Friday, February 26, 2010

Unbelievable COLD

Wednesday I made the comment that I really hope we get some cold weather while I’m here. God definitely heard me and surprised us all with a “freezing” night. It rained all that day and the temperature began to drop. By that night, it was around 74 degrees. At home, that would be a great day. But when your body is used to 100-115 degree temperatures, it’s sort of a shock to your body.

Before bed, I turned my fan down to the lower setting and faced it away from my bed (I usually keep it on the highest setting and blowing directly on me). By the time I got in the bed, I had turned it off completely. I covered up with sheet and laid there for a few minutes. Then I got up and got a blanket, a think woven blanket. I folded the blanket in half to double it and then crawled under it.

I sneezed all night long. The air was so cold, I felt like I couldn’t breath and couldn’t stop coughing. It was crazy how cold 74 degrees felt.

I woke up the next morning still freezing. I took a hot shower (which I never do here) and put on long sleeves. It stayed cool out for several hours and then warmed up a little. It was cool again later that night but not freezing. Several people came over wearing jackets and some even wore heavy coats. Christie says when it gets cold like that here, everyone gets a cold because they’re just not used to it.

It felt so good to be that cold, get to put on long sleeves and feel sort of cozy.

I had to sleep with my fan off and under the blanket again last night. It's very cool again today!

A Lot of Time in the Kitchen

I love being in the kitchen….cooking, baking, washing dishes, whatever. I’ve gotten to cook and bake a lot lately. It’s fun to create new dishes and make up a meal with whatever random things you have in the fridge.

If you’ve ever been in a kitchen with me, you know that I don’t like to share my kitchen. This is something I’ve been working on. I really enjoy cooking with Camille and Caroline. It just takes some time getting used to letting others help. I apologized to Caroline yesterday for all of the times I seem impatient. I explained to her that this is a big step for me, letting others in my space and my kitchen. She seemed to understand. And I promised that I would get better at it.

A few days ago, Camille asked if we could bake something together. We chose a cookie recipe with oats, peanut butter, chocolate chips, and M&Ms. We had all the ingredients we needed and started preparing them. That’s when we realized we didn’t check to see how much of each ingredient we had. We were short on several different things….butter, oats, baking soda, chocolate chips, peanut butter. So we just used all we had of those. When we got it all mixed together, it was very runny and there was no way we could make normal cookies out of the dough. So we just poured it into a baking pan and made a cookie-cake-thing. It was so delicious! I think it turned out much better than it would have as cookies.

Yesterday was a very cold day (I’ll tell about that in another blog) and we wanted something warm for lunch. Caroline and I made chicken and dumplings. I had never even attempted those before. The recipe seemed simple and quick. And they turned out great!

Last night I was craving something fried and decided to make tortillas. What they call tortillas here are nothing like what we call tortillas at home. They’re made with flour, egg, milk, and cheese. Milciades taught Heather and I how to make them last week. This was my first time trying it on my own. The first four turned out a little bland, so I added salt to my batter. They rest were fantastic. It’s not really a good thing that I learned to make them. I’m sure they’re very unhealthy but they’re so yummy! And very easy to make!


Sundays are very busy for us. But this past Sunday included a lot of fun and a little rest. It was around 3am when we went to bed that morning. Then we had to get up, eat breakfast and be ready for la hora feliz at 10am.

We had less kids this week, about 7, all girls. First we gave them each a coloring page and let them color out on the front porch. The pages we printed off this week were of animal masks. We told the story of Noah’s ark and thought it would be fun for them to act it out. After the story, we passed out cookies and kool-aid. I usually make the kool-aid and somehow I messed it up this week. I thought the big package was for the big picture but it’s not. It’s only big because it already has sugar in it. The kool-aid here is always very strong and sweet, usually too sweet for me. But the kids would not drink it all at this time. It was like watermelon flavored water. They went on and on about how nasty it was, making faces and spitting it out.

At 2pm we had our young ladies’ study group. We discussed the chapter on lies we sometimes believe about God, such as “He’s not really involved in the details of my life.” It was a very good lesson. I also made kool-aid for that. But I made it the right way.
After our study, all the girls decided to come upstairs and hang out in the air-conditioned rooms. At first I was laying on my mattress in the floor, trying to rest. Then they all started painting fingernails. I joined in and let one of the girls paint my nails. They were pink with little flowers on them.

