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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.

Present Whirlwind

What a week it’s been!

Sunday was out last team meeting before our departure date for Argentina.

Monday night we got the keys to our new rental house and began the process of moving in.  This meant LOTS of cleaning, as the house has been inhabited by college students for the last few years.  We cleaned until 2:30 in the morning!

Tuesday was official moving day.  With lots of help from these guys and some dear friends, we were able to get nearly everything out of the apartment by midnight!

Wednesday I returned to the apartment to finish cleaning and get the last little bit of stuff.  I had to tutor part of the afternoon, but spent the rest of my day lining the kitchen cabinets with contact paper.

Thursday was supposed to be designated to catch up on details for Argentina.  I had to attend a Substitute teacher orientation for 4 hours in the middle of my afternoon.  It is now nearly 2:00 in the morning and I’m at least packed for the trip.  There are still a few plans that need to be fleshed out.  Please pray that my lessons come together in time.

We depart Friday evening for Buenos Aires.  We will be leading four Sunday school classes to train the teachers and parents, doing child evangelism around town at local churches and hopefully the orphanage, and anywhere else the Lord leads us. We will also do a little bit of Bible Training, Titus II, and some “home improvement” type projects.

Please continue to pray that God would be glorified in many ways. Please pray for the team members and the members of the churches we will be working with. Please pray for personal things for team – physical, financial, and emotional needs. Pray that we would be flexible and would wholly depend on God for making sure everything happens as it should, and be quick to give Him the glory.

Confirmed: I am Argentina Bound

I was just notified today that tickets have been purchased!  I depart September 4.  The team will arrive home on September 15, but I will be staying behind to spend time encouraging my missionary friends who are there full time.  I will be back on the 10th.

Praise God for His timing and provision.  All has not gone according to our plans, but He is sovereign.  Supporters have been generous and all of my money has come in as of just a couple of days ago and we are nearly ready to go.

We did experience a loss in our numbers due to the change in dates.  There were 10 people planning to go, but only 5 of us will be making the trip.  We will miss those who have helped in the planning stages, but would not be able to do the work without their contributions and prayers.

Independent and Dependent

Recently, I’ve found myself bombarded with these two terms.  They seem to be hitting me from all directions.  While working with the Jump Start program, the little three week teaching job that I’ve recently acquired, I’ve been teaching the concept of functions.  Every functional relationship has an independent variable and a dependent variable.  We have discussed the definition of “independent” and “dependent” and looked at contexts outside of the math classroom.  All of the kids have decided that they want to be independent.

Yesterday I received a note from an old friend.  (We’ve been friends a long time, and she’s many years older than I am, but she is not old!)  She’s a precious lady that I’ve been blessed to know as both my “other mother” when I was a kid, and more recently as a dear friend and mentor when we worked together in the same school for three years.  It’s been six years since I left that job, and we were recently able to get together and chat about old times.  

A result of our time was reflection on both sides about what our friendship had meant to each of us.  It also seemed to spur on a renewal of the friendship she’d had with my mother, as I her note mentioned.  She referred to a conversation she and my mother had over dinner about how they had raised us girls, her daughter and my sister and I, to be independent women.

I began to think about that.  All most of us ever want as kids is to get through school and get out of our parents house so that we can be independent.   I suppose that getting a scholarship to college, moving to another state to get married, and traveling to foreign countries might make me look like I’ve been pretty successful at achieving independence.

The reality is that I am probably more dependent now than ever before in my life, and I love it that way.  

Between my God, my husband, my church family, my friends, my sister, and even my parents, I find myself leaning on others at every turn.  And I am so HAPPY to do so.  The relationships in my life are a lovely balance of giving and receiving so that all needs are met.  None go without as all share out of their excess.  I’m not even talking about the material.   It’s spiritual encouragement and prayer, but I’m convinced that this dependancy is a good thing and how relationships are meant to work.    I love being able to help a friend in need and am so blessed by those who’ve been there to comfort me.

