Everyday we learn more and more about the culture and language of Paraguay. It is exciting, yet, also overwhelming at times. One of the things Andrea and I enjoy doing is just getting out and sightseeing in order to learn more about Asuncion at a little slower pace. Recently, we have been learning a great deal about the history of the country. In fact, one of the members of the congregation here has a great-great grandparent that was involved in the signing of the declaration letter for independence from Spain. This is a picture of the house where the letter was signed on May 15, 1811. It is known as "La Casa de Independencia" and is located in the midst of the bustling, modern city of Asunción.
This past weekend we had a congregational retreat. We rented a little campground about 45 minutes outside the city that is maintained by a Korean denominational group. We spent two days singing, studying, worshiping, and fellow-shipping. This was the first experience Andrea and I have had with a church campground setting in a foreign country. It was wonderful! The entire weekend, I couldn’t help but think how thrilling it is to see God’s word working in the lives of the Paraguayans in the exact same way I am accustomed to seeing in the States. In reality, it doesn’t matter on what continent one may stand, God’s word touches hearts in any culture. The best part – going to the camp retreat “rejuvinated our spiritual batteries” even if it was in a different language!
Chipa! Chipa! Periodicos! Regalos! These are things you hear on the street as you roll up to a red light. Most of the busy intersections have street vendors trying to sell a product or service. There are many who want to clean your windshield, others want to sell you lottery tickets, while some just want your spare change. In the afternoon, on the way home from work, there are lots of vendors selling "chipa." It is a traditional Paraguayan bread. Sometimes it is shaped in a big circle. It tastes sort of like cornbread. I have grown to love chipa (if it is made right) and it is, indeed, a perfect snack for the ride home. Here is another picture of the street kids we saw the other day ... playing around between cars lining up.
It breaks your heart! If there is anything that tugs at your heartstrings more, it is seeing so many children working in the streets. Many of them are begging for coins, food, or work (like cleaning your windshield while you wait at the light). They are usually barefoot, dirty, breathing diesel smoke all day, and standing in dangerous places. Sometimes parents carry their babys up and down the lines of cars asking for money. It is, indeed, difficult for many to make a living here in Paraguay. But, it is most sad when children are not allowed to be just children and are thrust into such harsh circumstances.
The week before Easter is a national holiday in Paraguay. Most of the stores shut down and many people leave the city for a little get-a-way. We were blessed to be invited to visit the home of one of our brethren who is from Pilar, a city about 5 hours south of Asunción. It was a wonderful few days of rest and relaxation. We visited with friends, went sightseeing around the old city, ate lots of traditional Paraguayan foods, and even had a chance to ride horses. Pilar is an old city of Paraguay that has a very rich history. The basic layout and design was constructed by a group of Italians around the early 1900's. Until just 15 years ago, there were no automobiles in Pilar. Everyone rode motorcycles and bicycles.
This is our little blog space so that all of our friends and family can check up on us from time to time to see what's happening with the Spradlin's. We are members of the church of Christ who are currently serving as missionaries in the Lord's Kingdom in Paraguay, South America.