August 19, 2012

New blog address

Blogger is still acting major wonky on me. Posting over here now:

Come on over and read what we've been up to - never boring.

July 4, 2012

the good, the bad, and other news

The good news: it's not pneumonia, but acute bronchitis.

The doctor was wrong. Lovely.

The bad news: I've lost about a year of my life from nerves. Also have quite a few more gray hairs. I'm mad, but mostly just glad it's not the "p" word.

We've been in and out of the hospital over a half a dozen times in the past two weeks. First me, then Tony, then I took the girls because they got sick, and I wanted to out rule pneumonia. While we were there, Boy had minor oral surgery to remove a cyst on the inside of his lip. They're a little rougher with needles down here than back home. But I think we'll all be alright eventually.

Thankfully the kids only have a cold - the same virus Tony has is now circulating through our family, causing colds.

More antibiotics, neb treatments, cough and cold meds, etc etc etc. I am fah-ried.

Why are WE getting so sick? I talk to other missionaries, and they just don't get sick like we do. Don't understand it. When I stopped by the pharmacy one day and told our woes to the couple from church that run it, she simply said, "The purpose must be great." Ha. That's a nice way to look at it.

But of course this sickness has to happen right when we are planning something. It always does. It's ridiculously predictable. You'd think we'd get used to it. We don't. I never did mention all that happened before our last mission trip (i'm way behind on this blog). Before we left for Chos Malal I threw out my back and was bedridden all week. All three kids got a mysterious virus with strange little bumps all on the inside of their mouths. Then the overwhelming but vague anxiety I felt on the six hour drive there made me want to turn right around and go home, just forget the whole thing. Tony felt it, too. Also while on the road we almost hit a horse, a goat, then a cow. Serious close calls as they walked right across the highway in front of the church's truck in front of us carrying a family and some of the youth. Then the church's mission mobile mysteriously stopped working. Just stopped. Caput. It mysteriously started up again, but then did that at least a half a dozen more times before the trip was over. And that's just the tip of it.

It happens all the time around here.

Recently we got in contact again with the Campus Crusade for Christ staff here in Argentina. Old friends, long story. They are coming to town and we have been helping them organize some training and leadership seminars. It is very last minute (like so much here) and we are some of their few contacts in the city. CCC does not currently have a ministry in town even though there are quite a few universities here. As Tony has been going around telling churches, the response has been very positive. But trying to plan something like this while we are down with illness has been almost impossible. Fortunately, God did help us find a place for them to stay and a place for them to do the seminars. The last minute details and running around still have to be done. We are praying they all fall into place and that we all get healthy before next week.

Remembering what Dori in Finding Nemo always says,

When life gets you down, you know whatcha ya gotta? Just keep swimming...

{extended version of this scene here}

July 1, 2012

update on Tony, etc

Tony is doing slightly better. Day 3 of three weeks of antibiotics, nebulizer treatments, pain meds, and bedrest. He is now eating and smiling and talking without getting so winded, none of which he was doing on Friday. The coughing sounds horrible and is painful, but he looks and sounds a little better. Trying to keep him in bed or in the house has been a challenge, though. I've had to crack down and get militant.

Thank you for the prayers and encouragement and support and verses sent; they so help! We spent most of the day looking over and studying some new and beautiful verses we haven't looked at in a while.

The last post I wrote very quickly in a small window late at night. I should clarify: We are not starving, and we do have this month's rent. It's actually been a good month. But August? who knows. That is life here for us.

We are selling off some big appliances we brought because we can't use them here and we need the money. Yes, we do need to eat and no, we don't have anything after the rent is paid. Welcome to faith missions. You do what you gotta do. Selling appliances works.

Our house is small, and my super sized washer just doesn't fit anywhere. It has been taking up precious space next to the dining room table, along with a dishwasher someone gave Tony back in the States. If we left them outside to free up valuable space, they would get stolen. After many months I have convinced Tony to just sell them - they are driving me crazy, and we have bills to pay. It's simply God's provision.

