Hopeful Thoughts


Archive for the ‘Argentina Mission Trip’ Category

Lost Routine. If Found, Please Contact ASAP.

Well, I’ve been back from Argentina for almost three weeks now.  I really thought life was going to slow down and settle into a routine once I returned home, but that hasn’t been the case.

I arrived home on a Sunday.  Tuesday I was scheduled to fill out my paperwork to into the Substitute teacher system in my district.  I planned to spend the rest of the week working on the house and getting re-acclimated to the US.  I figured I’d start subbing the following week about 2-3 days per week and work on building up my tutoring business.

However, the plane landed, and I hit the ground RUNNING.

The day I returned home, there was a big party in our back yard.  An older couple that attended our church is serving as missionaries in Tennessee.  They are in a very poor area and have lost a great deal of financial support since the economy crashed, so our housemates organized a fund raiser to help them out.  We all had a great time and it was a lot of fun.

This little corner of the patio was the perfect space to function as a stage.  Our back yard is AWESOME!

This little corner of the patio was the perfect space to function as a stage. Our back yard is AWESOME!

RemiAndEliDancingLounginggroupGrilling

Monday morning I got up around 9:00 and noticed a missed phone call with the prefix of the school I just resigned from.  There was no message, but I just knew they wanted me to sub.  I didn’t call back.  My house was still a wreck since I didn’t have much time to unpack before I left the country.

I spent the whole day unpacking and organizing the house.  I worked so hard that I haven’t had to do very much with any of the main living areas since then.  The living room is pretty much how we want it (especially since our new couch arrived TODAY!)  Not to mention, my HUGE kitchen is in working order with all my stuff put away and EASILY accessible.

COUCH

Tuesday, I received another call from the school.  This time I returned it, and, sure enough, they wanted me to come in as soon as possible because it was a math teacher who was out.  I explained that I had to fill out my paperwork that afternoon and Wednesday would be the soonest I could start if the sub office would even let me begin that quickly.

Tuesday should have been an easy day, but when I got into my car, it wouldn’t start.  My neighbor and I hypothesized that it was the battery.  She took me to buy a new one.  I also managed to get rides to the district’s Central Office and the BTCL that night.  Late that evening, Ryan learned how to install a car battery. Luckily, that was the fix!  Yeah for my awesome husband!!!

Wednesday at 8:00 AM, I headed up to the school to sub all day, and then I had tutoring immediately after until 6:30.

It turns out that the teacher is VERY sick.  After 3 weeks, he is still in the hospital and not expected to be released for at least two more weeks.  Thankfully, there is another Math certified sub in the district, and she and I will be able to split the days, but it still winds up being a much more demanding sub job than I expected when I decided to sub.  Because I worked in that department, I am expected to teach as much as possible.  The teachers there are working hard to provide copies and plans, so all I have to do is show up, but I am working the entire time I am there, including grading papers.  The difference is, I don’t take them home.

I am praying that he will get well and take his classes back soon.  I’ve spent a total of 9 days there so far. Coming up, I will be teaching 4 days next week and at least 2 the following.  There’s even been the murmurings of “what ifs” and would I be willing to come back.

Where’s the routine in that???

Argentina Day 9, September 13, 2009

Today was our last Sunday to work with the kids at the two churches.  We taught the kids about how Moses lead God’s people out of Egypt.  Emily D. took on the job of telling the story this time, and she did great!

We went to the City Bell church for their morning service.  We had about 6 kids to work with.

The City Bell kids working on their craft.  They used cotton ball to make the pillar of cloud and tissue paper to make the pillar of fire.

The City Bell kids working on their craft. They used cotton ball to make the pillar of cloud and tissue paper to make the pillar of fire.

This was a sort of sad time, because it would be our last time to work with the people at the CIty Bell church.  We have come to love them, and it will be difficult to say farewell.

The girls say Good-Bye to TIna.  She is the lady we were able to assist with some home repairs.

The girls say Good-Bye to TIna. She is the lady we were able to assist with some home repairs.

