Mi Esperanza organizes a potluck on the first Sunday of every month to promote and facilitate fellowship among the church members. Generally, a sign-up sheet is sent around a week prior and people can commit to bring chorizos (sausages), bread, salad, or drinks. On occasion, I have seen my teenagers show up with a bottle of Niko (the notorious cheap brand of soda in Paraguay–I would love to conduct a scientific study to track the effects of this potent bubbly liquid on the human body but I digress) to contribute or a few pieces of pan Felipe, the quintessential Paraguayan dinner roll.

Needless to say, I was proud to see T and J’s names signed under the salad column this month. Even more was my pleasure when they excitedly informed me they would be concocting a pasta salad interpretation inspired by the basic recipe I taught in my latest cooking workshop.

Lo’s Kitchen has truly become my pride and joy in Paraguay. Praise God for the work He has done and continues to do in the lives of these teenagers and kids through a humble two hours a week in a cramped, stuffy kitchen. Cook on, my friends!

Paraguay has seen some really hot days recently (okay, so what else is new?). Sometimes as roasty as it is outside, it can be worse inside, so we pulled a table out into the courtyard and dined on the fruits of our latest cooking class creation al fresco. Someone had also dug out a memory game box from the Sunday School closet and begged me to teach the group how to play.

You know that game with a million cards flipped facedown where you try to find the matching pairs? The one you played as a five-year-old at the dining table with your parents who usually let you win? The one with cardboard pieces thick and sturdy enough that even two-year-olds are able to grab and participate? Yes, that one.

Considering Lo’s Kitchen: Biscotti Edition was a group comprised of a majority teenagers, I was dubious of their desire to play. I assumed they would bore of the game in minutes and quickly resume their noisy shenanigans, but when they persisted, I relented. After explaining the rules and meticulously setting up rows and rows of cards, we commenced what became a very competitive game of Memory.

Critical thinking and logic do not appear to be essential tools used and mandated by the Paraguayan education system. So initially, the kids kept haphazardly flipping cards at random, not taking care to memorize card placement at all. Again, I encouraged them to make mental notes of card locations in order to facilitate the actual completion of pairs. When they finally caught on to the “strategy,” the excitement level rose exponentially.

An hour and two demolished loaves of biscotti later, the adolescents chorused, “That was sooo fun!” as they counted their stacks of matching sets of mothers, fish, balls, and trees. “I love that game!” chimed one kid, nevermind that the box states a target age of 2-5 years. We played it again several times the next day at La Ruta, our youth group for teenagers, with many more eagerly joining in.

Sometimes I forget that I come from a completely different world. Still, there are moments aplenty–like this one–that remind me of my roots. I have an extremely privileged life.

My One Second of Fame.

October 30, 2012

Several months ago, an Alliance media team came down to Paraguay to capture our ministry in video form. Here is a recently released short with snapshots of work being done worldwide, including a one second clip of me teaching Sunday School at Mi Esperanza. Check it out!

Juan Carlos showed up to my cooking class two weeks ago after a long hiatus. He huffed into the kitchen and said with the grand air of a distinguished chef, “Man, I haven’t cooked in so long. What are we making today, Chef?”

His voice had the tone of a professional; simultaneously calm and eager and official. But his presentation was awful. He was filthy and his clothes were in various stages of disrepair. Not to mention, he had little black flecks scattered across his neck and face, and when I questioned him on it, he simply stated, “An aerosol can exploded.”  (We will ignore for now the fact that this is completely unnerving coming from a child and that this isn’t the first time it has happened.)

Appropriately enough, Sloppy Joe’s was the plat du jour. As I explained the anatomy of the sweet and spicy ground beef sandwich and literally translated the name to Spanish, all eyes drifted toward a certain mischievous someone.

“We’re cooking Juan Carlos today?” giggled T, “because he is looking pretty sloppy.”

A chorus of laughter rang out and then Juan Carlos quipped, “Good thing I taste delicious!”