21 Feb Giving sight to the blind and God’s love to all
From my time in Paraguay – Capturing Grace for Paraguay Protects Families.
What started as an invitation to church quickly unlocked holistic support for Teodolina and her family. One of Teodolina’s sons, Sebastian, had a problem with his eyes. Three months ago, the family visited the church, and they quickly connected Sebastian with an eye doctor who gave him glasses. Now Sebastian is able to see again, praise God!
Sebastian not only has renewed eyesight thanks to the church and eye doctor, but also has tutors teaching him regularly. Teodolina shared in gratitude, “it’s been a blessing!”
Teodolina and her sons visit the KOEJU center at least twice every week, for tutoring, dentist appointments, and eye care. Not only has KOEJU provided services to care for the physical needs of Teodolina’s family, it has also provided friends for her sons!
A single mother with only one extended family member, Teodolina does her best to care for her children, despite circumstances beyond her control. KOEJU partners with her to support and sustain her family.
“KOEJU is a gift because they’re walking alongside us,” Teodolina shared. “We thank God for KOEJU. Sebastian’s education has significantly improved since visiting KOEJU.”
Teodolina shared in earnest praise, “I really appreciate the help from KOEJU.” She shared, “I don’t go there every day, but I have seen an improvement in my son’s life and the support has been a huge help.”
Edith Bogado, a social worker and coordinator of the KOEJU organization, shared the services that are available to families like Teodolina don’t stop with eye care, tutoring and dental services. “KOEJU is a place where children, teens, and adults come Monday through Friday for meals. We lead English courses on Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday, serving children and adults. We have music school, with folks who sing, play the drums, piano, and guitar. On Wednesdays, we have psychological talks, and dental appointments throughout the week. We help the elderly with cataract eye surgeries, rides to hospitals, and have school enforcement,” Edith shared. “We have tutoring services for students in fourth, fifth, and sixth grade, and seventh, eighth, and ninth grade. And we just started offering courses for children and adults to learn trades, such as hair styling, cosmetology, and sewing and tailoring for women.”
“We work with each member of the family, with the whole community,” Edith said.
“Most importantly, we want to introduce Jesus to their lives,” Edith explained. “Through all of our services, each child and adult learns about the Word of God.”
“We want the little boys and girls to still have the Word of God in them and to know that God is here,” shared Edith, KOEJU social worker.
KOEJU partners with organizations such as Paraguay Protects Families to serve the underserved families and children in the neighborhoods of Paraguay. Paraguay Protects Families (PPF) is part of a worldwide movement to help beautiful families like Teodolina and her sons. Anja, director of PPF, shares a vision for children and families, “to grow up in a safe and loving family, and achieve their God-given purpose, making our Heavenly Father known to the entire nation.”
ABOUT THIS SERIES OF STORIES FROM MY TIME IN PARAGUAY, PHOTOGRAPHING FOR PARAGUAY PROTECTS FAMILIES –
As the founder of Capturing Grace, my passion is to provide photographs and stories to ministries that are making a difference in a global orphan crisis that exceeds 150 million children worldwide. My heart beats for helping ministries share their story of “changing lives in Jesus name.”
Last year I accepted one of the most challenging assignments since starting Capturing Grace 8 years ago.
For years I have longed to tell the story of the work that Anja Goertzen, her husband René Gaona and other incredible local leaders in Paraguay are doing, to help children, youth and vulnerable families, through their ministry of Paraguay Protects Families (PPF) movement. PPF is a national network of churches and organizations, connected with the global movement of World Without Orphans.
I am so grateful for the ringside seat that God provided my Capturing Grace team member Mallory Jones and I last August in Paraguay. Together we conducted over 30 interviews, creating stories that will assist Anja’s ministry communicate the life-changing impact of PPF.
Collectively, the ten stories I will be sharing on my Capturing Grace blog will provide a glimpse into a much bigger story that only God could write. Speaking into the life and heart of 10 year old Anja over twenty years ago, God created a spark that has evolved into a fire for orphan advocacy, a passion that that has only grown stronger through the work of Paraguay Protects Families.
The stories I will be featuring on my blog over the next two weeks were written from interviews that were broad in scope, taken from our time at an orphanage where God has illuminated a vision for a better way, to a center who works tirelessly to find homes for orphans with Aids. Mallory and I sat in the home of a successful politician who has bravely fostered children into forever loving families, and then, the sweet family who resisted the darkness that sought to envelope them from the earthly loss of their first foster child into a motivation to change the lives of 14 children that have experienced a love that heals in their home.
At the core of each story was the impossible made possible, it is my hope that these stories will inspire others to step out of their comfort zone and respond to the call of helping children and vulnerable families who are in need.
I would like to thank Capturing Grace team members Mallory Jones, Vlad Shelashskiy, Emma Lown and Dasha Shastun for making these stories possible through their work of interviewing, transcribing, writing and social media. I am so grateful to work beside them.
These photographs represent moments from Paraguay that I will always be grateful for.