Sunday, January 29, 2012

7?... 7x70?... 490?... or even...


I read that last one in a Bible study a few months ago--that it's possible that in Matthew 18:22 Jesus was saying "7, 70 times."  Really, I don't know Greek or Hebrew, but I do know that Jesus was demanding forgiveness without condition--or limit.

Many times while traveling around the U.S., I was presented with the idea that missionaries are super-human.  No one physically gave me a cape, or made a bronze statue of me (thankfully), but many did put me on a pedestal.  (And I am the last person that belongs up there!)  It was usually inferred by little phrases, meant to be compliments:

"I always wanted to be a missionary, but  _(fill in the blank)_."
"I could never leave my family."
"I don't like bugs and I really  don't like snakes."
"I could never do what you're doing."
"You're so selfless for doing what you're doing."

One side of a missionary scoffs at this--each one of us has a "but" that could have held us back in our home country; I don't enjoy not being a regular part of my family members lives; bugs--yea, if you've been following me a while, you know how I feel about those--and snakes, not currently an issue, but not on my Top 10 List of Reasons to Live in Paraguay; I can't do what I'm doing either; and lastly--here's the kicker--MISSIONARIES ARE NOT SELFLESS.
Not naturally.

Naturally, we are just other humans.  And what drives all of mankind?  Self.  My comfort, my desires, my goals, my dreams.  In every culture around the world, mankind is driven by self-preservation.  When I take a look at the last time I was in an argument, or the last time I was offended--too often it is because I am insisting on my way and want everyone else to do what I want.  Not really Christ's example, is it? 

What sets Christians apart, ought to be the desire to be like a glove.  A glove, laying on the shelf in the garage, is completely useless.  It's just sitting there, collecting dust.  Yet, when put on a hand, it can be an aid to raking leaves, shoveling snow, catching a baseball, or driving a car.  It's nothing without the life that gives it purpose.  Just like that glove, the actions of a Christian are nothing without the Life that flows through us (2 Corinthians 5:14.) 

Since Christmas, I have had the opportunity to go on three weekend trips with friends to visit their family members.  It was so humbling to have friends that I've known for less than five months say, "Come be a part of my family for one of our two most important holidays of the year" and "We're going on vacation, come with us."  And yet, on two of those trips, I made it painfully clear to my friends that I have a natural, fleshy side--that I am not a super-human.  Thankfully, I have been able to go back to those friends, to apologize and explain that I was in the wrong.  

Missionaries and Christians are not super-humans.  But, more importantly, we are "more than conquerors" (Romans 8:37) because Jesus Christ has fought the ultimate battle for us.  He has forgiven us of all our sins.
Read that again.
He has forgiven me of ALL my sins.
 This battle we think we're fighting has already been won.  Because of Jesus Christ's death on the cross, mankind has a way back to a whole relationship with God.  The ultimate forgiveness has already occurred.  My task now, is to walk daily in that forgiveness, to continue to forgive others, and to be quick to ask forgiveness as well.  I pray that last one gets a break for a long time.  

Friday, January 20, 2012

All Roads May Lead to Rome...

...but all pipes lead to the sewer.  I'm convinced of it.  Growing up in the '80s & '90s scarred me from things that come out of pipes--think Gremlins & Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (though, really, that second option was soo  bad, just a little gross!)  Oh, and then there was Ghostbusters, too!

When we moved to Louisiana (I was 11), I learned a new talent--how to kill cockroaches.  Only six months before on a visit to Florida I met my first cockroach, and I'm still recovering.  Those first 10 1/2 years were fantastic.  Every once in a while, a roach would be crawling around my teenage-clothing-covered room, and I'd have to try to find it ::aka, kill it:: in order to sleep peacefully.  Occasionally my brother and I would run to each others rooms at 2am--"Get up!  Help, I can't find it--and it's BIG this time!"  (They're always bigger when you've just woken up!)  Some of our best teamwork was searching through each others rooms to kill bugs and get back to sleep as soon as possible.

But.  I have been to the other side (no, I didn't go down in a sewer!)  I am now south of the Equator.  I have a two-sink kitchen, which is AWESOME.  But, both drain pipes, and the drain pipe from the washer empty into an uncovered hole in the floor


Some good friends here have had worse issues, and covered a MASSIVE hole in their bathroom with a layer (or five) of duct tape.  I'd thought of this and various other solutions, but always assumed they brought the Magic Tape with them from the US.  Today I discovered that I'd been wrong--they bought it here!  I quickly went to visit the hardware store again, and after describing "really strong tape with fibers that's silver colored" the man said "Do you want to fix a pool?"  "Something like that..."  And he handed me multiple colors of duct tape!!  So, after 19,000 guaranies ($4.22) I headed home with a thin roll of duct tape.

