Monday, July 20, 2009


This weekend represented the midway point in our visit to Paraguay, and much happened. The question I have it how to begin to describe it. It cannot be done in a single blog entry, so what I will to today will be to outline the experience with the promise to write a couple of more essays about special events.

Arpa Paraguaya

The weekend began on Thursday night with the pizza party that Celeste put on for the visiting PSU students in Steve Harmon's group. The pizza was Paraguayan style and was cooked out on the grill. It is topped with marinara sauce--though not as much as in the US--cheese (sliced and liquid), pepperoni, olives, and corn. It was cooked over a wood-fire out on the patio.

The highlight of the evening was the Paraguayan Harpist who played, of course, the Arpa Paraguaya. We sat in the living room of El Rinconcito in a semi-circle around the harpist. The Paraguayan Harp is smaller than its ancestor and more portable; we've seen one carried on a motorcycle. It is played with the finger nails. The group, students and adults alike, sat enraptured around the musician as he played. At one point, he played a song the Celeste and Graciela (who works with the Comite) both knew and they sang along.

Afterward, we stepped into the backyard to talk and looked up at the sky where we saw Alpha Centauri and the Southern Cross, a star and a star formation, which cannot be seen in Kansas. Somewhat like the evening.

Encarnacion and the Ruins

Friday we tripped over to Encarnacion where we saw the Jesuit Ruins. These are churches which were abandoned before John Wesley founded Methodism. It is very peaceful. I will not attempt at this point to describe the ruins themselves, but let it be said that the Jesuits knew how to pick a building site. The beauty surrounding the place is, to use accurately and overused phrase, awe inspiring.

That night we hopped over the border to Argentina for supper. I promise to write a column on this.

Itapua, damn, but the birds

The third site we were to visit was to be the Itapua dam which generates electricity for Paraguay and much of Brazil. It was closed do to the N1H1 flu. This strain of influenze has been a worry to folks while we've been here. To be quite frank, I don't know whether it is really that prevelent or whether there is simply panic. When you don't know the language, you just have to guess.

Instead of going to the dam, we went to the Bird Park in Iguazu. It is a zoo devoted almost entirely to birds. God has chosen to design many improbably birds and to color his creations in colors that would be considered beyond the realm of good taste were a human to do it. But God is God. And it he looked at it and saw it was good.

That night we ate in Brazil. There was dinner and a show, and this might also require and essay all its own, but I don't know. What happens in Iguazu stays in Iguazu.

El Cataratas

In Spanish they call Iguazu Falls, el Cataratas, the cataracts. It has often been the case on this trip where I can describe something to you and I could even take a picture, but it is no substitute for being there. I looked at my watch at one point that Sunday morning as we walked down to toward the river and watched at the falls flowed over the precipice and noted that in Kansas we were usually singing the Doxology at this particular time, so I began to sing it:
Praise God from Whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him all creatures here below,
Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
It was a sunny day, so there were rainbows everywhere. My daughter Sarah, who got a new digital camera for High School graduation, put it to good use. Though the photos cannot capture it, they will serve us as reminders that we were actually there.

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