la chacarita, Asuncion, Paraguay

la chacarita, Asuncion, Paraguay

In 2006, I traveled to Paraguay to do linguistic research for an Undergraduate Honors Thesis for the University of Kansas.  I expected to see many shocking and exotic things in my travels which I was excited for, but what I actually experienced was quite beyond what I had imagined.  My biggest surprise came when I was more or less left to fend for myself in a foreign land with limited ability to communicate.  I really was well taken care of, but the whole situation was so abrasive to my then current state of comfort that I felt more than vulnerable…helpless.  The whole experience was an unexpected blessing because my discovered state of depravity in the situation allowed me to not only see what I before could not, but also to be deeply moved in compassion for the reality being lived out by the many street dwellers and parentless children roaming Paraguay.    This reality struck profoundly in my heart, transformed my spirituality, my personality, and my carreer goals in life.

I have since been processing the physical problems of poverty and how to solve some of those issues in a practical and simple manner, keeping in mind ‘teaching a man to fish, instead of giving a man a fish’.  This includes at the forefront shelter and food.  In researching housing with the criteria of 1) build-able by the average person 2) using available and inexpensive resources and 3) providing an efficient and acceptable living standard, I stumbled upon straw bale construction, which excellently satisfies all my criteria.  After reading up, I was sold on this method.  I don’t believe it is the only one, but it definitely works for me!  So, in procession, I decided to test how do-able this building method is and gain some real experience myself in the meantime!  I was successful in this straw bale shed project of actually building myself (with many volunteering hands to help me) a rather inexpensive, good quality space in a short amount of time (approx. 3 months…and could have been shorter if I had worked full time on the project).  My hope is to use sustainable construction methods, likely straw bale, in my future endeavors in whichever impoverished country I intend to find myself in in the future!

Below is a picture of the slums of Haiti.  I learned about Haiti for the first time my freshman year in college.  Before this point I not only had never heard of Haiti, but had no idea there was any country remotely near the USA as impoverished as Haiti is.  After the class about Haiti I felt utterly hopeless for them.  All I could think is that the only thing that could even begin to give restorative hope to Haiti is Jesus.  Maybe I will be bring Jesus to them someday.

Citi Soleil, Haiti

Citi Soleil, Haiti

the bronx, New York City, New York

the bronx, New York City, New York

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