Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hey That's New! -----> -------> --------->

Thought you might like to notice a new feature.  If you read the blog, and would like to also get newsletters, here's your chance to sign up!  Click the Subscribe button on the side, & you'll start getting newsletters soon!

 Here's how it works:
1. Enter your email address in the box & click "Subscribe."
2. Go check the same email for an  email from "Carrie Martin" subject "Quarterly List."
3. Click on the button that says "Yes, subscribe me to this list."
         a. if it doesn't work, look for an area near the top of the email that says something similar to
             "Download Content"
         b. click the "Yes, subscribe me to this list" again
4. A window or tab shouldn't open that says "Subscription Confirmed."

From this point on, you'll receive email updates that I send out.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Rest

Saturday. Was. Tough.

Sunday I made a short list of things that overwhelmed me on Saturday:

1. Washer I learned--again--how to do laundry. Except this time I had to do it in a non-automatic washer--yes they still exist. I managed to spill water all over the neighbor's kitchen floor. A washer is on my things to buy for the house; it's going to be automatic.

2. Bugs I'm pretty sure all the bugs Saturday night knew that I was new to the church. They weren't biting, just landing. And landing. And landing. On. Me. I was the kid that picked up frogs & worms & brought them home. Bugs really don't bother me on a regular day.

3. The dog slept in my bedroom. Those of you that know me, know that I like dogs. Clean dogs are my favorite. Indoor dogs, or clean outdoor dogs can sleep in my room anytime. I learned this weekend that the mange-y dirty outside dog used to sleep in my bedroom, because the doors were left open all the time. Not a big deal really, till I remembered that this is the only room I haven't been able to get the floor mopped yet. (Definitely getting done today!)

4. Saying the wrong words. This one hurts me. When I left Mexico, I was pretty far along in language, about halfway through the four stages of learning. Now my comprehension is still pretty high, but I can't get the words to come out of my mouth. Not sure if you've ever been with a two-year old who is trying to talk, and you can tell the words are in his head and he's trying to get the words out, but his mouth just won't move fast enough? Yea. I'm that two-year old again.

5. Can't express myself. Saturday night after church, a friend asked how I was doing. I couldn't really explain how I felt, because, honestly, I was too tired to try to figure it out. Someone was showing genuine interest in how I was doing, and I didn't even feel like answering.

Not going to lie, by the end of the night, I was exhausted & just wanted to sleep for all of Sunday. But, as you can see here:

...weekends are not my time off.

Sunday morning I woke up with the word "frustrada" in mind--it was as if after a half night's rest (we had prayer meeting until midnight Saturday), God gave me the peace of mind to be able to think of how I felt.

So, Sunday morning, I woke up and got ready for church. Each Sunday the families at church are taking turns having me over for lunch. This has been a really neat way to get to know them personally. And I've been blessed each Sunday. This week I went with a couple from church, whose daughters go to another church. The whole family got in the car & off we went. It didn't take long before I realized we were going in the opposite direction of their house! I had no idea where we were going, and decided to just sit back and enjoy the ride. We ended up at a restaurant in the country, about 2 small towns away. Then we went to the Strawberry Festival in the same town. (The easiest way to please me is with fresh strawberries, and August is strawberry season here--in winter!) I thought after this we were headed home, though I was pretty sure we were driving in the opposite direction from where we came. We ended up at a lake in San Bernadino, Lake Ypacarai. What a pleasant surprise to get out of the city for a few hours, and visit the countryside!

The lake is pretty big, and we were just at one little part. The breeze was nice, and the air was much cooler--I can see why this is a main attraction for Paraguayans in the summer!

The girls and I at the lake.

Then we walked up a LOT of stairs to the look out point. I didn't count them because I was talking--and trying to breath. There weren't as many as the waterfall in Mexico, but it was still good exercise! (And as you can see above, I was dressed for church--not hiking!)

At the lookout point, this statue (I assume of Mary) was looking out over the city of San Bernadino & over the lake.

