May 27, 2011

gratuitous happy pic

my favorite thing about this picture? there are no kids in it!
and we're faking the happy-in-love thing incredibly well :)

Tony and I are celebrating 12 years of marriage! Hard to believe we were flaming pagans when we bumped into each other in an elevator 13 years ago in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (God's blind date, I always say).

Marriage is hard work, but we're so glad we've stuck it out. I tell Tony he's one lucky guy I never ditched him - because between the time I got saved and he got saved, we almost didn't make it - many times almost didn't make it. He just tells me I hit the lottery with him, then flashes one of those smiles that has saved him more times than I can count.

It's never boring, and always an adventure with Tony. Who ever would have thought God would hook us up, save us, then send us back to South America to share Christ with others? His mercies amaze us, and we are forever grateful to the Lord for all He has given us. We haven't deserved a bit of it. And if He wants to send us to the ends of the earth for his purposes, then we will happily and thankfully go.

Happy Anniversary, bebé! ¡Te amo para siempre, aunque me vuelvas locaaa!

May 24, 2011

Argentine slang word of the day

a full (pronounced 'ah-FOOL') = full; at full power; as much as possible; completely (into) for the time being: "Estoy a full con el estudio" = "I’m absolutely focused in study."

Another fine and highly applicable example: "Estoy con el café a full." = "I am at full power with the coffee," or "I am completely into coffee for the time being."

You know, because I'm moving my entire life transcontinentally in a few months. With 3 kids. High maintenance toddler included. I need energy.

So, yeah... so much for life after caffeine. It was nice while it lasted. A nice, mellow, 8 months. That I don't remember.

So bring on the high-octane, baby. I'm gonna need it. {insert histerical, highly caffeinated smile here :D}

May 23, 2011

more Yard Sale success

Yard Sale #2 (see #1) on Saturday was a smash success! We made a killing (thanks to Jesus, and my mom, who donated tons of tools!).

We were up by 4am and worked straight through until 10 or 11pm at night - but it was worth it. And tons of fun. We got rid of a lot of junk and made enough to ship the Mission Mobile to Argentina! The kids even sold some of their stuff, and were able to keep what they made: about 30 bucks each.

Just one more yard sale (thank God!) and we should be downsized enough to move and hopefully make enough to ship the rest of our belongings, including supplies for ministry and stuff to bless the indigenous church.

4am shot, the dining room table is under there somewhere

...the junk, it was EVERYwhere...

 ...and more junk...

...and more... half the furniture in this picture is now gone, and I'm very happy about that!

 setting up, and a few early birds

...setting up more stuff...

After we spent 3 or 4 hours setting the stuff up, the swarms descended. We had lines of people wanting to buy stuff. We are so thankful it went well - we were able to downsize and helped my mom get rid of 2 garages, 2 sheds, an attic, and a basement full of tools. Everyone was happy. After a week of non-stop rain, God blessed us with perfect weather - not a drop of rain. And the two weeks we spent googling and pricing tools was worth it, too, because very few people haggled the prices. It was also great seeing and talking to friends who stopped by. A big Thank You to all who came out and prayed and helped!

Now to clean my house. It looks like a bomb went off in here.


May 20, 2011

Hudson Taylor, sacrifice, and other good news

I am loving reading Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret. Timely encouragement as we are busy selling our possessions, and feeling the stress and strain of all that entails...

"How few of the Lord's people have practically recognized the truth that Christ is either Lord of all or He is not Lord at all! If we can judge God's Word, instead of being judged by it, if we can give God as much or as little as we like, then we are lords and He the indebted one, to be grateful for our dole and obliged by our compliance with His wishes. If on the other hand He is Lord, let us treat Him as such. "Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not do the things which I say?"

In these days of easy-going Christianity, is it not well to remind ourselves that it really does cost to be a man or woman whom God can use? One cannot obtain a Christlike character for nothing; one cannot do a Christlike work save at a great price, "Can ye drink of the cup that I drink of, and be baptized with the baptism wherewith I am baptize?"

People ask me if I want to go to Argentina. I guess they find it surprising, either because they know how much I hated it before, or they know I am leaving the first world for the third, and am I okay with that? Argentineans are especially curious, "So, how are you, Chris? Are you happy? Do you want to go back to Argentina??". I say yes I am, and I do. I never wanted to step foot again there, but God changed my heart. That's all I can say. I truly see it as a privilege that He is sending us there. What an honor, to be commissioned by the King. I don't deserve any good thing He gives me, but He not only gives me good things, He is seeing fit to use a wretch like me to reach others. How can I not be happy about that?

