Tuesday, June 3, 2008

June 2008 TIME journal

June 3, 2008

May 25th we welcomed our first TIME (Training in Medical Evangelism) interns. God has truly blessed us with a great group of five girls. Four are from various states in the US and one is from Canada. They are all pre-med majors and have an interested in medical missions. I want desperately for these five girls to have a wonderful experience in Paraguay, bond with their host families, brush up on their Spanish and feel as if they saw and did some cool medical things during the next five weeks.

Our schedule was thrown out on day one when one of the girls didn’t make her connection in Miami and we had to stay in Asuncion a day later than planned. The evening of the 25th we took the girls that were in town to a fun restaurant called the Paulista (which is what you call someone from Sao Paulo) where servers bring huge skewers of meat to the table. The following morning one of our missionaries in Asuncion talked about the history of SIM and what SIM is doing in Paraguay. Jeff and I wanted the girls to see how an agency and mission team fit together. That evening we left for Escobar after the fifth girl arrived.

In Escobar we were welcomed by Andy and Lizet Bowen, missionaries with World Gospel Mission. They have just finished building a beautiful house in the hills. Andy is our former Guarani teacher. We stayed with them 3 nights. Lizet and I planned the food menu weeks before. I made all the desserts and snacks. Lizet and I made breakfast together and she either hired out or cooked lunch and dinner. The first full day, Bob Givens, our “senior” missionary, came to Escobar to speak on expectations. After lunch the girls hiked to a waterfall on Andy’s property. Then Andy gave a three hour Guarani crash course. That night after dinner we watched The Mission since it is about the Jesuits in Paraguay. We will be traveling as a group to the Jesuit ruins in a couple weeks. The movie has awesome film-footage of Iguazu Falls where we will also go. The morning of the second day Andy gave part two of his Guarani lesson and in the afternoon Jeff and Andy talked about Paraguayan history and culture. The girls really enjoyed the time in Escobar. I think it was a great transition between the US and Paraguayan culture. The girls were very nervous about entering into San Francisco, so the last night we had a time of worship (yeah, songs in English!) and prayer. They asked for prayers about language, being a servant, not being so timid, and showing Christ in all they do.

Andy and Lizet Bowen with the interns

I got stuck


The next day was chilly and drizzling so unfortunately we weren’t able to do the ropes course we had planned. We left Andy’s at 10:00 in two cars – Jeff driving a car belonging to missionaries on furlough and me driving our Suburban. It didn’t make it 2 miles from Andy’s house when I slid off the road and was completely stuck. The bottom of the car was actually resting on a bed of big rocks and the two back wheels weren’t touching the ground! Jeff, Andy, Greg (SIM missionary in language school now), plus two Paraguayan passer-byers pulled the car out but not after several failed attempts and a lot of digging. Once the car was out we noticed one of the tires had a huge laceration. After it was changed, about 12:00, we set out again. Right from the start the group had a taste of mission life – unexpected circumstances and being flexible. At 1:30 we arrived in Villarrica, ate lunch, bought a new tire (which took an hour!), and then bought the girls scrub tops (we ordered them a month ago but they never came in). We stopped in Caazapa a minute to drop off a computer at the Hough’s house and then we hit the red dirt road. After about 30 minutes of rickety bridges, bumpy roads, and no signs of life one of the girls asked, “Where are you taking us!”

On the way to San Francisco

Our house with the mobile clinic on the right


We finally reached San Francisco at 6:00 (after dark). It was cold too. We regrouped at our house first, prayed as a team and then Jeff and I took the girls to their new homes. I know from my experience 13 years ago in Guatemala that staying in a home is a scary thing because you have no idea what to expect. Jeff and I prayed so much over the families that we selected. We purposely chose families who had never showed interest in coming to a prayer service. We pray that these families will see Jesus through these girls and that we will develop more of a relationship with them through this experience.

The following day, Friday, we met at our house at 9:00. The girls survived their first night and already had tons to talk about – the power going out, the water that was currently off, the cows outside their windows, staying warm in non-insulated houses, going to bed at 8:00pm and getting up at 5:00am, eating different foods and drinking mate, ect. Tony and Jean, our team mates in San Francisco, shared about the ministry and how the medical ministry fit in with church planting. At 10:30 we switched gears and Jeff taught the girls how to give injections. They practiced on bananas and oranges. (This is how Jeff and I learned on our MET trip in Guatemala.)

Stephanie giving an injection to an orange


The girls are divided in two groups. Group A saw patients with Jeff here at the house. We were thankful that people actually showed up since the weather was cold. I taught the girls to do blood draws and how to use the centrifuge. That night the girls went to an outdoor bible study despite the cold weather.

