Thursday, December 20, 2012

End of School, More Pets and Big Decisions

School's out for summer vacation - woo-hoo!!!!  Isaiah and Landon successfully completed another year of school in South America.  This has by far been our best year and we are so grateful for the teachers who lovingly guided the boys through their first year of bi-lingual learning (first time to "do school" in English!)  Landon's class celebrated with a jungle theme and he sang a cute song about being an elephant.
18 kiddos in this class - and only 5 girls!!!  It was a wild, but fun year :)
Isaiah's class also performed a song and dance (unfortunately we only have video of that, no pictures).  Isaiah received an award for Best Student in the English program :) AND Most Obedient in his class!

About a week before school got out, some friends found a box of puppies on the side of the road.  Ryan LOVES puppies so we just had to adopt one :)  She looks like a little bear so her name is Osa ("bear" in Spanish)  She has already brought us so much joy!

She just wants to sit with her boy!
 THEN, on December 1, our cat gave birth to 3 kittens :)  Whew, do we have a full house now!  The boys named them Max, Messi, and Serena.  They already have owners eagerly awaiting them but it's fun to watch them change and grow during these long summer days.
 The boys started swimming lessons in December.  This has been a great way to help fill our days and they are enjoying learning to swim and dive!
Landon's first dive into the "deepness" (as he calls it!)
 We are fully enjoying our first month of summer, but with the blessings have also come some unexpected difficulties.  Shortly after my last blog post in November, we had to send home 4 of our 4040s.  That left our team with only 3 4040s to complete the project.  The original end date for the project was June 30, 2013.  After much prayer, the director of Extreme Nazarene Ministries together with the head of the South American region, decided to close the project early and send 2 of our 4040s to Peru to complete their contract there.  The 3rd 4040 is Paraguayan and will be staying in Fernando de la Mora and continuing to work with the church.
SO, with all the 4040s gone, there is no longer a need for two cluster support families.  The Williams (who have been working alongside us since May) will be returning to the States to raise more money as they plan to head to Ecuador in June and support another team of 4040s.
As for us, after 5 1/2 years of working with Extreme Nazarene Ministries in South America, God seems to be calling us back to our home country.  We have learned so much and been blessed beyond belief.  God has shown Himself to us in so many ways and each one of you, our supporters in prayer and finances, has faithfully followed His leading.  We are so grateful for you!!
We had previously made an agreement with the Vargas' to help pastor the church while they were on deputation so we will remain in Paraguay until January 30 at which point we will return to the States and begin the process of applying for a pastorate.
We have been so blessed by your prayers, support, and encouragement throughout the years and we would ask that you continue to join us in prayer as we transition yet again.  This may be the most difficult move for our dear little "South American" boys.
We will be sure to keep you posted as we have more details of where we'll be and what we'll be doing.  If you have any questions, please feel free to write me personally: Sarah Foster
Once again, thank you so much and may the blessings of Christ fill each of your lives this CHRISTmas!!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Children's Communion and Baptisms

After months of planning and preparation, everything came together to celebrate a special children's communion and baptism this past Sunday.  It was wonderful to see the church come together to support our youth!  Our outdoor "sanctuary" was set up for a breakfast and people were able to eat before the service started.  We had many new visitors (friends and family of the children who were participating) and hopefully seeds have been planted in several lives as a result of this day!
Everything set up and ready to go - tables for breakfast, a pool for the baptisms, and a special, smaller table in front for the children

Enjoying the praise music and watermelon!
 After Pastor Felix gave a short devotional, he invited all the children to receive communion.  The Sunday before, myself and another Sunday School teacher had shared with the children a lesson in what communion is and what it means.  Pastor Felix had Ryan come forward also to help the children visualize the First Communion - Ryan played the part of Jesus :)
 After communion, Scripture was read and a new Christian gave her testimony.  Then it was time for the baptisms.  Thirteen youth and children were baptized!!  Ryan was able to baptize Isaiah and Landon.
Landon affirming that Jesus is his Lord and Savior

Isaiah was so excited!  He has wanted to be baptized for about a year.  He loves his God!!

