We spent two years living in a condominium complex where we were the only Gentiles. It was my first exposure to being a minority.
Then during our year in Uganda, no matter where we traveled we were routinely reminded of our minority status by children shouting, “Hey, mzungu!”
[But to be honest, reverse culture shock upon our return to the U.S. left me feeling distinctly uncomfortable, suddenly surrounded by all those white people.]
I was once again in the minority this weekend, which we spent with two other missionary families. All the children are, of course, MKs (missionary kids). But so are half the adults. Each missionary couple includes one MK; two grew up here in Argentina and one in Bolivia.
It’s been fun to get the other MK’s perspectives because it helps me understand my hubby a little better. I mean, I knew he wanted to come back to Argentina when I met him 30 years ago. But it really helped to hear the MK who grew up in Bolivia share how he struggled with total surrender to God as a young person because he was afraid God would ask him to stay in the U.S. after college. Can you imagine, that was his worst nightmare!
This made me realize what a struggle my hubby must have had when God shut the door to return to Argentina back then. AND how excited and relieved he must have been when God opened the door again a few years ago.
That -- plus the food -- made the trip worth it. We’ve just about eaten ourselves silly this weekend. Familiar foods as well as some new ones. Have y’all ever had ricotta cake? Let me just say one thing. Oh.My.Word! Like a coffee cake but with a creamy sweet cheese filling that’ll just send you into a swoon.
And then there are the chipas, little melt-in-your-mouth cheesy bits of baked bread made with yucca flour (aka casava flour in Africa). Chipas are typical in this area where yucca flour is a common staple. I’m already planning a stop at the grocery store before we head home, to buy a few bags since it isn’t so easy to find in our neck of the woods.
Oh, and let’s not forget the sopa paraguaya, the only solid “soup” in the world. It’s hard to describe, but the closest I can come is it’s-sorta-kinda-a-little-like cornbread. But not really. The primary ingredient is finely ground corn meal, but it’s loaded with fried onions and cheese. I could have eaten half a kilo all by myself without stopping to breathe. But eleven of us shared a whole kilo, along with some of the best grilled chicken I’ve had in a while.
It’s been a fun weekend of getting to know the missionary family in Resistencia who is hosting us. We have their little casita all to ourselves and are quite enjoying a double bed we can both sleep in (I’ve felt like we were in an old I Love Lucy rerun the past month with our twin beds). And the bathroom has a clearly designated area for showers so we don’t have to wipe down the entire bath after showering (or move the toilet paper out of the bath so it doesn’t get soaked in the process).
Remember that cold snap I predicted for Resistencia?
Oh yes, I was SO right! I reckon it was hotter ‘n a Texas bar-b-q just a couple days ago. Then we headed north and the weather headed south. It was a frigid 40 some degrees when we arrived and I don’t think it got up past 60 that first day, or 65 the second. We were all huddled in our coats during the ladies meeting on Saturday and for church on Sunday.
I had a hard time concentrating and trying to interpret what Spanish I could because I kept thinking longingly of all those winter clothes I unpacked from the suitcase the week before we came, and put in the container instead. Cozy warm pants and sweaters, thick socks and my winter coat, all nicely packed in boxes and bobbing up and down in a ship somewhere on the Atlantic.
While I shiver in my thinest pants and sleeveless shirts with my pretty but impractical crocheted sweaters, and Spring coat in a lovely shade of green that will be great next May but doesn’t quite cut it right now.
Today we begin the mini-conference with the other missionaries from our mission serving in Argentina. The rest of the folks from Buenos Aires arrive this afternoon. There are six couples altogether. Half are from the U.S., two from Uruguay and one couple includes an Argentine and an MK from Uruguay who grew up in Argentina. All the Uruguayans came out of a very missions-minded church in Montevideo. I’m the only one who doesn’t speak fluent Spanish so once again I’ll be in the minority.
Not a place I want to stay. Hopefully this year of language study with Marcela will move me out of that minority.
NOTE: In order to scientifically select a winner in the Give-Away I asked one of the kids to pick a number and she choose #4. So Elizabeth, you're the winner! I'll be sending the wallet to you once we get back from Resistencia -- but no guarantee how long it'll take. Actually, it will be helpful to find out how long the average piece of mail takes to get from here to there.