Na Mami, 64 year old believer (and mother of 17!) was one of the patients Jeff saw that afternoon. She came with severe abdominal pain. She has off the charts hypertension and uncontrolled diabetes. Jeff did an ultrasound and saw that her gall bladder was infected which is cause for immediate surgery. The family (with Jean and one of the TIME students driving them) took her to the nearest hospital (Caazapa, 45 minutes away). The doctor said that they needed to go to Asuncion (5 hours away), but there was no ambulance to take them. Jean and Stephanie drove to the next biggest town, Villaricca (45 minutes from Caaazapa), in hopes of finding an ambulance, but they had no luck. Next they went to Oviedo (30 minutes from Villaricca) and thankfully there was an ambulance available.

Saturday was a bitter cold day but we decided to go to Jaitaity for the mobile clinic anyway. We had two patients all day (but Jeff said they were good ones). We half expected this because folks do not get out when it is cold. Also, we heard that people were afraid to come. There is a new “cult” in San Francisco that makes its people scream and cry and act very emotional. The people in Jaitaity were afraid that we were that group! We got home from the clinic about 3:00 – just in time for me to bake and clean and prepare for a girls movie night.

Mobile clinic in Jataity


At 6:00 I was amazed that 20 girls showed up at my house (Paraguayans plus the Americans) to watch Mas Barato Por Docena (Cheaper By The Dozen). My house is not that big, so we were squished. But it was fun. The girls laughed all the way through it. I was able to meet some new girls which was nice.

Movie night at my house

Movie night


Sunday we met at Tony’s house for prayer service. Alisa (one of the TIME students) brought her host sister which was wonderful because she hasn’t come to any of our meetings. At 5:00 we met at our house to discuss our language, culture and spiritual learnings for the week. It was a sweet time of singing and prayer. At 8:00 we received a call from Ña Mami’s family saying that she had died in Asuncion and her body would arrive at 3am along with several children and brothers and sisters from Asuncion and Buenos Aires. We watched Jean and Tony’s kids (and put them to bed at our place) while they went to visit the family. When they came back they watched the kids so Jeff and I could visit the family.

Most of her life, Ña Mami has been as strong as an ox. She has been a widow for the past 12 years and is still raising many of her children as well as ‘adopting’ many others. Her oldest son is a leader in our church. I don’t know how long Ña Mami has been a believer but I do know that she enjoyed fellowshipping with other believers and loved singing to Jesus. This is the first death of a believer and Christian funeral in this town.

The Latin American tradition is to have a wake. As soon as the family heard the news they began cleaning the house preparing for the body to be laid in the living room and for a multitude of visitors to arrive. When we arrived the mourning and wailing had already begun. Irmalinda, one of Ña Mami’s daughters was especially loud. She was moaning and screaming and hanging on everyone that came to visit. We stayed a couple hours and then left. It was 11:00 when we got in bed. The night was very short night. David, the Floyd’s 3 year old, cried all night long and Jeff woke at 4:00am to be with the family when the body arrived. Jean relieved me at 7:00am and I joined Jeff.

Ña Mami’s body was in an open coffin set on top of a table in her house. Friends, relatives, neighbors came in waves all morning. The men sat outside (discussing politics Jeff said) and the women sat around the coffin indoors. Several of her daughters stayed by the coffin yelling and wailing and touching the body. Usually an appointed person from the community would lead the group in prayers for the dead and in the rosary, but at this wake, Jeff and Tony were asked to lead worship songs.

The wake continued all day (Monday) and all night. Today (Tuesday) we went to the house at 1:00. About 200 people were gathered, the majority non-believers. Again we sang loud as to be heard over the crying and yelling. It got pretty intense at times. Our American funeral traditions seem so cold to people here. They cannot imagine set visiting hour at a funeral parlor! I cannot say I blame them. After about 30 minutes several men quickly put the casket lid on, carried it outside and place it in the back of a truck. As they walked several women touched the casket all the way and were practically throwing themselves on it. We made a processing to the cemetery – some walking and some in cars. A mausoleum was built just yesterday (I saw the guy come in while she was on the table and measure her!). They put the coffin just barely under the ground and right then and there used cement to close her in. We sang more songs at the grave side. I think an instant peace fell over the group once the guitar began playing.

The Catholic tradition is to gather every night for nine nights to pray for the dead. Some of the family has asked us to be there to sing and read the Bible. This is an opportunity like never before. The group of believers has already gotten lots of questions. I pray that God will give them great wisdom to answer questions and that they will have opportunity to explain clearly about salvation and the hope that we have in Jesus.

Na Mami's wake in her house


Friday June 6, 2008

The girls have worked with Jeff a couple mornings at the health clinic and a couple afternoons at the clinic here at our house. They talked about cyst removals, toe incisions, ear infections, and high blood sugars. They have gone out twice so far to a neighboring town giving door-to-door vaccinations. In the afternoons the girls have had medical lectures over at our house on the diseases that hey are vaccinating against.

