Kyle was asked to speak at a youth camp yesterday. (“Youth” in Paraguay means age sixteen to twenty-something. Basically, you’re considered a youth until you’re married or over 30…whichever comes first.) Youth from all the local Methodist churches gather together annually for a weekend at the Methodist camp grounds. We had the privilege of attending this year as guests.
The theme was “Levantate y Resplandece” (Rise up and shine) taken from Isaiah 60:1 which says, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.”
One of the key aspects of the camp was to encourage spiritual leadership. (Actually, the youth in Paraguay are very active in the church. It’s not uncommon for a typical Paraguayan evangelical congregation to be made up of three fourths teenagers/young adults.) The youth who attended this camp were representative of some of the “cream of the crop.” Attending this camp was not only a sacrifice of their time, but also their money, as many of them are from poorer families and had to work extra to raise the money to attend.
Kyle’s message included encouragement and practical ways for a spiritual leader to continue to grow–specifically emphasizing the work of the Holy Spirit and what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. He prayed over the youth as many of them are currently or will soon be stepping into church leadership positions. At the end of his talk, they played a game that demonstrated the importance of a spiritual leader’s relationship with God and his/her clear communication of God’s plan to those they are leading.
The evening ended with a surprise thank-you service for Pastor Pablo and his wife for 25 years of faithful service as head of all the churches in Paraguay. Pablo is very musical and much of his ministry involved music. Elizabeth shared how impactful his ministry has been, specifically through his music. (He even plays the saw, and performed a couple stanzas from a hymn!) We sang a duet of Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing as a thank-you to both of them.
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(Notice the silly dog in a few of the clips. For some reason, it thought that whenever there was clapping or applause it was for him, so he would put on a little show. As soon as the clapping ended, he would return to normal.)
The thank-you service lasted until after midnight, and by the time we drove back to Asuncion, it was almost 3am! Not only were we tired from a long day, but Kyle’s brain was fried after teaching AND practicing his Spanish all day. (If you’ve ever learned a second language, you know how exhausting it is for your brain to constantly import and process this new information…especially for hours at a time.)