February 28, 2011

Chris's Testimony

We officially applied with OM!

But before I clicked "Send", I copied my testimony. Here it is (in 250 words or less) as taken from my application:

"I became a Christian in December of 2000. I was living in Argentina, newly married and a new mother, and it was all very hard. After trying everything else to help myself to be okay and to be happy and finding that nothing worked, I began reading the Bible out of desperation. A friend had shared the Gospel with me 5 years prior in college, so when I read the Bible I had a basic understanding of the Gospel and how to become a Christian. While reading Deuteronomy 27-30 I was convicted of my sin, repented, and gave my life to Christ. I had heard about Jesus my whole life but I never KNEW Him or even who He truly was according to God's Word. It was at that moment that I began a true and real, life-changing relationship with the Lord."

You can read Tony's testimony here.

Tony's Testimony

In filling out all 33 pages (each!) of our applications with OM, we had to write our testimony in 250 words or less.

Here is Tony's asnwer to the question, "When did you become a Christian and how did your relationship with Jesus begin?" (dictated in Spanish and translated by me):

"I became a Christian 7 years ago. My relationship with Jesus began with the book of John. At a difficult moment in my life, I felt that I was empty inside, that I wasn't happy, that I didn't have anything. My wife had been praying a lot for me, as well as many people from church had been praying for me. That is when I felt like I needed spiritual help, and a friend of mine from my church, Jerry, told me to read the book of John. That is when I met Jesus, while reading John. That is why...I mentioned John [John 3:36, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.]- because I realized that if I didn't have Jesus in my life I was heading to hell. I didn't want that for my life nor for my family. This has been the most beautiful experience of my life because, through Him, I was born again and because of Him I have my family, I have everything. He is everything."

You can read Chris's testimony here.

February 23, 2011

The evolution of a gardener

 I grew up half of my childhood on a 16-acre farm. It was a gentleman's farm, really - my dad had a day job and worked on the farm after work and on weekends.

We had chickens, pigs, horses, a Christmas tree field (8,000 all planted by hand), and a giant one-acre garden. We had so many cantaloupes come late summer that, to this day, I can't stand the smell of them - that overripe, too sweet, half-rotting smell of cantaloupe which hung thick in the kitchen year after year - bleh!

Our chores as kids included watering the chickens every day (the three of us rotated weeks), mowing all the acreage in the summer (alternating weeks), mowing the rows between the Christmas trees, and Christmas tree planting bright and early every Saturday morning in the spring. My Dad's motivator was: "Come on, kids, this is your college education!" - and it was, Dad made a killing every December selling trees. We joke now that it was slave labor, but it wasn't all bad. We did learn hard work and responsibility, even though we grumbled through most of it.

I was never interested in the garden, and my Dad didn't make us do it. I don't know now if I wish he had or not. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have been interested anyway - the neighbor's pool was much more appealing!

Gardening didn't start interesting me until I was in my mid-30s. Because my Dad never dragged us into the garden, now I find myself having to learn it all from scratch! But, I like to read and learn new things, so I'm mostly trying to teach myself. Fortunately my Dad is still around, and as spry at 76 as he was back then, so he and some gardening friends pitch in their knowledge, plants, tips, and help from time to time.

I am so excited to garden again this year. This is only my 3rd year, so I'm still totally amateur (ie., I started my tomato seed in February, probably a month too early). But I'm looking at it as a learning experience - gardening is a process, constantly evolving. One does what one can, learns through mistakes, takes what works, and adapts as one goes. And because it's highly likely we may be in Argentina next year, I can't do anything permanent in our garden this year - no raised beds, no strawberries, no perennials. Sigh.

My motive in gardening is two-fold: 1) I want to eventually be able to off-set food costs by growing most of our own vegetables and some fruits, AND 2) I think it will be a step in the direction of self-sufficiency should things get financially tight on the mission field. At least we'll have vegetables to eat! (at least that's my reasoning :D). Throw in a couple of chickens for eggs, a goat for milk, and maybe a cow or two for meat, and we're not devastated should the American economy nose-dive even more than it has leaving us with less support than we need. You never know.

I read once that you should never depend on anyone to support your work (meaning ministry/missionary endeavors). Ehh, I don't know about that, but it's something that's given me some good food for thought since then. Like, "How can we move more towards self-sufficiency and away from depending on others 100% for our survival?" (meaning depending on a day job or support).

