Monday, June 29, 2015

Week Six in Paraguay

This past week marked the halfway point of our trip. I think the second half of our time here is going to fly by! At the halfway point we have yet to break out our big coats. :) We've also learned that our place (unlike most places in Paraguay) actually does have a heater (in case it does get cold before we leave).

Trent began teaching in the Bible Academy this past week. He's teaching Christian Evidences on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. In a few weeks, he'll also add teaching Numbers and Deuteronomy at the Bible Academy. Teaching in Spanish is burdensome on his mind, but it is also a great opportunity to continue to develop his Spanish language skills. On Friday afternoon Trent also helped with a baptism workshop - which included Bible study but also teaching the students in the Academy about how to baptize someone (the mechanics of it) and discussing how to handle special circumstances (such as how to baptize someone who is crippled). Friday evening Trent was able to be a part of a good Bible study with a family whose mother and one of the children are Christians, but their father is not. Trent is also continuing with his Spanish lessons most days of the week. 

I was able to meet with all three of my English students during the week, and I think the lessons went well. I'm also learning how to interact/discuss the Bible even more with the students as part of the lesson (we always discuss the Bible - that's the text for the English lessons, but learning how to really bring even deeper discussion about the Bible to the lesson). Teaching these English lessons has really made me think about English in a different way as well. There are so many things about that I take for granted about knowing the proper usage . . . like trying to explain the difference between the verbs "to rise" and "to raise," trying to explain what exactly the word "thus" means, or just in general explaining that there is no rule for something that you just have to learn the specific case.
Luke playing in the yard area at the church building while I was teaching English.

On Saturday Troy took us sightseeing around Asuncion. This was the first time we visited the downtown or "centro" area of the city. We were able to visit the Palma area of downtown which is famous for shopping and eating. While we were there we ate some traditional Paraguayan food including (for me) tasting chipa so'o for the first time (which was yummy). One of the sad things we were able see was the "chacarita" area where very poor people live in tiny houses (which really aren't houses at all). The area we viewed was one near the bay which flooded in recent years (and some areas even flooded while we've been here). When the area flooded in recent years the government came in and built plywood boxes for the people to live in - which we also saw. Sadly, these tiny plywood boxes are sometimes nicer than the other houses these people live in. We also got to visit Lambare hill (named after a famous Guarani Native American from the area) where we were able to get a great view of the city of Asuncion, the river, as well as see across the river into Argentina.







After we got home Saturday evening, we watched Paraguay play Brazil in soccer in the quarterfinals of the Copa America. Paraguay was not expected to win, but they won in a shootout. It was exciting, and very interesting to be here in the country when it happened. When Paraguay scored, you could hear cheers and fireworks going off, and when they won the cheers and fireworks got even louder. It is hard to imagine anything in the States where you could hear a city cheering when a team won. 

I keep forgetting to mention it, but we've known for a while now that the Pope will be visiting Asuncion in a few weeks. This is a HUGE deal for the country whose population is 90% (or more) Catholic. I think it will probably be crazy in Asuncion the few days he is here. It seems like everywhere we go we see signs welcoming the Pope. We even found these large cardboard cutouts of the Pope when we were out sightseeing on Saturday.

On Sunday afternoon we were invited over to a couple's house from the congregation for an "asado" (or a Paraguayan BBQ). We enjoyed the fellowship and the food: we ate several types of meat, as well as arroz queso (cheesy rice), a potato salad, and sopa Paraguay (which is kinda of like cornbread). 

The kids watching the construction workers on the property from the playground.

Read more about our time in Paraguay

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Father's Day Interviews

So, I'm late posting this, but I couldn't resist sharing Ella and Troy's answers about their dad in the Father's Day interview I've been doing every year. And, since we are currently out of the country I wasn't able to take "D-A-D" photos yet, but I'm planning on taking them when we get back in the country.

