OANSA: First Day Back.

March 17, 2013

Existence 014Primero de Marzo.

February was a month defined by dengue fever, an infectious disease transmitted by mosquitoes. Symptoms can include muscle and joint pain, headache, sustained fever, vomiting, and measles-like rash. Because there are no antiviral drugs for dengue, persons inflicted must simply rest, stay hydrated, and wait for the virus to run its course.

It is estimated that a rising number of 13,000 people in Paraguay have been infected in 2013 alone—a small portion of those having resulted in death. Recent sporadic flashes of heavy rain combined with extreme humidity have sustained standing bodies of water and moisture all over the city. Puddles like these are prime breeding grounds for mosquitoes, which of course create foreboding circumstances as dengue has proven in its rapid spread.

Our OANSA’s Santa Maria neighborhood has not fared so well during this peak season of contagion, and surely the exposed sewage lines that run through the streets have not made for a particularly healthy environment. Seven individuals in the Baez household alone have contracted the virus, some of whom are still experiencing symptoms.

The Primero de Marzo site, where we hold our weekly OANSA meetings, was in terrible shape after a spate of tropical storms and heavy rainfall. Already a less than sanitary area, the large pools of festering liquid only served to create a quagmire of disease. It was clear, even as the start of our OANSA 2013 program approached, that the cancha was not fit for any sort of gathering, much less one involving children. The myriad possible liabilities made me cringe all the way to my toes.

We scouted alternative locations in the neighborhood, we considered a number of superficial, bandage solutions, we weighed our other options all to no avail or even the slightest sense of settling peace. And so began the waiting game—an uncertain venture of hoping for the moisture to dry up and the swarming populations of mosquitoes to decrease quickly.

The start date for OANSA was postponed several times and much nail biting ensued as conditions did not improve. Finally, halfway into March, we bit the bullet and set an official commencement Saturday.

And WHAT UPPPP answered prayer! There was only one puddle this past Saturday, absolutely no mosquitoes, and eighteen little chums who came out to jump rope and sing songs (and rather enthusiastically so, might I add). I was stoked.

The Lord provides!

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Readjustment back to Asuncion has been slow-going and emotional. After a honeymoon of a month experiencing only and all of the best home has to offer, being in landlocked Paraguay again feels like a prison sentence. It has been difficult to return to isolation, loneliness, and mosquitoes. At least the weather has been cooler.

To be honest though, the most agonizing part about being here is the long-distance–which is hard for me to admit because I’m afraid it sounds like I don’t know how to exist without my boyfriend. I don’t want to be that girl. I want to know that beyond my relationship status, I possess independence and strength as an individual. That I can survive and thrive as Lo, not just…B-Lo.

But instead of honing those instincts, it seems like long-distance has only proven how miserable I am at this game. I am insecure and needy and have developed serious attention-hoarding tendencies. It doesn’t help that the most common question here in Paraguay is, “Aren’t you afraid he’s going to meet someone else?” Of course, I worry about that, but no, it won’t happen, and what a terrible thing to ask even if culturally legitimate.

Being apart sucks.

It is unfair that our lives have to be so completely different and so geographically separated for so long. It is exhausting to miss someone every day for weeks and weeks and weeks on end and get very little opportunity for relief. Come December, B and I will have spent less than a total of two weeks together over fifteen months’ time. A dismal reality.

Time differences, choppy internet connections, and tough conversations via computer take their toll. Hard days are harder when all I can do is stare helplessly at the screen and send useless mental hugs, or wish B were here with me to hold my hand.

I realize that God has clearly called both of us to our respective places for specific purposes I don’t have the foresight to understand now. I know it is refining and character building. I know that I still have a lot to learn. I know the struggle is not in vain. And I know that nothing good gets away.

But it’s still hard.

 

…are we there yet?