And, since it started to rain some today (I learned in LA that rain means the roaches are coming out sooner!), I decided now was the perfect time to tape up the hole.  

I washed the dishes, poured a ridiculous amount of bleach down the drain, and turned out the lights.  We'll see how the kitchen looks in the morning!  I'm hoping I'm done finding cockroaches on my dishes (clean and dirty), in my sink, and just plain where they don't need to be! :-)
Here's hoping I don't have to call the plumber any time soon!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

FAQs #1

F.requently A.sked Q.uestions #1.

What's the weather like?

Answer: Currently, hot.  Like, nearing or passing 100* every day, humid, no rain kind of hot.  In December we began our official summer season, though I'm not sure the weather has been any hotter since November.  So far it appears that there is less rain, since I can't remember the last time it rained (maybe I'll start marking rain on the calendar?)  I think technically we are in "rainy-er" season, but like I said, not sure when it rained last.  (Thinking back, I think it was Christmas Eve...18 days now.) [Well, that was true when I first wrote this.  Thankfully we got rain a week ago.]

Along with the heat, comes the need to drink a lot of water.  But there comes a point where water just doesn't seem to cut it.  You have sweat beading and rolling off your eyebrows, you can feel the greasy sweat coming out of your pores, and sometimes you just wonder, "Will I ever drink enough water?"  The answer is:

  I succombed.  Yesterday, on a nearly 100* day, I walked (yea, I didn't take the bus, and walked uphill the whole way, I was pretty proud of myself!) about 8 blocks to the open market.  I mainly walked because I wanted to be able to check prices for kitchen tables & chairs.  I got into the open market and started searching around and finally found leather-covered thermoses like I was look for.  But I found one even prettier than I expected!

Don't tell anyone, but my real reason for buying this is ICE COLD WATER.  It's sitting next to me right now, making cold water colder and waiting for me to drink it.  But, on the flip side, it's also a social expectation to have a thermos, or at least the cup and straw for tererĂ©.  So, when I'm out and about on my own, it will probably be ice cold water.  But when I go to church or out with Paraguayan friends, it will become ice cold water for tererĂ©. 

I'm just excited it's pretty!  Off to read in the A/C for an hour to cool off, then back to Spanish!

Thursday, January 12, 2012


I've got numbers on the brain--it's tax season again!  While we're all starting to think about numbers for the next few months, here is a video with some equally scary numbers:

Statistics - Think Missions from Grant Wright on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Nature in the Chaco

 The Chaco--low shrub-brush with some trees.

Pomelo & grapefruit

An endangered wild pig

Granddaddy Frog

Two goats fighting


Five.Fify-one. A.M. Unbelievable...and I was up for the day.  Thank you, Hen.


Thursday, January 05, 2012

To the Chaco

Over New Year's weekend I had the opportunity to explore a different part of Paraguay--well outside the city!  I couldn't help but think of my dad the entire trip, as it reminded me of the type of land he has always dreamed of.  Not only could we not see the closest neighbors, we couldn't hear them either!
Some of my very good friends from church invited me to go with them to visit their grandma.  I wasn't really sure what I was getting myself into--but when each one of them replied "Repellant" to my question of what to bring, I should have gotten a vague idea.  It was a nice change of pace for three days, and while I was happy to see the city again (and clean water), I really enjoyed my time in the Chaco!

I thought Angier, NC was remote--but we were on a dirt road to Grandma's for over 125 km/77m!

Grandma is 75 and runs a farm with the help of one ranch-hand.  She has 80 head of cattle, and here she is feeding an orphaned calf.  (She also scaled the fence to get to where she was like it was just a stepping stone!)  

In 1999, I went to MissionFUGE and ended up on a work crew where I was elected to scrub out a horse trough in a remote field.  Ironically, this weekend, I found myself scrubbing out a very similar water tank!  I kept thinking "My mom is going to laugh so hard when she sees this!"

Each afternoon held a short siesta

The Chaco is known for it's arid-ness--we made our own mud in the process of cleaning the water tanks.

I did better at fishing this time than last year when I went fishing with a friend in Missouri.  This was my sole fish--a little piranha!   Sadly, the other fish just ate my bait, and this one would have been the same.  He was just chewing the meat and when I jerked the line out of the water he went flying behind me.  I had to go look for the flopping piranha!

We climbed trees to collect pomelos--a local citrus.

And we collected...ahem..."fertilizer" to take back to the city.  Here Grandma is showing us how to do it!

This was my room for two nights.

I really enjoyed my visit to the Chaco, and Grandma invited me to come back any time!  (I think she's secretly hoping to get her water tanks cleaned again...)

Check back soon for some non-people pictures of the Chaco.