The students had two opportunities to do two ultrasounds on pregnant ladies. The first lady, Ester, was two months pregnant but had started bleeding the day before. They saw the baby clearly but there was no heartbeat or movement. The lady was visibly upset when Jeff told her that she had miscarried. Jeff was able to pray with her and hopefully minister peace into her life (she is not a Christian). Two days later Ester went to Caazapa for a D&C. She was to be married in July but was only engaged after founding out she was pregnant. Since she isn’t pregnant now Ester doesn’t know if she wants to marry him.

The second ultrasound was done on a very poor lady, Zulma, who comes by often with mandioca or oranges and I give her clothes in exchange. Zulma is 29 years old and is pregnant with her 7th baby. Her oldest is 14 years old (which means she was 15 when she delivered her first baby!) but lives with another family member (this is pretty common). Zulma was still nursing Anibal when she got pregnant so she didn’t know how far along she was. Jeff was able to give her an approximate due date and tell her that she was having a girl. She had mentioned before that she didn’t want another child. I explained that she needed to be on birth control (free from the health clinic) and Jean even gave her 3 packs of pills she had. No matter what neither Jean nor I said Zulma insisted that she could not get pregnant because she was nursing. She here she is barely able to feed the 7 of them and she’s pregnant again.

Since Ña Mami’s death, the family has gathered each night to sing. We went tonight and Jeff played the piano. The people love the piano. They also love to sing, requesting one after the other. I wonder how many hours they would go for. Unfortunately no one else plays musical instruments and it hard for them to sing acapella so singing only takes place if Tony or Jeff are there.

Me and Sulma


Saturday June 7, 2008

I didn’t plan for it to happen this way but 4 families (out of the 5 we placed students with) had kids being confirmed today. About 100 (from San Francisco and surrounding communities) 15 years olds gathered at the church with their family and god-parents, recited prayers, were blessed by and received the Holy Spirit by the priest and had their first communion.

Virginia at her confirmation


This weekend has been crazy with all our visitors. I feel like I have been cooking around the clock! Vonni and Greg, SIM missionaries in Guarani language class right now, have been staying with us the past couple nights. Then this afternoon we briefly entertained Steve Hardy who came South Africa to see what SIM was doing in rural Paraguay (he was here last year and wanted to do some follow-up work). We ate lunch with him and then he hung around as we began class with the students (3:00-7:00). Vonni, who is a dietitian, gave two lectures for the girls. The first was on the Paraguayan diet and the second was on diabetes. In between sessions Jeff did an ultrasound on her (she’s 7 months pregnant).

Gayna is the aunt of one of our TIME students and is a missionary in Asuncion. She and her son, Jonathan, came to San Francisco today to visit Rachel. They ate lunch with Rachel’s host family and dinner with us (plus Steve Hardy and the Camerons). I’m getting good at cooking for a crowd since we always seem to have company. It is fun, though. I was very thankful to Jeff and Ginny who did all the dishes!


Sunday June 8, 2008

About 40 of us met outside today for church. The weather was beautiful – not too hot and not too cold. After church Rachel, her Aunt and cousin, plus the Camerons are lunch with us. Both sets of company left around 1:30. In the afternoon our family picked green beans together from our garden. It was exciting because we all had helped plant and water them. After picking them we sat in the living room and snapped them. I boiled them in salt water and froze them in bags. It will be nice to have green beans because we cannot get them here and we miss them very much. At 5:00 we had a devotional time with the girls. I challenged them to make the most of every opportunity to tell about Jesus. They have been teaching Jeff and I new worship songs since we are way behind the times.

Jeff teaching Psalm 1 during Sundays encuentro


Monday June 9, 2008

Today the girls went to San Ignacio to give vaccinations. They are really enjoying doing that. The weather has turned and it is cold again. It rained off and on all day. We watched our piece-of-junk car get towed today. It was in the shop several days while we were in Asuncion being worked on, but since getting it back it has had trouble starting and it finally died. The engine won’t even turn over now. So it is on its way to Asuncion. Hopefully it will be fixed quickly and Jeff will be able to take a bus to Asuncion and drive it back.

This afternoon Jeff taught a class on Catholicism. It generated a great discussion. During the month we have each girl scheduled to spend the night with us. Last week Kim spent the night and today Whitney is spending the night. It was our way of giving them a break from culture, feeding them familiar food, and getting to know them better one-on-one.

Rachel giving a vaccine


Wednesday June 11, 2006

Tuesday some of the girls went to the health out post with Jeff and the others went to visit Na Tunia with me, an elderly shut in. In the afternoon we had a class on missions – the origin of it and our part in it. It was a great discussion. Jeff and put together several articles, had them bound in a spiral book, and give one to each of the girls. The book has four categories: missiology, Paraguay culture, language learning, and medical-missions. Before our missions discussion Jeff had the girls read a couple articles.

Today vaccination campaigns were kind of a bust. The nurses didn’t have enough vaccines and didn’t have the foresight to order more. People here do not seem to think ahead and plan for the future. For example, saving money is not heard of (there is no bank or safe place to save it even if you had extra) and talking with kids about plans after high school is futile (they have no clue).