I tried to explain to the family that took me Sunday afternoon, what a blessing the day was to me. Hopefully in time, I'll be able to say, "Hey, do you remember that day we went to the strawberry festival, and went to the lake?...Can I tell you what else was going on in my heart that weekend?"

Until then, I'm going to thank God for His continued faithfulness.

And I'll thank Him for:
1. A washer I can borrow so I don't have to do my laundry by hand.
2. Bugs that eat the spiders & other gross things. Along with the geckos that then eat the bugs.
3. A dog that now sleeps outside my bedroom door, like my personal alarm system.
4. The words that I can say.
5. The ways I can express myself.
6. A friend who after three weeks can see that something isn't right, and is willing to sit with me while I search for the words to explain how I feel.

Thank you for your prayers as I continue to adjust to a new life, new culture, new house, new church, new friends...and many more "new"s. Your intercession makes this possible!

...the next person who innocently says "I could never be a missionary, I just hate bugs!" gets a free visa stamped in her passport. Seriously. :-)

A Series of Firsts:

So, the other day when my refrigerator arrived, I kept thinking of those little ornaments that say "Baby's First Christmas." A little ridiculous, but buying an appliance was a big step for me--I'm not sure I've bought any "appliances" before other than a hair dryer! I anticipated that one of the most overwhelming parts of coming to Paraguay would be truly setting up a house--not a dorm, not a temporary rental, but buying appliances & furniture that will be mine for a long time. And I was right.

My first meal in my new house. My neighbor, who shares the kitchen window with me, had just left & stuck her head back through the window to ask me a question--and caught me taking a picture of my soup! She thought it was funny, but I'm sure in a few years she'll understand.

My baby refrigerator. It's now happily covered in prayer cards & pictures.

My first gecko--well, the first time I've discovered I share a bureau with a gecko. He's probably still in there...guess I'll just have to check my clothes & especially my shoes when I put them on!

Dia De Los Niños

Two Sundays ago, my church celebrated Kids Day, which had been just a few days earlier. Since I've been here, I've counted about 40 adults (maximum) at a Sunday service, and anywhere from 8-12 kids. This day we had 45 kids!

A sister CMA church came and did a Buzby skit. They did a great job, and it was only the second time they had performed it.

This is part of the jovenes (youth) group. We had a cold spell for about 5 days, now we're back in the 80s again...and it's still winter!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Just a Little Smile

Click on comic to enlarge

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A "Quick" Message

This is an excerpt from a chat message with my friend. I'm copy-and-pasting for the sake of time, so please, pardon all the lower case and ill-formed grammar.

so this afternoon. i rode the #18 (a bus i'd never taken) to a place i hadn't been to look at stoves, fridges, and washers. then i walked about 8 blocks--the blocks here are rather large in my opinion--to look at a mattress shop. then i walked to the mall which i had passed on the way to the mattresses. i found a department store that some others had said should have an exercise ball. there were some in boxes with chinese characters but said 66 (way to small, I take a 75) and the lady said "this one in the bag is 76". so i bought it and a pump, then went downstairs to the supermarket. i asked the guard if i could take my bag in, and he sent me to the lockers at the front of the store. i got my key to the locker & then went shopping. i finally found q-tips in the baby section (12 days of TP for a q-tip works, but not ideal), hand soap, more granola, passion fruit juice, and two packs of cookies. i paid, went back for the lockered bag. before i went outside i found bus fare, went to the road, asked some ladies if they knew which bus would go down the main street near my house. they said #85, and it was coming. the driver also said he went down my road. come to find out, the LOOONG way to get to my road. i figured i'd ride it out to know where the 85 goes. well, i got off at the end of his route, and asked some ladies if they knew of a bus that went farther than my road, to make sure i could go far enough (85 went to my road, but not as far as i needed to go). they said 23 & 18 passed by there. so i got on an 18, then walked the two blocks home.

