Erwin and Rita Penner recently experienced sorrow and joy close together. Sorrow as a colleague working in a tribal location was fatally injured. Joy as they attended the first wedding in Paraguay as a family; the wedding of their two language helpers.
Back in Germany, their home country, weddings usually take the whole day or at least from noon until late in the evening. In Paraguay, it is only about three to four hours in the late evening/night.
It is hard to find affordable housing that is not too far from work, family and church. Therefore, to start independent married life is not easy. In their friends’ case a small house provided by an aunt, but they have to travel for two hours to work by bus each day then travel back. Their marriage is truly a testament to God’s faithfulness and care. When Erwin and Rita first met them, they did not know how they would ever be able to marry, as it seemed almost impossible for economic reasons.
This year Rita celebrated her birthday Paraguayan style. Almost their whole “Paraguayan family” was present: host family, language helpers, friends from church and neighbourhood and colleagues. Being a big celebration for German standards, it is no comparison to what one expects, if it is the fifteenth birthday of a Paraguayan girl. Rita was able to experience this when a girl from their church turned fifteen and she was invited to the celebration at the church. She has never experienced such a big birthday and it can only be compared to a wedding. There were over two hundred people invited.
Erwin’s interim task of bookkeeping is going quite well so far. Rita is slowly coming closer to the end of language study and the children are enjoying their school and kindergarten. Their time in the capital is slowly coming to an end. Even if details are not yet clear, God willing, next year they will live and work in a town, which is six hours away from the capital. This will bring big changes again, but hopefully more ‘peace’ in the sense that it may be the last move for the time being, and they hope to live in one place for more than a year.