Tuesday, March 31, 2009
In preparation for the children and house parents to arrive (see post below for that exciting announcement), we would like to paint their house. The walls of all the houses were in fairly poor condition after the termination of the previous program. We approximate the cost to be around $250.00 for paint and supplies per house. In the future we (meaning Shaun) will be painting and preparing the other houses to be filled. The most urgent need, however, is to paint the house that will be filling on the April 12th. If you would be interested in donating any amount to this project, please contact either Shaun or Sara via Facebook or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Any donations will be appreciated.
We have been busy this past week. Last Thursday there was a PTA meeting at the school. I attended the meeting on behalf of the kids and so that I could meet some of the parents. I sat in the very back of the room hoping to hide, as I didn't want to participate in the meeting. However, when it came time to vote on the PTA president for this school year, the director of schools called me out, asking me to take the position. It was quite entertaining as I only understand about 75% of what is even said in the meeting since they occasionally switch into Guarani. Not to mention that I have NO idea how a PTA in Paraguay functions. So, I gracefully declined the position.
We have enjoyed going into the community and meeting people. Whenever we stop in hardware stores, ice cream parlors, restaurants, craft stores, seamstress' home, the hair salon, the grocery, we always like to introduce ourselves and explain what we are doing in Itaugua. I have been amazed at how many people we have met already that would like to participate in what we are doing. The seamstress that made our couch cushion covers and her husband (a mechanic) have already come to the children's home twice to volunteer and work with the kids. They attend a Church of God church and may also be bringing their church at some point in the future to do programs for the kids. The other day we met a lawyer who owns a tourist store. He was very interested in getting us connected with the right government officials to receive assistance for the children's homes. It always amazes me how God ordains our steps down to the last detail and how faithful he is to provide for all of our needs.
Finally, we are excited to announce that we had an interview with potential house parents yesterday and have hired them and asked that they arrive April 10th. The children living in their home will arrive on the 12th of April. We already have a group of six siblings confirmed that will be coming to live in the house ranging in ages from two to twelve. The new house parents, Ramon and Hida have four children of their own who are grown with families. They are members of an Assembly of God church and are dynamic Christians who are excited about working with the children. They worked in the previous program in our facility for four years, serving as house parents to street children. Please be in prayer for this couple and the new children that will be arriving. We can't wait to expand.
Monday, March 23, 2009
This past week, two of the children in the children's home have celebrated their birthdays. When the children have their birthdays, I am going to take some time out to introduce them to each of you.
First, Ever had his birthday and turned 9 years old. Ever is the brother of Nilda, Carlos, Rocio, and Cristina. Their mother still visits them and was able to come on his birthday and bring a cake. I didn't know she was bringing two cakes, and I made one as well. He was one happy boy to have three birthday cakes. Ever is a precious young man with a very positive attitude. He LOVES learning English and is by far my best student in first or second grade. He picks up on English very quickly is simply very intelligent. While he is a very active student, he is one of the more laid-back children in the home, content to play alone and stay out of the other kids' arguments.
Ever with the cake I made him
(I'm still trying to figure out making icing with Paraguayan ingredients.)
Second, Ever's sister Rocio just turned 7 today. Yesterday, her mom was able to visit again and brought her a cake. Since today was her actual birthday, I made a second cake and her mom left money for sodas (a special treat) for lunchtime. Rocio is a beautiful and intelligent little girl as well, but don't be fooled by her ultra-sweet smile. She is quite a little bossy leader. She is sure to tell any of the other kids, even the older ones when they are doing something wrong. After chewing them out, she will turn to me with that precious smile that seems to say, "I have everything under control, tia." Abi loves to repeat what Rocio says since she is just so commanding.