Well, how about Backyard Homesteading? Or, hey, if you're stuck in the city, Urban Homesteading!

Food is very expensive in Argentina. We will probably pay more for food than for our rent. An old high school classmate of Tony's living in Patagonia said average rent is about $500/month, but food for a family of 5 would be $600 or $700 a month! CRAZY.

So, being the visionary that I am (oh, I've got visions coming out of my ears :))  I envision a nice little, semi-self-sufficient homestead somewhere in Argentina that would serve as a means to help support ourselves as we reach out to the needy around us. You know, like Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House on the Prairie lol... or something like that.

And, down there, you don't really need to check with the township or municipality or even city for permission to have chickens. You can just have them. Come on, folks, it's South America! In Tony's old neighborhood in Buenos Aires (population 12 million) the neighbors three houses over had free-range chickens, or at least a rooster whatever-they-were, that made all. sorts. of racket - oh, and the cumbia. Lord have mercy, I don't even LIKE cumbia. Can you turn that down, please?? And, excuse me, but do you have a permit for those chickens?? I think not. I can guarantee they never checked whether there was a city ordinance on having chickens, and how much acreage you need and yadda yadda. When we went to Ecuador a few years ago, same thing. The rooster at the house next to our hotel decided to get vocal at FOUR AM. I wanted to kill that rooster. But I was confined to my very uncomfortable bed, freezing in the high altitude, convinced I was dying of some strange disease I had picked up after less than 8 hours in country. Turns out I had altitude sickness. And let me tell you, it feels like death. I couldn't even raise my head or get up to nudge Tony warning him of my imminent death. It feels like the flu TIMES ONE HUNDRED (obviously I lived to tell about it).

Anyway, rabbit trail... back to my garden.

When we moved two years ago, I had one year of gardening under my novice belt and had just begun composting. I was so into it that I announced to Tony that I was not leaving my organic compost behind at the old house. Since I had just had a baby and was overweight and out of shape from stuffing everything in sight into my mouth for 9 straight months (oh, and don't forget C-section #3), he was kind enough to bag it up for me in heavy duty bags and drag it to the new place. Now that's love.

we had 6 other bagfuls around somewhere...

And here the boys are breaking ground...
I was SO proud of my city-slicker husband for doing this for his lovely wife. Wow, I thought, as he tilled away for HOURS, he really does love me! At least enough to humor me. 

But, sorry, no more photos of the glorious mid-summer garden. The groundhogs had a hey-day gorging themselves on my organic garden all summer long. I was still not sleeping through the night, so the poor garden didn't get the attention it needed. I did discover, though, that groundhogs apparently don't care for the taste of tomato leaves - they ate everything else but the tomatoes! See, learn something new every year.

This year, it's war. I'm sleeping through the night, so they better watch out. I'm up for the challenge. Just you wait, groundhogs. It's fence time for you.

A little bit about OM

A year after making the decision to follow God to the mission field, we finally picked a missions organization. Initially we weren't even sure we would go with one, but now we see more clearly the benefits.

Part of me wishes we had the faith to just go. But, if there's one thing we've learned since we began walking this out, it's that we're going to need support. We could go it alone, as others before us have and do even now, but why make it harder than it already will be? Why go alone when we can have help?

"A cord of three strands is not easily broken." ~ Eccl. 4:12

So... we are officially applying with OM (Operation Mobilization)!

The more we find out about them, the more we like them.

Here are a few reasons why:

  • You don't need seminary to join (which is, I'm guessing, 98% of all Christians).
  • It's a well-rounded, holistic ministry/organization. You want to do it, they
    probably already are. There is a place for the entire Body of Christ to serve (I. LOVE. that).
  • They are low budget (in other words, they try to keep costs as low as possible, making them one of the lest expensive missions organizations out there - love that, too!). The missions coach, for example, that we have been corresponding with had to raise all her own support - and she lives and works here for OM in the US.
  • They work all over the world.
  • We share their vision:
    • "Focusing on the unreached, Partnering with churches, Caring for our members, Globalizing our ministry, Training and equipping world Christians, Mobilizing the next generation, and Strengthening our organization"
    • and core values: "Knowing and glorifying God; Living in submission to God's word; Being people of grace and integrity; Serving sacrificially; Loving and valuing people; Evangelizing the world; Reflecting the diversity of the body of Christ; Engaging in global intercession; Esteeming the church." (taken from their website)
  • Our interactions with them over this past year have been nothing but encouraging and genuinely marked by grace. We feel like they just want to help us get there.
  • They act as a liason between the church and the missionary on the field and provide the support and training that many churches are not set up to or are unable to provide.
  • Going with a missions organization gives us credibility. People will probably be more willing to come alongside us and more apt to have confidence in what we are doing if we have a "name" behind us (although I wish it weren't this way, on a human level, I think it is this way).

