Avy’aiterei- I am extremely happy. The only appropriate response to the common question, “are you happy here?” A simple “avy’a” is not enough.
Oga Ita, Itapua, Paraguay
It was a beautiful, ridiculous, joyous, and overwhelming tornado that passed through during the last couple months and just kept coming back for more. My life has been full of chaos. It’s been filled with work and play. It’s been consumed by friendships, new and old, Paraguayan and American. It’s taken me to Asunción and to Guarambaré and Ybycui and Tobati and Encarnación and Trinidad and Paso Guembe and Perlita and Jovere and, of course, my beloved Oga Ita. I’ve said hello to new volunteers, taught them, guided them, laughed with them, watched birds with them, swam by waterfalls with them, and hopefully shared helpful advice with them. I’ve said goodbye to old volunteers, people who have been there for me since day one, taught me, advised me, and inspired me. I’ve been tested, both by doctors and my patience, resulting in a newfound allergy to mold and a hatred for the calf that keeps eating my vegetables. I’ve harvested Serrano chilies and Japanese eggplant and Napolitana basil and Swiss chard and Red Siberian tomatoes from my garden, creating a whole world of vegetables in one little part of Paraguay. I’ve celebrated Halloween in a difficult-to-explain costume and Thanksgiving with a barbecued turkey named Cresencio, both with spectacular people, the same people with whom I will ring a bell and close my service in now just under a year. With December 2nd, 2016 marked on the calendar, service life has become a countdown. It’s become a desperate scramble of “how is it going so fast?!” and “but I still have so much to do!!” With one year remaining, there really is still so much work to do, so many projects to both start and finish, so much love to spread, so many lessons to learn, and so many new experiences to define our service. At such a midpoint, it’s easy to look forward and also easier to look behind. But the present is also a really beautiful place to look too. The state of affairs is this: I am the happiest I have been here in this small country, I am comfortable, I have beautiful friends and family in both Paraguay and the USA, I am healthy, I am supported, and I am hopeful. December 2nd is still one year away.