This afternoon was clinic at our house. I again oversaw the lab work with one student while the others shadowed Jeff in the van. They did a sonogram on a pregnant lady and saw some cool cases – a guy with thorns in his arm that had to be cut out (one of the students got to sew it back up!) and a guy who had a piece of metal fly in his eye while welding (they haven’t heard of safety glasses here). I love watching Jeff as he teaches the students. You can tell that he loves sharing his knowledge. One of the students commented that he was the best teaching doctor she had seen. I am sure it is true. He is patient, shows pictures, and explains difficult concepts slowly and in non-“medicalese”.

Stephanie drawing blood in our living room


PRAISE THE LORD! We just heard that one of Ña Mami’s sons prayed to receive Christ in light of all the singing and preaching that went on after her death! He went to his believing sister-in-law and without even greeting her (VERY uncommon here!), just blurted out, “How can I be saved?” She had the amazing privilege of sharing the gospel with him and he accepted Christ as his savior! Pray for Cesar in his new-found faith. He lives several hours away and we pray that he will be able to get plugging into a solid Christian group and grow in the Lord. We continue to pray for the other 15 siblings. About half of them are not believers. They have heard the Word of God now and are at a very vulnerable time in their lives.


The girls are enjoying their experience with host families and are learning cultural things that Jeff and I never had the opportunity to do. Whitney is staying with our round-the-corner neighbors, Mari and Ishmael Pena. In fact, the Priest is over there for dinner every night he is in town (Thursday through Sunday). He consumes an entire liter of wine and gets a little “sillier” as the bottle becomes emptier. We have been told by one of our believers that he tells very inappropriate jokes during mass, but the people laugh and love him. Very sad. I am praying that Whitney’s host sister will do something with us. We’ve had a couple opportunities for the girls to hang out at my house and she was the only host sister that didn’t come. I wonder if her parents won’t let her come around because we are evangelicals

Whitney with her host mom and sister

Alisa is staying with Lila and Claudio. They have a store at their house and he is the administrator of the health out post (even though he has a 6th grade education; he knew someone in he political circle). Alisa and her host sister, Marlene, have been reading the Bible together! Marlene is the one that came to prayer meeting for the first time last Sunday.

Alisa with her host mom and dad

Stephanie is staying with our front door neighbors, Oscar and Gladys (Stephanie is staying at our house tonight). Oscar is a teacher and Stephanie has plans to sit in his classroom sometime next week. She has been developing a relationship with Gladys who is a bit shy. Gladys is teaching her today to make a traditional bread called chipa.

Stephanie with her host family

Kim is the shiest in the bunch and she was place with the most bubbly family of the bunch (we picked families before we knew them) but it has turned out to be really good. Kim is Canadian and learned French in school not Spanish so she is struggling to communicate but desperately wants to have meaningful Christ centered discussions with them. They love her like their own family member. They wait outside at the hour she said she’d be back and rush to the car to help her out.

Kim with her host mom

Rachel is staying with Jose Maria (have you ever met a man named Maria?) and Florentina. Rachel was born and raised in Nepal as a missionary kid. She has been the most studious of Guarani, bringing new words that she has heard and asking for sentences to communicate better (even though her Spanish is pretty good). She too has been reading the Bible with her host mom and sister. Florentina came once to a prayer meeting months ago but was told that if she did anything else with us her daughter could not be confirmed. Many folks here have been threatened that way. Her daughter was confirmed last Sunday and I am praying that she will come to studies again.

These girls are opening up doors in the community and I am so excited to see the fruit in years to come (maybe even sooner!).

Rachel with her host sister and mom


Thursday June 12, 2008

All plans were cancelled (working at the health clinic) for today because it is a holiday – memorial of the Chaco War. Our team mates from Caazapa came down for lunch with us and at 2:00 when the girls arrived they gave their testimonies. Next we discussed motives for missions and what it means to be called of God.


Friday June 13, 2008

Being a missionary is a good lesson in being flexible! Today it was raining and so vaccination campaigns were called off. Instead the girls came over to our house for a lesson on suturing. Jeff demonstrated suturing and knot tying and let them practice on pig skin!

Jeff teaching me to suture on pig skin


Saturday June 14, 2008

Today we were supposed to go to Maria Auxiliadora for a mobile clinic but it was raining this morning. Instead a couple of the girls came over to hang out. Jeff had a few patients come to the door that they helped with (pneumonia and a cyst removal). At 1:30 the girls and I went to visit one of the girls’ host moms. She was kind and served us mate and sopa Paraguaya. At 3:30 our family went to a birthday party and sat back while the kids got hyped up on sugar. At 5:00 I had about 15 girls over to play the card game Uno. We played until 8:00. Now I am packing for our trip to Encarnacion tomorrow.