I haven't said much about our financial situation because I walk a very fine line between being honest and telling the truth of our financial situation and not upsetting or offending someone by doing so. People ask and want us to tell them if we have any needs. We are not like other traditional missionaries in that we have a church, or many, behind us, or a missions organization. We do not recieve regular monthly support that we know will cover all our expenses every month. Our church officially would not support us, officially closing the door for us to go with a missions org, officially leaving us on our own to raise support and do everything else. We left without a church, an missions agency, monthly support, or a job. We trusted God would provide. So far He has. The life we lead, this missions life of faith, is not for everyone. It's not for me either if you were to ask, but what can I do. We live day to day here, month to month.

I think of the story where Paul asks the Lord to remove the thorn from his flesh. He asks three times. Jesus answers this way,

"But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." 2 Cor. 12:9

I am not at the boasting in my weaknesses and taking pleasure in my infirmities part just yet, but we have been able to see Christ's power resting on us. It's pretty amazing. What else could explain us being able to make it this far?

The difficulty in sharing our situation is that every time I do I inevitably get an angry email from someone. I am "criticizing" or "not thankful" or "accusing". They think that I am talking specifically about them (it's more likely I was not even thinking about you when I was lamenting one night at 1am over the keyboard the fact that we can't pay the rent the next day). Or, if I do share our needs, I upset relatives who think we are starving and want us to come home stat. I always inevitably upset someone. Throw some pneumonia in there = fun times.

We do appreciate every single person that supports us. We simply couldn't be here or continue without it. If we have seen one thing, we have seen that it is God's people, the Believers, individual Christians, who make up the Church. The church as an organization can make its decisions, but it is the Church capital "C" through which God choses to work. At least, that is our experience.

June 29, 2012

please pray

Tony has pneumonia. Please pray. The good news, it's treatable and TB has been ruled out for now. But that scares me that they even mentioned that.

They want him back in 20 days for tests to see how he's recovered, and to see why he is getting these chronic bronchitis/lung infections.

Please pray for us all around, and feel free to share our prayer request. If someone put a plane in front of me I'd get on it. We are working on selling off some big appliances to pay for rent and food. That probably sounds bad, but God is very creative in how he has provided for us since we have been here. Tony hasn't been able to find a job yet, but we're still here. Either way, our lives and future are the hands of the One who made us.

I'll write more later. If you have any words of encouragement, bible verses, or anything you want to share, please do. It helps us so much! Thanks...

June 28, 2012

Blue-winged Macaw, or Burrowing Parrot of Patagonia

The wildlife in Patagonia is amazing. As we drive around just going about our business, we often spot some really amazing animals. We've taken up bird watching and animal identification as a side hobby. Its also fits nicely and easily into our homeschooling study of science. I never leave the house for trips without our Aves de Argentina [Birds of Argentina] guide book. I try to make our mission trips around Patagonia count. I think they are highly educational in so many different ways; bird and animal study being just one way.

I have found bird identification to actually be really hard, and we're not that good at it. Wikipedia helps. My bird book says these are the Blue-winged Macaw, but they're really not as big as macaws, and yet seem bigger than most parrots. Wiki helped us further identify them as the Burrowing Parrot of Patagonia.

they are very skittish and very fast, making it hard to get a good picture

After our first day of outreach in the mountains last month, we drove back into the town of Chos Malal for the night. A pastor we met at a conference our first time in the area offered to let us stay at their house since they were out of town. Their house is located downtown, but surrounded by tons of huge old trees. These trees were the perfect place for a huge flock of parrots to spend the night. From the sounds of them, there were more than hundreds, if not a thousand easily.

Parrots are very noisy. A thousand parrots are extremely noisy. They chirped and chittered and chattered and squawked and screamed all night long. It seems no matter where we go here in Argentina we can't get away from the noise! If it's not the twenty million neighborhood dogs yipping at every leaf that moves, it's motorcycles, cars with bad mufflers, neighbors partying into the wee hours of the morning, or a thousand crazy parrots yapping and squawking. Fortunately, this particular night we were so tired after having been up for almost 24 hours driving then doing this and this, that we passed right out and slept like babies all night long. Or I should say I passed out. The birds woke Tony up several times during the night with their squawking.


