Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Up and down, up and down

Moving to Paraguay with 3 kids under the age of 10 is either the pinnacle of my awesomeness, or the depths of my idiocy.  Honestly, I think it's probably going to end up a tally in the awesome column, but at varying (you know, about 20 times a day) moments, it definitely feels like it belongs in the idiocy field.  I love my life.  I love my family, friends, church, homeschool co-op, town, state, car, house, stuff.  I love it all, and I am just going. 
When I went to school to study Anthropology I had visions of Indiana Jones-esque adventures in Amazonian jungles and German castles.  Then, I actually studied Anthropology and did field work and I realized that mostly I would be doing paperwork.  That's ok, though, because I love people and Anthropology is, at the heart, the study of people.  This opportunity to work and live in Paraguay was something I could never have imagined.  It's amazing, a blessing wilder than I ever thought to dream of. 
So, I am happy, ecstatic, to be going.  Somehow, though, in my imaginings I can't picture the day to day with kiddos.  What will it be like; I remember being in Mexico and seeing how differently children were treated.  I feel fairly certain that parenting in Paraguay will be different than in North Carolina.  If nothing else, I am enormously aware that we will be the 'they' in this we/they dichotomy, the outsiders, the (sort of) representatives of our country....that's a lot of responsibility rattling around in my parenting mind.
So, that's why my mood, my thoughts, my preparedness, and my energy are on what seems to be an eternal roller coaster.  Up and down, round and round, and where it stops...who knows.  One thing is for sure, ready or not, this time next week we will be in South America; our new home.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Busy Beavers...

So, we got our official date, our plane reservations are confirmed, and after waiting over a year, everything became very real very quickly.  All in all, things have been better and worse than I expected. 
The hardest and most unforeseen problem we have faced hasn't been what to take, or which bags to use, it has been the people we are leaving behind.  We prepared, of course, for the reality of leaving them.  What we didn't prepare for was the tsunami of last minute meetings, parties, farewell dos and etc.
In one way it has been amazingly comforting to have so many people want so badly to get their last greetings in.  In another way, though, it has been terribly frustrating.  People have their own lives to live, and we have to somehow mesh hectic schedules.  During routine times, this is accomplished easily enough.  With only around a week left to pack, get our house in order, give the grandparents enough time to last them a year or more with out the wee ones, and all the last minute minutia...well, finding time to squeeze in a few dozen fare-thee-wells has been frustrating to say the least.
My days are filled with packing, cleaning, more packing, wondering just HOW I managed to collect so much stuff that needs to be shipped off to the local charity shop, packing, trying to find where, in the chaos, I laid down the bundle of important documents to take with us, and, then, another box to pack.  Then there is the packing.
Hmm, I suppose we all know what has been foremost in my mind of late. 
The farewells and parties have had another downside; in that my wee ones seem to suddenly realize they won't see cousins and friends for a long time.  There have been a few tearful moments at these times.  There has been some erosion of careful preparations to prevent emotional trauma to little travelers.  There have been some gut wrenching decisions about who to see when and frustration at not being able to do everything we would like.
Still, on the flip side, these tears and frustrations only occur when there exists a slew of well wishers and loving friends who have taken time out of their lives to spend a moment with us.  All in all, I suppose it is better to sob our way through the week than for it to pass with little or no notice. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

This is no game...

...but there are kind of games involved.  So, with our departure from the US looming on the horizon, I have been kicking into high gear with preparations.  Today, the task was to pack one of the big checked bags with items that we 'definitely' want to take.  In this instance, it was our board games.
I have kind of gotten a lot of flack about taking our games; but you have to understand, we use our games in homeschooling, for family game night, as boredom busters, etc.  Also, I remember trying to find a simple book in English while in Merida, Mx (a pretty touristy town with a lot of ex-pats from the US, UK, CA, etc.) and how difficult and expensive that was.  I can only imagine how difficult it may be to find games in English in Paraguay. 
So anyway, I decided today was the day we needed to pack up the games.  This wasn't as simple as it sounds.  Space is at a premium in our luggage, so superfluous boxes had to go.  That meant bagging up every bit and piece from every game we own (only about 20 +/-), pulling out all the game board, laying those flat in the luggage and then arranging a bunch of 3D baggies of junk on top and doing it all in the most space saving way possible. 
It took HOURS, and when all was said and done, the games are taking up almost the entire 62 inch piece of luggage.  To be honest, I am torn.  How badly do we need these games?  Do we need ALL of them?  Do we want them more than other things like loveys and blankets?  Ok, ok, we have already packed the blankets, but still, how important are the games?
Well, for right now, they are pretty important.  Games are a big part of our culture as a family.  My first Christmas as a single mom, I started stock piling games to play together as a family.  I may have had the only 7 and 4 year old who could play chess by themselves with out a helicopter parent telling them which pieces could move where.  We LOVE games.  So, unless something more pressing comes along, our largest piece of luggage will remain crammed with die, cards, tokens, and markers.  And we will anxious look forward to cracking open a board and christening our new apartment a home. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Modern Missionary

I received some wonderful news recently.  In 4 week my family and I will be drinking terere in Paraguay.  I was so excited when I found out we were finally going, I was shaking.  Not only do we have a date, but there were some last minute changes to what, exactly, we would be doing while in Paraguay.  We will not be working with Campamento Jack Norment, as we originally planned.  Instead, we will be working and living in Asuncion with the Mision de Amistad (Friendship Mission) and Comite de Iglesias Para Ayuda de Emergencia (CIPAE) (commonly called, the Inter Church Committee). 
There has been some mixed reaction to the changes.  My family and friends were very comfortable with the idea of me rusticating I a camp, but living in the capital city isn't nearly as popular an idea.  However, I am not phased by the changes one bit.  There are several reasons why I am unconcerned. 

1) I am trying to do whatever God wants and go wherever He leads.  Already he has made this change more wonderful and amazing than I could ever have dreamed.  If he has taken my one tiny step and propelled us this far forward, I would have to be crazy to refuse to just keep on following him.

2) Going to Paraguay, even agreeing to be a Missionary, has never been about me.  Don't get me wrong, there are certainly benefits I hope to enjoy about the situation; but, the real reason I am going is to be of service to others.  There are some unfortunate legacies to overcome as a Missionary.  The wounds left on the collective psyche by imperialism are still struggling to heal.  For that reason I don't particularly care whether I am working at a camp, or in a mission in the city.  My job, as I see it, is to accompany the people of Paraguay, wherever and however they want me to. 

So, this is a time of joy and excitement, but also of responsibility and thoughtfulness.  I ask you to pray for my children and I, that we are able to follow where God leads and live Christ-like lives wherever we end up.