The main interpreter for John Maxwell while he was here in Paraguay is a woman by the name of Ana. Her husband Julio is an orthopaedic surgeon and they have two children, Daniela and Lucas. Both speak perfect English and were an integral part of our interpreter team.
They have lived in the U.S. and South Africa but have returned here to Paraguay because they love their country and believe in it. After going to their church Sunday morning we were invited to Ana’s parents home; we were delighted to be asked to join their weekly family dinner with them. We ate picas (appetizers) while Ana’s 77 year old father told us a part of his life’s story – apparently he doesn’t talk about it much, so we were honoured to hear it.
Ana’s grandfather was a General in the Paraguayan military under the rule of a dictator and was exiled to Argentina. When Ana’s father was only 17, his father took him back to Paraguay, risking his life to bring him back to the country he loved and present him to three of his friends. He eventually went to work as a messenger boy for one of these friends. Several years later, around 1955, he was one of the founders of a new newspaper; little did they know it was to become the most important newspaper in the entire country. In the 1970’s, after 15 years of operating under the dictator Stroessner something was printed that Stroessner didn’t like. They were investigated, but nothing was found wrong. So the dictator shut them down for 5 years. With the hope that they would be reinstated and to make a statement that they had done nothing wrong, they stayed open the entire 5 years, not printing anything but maintaining the office. They were hassled, police were stationed outside their business and home, watching, waiting to find something to catch them doing wrong.
There were a lot of rumours going around about a coup at that time. Then one day a friend asked to meet with him. He was going to be involved with the coup that was going to begin that night and he asked him to put a suitcase of his important documents in his trunk in case he didn’t make it through the night! Apparently the army was 80/20 in favour of the coup, but you never know with these types of things. So here he was with these documents in his trunk, what was he going to do with them? He called Ana and her husband to come to the house and stay with them for the night he didn’t say why, but by the tone of his voice they knew it was important. The suitcase he put with his own empty suitcases and hoped it would go well that evening. Just a little bit of stress! Their neighbour across the street was having a party when they heard shots. When they crossed the street to let them know what was about to happen a tank came down their street, they got out of the way just in time.
The coup happened and the dictator was ousted. February, 1989, Democracy was declared and began slowly to make it’s way into the fabric of the country. The newspaper reopened and continues to this day.
We had a lovely lunch and were asked about the work we were doing here in their country. This is a man of integrity who has brought up his family well. We talked about machismo and if our program would address that. He has been married 55 years and has been faithful to his wife. A rare thing in the Latin world. There are amazing people in this world with inspiring stories; we were blessed to meet this man and hear his.