Sometime before the girls left, I fell asleep. Christie fell asleep on Camille’s bed, on the top bunk. I woke up about 8:30, not knowing what time it was or if everyone was at church or not. Christie was still asleep. We were exhausted and thankful that the girls let us take a nap in their room. We usually go to church on Sunday nights but this week Christie and I slept right through it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Alrededor de la plaza

I’ve said that a lot yesterday because I like that I can say it and I know what it means. It means “around the plaza.” The plaza is sort of like a park. I think it’s very pretty. There’s a walkway all around the outside and through the middle, a lot of benches painted bright colors, and a playground.

Yesterday one of our friends asked if we would like to go to the plaza after church and hang out. Saturday night is youth service at our church. Afterwards, we walked to the plaza. There were a ton of people there that we know. We just sat around for awhile talking and sharing drinks, taking pictures and hanging out. Christian was there. He walked around with us and practiced his English. We had so much fun there! I’d love to do that every week.

When we got back to the house, Heather, Milciades and I stayed up til almost 3am working on our Spanish/English. I even learned a few Guarani words.

Movie Night

Friday night was movie night in the youth center. We showed Nacho Libre. I’m not much of a fan. So I sat out on the porch where I could still hear and see it but with less volume and a slight breeze. I was sitting out there when a guy named Christian came up and started talking to me in English. I was taken by surprise and thought for a minute that I may be confused and imagining things. It turns out he teaches at the elementary school and he’s taking English classes so he can teach English. He’s a very nice guy.

After the movie, we all sat out on the porch talking for a long time. I took Heather out in the road and showed her the southern cross. You can always see it good right in front of our house. After everyone left Ken, Christie, Camille, Milciades, Heather, and I all walked to get ice cream. It was 11:00 by then. So our usual ice cream shop was closed and we had to walk to the gas station to get it. I found the most incredible ice cream bar there. It was a lemon pie flavored ice cream bar. The lady was like, she does know this is lemon right? I guess that sounds gross to most other people. It was delicious!

When we got back to the house, we watched Avatar. I liked what I saw of it but wasn’t in a movie-mood. So I snuck upstairs to shower.

The wheels on the bus

I’m starting to get used to the buses. We haven’t had a vehicle since the first day I was here. Those with a vehicle I’m sure take them for granted and can’t imagine having to ride the bus to work everyday, or in our case, every time we want to leave town. It will be nice when we do get the truck back to be able to travel more. But I really like being able to walk down the road and shop or get ice cream or whatever.

Tuesday evening Christie and I took a trip to Itaugua. We thought we were leaving at a good time and the bus wouldn’t be too full. The first bus we took was packed. We had to stand the whole hour. It started raining right before we got to our stop. At that stop, we waited for about 30 minutes to catch our next bus. While we were waiting, we went into a little store and looked around. That’s always fun. There are stores everywhere.

I came back from Itaugua on Friday evening. Heather & Milciades came back with me. That day we only had to take one bus. It was about an hour trip. At first we had to stand but it wasn’t long before people started getting off and we were able to find seats. For awhile we all got to sit together and practice what I call “Spanish/English.” That’s where Milciades helps me with my Spanish and Heather and I help him with his English. That’s always interesting and a lot of fun! My favorite thing to say now is, “La nube blanca es grande.” Haha

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Noche de Kepis

I wasn’t sure what to expect Saturday night. All I knew was that we were going to a youth event and most everyone would be wearing hats. A family from church came to pick us up in their van. We drove to the church, picked up two more people. Then somewhere along the way, we picked up two more people. So there ended up being 14 of us in a van with 8 seats. That was definitely a first for me.

This event was in the next town over, about 30 minutes away. At home when you go to things like this and they have a snack stand, they usually sell chips, candy, can drinks, things like that. Here, they always sell empanadas, hamburgers, anything with meat. The drinks come in liter bottles, not cans. And they give you a few tiny plastic cups with it. No one thinks anything of drinking after others, even strangers.

They started the night off with praise and worship. It was really good. A lot of the songs I recognized but have a hard time thinking of the words in English while I’m hearing the song in Spanish. They sang The Time Has Come, Take It All, For Who You Are and a lot of other great songs. A young woman got up and spoke. I didn’t have anyone translating. So I have no idea what she was talking about. But I’m sure it was good. We had a great time of prayer after that.

They had a few contests between the different church groups and cities represented. Several of the groups did dramas and dances. A lot of prizes were given out. They gave out prizes at the end for the best hats. Ken, Christie, Camille, and Caroline all left with prizes. It was a really fun night! We didn’t get home until around 1:30 am.