Game night at my house


Tuesday June 17, 2008

Sunday we went to prayer service. As soon at it was over a patient came by Tony’s house. He had fallen off his motorcycle and had dislocated his shoulder. Jeff and Tony tied sheets around their waists and the patient in order to slowly pull the arm back into socket (the guy was in so much pain) but it didn’t work. Jeff finally had to give up and urge him to seek care and an x ray in the next town. We ate a quick lunch prepared by a lady in town and then piled in the car to head to Hotel Tirol near Encarnacion. It has been a constantly changing plan as to exactly how we were going to get to the hotel (Remember we only have one borrowed car at t his time because the Suburban is in Asuncion). First Jeff was going to take a mid-night bus to Asuncion and drive it back to San Francisco but that would have cheated the medical interns out of a clinic day and he didn’t feel right about that. Next, it was a possibility that a new SIM family would drive it out to us and bus back but that fell through. Third, Tony said that he would drive a second car (his car) and stay at the hotel with us. In the end, the Floyds offered to keep out 3 oldest children allowing all of us to ride in one car.

Jeff fixing a dislocated shoulder

We arrived at Tirol around 4:00 (we made great timing). The girls hiked one set of trails before dark. Between 5 and 7 we played word games – boggle and take two. At 7:00 we had a wonderful dinner (the food is really good here).

Monday we went to visit two sets of Jesuit ruins - Trinidad and Jesus. It was nice that we had watched The Mission at Andy’s house and had some historical context. We came back to the hotel for lunch and then headed out again for the big city of Encarnacion. I did some grocery shopping and the girls were happy to spend time at the Cyber Café. We ate another wonderful meal at 7:00 then after Micah and Tyler were in bed we played more games with the girls. We played Balderdash and we all laughed so hard!

This morning we ate breakfast at 8:30. There is another trail the girls wanted to hike. The plan is to be packed and ready to go before we eat lunch at noon. We’ll leave right after lunch, getting back mid-afternoon to San Francisco. They girls had said that they appreciated this mini-vacation away from Spanish, unpredictable shower water temperatures, Paraguayan food and being a guest in someone else’s house (that is exactly why we planned this in the middle of the TIME trip).

Jesusit ruins at Jesus

Church at the Jesuit ruins at Jesus

It was a long day!


Wednesday June 19, 2008

Yesterday the group went to Kuarahy Rese for vaccination campaigns. This afternoon they came for clinic at the house. While at the house they got called away to an emergency. A man fell off the top of his big (wood hauling) truck. He lacerated his scalp and may have broken his back. Praise God he could move his legs but he did have a huge painful bulge in his lower back. Rachel is staying the night with us tonight.

Today the clinic was busting at the seams with patients. During this afternoon class time they presented cases – an infected foot, young girl requiring oxygen, pneumonia. Jeff discussed mission strategies and what other medical missionaries are involved in – rural outposts, hospitals in cities, mobile ministries, etc. Alisa stayed to spend the night.


Friday June 20, 2008

Vaccination campaigns were canceled due to bad weather (are you seeing a pattern of bad weather and canceled events? When it rains or if it is too cold people do not leave the house and shops close down.) Instead, Jeff gave a medical lecture at our house. 2:00-6:00 was clinic at our place. A severely malnourished 18 month baby was brought by concerned neighbors. The child was abandoned and left with a grandmother who does not have the resources to provide adequate nutrition (especially protein). The baby had a distended belly, swollen face and hands, dry cracked and bleeding skin, a rash over its entire body, discolored hair and fussiness.

Tonight there was a San Juan Day fiesta (a fundraiser for the Catholic Church) at the school. It was one of the most bizarre things I have attended. About 300 people (I got the impression that more people would have been there but it was cold) were eating empanadas, twirling caburre over open fires, and participating in the events. The “events” of the evening were definitely the focus. About 20 high school guys were dressed in white poncho type shirts, sheets/rags wrapped around their legs and their head and face covered with material (holes were made for the eyes and mouth). They reminded me of the KKK. They are called “kambas” which means a black or dark person. Because they were unrecognizable in their costumes, they basically had a license to act crazy and talk in high pitched voices. Not just anyone can be a kamba. If someone wanted to dress up on the day of San Juan he approaches a designated guy earlier in the week and submits his name. That person decides if he is “worthy” enough to be a kamba. If you had been rowdy in the past then you cannot do it again. The chosen will receive a secret paper with instructions.

The first game was “pelota tata” (fire ball). A kerosene drenched ball was set on fire and thrown onto the field. The kambas played silly soccer and occasionally kicked the flaming ball into the crowd. Those that weren’t playing fire-soccer tried to climb a pole that was covered with soap. No one got to the top to knock down the bottle of whisky.

Next we watched the kambas perform in a “dance till you drop” contest (which in my opinion went way too long). There was even a guy dressed as a girl (stuffed bra and all). When the last dancer was left standing a bell was rung and a phony wedding ceremony was performed. One youth impersonated Atilano, our town Justice of the Peace and another guy impersonated the local priest (the REAL priest was actually the MC for the night and quite possibly laughing the hardest during this sacreligious event). The couple (two kambas) was kneeling in front of an altar waving a whiskey bottle and acting drunk. I didn’t catch all that was said because there were so many play on words and the crowd was rolling with laughter. The fake priest performed a fake mass. He made the sign of the cross saying in Guarani, “here, there, over there and over yonder”. Then he doused everyone with “holy water” (using a toilet bowl scrubber).