AND, today for the first time i saw a bus driver: talk on the cell, pick up a passenger, hand a ticket, recieve money, shift-gas-steer-shift, return change----pretty much in a time frame of 8 seconds or less.

ps--I made the trip alone! The salesman at the mattress store & the saleswoman at the appliance store were both incredibly patient with me and my fumbling Spanish & "circumlocution"--talking around the subject when you don't know how to say what you want. But I got what I needed. :-)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Last night I went over to my future neighbor's house for "chorizada" for Founders' Day. Asuncion was founded 474 years ago! I really didn't know what to expect, so I went mentally prepared for anything! I knew from Mexico that chorizo is a sausage-type food. I had heard from many people that it is a different type of sausage than the chorizo in Mexico.

I stopped along the way and bought a kilo of chorizo and a bottle of Coke. My understanding of what I was to bring was a kilo of chorizo--in fact, I thought everyone was bringing that, which I thought was a bit much & it didn't make sense in my head. But, if I was told to bring a kilo, bring a kilo I would! I later found out as people were arriving that the plan was to pool together our money & send someone to the store to buy the things we would need: bread, chorizo, ketchup.

While two of the guys went to the store, the girls waited, and a few others showed up.

When the guys got back, they started putting all the chorizo on spits to put over the fire. They also pretended to be eating the full spit of chorizo (like a sword-swallower) and also did some minor sword fighting. But I digress.

After the chorizo was finished cooking, it came off the spits, and Hily and a few others took turns slicing most of the chorizo. A few people ate it inside of a small piece of bread that looks like a small loaf of French bread. Most of us used a toothpick to spear a slice of chorizo and a piece of mandioca (yucca root, boiled.)

It was a fun night--lasted until 11:30! Many of my new friends got to see where my new house is, and we even took a tour through the rooms. Hopefully within a week I'll be able to move into my house!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Look Outside

Many mornings I go sit on the patio to read (and let my hair dry...) Yesterday I realized these bananas were growing just nearby.
Since 2001, I have always missed the blue skies of South America. It's nice and cloudy today!

4000, 8000, 12000, 16000...

How quickly can you multiply & divide by 4,000? I'm learning! The currency in Paraguay is the "guarani." The current exchange rate is just below 4,000:1USD. It's not too bad when I can "cut off" the zeros at the end, much like they have on their money:
100 mil, 50 mil, 20 mil, 10 mil, 2mil

Then I can divide by 4! Last night I went grocery shopping, and I believe it will take me a while to see such large numbers on such small items!
For example:
1 liter of milk: 4,710
Oroweat Bread: 15,000
single-serving yogurt: 1,620
Rice: 4,500

I got quite a few more items, but my total at for the trip was 119,478 guaranies. The good news is that I'm a "millionaire!" (The total for the night was about $30USD.)

Pray for me as I become accustomed to new prices & new money!

A Few More NC Pictures

I found these pictures today when I (finally) got my camera out to take a few pictures. These were mostly all taken back in June.

My uncle & Aunt visiting from Florida

This is an old cabin that is on the property of a lady from church. My understanding is that it was in a different location & she had it moved to her house. It's over 100 years old.

A picture of the waterway between North Carolina & Emerald Isle.
My great-aunt Rosie, my grandpa's younger sister.
Daddy & me at the airport in Raleigh, just a little bit before I flew to Paraguay.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Would You Pray?

Official house-hunting has begun. Here are just a few pictures of one apartment, to give you an idea of what I'm looking at. This particular apartment has a lot of pluses, but also some parts I'm just not sure about. The pictures I'm showing you are just "interesting" things about the house--not necessarily a plus or a minus. Hope you enjoy seeing what a typical Paraguayan house may have in it! :-)

This is the apartment from the outside.Each room has one door to the patio & one connecting the room on either side of it. It's four rooms long, right to left: kitchen, hallway/future room?, study/living area, and bedroom. The bathroom is off the study room.
This is a "placar" (plah-car). It's built into the wall, and is right across from the bathroom.
This is the showerhead, with the electric water heater built right onto it.
"Pull the plug" has a different connotation here--there's a little string hanging from the tank, and you pull that to gravity-flush the toilet.
The kitchen has a very large hood for over the stove, and a possible hook-up for a washer.
And this, well, honestly, is a plus. :-) The courtyard that all the doors & windows open up to have a gorgeous view of all these plants. Would you believe this is in downtown Asuncion?