If you're interested in what the application/assessment/acceptance process looks like, you can read about it here. The whole process from start to finish can go as quickly as a few months, or take as long as a year or more. Since we have kids, and roots, and a house full of things here, I think it will take us at least another year. If we are accepted and it all works out (there are no guarantees it will), we could be leaving by January 2012. If not, maybe August 2012.

Another thing we have begun to see more and more, is that there are absolutely no guarantees. Yes, we are heading in a direction, but I can't say for sure where we will be a year from now. We could get all the way to the acceptance stage and then not be able to raise the support - who knows!

So we find ourselves back where we started - completely dependent on God to get us there. A good place to be, they tell me.

February 20, 2011

a little smackerel of spring

It was 60 and 70 all week. Ah, Spring Fever! So we RAN headed outside - the kids to play in the mud and ice melt...

...and me to play with my Cheap-o Wal-Mart Camera. It has potential, I just need to study it more and play with it some to see what I can get out of it...
[fiddling with macro vs. infinity focus and black & white editing]


[night landscape - mental note: need tripod, steadying doesn't work]

I've also been busy planting seedlings for the garden...

...and reading... (I have big dreams lol!)...

[homemade seed starter = egg carton flat, old plastic cake tray, and some plastic wrap]

And since we find ourselves with a tad more time on our hands lately, we've been socializing a bit more than usual. Which mean lots of cooking...
[I scored an almost mint condition Williams-Sonoma bread machine at the thrift shop!!! I've wanted one for YEARS!
Fresh baked, homemade bread everyday with NONE of the work. I want to smuggle it in my suitcase to Argentina. :) ]

[tarta de jamón y queso// ham and cheese tart]

So, one warm Friday evening I made this tarta de jamón y queso, some empanadas de cebolla y queso (cheese and onion pastries), a huge salad, some homemade bread, plus had a leftover pan dulce from Christmas (a veritable feast) - all in preparation to have our Bolivian missionary friends over. They never showed up.

Wrong Friday. Oops. Lol! Duh.


February 14, 2011

A strange and unexpected turn of events

So, we've joined the masses of the unemployed.


(but let us not forget to thank Jesus for unemployment - thank you, Jesus!)

Ah, yes, things have gotten pretty interesting around here lately. God is forever full of surprises!

And since bad things seem to happen in threes, the very same day both of our cars decided to conk out. Then the baby got croup, and it was off to the ER - again.

But, things are settling down now. We still have one car that works pretty well. Baby is all better. And we are no longer drowning in the paperwork that ensued post lay-off.

So what now? 

The really strange thing in all this, and a very unexpected turn of events amidst all the mayhem, was receiving some great news from a missions organization we've been corresponding with for a year now. I mentioned before that we really like OM (Operation Mobilization), but we didn't think that there would be a place for us with them, since they currently do not work in the area of Argentina we feel called to.

BUT, amidst all the recent craziness, we received an unexpected email response from them that their team in Argentina is actually happy to expand their mission work into Patagonia, sooner rather than later!

So I think we've found a potential missions organization and will be applying with them. :)


If it all works out [which remains to be seen, of course - always trusting in the Lord], we would go to a city in Argentina where they currently have a team, invest 6 months to one year in evangelism and training, and then be free to move to Patagonia and begin a team ministry there!

Super cool news.It's almost twilight zoney.

And, hey, what better time to make the Big Move to Missions than now??


February 10, 2011

the need in the north (of Argentina)

When Tony and I talk about Argentina, he will often mention how he really wants to go to the north. That's where he says he really wants to go. I ask him to just please ease me into things. I think I could handle it only after first getting over the culture shock of moving my squishy, pampered first-world body all the way to Argentina, you know, at my age. The north is very poor and very third world. Very. Like malaria and washed out roads and mud and children dying of malnutrition kind of third world.

