Journey to Asunción

23Feb12

“You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Ps 16:11

One of the founders of the DOC congregation in Luque, Juliana Dominguez donated land for the building of the church building

Our assignment as consultants for mission development is a collaborative effort with the Christian Church / Disciples of Christ churches of Argentina and Paraguay. So, a few weeks into our time here, we travelled to Asunción to introduce ourselves to the General Council of the church in Paraguay. From there, we worshipped with several congregations and learned about the service and witness of church leaders in the area (we will share more about that in a later post).

Trompos

Some trompos at the Cabildo museum

We also had the opportunity to familiarize ourselves with Asunción, Paraguay’s capital of approximately 600,000 people and one of the oldest settlements in the entire region. At the Cabildo, a museum located in what has been the Senate house, we saw an exhibit about last year’s national bicentennial celebration. A significant part of the display was dedicated to the trompo, a game traditionally played by children in several of Paraguay’s indigenous communities (the game involves pieces that to our eyes resembled tops). In advance of the bicentennial, the game had been reintroduced in schools throughout the country and children invited to elaborate their own trompos with painting, drawing, etc.

A view of Asunción from the Cabildo cultural center

A view of Asunción from the Cabildo cultural center

While Paraguay honors its mixed indigenous heritage, it is also in many respects re-orienting itself around newer priorities. There is an appetite for projects and developments that in part explains Paraguay’s phenomenal GDP growth rate over 14.5% in 2010. At the same time, there remains a significant question in Paraguay’s future about the distribution of wealth. While the national poverty rate stands at 34%, and in rural areas 50%, two thirds of the land is controlled by 10% of the population. Many of us from the United States have a similar question about how our society can hope to reconcile if different groups of people have such different lenses on common issues. We pray that the experience we bring to Paraguay and the wisdom we receive from the church here will lead to new perspectives that can be of benefit to all concerned.

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