Isaiah invited his best friend, Paul, and his soccer coach.
Both of them were there to support him in this big decision.
I was thrilled to see the church working together for this event and I was so happy with the response of the youth and children from our church.  However, by far, the biggest blessing for my mommy-heart was seeing our two boys make the decision to publicly affirm that they will follow Jesus.  As a missionary and Christian, I know that God will use me to touch many lives.  But the most important lives I can impact are the two He has given us to guide and grow in love with Him.  I pray that each of you will also experience the blessings of guiding those with whom you have been entrusted!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Celebrate Youth

One of the the things we love about Paraguay is that they celebrate EVERYTHING :)  In addition to the traditional and cultural holidays of this small country, they often have festivals celebrating children and youth.  On Friday, we celebrated the first day of Spring and Youth day.  The church took this opportunity to have a fun afternoon planned for the youth of our neighborhood on Saturday.  
The children in these pictures pretty much spend all their free time on the church grounds.  They begin showing up at about 11:00 on weekdays and a little earlier on weekends and holidays.  They play soccer, hang out, and tell jokes (it reminds me a little of that fun movie, The Sandlot).  Although we know these children, we know very few of their parents.  I'm sure many of them come from difficult home situations.  Please pray that these lives will be touched by the work of the 4040s and the local church.
Forming teams

The "drummer"

Egg race - Isaiah against Landon!

Team leader, Fernando, encouraging the littlest member


Fabian, Mihael, and Isaiah waiting.....

Enzo dragging Isaiah - poor bum!

The final relay of the day....

....Mission Accomplished!!

Friday, August 31, 2012


We have had such a blessed August!  It started out with another short-term project.  We had 29 volunteers from the States, plus 2 Peruvians and a couple of long-term Extreme staff on hand and MUCH was accomplished.  As before, I was mostly inside at the computer with the "books", so I didn't get any pictures of the events.  However, you can see all the best pictures here.  I did get a picture of all the new contacts the 4040 team was able to follow up with.  Several people have started coming to church and a couple of new house groups have been started.  Praise the Lord!
 The last weekend of the short-term project, we had the privilege of hosting several leaders of the world-wide Nazarene church.  Christian Sarmiento (Director of the South American Region) and his wife, Margit; David Graves (General Superintendent) and his wife, Sharon; Marty Hoskins (Mobilization Coordinator); Verne Ward (Director of Global Missions) and his wife, Natalie; Doug Carter (Elder and Founder of RMTM Industries); Carlos Fernandez (Leadership Development in South America); and CB Glidden (Pastor of Fort Worth First Church of the Nazarene in Texas) were all on hand to provide encouragement to the church and missionaries.  The men also participated in a leadership conference for Paraguayan church leaders.
Below are several pictures of that weekend.

So, THANK YOU for your prayers!!!  As a team, we have experienced the much-needed refreshment of our spirits and encouragement in our work and are ready to claim the victory for Christ in Fernando de la Mora!!

Also in August we hosted the Officers of Extreme Nazarene Ministries.  It was fun to see old friends from Peru and the States (and receive GOODIES from the States, thanks Sydney!) 

The boys have had an exciting month also.  They started soccer school and are really enjoying being part of the organized sports world :)  
 They also celebrated a Folklore festival at school.  Isaiah's class won the best presentation as they all wore costumes and danced a traditional dance.  It was great!
As we head into Fall (for you) and Spring (for us), we are planning to take on more of a pastoral role in the church.  I have already been involved in Sunday School ministries, but I'm also starting to become more active in women's ministries and discipleship.  I have two ladies with whom I meet each week to study the Bible.  I am excited in the changes I've seen in these women!
Ryan will be preaching this Sunday and several other Sundays until December when he will be preaching full-time as the Vargas family spends the summer months in Colombia.  He will also be directing the leadership meetings in Felix's absence and will begin discipleship of a couple of men from the congregation.
God is moving and we are excited to be a part of His plan for Paraguay!  Keep us in your prayers, we know the enemy is not going to let this country go easily!  We appreciate you all :)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Building Update and Extended Vacation

The day after my last blog, the new church was complete enough to hold a service!  One of our local church leaders had been working with other church leaders in Fernando de la Mora and on Friday the 13th, an inter-denominational youth service was held under our new roof :)  It was exciting to see 10 churches and nearly 200 youth and families present and celebrating unity in Christ!

