Thursday, April 15, 2010

Making a difference...

Sometimes it is not easy to know how you can make a difference. But, the reality is, sometimes helping out is as simple as seeing a need and being willing to fix it. Usually, as in my case, it requires that you jump in without much idea of what you are doing :)

A few months ago a Short-Term Missions team came here from three churches in New Jersey. They had a wide variety of experiences, gifts, temperaments, abilities, etc... but they all came with the greatest quality of all: Willingness. The C&MA church in San Antonio, Paraguay was in desperate need for a new roof. The old one was falling down and would not repel the heat of the sun, causing it to be way too hot to meet in the church during the day.

In less than a week, the team from New Jersey along with the C&MA Missionaries and some very capable Paraguayans replaced the roof and repainted the church. The difference was astonishing. Well done, my friends.

If you would like to bring a team to help with the ministry here in Paraguay - please send me an email and let's talk. Until then, enjoy the video below.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Would you like gum or matches?

One of the most interesting places in Paraguay is the local Almacen (the little store around the corner). Every neighborhood has at least one - sometimes there are more than one on each block. Sometimes, they are stand alone little stores and sometimes they are simply a room in someone's house where they sell things. The sell everything from fruits and veggies to flour and sugar. They also have all sorts of candy, frozen chicken, milk products, and wine. In fact, they have an impressive stock of wine - really cheap stuff - just enough to get a person drunk (which unfortunately is the reason).

You can buy most everything you need at the Almacen. Every day our neighbors go and buy what they need for the day. 3 eggs. 1/4 cup of flour. 1 bag of milk. Last week a woman came in with a 4 or 5 month old in tow and bought two diapers. That one was a shocker to me. 2 diapers!! What are you going to do with 2 diapers!?! It has been a couple of years that I have had a baby that young in the house, but I remember that 2 diapers would last about 3 hours. Does that mean that she will come back to the store again later and buy two more?

The one thing they don't have is change - so, regardless of what you buy you are "supposed" to come with exact change. And you are not supposed to give a large bill (about the equivalent to $10.00). Today, I went to the store and bought a Kilo of sugar. It cost about $.90. He didn't have change for my $1.00 and offered me a box of matches instead.

Alison, who was with me and usually is the one we send to the Almacen to get our groceries told me afterwards. "Dad, your supposed to bring exact change. They do that to me all the time. But, for me they ask, 'Would you like gum or matches?'"

Bummer - I could have had gum!


Monday, April 05, 2010

Red Light, Green Light

One of my favorite parts about living in Asuncion is driving! It reminds me so much like driving in New York City.

One of the fun parts about driving on the Paraguayan streets is how often the traffic lights do not work. Well, they sort of work. For instance, they can be red and then when they change to green the green light doesn't illuminate and therefore there is no signal. Of course, it can also go the other way and so, when the red light should be "on" it isn't.

So, here is the fun part. As you drive down the streets you often come to lights that have no signal on them. It isn't bad when there are other cars ahead of you, because then at least you can go by the assumption that if they go through it must be green. But, when there are no other cars with you - it becomes a dangerous game of Traffic Light Roulette. Is it green or red? Should I go through or should I stop? This, unfortunately is a part of daily life.

Life in Paraguay is never dull :)