Since we were up so late last night welcoming in the New Year, everyone slept in this morning. When we did awake, we were welcomed by the sound of a pounding rain. Needless to say, this put a damper on most of our planned activities for the day. We were supposed to get together at the Quinta with a group from church and spend the day outdoors swimming and playing games; however, we were now confined to the indoors instead. So we adjusted to indoor games instead. We played “El Banquero”, a Paraguayan knockoff of Monopoly.
We played with Edson’s puppy. Or rather he played with us and chewed on our toes and on our sandals.
And we watched Oscar as he trained us in the art of making asado (South American Barbeque). Tip #1: Use a leaf blower instead of blowing on the coals to get them going:
Tip #2: Ask your brother to provide fresh pork from the family farm:
Tip #3: Grill long and serve.
Between the work team, Oscar and Karen’s family, and additional guests, we filled a large table on the front porch. By this time the rain had stopped leaving us with a pleasant cool evening breeze, unusual for this time of year.
Needless to say there was plenty of asado for everyone as well as rice, beans, and even some vegetables to round out the meal.
In spite of the disappointment of the rainy start to the day, it ended in wonderful fashion with good friends, food, and fellowship.
Today is the last work day for the Canadian team whose return flight leaves tomorrow. Yesterday, when we told Oscar of our progress, he mentioned that the bathrooms could use painting. I know its been several years since we painted them. Christina says we painted them four years ago when she was last here. Kathy says she painted them once when she was here about 7 or 8 years ago. None of us recall it as being a fun job, especially on a hot day. The bathrooms have tall ceilings requiring a step ladder or some homemade contrived device to be able to reach the ceilings. The rooms get very hot, especially on a summer day when you’re hanging out in the “rafters”. And to top it off, the rooms don’t have a pleasant odor on hot days. Nevertheless, painting the bathrooms is the prime directive for today, along with painting the upper portion of the stairwell to the second story (also, a warm job on a summer day). For whatever reason the stairwell is also two-tone in the sense that the upper portion is a different color than the lower portion. I guess this is an extension of the two-tone color scheme of the outside walls. I doubt that most of the students notice the paint colors in the stairwell, but it does give it a nice look when it’s freshly painted and there’s enough light to catch the effect.
The ceilings above first floor walkway also need to be painted. Danny says that he painted these last year without a roller extension and it left him with very sore muscles. This year he has brought retractable extension rollers, so we are better equipped to tackle this job.
As expected, the bathrooms are hot and odiforous. Each bathroom also has three shower stalls, at least one of which is in working order. The non-functioning shower stalls are used as storage areas or junk receptacles depending on your perspective. Nevertheless we persevere and complete both of the bathrooms except for the trim at the top of the ceiling.
At the end of the day, we only have trimming left to do at the top of the ceilings in two classrooms and one of the bathrooms, plus cleanup tasks. We are thankful to have finished almost everything before the Canadian team departs. To celebrate completion of our tasks, Christina has organized a Fiesta (party). Pastor Dario’s neighbor has agreed to host it and cook asado for us if we provide the meat. We gather around 8 p.m. and play volleyball or just visit while we are waiting for the asado to finish.
One thing we can never complain about is the love and hospitality that is extended to us while we are here. Everyone goes out of their way to make us feel welcome and provide for our needs – no one wants us to go home hungry. Tonight’s meal of chorizo sausage and grilled beef is no exception. About quarter after nine, we fill two large tables and sit down to another delicious meal shared with friends, neighbors, and brothers and sisters in Christ. A great way to end a day, any day.
The temperature was predicted to hit 100 degree Fahrenheit again today; however, a chance of rain that could alleviate the heat somewhat was also in the forecast. While we had some dark clouds and thunder in the afternoon no rain came to cool our day at the school. On the other hand there are open holes in the roof where we have removed the tiles, which cause us to worry about the potential impact of a storm. Because the classroom is empty, Oscar is not concerned about the rain hurting anything, so I guess we shouldn’t be either.
While some of us finished applying the second coat of paint to the upstairs classrooms, the others worked on cleaning up the tiles that had been removed from the roof. This involved taking a hammer and chipping any excess mortar off of the tiles without striking the tile too hard and breaking it. Unfortunately, this sometimes proved impossible.
Marcel is the accountant and business manager for the school. Today his wife has made us three different “lasagnas” (chicken, beef, & ham) for lunch, although “lasagna” is hardly the correct word for it. We like to think of it as “polychinka lasagna” where the standard lasagna noodles are replaced by polychinka (a.k.a. crepes) and the sauce is cream-based rather than tomato-based. The chicken lasagna was spiced with cumin or something similar which made you think you were eating something Indian. At the same time, the smoothness of the polychinka layers suggest that you’re eating an old-world European dish instead. Somehow the different flavors and textures come together in just the right way to impress the palates of a hungry work team.
After lunch the painting team finishes prepping and trimming two more classrooms on the first floor, while the tile cleaning team continues to work their way through the stack of tiles removed from the roof. Oscar arrives at 4 p.m. to pick up Brian and take him to the airport to search for his luggage and to pick up Stephanie & Connor, who are supposed to arrive this afternoon after a series of delays. The rest of us pile into Marco’s van and car (driven by his father). As we head back to the Quinta, we notice Oscar’s car parked off the street in a parking lot where he is working to change a flat tire. We stop primarily to offer emotional support and soon he and Brian are on their way again. Stephanie and Connor have arrived safely, but like Brian, they are luggage-less. They did, however, see Brian’s luggage, but are not permitted to retrieve it, and since the American Airlines luggage counter closed at 1 p.m., neither is Brian. While the rest of us arrive back at the Quinta, Oscar takes Brian, Stephanie, and Connor clothes shopping.
Oscar and Karen have started an outreach in their neighborhood. Tonight they are hosting a dinner at the Quinta for the neighborhood. Oscar presents a sermonette and recognizes the work team and those that have had birthdays in the last month. Then we all sit down for a meal of Asado (Spanish for Barbecue). Karen says that they estimated a half kilo (about a pound) of beef per person, so there is plenty to go around. The meat has been cooking on the Quinta’s outside charcoal grill and the smells have been distracting us since before Oscar’s sermonette began. Tables and chairs have been set up on the back lawn of the Quinta and the heat is momentarily forgotten as we sit down to share a meal with our neighbors and friends.