日本基督教団 The United Church of Christ in Japan

【December 2020 No.408】Christmas Greetings from Paraguay


“Feliz Navidad.” Brothers and sisters in the Lord, I bring you midsummer Christmas greetings from Paraguay! Paraguay is in the Southern Hemisphere, where the seasons are exactly the opposite of Japan so Christmas is in the height of summer, and Easter is in the Fall. We made the advent wreath while sweating in the heat of summer last November. I keenly sense that the seasons of the Bible are those of the Northern Hemisphere.

The year 2020 was one of ordeals. The believers from the Colonia Yguazu and Colonia Fram immigrant areas came together for Christmas worship in 2019, welcoming 2020 with joy. From January through February, I returned to Japan temporarily, holding first-year work-report meetings in churches here and there, with many people hearing about the mission work in Paraguay. I returned, enveloped in great joy, and reported on the work in Japan to the people in Pirapo Church, and we had just reopened worship services when all meetings, including missionary work, were prohibited from the middle of March to control the spread of the corona virus.

As a general rule, people were not permitted to go out, and I heard that anyone doing so unnecessarily and non-essentially would be given a large fine, so I went out for nothing other than food shopping. Online live services were out of question as there were some who didn’t have smartphones. I could not take anything to the believers or go to meet them, and we were completely unable to engage in church activities. I was confined only to the church, and two weeks after worship services were suspended, I began to confirm the current condition to believers on Saturday by phone and via the SNS (Social Networking Service) and also announce the weekly Bible passage. I have continued to communicate this way every week to the believers living far away from Pilas even after worship services reconvened.

From the middle of June, regulations for going out were revised; mission work involving under 50 persons became possible; and worship services reconvened. That was the one-year anniversary of the church building’s dedication, and we sensed God’s deep compassion. During the worship service, the windows and doors were left open and we used fans, but at times during the winter months of July and August, we were cold. The restrictions about elderly people going out still continues, and to prevent infection within families, those who have an elderly in the family couldn’t come to church neither. On the first Lord’s Day in November, the few who had been unable to attend services came to their first worship service in a year and were able to share Communion together.

It is said that the increase in the rate of infection has slowed down somewhat, but the situation does not allow for predictions. From Oct. 20, the International Airport was reopened, and regular airlines have begun to fly; but returning to Japan is a concern because many infected people may be in the area where passengers change planes.

The corona virus infection still continues, and during the summer there is also a rise in the danger of Dengue Fever. I am confined within the church, and gazing up at the sky everyday, I have come to realize deep within my heart that there is only One upon Whom I can depend.

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18: 2) “I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.’ (Psalm 121:1-2)

Christmas teaches me to depend only on the Lord. I am praying for a great blessing for all of you. (Tr. RT)

by Ehara Yukiko, Kyodan missionary

Pirapo city, Paraguay

主に在る兄弟姉妹の皆様   ¡Feliz Nividad! 盛夏のパラグアイから、クリスマスのご挨拶を申し上げます。パラグアイは南半球にありますので、季節が日本と逆になり、クリスマスは夏の盛り、イースターは秋になります。昨年は11月に汗を流しながらアドベントクランツを作りました。聖書の季節が北半球のものであることをしみじみと感じます。








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