After the service, we found out that the Nigerians from our hotel had come.  They had actually been moved to La Plata, but figured out how to get rides back to City Bell to be able to worship with us.  Most of them have been signed to Argentine Soccer teams, but Lawson and Emmanuel would be returning to Nigeria that evening.

Team women posing with the Nigerians after church.

Team women posing with the Nigerians after church.

Don, Ken, and Greg take a photo with the Nigerian Soccer players.

Don, Ken, and Greg take a photo with the Nigerian Soccer players.

After we all had our photo opportunity with these guys (which we thought was a good idea because they might be famous soccer players one day!!!) they blessed us with some of their native praise music.  I need help from my husband to post video, but I plan to do that when I am back in the US.  Keep checking back!  In the meantime, here are a few pictures of the performance.

SingingNigeriansDancingNigeriansAlainaWithNigerian

After lunch, we went back to Kurt and Lore’s house for a real Argentine Asado.  This is basically a big cook out.  Kurt fired up the grill and we dined on sausage, and big pieces of beef.  It was a lot of fun.

ArgentineGrillMEATMeatAndMate

The Asado was also a time of fellowship with the Short Term team and those who are Full TIme missionaries in Argentina.

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All that food sure can make you sleepy, though.  It was a beautiful day to be out!

Barbie and Alaina take their siesta.

Barbie and Alaina take their siesta.

After the Asado, Emily D, Evelyn, and I rode to La Plata with the Rambows.  We got to do a little shopping at the “Hippie Fair” that sets up in the plaza every Saturday and Sunday.

Then, we headed to La Unión church in La Plata to help out with the Sunday School one last time.

We headed back to the hotel for our last night when the evening was over.  The ladies decided to debrief over mate before turning in for the night.  We have all purchased our very own mates to take home with us, and this was our first chance to use them.

EmilyEvelyn

Argentina Day 7, September 11, 2009

We planned to go to “Bliss” for breakfast this morning. They serve coffee and pastries, and Kurt had brought us some of them a few days ago. However, when he arrived, he told us that his wife had suggested “Sutra” instead, as they might have more variety. So, we changed plans.

We actually didn’t remember that it was the same place we’d had dinner at the night before until we pulled up! The lovely little spot for a fancy dinner becomes a hot spot for coffee and Wi-Fi in the morning hours. We dined on toast, “media lunas” (half moon shaped rolls), fruit salad, fresh squeezed orange juice, and coffee. There was an assortment of jams as well as “dulce de leche” (caramel sauce) to go with the bread. Yummy!!!

SutraSpreadSutraBackteamAtSutra

Cool tree in the lot next to Sutra that I just had to take a picture of.

Cool tree in the lot next to Sutra that I just had to take a picture of.

The larger part of the day was spent cleaning the church, finishing repairs, and generally getting the place ready for the visitors that would come that evening to hear our talk about Sunday School programs.

Demonstrating the Argentine method of mopping the floors.

Demonstrating the Argentine method of mopping the floors.

Due to a scheduling conflict when the dates for our trip changed, we had to move out of the hotel today and into Kurt and Lore’s house for one night.  They had a nice little coffee service set up for us when we got there.

Coffee Bar

Coffee Bar

We also got to learn how to prepare Mate (ma-tay).  Mate is a traditional tea that is made with loose leaves and served in a traditional style cup.  It is sipped through a straw that has a filter on the end of it to prevent the leaves from being sucked up the straw.

HopeMatesEmilyMates

Mate components.  Photo credit to Evelyn M.

Mate components. Photo credit to Evelyn M.

We had a late lunch of pizza and relaxed in their home for a few hours before going back to the church to give our talk.

About 20 people came to hear what we had to say. I think it went pretty well, but there are pieces of the puzzle that will still need to be addressed for the outside churches that came in. For example, where are they going to get simple Bible stories for their lessons? Curriculum is expensive, and it takes weeks of training, as BTCL showed me, to learn how to craft your own.  We came prepared to leave story materials with the church in City Bell, so they will be in good shape.

