December 30, 2013

And On the Sixth Day

Let me back up a little.  The big celebration here for Christmas actually takes place on the 24th, when families gather and share a midnight meal then congratulate each other with hugs and apple cider toasts. We've participated as the invited guests to these lovely meals in all forms--in the middle of a field in a very rural area, at a big table surrounded by a few dozen kids in a children's home, with a small gathering of neighbors in their front yard.  It's typically a grilled out, barbecue-style meal with all the fixins.  I have to tell you that even after five of these holidays, I still can't get used to eating such a heavy meal in stifling, suffocating heat.  So this year, we packed a light picnic-style bag of sandwich stuffs and headed to the river.

Around 10 PM, families began to set up huge tables with cloths and casseroles and piles of meat.  From the looks our little picnic got, I guess we looked a little silly with our bag of bread, pb&j, and chicken salad.

We enjoyed the breezes coming off the water and the fireworks, until it started looking a bit too dangerous--drinking and driving is extremely common here, and we'd seen a few too many cars swerving by with large bottles of beer clutched in the drivers' hands.

We got back to our apartment about 11:15, turned on a Christmas movie, and waited for midnight.  There was no need trying to go to bed because the fireworks had already begun.  At 12:05, a young man we've begun to spend time with from downstairs came to deliver a gift of fruitcake and congratulate us.  We were thrilled that he'd taken this step of friendship and spent some time with him before turning in for the night.

The next day, we joined some friends at a sandy spot on the riverbank. We don't typically swim here but took advantage of the chance to get out of the 110-degree heat that day. We later found that at the same time we were splashing around, and in this same river (but a long ways off), 60 people were attacked by a school of piranhas.  So much for all those times of telling my mom how impossible that'd be! A few hours later, despite the sunscreen we'd slathered on and our very modest swim clothes, we were burnt crisp and ready to go home. Unfortunately, the car chose this week to melt the little plastic fuse that makes the air conditioner fan blow, so we arrived home a bit toasty.

When we got there, our friends--a family of five--were waiting to spend Christmas afternoon with us. The girls and I had made stuffed owls for these 3 little ones and we enjoyed watching them play with their new toys.  Yes, I know, they look a bit scary, but the kids really did like them.  We ended the day with a trip to the well air-conditioned theater to catch a late-night movie (the only one they show in English).  We convinced our friends to spend the night since the movie ended so late, and it was quite fun watching our tiny apartment expand to fit us all!

After a few hours sleep that night, we all ate Ken's famous homemade pancakes and saw them off, then got ready for another family of five who was coming to explore the possibilities of living here. I really enjoyed giving them a mini-tour of the area and getting to talk about the spiritual atmosphere here over the net few days.  It's always refreshing to get feedback and discuss ministry with other missionaries.

We'd just gotten back from prison visits Friday in time for a quick lunch, and it was time for me to teach those 23 eager teens for a couple of hours. Unfortunately, the a/c in our 2nd story classroom was also down, and all the heat from the first floor had taken up residence in our room.  I was beginning to see a theme and wonder if the air conditioners of Paraguay had joined together in strike against me.  WHAT DID I DO, MY FRIENDS?  Never was my non-Paraguayan-ness so obvious as during those two scorching hours when I stood in front of a fan, waving a notebook in front of my face, trying to remember what I was supposed to be teaching at that moment.  Will I ever get used to this heat?

About the time I got back to the apartment, it was time for the late-night wedding of a few friends from church.  I bathed and changed my clothes and we took off to the lovely ceremony which included a working air conditioner.  Maybe things were turning around for me after all!  When we left at midnight, things were just getting going, in true Paraguayan style.

The next morning, I jumped up bright and early for four hours of teaching, only to find out that the first-floor room we'd reserved was unavailable, so none of my lesson plans could take place.  Have you ever tried to wing it for FOUR HOURS?!  God really came through for me and at the end of the class period, we'd had some pretty significant discussions and hopefully learned a thing or two.

That afternoon, we were encouraged again by our visiting friends and refreshed by spending time with them, on their last day of the trip. Did I mention that two teenage girls had spent the night before with us?  Well, they spent all that next day with us, too, so there was a whole lot of giggling and silliness in Casa Hagerman on Saturday.

And then it was Sunday.

I need not tell you, my friends who know me so well, that I adore being with people.  I am energized by social time. I come alive when the house is full.  So I thoroughly enjoyed how packed our little piece of the world was this past week.  How many opportunities to connect.  How full the schedule was.  How much I felt invigorated and awake.  My mind and spirit were soaring, but my body can only take so much AWAKE.
And then it was Sunday.

Thankfully, our church has evening services, so my alarm clock doesn't ring on Sunday mornings.  I slept until almost noon.  Granted, I didn't create a world this past week, but on the seventh day, Christie rested. Well, at least till noon.  Then it was time to catch up on homeschooling.  ;)

Hope your Christmas was full of friends, family, surprises, and climate-controlled happiness!


  1. Christie, was awesome to read blog about Christmas. We had heard about the piranhas and did not realize how close that was to you! Hope you guys stay safe! Prayers for you, the family, and your mission.
    Yours in Christ,
    Jim an Beth
    Goose Creek, SC

    1. Just THINKING about those little fish has probably ruined me from future dips in the river. ;) Happy New Year to y'all, and thanks for the prayers!


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