Prior to coming to Paraguay, I spent two years working as a Family Advocate at an emergency domestic violence shelter. As one might assume, it was an emotionally burdensome job and the hours did not help. Commanding the 12pm-9pm shift five days a week effectively eliminated any sort of social aspect from my life, and it was really quite isolating.

So as I prepared to come to Paraguay, B and I spent a lot of time praying that I would find community here. I defined community as friends. Although, babies that I did not have to produce myself and could snuggle were also considered acceptable alternatives.

Despite my haughty and specific demands, the Lord manifest His grace in ways more sweet than I ever imagined. These four dumplings have been the light and laugh of my last two years. Amidst bouts of loneliness, ministry frustration, homesickness, and every other dark force I encountered on occasion, these nuggets remained a constant source of love, adorable antics, and yes, snuggles.

I am ever so thankful for this family and these little faces.

IMAG0677Literal bosom buddies.

IMAG0659Hole-in-one.

IMAG0678Baby Forest.

IMAG0631Dancing queens.

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Tutus and a Love Like This.

December 1, 2012

These girls are the closest I have ever come to knowing what it feels like to have that indescribably immense love one has for their own children. They are scrappy, sassy, silly, sweet, and freaking hilarious. I am so grateful for this last year of some of the funniest and most heartwarming snuggles of my life.

IMAG0043IMAG0044S and I made the [no sew] tutus!

IMAG0047Sweet little nugget.

IMAG0048How can you resist those faces?!

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.

To be burned at the stake.

The festival of San Juan originally began as a Catholic tradition in Spain, celebrating John the Baptist and the European summer solstice, an intentional combination of both the religious and the “profane.” I think. This is what I seem to have gathered from random websites that include Wikipedia and an assortment of Paraguayan verbal explanations, none of which corroborated. Take the reliability of my historical information and sources in this entry with a grain of salt.

In Paraguay, the celebration has become more cultural than religious with various Guarani traditions (ask me to name them and I couldn’t give you even one; it has been a confusing weekend), so as a result, Mi Esperanza sponsored a second annual carnival-type venture in an effort to reach our neighborhood and community.

It was quite the spectacle.

Whoever was DJing came with a five-song track that self-repeated over four hours on both nights. I heard Besame seventeen million times and it is no longer one of my favorite songs.

One of the kid’s games was Knock the Pyramid, complete with a tower assembled of taped toilet paper rolls. Resourceful.

The concept of accumulating tickets to trade in for better prizes (of which toothbrushes are¬†totally desirable–I’m not even being sarcastic), was unfathomable. I made that speech hundreds of times to no avail.

A little sleepy nugget came and asked, “It fine I sit on your lap, Big Lowen?” and promptly fell asleep under my moose hat.

And a stuffed dummy labeled with the name of a politician who played a key role in the recent impeachment of the Paraguayan president (more about that confusing mess later) was set on fire at the end of the first night.

Ah, yes. We are in Paraguay.

The beginnings.

Setting up our prize booth.

Lining up for the games.

Sack races!

The antlers hide a small snoozing snugglebug. <3

*Apologies for the low-quality photos. My camera abhors the night.