After the workshop, Kurt and Lore served us dinner. We had the Argentine version of Shepherd’s pie. Pretty much it’s what we have in the states, except it has boiled eggs in it!

We really enjoyed spending time with the Grothes. They have a beautiful house and showed us amazing hospitality. They are doing a great work for Jesus here in this country.

Argentina Day 6, September 10, 2009

This morning was a little rough. There was a prayer meeting this morning at Kurt’s house that Evelyn and Emily went to. Ken and I were supposed to meet with Kurt and Greg at a later time while the two other ladies went back to rest.  There was  a miscommunication about the meeting time and I wound up missing it. Hope its OK!

In fact, the whole schedule today was a little rough. We were supposed to go to the Orphanage at noon, come back to the hotel to rest, and then go out around 5:00 to pass out flyers on the streets of City Bell to promote Kurt’s English class.

Here’s what wound up happening.   We left the Orphanage early and planned to go back at 5:00 because many of the kids were

A beautiful sunny day at Hogar Betel.

A beautiful sunny day at Hogar Betel.

at school during our originally planned time. Evelyn was able to share with some of the kids about Jesus, but our time was cut short.

So, we went back to the hotel and worked on planning for Friday’s presentation on Sunday School programs. When we went back, we were only able to spend one and a half hours before we needed to head downtown to pass out flyers.

BalloonManLoveCrossBalloonLotsOfBalloons

For dinner, we went to what probably equates to a very high end restaurant called Sutra.  SutraFrontThe meal was around 350 pesos for 6 people, including dessert.

The girls split a Chicken with Asparagus entree and a salad called the “Bonnie and Clyde”.  I’ve also included a picture of the “Romeo and Juliet” salad that Don ordered  because it was so pretty.

ChickenBonnieAndClydeRomepThe exchange rate is $1 to 3.8 pesos, so it was really less than $100 for all 6 of us to eat at this really nice place. It hits home when you realize that dessert was a fancy

chocolate fondue.

.FondueSignFondueSutra

After dinner, we returned to the hotel. Emily and I ran into our new friend Emmanuel from Nigeria who is also staying here in the hotel with his soccer team. He requested the number for the Taxi service, and for our team so that he can explore the city and get in touch with us more easily about church.

Now we are very tired and need sleep!!!

Argentina Day 4, September 8, 2009

This morning we were going to try again to go to Tina’s, but it was still raining. We decided to go ahead and at least  see what needed to be done. Tina is a sweet older lady who goes to the church in City Bell, but she lives alone and her home is in need of a great deal of repair. The yard needs to be cleaned up (grass cut, weeds pulled, and trash picked up), her sink is dripping, her back door has the glass broken out of it, the roof is leaking, and probably much more. Hopefully time will allow us or some of us to help her out while we are here.

TinaRoofTinasDoorTinasGarageTinasLemonsTinasSinkTinaYard

Tina sent us all home with “belly button” oranges and a banana for Emily. She told us about the meaning of name the orange in Spanish. “belly button” is certainly more comical than the English “naval”!!!

orange

Back at the church, Kurt decided it would be fun to take group shot with our oranges.

Back at the church, Kurt decided it would be fun to take group shot with our oranges.

We left Tina’s and went back to the church to finish up some repairs and do some deep cleaning. Don got to work scraping off the remaining bits of carpet still clinging to the steps. Ken focused on repairing the windows that wouldn’t seal, and the ladies began sweeping, mopping, and scrubbing the floors and bathrooms.

All clean!

All clean!

After the cleaning, Ken and the ladies went to Wal-Mart to look for supplies for the children’s classroom. They had purchased a bed that may potentially be used for short term missionaries to sleep on while they stay, but in between will be a place for the kids to use as a couch. We shopped for a sheet set and pillows to make it comfy and inviting. Ken was looking for a table, but still hasn’t found what he’s looking for.

couch

Wal-Mart in Argentina looks the same as in the U.S., but it is not. They carry many things that the US version does not, and there are many things that they are lacking. Mattresses are plentiful, but blankets are not. The have a HUGE selection of mate’, but not much coffee. The cashiers sit down while checking out purchases. We didn’t get to look at the whole place, because it’s still really big!