June 27, 2012

rural church, part II

The church is in front of the grove of trees on the right. Like I said, rural.

Day 1 we drove back to town from the first village outreach. That was nice, sleeping in civilization, with a shower.

Day 2 we drove back up into the mountains to the rural church, another 45 minutes or so on down the gravel road from the first village. This stretch of road makes me nervous. Tony said he's never heard me pray so much as when we're on this road; I'm usually mumbling prayers under my breath that we don't slide off the cliff, and doing some major side-seat driving. It's not as bad as other parts of the Andes, the drop-off with no guard rail is only about fifty to one hundred feet. But still enough to usher you through Gates of Splendor before your time if you were to slide off of it. Which, incidentally, we almost did on the way out the next day.

The bummer about Day 2 and 3 was all the rain. Our visits to the isolated local families in the region were cancelled because of the cold and whipping rain and wind. We were disappointed because we were looking forward to driving to the end of the road and getting out and walking/hiking the rest of the way to the houses. We were also disappointed to not be able to visit the unreached in the area and to get to know them. They are very hospitable and invite you in for tea and homemade bread and often times a meal. An hour visit can last all afternoon.

Plan B was to hold a service/outreach at the church. So we did. Even in the rain there was a decent turn out, considering most people walked to the church in the rain and mist.

The Gladys Aylward story was the movie of the weekend... mountains, rural, children, lonely but God still works kind of movie


My internet is still not co-operating. Ugh and Sigh. I'll try to post more pictures when it decides to cooperate. If ever. I miss you hig-speed internet... I miss you.

June 26, 2012


"I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears...."

I sat in the hall with all the other patients and their drips. We line the wall in the ER. IV analgesics I could not understand the names of tapped into my right arm at the elbow; the worst rebound migraine in the history of migraines. One man in a neck brace on a stretcher, a boy in a wheelchair peeking out of the next room, a woman in labor sitting next to me; she had been there for hours, still waiting... Waiting, waiting, waiting. That's what we do here.

It is well past midnight, this first day of winter. I sit, the drugs beginning to work their magic and ease the pain, and put me to sleep in a sitting position. My eyes fling open, slower than usual, as I hear the commotion - a man being brought in on a stretcher. He collapsed outside, the men who drove him to the hospital unable to hold him up. Blood is streaming from his chest: a gunshot wound.

I think that because I am in hospital he will be saved.

He dies several minutes later. I watch as the doctor comes out, his body language says everything. He points to his chest, He received a shot HERE. He shakes his head, takes off his glasses. We did everything we could...

It was like a horrible movie, the next scene predictable. The son buries his head in his hands and starts to sob, "My father, my father..."

The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous,
and his ears are open unto their cry.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
To cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

Was he a bad man?, I think to myself. Are these the consequences of a life lived wrongly??

I wonder.

Sometimes I feel as desolate as things appear.

{...none of them that trust in him shall be desolate...}

Perhaps it is good that we are here, I try to console myself. Yes, very good that we are here, I tell myself again. I squint at the scene, breathe out, shake my head slow.

No, a voice says, Go home.

Why are you here? - the voice whispers. You could be next, you know... It's dangerous here. Don't you know that?

Fear, a constant companion, comes to visit again. Why can't fear just leave me alone?

 The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them.

Death. Need. Loss. It is too much to bear some days, many days, most days. Nine months and I feel like I already need a big, long, stress-free furlough.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous.
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears.

Today there is no gas in town. No gas at the gas stations. There's just no gas. Lines of cars are three blocks long. Tony says, I'll go after midnight tonight, maybe there won't be any lines then. He tells me of the strike that is supposed to last into next week, which probably means no trucks making deliveries. I say we should go to the store today and stock up just in case.

We are on our knees, praying for peace. The anxiety overwhelms, driving us down. Tony gets ready to go to the older boy's home, the opposition begins.

I need to pray, he says standing at the kitchen sink. I don't want to go. I can feel it.

Sometimes I get tired of these desparate prayers.

It's the first day of winter, June 21. My mom's 65th birthday. Sixty-five. Where has the time gone?