I originally found this interview on Pinterest
  • What is Daddy’s name? 
    • Ella: Trent
    • Troy: I can't know
  • What does Daddy do for fun?
    • Ella: Play with us
    • Troy: Play basketball and play with us and we the get basketball away
  • What does Daddy do at work?
    • Ella: Teach people about the Bible
    • Troy: Teach and study
  • What are his favorite things to eat?
    • Ella: Peaches and oranges and pears
    • Troy: I don't know
  • What does he like to drink?
    • Ella: Dr. Pepper and Coke Zero
    • Troy: Coffee
  • How old is Daddy?
    • Ella: 32
    • Troy: I don't know
  • Where did you and Daddy meet?
    • Ella: We met when I became a baby
    • Troy: At the church building
  • How long have you know Daddy?
    • Ella: How long I've been alive
    • Troy: 34
  • How tall is Daddy?
    • Ella: I don't know
    • Troy: He's about that big maybe (reaching his arms up)
  • What is Daddy’s hair like?
    • Ella: Not hair at all
    • Troy: Little dots
  • How much does Daddy weigh?
    • Ella: 34 lbs, but that's just a guess, ok?
    • Troy: About that tall
  • What makes Daddy the best?
    • Ella: Me loving him
    • Troy: Playing with us
  • What is your favorite thing to do with Daddy?
    • Ella: Play basketball with us, and play with us, and Father's Day, and having fruits with us, and I love him, and talking with him
    • Troy: Play with him

Monday, June 22, 2015

Week Five in Paraguay

In some ways it is hard to believe we've already been here five weeks. I thought the first couple of weeks went by pretty slow as we adjusted to life here, but the recent weeks have passed faster. It feels strange that we are more than halfway through the month of June! It may not feel like June because it hasn't been HOT like we are typically used to this time of year. We had a few cooler days this past week (highs in the 60s), but this next week has highs forecasted in the 80s again.

This past week was relatively low-key again, but that will probably be the last week that we are here that is that way. I taught English with two of my three students, and attempted to add another student to my schedule. The English we are  teaching is meant for intermediate level English speakers, and the teachers of the curriculum should not have to have any Spanish knowledge to be able to teach the curriculum. There are several reasons for this - the primary reason being that the point isn't to teach English, but rather to teach the Bible using teaching English as a foot in the door.  If the students we teach don't have an intermediate level of the English language than it can be difficult to teach the Bible material (especially for me). So, back to the fact that I attempted to add another student this week . . . I met with a lady for about twenty minutes before I had to go ask Trent to rescue me. She could speak some English, but not enough for me to be able to effectively teach her. In the twenty minutes I met with her we were simply going around and around in circles while I tried (and failed) to explain some very basic introduction material. Trent, who has better Spanish language skills, ended up studying with her. His study was also very difficult because of her English level, but he was able to make a little progress. Trent will probably continue to meet with her, but overall, her English level is not at the level these classes are designed for.  To our disappointment, Trent's English study who had really been opening up to Trent about needing to change his life has now cancelled on Trent two weeks in a row. In both cases he's said he has been sick, and promised Trent he'd meet the next week. Hopefully he will!


Trent teaching English (I'm not a very sneaky cell phone photographer)

 The kids watching a movie while Trent taught English.

On Mondays, after we've finished teaching all our English lessons, we've been walking about a mile to go eat dinner at Kentucky Fried Chicken. The KFC here is really good (much better than most KFC I've had in the States), and it hits the spot for something for dinner after working all afternoon at the church building. On the afternoons that we teach English the kids don't get a nap, and Luke crashed in the stroller on the way to KFC, and slept through the entire meal.



Our missionary friends, Troy and Andrea, who work down here full-time arrived back in Paraguay this week (they'd been on furlough). It is great to have them with us for many reasons, but especially because they are our contact to come do the work this summer in the first place, and we've (mostly Trent!) been coordinating with them throughout the process (ahead of time and while we've been here) for the work. It is nice to have them back to work alongside them, as well as with the other members here whom we've gotten to know in our few weeks here. On Sunday we went to eat lunch with them at the famed Quatro D (I say "famed" because everyone here has been telling us about it!). Our lunch was yummy (Trent and I both had milenesa), but the ice cream afterwards was amazing! After lunch they took us to another grocery store (one we hadn't been to before) that sometimes stocks American products. We hit the jackpot! Apparently this store gets shipments of American items about four times a year, and the products are usually wiped out after they've had them on the shelves about a week. The shelves (of only a couple of aisles) were stocked full of American items - we must have hit the store right after a shipment came in.

On Sunday Trent and Ella also went to the other congregation in the Asuncion area, called Nemby, on Sunday night. This is smaller congregation about a 45-60 minute drive from where we live. I didn't go because we had been told that people usually didn't bring kids because of the facilities (especially babies), so Trent went without me to check out the situation. We may all try to go out there sometime in the future, but Trent usually has an English study on Sunday afternoons that conflicts with the meeting time (because of the travel time involved).

