When K saw the razor sitting on the ledge of my shower, she looked at me incredulously and shouted, “YOU HAVE A MUSTACHE?!?”

L immediately chimed in and said, “No, K, that’s like mommy’s…it’s for your eyebrows.”

(Their mother does not shave her eyebrows.)

That’s me flying over the Parque del Amor!

Paragliding off the cliffs and over the Pacific Ocean in Peru was definitely one of the most simultaneously exhilarating and serene things I have ever done. Floating hundreds of feet in the air, legs dangling and ponytail bobbing with the wind, and observing the busyness of life on land from such a removed perspective was surreal.

The beautiful teal sea quietly lapping a comforting heart song below and the crisp temperatures I love so much underscored an absolute serenity that transcended understanding. I marveled that not a single moment over the course of the flight, including take-off and landing, held even a beat of anxiety or fear. No stomach flips or internal panic. No paranoia or conditioned happiness. Just freedom.

It has been a really difficult year. There has been death and disease and distance and discouragement. I have clawed my way through ministry frustrations, physical trauma, deep dark loneliness, and whole lot of spiritual static. In many ways, it feels like Paraguay has ravaged a bit of my soul and I am surprised to be here at this end of the yearlong tunnel.

But having said that, I am also emerging from a week of sheer and utter grace. I spent an unexpected six days in Peru submerged in a glorious deluge of love and amazing lightness. A community of a jolly old friend and divinely appointed new ones not only welcomed me with a warm familiarity, but they also poured laughter, normalcy, validation, healing, and restoration into a weary heart.

Today marks exactly one year in Paraguay. The second half awaits and only God knows what it holds. A week ago, I probably would have dragged my feet across the threshold of twelve more months of Paraguayan unknown. But there is a peace that pervades with contentment, confidence, and generous unconditional love. And I claim so much freedom–from the past, from my insecurities, from my future fears–from that.

Be free, Lo. Paraguay Year Two is yours for the living and keeping.

I am actually throwing up a shaka not an awkward hitchhiker’s thumb.

Getting hooked up.

Ruuuuuuun!

Up, up, up, and away!

(We definitely had a good laugh about the foreground of this pic. Oy.)

So amazing.

“If you guys could chip in 200 mil Guaranis for the payaso, that would be great,” S stated to J. Payaso meaning clown. J didn’t promise her anything, but informed her that he would do what he could to gather together some funds.

Every year, the neighborhood organizes an event for Dia del Nino complete with food, games, and gift bags for the hundreds of children who turn out for the festivities. As a church, we like to collaborate with them to strengthen our contacts in the area, particularly since our OANSA Primero de Marzo is held in that neighborhood as well. Normally we donate the goodie bags, but since our shipment from the States was likely not going to arrive in time, we inquired about other ways to contribute.

So S brings up the clown. Having already secured food, drink, and toy donations, she requested we help pay for the entertainment. Naturally, clown for me brought visions of puffy rainbow costumes, giant shoes, curly wigs, and red noses. And perhaps some face painting and animal balloons as well.

Meeting with S this morning to finalize the details of the event, J asked her if we need to bring sound equipment and microphones for the clown act. S replied that the clown came with everything. And for good measure, J throws in, “With a colorful costume as well?”

S got a mischievous glint in her eye and smiled, “Oh nooo. She comes in a mini skirt and [pointing at her chest] her equipo. She’s fantastic–she sings, she dances, and she’s really hot. I lobbied for her myself.”

I glanced at J with a suppressed giggle. According to S’ description, our church seriously was about to financially back a scantily clad stripper “clown” for Day of the CHILD. So Paraguay.

In the end, S was off on two accounts. One, the “clown” wasn’t nearly as risque as we nervously expected. Sure, the corset was tight and boobalicious (I suppose S gets points for the equipo), but at least she had bright fuschia tights under the mini.

And two, she couldn’t sing. Please watch the video all the way to the end. Cheers!

Doing wild jumping jacks for the duration of the microwave time to get exercise in.

Consuming your seven-hundredth cup of coffee for the day and as a result, jabbering inconsciently to yourself knowing full well no one is around to judge you.

Glancing at the overflowing sinkfull of dishes and eating a[nother] brownie instead.

Certainly not shaving your legs for months.

Snickering at your own discordant off-key singing and purposefully mangling the rest of the song at a higher volume.

Frantically cooking up buttered pasta with fried garlic and onions because the latest food memoir on your Kindle has driven you to a voracious hunger frenzy. At midnight.

Dying for even a little good cheese and instead settling for a sprinkling of iodized table salt.

Forcing yourself back out of bed at the last minute to grudgingly brush your teeth even though no one will be around to suffer your morning dragon breath.

Drifting off to blissful beauty sleep in brown tights, crew socks, woolen foot paddles (with pom poms), high-water sweatpants, and yesterday’s wrinkly t-shirt.

Counting the days until a roommate banishes the glorious albeit absurd freedom and instates in its place instead, something worth its weight in gold and then some, SNUGGLES.