Lo’s Kitchen: Fruit Pizza

February 29, 2012

I have learned that in this country, if there is even one grey cloud in the sky, life basically stops. No matter how small or large the cloud or how many millions of degrees it still is outside, you can expect everyone to lock the door and forget about venturing outside until the weather clears.

Unfortunately, a covering of dark matter rolled in on Monday afternoon that nearly rendered my second cooking workshop moot. I did have one student show up, and although the turnout completely nixed my “Bring a friend and bring a fruit” exhortation with the hopes of expanding my youth contacts, ultimately, it was a good opportunity to focus all my attention on J.

She brought one-year-old K along, which breaks my heart because 1) This child so desperately needs the love and attention of her own mother, and 2) J is pretty much her mother. At 15 years old, she is still a child herself, and it angers me to that she is paying the consequences of her sister’s poor decision making.

J is the one who buys and changes K’s diapers. J is potty training K. J sacrifices her own food for K, bathes her, plays with her, and has to take K with her wherever she goes. J has been missing school because no one else is around to take care of the baby (and we’re surprised she failed eighth grade again?).

We must persist in our prayers for this family.

Mixing up the dough for the crust.

Patting the dough carefully into the pan.

Voila! Finished product.

Jewels on J’s crown in heaven someday.


Left turns in Paraguay are the bane of my existence. Most intersections don’t allow them, which 1) is simply an inconvenience and 2) makes for a significantly small margin of error when I’m bumbling my way around a city I don’t know (miss a turn? Stinks to be you. Not only are the streets not marked, you also can’t just take a left or a U at the next light and double back…). But where you can actually make a turn in the lefterly direction, it is almost more trouble than it’s worth and the illegality of it all suddenly makes so much sense.

As you can see from the above [expertly drawn] picture, this was pretty much my situation yesterday afternoon as Y, R, and I were returning from home visits to La Ruta girls. There were tons of cars on the road and my butt was totally sticking out into oncoming traffic (don’t worry, this is how everyone does it here). After waiting for what felt like years, I was finally able to make my left turn into a clear lane. I was at least a minute removed from cleanly completing my turn and was heading straight when a loud scrape and substantial force shoved my car toward the center divide. We all gasped to see this giant white truck attempt to squeeze its way into my lane without looking and effectively failing by ramming into my car. Fortunately, I was able to maintain control of the vehicle.

[Would now be a good time to note that it has been less than a week since I picked up my car from the body shop for the last hit-and-run? Apparently, Paraguay thinks she can push me around…]

I tried to make my way over the right side of the road to resolve this ridiculous situation, but with the density of traffic, it took a bit longer than I would have liked. In the meantime, we watched the big white truck veer onto a side street to flee the scene. Rude. Emboldened by the fact that I was not alone (I thank God so much for this), I quickly turned down the next available street and raced over a jarring cobblestone road in hopes of at least catching a glimpse of the culprit’s license plate (which, after throwing down placa several times and having everyone stare blankly at me as if I were speaking Chinese, discovered it is called chapa here. Weird.).

Just as we thought to give up hope, we peered around the corner and saw the white truck barreling towards us. Sucka! I quickly pulled over and Y and R bravely hopped out into the middle of the street, blocking the truck from further escaping. The driver came out swinging. He mistook Y as the driver (clearly someone wasn’t paying attention–Y is not only Paraguayan, she is also three times my size!) and started barking defensively at her, laying the blame on rather thickly. I called my boss to notify him of the situation, all the while keeping an eye on Y, who was clutching her pepper spray in hand. Since the driver belligerently refused to give us any information, R snuck behind the truck and scribbled down the license plate number right before the truck sped off again, this time escaping for good.

Part Two to follow shortly.

*Grateful Y, R, and I emerged relatively unscathed. Thank you all for your continued prayers for my safety. God was definitely watching over us.

Ruth and Vanessa Baez: January Birthday Queens.

Saturday morning, I awoke to a bad case of the stomach queasies. I then spent the next few hours “disclosing” some nasty secrets to a particular porcelain throne. It was a great time.

I called my peeps to cover me for OANSA, but knew that I still needed to carry out my duties for La Ruta later in the evening. After returning to bed for the latter part of the morning, I eventually dragged myself to the kitchen to whip up a cake for our January birthdays celebration.

As always, I preheated the oven to far hotter than necessary (only then does the beast obediently adjust to the correct temperature, finicky jerk) before I even gathered ingredients and mixing bowls. Then I went about my not-so-merry way, sticking with a simple recipe, fearful of the continued stomach rumbling.

When I finally went to put the cake in to bake, the oven felt alarmingly lukewarm and I discovered to my utmost delight that the gas tank had run out. Jackpot. I grumpily crammed the battered pan in the fridge, faced with no choice but to head to church early to finish (or start, rather) baking.

Once at Mi Esperanza, it took four people 30 minutes too long to figure out how to even turn the oven on. And then of course in accordance to it being that kind of day, halfway through baking the cake, the church oven went out too. Three cheers for Lo–missionary and expert oven killer. An emergency trip to buy gas was made and despite my doubts about any edible results being produced, I, at long last, had something that at least resembled a cake.

By this time, with our party fast approaching, a cooling period was not an option. I simply plopped my whipped frosting on top hoping it would melt well enough to look like a presentable chocolate glaze. The fact that it ultimately turned out to look more like a glorified chocolate doughnut was about the only thing that felt like a success that day (because if you know anything about me, you know my relationship with doughnuts…).

Well, that and the beauty of being able to lovingly celebrate another year in the lives of two girls who deserve all the chocolate doughnuts in the world.


January 16, 2012

1. Yoga.

2. Visit Brazil.

3. Believe in self.

4. Grow out hair.

5. Take better photos.

6. Read through the Bible.

7. Be better than the crappy stuff.

8. See B at least once (sigh).

9. Start fasting once a month again with B.

10. Pray for the Baez family every day.

11. Fundraise for the Baez family.

12. Pursue two [new] friendships.

13. Blog at least six times a month.

14. Cook something new every week.

15. Improve Spanish, especially vos conjugations.

16. Get comfortable with the Asuncion bus system/routes.

17. See at least one girl from my La Ruta small group come to Christ.

18. Start social ministry for women (relationship violence awareness, etc.).

19. Work on having better posture (note to self: sit up straight!).

20. Be intentionally thankful for something every day.

Love God. Love others. Love yourself.