 As I mentioned in the last blog, the kiddos are on winter break right now.  It was supposed to be two weeks but last Thursday we found out that it had been extended another week.  We have been having fun playing games (with the world's smallest monopoly set!)
 and going new places like the zoo.  It was neat to see the animals (including the pregnant elephant below), but the most fun was definitely had at the gigantic trees we found in the park!  I know we're hard to see in this picture, but that just shows how massive this tree was :)
 It's been wonderful to experience God's amazing creations with our growing boys. (By the way, Isaiah hasn't grown THAT much, Landon is sitting on a small wall)
The last two weeks we had lots of homework to complete, but this week we're looking forward to some extra free time.  Isaiah is now 8 and Landon is rapidly approaching 6.  Next week we will also be welcoming a group of short-term volunteers from the States.  Three of our 4040 boys are currently in Cali Colombia experiencing the discipleship model we are using here first-hand.  We are looking forward to a boost in morale and energy with the return of the boys and the short-term team.  Please keep us in your prayers as we soldier on :)
Much love, the Fosters

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Prayer and Construction

Happy July and summer to all our friends and family in the Northern Hemisphere!!  Although it is winter here in the South, we are pleased to find that "winter" is pretty mild (however with our thin "jungle blood", even the mild winter requires several layers and coats for us!) 
I sent out a group email a couple of weeks ago, but was not sure if it went through.  If you didn't get it, I wanted to make sure you all received our thanks for the prayers each of you lift up for us.
We were in not one, but two, very dangerous situations in our car that day and truly believe the hand of God saved us from any injury on both occasions.
First, a motorcycle tried to pass us on the right-hand side and ran into a parked car - right next to Isaiah's open window.  Except for ringing ears from the sound of the crash, the car and our family were unharmed.  Then, a few hours later as we were turning left into our house from a busy street, a city bus tried to pass us on the left.  Ryan said he is convinced the bus should have hit us, but miraculously it didn't.
We were concerned for the people on the bus who were thrown forward with the sudden stop.  One family approached us and said they would be filing charges against the bus company but we have not heard any more from them or the bus company.  
Thank you so much for your daily prayers on behalf of our family and safety.  We truly feel surrounded by God's protection!
I'm happy to share some really exciting news for our church in Paraguay - CONSTRUCTION HAS BEGUN!!!  We were finding it difficult to fit everyone in the small church building every Sunday so have started the building process.  So far, we just have funds for the floor and roof, but we know God will provide the rest.  Below are several pictures taken over the last week and a half (the current church building is the white building to the right of the photo).

I'm so grateful that we can be here for this time of growth!  There is much activity on the church grounds as the workers dig the foundation, mix and pour concrete, and smooth the floor.  Our male 4040s have been talking to the workers about the hope we have in Jesus on their time off and perhaps we will see growth in more than just a building :)
And, finally, I wouldn't want to post a blog without letting you know how the boys are doing.  As I mentioned earlier, it's winter here and the boys began their two-week winter break on Monday.  So far they have had two sleepovers, a day at the park, and a visit to a friend's house - and we're not even half-way through vacation!  Yesterday they wanted to help make dinner :)
 They also have LOTS of homework to do each day and Isaiah has been practicing his English reading.
Next week will be full as we are having ANOTHER sleepover for Isaiah's 8th birthday, various play-dates, and a trip to the zoo.  Landon's birthday follows soon after so the next blog will probably be about birthdays :)
We truly appreciate every one of you and the difference you are making by joining us in prayer!  May God bless you and increase your joy in Him each day!!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Engage article

Our family is currently being profiled in the Engage on-line magazine.  You can check out our interview here
On an unrelated note, the COLD has arrived!  It has been quite chilly lately and we are expecting it to reach freezing tonight.  We are praising the Lord for our heaters, warm blankets, and warm clothing!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Many good things

