“The simple life is one in which there is always time to remember the divine purpose behind each of our tasks, time to listen for a possible divine amendment to the day’s schedule, and time to be thankful for the divine presence at each moment of the day.” – Lloyd Lee Wilson
April 12, 2014
Because this blog is as much a diary for me as it is entertainment and cultural exchange for you, I’m including some short, random, unrelated stories here that I don’t want to forget.
Curious George book from my local Paraguayan elementary school (“Jorge el Curioso” in Spanish)
Curious George is my hero. Especially today. Known in Spanish as Jorge el Curioso, I have fond memories of my brother devouring every Curious George book available. He even had a stuffed monkey with a plastic mouth to whom I used to try to feed bananas and Cheerios. Last year while living with my host family I was delighted to find Jorge el Curioso in the local school library and brought it home to practice my Spanish. While preparing for today’s Kids’ Club I thought it would be fun to read this book to them. Reading is not popular in PY and I have never seen or heard children being read to by their parents in the 19 months I’ve been here. When I suggested the idea to the kids, they eagerly agreed as if I’d just offered them an entire cookie jar. As we sat on the floor together I was aware of them inching closer, even the teenagers, completely enveloped in the story like a group of kindergarteners. Some of them quietly read along with me and helped when I stumbled over a complicated Spanish word. Occasionally, I would pause and ask if they were enjoying it. “Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!” they replied, brimming with enthusiasm and smiles. We kept going. As a mother who read to her child every night for years, it made me sad to think this might be the very first time an adult has ever read a book to these children (ages 7-15), but I hope it sparked a desire to do it on their own in their homes as well, just for fun. Either way, it was a huge hit and we’ll definitely be doing it again!!!! Plus, check out the animal crafts we made from toilet paper rolls. Tigers, owls, cats and a pirhana, oh my!
What’s with Ws? Because the Spanish language generally doesn’t use the letter ‘w’ except in names (like Wendy) and rarely do words end with the letter ‘d’ (like ‘ward’), Paraguayans have a difficult time saying and spelling my name. Here are some actual examples I’ve seen or heard during my service: Buendi, Guendi, Wendía, Wendy Wart. The kids love to call me Wendía and it’s always accompanied by giggles because it sounds like ‘Buen dia’ which is an abbreviated version of ‘Buenos Dias’ or ‘good morning.’
Still laughing as I write this. Back in March during our vacation in Argentina my friends and I returned to the hostel from grocery shopping (where we almost got robbed) and they asked me for a lesson in cooking meat because some had been vegetarians or never had much experience cooking meat before now. In the hostel’s spacious kitchen, I donned my best Julia Child’s accent and proceeded to flail and instruct with an overdose of enthusiasm. They responded in kind, including some occasional, accidental words in a Spanish or Guarani, until we laughed so hard it felt like we’d just finished a Jillian Michael’s workout, and our accents somehow morphed from French to Irish to Southern to unidentifiable. Later we took our wine poolside (we did our own fun ‘wine tastings’ at the hostel with two new wines every night) and shared our answers to my infamous “100 questions”, designed to get to know others at a deeper level. The 100 questions accompany us on every vacation or extended outing. Since it takes time for four people to answer each question thoughtfully, sometimes with curious or loving inquiry from supportive girlfriends, there’s a question of whether or not we’ll actually finish them all before our service ends in December! Super fun night bonding and making good memories with friends.
My morning runs usually take me east directly into the sunrise, a great incentive to start the day early. This morning the sky was 360 degrees beautiful so I ran west for a different perspective. Down the sole road onto the prairie I witnessed a breathtaking sky kissed with pastels of pink, blue and mint green, a thin fog floating over the vast grassland and hugging the base of the forested hills, and the golden spray of the day’s new sun yawning its warming light up and over the treeline. The goal was a morning run for my health. The outcome was sheer bliss for the soul.
Enjoy your day!