We had lunch at the church and ordered empanadas. They are delivered in boxes like those that contain pizza in the US. They are yummy! The food has been one of the great things about Argentina!

We went back to the Hogar Betel that evening to work more with the kids. We tried to teach a lesson on Heaven from the CEF materials to about 11 kids, but they were totally wired. They have no manners and were running all over the place We tried to play a game with balloons and we needed to blow them up first. As soon as the kids saw the balloons, they swarmed the table. We needed 12 balloons for the game. We started with 12, but by the time Emily and I were able to get them “all” blown up, 3 of them had been stolen. The kids do not understand the word “No”. The Hogar is a Christian place, but they do not have the staff or the volunteers to give these kids the structure they need. I have taught difficult kids, but I have to say this was the HARDEST teaching situation I have even been in.

We served the kids a snack of Tang and cookies and we noticed that the kids were taking seconds on the snack and stuffing cookies in their pockets. Evelyn observed that they would then trade with each other for other things (including the jump ropes that we had left with them the day before). They barter with anything they can get there hands on. These kids know the Bible, but they don’t know Jesus. They need people that can work with them more than 3 days in the month of September of 2009.

We finished the day with dinner at the “Club Banco Provincia,” the hotel that we are staying at. I had Gnonnchi with a beef and tomato sauce and sprinkles of cheese. Pretty tasty!!

Argentina Day 3, September 7, 2009

We were awakened at 6:00 AM by the sound of singing “Because He Lives” in the lounge. I think we all assumed that it was some kind of Bible study. We later found out they were Nigerians here to train and try out for soccer teams. As much as I approved of their early morning devotional time, I was glad I packed my ear plugs!

Today we were supposed to go help a lady named Tina to clean up her house. She is a single lady in the church and there is a lot that needs to be done to her yard.

However, it rained.

So we ended up working on cleaning and repairs at the church.

The guys pulled up old, dirty carpet from the stairway leading up to the church. They also worked on repairing the windows which would not close all the way.

The girls worked on clearing out and cleaning a room which will soon be expanded to provide a nursery space for the babies in the church. After that, they worked on picking up the trash around the church building. Littering seems to be a real problem. Much of the trash was stuck underneath plants because it had been there for so long.

Evelyn and Josias on Cleaning day.

Evelyn and Josias on Cleaning day.

These stairs were covered with old carpet that the guys had to remove.  The carpet was full of fine dust, so you can imagine the mess it made to clean it up!

These stairs were covered with old carpet that the guys had to remove. The carpet was full of fine dust, so you can imagine the mess it made to clean it up!

We had lunch a a nicer restaurant. I ordered a “hamburguesa completa” which means “hamburger with everything”. It was a small beef patty with lettuce, tomato, roasted red peppers, ham, and a fried egg. It was pretty good! I also had a “Coca Cola light” which was served in a glass bottle. I had to then pour it into a glass to drink it, as it is considered impolite to drink directly from bottles or cans in this culture.  I’ve included a picture of Don with his coffee. Notice the pretty little serving piece for the cream and cocoa.

hamburgerWthEggeveAndJosi2FancyCoffee

After lunch, we went back to the hotel for a short 1 hour Siesta. We then went to the Hogar Betel to visit with the children. We taught our Bible story from Sunday and played Soccer and Jumped Rope with them. They were so happy to see us.

FutbolWithOrphans

HappyKidwithJumpRopeMeAndJoseMilagros

Finally, we went to have “cafe y Helados” (coffee and Ice cream). I tried the Mento Granazido (mint chocolate chip). It was the best mint chocolate chip ice cream I have ever had. If you’ve ever tried eating two mints in a row and noticed that the second one never tastes as good, that will give you an idea of what it was like to eat this ice cream.