Trent will begin teaching Christian Evidences in the Bible Academy this week. He loves teaching in the classroom setting, but this will be different (and challenging) compared to his regular teaching since he'll be teaching in Spanish. Trent will be teaching in the Bible Academy for the rest of the time we are here (with the exception of one week when a group is coming from the States to do a campaign which he'll be involved with). He will also continue on with his Spanish lessons, and we will both continue teaching our English students as well.

On a lighter/funnier/embarrassing note . . . I've mentioned that we've been able to order food online and have it delivered (which is great when you don't have a vehicle), but we are talking about ordering food online in South America. A couple of times we've ordered food that's never showed up. On Wednesday night we had a different problem. I attempted to order pizza from Pizza Hut, but my order would never submit (the Pizza Hut website has been finicky since we've been here), and I never got an email confirmation that our order had been accepted. So, I attempted to order Domino's Pizza. My Domino's order went through, but a few minutes later I got an email saying that something was wrong with my order and they had to cancel it. As I was in the process of re-ordering Domino's, our Pizza Hut order showed up! Then, about twenty minutes later, our Domino's order (which supposedly had been canceled) showed up! Needless to say, we ate pizza for the next few meals.

And, yes, I'm pregnant in a foreign country! Thankfully I was able to go to my doctor before we left Texas, and I was able to get a three-month supply of my medication (including a new time-released medication) for hyperemesis gravidarum (extreme morning sickness). I was really miserable sick the first week we were here (I think mostly from exhaustion which makes the sickness worse), but since then I've been ok. I've been sick, but overall I haven't been too bad (a few bad spells, but overall not too bad compared to other pregnancies). I don't know if it is the new medication or just a difference in pregnancies, but I'm thankful I haven't been miserably sick.

 A "fun" mess to clean up . . .Luke dropped our laundry detergent and the bottle busted.
Luke being silly.




Read more about our time in Paraguay

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Week Four In Paraguay

This past week has been a generally slow week. It feels weird to have a “slow week” in mission work, but honestly it is nice to have some down time particularly on this extended trip. Things will be getting pretty busy in a couple of weeks (and probably won’t slow down again the rest of the time we are here), so I should probably enjoy the slow week.

All three of my English studies canceled for the week (two were traveling and one was sick). Although it is disappointing to not have any studies during the week, it is a blessing to be here for the extended period of time because it gives us opportunities to meet with people beyond a week. There have been many times in Jamaica where people we have studied with have a conflict the remaining time that we will be there, and it is always so disheartening to have to leave without feeling like you can continue in a good work. I know when we leave here we will probably have some of those same feelings as well, but I’m thankful for the opportunity to get to spend an extended period of time with not only people like our English studies, but also the brethren.

Trent continued on with his Spanish studies this past week, and I’m thankful that he’s getting the opportunity to spend so much time studying Spanish. His Spanish studies will probably slow down some in a couple of weeks when he starts teaching in the Bible Academy, but he should get to continue on doing at least some formal Spanish study each week.

On Friday one of the couples in the congregation (and their sweet baby!) took us sightseeing in a nearby lake town. The weather was absolutely gorgeous (it rained almost the entire day before, so it was really great that it wasn’t raining), and the town was really cute. We walked up to see a Catholic church building (the centerpiece of most towns here), and also walked around through the many little shops in the town. We also enjoyed a yummy lunch where Trent and I split a platter that had many types of traditional Paraguayn food. My favorite food on the platter was the milanesa bites which reminded me of chicken fried steak or chicken fried chicken. We had a great time getting out and sightseeing!

Walking through the pottery shops

Watching a kitty in the glass window at one of the pottery shops

The view of the lake from near the catholic church




Friday evening we had a playdate arranged by a couple in the congregation with a family who are their neighbors. The family has a little girl Ella’s age and a little boy Troy’s age, so as you can imagine they had a ton of fun playing. The father of the family as well as the children spoke English, so we were all able to visit fairly easily. At one point the little girl arranged a game of “Chinese whispers” (which I’ve always known as “telephone”) and the kids had a blast whispering (mostly in English) and laughing. 

Ella and her new friend

Playing the back yard

Playing "Chinese whispers"

I wish I could say we made it through the week without any injuries, but once again poor Luke got injured . . . this time thanks to big brother. Sunday night Troy accidentally shut Luke's finger in the bathroom door. Poor Luke just can't seem to get a break here! I'm guessing he's probably going to end up losing his fingernail from it. 