After our blessing, the “toro kandil” (flaming bull) made an appearance. A kamba with tent-like structure over him chased other kambas. Protruding from the tent was a pole with horns. The horns were on fire. Kambas took turn chasing other kambas. Two or three more pelota tatas were thrown into the action.

The final event was the burning of Judas (a stuffed scarecrow hung from a pole). The fire set off firecrackers inside of him and the people cheered. About 10:00pm people staggered home (some literally because of all the whiskey they consumed). Like I said earlier, this was a bizarre event and I really wasn’t sure how to act in response to it. I do not know the history of San Juan and why they celebrate the day like that. It had a very pagan/sacreligious feel to it. One thing it did remind me of was the fact that these people need Jesus. They are lost, sinful and full of wickedness. But God wants to redeem the people of San Francisco to Him!

Dance-till-you-drop contest with the Kambas

The firecracker filled Judas

Kamba kicking the fire ball

Women cooking caburre


Saturday June 21, 2008

Whitney and I got up before 7:00am this morning and went to a pig slaughtering at Na Justina’s house. When we arrived she cooked cocido (burnt sugar and yerba with more sugar and milk poured over…good but VERY sweet) on a brasero (reminds me of a camping stove with coals) for us to drink. Na Justina and her family found it amusing that we did not know the pig killing process and that we came all the way from across town (5 minute drive) to see it happen. The pig was 150kg (330lb). Na Justina bought it from our neighbor for 700gs ($175) two days before. A rope was initially tied around one of the pig’s legs. She was too strong to fall so they tied a rope around the second leg. She fell with a thud. The husband left at this point to work in his field and left the women (his wife, a teenaged daughter, a neighbor lady, and an 11 year old granddaughter) to do the work. The pig was squealing horrible cries and thrashing about. It took all the girls weight to hold it on one side while the mother stuck a foot long blade into the neck of the pig. She placed a basin under the wound to catch the draining blood. In a 10 minute period she stabbed three times in the same place but each time going deeper. Finally the pig became still and silent and the blood stopped flowing.

The women lugged the dead weight (some pushed and some pulled) onto a plank on the ground. They poured scalding kettles of water over the skin. Using a knife they shaved the pigmented black skin off until he was white in color. They worked hard on one side and then would use all their might to turn the pig over and start on the other side. Next they brought out a razor and shaved the all remaining pig hairs. Once the pig was whisker free they washed him with soap and hot water. They did such a thorough job. I was impressed by all the hard work. A man came from next door to do the cutting. First he cut off the feet and then skinned the pig, removing the thick fatty layer. When the pig was “nude”, it was rolled on its back, sternum cut with a saw and opened up in order to remove the organs which were placed in a bowl. Once that was done the rest of the pig was cut up and the meat chunks were placed on a wooden table inside the house. The whole process took over 2 hours.

Everything is either sold or used – nothing is discarded. Na Justina said that she will make a 150gs profit on this pig ($37). The pig fat is used to make many Paraguayan traditional dishes like mbeju, sopa and chipa. They also make shisharon which is fried fat (Can’t you feel your arteries clogging?). Whitney and I were offered some to eat and we very politely said how interesting it was (notice we didn’t say “good”). The head is sold for its tongue and cheeks. We often see people walking with just the animal head on their shoulders – tongue sticking out. One of the girls was given a pig’s ear to gnaw on for dinner (very chewy) by her host mom. Another girl was offered duck liver and heart one night (tastes like chicken???). The hooves are cleaned (thankfully) and put whole in stews. Now here’s the good part (that was written very sarcastically), from the fat and blood and intestines they make morcillo (blood sausage). When I left the pig slaughter, the 11 year old was carefully emptying out the yellowish-brown contents of the intestine. Fat and blood will next be mixed together and stuffed into the intestine. It will be cooked and served for dinner. Jeff and I recently ate morcillo. Surprisingly enough I think it would have tasted decent IF I hadn’t known what it was and how it was made. Jeff and I choked it down while the host and hostess watched our faces to see if we liked their daughters cooking.

I bought several pounds of pig meat: the lomito (the meat above the spine and in my opinion, the best cut) and a back leg. My total was 110gs ($27) for 11kg (24lbs). What I consider to be old fashion scales are used to weigh the meat. Various weights are used on one side to balance the meat on the other side. To weigh the lomito I bought, Na Justina had to use a 2kg bag of yerba and add smaller weighs on top of that. I brought my sack of meat home and Jeff and I began cutting the meat off the bone. We cut the meat from the leg in chunks to be used in stir-fry or shish-ka-bobs. The lomito we left whole to put on the grill some day.

