So this definitely wasn’t what I expected, or kind of even thought I wanted, but I am so excited! Finally, I can answer the seemly simple question that everyone has been asking me.
After researching Brazil and Paraguay three months ago either one sounded like a great destination. But, since I was under the impression that the Canossians only operated a health clinic in Paraguay, I definitely didn’t think I’d be sent there considering I have absolutely no health skills and even watching surgery on Grey’s Anatomy kind of makes me squirm. I have experience with education and children. I thought Brazil was a shoo-in. I’d started more in depth research on the Brazilian culture, what it’s like to live there in general and for foreigners.
When I finally spoke with Sr. Angela four days ago, she casually slipped in that I should start learning Spanish in my free time. It took a few seconds to process what I’d actually heard—Spanish…this must mean I’m going to Paraguay! And just to make sure what she actually meant wasn’t lost in translation, I asked her again through e-mail, and it’s true.
After doing some research online, I found out that the Canossians actually do a ton of things in Paraguay. And, from what I can tell, a lot of their work is done in Encarnaciòn, a city of about 70,000 along the border of Argentina. I’m not sure if this is where I’ll be serving, but for now it’s at least giving me something to research. (I’m starting to learn you have to ask a lot of questions and things don’t happen quickly with the Sisters—definitely a slower pace of life.).
In Paraguay, the Canossians run schools for all age groups and hospitals and homes for the elderly. They put a special emphasis on young girls, helping keep them out of prostitution when they move into the city for work. They are involved in the pastoral care of the sick, through professional schools for nurses and family visitation, they take care of catechesis in various parishes, chapels and centers, and help prepare people for the Sacraments. Additionally, they organize missions in the outlying areas, along with neighborhood meetings, prayer and discussion groups.
According to weather.com the average yearly temperatures fall between 65°F and 90°F! Not only does this mean pretty great weather all year, I only have to bring one season worth of clothes. This is definitely going to make packing a lot easier! My goal right now is to bring one large suitcase, a small duffle bag and a backpack for the entire year. If you would have seen my packing for either of my study abroad experiences, which were only 4 months each, you would be impressed and possibly skeptical of this goal. (I brought two large suitcases, one carry on sized rolling suitcase and one stuffed to the brim backpack.) I’m not so sure that I have a great understanding of what living simply actually means, but I’m hoping this is a start.
Things are really starting to fall into place, and I love it! Finding out where I’ll be serving has gotten me so excited that I ALMOST forget the sadness of leaving friends and family for a year that quickly creeped in after receiving an actual departure date. But, no sense in focusing on how much I’m going to miss everyone in a month, it’s time to celebrate. I’m going to Paraguay!
Thanks for all of your support and please keep me in your prayers!