Friday, September 30, 2011

Paraguay in Photos

Soccer Tournament

Yesterday I got to go to my first soccer tournament here in Paraguay.  All the CMA churches from the area came together to play--seven guys teams, and seven girls teams!  It was a very hot day, with a lot of soccer, and a lot of fun!  Here are some pictures:

 The cheering group, watching one of the matches.

All the youth from the church, and the guys' & girls' team

After the tournament we went back to the church & had empanadas.  
The guys got second place!

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Value of a Word: Journal Thoughts

      "Saturday night was youth/singles group.  I was a little bit frustrated by the end because I don't follow well in conversation.  I follow, but about a minute behind."  [Disclaimer: one-on-one dialogue is better, when more than three people are talking is when I get lost.]  "So unless someone directly asks me a question and is willing to wait for the answer, I have nothing to share in the conversation.  It's really frustrating for me, because I feel like what I have to say has value.  Granted, it's not always important, but sometimes a thought will be so clear--yet one minute late.

Maybe the Lord is teaching me to be silent.

Maybe He's teaching me to listen.

Maybe He's telling me to get to know the people I'm talking to before I share things
    that are culturally inappropriate or just have no need to be said.
       How much eternal value do my words really have?  Most of what I wasn't able to say over the weekend would've burned: wood, hay, & straw.

Maybe God is giving me the opportunity to change my wood, hay, & straw in for gold, silver, and precious stones (1 Corinthians 3:12)

--the time to slow my speech,
                  to weigh my words,
                               to test them with fire,
                                             & to speak words useful for eternity.

I'm anxious to speak, Lord; I miss being able to easily communicate truth.  Fill me with your love, joy, peace, PATIENCE, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, & self-control."

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"Sprechen Sie Deutsches?"

My family likes words.  The funnier they sound, the happier we are.  My brother was saying things like "Saskatchewan & Bosnia-Herzegovina" by the age of four.

We also like to say "Sprechen?!" just for fun.  "Sprechen Sie Deutsches" means "do you speak German?"

Remember the other day I went to the hardware store?  While I was there, an older man came in with a circular light bulb in his hand.  The girl nearby asked, "You want another one like that?"  "No, I want one that works"--I already liked this guy!  She headed to the back to search for a useful light bulb, and the Friendly Neighborhood Hardware Man (FNHM) says to him in Spanish, "She's from Carolina del Norte!"  The older man promptly looked at me and said, "Sprechen Sie Deutsches?"  I can't tell you how happy I am that I didn't laugh, just to hear the familiar phrase!  FNHM told him, "She's Americana; she speaks English."

The following conversation was in English:
Older Man: "You speak English?"
Me: "Yessir."
Older Man: "I need about 3-4 months in the United States to get my English back.  I don't speak it like I did 40 years ago."
Me: "Why did you learn English 40 years ago?"
Older Man: "I worked with some good Mennonite boys on the Trans-Chaco Highway."

Me...speechless...because this man had a pretty big part in a pretty big road in Paraguay, 40 years ago.  It's the road that I'll likely use if I work in a tribal area in the western half of the country.

He left with his light bulb, I left with my plumbing project and with a greater respect for the neighborhood hardware store.

PS--To make it better, his English had a Dutch accent to it, so I'm honestly not sure if he was one of the "Good Mennonite Boys" or if he retained their accent for 40 years!  Maybe I'll see him on the next trip to get nails.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Today, I had a choice

Today I decided to go to the hardware store to buy supplies for a project.  What project?  The drain under the kitchen sink is open (well, unless the brick is over it...) and the drain from my future washer will drain into this open hole.  I went to the hardware store down the block to get what I thought I needed: 2 1/2 meters of PVC pipe, 2 elbows, plumbery glue, and a saw. 

The man that owns the store has helped me before, in buying adapters for plugs & straight razor blades for scraping excessive amounts of paint off the windows.  He has a brother living in North Carolina, so he likes to talk to me about NC. 

Today I went in mentally prepared with my list, and he showed me some different items.  When we both knew that I wanted pipe to drain the washer (not load it...that was my fault!) he showed me some flexible tubing with an elbow built onto the end.  We agreed I would need two for the distance, then I asked about glue.  My culture says that plumbing needs to be glued in order to keep the water in the pipe. 

