[Between being insanely busy and having completely frozen fingers that impede me from accomplishing anything these days, I have a wealth of blog entries that are behind schedule on the publishing front. This is one of them.]

Glow stick necklaces, rainbow strobe lights, and a jumping crowd of screaming teenagers. My word, I am too old for this chaos. Get grandma a chair! I grappled with this sad truth whilst being jostled by flying elbows, extreme volume, and…blonde Germans.

German Mennonites have a large presence here in Paraguay. An unspoken truth pervades among certain demographics of Paraguayan community that if not for their creation of the dairy and beef industries here along with their general industriousness in many other aspects of Paraguay’s economy, “the Heart of South America” would likely have ceased to be a country a long time ago.

Needless to say, they are where the money is (well, them and all the corrupt Paraguayan politicians who hold the most prominent government positions), and one notable contribution particularly here in Asuncion is their sponsorship of Discover events—retreat weekends and occasional rallies targeted specifically at adolescents and young adults. Nights of raucous holy dances and crunchy guitar riffs such as the one I was smack dab in the middle of.

As I scanned the hoards milling in front of the church, waiting for the doors to open, I couldn’t help but notice the dichotomy of cultures between the majority German Mennonite adolescents and the ragamuffin Paraguayan kids we had brought. I saw Hollister and Aeropostale t-shirts dotting the crowd and felt the general privileged vibe reminiscent of middle-class American youth.

Then 11-year-old R sauntered by me with crumbs on his face, and I was suddenly glaringly aware of his high-water jeans that looked cut for a petite female, his torn t-shirt partially covered by an overshirt with mid-century stains, and a big toe poking out of his ill-fitting tennis shoes.

But this isn’t an entry about the remarkable shelf-life of old-time colonialism and the crippling effects of domineering regimes that are still prevalent in present-day developing countries. Ahem. That is a can of worms for another entry.

The evening of fancy light effects, over-the-top MCs, dynamic Dutch-Brazilian speakers (who preached in English), and an unruly crowd of teenagers passionately screaming for Jesus was completely something our La Ruta progeny had never before seen. They loved it. My generally wild girls were unusually subdued on the car ride home, lost in thought over all they had seen, heard, and felt.

Nothing like a little Jesus to override culture, race, economic status, history, and a host of other factors that scream division. Unity of the body is a beautiful sight to behold, if a little rowdy, especially when it brings my little friends to the brink of breakthrough.

Keep praying for Paraguay.


HALF A DECADE of shenanigans. Wut.

Admittedly, the few months of 2012 have been fraught with a degree of selfish frustration on my part. I have frequently wondered if my time here in Paraguay has been useful, if my efforts worthwhile, and if my perseverance is actually leading anywhere productive. “What are You doing with me here, Lord?” brazenly asks my small-visioned self.

Two weeks ago, I taught the girls how to make egg salad sandwiches in my cooking class. Quite frankly, I was a bit embarrassed about it. I mean, really, hard-boiled eggs and a bag of mayo?

But then Teresa came back to me a week later and recounted that she had taken her extra sandwich back to her mom, who coincidentally loved it and had her make it three more times that week. Then Techi quietly continued by saying, “Now that I know how to cook something, we are able to eat even when my mom doesn’t come home.”

There are eight children who live together with their mother in the tiny three-room compound. The father abandoned the family a few months back.

In one fell swoop, God provided for this family, humbled my lack of vision, and clearly demonstrated that He is the One who’s wisdom and power are at work in Paraguay.

Hard-boiled eggs and a bag of mayo? Really.

Dance, Dance, Baby.

April 21, 2012

This happened. Seriously.

This little dumpling showed up at the new Dance Academy we started at church today. I could barely contain myself.