Were we just plain careless in not contacting the Hustons about our arrival in Asuncion? Not really though a phone connection was non-existent as was every other means of getting a word to or from them. But we had chatted with them once in the U.S.A., I believe, about dropping in on them. In any case we found the mission residence but none of the Huston family. We learned however that Ernie, the father was out on his motorcycle travelling somewhere doing missionary work. So we just walked in with our suitcases. Well, what else were we to do in a country like Paraguay over 50 years ago?
The four of us moved in lock, stock and barrel. But there was almost nothing to eat so Doris decided to bake something. She went through the cupboards and found everything she needed including the flour. But when she opened the container she found it full of weevils. A person might cook, with the weevils adding protein but Doris and the rest of us did not have a hankering for this kind of biscuits. Or was it cake? I suppose when anything was cooked, the weevils could be mistaken for a whole wheat mix. Doris was ready to throw it all out with my permission. Then Ernie arrived home. He said, “No, absolutely not. I bought that flour across in Argentina. It was both expensive and any case any flour a person might buy would have weevils.” The solution was to sieve them out before baking had begun. So the cooking went ahead.
While there Ernie took the four of us across the river to visit an Indian village in Argentina. I don’t recall much about our time there except that when we got out our cameras the ladies began to pull off their blouses. Ernie quickly explained that we did not want pictures of them semi-naked and we would not pay to take such pictures. We did get pictures of the chief in his gorgeous dress up, one where he holds a huge anaconda snake around his neck. Vernon is included in the photo standing close to the chief but not too excited about that adventure.
There was so much we learned about Paraguay on that trip. Most educated people there speak Spanish but the language of the ordinary person in the street is Guarani. This language has captured the hearts of the people and comes from the Indian Guarani people. We also met a professor at the University of Asuncion, a Dr. DeCoud la Rossa who was well known for his then recent translation of the New Testament into the Guarani language.
We also met a Rev. Minoru Tsukamoto who worked among his people, the Japanese immigrants in the country. He was small of stature, a humble hard working man with a mission to help his impoverished people who were trying to settle in an inhospitable land. He and his family were so poor I wondered how it was possible they did not starve. There is no one I will ever respect more than Minoru, his wife and children. He told us stories of the Mennonites who left Europe to find a new life there but discovered instead their non-combatant stance made them victims to any Paraguayan with a penchant for evil. Policing in the remote interior did not exist. Minoru told of men breaking into Mennonite homes, raping the women and robbing them of anything they wished. All this while the men would do nothing more than kneel in prayer. Draw your own conclusions but I say in this case religion had gone awry.
Much of the rest of our time there has faded from the synapse of memory. I do know this that we did not return by bus, not wishing of course to spend days on the road because of a possible prolonged rain. My assumption—correct me if you have any details I have forgotten—but I assume we flew home on a direct flight from Asuncion to Sao Paulo.