Abi with Rocio who is wearing her new birthday shirt
Family: Rocio, Nilda, Carlos, Cristina, their Mom, and Ever
When we were first in Paraguay, I posted all the kids pictures with their names. Please continue to pray for each of the kids living here at the home by name. While they are very well-adjusted children considering their backgrounds, each of them still needs the Lord to work in their hearts and with their emotions. Pray that they would all feel loved, not only by those of us working here, but also by their heavenly father. Pray also that Shaun and I and the house parents Mario and Suni would be consistent in sharing our faith with these little ones.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
There are some days when I am simply overwhelmed with thanksgiving for what the Lord has given my family. Today has been one of those days. While I miss Guatemala- the breathtaking mountain views, the people and culture, and especially the children that we grew to love, I am so happy to be in Paraguay. Last year we lived an hour from the closest large, air-conditioned grocery store. Tonight when standing in Stock, a giant, clean, air-conditioned supermarket only five minutes from our house, I thanked the Lord for that store. It is strange that something as simple as a grocery store or having an automatic car that I can drive would make such an impact on me, but there are so many things that Lord provides for those that love Him that we often overlook. I have the feeling of thankfulness when I sit with the kids from the children home. This past week, two of the kids had birthday parties. We gave them each a new outfit and a pencil pouch (marvel comic heroes for the boy and daffy and minnie mouse for the girl) and they, too, were filled with gratitude. In life, let us not overlook the little blessings that the Lord gives us. Sometimes when we consider our problems and the things that we want to have but don't, we become discouraged, even greedy and unthankful. Today, I want to give the Lord thanks for all the things he has provided for me, no matter how small.
This week we will update with pictures of the birthday parties and let you get to know the two children who have had birthdays.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Due to a request to see the giant worm, I will post a picture. The picture doesn't do the creature justice, because I wasn't willing to get very close to it. And yes, it is in a plastic cake plate. Also I forgot to share the comments from Milciades (our friend that was painting our house) about the worm after we killed it. Later he told us that it was not venomous and it would just bite and not let go. He proceeded to share a story about a time that one bit his dog and he had to burn a match under the worm's head to get it to release its bite. Still, he saw no reason to kill it! So, good decision on taking its life.
We started out the weekend by hosting a movie night in our house. Now that we have new slipcovers on the couch cushions that were here in our house, we are ready to have the kids over on a frequent basis for movie parties. We watched Kung Fu Panda in Spanish- which I didn't understand very well due to the oriental Spanish accents the characters were using. The movie was a hit with the kids, however, as were the mid-movie snacks (a variety of wafer cookies).
On Saturday, we had the kids over again to inaugurate our new grill and to celebrate our newly painted house. We had an asado (grill-out). Shaun and I went on Friday afternoon to buy the meat. We learned quickly that Friday is not the best time to purchase beef here in Paraguay. When we got to the meat counter in the supermarket, there was a giant swarm of people. We had to take a number and wait to be served when our number was called. We got number 62 and the current number up was 28. Actually, we only waited 10 or 15 minutes. They have a pretty good system going. We purchased about 17 pounds of meat (ribs and some thick roast) for $25.00. The price of beef and dairy products here is astounding. To go along with the meat, I made a whole lot of mashed potatoes and the house "tia" brought mandioca (Paraguayan word for yuca- a more fibrous potato) and rice salad. We had a great time and loved having everyone over to our house. Below are pictures of the grill and the kids enjoying their lunch.
We ended the weekend by taking the kids to church. On the way back from church we had 14 people in our van. Folding down the back seats creates a whole lot more space!
Friday, March 13, 2009
Last Saturday, the house parents' local church came to have a service on our property. The kids from the children's home walked through the community to invite the neighbors. We had a great turn-out, actually running out of space. We hope to be able to have the church back to visit
every month. On Sunday, we had an asado (grill-out) with the kids. Shaun was able to learn a little about the cuts of meat available and the way to prepare the meat.