On an exciting note for Ella, she lost another tooth! She was so excited to lose a tooth in Paraguay. We learned that in Paraguay the tooth fairy isn't who visits - it is a "raton" or rat! Yet another reason for us to avoid magical creatures coming into the house at night! ;) 


We miss everyone greatly! We continue to pray for you all, and continue to ask for your prayers.

Happy 21 Months Luke!

I missed writing your 20 month post! You turned 20 months old during Focal Point, and we left for Paraguay the next week. With all of that going on, by the time I had time to really write your post, you were almost 21 months, and it was hard to distinguish the months. Sadly, I never even brought my real camera out this month, so cell phone pics will have to do. With all that, here's your 21 month post!

You continue to be a busy, busy little boy. You love to run and play with your siblings (especially Ella). Sometimes you and Troy don't get along well - but I'm hopeful this will change over time. I think most of the time when you don't get along it has more to do with you still being little and not understanding what's going on. And, though you like to play with your siblings, I think I can see some of my personality coming out in you - in that I like to have my down time, and don't have to constantly be surrounded by others. There have been a few times lately when, especially if you are tired, you'll find a spot to sit by yourself.



You say lots and lots of things, and continue to add more Spanish words to your vocabulary. There are times when you come up to us looking very serious and say something (sometimes you say it over and over) that we can't understand. I wonder what is going on in that head of yours! You also continue to love singing and dancing. Some of your favorite songs right now are "Read Your Bible and Pray Everyday," "My God is so Big," and "In the Beginning." You also sing along with "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" that the kids' stuffed frog plays.

Although you are by far our pickiest eater at this age, you've done really well with the food in Paraguay. I was a little worried that you wouldn't eat much here, but it has been quite the opposite. Plus, we can get yogurt at the grocery store and I think you might live on yogurt if we let you. Several mornings you have eaten 4 or 5 containers of yogurt for breakfast! You've continued to do a good job using your utensils, and you even do a good job eating cereal (with milk) with a spoon. You look so BIG when you are eating your cereal.

You've also been showing off how big you are when you play at the playground here at our place in Paraguay. It didn't take you long to become brave enough to climb up the brown ladder, and slide down the slide by yourself. You've also really been enjoying the swings.


For a little while now you've done a good job repeating after us to "say" a prayer. But lately you've also been saying things you think we need to pray for while someone else is praying. You often start hollering "Gigi! Pop-pa!" during the prayer. Sometimes you also point out everyone in the room during the prayer as well which is very precious.

You continue to be quite stubborn and opinionated. You definitely know how to get your point across if you do or, more often, don't like something. This seems to really happen a lot when you are playing with your siblings. You are at a transitional (and tricky) age when it comes to playing with your siblings because you don't understand the concept of sharing, but you are needing to learn about it (not fun for you!).

I wrote about it in our Paraguay update as well, but you took quite a fall this past month from your highchair. You busted your lip, chipped your top two teeth, and your bottom teeth went through the skin right below your bottom lip. It has been about three weeks since you injured yourself, and you are healing really well. I'm actually shocked at how well you've healed to this point.


video
Luke playing with frog

video
Luke climbing at playground




Signs you do: more, finished, thank you, hungry, thirsty, please, sleepy, bath

Body parts you can identify: nose, ears, mouth, eyes, tongue, teeth, hair, face, hands, feet, belly (You can also identify many body parts by their Spanish name)


Animal noises you make: cow, duck, dog (I think you can do more, but I didn't take good note. . . .)


Favorite foods: Yogurt, chicken (especially chicken nuggets/strips), nutrigrain bars, donuts, mac and cheese, and foods you get to eat with a fork

Favorite activities/toys: Books, balls, little figurines (like Mickey Mouse), cars, buckle stuffed lion. You love to "put things in things" as well as throwing. You also love to play chase with the other kids. You also enjoy shutting doors and drawers. You also love to play peek-a-boo! You really love singing as well! One of your favorite things to do is to "wrestle" with your dad and siblings.


Words you say: I cannot keep up with the words you say anymore! You say so many things (in English and Spanish)!