It has been quite a while since I wrote a blog and we've been busy - but with such GOOD things!!  I am feeling truly blessed as I sit down to write this long-overdue update on our family and ministry.  
First of all, on May 2 the Williams family arrived in AsunciĆ³n.  They will be taking over as the new cluster support family for the 4040s.  Ryan and I have been so busy with our church-related positions and activities that we've at times felt like we were neglecting the 4040s.  Cole and Kelly are awesome and will be a great addition to the team!  They have two kiddos - Teddy is 4 and Reese just turned 3.  Landon and Teddy are already good buddies :)  You can check out their blog here.
A few days after the Williams arrived and we helped them furnish their house (finding them an apartment was an adventure!!  MUCH different here than in the States or even Peru), the boys celebrated Paraguay's Independence Day at school.  Both classes did a traditional dance and Landon was chosen to recite a poem with 3 other boys.  It's fun to be learning more about this new culture and country!
 Although Mother's Day in Paraguay was officially on Thursday May 17, the church celebrated on Sunday. I worked with the Sunday School teachers to help the kids learn a song and motions and they performed it during the service.  It was neat to see how proud they were and how much fun they had!
The church is growing so much (and we had a short-term team of college students here) that we had to hold the service outside.  What a blessing!  We are currently looking at putting up the roof for a new building so we can transition services outside, but I think we have officially "outgrown" the current church building.
 Here's a picture of Landon with his new buddy, Teddy :)
 So, as I mentioned above, we were very blessed to be able to host a short-term team of 24 college students for 2 weeks.  They were AMAZING!  They came with such energy and encouragement for us.  I also have to say that our 4040s did an extraordinary job of planning and leading the events that the short-termers participated in.  They worked in schools, plazas, soccer fields, and the street.  They painted and cleaned up the church grounds.  They helped us make new relationships and build upon existing ones.  Our hearts are filled with gratitude for these young people from Trevecca, Olivet, and Mid-America!
Below is a picture of the one event I was able to participate in (I was mostly locked up with the money and receipts!)  We went to a nearby school and spent 3 hours with the kids (kindergarten through high school) - playing soccer, painting faces and nails, jumping rope, and sharing our love with them.  At the end of our time, Felipe spoke to them about God's love and invited them and their families to church.
If you want to see more pictures of the events in AsunciĆ³n these last two weeks, check out Extreme's Facebook page.
Isaiah made some special friends too :)
So,all in all May has been pretty wild but we are encouraged and ready to face the new challenges of a growing church and ministry!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Happy Easter!

Sometimes we get so caught up in our "regular" life and our "regular" worship that we lose sight of the amazing power of Christ.  In the weeks leading up to Easter this year I was reading the Lineage of Grace series by Francine Rivers.  These stories of the faithful women in the genealogy of Jesus helped me to re-focus on God's power and His hand in lives throughout the ages.  The same God that saved Rahab, redeemed Ruth, and forgave Bathseba is at work in MY life today.  
I know so many of you are praying daily for our family and I wanted to share just a few of the answers to prayer that God has provided in these last 3 months:
  • A safe journey to Paraguay
  • A beautiful, comfortable place to call home
  • A vehicle
  • January 11 - A large tree branch fell where one of our 4040s does his morning devotions.  He had moved to another, nearby spot right before the branch fell and was unharmed.
  • January 17 - After being told there were no openings in the school of our choice, we received a call that there was a vacancy in the second grade  for Isaiah.  Both boys are able to attend a Christian, bi-lingual school.
  • January 17 - A truck nearly rolled over in front of us on the highway.  It went up on the median and we were able to safely maneuver around it.
  • March 16 - A strange man approached Landon at the gate and tried to entice him away.  One of the church members was nearby and called Landon to him. 
  • March 16 - After 5 years on and off the market, our house in Nampa Idaho finally sold :)
We are so thankful to be covered in prayer!!!  In addition to the above answers to prayer, we have felt such peace and strength that can only be from God.  He is truly ALIVE and working in lives today!!!!
 Isaiah and Landon with our guy 4040s (Mike, Felipe, Juliano, and Leon)
Dyeing Easter eggs with Felipe and Mike


