Tag Archives: Bañado

Day 13 – Good to the Last Drop (of Paint)

Today, Saturday, was our last day of painting.  For our devotion this morning, we read Revelation 21:1-4; 23-27 where John talks about the new Jerusalem.  The new Jerusalem will include the glory (Amplified version: splendor and majesty) and honor of many nations.  We have been given a foretaste of this by visiting Paraguay. Many things are different here than in the U.S., but we have learned to enjoy the beauty of the land, the slower pace of life, and the friendliness of the people here.  Each of us should take home something from our time here that has touched our life that we can share with others.

Oscar had requested that for our last day we concentrate on applying a second coat of paint on the exterior walls.  Besides the exterior walls and posts, the interior stairwell also requires painting, connecting the two floors in the old building with a common color.

We also applied a little additional trim where needed and finished cleaning up by taking down the painter’s tape (i.e. making the obligatory soccer ball), wiping the floors where possible, and finally cleaning our equipment so it would be usable the the next team or individuals.

By Noon we were finished.  There wasn’t enough room in the car for all of us, so Brian volunteered to take the bus and Steve volunteered to ride in the car.  Rod and Sarah decided to go with Brian for the bus experience.  We bid farewell to the school, the local store owner, and headed toward the bus stop.

Just before the bus stop, Brian noticed that one of his favorite empanada shops was open (It had been closed due to construction for most of the week) so we had to stop for a snack there.

Finally, we got to the bus stop and after about a 15 minute wait our bus came.  Our bus was air conditioned so we were charged extra 3,300 Guarani apiece (about 60 US cents).  There wasn’t room to sit, but we stood and enjoyed the roller coaster effect.  As with Brian and Steve’s bus this one veered off the main road and went through some of the neighborhood side streets.  Having learned from Brian and Steve’s experience, we stayed on the bus and eventually it turned back onto the main road and dropped us off at the entrance to the Las Garzas neighborhood.

We had just stepped off the bus and navigated around the huge mud puddle that tends to form at the corner, when a horn honked at us from behind.  It was Blanca, Marcel’s sister-in-law going to the Quinta for the kid’s camp.  She offered us a ride and dropped us off at Oscar and Karen’s street.  Karen prepared us fried mandioca (like french fries only better), as well as rice and beef for lunch.

After a brief siesta, we drove to “Stock”, the grocery store and filled up our cart with things we wanted to bring home.  The grocery store was well-stocked with Zucharitas (Frosted Flakes); however, the gluten free section with only two items seemed a little thin compared to the U.S.

In the evening Oscar drove Rod, Sarah, and Brian to the Bañado church, which we had worked on repainting after a flood two years ago.  We arrived early to church and the gate was still locked, so we did a little shopping and took in the neighborhood sites while we waited.  When we arrived back at church three minutes before the service was scheduled, the front gate was open and we were greeted warmly by the people there.

The Bañado area is one of the poorest in Asuncion.  It is also next to the Rio Paraguay which tends to flood every so many years.  The land is in a flood plain and the government looked the other way and allowed people to come and live there.  Now, however, the government would like to extend the boulevard by the river in downtown Asuncion North (as well as South), shore up the flood plain and move the people living here into government housing.  According to Oscar this plan is not going over well with the Bañado neighborhood and they are fighting against it.

At 7:30 there were only about six of us in the church, but once Frank showed up and began playing the guitar our crowd began to swell.  We ended up with about 16 adults and several more children.  Everyone sang heartily and the cement floors seemed to provide excellent acoustics for the room, making the music sound like we had double the crowd.  Pastor Alberto is the regular pastor here, but tonight Pastor Oscar led the service/discussion.  He recounted the story of Naaman from 2 Kings 5:1-14.   Naaman was a captain in the Syrian army.  Syria had taken over Israel at the time and Naaman had an Israeli maid who waited on Naaman’s wife.  The maid told his wife that the prophet in Samaria (Elisha) could cure Naaman’s leprosy.  Naaman went to Israel to find the prophet to be healed of his leprosy.  Eventually he found Elisha and was told to go wash in the Jordan seven times and he would be healed.  Naaman was upset by this because the Jordan river was not known as a beautiful river (Editor’s note: any similarities with the Rio Paraguay are purely coincidental).  Eventually, Naaman’s servants persuaded him to go and fulfill the simple request that Elisha had made of him and he was healed of his leprosy.  Today, we don’t need to go searching for a great prophet to heal us of our leprosy (sin).  We can go directly to Jesus.  Just as Naaman only needed to obey a simple request to be cleansed, so, we to can be cleansed from our sin by coming to Jesus and fulfilling his simple request for obedience.  We can have our leprosy (sin) taken away and be healed completely.

