St. Andrews College (Asuncion in Paraguay)


Gwen Carlisle was (and is!) a member of St. Mary’s and took up the challenge to teach at St. Andrews College, a Christian college in Asuncion in Paraguay. She went in 1983 and she’s still there!


Now as head teacher, Gwen comes back to the UK every two years to see family and visit her link churches that support her. She says that St. Mary’s has changed but she still considers it her home church and looks forward to coming when she is back.

Dear Friends,

            I think we can say that winter arrived early in Paraguay and settled itself in to stay! Last year we didn’t get our big coats out and we can’t remember such a long, cold winter for a long time. The good news is that the mosquitoes don’t come out in this weather and so dengue and other similar illnesses stop. On the other hand we have  many pupils off with flu and also colds, coughs and other respiratory problems. The pre school area was down to less than half its pupils the other day.

The cold weather has affected some activities. The pre school sports day had to be postponed due to illnesses and very cold weather. When most of the pupils are back in school we’ll try again. The pre school show for their parents due at the beginning of July is also in doubt and will depend on how things are.

Other activities have continued as planned. All areas of school celebrated Fathers’ day, inviting the dads in. Most turned out especially in the lower end of school. The dads in secondary were entertained outside as the kids were cooking for them and a military band was coming in. Despite the cold, it went well and many said how much they’d enjoyed it. The Little ones sang for their dads and had their photos taken together. The primary was  the same.

The primary also managed to have their Inter primary sports competition. On the Thursday it rained leaving doubt as to whether the pitches would be okay but by Saturday the ground was fine. It was cold though! Fourteen schools took part and it went really well. The sun also came out which was the added blessing. There must have been almost a thousand people there at peak time. The last matches finished at just gone 5.30pm and it was dark by then. We were there giving out the medals to the final winners of their age range.

Our sports field is about half an hour away from school ( when the traffic isn’t too bad!) They are doing many new road works and we had to pass a viaduct under construction, stop at the edge of the roundabout and wait for a gap in traffic to go on our way. We stopped there but the car behind us didn’t and went into the back of us. This is getting to be a common thing. Mags got out to get the drivers’ details etc. He said he didn’t know where his mind was, he wasn’t thinking! As usual, he didn’t have any insurance! The school van has a number of bashes, mostly where someone has gone into us because they weren’t thinking (none by Mags!!). To top it all, they never pay. Our insurance must think we are accident prone! The next day we had to go and make a statement for the insurers so that was another drive out.

We celebrated the Queen’s birthday by going to a party held by the British embassy. We met a number of parents and parents of ex pupils there. Many people are asking what happened to the Uk by wanting to leave Europe. I think most people were surprised by the news.

We were really pleased this month when we heard that Eva (head of primary until Dec 2014) will be getting her first state pension this month. If you remember, we have marched for it and our adminstrator worked hard for it and then it looked like it wasn’t going to happen. Well, it’s finally a reality! A great relief for many people knowing they will be able to retire in their 60’s. Eva is still teaching in our annexe and will be 67 this year. Until now many people have taught much longer. We had a maths teacher who left when she was 82 years old as she had no pension to support her. So the promise of a pension is a great relief and an answer to prayer.

Alongside the sports event last weekend, the next day was our day to take the service in church. Numbers were a bit low due to the cold, we think! It seemed to go well anyway. The church keeps going with different folks taking turns each week. We’ve just been told that next month will be a month given to prayer and to teaching on it in all the Anglican churches.

            We start our Winter holidays on July 8th (if they don’t get changed!) and have two weeks off. We are planning a short trip, 4 nights, to the coast of Brazil and hoping it will be slightly warmer there. It’s been a very busy year so far with no days off since Easter. We feel the strain and the pupils are all tired, especially after exams. Some of them start to travel soon. We have a few going to England to study for a month and others to the USA.

   Please get in touch if you would like us to visit at the end of Dec or Jan. We arrive in England on the 21st of Dec.

  Thankyou for all your prayers and support,

    God Bless and love from Gwen and Mags xxx