September 29, 2009

Trash, Anyone?

We met a sweet little abuela (the respectful term for elderly women, which literally means "grandma") who lives a few houses down. She walks each day to the store across from our house, to buy a candle since she doesn't have electricity. Because we're in a cold snap, we thought she'd be a good recipient of a warm blanket.

So we walked down with the blanket and a pack of candles, and found her home in pretty bad shape. It is a one room home with a decent structure, but she definitely gets wet any time it rains, like so many of the homes out in the country. But the sad part was the amount of trash everywhere. The Paraguayans in general are the most diligent house cleaners I've ever seen. And considering that their immediate yard is often part of their living space, it gets swept and maintained (yes, the dirt) just like we take care of our living room and kitchen INSIDE the walls.

This little lady in her 70's has a heart condition, though, and can't do physical labor. She also seems to have some mental problems, as she kept telling me she had to go get milk for her little children, because she's the mother. We saw dolls and parts of dolls all around the yard.

We returned a few days later, armed with our rake and broom, buckets, trash bags, and cleaning supplies. Bless her heart, she said she'd been saving all the trash because someone told her they buy it at the recycling center. She had no idea how she'd GET it to the recycling center, but she was saving it just in case. The truth is that they do pay a very tiny amount for plastic bottles, glass, metal, etc., but not enough that I'd want to save a year's worth of garbage in hopes I could get there. To keep her happy, we separated the glass bottles andbagged them together, and Ken came up with the idea to "buy" them from her.

So we raked and bagged and raked and bagged. We found some of the most interesting bottles. I thought of my grandmother and how she would have LOVED the different colors, designs, and print on the bottles. It was a collector's dream, but we're not collectors. Thank God, the only injuries we sustained were a spider bite for me and some bug bites for Amber, but the girls and Ken came out without a scratch. Oh, yeah, there was one thing worse than the bites... We found MANY containers--cups, pots, bottles, etc.--that needed to be emptied of the standing water before we put them into the trash bag (mosquitoes are a big issue here, so I can't imagine the plague she must have had from all that water). Anyway, Amber emptied a pot and then realized it was the abuela's toilet. In true missionary form, she kept a smile. It took her quite a while to recover and a lot of work to hold back vomiting, but the little lady never knew that poor Amber was on the verge of a meltdown.

As we worked, several people came out and joined in. Some of the little fellas Camille and Caroline have befriended helped carry the trashbags to the road and into our truck (the "landfill" and the people we saw digging in the trash there are a different story for a different day). The folks living in the house in front of hers came out to rake the adjoining area and tell us they'd burn her leaves after we piled them. It turned into a sort of community day, and we had the chance to meet more neighbors. Of course, they always ask why we live here and what our plans are, so it's one more opportunity to share the love of the Lord and thank Him for the doors He opens to us.


  1. What a loving gift you gave abuelita. Dios los bendiga!!!!!!!!!

  2. What a nice way to show Jesus' love to the grandma (and the others noticing and helping!)! Glad you're getting settled in at the new place.

  3. Very Very cool!
    Just this morning I was reading - Matthew 25:40
    Its what its all about.
    Bendiciones fuerza y animo!

  4. I remember going to my grandmother's when I was a little girl. They used to sweep the yards like that, they used a broomsage broom. It was a bunch of broomsage tied together by some string near the top of it. They actually raked the grass out of the yard with it too to keep the yard nice and to keep the dirt showing. We knew we had always had a good day playing when we came back home with very dirty feet. (Don't know how mom felt about that though!)

  5. I didn't mean to leave my comment about going to my grandmother's as a little girl as "Anonymous". I thought I left it as Aunt Donna. I am sorry...those were special memories for me, wanted to share them with all of the family, especially Caroline and Camille. And NO,Aunt Donna did not ride a dinosaur! Neither did NaNa!


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