He pulled out a box with this little connectors, and searched through until he found the size he was looking for.  He showed me that this plastic connector would seal off the two pipes. 

I immediately had a choice.
Trust the man who has been doing this his entire life
do it my way because I "had plans" already.

I bought the flexible tubing.  I bought the little plastic connector.  I bought zip-ties to connect the tubing to the other pipes.  And laughed at my plans.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Chores: 101

 Some of you ask me what a regular day looks like for me.  Well, that doesn't exactly exist.  Sometimes a fairly regular week passes by, but, overall, I stay pretty busy.  It's pretty nice when "hanging out with people" is basically your "job."  So, I thought I'd show you what some chores look like for me.  Today you'll get a brief glimpse of laundry.  I haven't done laundry much since moving to my own house, because, honestly, I don't like to!

 I frequently start out my chores-ritual by making sure I have the Spanish recordings I want to listen to.  This way I can wander around the house without losing my focus on the audio coming out of the computer.

Then I download them onto my iPod.  I plug myself into the iPod, and I'm ready for the chores!

For laundry, I haul my wash up the stairs to my neighbor's house.  She's been really great, and is letting me use her washer until I buy my own.   The plus, is that I don't have to scrub my clothes out by hand. After the clothes go through a wash cycle, I wring them out, drain the water out of the washer, and refill it with clean water for the rinse cycle.  I try to unwrinkle the clothes a little, and add them back into the washer.  After a brief rinse, I wring the clothes out again and drain the water, or add soap for a second load.

Then I go outside to hang up my laundry on the line.  After a few hours, I can usually bring it inside & put it away.

 I'm looking forward to getting my automatic washer in a few weeks.  I'm thankful that they make them here, and my days of wringing out my clothes are short!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Hardest Question:

So, what do you do all day?

How do I explain this program?  CLAware was created for missionaries learning another language--specifically an unwritten language, as I will be doing when I begin learning my third language.  This is one program where I can unite my thoughts/observations on something I have seen or heard, add audio, edit the audio, add photos,  unite the photo with the audio, and form a listening collection for reviewing everything. 

CLAware does much more than this, these are just the basic things I'm using right now.  After I've spent time with Spanish speakers, I usually have some new tidbit of cultural information that I want to remember, and now I'm beginning to have audio to record.  Last week I recorded a friend teaching me about fruits, and this picture is a screen-shot of my computer while I was working with the audio and pictures.  The list on the left is a group of things I've run across here that someone has told me about or things I've observed.

Guess I'd better get to work with some processing from last night! :-)


Many of the streets here are one way...for now, I'm glad I'm walking and taking the bus!

A Word of Encouragement

"Take the first step in faith.  You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step."  
-Martin Luther King, Jr.


Every once in a while, it's a good idea to take evaluation.  Today I had my first language evaluation in Paraguay.  I had two or three when I was in Mexico, and they really help to know how much language I have learned and retained.  It also helps to know what I should begin studying next!  Today's evaluation is, in a sense, preliminary; now I will know what I need to study, relearn (I've lost a lot of vocabulary & verb usage in the past 18 months), and a general starting point for my Spanish study here in Paraguay. 

And, to celebrate, when I got home I ate a celebratory dinner: rice & beans with Guarana.  
By far, one of my favorite meals. 

PS--I made the beans in my pressure cooker!  The fear of the pressure cooker is dissipating. :-)

Friday, September 09, 2011

Visiting the Pony Express

 Asuncion is big.  Really big.  Think Houston big.  About twice as large as Chihuahua, Mexico.  Think 4 1/2 times as big as Shreveport.  Or 937 times larger than Coats, NC.  Or 1089 times larger than Roach, MO. 

Suffice to say, this is the biggest place I've lived in...well, ever.

Friday morning I got to go to the post office here in Asuncion to help pick up the mail for all the NTM missionaries in the country.  To quote another visitor to the post office, "This is like the Pony Express!" Remember, Asuncion has a population of nearly 2million people.  This is the capital of the country, and this is the post office for small mail.  The small packages are next door, and the larger packages are a 10-minutes drive away.  (Don't ask me why!)  With this in mind, continue:

Here's a wall of mailboxes.  No one has mail delivered to their door--well, very rarely (and as expensive as it is rare!)  Each door has a window & a key, no back to lock the mail in, and the wood reminds me of a hollow door we once had that broke easily.  These boxes go about 8 feet up or higher, so if you have a high box, you get a ladder & climb for your mail.

