Sunday, December 29, 2013

Where....

Paraguay!  This is where we are headed.  Have you heard a lot of fun facts about Paraguay?  Well, I hadn't, before I started to research this land-locked South American country; and that's a shame, because it has ALOT to offer.
The capital of Paraguay is Ascuncion; the kids and I will be living just outside of the second largest city in Paraguay, Caacupe.  The Iguazu Falls are located in Paraguy, along the border with Brazil and Argentine.  I have seen lots of pictures online of this amazing natural landform, it is truly beautiful. 
In Ascuncion there is a UNESCO World Heritage site; a Jesuit Mission.  The history of missions in Paraguay (and indeed most of the new world) is a sort of double edged sword.  The methods employed at times by past missionaries would be considered today, at the very least, unacceptable; at the worst, cruel.  Still, there can be no doubt that the missions of the Jesuits have influenced, for better or worse, the landscape, culture, and people of Paraguay.
The camp where we will be working (Camp Jack Norment) is interesting in itself.  Established 60 years ago, Camp Jack Norment has been a model for Outdoor Ministries, Ecology and Leadership Development.  Camps are hosted for youth, adults, and outside organizations (such as the Peace Corps).  There is an educational farm that is a part of the camp; as I understand it the camp is moving more and more toward self sustainability. 
We have also started a list of foods we want to try as soon as we are able in our new home; this includes Chipas, Supa Paraguay, Bori-Bori, and Terere to drink.  I am a bit of a foodie...sort of, I like to try new things, though I don't claim any special palette or talent or knowledge; just a love of food.  I have found it interesting, when talking with the kids, how easily one can compare the ingredients of our beloved southern cooking (here in the US) with what is found (at least in theory, it will be interesting to compare once we are on the ground) in Paraguay.  Of course, I do have a particular fondness for cornbread, so that could have something to do with my excitement.
So, natural beauty, cultural sites, a fabulous camp, and delicious food....is there anything more we could ask for?  I don't think so.  Ah, Paraguay, we are looking forward to finally meeting our new home in person.

Friday, December 27, 2013

When...

When we will be leaving for Paraguay has been a bit of a conundrum in and of itself.  At first we thought we might be leaving in September, after the annual conference held in Indianapolis every August.  As it happened, things didn't work out that way.
At the conference we thought January was our new date to ship out.  Not much happens in December, since people are often traveling for the holidays and such.  And I still needed to be processed, to get passports for the kids, to arrange everything, and etc.... so it seemed unlikely we would be able to go any sooner than January.  But, November came and went without our being commissioned...and I started to wonder if January was really feasible either.
Finally, on December 5th I was able to meet with the board in Indianapolis and everything that was meant to be done was done.  It was at this time that I learned the directors of the camp I will be working at are taking a sabbatical in January.  So, as of now, it looks like we will be leaving in March. 
When I first looked into Paraguay one of the differences between US culture and Paraguayan culture that worried me was the idea that time is more fluid.  I have been told that in Paraguay appointments may happen hours after they are scheduled...sometimes friends visit days after they promise to.  I am very much an 'on time or early' kind of person.  However, I have weathered this flexible timetable for leaving for Paraguay and I think I will be ok...as long as I keep it in my mind that anything can change at any time. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

What...

The road that has lead us to this point in our lives is a very bendy one.  But that's not what I want to focus on for this post (maybe soon).  Instead, I want to talk a little about what we will be doing in Paraguay. 
When I first told people I had applied to be a missionary, the immediate thought seemed to be that I would be in Africa.  I don't know why people assumed this; perhaps it is my good friend who has been working in Ethiopia for the last 6 years with her family.  Perhaps it is the summer missionary work my Grandmother does through the Catholic church at AIDS orphanages.  Whatever the reason, when I learned that I would be in Paraguay people were a bit shocked.
So, what are we going to be doing in Paraguay?  Well, primarily, we will be working at a youth development camp called Camp Jack Norment (in Spanish, Campamento Jack Norment).  Not a lot of people know my very first and very favorite job ever was at a local park in NC; so I have some experience with this type of work.
I feel I have been very fortunate in this assignment, I have met several people who have been missionaries at the camp.  There are Youtube videos taken by various campers and pictures galore.  So for someone like myself who loves to research (if I had been a boy I would have been an Eagle Scout...I like to be prepared) the wealth of information available has been a great boon. 
The camp sits outside of the second largest city in Paraguay, Caacupe.  The largest Catholic Church in Paraguay is in Caacupe, and I was very worried this would limit the presence of the Disciples of Christ in the area; however, from what I have heard the Camp is a popular meeting location for local youth.  There is a sort of youth group that meets on Saturdays that combines Ecology and Sunday school.  All of this has been very exciting for me since I was a bit worried about whether or not the kiddos would have compatriots in their new community.
In addition to my responsibilities at the Camp, I will also be working with an Inter-denominational organization, Comite de Iglesias Para Ayuda de Emergencia (CIPAE), which monitors human rights in Paraguay.  I understand this organization started its work during the Stroessner regime and has continued by working with the local Indigenous people, the Guarani.  Since I have a degree in Anthropology this is a very exciting proposition for me.  The opportunity to live in, and better understand, another culture is tremendous.  The opportunity to understand various subcultures within a larger culture....ohhh, so exciting.
So, there is it, the basic outline of what I will be doing in Paraguay.  All in all I am so excited.  I never imagined my (incredibly) varied list of life experiences (Animal Care Giver, Asst. Park Ranger, Construction worker, Anthropologist, and etc) would come together in such a way as to seem almost tailor made for such an incredible opportunity. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Who?