Luke @ 19 months
Ella @ 21 months
Troy @ 21 months

Monday, June 8, 2015

Week Three in Paraguay

I really wish I had a catchier title. :)

As I mentioned last time, Gary and Sarah Fallis have been working with the church and the Bible Academy this past week. Trent attended a few sessions of Gary’s class in the Bible Academy in which he was able to listen to the lessons being translated from English to Spanish. We have both found that it has been very helpful to hear the English being directly translated. Sarah also taught a ladies class on Wednesday evening. Wednesday evening one of the members (who speaks English) brought a girl from the U.S. whom she had met randomly while touring in Asuncion. This girl is working with a Luthern (I think) church here in Asuncion this year, but had really been craving to get to speak English with some folks. Since there are several members (plus us) at the congregation who speak English, it was a perfect opportunity to invite her. Hopefully she’ll continue to come around, and it may be a great opportunity to show her the gospel.

Gary teaching the Bible Academy.

Trent continued with his Spanish tutoring this week, and plans to add another private tutor this next week. Trent has had several conversations with his Spanish tutor about the Bible which have been good.

Trent was supposed to begin teaching his short course (meaning teaching all day for one week) at the Bible Academy this week (about Christian Evidences), but due to some scheduling conflicts with another teacher, Trent’s class has been rescheduled to start in a couple of weeks (as a regular, not short, course).

Teaching English using the gospel of John has been going pretty well. As I mentioned in last week’s post, I added two new students this week. The students are a brother and sister who had been (if I understood correctly) exchange students for a few months recently in Florida. And, if I understood this part correctly as well, while they were in Florida came in contact with the Palm Beach Lakes church of Christ which supports the work here in Asuncion. The members there told them that when they came back to Asuncion to come take the English class - and they did! We are hopeful that this pair may be good contacts. I also continued on with my student from the previous week, and she has been very enthusiastic about the study so far. Trent has also had a new student (whom he now met with twice) who has had some good conversations with Trent about needing to come back to church, and seems genuinely interested. Another good contact!

Wednesday before I taught English the church secretary prepared lunch for us - a traditional Paraguayan soup called vori vori. It was a little different than what is described in the link. To me it was very similar to a chicken noodle soup - without the noodles and adding in the cornmeal dumplings/balls. I thought it was pretty good, although I didn’t love the texture of the dumplings. She also prepared fried yucca for us, which was pretty similar to thick french fries. And, speaking of the church secretary, she was successfully able to get Luke to nap at the church building Wednesday afternoon. :)

Luke sleeping at the church building.

Friday we took some time to relax as a family. We went to one of the malls here in Asuncion, walked around some stores, bought Luke some tennis shoes (he outgrew the shoes I brought, and I didn’t think to bring some a size bigger), and let the kids play some games in an arcade. We also ate at TGIFridays, which was nice because I was able to get a salad (which I have really, really been missing!).

Saturday there was another Ladies’ Tea (devotional and food), and Sarah Fallis gave the devotional. Even though we’ve only been here a little over three weeks, it was amazing how much more comfortable I felt at this Ladies’ Tea compared to the first one I attended. I understand the customs better, I know the ladies better, and I’m also understanding the language better. At the Ladies’ Tea Ella and I finally got to try chipa, which is a traditional Paraguayan cheese roll/bread. I thought it was yummy, but Ella said she didn’t like it (I think she was just interested in the other food she already had, because a cheesy roll is right up her alley!). The girl from the U.S. who came on Wednesday night also came to the Ladies’ Tea.

Ella playing at the Ladies' Tea.
Ella playing at the Ladies' Tea.

The whole group at the Ladies' Tea. Standing really awkwardly, trying to make sure we were under the light.

This week has been quite warm and sunny. In fact, I was checking the weather back home and saw that it was the same temperature in San Marcos as in Asuncion. Maybe it will turn cooler before we head back . . . but we’ve already been here almost a quarter of the time we will be here, and we’ve only needed a light jacket maybe twice, and most of the time it has been much warmer.

We finally tried out Paraguay’s taxis this week. Normally on the days when we’ve been teaching English we’ve been walking to the church building (approximately 1.75 miles away), but because Trent was already at the church building for Gary’s classes there really wasn’t enough time for him to walk home, and then for us to walk back to the building (it really isn’t feasible for me to walk with all three kids by myself to the building, even with the stroller because of the busy streets, and less-than-ideal walking conditions at times (impassable sidewalks, etc.)). We were pleased to find out it only costs about $3 for us to take a taxi to the church building. It feels nice to be able to use the taxis (and to know that the cost is very reasonable) because it means we aren’t quite as constrained in where we can go.


And, finally, no major injuries this week! And Troy’s face is healing very well. I thought it was ironic when I got this email about Troy’s age this week. :)