Traditionally, most of the Easter celebrating is over in Paraguay by Good Friday. They make a corn-based cheesy bread chipa (lots of chipa!) on Wednesday, remember Jesus on the cross on Friday, and as far as I understand, that about wraps it up.
Therefore, when we were invited to celebrate Easter Sunday with a big potluck with some of the missionaries from our town, it was an easy invitation to accept. We would be back home from the impressive Tañarandy festival by then.
We attended the small church that was started by these missionaries some 15 years ago in the morning and then headed (in their car – what a treat!) with them to their co-worker’s house just a bit outside of our town in the country. There gathered most of the missionary families from their organization, around eight families plus us.
Some were relatively new to Paraguay and some have lived here for years and years. All of them had at least two kids, usually many more, and many of the kids were born and spent most of their lives in Paraguay. Therefore, it was such a unique, cool, strange mix of Paraguayan and American culture.
We spoke English, but greeted each other with the traditional Paraguayan greeting for women of touching one, then the other cheek and kissing the air.
A variety of delicious meat was grilled and everyone pitched in with a dish they had brought to form a long and impressive buffet line complete with dessert.
The food was fantastic and it began to feel like a big Easter gathering with an extended family. We even had an egg hunt!
Eventually we gathered our chairs and sang songs and hymns accompanied by two guitars and a harp. It was perfect. We even got “Up from the grave he arose” in there, so it truly counted as an Easter. To finish off the singing, they broke into a beautiful, upbeat song purely in Guaraní.
Isaiah and I just sat back and took it in, looking around at the families who have chosen to make their home in Paraguay, who have learned not just Spanish, but the true mother language of Paraguay, Guaraní, and who were filled with joy in the company of a new type of family on this special Easter Sunday.