So, a little about who we are.  I am Catherine, 30 years old, Anthropologist and Historian.  Ok, sort of an Anthropologist and Historian...those were my degrees, anyway.  I am also mom to 3 A-mazing kiddos.  The big one is 9, a girl and she is a prissy pants.  She loves American Girl dolls and family movie nights.  Then I have a son (we call him, simply, The Boy) who just turned 7 and is into Pok√©mon and carpentry.  He would be happy spending most of his time with board games.  Finally, the little one (also a girl) is 3 and she loves anything she can do with her big brother and sister.  She also likes American Girl dolls....or, really, any dolls.
We are a fairly typical American family. We live in a 3 bedroom 2 bath home in a well developed but unincorporated area of North Carolina.  Currently we live right beside my dad and only 4 miles down the road from my mother and step-dad; so family is a big part of our everyday lives.
We also have a very large, fairly close extended family.  Add to that a very loving church family and the various friends that have become like family over the years, and you are looking at an awesome community that we are truly blessed to be a part of.
As a family we do tend toward a certain amount of geekiness; we are happy to visit museums and Historic Sites, my kids think it's cool that I am teaching them to sew, and we may occasionally dress up in period clothing to reenact history. 
Oh, and another thing that will kind of make you go...oh, that explains a lot...we homeschool.  So it's just me and my kids and books and museums and etc.  Really, homeschooling is one of the big blessings in this whole trip, I can only imagine how much more complicated things would be if I had to worry about changing schools and such with my kids. 
I know, as this blog continues, you are going to learn ALOT more about our family, but I just wanted to give you a basic rundown and a quick introduction. 
Coming up soon....we answer the question...What?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The very beginning....of this blog, at least...

Joshua 24:15 “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

 

There is something to be said for this verse.  The final line is known by many people, whether they believe it, and follow it, or not.  But as I went through the motions of starting this blog, and this verse played through my head, it was a word in the first line which struck me.  Choose.

Choice is a tricky thing, especially when you are a single mom.  And choosing to follow a call to Paraguay was especially difficult.  In the end, though, I didn't choose to go to Paraguay...I choose to follow God.

This blog has been created to detail the affects of choosing to listen to the call to missionary work.  I am not your typical missionary (if there is such a thing as a typical missionary); or at least I am not what most people think of when they hear the word missionary.  I am 30, a single mom, and when I was growing up I mostly wanted to be Indiana Jones in the Last Crusade.

I did go to school for Anthropology, and I have even done some excavations as an Archaeological Technician (it's no where near as glamorous as Harrison Ford made it seem).  But a little bit over a year ago, that still small voice inside told me it was time to look at a different path.  Eventually, that led me to the missionary board for my denomination (I am Disciples of Christ, the missionary board is Global Ministries).

Now, after a year+ period of applying, talking to various people, conferences, interviews, and etc., it looks like I am going to be heading out in a few months to live and work in Paraguay.  I am so excited I can hardly contain myself most days.  There are also the occasional periods of extreme self doubt...what was I thinking?  Why am I going?  What do I know about Paraguay?  How am I going to take care of my 3 kids on my own in a country where they don't speak the language and I feel accomplished when I can successfully ask for directions to the bathroom?

I guess, it will all work out.  God wouldn't ask us to do anything that we couldn't handle, right?  Besides, for the most part I am happy to do the work.  We are studying Spanish, we know all the requirements for passports (I have one, the kids don't...yet, that's a post coming up soon), our house is being packed up slowly but surely.  It will all be fine....there will be ups and down, I am sure....and I will share them all with you; our victories and defeats, laughter and tears, joys and sorrows. 

Well, starting tomorrow, because it is late now, and I am tired....look for a post introducing the wee ones and I in greater detail soon.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3