Women killing the pig

Weighing my meat

Pig head, anyone?


Changing gears, at 10:00 the girls and I went to visit Alisa’s host family. I know her family the least so I was thankful to be able to spend some time with them. At 5:00 the girls and Floyds came over for game and pizza night. Pizza night here isn’t as easy as pizza night in the states. We cannot call Dominos, place an order and wait for it to arrive. I spent the afternoon making dough and preparing the toppings. I made 4 pizzas: (1) meat lovers with ham, pepperoni, ground beef, and onions, (2) pepperoni, (3) tomatoes, onions and chicken, (4) and a vegetarian pizza (one of the students doesn’t eat meat back home) with tomatoes, onions and broccoli. We played Balderdash. Our goal was to upset the current “hog-wash” champion, Whitney, but she won again!

Pizza night

Sunday June 22, 2008

9:30 was worship service at Tony’s house. Tonight at 5:00 is devotional time at our house. Jeff and Ryan are currently on the road to Asuncion. Jeff drove the Reiches car there, will pick up our fixed Suburban in the morning and drive it out here for afternoon classes tomorrow.

Monday June 23, 2008

Today’s vaccination campaigns were cancelled today due to lack of transportation. Stephanie and Alisa came over to interview my house help. In order to get credit at their schools for this trip they need to complete a paper. They have chosen to focus on psychosomatic disorders of Paraguayan women. They’ve collected information from Jeff (through patients he has seen), and have experienced first hand some interesting cases, and have interviewed various people.

Stephanie and Whitney went to school today with Ginny to observe. They were shocked at how little the kids did while in class. School begins at 12:40 with a ringing of a hand-held bell. The kinder through 6th graders line up outside arms length a part. The director says, “Buenas tardes” and the students shout in unison, “Buenas tardes profesora.” Then they are dismissed. Kids began taking their desks out of their class room and setting them up outside. The students began cleaning the room, sweeping and collecting trash. After 20 minutes, the students brought their desks back in to begin class but waited another 10 minutes while the teacher wrote on the chalk board. During this time the kids were out of seats, leaving the class room and playing with each other. The kids spent the next 30 minutes copying it down in their notebooks. Finally at 1:40 the teacher was ready to teach. They focused on the letter N and did two math problems before it was break time. Stephanie and Whitney commented that there were no books or visual aids, bare walls, and lack of order in the class. Our kids enjoy going to Paraguayan school. They have made friends and have picked up on a lot of Spanish and Guarani, for which we are thankful. It has also expanded my circle of friends to include the teachers. Because there is a definite lack in the system we also home school the kids in the morning. It has fun and challenging to be creative and teach to their individual learning styles.

Jeff got back from Asuncion at 1:30 (25 hours after he left), drank a quick cup of coffee and was ready to talk about missiology with the girls during class time at our house. Before the team came Jeff and I put together a collection of articles and had them bound. The book is divided into four sections: culture, language, medical evangelism and missiology. Most of our class times have been spent discussing various articles that Jeff assigned ahead of time.

Something the girls have said over and over is that they love their host family and feel that God placed them with the perfect family for their needs. They have really bonded, are having spiritual conversations and are even cooking for their families! Stephanie tried pancakes and found it extremely difficult to flip them in a pot. She next tried omelets with onion, peppers, and cheese. Paraguayan cheese is different though and doesn’t melt well, nor does it have much flavor. The family commented that our American food must be healthier for you because it doesn’t have salt (we wondered if he meant “taste” too). Alisa cooked pancakes for lunch for her family but they didn’t have any baking soda, so her pancakes were more like crepes. The family took one look at them and decided to wait until dinner to eat them. Alisa wasn’t home for dinner that evening and the next morning they were still sitting out. They never said a word about them. Rachel cooked spaghetti for her family and it turned out well (according to Rachel it was a “taste from home”) but the family found it quite interesting. They didn’t finish their plates and didn’t have many compliments. The host sister said that her throat was hurting so she couldn’t swallow the food. Later the girl said to me, “Rachel cooked for our family and used 8 (small) cans of tomato paste. That’s expensive!”

Rachel singing the hairs off a chicken


Tuesday June 24, 2008

Whitney said that she wanted to milk a cow while she was here so we found a tame cow. This morning at 7:00 we walked to the Na Adelida’s house and received a lesson on cow milking. After the four of us had a turn and thinking that we had exhausted the poor cows milk supply, Na Adelida squatted down to “get to business”. We realized that we were way too gentle. Man, Na Adelida pulled and pulled and got out more milk in 30 seconds than the 4 of us did in 30 minutes!

Milking a cow

Sunday one of the believers came up to me and asked if they could have a going away party for the team. I mentioned that I wanted to do something to thank and recognize the host families and maybe we could do something together. Another motive was to get the believers and the non-believers to interact together. At 5:00 (after class this afternoon) we went to the Floyd’s house. Tony grilled pork and the believers brought drinks, rice salad and mandioca. Each host families was there, even a few host fathers came. It was a wonderful evening of fellowship. The team publicly thanked the church and their host families for welcoming them and allowing them to share in fellowship. Each family spoke praise over the student and welcomed them back any time. The families also kept thanking Jeff and me for trusting them to take care of our friends.