After the service, we stayed and visited for quite a while.  It was nice to feel the results of the air conditioning units which were installed two years ago (while we were here painting) working.  Sometime around 9:30 we had to say our farewells and leave for dinner.  We arrived late at Dom Dario’s home for a supper of empanadas, fish, and other Paraguayan delicacies.   After supper, we bid them good night, and headed home for a good night’s rest.

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Day 5 – Another Bañada in Bañado

While the church is on a street with more typical Paraguayan brick homes, the neighborhood also consists of the poorest section of Asuncion.  As we drive to church each day, we see rows of homes made from what appears to be plywood boards with tin roofs.

Bañado Area Housing
Bañado Area Housing

Bañado means “swamp” or “marsh” in Spanish which is appropriate given its location along the Paraguay River.  Now that summer has arrived and the floods have receded, it only appears swampy in the aftermath of the afternoon thunder showers which sometimes rumble through the area.  Interestingly enough, a similar word, Bañada means “bath” or more appropriately for our work this week, “a coat/layer of paint”.   Today our goal is to finish up the second coat of paint in the church sanctuary and to begin painting the Sunday School classrooms.

A second coat
A second coat

One of the Sunday School rooms is currently doubling as living quarters for Angelica. Once we complete the first room she will move into it so we can paint her room.

Painting Angelica's Room
Painting Angelica’s Room

Shortly before Noon, Pastor Alcedes began preparing chicken for lunch:

Making Lunch
Making Lunch

We also painted the entrance to the church:

Painting the Exterior
Painting the Exterior

In the afternoon there was a sudden heavy rain and the “glass man” came to replace the broken windows in the church:

Window Glass Replacemtn
Window Glass Replacement

In the evening, Eduardo and Daniela prepared us pizza made in the Quinta’s wood fired stove, the perfect meal for Americans after a long work day.

Pizza Night at the Quinta
Pizza Night at the Quinta

Day 4 – Bañado Church Painting

This morning we met at 6:30 a.m. for a time of group worship so we would be ready for our 8 a.m. ride to the Banado church for painting.  On the way to church we stopped at the Lambare Adonai school to pick up some supplies and took our traditional group picture with the Paraguayan flag from the school office.

Work Team
Work Team

The Bañado church is located near the Paraguay River on the Northwest side of Asuncion and is part of the area impacted by the early summer flooding in 2014.  While this particular area experiences flooding about once every 15 to 20 years, by some accounts this was the worse flooding in recorded Paraguayan history.  In spite of the church grounds being elevated above street level and the entrance being up another step higher, the marks on the front door and interior indicated that the flood waters peaked at about four feet high inside the church itself.  One of the ladies from church took us to her old home down the alley behind church and showed us where the water mark peaked out at about three-quarters of her door frame, probably 5 or more feet high.

Ben in front of Bañado Church
Ben in front of Bañado Church
Floodline on Outside of Church
Floodline on Outside of Church

In certain spots the wall was very chipped so we had to spackle the walls:

Dan spackling
Dan spackling

There were also cobwebs and dirt to sweep away:

Sweeping the Cobwebs
Sweeping the Cobwebs

…and of course, painting:

Painting
Painting

Around 2 p.m. we had lunch in the church courtyard with our hosts:

Lunch at Bañado
Lunch at Bañado

After lunch, we inspected the local real estate and made a new friend:

A New Friend
A New Friend

….met a sombrero and broom salesman:

Local Sombrero Salesman
Local Sombrero Salesman

…and bought some of his wares:

Tres Amigos
Tres Amigos

… and then went back to painting:

Back to Painting
Back to Painting

By the end of the day, except for some of the highest peaks, we completed painting the entire sanctuary with one coat of paint and started on the second.  Oscar took a carload back to the Quinta with him and Pastor Alcides from the Bañado church rode on the bus with us until we transferred to our final bus.  The bus went by the Mercado Cuatro shopping area (a.k.a. the world’s biggest flea market) where the bus could only move a few feet at a time which led to various vendors jumping on the bus at one stop and hawking their wares to us until the next stop.  Finally, it was time for us to get off, and we were deposited onto the road which leads into the Las Garzas neighborhood.  From there we walked the last half mile to the Quinta.  The bus ride took us almost 2 hours due to rush hour traffic and the indirect route required.  Those who rode home in Oscar’s car made the trip in about 45 minutes.

Riding the Bus Home
Riding the Bus Home

After freshening up, it was time for our final and most anticipated adventure of the day.  We went to dinner at a Brazilian Churrascaria and enjoyed a hearty meal of many kinds of beef, chicken, and pork, all served on skewers at our table.  We also tried the pineapple and some desserts from the dessert bar.  By the end of the evening, our stomachs were full and we were ready for a good night’s rest.

Pineapple served on a Skewer
Pineapple served on a Skewer