I just read an article about the two year anniversary of a landslide in the northwest province of Salta, Argentina, in a town called Tartagal. The Toba live in this region. Since the article is in Spanish, I will just tell you that since the landslide, the problem there now is malnutrition. Five children have died in the past two weeks from hunger. One was an 11-month-old baby.

Toba children after the landslide [photo credit: Perfil.com]

And here we still are, gazing at our navels, and the tires that have begun to form around them, wondering, "What have we done for Jesus lately?".

For photos of the 2009 landslide, please click here and here.

February 7, 2011

Christian like us

I recently removed a post I wrote. If you read it, you can probably figure out which post it is. If you didn't read it, consider it better. I regret that post in that I wrote it from a place of hurt, and sometimes we do and say things when we're hurt that we later regret. While some understood, I angered and offended others, and I feel really bad about that. It is true that people have said some very hurtful things to us about wanting to do missions in Argentina, but I think I communicated that all wrong. That doesn't excuse what people have said to us, but it doesn't make it right that I do the same. So, my apologies to anyone that was offended. I hope you could extend the grace we have very much been trying to extend to people (Christians like us), over this past year when they have said things that hurt or discouraged, whether knowingly or not. For those of you that understand, thank you. For those that don't, if you could find it in your heart to pray for us, please do.

So there you have it. Chris isn't perfect (and I could tell you Tony isn't either). And no one at church is either. That's why we need Jesus. We're all wretched without him.

It's been a rough year. And we are only a couple of passports closer to going than we were a year ago. That's it. We never imagined it would be so hard and so complicated just getting there.

In the meantime God is teaching us to trust in Him, and in Him alone. It's not good to have expectations of man, because man will eventually disappoint. We need to learn to listen to His voice and follow Him only.

In the end, I think Tony and I can say we are honestly thankful for the disappointment, for the discouraging words, for the lack of support (whether perceived or real). We are glad we are going through this now and not later. We are glad God is teaching us now to trust only and fully in Him. We know that if our focus is anywhere but on Christ, it's in the wrong place. We hope that other's are focused on Christ and Christ alone as well. We hope and pray that if anyone feels led to be a part of this mission through prayer or finances that it's not because they ultimately want to support "Tony & Chris in Argentina," but that they want to be a part of what God is doing in Argentina. This is the Lord's work (I know, a cliché phrase), not ours - we're just the vessels. This wasn't our idea, believe me. We never thought we would return to Argentina, and sometimes we even have doubts about the wisdom of that decision. Honestly, sometimes I look around at our beautiful house filled with all the comforts of the first world; I look at our kids and think how they have everything; I look at our wonderful life and I think of the people who are literally dying, crossing the border illegally, to get into my wonderful country - and we're leaving??? What are we nuts?!? Why are we doing this? It's just not normal. Or natural. Or who knows, even sane. But God is asking us to. He's not forcing us to go, He won't make us. He is asking, "Will you go?". We do hear His voice, and it just gets louder. We are compelled to go. We can't help ourselves. We really can't. We know we would make a lot of people happy if we just forgot about the whole thing and just stayed. Forgive us - but we can't. We. just. can't. To stay would be to disobey the Lord.

So, in short - someday, when we are in the wilds of Patagonia ministering to the Mapuche (or wherever the Lord sends us), and the funds run out, and we don't know where our next meal is coming from, and the car breaks down, and the baby is sick and it's 100 miles to the nearest town or third world doctor, I hope that at that moment, in part because of these trials, one day we can say (and really mean), "Lord, we trust You. We trust that You will take care of us. That what is impossible with man is not impossible with You." That we could pray, "Lord, send us funds, send us food, fix our car, and help our baby," and He will. It will be in times like that that we will be thankful for these trials - that God cared enough to teach us not to trust in man, but to trust in Him alone.

I love this song. It ministers to me every time. I hope it ministers to you.

February 5, 2011

Tony's First Post

In just one more week it will be exactly a year since we started this blog.

And Tony is finally making his first post! He's been so good to not leave me here alone in cyberspace.

But, from a man that still asks me, 12 years later, "So how do you attach a file to an email again?" - his idea of blogging is to tell me, "You have to post this verse and this video to the blog."

That's men for you. Straight and to the point.

So, here it is....

Tony's First Post:

"But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" ~1 John 3:17
[the two verses before and after this one are great, too...]

[and here is a recent video we received from our CCC friends in Argentina and their

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