Please be praying as I consider this apartment and other options. Contracts here are generally for a year, and breaking the contract can be difficult or costly.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

"One of These Things is not Like the Other"

Every time I open my silverware drawer here at the mission guest house, I find myself singing "One of these things is not like the other!" Can you find the item that probably isn't in your own silverware drawer? Keep checking back, and I'll have a longer post with what this item is actually for.

On another note, I've been practicing my "4,000" times tables. The cost of this loaf is wheat bread is "1729 guaranies." Right now, the exchange rate is 3,925 guaranies:1 USD. I'd rather divide and multiply by 4,000! Needless to say, this will take some getting used to!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

"The Baggage Story"

This is from my journal:
We ended up leaving for the airport even earlier than I had planned, but it worked out fine. We arrived around 3pm, and, thankfully, there were carts outside. Dad & I curb-side loaded a cart, and while he parked, I maneuvered it all inside. I was pretty happy when none of it collapsed. "Trainee" (he had no personal name-tag) couldn't get my reservation to load on the kiosk, so he sent us straight to a person--which I had hoped for to begin with. Renee was a huge help, once she recovered from the initial shock of four bags. She got my boarding passes through to Rio. I realized the bags were tagged for GIG (Rio) and I wouldn't be able to get them because I didn't have a visa for Brasil. She managed to change it, and got them tagged for ASU. Two had already gone down, so she doubled tagged the other two. (Yet another reason for my relief when I saw all four bags headed to the underbelly of the plane tonight!)

There was some confusion when I arrived in Rio de Janeiro. Customs agents passed me around until they handed my documents over to a man who spoke very good English. He told me how to get to my next gate area and told me to get a boarding pass. In the meantime, he would take my baggage claim tickets to make sure all four bags were truly checked through to Asuncion. I was overjoyed to have someone helping & going the extra mile to make sure my bags were right. He said he would meet me upstairs in the lounge area to return my claim tickets to me. I was about halfway to the lounge when fear set in. What if I'd been swindled? How did I know I could trust this guy? I was hungry & had to go to the bathroom, but I had forgotten to ask when (if ever, I wondered?) he would bring my claim tickets back. I spent the next two hours praying that this guy was honest and would actually show back up. I must have looked very relieved when he did finally come around the corner--claim tickets in hand. He was very friendly, and I was very grateful! Even more so when I saw all four bags together, ready to be loaded on the plane!

When I arrived in Asuncion, we were all sent straight to immigration with our passports. That went remarkably smoothly, despite the taped on "FEM" on my visa! [My visa was issued "MASC" so I returned it to the consulate in Miami for the proper gender; we didn't know if this would be a problem.] I then walked about 10 steps to baggage claim, where a man got my luggage & guided me through the customs process. I'm sure he was sore this morning after lifting those bags! (The heaviest was about 68 lbs, the lightest around 54 lbs.) He told me to walk past the customs x-ray machine with my purse & carry-on--those did not get screened. He put three of my four checked bags on the belt & collected them on the other side. The customs agents didn't even blink twice at my bags. As I was greeting everyone out in the terminal (double beso--a kiss on each cheek), he was still heading for the door. I said to someone, "My bags!" in Spanish, and someone stopped him. There were so many people there form the church, which was exciting, but I felt a little bit like I was in a comedy, and someone would soon say "We don't know them, they're not with us!" Thankfully, that didn't happen, so I must've greeted the appropriate people. As we talked outside, the man became Luggage Guard, and watched over the bags for maybe 20-30 minutes. He then realized this curb-side chat could go on a while, and relinquished guard duty to a church member. It was pretty good for $2 a bag, and I was grateful for his help.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

On the Way

Tomorrow I head out for Paraguay. I'll be traveling for 30+ hours, and covet your prayers for the trip! The next update will come from the wintery weather from the southern hemisphere.