La Campaña

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of last week our church held services in a soccer field. The field was right behind a neighborhood of homes and had a little playground. So when we arrived to set up the chairs, there were a lot of kids playing on the playground. As the service began, all of those kids lined up and sat on the front row. They were so cute clapping to the songs.

The man who spoke every night is a missionary from Chile. He and his family are here in Paraguay for a year training to be missionaries to Africa. They have three kids who are 12, 14, and 15. Such a sweet family!

When the invitation was given to come up and pray, all of the kids went up, along with several adults. The kids from the neighborhood came every night.

The weather was great for having service outside. It cooled off a lot each night and there was a nice breeze.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

La Hora Feliz

Before I came here, they were having La Hora Feliz (The Happy Hour) for the kids in the neighborhood. After Amber left, they didn't have it anymore. We started it back up today. Some of the kids were a little late but we ended up with 10 kids. We served popcorn and kool-aid. They each had a coloring sheet with a scripture on it. A church from the US had donated a Betty Lukens flannelgraph set. It goes through the whole Bible in about 180 lessons. We did the first lessons on creation. The kids weren't paying much attention to the lesson. But when we started changing the scenes and putting up all the animals, they started paying more attention. It lasted longer than an hour, as do most happy hours. But it was fun to see the kids enjoy it!


Friday night I called my grandparents. They were so surprised when they realized it was me. My aunt and uncle were there also. Somehow I timed it just right. So I got to talk to them too. My uncle Jackie told me to blog more often because it's the first thing on his to do list when he gets to work in the mornings...."check Hollie's blog." So....HI, JACKIE! I HOPE YOU HAVE A GREAT WEEK AT WORK :) I ended up talking to all of them for an hour and 15 minutes.

Then on Saturday my parents went to April & Matt's house so we could have a video chat. At times it got a little crazy because there were 5 of them there and sometimes they all wanted to talk at the same time. Not much has changed, that's what would happen when I was at home too, only then I wanted to talk at the time as everyone else. It was fun though! Seth wanted to talk to me a lot. I kept trying to get him to sing for me but he wouldn't. He had to go take a bath and I could hear him yelling for me from the bathtub :) It was cute!

This first month has gone really fast for me but they all say it's gone slow for them. Of course they were snowed in two weekends in a row. That could have something to do with it. No snow's been about 110-115 everyday. When I get back to the US, I'm going to Colorado, where it shouldn't be too hot.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Good Times

Wednesday morning we left for the capital. It took us 2 buses and about 3 hours to get there. Once there, we walked through the bus terminal, across the street, and caught another bus which took us to the mall. At the mall I was able to open an account at the bank so I can cash checks there. Then we had lunch in the food court. I had something very different but very tasty, apple ravioli. And I had a few fries from Burger King. I miss my BK Joe! The coffee at the BK here is not the same as at home. From there, we caught a few more buses and walked several city blocks to take care of some other things there in Asuncion. I was feeling horrible! If you’re not used to it, it’s very hard on your body….the heat, all the walking, bus after bus after bus, all the noise and commotion. It can be very tiring and stressful.

Finally, our last bus for the day dropped us off in Itaugua. I’m so thankful for our friends, Shaun & Sara, who let us stay the night at their house! They run Hogar Ganar, a home for abandoned and abused children. Heather, my new friend and traveling buddy, is staying with them, teaching English classes and various things there. She gave me a tour of the grounds. It’s so beautiful out there. All the kids were outside playing basketball, volleyball, or just running around. I sat down to watch and it wasn’t long before I was surrounded by kids. They were all so sweet!

After dinner, I got to do what I enjoy most, bake cookies. I was a little disappointed at first because they didn’t look pretty. But they tasted great! I doubled the recipe and we were still eating cookies for breakfast the next morning. We were up really late that night, playing games and talking. It was so much fun! I really needed that!

Yesterday we stayed in Abi’s little 2-foot pool for about 2 hours. That felt so nice! Last night all the boys there were camping outside while the girls had a slumber party at Sara’s. When the girls first got there, Heather & I painted their fingernails. They were all so cute and sweet!

It was late when we left there to head back to Carapegua. We had to wait about 50 minutes for our last bus. We finally got home around 11:40. I was so tired, I decided to go to bed without showering. When I got up this morning, there was no water. That’s a lesson for next time. I did get to shower around 1:30. It took awhile because they water was cutting in and out the whole time. But at least I’m clean….for now.

