Monday, July 9, 2012

My Country, 'Tis of Thee...

It's weird being in a place where they don't celebrate the holidays you know so well, but thanks to some chocolate cake and the sisters being amazing, my Independence Day away from home was pretty sweet.  Plus, we had a nice day in the midst of our cold spree.

I decided that to celebrate the Fourth of July I was going to make an American dessert. Obviously apple pie came to mind, but since Caitlin and I made one before and we're still not really sure how the sisters felt about it, I decided on Texas Sheetcake. The cake turned out great (I can't believe how much I missed American style frosting) especially with my handmade American flag. The sisters made little pizzas and got me Coke, Doritos and Lay's potato chips to celebrate, and I downloaded the Star Spangled Banner, America the Beautiful, God Bless the USA, and Born in the USA to add a little extra Americanness to the party. Playing the music also got me out of dancing for the sisters (which they insisted that I do), and the conversation was just too funny not to share.

Sisters: Hiliary you have to show us an American dance on your independence day.
Me: I don't really know any American dances.
Sisters: It doesn't have to be a traditional dance. It could be modern, like how you dance now.
Me: (Pause) Well....I don't really dance unless I've been drinking with my friends.
Sisters: (hysterical laughter)...."And what do you drink with your friends?"
Me: It depends, but beer or drinks with vodka.
Sisters: Vodka? That's becoming really popular here with the young people. They make drinks with vodka, and they're really strong.
Me: Hmmm that's interesting. 

Since it's winter, now the current running joke is "maybe we should go drink some vodka with Hiliary to warm ourselves up!" Whoever thought nuns don't have a since of humor were definitely wrong. It's the little things like helping me celebrate (and yes, even joking with me about drinking vodka) that I greatly appreciate the sisters for. They are seriously an amazing group of ladies.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

La Fiesta de San Pedro y San Pablo

Similar to the fiesta of St. John the Baptist, we held another party in our chapel for St. Peter and St. Paul, this time organized by my young adult group, JOMICA. I enjoyed typical Paraguayan foods including Sopa Paraguaya, Kaburé (which I learned how to cook), and pastel mandi’o. Some of our group members performed typical Paraguayan dance and songs, too. All in all, a great night!

Delma getting ready to cook the pastel mandi'o
Hermana Magdalena making mbeju
Cooking kaburé
Vanessa, one of the girls from JOMICA doing a traditional Paraguayan dance.

Bautismo de las Criaturas

First off, I just have to talk about the use of the word "criaturas". Here, when referring to little kids, people say criaturas, which literally translates to creatures. When I think of creatures I think of things like Gollum from The Lord of the Rings, so every time I hear criaturas I just can’t help but smile and laugh.

Part of Hermana Magdalena’s and my work over the past month (since we had the Mass in the barrio under the bridge) has been to take a census of all the kids/adults that need to complete the sacraments, focusing mainly on baptism, since it’s the first one. For a country that is statistically 80 something percent Catholic it’s interesting how many people haven’t celebrated the sacraments. I guess I’ve figured out my response to the German Jehovah’s Witnesses Caitlin and I met in Asuncion who said, “Catholic missionaries in a Catholic country? That’s weird.”

We celebrated our first baptism (of kids 8 years and under) this past Saturday with 21 kids. It was a great experience and I’m happy I got to be a part of it, especially since several of the kids are in my kindergarten class or in the clases de apoyo (tutoring classes). I was waiting for a divine transformation in their behavior after the baptism this week, but unfortunately I guess I’ll have to keep praying.

The two on the left are in my first grade tutoring clases at the health center. Don't let those smiles fool you...
One of my favorite kindergarteners, Santi, and his sister, Pomela, who's also in our tutoring classes.

Some more of our students.

Siblings with Padre Daniel
Primas (cousins)

¡Cumpleaños Feliz!

In jardín we celebrate birthdays twice a year. It’s supposed to be one party at the end of June to celebrate birthdays from the first half of the year and another in October for birthdays after winter vacation (For those of you wondering, winter vacation is in July); however, since they’re three and four years old and get jealous when they all don’t get the same thing, Hermana Graciela says that it’s everyone’s birthday each time. I personally love how she thinks!

Not sure why hardly any of the kids look happy in this...or in any of the other cake photos.