My first night in Paraguay was spent in The Casita, a two-room guest cottage that doubled as a schoolhouse for the Ratcliffe children. I was both humbled and honored to stay in this beautiful place, especially knowing that the Ratcliffe family, which consists of Peter & Evi, along with their six kids, were staying just a short distance away in their two-bedroom home. You heard me right… eight Ratcliffes, and two bedrooms.
Grace For The Space.
My first thought upon seeing their home was how warm and inviting it was. Then I learned this amazing family managed in a two-bedroom house with one bath. My next thought – Dear Lord Jesus! How is that possible?! I couldn’t share a bathroom with my two brothers growing up and I always had my own bedroom. Currently, I live in a three-bedroom house… by myself. Okay, not completely alone – I do share my space with two huge dogs, but still. To say that I struggled with feelings of guilt is an understatement.
Pictured above (left) is the entrance to The Casita and (right) is the view from my bed – it was absolutely gorgeous and unexplainably peaceful.
What amazed me though was that they never complained. Not once. The five oldest kids (two boys and three girls, age two to seventeen) share one room and baby Naomi, sleeps along with her parents in the other. And they all make it work. How is that possible, you’re probably asking? The conclusion I have come to, is that when God calls you somewhere, He ALWAYS gives the grace needed to fulfill His work.
One of the things that I feel truly sets this family apart from others, is that they believe – each of them, that God called them to the nation of Paraguay. These kids weren’t forced to give up their lives in Oklahoma because their parents were “called”. They were “called” right alongside them. It’s undeniably evident in the sacrifices these children willingly made and continue to make daily so that the people of Paraguay can come to know Jesus.
I wish that I could give an account of their story, the epic journey of one family’s unyielding faith and God’s unending faithfulness, that brought them to Paraguay nearly three years ago. That will have to wait for another day, and for me to persuade Peter that their story truly should be written and published for all to read.
And We’re Off!
I woke early the next day and joined the Ratcliffe kids for a quick breakfast before we finished loading everything for our journey to the Indigenous. Our vehicle of choice, the 22-year-old Toyota Land Cruiser. Okay, this was the only option. This baby had seen a few miles in her life. And although she was still trekking on, she was definitely moving at a much slower pace than she probably traveled in her prime. Her AC had long since quit and the engine had a few minor issues, but she got us where we needed to go.
Pictured above, Old Faithful – it really is time to let her rest.
Insert PRAYER REQUEST here:
In all seriousness, this family really needs a newer vehicle to enable them to continue the work they are doing. If you believe in prayer, please pray and believe with us for God to provide the vehicle needed. – Thanks!
**And if God speaks to your heart about financially helping with the purchase of their next vehicle, please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I can send you more information about getting a donation to them directly.**
Back To The Story…
Our first stop was to pick up some of our team, Pastor Sergio and his 25-year-old daughter, Joana. After a “quick” three-hour lunch, (what can I say, Pastors know how to talk…lol) we made our way to purchase the needed supplies for the first three of our outreaches.
Here we are waiting to check out with our four shopping carts full of supplies. Left to Right: Pastor Sergio, Joanna, Emily and me. Peter was taking our picture.
Then we were on the road again. We traveled for hours. I lost track of time, but can say that we easily drove for 4-5 hours. The sun had long since gone down as the paved roads ended and we began winding through the seemingly endless dirt roads. After some time, we finally arrived at what would be our base camp for the next three nights, the home of our main contact and the heart behind the outreaches, Pastor Cipriano.
Here we were in the middle of the jungle in the black of night. Okay, this may not actually be classified as “jungle” terrain, but that’s what if felt like… Pastor Cipriano led me, Emily, (Peter’s oldest daughter) and Joana, to the room we would share for the next few nights. When they opened the door, the bugs that had congregated at the entrance to welcome us, overwhelmed me. Let’s be honest – I cringed a little. Not so much at the accommodations, but all the creepy-crawly things that wanted to join me. I was thankful though for electricity and running water. Things could be worse after all, I could be in a tent with the bugs and have no electricity or water.
Above is my room/bed at Pastor Cipriano’s.
After a series of introductions and a late meal, I gave in to the exhaustion from all of our travel and found my way to my bed. It was hot and humid, but I was still in American mode and determined that no mosquitoes would feast on me that night. So I doused myself in deet and wrapped myself in a bed sheet – head to toe. After about two minutes, I was dripping in sweat and my missionary mode kicked in. “Forget this!” I thought, as I threw back the sheet and decided to trust God to not allow my body to become a buffet for the mosquitoes. It was late and tomorrow would be a busy day. With that, I closed my eyes and drifted off into a deep sleep… I had no idea what tomorrow would bring, but whatever it was, I was going to be ready.