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Random bits

Has it really been over a month since I last posted?!  I kept waiting for something "BIG" to happen but then I remembered that God isn't only about the big things.  We have a magnet on our refrigerator that says, "God wants to be a part of every little bitty, teeny tiny, itsy bitsy thing in your day."  So this blog will be about several of those random bits of our life here - all those little things that God cares about :)
A couple of weeks ago the Sunday School program held a yard sale.  People from the church donated used clothing, toys, and household items; then we sold them along with homemade cookies and empanadas.  We made a little over $100 and are excited to purchase some much-needed supplies for the kids with this money!
Emily and I decided to try on some of the donated items while we were setting up the sale :)
 Every Saturday the leaders from the church meet and spend an hour of sharing and prayer.  This special time is usually led by either Felix or Ryan.  Although we are not always able to see the immediate results, God is doing a mighty work in Fernando de la Mora and these leaders are an integral part of the growth process.  Please pray for them as we move from a church of less than 100 to a church of 1000 members!
 Our office :)  Notice the letters on the wall - Ryan's "Club de la Alegria" or "Joy Club".  It always makes me laugh!
 Finally, a praise and prayer request for our kiddos.  For the first time since we moved to South America in 2007, the boys are experiencing culture shock.  It's difficult to watch them struggle with this although we know it will pass.  We are grateful that they are fluent in Spanish and have made many friends here but they still miss their friends in Pucallpa and often talk about wanting to move back there.  Please pray for their adjustment and contentment here in Paraguay.
The praise is that, however slowly, they are fitting in here.  An interesting piece of the Paraguayan culture that Landon has already picked up is a love for terere.  Terere is a popular herbal drink made with ice-cold water.  Drinking terere is often used to share and chat with friends or to meet new people.  Our 4040s use it an evangelistic tool :)
As always, we are so thankful to have such wonderful people praying for and supporting us!  Many blessing to each of you :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Kid Stuff and Prayer Request

A few weeks ago, Pastor Felix asked the 4040s to prepare a children's festival for the last weekend before school started.  The team was excited to do this for the community and planned an awesome event for the children of Fernando de la Mora!
We started the day at 7 AM getting the church grounds cleaned and set up.  As the children began to arrive at 9, they were placed into one of four groups (yellow, green, red, or blue).  At 10 we started with a time of singing and getting to know each other.  After the group time, we split up and rotated between four stations (art, Bible story, VeggieTales movie, and water balloons).  
 After a lunch of hot dogs and bananas, the kids all had the chance to participate in a relay race.  It was fun to see them working together in their teams!
 As any good children's program, we then ended the day with a hot-dog eating contest..... and more singing :)
 It was a great day and we met lots of new kids in the neighborhood - and their parents!  We pray that the church might be able to touch the lives of these families and that God would continue to work throughout the city.  Already some of these new contacts have attended the church and we are hoping to see more relationships formed in this community.

Last week, Isaiah and Landon started school.  They were a little nervous their first day but are enjoying attending a "real" school (they were both surprised that they had to raise their hands to talk in class!) and are making new friends.
 The school is a Christian bi-lingual school and they attend classes 8 hours each day.  Landon is in preschool and spends the first four hours of his day in English and the last 4 hours in Spanish.  Isaiah is in 2nd grade and does 4 hours of Spanish in the morning and 4 hours of English in the afternoon.  They have Bible classes every morning and weekly chapel on Thursdays.  We are so happy to have found such a perfect fit for our boys!
It's hard to believe we've only been here a little over 7 weeks.  It's been a wild ride, but things are falling into place and we're so thankful that God has blessed us with this ministry!  Satan, however, is not pleased with us and the whole team is feeling his attacks.  Please be in prayer with us for health, safety, and precious SLEEP. It seems nearly everyone on the team (including Isaiah and Landon) are suffering from an inability to sleep and we know how detrimental this can be - not only to our health, but also to our attitudes and the way we act and react to others.   
Thank you for joining us on this journey and lifting us up in your prayers!