She buries her father. He died on Father's Day.

Death, like a Gypsy, comes to steal what I love.  Again.

Sometimes I feel grey. As grey as these winter skies. I cry. Cry until three in the morning and I just can't stop.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints!
There is no want to those who fear Him.

I think of regret. Pain so deep, sorrow so great, I will never be the same again. I have an epiphany. And I'm mad it takes me forty years to come to it. I will never allow anyone to influence me again when I know what God is telling me to do. When I know what is right. But I don't do it. It's too late, it's too late. I can't go back.

Only ahead.

I think of this forgiveness that I have been given. This wonderful, unbelievable, undeserved forgiveness. I know I don't deserve it. I know it now more than ever. Do any of us deserve it? 
I think of him, lying in the ICU, the ventilator pushing air into his lungs, the phone up to his ear. Is he under the wrath of God or under His wings? He can hear me, but he can't speak. I grope to speak words of Truth, of Love. Something. Lord, give me something - the right words to say.

You need to get ready. Are you ready? I love you.

At my words he begins to flail his arms wildly. Fiesty, strong, German stock. Whether in agreement or in anger I do not know - I will never know, not in this life. We have to hang up. They call the nurse. He dies five days later.
The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart;
and saves such as be of a contrite spirit.

This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him,
And saved him out of all his troubles....

The Lord redeems the soul of his servants.

I groan within myself, waiting for this redemption.

~Scripture quoted from Psalm 34

June 22, 2012

older boys' home pics

Tony helping the boys write their memory verses...

Some of the other boys helping, too...

They were really into it... (some of the boys can barely read and write so need a lot of help).

See our projector on the table?

Tony projects movies on the green wall in the background while Facundo works crowd control. I can't remember which one he showed this day, but this week he showed them Fireproof (dubbed over in Spanish). They LOVED it and cheered and clapped at the end asking, "Can you bring more movies like that?".

to our supporters

I have so many pictures and stories I want to get on the blog, but...

I wanted to take this moment to thank our supporters!

Thanking our supporters is something I haven't quite figured out how to do in a way that I am sure we are doing it enough or correctly (if there is such a thing).

We try to remember to thank our supporters in our newsletters. I've thanked our supporters several times here, I think. I even try to write personal emails to people, although that has proven to be almost impossible to keep up with.

We know who our supporters are (well, except for the anonymous donors - in that case, God knows who you are.). We actually have a lot of different kinds of supporters, and we appreciate every single one for how they help us. We have people who pray for us, we have people who write us encouraging notes or emails or blog comments, we have people who support us financially, and we have people who simply support us in heart and mind and spirit and they let us know it. It is ALL support, and we are thankful for all of it.

We know who is behind us. We know because you have expressed your support to us in person. We know because you have written to us to tell us you are praying for us, or simply to say you think it's really great what we're doing. We know because you comment here. We know because we received a check with your name on it. We know because we have read scanned notes and cards that have arrive with checks. We know because if you donate via Paypal, we see your name. We know because we have specifically asked the church we attended back in the US to tell us who it is specifically that is sending us support (unless they choose to remain anonymous); we want to know because we want to be able to thank you. We know who our supporters are and we are VERY thankful. I don't know if we communicate that enough, or well, but please know that we thank God in heaven for you and and we pray for you. My prayer is usually that God would repay you 100 fold in this life for all your kindness to us and to those we are trying to reach. We could NOT be here without your support. Just could not.

If you are praying for us, THANK YOU. We are sincerely grateful for your prayers. If you sacrifice to send us financial support, THANK YOU. We know that everything that is sent is something you have not spent on yourself, or perhaps on something you need, but have sacrificed it to keep us here doing what we are doing. I can guarantee you that we would not be here if it weren't for these sacrifices.

Thank you from all of us.


June 18, 2012

rural church

When we were up in the mountains recently, we spent Day 2 at the rural church. I have much to say yet about our outreach there.... so much to say, and a gazillion pictures, but I'm about to take an oozie to my internet. It's schizophrenic and doesn't know if it's high-speed or not. Mostly not. That one lovely picture up there took 5 minutes to upload. Five minutes. Which is better than the 10 to 20 it has been taking lately. Suffice is to say, this might take a while...

