I’m still trying to adjust to living here, but hopefully the next few days will help me feel better. Yesterday was my first day eating something other than home cooked food. For lunch we tried some authentic Paraguayan cusine.
I must tell you, though, the burgers here are much better than the ones in the States. The meat has a lot more flavor and the tomatoes are a lot fresher, I think. Everything is just better. And cheaper. The ad, because you all probably can’t convert American dollars to Paraguayan Guaranis, says that the burger is roughly $1.50, and for about an extra dollar, you can turn it into a combo meal. A Whopper meal is a little less than $2.50! And the Burger Kings here have ice cream, unlike ours. They have sundaes and cones. I’ve never seen a Burger King selling cones in the United States. Milkshakes, however, are pretty much never sold at restaurants. And McDonald’s cones, which I love anyway, are apparently sold either vanilla or with a dulce de leche swirl. Also, Sis.Bir says that the ice cream here is more creamy and has more vanilla.
I had my first day of work after that. I like the school kids a lot. The preschool kids are really adorable, but they talk really fast, so it’s hard to understand them. They really seem to like me though. Yesterday they kept wanting me to tie their shoes. One little boy, whose name I don’t remember, came over and wanted me to tie his shoe for him. I did and five seconds later, he came over and lifted his foot again.
“Tu zapato es bien!” (Your shoe is fine!”
“No es!” (No it’s not!)
“Otra vez?” (Again?)
He had gone over and untied his shoe so I would tie it again. It was so cute. The afternoon teacher in the preschool, Isabel, told the kids about where I came from and that I flew a long way on a plane. So one of the little boys, named Nestor, took a piece of paper and folded it into an avión for me.
I wasn’t a huge fan of teaching third and fourth grade, but they are incredibly smart and they love learning English. The kids are really crazy, especially this one little boy, who yells out all the time, and is frequently in trouble. But they all like to learn new words and seem especially enthusiastic about the colors.
After school, Bro.Bir had a meeting so Sis.Bir and I went out to find some dinner. The first place we went was a local stand that they always go to because they make the best empanadas and I had wanted to try some for a while. So, I ordered a carne empanada and a jamon y queso empanada.
So, while this lady takes our order, but then another customer walks in, and she begins waiting on her instead. Well, we weren’t extremely thrilled about that, but really wanted empanadas, so we waited. It was at this point that we noticed the woman cough. Without covering her mouth. On the food. And then, she wiped her nose with her hand. And continued to serve the empanadas.
“Do you want to leave and get something else?”
There is a lot of sickness here right now, and that really scares me anyway. There’s some kind of bronchitis-pneumonia thing going around. Three people have gone into the hospital since I’ve been here, including the couple that I will possibly living with later on. People in the grocery store yesterday were wearing masks, but Sis.Bir assured me that I would be okay and shouldn’t worry. But I’m a germaphobe when I’m in the States, so here it’s even worse. The country is really dirty, but that whole thing doesn’t really bother me. It’s that there is no real regulation for things like the handling of food. The empanada thing made me want to hurl.
So, instead of going there, we ended up going to a Lebanese food stand, which is very popular with people here.
And I just noticed you can see my hand and camera in the window’s reflection. Creepy. Another note, You may notice that the letters look kind of like the letters in the Walt Disney logo. Those letters are everywhere. I have no idea why.
But this place is really, really good and is famous for their lomito arabes. They have beef, chicken, and lamb, as well as some mixtures of these. I had the beef and it was really good.
I also had the chance to have the national drink, Guarana. It’s a kind of pop with some kind of berry in it. It has a really weird taste, with kind of a bitter edge, but it really is delicious.
I also got to have my first grocery shopping experience in Paraguay yesterday. It’s not all that different except for the deli, which I didn’t get a picture of, unfortunately. There were chorizos and salchicas just hanging from hooks. The other cool thing was the cereal aisle. They have a lot of American cereals, because Kellogs apparently has a branch in Brazil.
The next two nights should be fun. And interesting. Last night a few of the youth people asked the Birs if they could take me to dinner tonight so that they could get to know me. Only one of them speaks a little bit of English, so it should be interesting. But I’m really excited, because maybe this will be a chance for me to make some friends and hopefully get my mind off of being homesick. Tomorrow night, there’s a youth service and one of the girls wants me to go to it so that she can introduce me to the forty people in the young people’s group. That absolutely terrifies me because my Spanish is fairly limited. I guess this is the only way for me to get used to speaking Spanish, but I’m terrified I’m going to say something stupid or that I’ll offend people or something.
Thank you for all of the encouragement that I’ve received in my comments and some emails. I love that you all are praying for me and rooting for me to stay the whole six months. There are just things that I need to make decisions on, and while if I could stay for the whole six months, that would be great, I think that emotionally, three months is going to be my limit for now. My visa is up in September and I can either get it renewed or I can just come home then. There are many things right now that I’m really dealing with, and it’s not just the homesickness. That is a huge part of it, but there are other things that factor into what I’m dealing with right now. I have been in a situation before where I was pressured to stay somewhere because people would be upset if I didn’t, and after going through that situation, I welcome advice, but I really don’t care to put myself through that again, especially I’m dealing with a country 6000 miles away from home. Nobody knows all of my situation right now, except for God, and trust me, I have prayed probably more than I ever have in the past week. If I keep the mindset that I’m not going to be home until December, I’m not going to make it. Six months is too big of a time frame for me to fathom with how I feel right now, especially since I now have technical difficulties and can no longer talk to my parents because my computer for some reason won’t accept the microphone.
Just because right now I’m feeling like this trip isn’t going to be as long or in depth as I originally planned, doesn’t mean that I’m writing off ever doing missions ever again. Right now, I’m actually thinking that I’m much better as a Metro Missionary, because when I went to DC without my family, I was fine. Homesick, but not distraught and not eating like I have been here. I honestly don’t know what this means right now.
My mom last night brought the story of Mark and Paul to my mind. Mark got homesick, went home, and later on Paul wanted him to come back, even though he had written him off for leaving before. Maybe now isn’t the right time. Maybe what I’m supposed to get from this is that I’m not supposed to do foreign missions. Maybe I’m really a home missionary. I don’t know. I’ve made it through three days without dying.