This is our mailbox: #1181.  Any mail that comes to me goes through this box first.  And I actually got a letter the day I went from my great aunt!

And, yes, I did look through the window & saw desks and post office workers.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

A Tour of the House

 I just realized today that I haven't given you a tour of my house since I've moved in.  There's still a lot of progress to be made, but this way you can know what life is like right now.

This is my kitchen.  Don't judge me by the floor--that's about as clean as it gets.
  I'm working on triangular curtains for the window.

Here's the other half of the kitchen, and you can see through the living room & into the study, too.  Right now I'm borrowing the landlady's two-burner electric stove, which has been working quite nicely.  I'll probably buy a stove in October, and I'd like to get a washer later this month.

This is the living room--it has the highest ceiling in the house.  I'm also hoping to get a small sofa & two chairs for this room either this month or next month.

This is my study room/exercise room. 

My bedroom, with the orange mattress. :-)  

Hope you enjoyed the tour!  I'll probably have another tour when I have everything set up--maybe by the New Year you'll see This Old House again!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Monday, September 05, 2011

A Lesson in Confidence

Friday night I had a huge lesson in confidence: I used my pressure cooker by myself for the first time.  Well, mostly by myself--Avi, the neighbor was with me, but she only knows about pressure cookers from hearing them while her grandma is cooking.  So, we learned together!  I bought a whole chicken at "Supermercado EspaƱa," with the intentions of cooking it in the pressure cooker that Ms. Beulah bought me before I came.  And, with great fear & trembling, the pressure rose (as did my blood pressure for exactly 20 minutes.)

I'm pretty sure my face looked like this the entire time.  This is my two-burner electric stove I'm using right now.

When I wasn't staring at my watch, I was trying to guesstimate exactly how much an overweight cut up chicken should take.  It ended up coming out perfect, and  probably the juiciest chicken I've ever made.

Friday night it was served on fresh bread (from the store--no way did I make that!) with mayonnaise & tomato.
Saturday, brought a similar chicken/bread combo
Sunday I got to "eat out" twice, so I didn't get to eat it.
Monday, I made an Amazing Soup.

Carrie's Amazing Chicken Soup
cooked rice
1 T olive oil
3 carrots, chopped small
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
some broccoli (not really sure how much it was, but it wasn't a lot--I think there were things living in it, so I picked through what looked good), cut up small
chunks of chicken pulled off the bone
broth from cooking chicken
salt & pepper
fresh spinach
lemon (opt)
Regiano cheese (opt)

1.  If you have to make your rice, start it first. 2.  Saute the first 5 ingredients in a saucepan.  3. Heat up broth, add water until the broth is the color you like, & add sauteed vegetables.  4.  Add cooked chicken.  5.  Add cooked rice.  6.  Add salt & pepper to taste.  7.  A few minutes before you're going to take it off the burner, throw in some cut up fresh spinach.  It should still be green when you take it off the burner.  8.  I squeezed the juice from 1/2 a lemon into my bowl, and added in some Regiano cheese.  Somehow the combo worked tonight. 


Friday, September 02, 2011

Just A Thought

Moms:  If you want to do something with lasting character qualities, teach your son to give his seat to a woman when no other is available.

Dads:  If you want to do something that your sons will remember, do the same: by example.

A guy gave me his seat on the bus today, and, I have to admit, 
 it pretty much made my day. 

See, what seems to be the typical response on the street to a girl walking down the street, is what I call the lyrics to the "Street Music."  You've already got the sound of tires squealing, cars racing to the next stop light, city buses striving to get ahead of one another (and still deal with their passengers)...then add in the lyrics to the music: car horns, taxi horns, bus horns, and motorcycle horns.  They're frequently used to help the person ahead of them go a little faster, but occasionally they are also used to let someone on the street say
"Hey, how you doin'?"
--Joey-style (from Friends.)  
So, today, I walked out of the house, bracing myself for the walk to the bus, the "Street Music", and the horns I would likely hear.  And when I got on the bus, it was standing room only.  I felt a tap on my shoulder, and a man was giving me his seat.

This was special.  This is not the cultural norm.  And all I could think was:

"He gave me his seat!"