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Building a House in Rural Paraguay

We just finished the house for our flood-survivor family. It came out beautifully—but took a bit longer than expected.

I ran into some problems in mid-December: The contractor I hired, and who I had really gotten to like, turned out to be dishonest and a thief.

About halfway through construction he started diverting resources, materials, and manpower. Then, the crew quit because he was not paying them. Finally, he abandoned the project—stealing some of our budget—but all the while being charming and saying he was going to finish the job. He was like the Ted Bundy of contractors.

I have to take responsibility, though, as I got lulled into total trust and complacency by a true con man. It’s sad to think that I will always have to apply the most strict parameters on contractors in the future, no matter what the situation.

Since the holiday break, I had to regroup, and I am finishing the project with new workers and renewed vigilance. I still feel that the entire Paraguay experience has been positive—from a MicroAid standpoint and a personal one. And of course, it is life-changing for our beneficiary family.

As with all these jobs, there are so many intense cultural, travel, work, and existential experiences that it would be hard to write about them all. But I’ll be happy to share the details, later, with anyone who wants to hear about them. Some of the chapter titles would be:

“A River Floods Through It”—water displaces a hundred thousand people, including our beneficiary family, who end up on the streets of Asuncion.

“Manifesting A Vegan Restaurant”—how I conjured the only vegan restaurant in Asuncion out of thin air.

“Biblical Proportions in Asunción”—I made the effort to re-read the entire New Testament, a fascinating book, and a best-seller for years.

“Cows Invade The Worksite”—say no more.

“The Chick With The Bum Leg”—the sweet story of the baby chick who couldn’t keep up with it’s siblings because of a broken drum stick and got eaten by a cat.

“Chicks Invade The Worksite” —the not-so-sweet story of being surrounded by poultry all day long.

“The Short Bus To Limpio”—my daily commuter transport, like a Disney ride, without the safety harnesses.

“Dogs Invade The Worksite”—crazy canines who like a clean new home to live in.

“Manifesting An Oasis-Like Posada En Limpio”—how I conjured the perfect place to live while I was working in rural Paraguay.

“Fleas Invade The Worksite” (This is a sub-chapter of “Dogs Invade The Worksite”)—learning that flea bites are exponentially worse than mosquito bites (but those were bad, too, here.)

“The Chick That Mistook a Duck For Its Mom”—a rogue chick imprints on a duck and follows it around until it gets eaten by a cat.

“Contractor Confessionals”—the true story of a contractor who claimed he wanted to do the project because he was a Jehovas Witness and worked for God, and ended up ripping off a charity.

“I Dub Thee Señor Broccoli”—in the land of carne asada, the crew starts, good-naturedly, but exclusively, calling me a vegetable.

“Addicted To Tereré”—one of the things you find out when you actually visit a place: this isn’t just the traditional drink, it’s a national compulsion/addiction.

“Manifesting A Rashguard”—how I conjured a surfing accessory in a land-locked county, 1,000 miles from the ocean.

And others.

I am scheduled to return to North America on January 29th. So I’ll be going from the fire into the freezer. Jajaja (that’s laughing in Spanish. Hahaha.)

Ciao from South America.

Jon Ross

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