Service at our Facility
Mario (the House "Tio") preparing the meat
Getting Ready to Eat
On Tuesday, I had my first classes in the community school. I taught Kindergarten through third grade. The classes were so much fun. Normally, I will also be teaching forth, fifth, sixth, and ninth grade on Tuesday afternoons as well, but they were having a staff meeting and school was cancelled in the afternoon. I will be teaching those classes today as a make-up. The morning classes went well. I did discover, however, that I am not really the greatest Kindergarten teacher. Between the girl crying for her mommy and the precious little girl in the front that stared at me like I just stepped off mars and smiled like I was the funniest looking thing on earth, it was hard to focus on the lesson. All of the kids seem really excited about learning English, and I think they will do very well with it, since they are all already bilingual with Guarani and Spanish.
On Wednesday we took a trip to the zoo in the capital with the Hagerman's. It was a fun day, and Abi loved seeing the animals. I think we will definitely visit again. There was a natural history museum as well that included lots of deformed pickled animal fetuses. That part was a little strange, but the bug collection there was amazing. We were also able to eat at the recently opened TGI Friday's. Believe it or not, our meals complete with unlimited refills and appetizer were about $3.75 a person. I love this country!
Abi At the Zoo
We have also invested in a grill- an essential part of the Paraguayan lifestyle. Yesterday we tried it out and have decided that we will need to test it again tomorrow just to make sure that it will work well again. The beef here is delicious. I love Paraguay's cows- we get fresh milk every couple of days as well.
Finally, we had a kitchen visitor. There is a drain cap underneath our sink where the sludge from the sink collects. When Shaun was washing dishes, a large (about 12-14 inches), hard worm slid past his foot after pushing its way out of the drain cover. While our painter told us not to kill it because it wasn't poisonous, I brought Shaun the machete and we murdered our visitor. To me, it looked like a creature from the Swamp Forest in the Princess Bride. I hope that is the last giant worm I see for a while. We have now placed the giant rock that was on top of the cover back on top. We took it off not knowing why it was there. Now we know.
Monday, March 2, 2009
There is a lot to tell. The last week has been very busy. After learning about the children's socks, we had planned to do something about the sock situation. Thanks to a donation from a friend, we bought all of the kids TWO new pair of socks (making three total)! The house parents were shocked at this blessing. The donation also provided a new pair of nice tennis shoes for each of the kids and belts for the boys. They can now walk to school without having to hold up their pants with one hand. It felt like Christmas when we delivered the gifts to the kids. They were so appreciative. Mario (house dad) told me, "Thank you for buying these kids their first-ever pair of 'nice' tennis shoes."
Last Friday, we had a dedication here for a bakery. Equipment was donated from the Rotary Club of Asuncion to create a state of the art bakery. The older children in the home and community will be trained in the art of bread-making and the proceeds from the bread will help to support the bakery classes and the children's home. And of course, the children's home will be provided with fresh, delicious bread. The story was covered by a Paraguayan newspaper, and Shaun and I were mentioned as the home directors. Even after writing our names myself for the reporter, Shaun's name was spelled Sahun. That made the article even more entertaining to read.
Inauguration of the Panaderia (Bakery)
Today I spoke with the director of the community school where the children from the home attend. He confirmed that I (Sara) would be teaching English to all seven of the grades. I will only be doing classes one day a week to begin. Tomorrow I go to meet the students and to be introduced. Next Tuesday, classes will begin. Please pray for me. I have not done much formal in-school instruction. Also I will be teaching in Spanish. Pray that the Lord would guide me and help me to be creative in my approach.
Finally, we made an exciting purchase today. I had been trying to talk Shaun into purchasing a dog. We live in a great area for a dog and many Paraguayans keep dogs just to discourage petty theft from their homes. Also, Abi loves animals and I knew she would like a pet. Two days ago Shaun told me he was considering getting her one for her birthday. We ended up in the capital today, so we stopped by some pet stores. When we met a little female, two-month old boxer, we decided we would get a dog today. Abi is thrilled. We have named her Simba (thanks Ken Hagerman for the suggestion) after a popular guarana soda here in Paraguay.
Doesn't she look like a ferocious gaurd dog?
Thank you for your prayers. We feel so blessed every day to be living here in Paraguay, working with the children in the home, and seeking to do the will of our heavenly Father.
Shaun, Sara, and Abi