The rural church was rural. It is nestled snugly way back in the mountains about an hour and a half out a gravel road from the main paved road. It is one of the few buildings within miles around. Neighbors are very far apart. Walking to church may take a half an hour, an hour, or two. There is no running water, no flushing toilet, no refrigerator (see my bag of milk hanging outside in the cool mountain air, in a bag above the door, refrigerating?). There is no microwave, no corner store, no telephone, no internet, nada. Surprisingly there is cell phone reception, on clear days. But the two days we were there, rain rolled in over the mountains from the west and the signal disappeared. It is an isolating feeling. When people get sick or have an emergency, sometimes the only way to communicate is by radio. You know how truckers used to have CB radios back in the 80s? Like that.

Tony and our friend Miguel made several runs to a nearby stream to fetch water to flush the toilet. The stream had swelled from the day's rain. They carried several very heavy bucketsful of mountain run-off back to the church.

It's always good to be able to flush the toilet. :)

June 15, 2012

unexpected open doors, unplanned evangelism

Missions isn't all salt and tears. There are unexpected blessings for following Christ overseas. In our specific case, one of those for us here has been free sports for our offspring. We didn't know about this particular benefit when we sensed it was Patagonia that God had placed on our hearts. We were completely prepared for bare bones living - meaning, in part, nothing extra for the kids. For all I knew we'd be living high up in the mountains, far from civilization, my kids whittling toys out of sticks because there was nothing to do. That has not been the case. God surprisingly brought us to a city, and, even though I neither like cities nor city living, we have been really blessed by all it has to offer.

The province we live in in Argentina is unique in that it offers free sports for all kids. There are clubs all over town that offer swimming, basketball, gymnastics, volleyball, handball, racquetball, and many others I can't remember. All you have to do is sign up.

We are so thankful for these classes. It's a great way to get our homeschooled kids out of the house, around other kids, speaking Spanish, and run their energy off at the same time. It's a good stretch for them physically, culturally, socially, and linguistically.

But even though it's a great blessing, this is still the Third World. The gyms are built and subsidized by the city and province, but funds are limited. [EDITORIAL: Tony says because the corrupt politicians pocket all the money and don't give it to the programs that serve the public. I guess he would know. He's Argentinian.] They are often unable to buy new equipment because they are just not given any money to do so. The equipment is sparse and often in ill repair. But the teachers are great, and we are really impressed with them and all they do.

Because of the severe lack of funds, the coaches and parents have to raise the money on their own to buy any equipment they may need for the gym. Interesting, when we remember the fully stocked, shiny YMCA's back home.

Somehow Tony was nominated to be the money collector guy for all the funds this year. The coach's excuse was because "he was at every single practice". My incredibly supportive response when I found out was, "How did you get sucked into that? That's all we need, something else to do. Great."

But sometimes these unexpected things are really a blessing in disguise. Most of these kids are not Christians and have probably never heard the gospel. I know this because of all the interesting words the girls teach my girl in class. Words she's never heard before in her life. The boys actually seem a bit calmer. Or maybe my boy is just so spacey he's completely unaware of what they're saying. I don't think he cares much what they talk about, he's just there to play ball. And he still pretty much refuses to speak Spanish, too (I wonder where he got his stubbornness from....}. We don't worry much about negative influences with him. He's so head-strong we can hardly influence him, let alone someone who speaks a language he barely cares to understand. Hardly any worries there.

Anyway, so - big fundraising event this past month. Bake sale, lottery-type money-raising thingy, activities for the kidlings, snack - and a movie! When Tony asked if we could show one of our movies, they said yes. He made it clear it was a movie that talks about God yadda yadda, but they were okay with it and said sure that would be great.

(I wonder if that would happen in the States. Probably not...)

So, after their bake sale, lottery, fun activities, and snacks, all these kids sat down and watch The Gladys Aylward story. Completely unexpected open door. Completely unplanned evangelism. Completely awesome. And they raised all the funds they needed for the new equipment! Score and score.
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