Wednesday, June 27, 2012

San Juan Bautista

Saturday we celebrated San Juan Bautista (or St. John the Baptist) with a fiesta in our neighborhood chapel complete with games, traditional food and a flaming bull. This was definitely one of those "can't get this anywhere else" type of experiences. 

Posing with the bull...
M'beju kind of like a pancake but with cheese and harder.

I think someone said this is supposed to be Judas.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Paraguay's New President

Welp, that was quick. Paraguay has a new president. I can't believe all of this happened in less than two days. Crazy!

Activities of Junio

I've been busy the past few weeks, but I also just haven't been motivated to write. I've really been missingmy American life. More specifically, I miss havingfriends. The nuns are amazing, don't get me wrong, and the young people I've met are very open and friendly, but I miss having people that understand me. Not in the"my friends just get me" way, but I mean literally I miss havingpeople that fully understand the words and ideas that come out of my mouth. Word to the wise, when you're alone in foreign country don't look at your friends'/family's Facebook albums...especially during summer. Seeing people having fun in the sun together while you're bundled up using a space heater (that I'm so grateful to have) has a way of wearing on you. But,enough negativity. I'm feeling better now, so here's what I've been up to during my somewhat emotional Debbie Downer stint...

Retreat with JOMICA
As I've mentioned before, JOMICA is the young adult faith group in our neighborhood that the sisters helped start. Two weeks ago we had a weekend retreat with about 20 people attending. I"ve mentioned before that retreats tend to overwhelm me, but with the small group, it was a great experience and opportunity to get to know and create stronger bonds with the young adults.

Activity where we had to write down something for another person in the group to do. It turned out we had to do it instead. Luckily mine was for Aldo to speak in English with me, so I won either way!
The JOMICA boat. Each little bottle had a message inside that said: Remember that I am always with you, Jesus.
Inside our chapel for the weekend retreat.

Girls' sleeping quarters.
Playing peteî or Uno.
On our way home with all the stuff.

In August, we'll be attending the Congresso for all of the youth that work with the Canossian sisters in Paraguay and parts of Argentina. It's in Posadas this year, so because the journey won't be expensive (we only have to drive across the bridge) JOMICA is planning on spending the money they usually raise for the trip to visit the falls at Iguazú since many of them haven't been before. One of their annual fundraisers is making pastelitos, which are fried sweets with a fruity marmalade filling (two tapas used for empanadas filled with dulce de membrillo, fried, dipped in hot sugar water and sprinkled with powdered sugar). We had Tuesday the 12th free to celebrate the Peace of the Chaco (click here for more info.) and spent the whole day making pastelitos to sell. Literally, the whole day 8:30 to 7! I was tired by the end, but it was fun to help out and to learn about another sweet of Paraguay--I joke with the sisters that my unofficial goal (which I'm well on target of hitting) is to be an expert in all things sweet of Paraguay.

Cutting the dulce de membrillo that goes inside.
First try a success!

Finished product! We sold these in bundles of 10 for 10 mil Gs. (equivalency of a little over $2 for those of you wondering)
I cooked!
At the end of May I had an evaluation with Hna. María José just to talk about how my time here has been so far. I asked if it would be OK if I cooked some of my favorite foods to share with the sisters sometimes, so this past Saturday night was my first meal for the sisters. I made pasta (Sr. Angela's recipe, which became my favorite in Albuquerque) and parmesan potatoes along with our usual lettuce, tomatoes, bread, carrots, etc. It was fun to cook and the sisters genuinely seemed to think it tasted good. SUCCESS! They even joked that maybe I should get thrown into the weekly rotation for cooking meals. Not sure what's up on the menu next, but I'm excited to bring a little bit of Missouri and my other homes to Paraguay.

Last weekend we celebrated two baptisms in our Canossian family--Delma's nephew (even though she decided to move back to her house for the time being and isn't sure that being a sister is her calling, she's still part of the family and always will be) and Hna. Ylse's niece. It was cool to be able to see the celebration of the sacraments in another culture, and to visit Fram, another city/town in Paraguay, where Hna. Ylse is from.

Delma's nephew, Oscar, being baptized.
Baptism of Hna. Ylse's niece, Jazmin Araceli.
Hermana Ylse with her niece.
Celebration food--Asado and mandioca
More celebration food-- Asado (meat) and Sopa Paraguaya (corn bread looking thing)
There's a large immigrant population from Ukraine in Fram and the Orthodox church is gorgeous. We stopped in to take a look.

Outside of the Orthodox Church.

Prayers for Paraguay

I'm not sure how much the U.S. news is following this, but the political situation here is getting more interesting with the impeachment trial for the president getting underway.  Here's a link to the Associated Press story. I like to think that you guys are always praying for me, but please add some extra prayers for the people of Paraguay.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

La Misa en el Barrio

As I think I’ve mentioned before, rain in Paraguay pretty much stops everything and cancels all plans. Since March, the priest of our parish (San Isidro) has been trying to visit the barrio under the bridge (Barrio Sagrada Familia) each fourth Wednesday of the month to get to know the people and to celebrate a Mass. However, each fourth Wednesday of every month since I’ve been here, it’s rained. So, you can imagine our happiness this past Sunday morning when we were finally able to celebrate the Mass.

Since there is not a chapel, or any larger building for that matter, the Mass was held on the volleyball court, with people from the neighborhood bringing together chairs, benches, a table for an altar, crosses and other images to decorate. The priest carried his necessities in a briefcase and answered the questions of the curious children as he put on his vestments. Although Paraguay is nearly 90% Catholic and the people have strong devotion to the saints and Mary they don’t always go to Mass. This is truer than ever in the barrio. Nearly all the kids can recite the Hail Mary, Our Father and Glory Be, but have no idea about things during the Mass and hardly any are baptized. It wasn’t the most quiet Mass, but in spite of all the distractions—the crying babies, talking children, someone actually answering their cell phone, and the wandering neighborhood dogs (which people not so carefully shooed away causing loud yelps),—it was completely amazing. There were probably 40 or so people (almost half of them my students from clases de apoyo and jardín), and to be celebrating the Mass while taking in all of Paraguay was just what I needed for the day and to start off my week. It might not be glamorous, and I might cry more than I want to because I miss my family and friends, but I really do love my life and where God’s taken me.