Cafe Con Leche (Coffee with Milk)

Cafe Con Leche (Coffee with Milk)

Amazing Mint Ice Cream

Amazing Mint Ice Cream

Our whole team out for coffee and ice cream.

Our whole team out for coffee and ice cream.

Finally, we returned to our hotel at the early hour of 8:30. This is the earliest we have been able to turn in so far and most likely the last time we will be able to this early until the team heads home next Tuesday.

Tomorrow we are going to try again to help out Tina, but it all depends on the weather!

One more note … I am finding that I understand and am able to speak more and more Spanish. Today, when people asked me questions, there were many times when the first response that came to mind was in Spanish!! This is a skill I really want to work on and I am enjoying the opportunity God has given me to practice here as we work for him.

Argentina Day 2 September 6, 2009

We started the day eating breakfast at the Hotel restaurant. Breakfast is a small meal here and consists of pastries called “facturas” which resemble croissants. Some are glazed with a sweet syrup. Coffee is also very different here. They serve strong coffee with milk, “cafe con leche.” It is pretty good!

We left for the church in City Bell shortly after 9:00. We had about 45 minutes to set up the room and figure out where all of our materials were and go over our plans. We did Spanish Praise and Worship with the congregation, and after the music, took the kids back for the lesson.

CityBellchurch

The lesson went really well. The kids enjoyed songs with motions (lead by Evelyn), a prayer (lead by Don) a Bible story about baby Moses (told by Hope), a memory verse game (lead by Emily D.), and a coloring activity to tie it all together.

After church, we had a lunch of sandwiches, empanadas, and Argentine pizza with the church members. It was a great time to get to know some of the church members here in City Bell.

CityBell2

The church in City Bell is pretty small and only has about 9-10 kids in a given Sunday. I’m not sure how many members they have in all. They just recently found a building to meet in and have been working to fix it up. We will be helping with cleaning and repair this week.

Afterwards, we came back to the hotel and participated in the wonderful Argentine practice of “Siesta”. This means, we took a nap!!!

After our rest, we traveled by Taxi to the church in La Plata. Emily D. and I rode with Karen, an 11 year old here who reminds us of Allyson back at our home church! Karen is learning English, so we spent the ride practicing each other’s languages. She is a very sweet girl who we have enjoyed getting to know while here. She and her older sisters used to live in the
Hogar  Betel which is an orphanage here. The oldest sister, who is 18, takes care of Karen and the middle sister. It is a sad situation that they are in, but they are so loving of others and of God.

LaPlataKarenFebeLaPlataSongs

In La Plata, we once again lead the children’s time. This church is MUCH bigger. They may have around 100 members. The pastor is British.

Afterwards, George R. took us to Simon, a sandwich shop, for dinner. (We crammed all 6 of us into his little Volkswagon. Emily D and I sat in the hatchback!!) I tried the Milonesa, which is a meat similar to chicken fried steak served as a sandwich.

Then, George drove us back to the hotel and we all went to bed.  It was a fun, but busy day.

CrammedCar

Safe Arrival and Day 1 in Argentina

We made it safe and sound to Argentina!

airportflight

The plane trip was smooth and we had very little trouble with check in, flight, or customs.  We were picked up by long term team member, Kurt, and were taken by van to the hotel where we will be staying in City Bell.

hotelFront

Hotel1hotel3
hotel2

We had lunch (empanadas) at Kurt’s house with the rest of the team.   Yes, I got to see George and Emily and hold sweet baby Madeleine!!

MeetingMaddy

After lunch, we went with several of the college students to a very poor neighborhood where we ministered to kids.  We were able to share the gospel with the wordless books.  It was such a great time!

BarrioCutieDonAtBarrioDonWithKidsHopeSharingBarrioEmilySharingBarrioTeamWithBarrioVolunteers

Dinner was spent with George and Emily at their home in La Plata.  They hooked us up with TONS of food!  Empanadas, Tartas, Salad, meat, and bread.