Our Creator designed us to be dependent first on Him and then on each other.  

I am dependent.

 

A few of the ladies I depend on most.

A few of the ladies I depend on most.

Making God Laugh

I’ve always been a big planner.  I like to know what’s going to happen, when it’s going to happen, who’s going to be a part of it, and how it’s going to be paid for.  It’s actually a bit of a struggle for me to be patient in the midst of certain situations.  In fact, it’s probably one of my biggest areas of weakness.

I know all the truths from God’s word, as I posted days ago, but I still find the urge to make plans.  I know it just makes God laugh.

Here’s a update on some of my recent “plans” not turning out like I intended.

maddyThis is Madeleine.  I was supposed to be on a plane TODAY to meet this sweet little baby in Argentina.  She is the daughter of my precious friends who are serving as full time missionaries in Argentina.  However, due to the Swine Flu, I’ve spent the last three weeks wondering if we were even going to go.  The elders at the sending church spent a great deal of time debating back and forth over whether to send, postpone, or even cancel the trip altogether.  Finally, on July 29 we received confirmation that the trip would be postponed.  We are now considering September 4-15 as the new dates.  Of course, this is still subject to change depending on how much the situation in Argentina improves.  

Then there is that whole plan I had to quit teaching.  While I still have no intention to go back to work when the 2009-2010 school year begins late this month, I currently find myself in a paid teaching position.  On Thursday of last week, I was hanging out by the pool with my pastor’s kids when I received a phone call.  There was no name, but I recognized the three digits from the high school.  It was one of my former Assistant Principals.  I knew when he identified himself that I was going to be asked to come back for something.  Just didn’t know what.

HopeAllyPool

Long story short, they were running out of options and I was asked to come teach  math for a Jump Start program targeting rising 9th graders who failed their Math TAKS.  On Monday, I began this experience.  It’s from 8:00-12:00 for three weeks.  It’s a paying gig,and I wouldn’t have been able to do it if we traveled to Argentina as scheduled,  so maybe we’ll be able to buy our new couch after all!!  (30 days until we move!!!!!)

So, today I’m sitting on my couch with a notebook, a laptop, a pen, and a pad of paper and I’m planning my day, my week, my month, and my life.  

And God is laughing.

Things I Need to Remember

For those of you who know us well, you are aware that we are dealing with several unknowns.  I have been having a very difficult time keeping my focus on the truth of who God is as Provider.  I feel the need to know exactly was is going to happen and I am disappointed when things don’t work out the way that I expect them to.  

Today I just want to reflect on some passages in God’s Word that remind me who He is.  I am reminded to trust Him and have hope when all seems hopeless.

 

Jeremiah 29:11

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

 

Philippians 4:4-9

 4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

 

Matthew 6:25-27

 25“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life[b]?

 

Reading in Spanish

While no final announcement has been made, I’m pretty certain that my trip to Argentina will be postponed.  I really don’t think it will be completely cancelled, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was pushed as late as the first week in September.

In some ways, I am grateful that we will most likely have more time to prepare.  The list of things we are supposed to accomplish has grown to 7, and it was pretty overwhelming at the two or three we started with.  

In addition to the planning, there’s the whole issue of the language barrier that we are going to face.  I have wanted to travel to a Spanish speaking country for YEARS, as that is what I studied in school and I knew I would never really get it if I wasn’t forced to speak it.  I took some really basic Spanish in kindergarten, another year in 8th grade, three years in high school, and two semesters in college.  But, now that I am finally traveling to a Spanish country, it’s been 12 years since my last class!  I’ve forgotten so much!

So, today I went to our local Recycled book store and purchased a couple of reference guides.  I hope to be able to brush up on vocabulary and verb conjugations so that I can be better prepared.  Yesterday I pulled up the Spanish NIV Bible on the web and tried to do my daily reading.  That was tough!!  So, my plan is to add a bit of Spanish reading to my day between now and departure.