our family. Now he is working in Bridgewater, so the commute is much easier!  The fact that he is still working at this time of year is a huge blessing in and of itself!  Since our medical costs for Phoebe are so high, we really are grateful to God for his continued employment!
Ana (10th grade) and Isaac (8th) are really enjoying their year at Boston Trinity Academy, and burning the night oil with all the homework!  They both played soccer for the school this fall, while Isaac and Margaret played for the town.  Yes, Isaac participated in both leagues!  Margaret (3rd grade) continues to be homeschooled.
Phoebe (5 years old) continues to brighten my life!  She is such a joy!  She now has glasses, which we are encouraging her to wear!  I’ve had a challenging fall figuring out some of her medical issues.  As some of you know, we have been making regular trips to NYC to a homeopathic autism center; where Phoebe was making nice, albeit small gains.  We had committed to the 2-year protocol, which would have brought us up until this coming summer.  Last month, the doctor told us she couldn’t work with us anymore, as Phoebe’s gut disbiosis was too much for her, and recommended we work a different specialist.  Although I was initially disappointed, I really have high hopes for this new doctor.  We just started with him last month, so I will let you know how it goes!
Meanwhile, Phoebe continues to have her homeschool program made possible through a variety of therapists and volunteers who come to the house.  (For autism, it is recommended that the kids have 20-25 hours a week of intense 1:1, so that is what we are doing.)  I train the volunteers according to the Son-Rise model of play-based therapy.  God has always provided us with wonderful loving volunteers.  As soon as one leaves, another appears.  The timing has been nothing short of miraculous.  At this point, we have 9 different people working with Phoebe.  I also just got a scholarship to do hippotherapy with her, which is horse-back riding therapy!  She loves being on a horse, (but does not love wearing her helmet!)  She is also participating in an early literacy program for kids with Down syndrome.  As a result of all this intervention, Phoebe’s speech and cognition are really improving.
Our original plan was to leave for South Africa this coming summer, when Phoebe’s protocol finished.  Unfortunately, I have been so busy researching, training, driving, cooking, etc that we have not had the time to pursue options in South Africa.  The idea is for Alberto to attend a one-year Bible course, since he wants to learn more about the Bible to be better prepared for future missions.  This will also satisfy requirements for our church, Park Street Church.  Although he could do the courses on-line, he prefers to be physically present for the classes, so as to immerse himself in the learning.  We are still praying about timing and other such major issues.  Continually postponing this has been really hard for me, as I love being overseas working with the mission of spreading the light of Christ to those around us.  I like to think that we are doing that here, but there is incredible need and a special attraction for us to do that overseas.  Meanwhile, I have been praying for orphaned special needs kids overseas, and hope to be able to work with that community when the time is right.
I hope you are all well.  Thank you for sharing in our lives.  You are in our thoughts and prayers.  Please continue to keep our family in your prayers!  I’ll leave you with one of my favorite verses:
Lamentations 3:22-24 “Because of the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed. His steadfast love to us is new every morning. Great is His faithfulness!” 
Love Alberto, Joanna, Ana, Isaac, Margaret and Phoebe Parada