“All you need is love. ” – The Beatles
August 9, 2014
I’m excited to share with you the story of Ña Ester and her family. This 47-year old woman has been a loving supporter of my service from the moment we met. She’s been patient and forgiving with my language shortcomings, always has a smile for me, invites me to new meetings she thinks I might find interesting, is encouraging and open-minded when I want to introduce new concepts, calls or sends messages every birthday and all holidays, and is always sending me home from my visits with plenty to eat. She’s a strong, take-no-shit woman, rare in my community, and such a great model for the others. Most women here are submissive to the men except in matters of child rearing, cooking, and activities related to cooking like how much of each crop to plant. In other families, the man rules the house. In hers, she wears the pants and they are loud.
Ña Ester had a birthday this week and invited me to the house to partake in the feast of BBQd pork, sopa bread and cold rice salad. All of her four children were present, ages 14 to 29. Three of them live in Asuncion and generally only make the trip to the campo (countryside, where we are) 2-3 times per year for the holidays so this was a big deal. I referenced this family’s invitation and hanging pig carcass in an earlier blog this week called Friendship on Every Doorstep where the daughters and I had some great conversations. This is a beautiful, loving family whose care, love, and ease with each other is palpable as they move through the house doing the work of the day, braiding nieces’ hair, taking turns watching the toddlers, preparing food, setting the table, catching up on stories.
Recently, after she finished building her family’s solar food dryer with me (which allows them to use the sun to make dried fruits, veggies, and meats), super guapa (means ‘hardworking’) Ña Ester shared her bread recipe with me, which I encourage you to try. Find it In The Kitchen.
Her oldest daughter, Rumi, works from home sewing uniforms for Paraguay’s military personnel; the other, Maria, is a stay-at-home Mom. The oldest son, Jorge, is an electrician (who was installing wiring in the new addition before lunch on this day), and the youngest son, Gerardo, is a go-getter-blossoming-leader like his mom who participates in my Kids’ Club, excels in English, is skilled in practical matters of living beyond his 14 years and who I see “taking names” every afternoon on the soccer field. The husband, Elvio, is a character who LOVES the camera and can be seen returning their cattle from grazing near the river late each morning. Whether walking barefoot or riding his bike, he always looks for me at my house and gives a big smile and friendly wave hello. At any event where he and my camera are both present, he’s happy to sit for a photo.
I’m grateful to have this warm family in my community and to call them my friends. They have worked hard to make me feel welcome in this tiny town and are part of what has made my service so satisfying here. Gracias a todos!
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