Tabor’s Jost leads tour group to Mennonite sights in Paraguay

With interest piqued by news reports of the vitality and significance of Mennonite institutions in Paraguay, Tabor College professor Lynn Jost organized a two-week excursion to the South American country to see firsthand the work being completed.

Jost, professor of biblical and religious studies, traveled July 6-20 with wife Donna and 13 Tabor alumni and friends: Ken and Ann Bartel, Topeka; Andy and Lillian Harms, Moundridge; Joyce Hofer and Don Isaac, Hillsboro; Dwight and Sharon Klaassen, Platteville, Wisc.; Perry and Jeanie Klaassen, Edmond, Okla.; Helen Loewen, Minneapolis, Minn., and Curtis and Myra Stutzman, Denver, Colo.

While in Paraguay, the group visited hospitals, radio and television stations, businesses and educational institutions in the capital city of Asuncion, Mennonite colonies in the Chaco region and one of the world’s largest waterfalls, Iguazu Falls.

Within the country, travel was conducted by small bus.

An impromptu hour-long visit with President Nicanor Duarte Frutos’ wife, Maria Penayo de Duarte, a member of the Mennonite Brethren faith, allowed the group to hear firsthand her testimony, her social work and her engagement in evangelism.

“(The president and his wife) attend the MB church we attended one Sunday morning,” said Jost.

Later that day, the group toured the presidential mansion.

Mennonites seeking religious freedom came to Paraguay in three waves: 1927, 1930 and 1947. Most immigrants traveled from Germany, Canada and Russia and established colonies in the Chaco, an area thought to be unproductive due to lack of water.

“They all settled in colonies in Chaco, then slowly came back toward Asuncion, and then they started evangelizing there and also settling there,” said Jost.

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