Alisa and her host family went to another San Juan fiesta (apparently events go on all week to celebrate). Tonight was a fund-raiser for the high school. It included all the same silly events but with different Kambas.

Paraguayan women milking a cow


Wednesday June 25, 2008

Today is the last full day in San Francisco. At 7:00 the girls headed out for the last vaccination campaign. At 2:00 we had clinic at our house. Alisa went to high school with her host sister. She was surprised at how little time was spent in the classroom and how little of that time was actually spent teaching. She was there 4 hours. The first hour was spent counting the money that was raised the night before. They had chemistry class where the teacher spent 30 minutes writing on the board and the students spent the next 45 minutes copying the board. The teacher went over the two word problems for 15 minutes. Then it was time for a break.


Thursday June 26, 2008

Between 7:15 and 8:00 we picked up the students, drove by the Floyds house to say good-bye and headed out of town. All the host families were sad to see the students leave (some were crying). All the students received gifts from their host family - yerba, hats, a small pitcher.

We entered Brazil at 1:00 and went to McDonalds for lunch. We spent two hours this afternoon at the waterfalls on the Brazil side. I have been to this side numerous times yet it still is amazing. I know the girls were blown away by its power. Along the path is a plaque embedded into the rock that says in English, “Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the Lord on high is mighty. Psalm 93:4” Yes, praise the Lord, our God is so mighty!

For dinner we ate at the hotel and had a great buffet to choose from.

Brazil waterfalls


Friday June 27, 2008

We ate from the hotel breakfast buffet and then headed out at 9:15. We spent all day on the Argentina side of the waterfalls, walking the trails, up and down the rock stairs. My legs and feet are sore now! It rained off and on all day actually making the hike pleasant (Jeff and I have done the trail in 100 degree weather so we welcomed the sprinkles of today). The Brazil side and Argentina side have very different views of the waterfalls. On the Brazil side you see the big picture and you can really grasp the size of Iguazu falls. On the Argentina side you get up close to the waterfalls, seeing them from above and below. You get a feel for the power and volume of water. On the Argentina side you see up close the most impressive part of the Falls - The Devil’s Throat.

We ate at Pizza Hut for dinner and the girls walked to an ice cream shop afterwards.

Devils Throat, Argentina waterfalls

Our group at the Falls

Tyler and mom

Waiting for the boat




Saturday June 28, 2008

We left the hotel at 9:30 and headed for Asuncion. We made a few stops in between. First stop was in Caacupe to see the Catholic basilica there. Caacupe is a Mecca for Paraguayans and every December 8th Paraguayans make a pilgrimage to visit the Virgin. The more they suffer along the way, the better, so they think. Some will walk or even crawl all the way there. They go to thank Mary for answering their prayers and also to petition her for things concerning the coming year. It is a very beautiful church.

The next stop was in Aregua which is know for its pottery. The girls did some shopping there. Next, we stopped in Luque, famous for their silver filigree jewelry. The girls found some nice earrings, rings, and bracelets.

We stopped in Asuncion to pick up dinner and arrived at the SIM guest house at 7:30pm.

Church in Caacupe

To honor Mary

Sunday June 29, 2008

We went to church just up the street in the morning. In the afternoon we went to a grocery store for the girls to buy cappuccino mugs, dulce de leche, and yerba. They went to the mall to for ice cream and to find maps of Paraguay. In the evening we had a time of worship (led by Tom Stout) and debriefing. We discussed frustrations and highlights of the trip, as well as what God had been teaching them about missions and medical missions. The girls had given Jeff and me a thank you card with some money in it. They told us that they would watch the kids while we went on a date. So, we took them up on the offer and headed to the mall for a movie and then ice cream.

Monday June 30, 2008

Today we shopped until we dropped. At 9:30 we went downtown to Colon street where there are several shops selling leather, nanduti lace work, guampas, and other typical Paraguayan things. We next went to Palmas street where the girls found soccer jerseys. We stopped at the government buildings and walked to the water. Finally we gave into our hunger pains and went to the mall for lunch. We stopped at two grocery stores for flip flops, notebooks, and for last minute gifts. We arrived back at the SIM guest house tired at 4:30!

Capitol building

Tonight we had a wonderful evening at Arpa Roga. Paraguayan friends of ours built a cultural event center behind their house (where the husband’s carpentry shop used to be). We ate a wonderful asado (BBQ) with meat and sausage, plus a buffet with every typical Paraguayan dish. We were serenaded by three different harpists. One of the harpists played as his father sang and played the guitar.

Tuesday July 1, 2008

This morning I drove the girls to the airport. Jeff and I will hang out in Asuncion until our annual SIM spiritual life conference starting Sunday.