Looking forward to a busy weekend. Tonight we will be showing a movie in the youth center. Sunday we will start La Hora Feliz (The Happy Hour) for the kids in the neighborhood ages 4-11. That will be at 10:00. Our lesson this week is on creation. Also on Sunday, we have our ladies study group at 2:00. Please keep those in your prayers!

Ice Cream & The Carnival

Ice cream has never been a favorite thing of mine. Since my dad has worked for ice cream companies almost my whole life, we’ve always had it around. So it’s never been much of a treat for me. Since I’ve been here, I’ve definitely appreciated ice cream a lot more. There’s one ice cream place not too far from our house that we love. The ice cream cones are only 20 cents. My favorite is chocolate chunk. It’s not even real chocolate chunks in it but I love it. It’s vanilla ice cream with chocolate sprinkles in it. So yummy! Especially when it’s 115 degrees outside.

Tuesday night we walked to get an ice cream cone and then walked to the carnival. The carnival had four rides. One was a carousel with wooden horses. There were kids sitting on it and playing on it the whole time but we never saw it actually move. One ride had little cars and just went around in a circle. They had the ride with all the swings that go in a circle. It was going extremely fast. And it looked like all that held you in was a small belt. There’s no way I would have ridden that one! The other was a ferris wheel. That was all we rode. It was a lot of fun! It’s always fun when you get to do something different from the everyday stuff. There were a few games and an area with food. At least now I can say I’ve been to a carnival in Paraguay!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

an orange, a pizza, and a nap

Christie thought it would be fun to send me on a little adventure this week. There’s a 13 year old girl at church who says she knows some English. We didn’t realize that the “some” English she’s knows is sort of like the “some” Spanish I know. I know a lot of words but none of them go together or help you to have any sort of conversation. I get discouraged with it a lot and feel like I’m not trying hard enough. But I know I’m trying as hard as I can. I’m able to recognize a lot of words and their meanings when I listen to conversations. I just can’t figure out how to put it all together.

At church Sunday night, Christie asked this family if I could come over one day this week. I thought maybe the end of the week. No, they wanted me there on Monday. So I went with my Spanish notebook and my Spanish-English dictionary. I thought it would help a lot and thought maybe I’d leave there speaking Spanish. Haha….my dreams are always MUCH larger than reality.

When I first got there, they took me through the house, telling me the names of all the rooms. Then we sat on the porch as they taught me hair, head, eyes, nose, mouth….and so on. Because you know that is all so important. Of course, 10 minutes later I didn’t remember any of that. Apparently I’m too old for that teaching style to be effective for me.

Right before lunchtime, they were trying to ask me what I wanted to eat for lunch. I was completely clueless as to what they wanted. A few minutes earlier, they were teaching me to say orange in Spanish and apparently I asked for an orange because one of the girls brought me one. Then she took it away and brought a bigger one. I guess they thought I was saying that one wasn’t big enough for me. So funny! So I ate an orange that I didn’t really ask for. They called Christie and told her what they were trying to ask me. She said, “They want to know what kind of foods you like. They want to make you anything you want for lunch. I’ll just tell them what kinds of things you normally eat here.” So they decided I must want pizza for lunch.

The family has a small store in the front of their house, as do a lot of the people here. So they just gathered all of the ingredients for the store and took to the kitchen. Very convenient. As they made the pizza, they would tell me what things were in Spanish. Five minutes later, they’d point to it and ask me what it was. I had no idea. On a positive note, the homemade pizzas I’ve had here are the best I’ve ever had.

After we ate lunch, they asked me if I needed a nap. I think it’s so funny. I know, I know, it’s the way they do things here. I’m not making fun of it. I love naps. I just don’t have to take one every afternoon. They put on a movie for me to watch and I thought it was strange that they wanted to play it in English. I felt bad because they wouldn’t understand it. Then I looked around and realized they were all laying on the floor sleeping.

The whole time I was there, I didn’t know what time it was or how long I’d been there. I didn’t know if there was a certain time Ken was planning to come back and get me or what. I asked to call Christie several times and they never did let me. That worried me a little. I thought I was stuck there forever. I was so happy to see Ken drive up on the moto. When I got home, I found out that Christie had talked to the mom several times (who was not even at the same house I was at). She just kept telling her that I was fine and that they’d bring me home later. When Christie would ask to talk to me, she’d just tell her I was fine and I was in the other room playing ??? So she told Ken to go get me and I’m so glad she did! I had been there for over 7 hours.

I really did want to come back and be able to say I had so much fun and learned so much. Instead, I left there feeling like my head was about to explode and all I wanted was a nap.