There was a plane crash yesterday in Patagonia - it had just taken off from the very city we are moving to. 22 dead, including a baby. That makes me nervous (in that I want to go by banana boat now, not plane - not a fan of flying tin cans), but it also makes me yearn to just be there. I watched the news, the interviews of the humble people that live out in the middle of nowhere Patagonia where the plane went down, and where not much else ever happens, their faces revealing their indigenous roots, and I would just love to be there with them. That is the greatest miracle of all to me, that God has given me a love for the Argentinean people I can honestly I didn't have before. The greatest miracle of all sometimes is the miracle of a changed heart. If He can change my heart, He can change anybody. If He wants to use me, take me anywhere and use me, then I happily say, "Here I am, Lord. Send me!".

Last night our daughter also gave her life to Christ. First our boy, now our girl *sniff* - God is good. Although her personality is a happy one, she has been angry lately, frustrated, unhappy, fighting alot with her baby sister, selfish, mean. Last night, in her frustration, she announced that she had made a decision: she was not moving to Argentina. She was staying here and that was final. She also informed us she was not ever going to accept Jesus into her life because following Jesus is boring. We weren't sure where it was all coming from, maybe she was feeling the stress of the move, maybe we have been busy lately and not giving her the attention she needs - so we had a long talk with her to try to figure out what was going on in her little heart. Tony opened up the Bible and showed her a few verses, I talked to her too, but she still said she didn't understand. At one point I just shrugged and told her what Mom-mom told me once when I asked her why we had to go to church and what the big deal was, "When you're older you'll understand." I told her she didn't understand because she doesn't have Jesus in her life. She looked up at me and asked me if I wanted her to accept Jesus. I said of course, but that was a decision that she would have to make. She asked if she could do it when she was 93, right before she died. I said sure, but who says you're going to live until you're 93? Remember the people in the plane crash? They probably thought they would live many more years too. But they didn't. They probably didn't think that they would get on that plane and not get off alive. I reminded her that her Mommy and Papi wasted many years of their lives on stupid stuff and we hope that she doesn't make the same mistake. I asked her if she would like to pray to accept Jesus and ask that God help her to understand all those things that she doesn't, and she (to my surprise) said yes. We prayed right there in the kitchen, dirty dishes and all. As my tears fell down onto her face she looked up at me and said, "But I didn't cry". I told her that everybody's experience is different, tears or no tears is not proof that you are saved or not saved. Some people come to a gradual understanding of Christ and their need and their sin, others have a powerful, marked experience of great weeping and repentance. Faith is like a little seed, sometimes it starts very small, and grows gradually into a big tree.

Afterwards we found and told Tony, and talked late into the night. She asked a whole bunch of questions, questions not typical of our goofy, happy, tends-on-the-flighty-side daughter - real, deep questions about how to be born again, and what does that mean, and oh you mean like Nicodemus, and what about hell, and am I going there, sincere questions about the blood of Christ and what it means and judgement and how to get to heaven and the Way.

I asked her if she believes in the wind. She said smiling, "Yeah...". I said God is like the wind. You can not see Him or touch Him, but He is there. You see evidence of the wind: the leaves rustle, you can hear it, you feel it, but you can't see it or hold it or even prove it is there. God is the same way. We see evidence of Him everywhere, we feel Him, we see him move. All we have to do is chose to believe He is there, to just believe in Him. Sometimes it's only after we believe that we finally are able to understand many things. The way to God is through Jesus. Jesus said, "I am the Way, no one comes to the Father except through me."

After a while she seemed satisfied and announced, "I feel happy now. I'm going to try to make it a habit of praying every night when I go to bed!". And that was that. She happily bounced off to bed.

Oh, God is so good and He works in such unexpected ways! How can I not follow a God like that? Even if it means sacrifice, going to a third world country, to the ends of the earth? All we can do is be faithful to follow Him and share the Good News, it is only the Holy Spirit that can bring conviction, and Christ new life. Our work is to share and to love, God's work is to save souls.


May 19, 2011

Junk, junk, and more junk

Gearing up for Yard Sale #2. Hopefully it'll only take one more after this to get rid of all this JUNK, because I swear I can't live like this anymore!

Oh, LORD, help us get rid of all this junk, or I'm throwing it all in the trash. And I mean it.

May 18, 2011

Everybody's Happy in Her World

My daughter is always smiling; she's been smiling since she was born. She's just like her dad - always happy. And everybody's always happy in her world. (Well, until the toddler touches her stuff).

The sun and the moon and the earth are happy....

The fish are happy....

The jellyfish are happy...

Even Jesus is happy....
My husband says she doesn't get it from me; I'm bitter and miserable. I tell him it's because I have depth, I actually think about things - unlike you shiny, happy people....

I'm just jealous.

May 17, 2011

wow, like WOW

I was just about to write a post about how down in the dumps we have been and could you please pray for us and the whole move and stuff?

But then we got the most amaaaazing email.

But before I share it with you, a little background:

We sold one of our cars and bought a newer van with less miles, with the idea that we would ship it down to Argentina, instead of buying a car there (= too expensive).

The cost to ship the van is anywhere from $2000-$4000. Then we pay 82% of the value of the car just to get it through customs (which, even though we paid only $2700 for our van, they would use the highest Kelly Blue Book value - over $5000 - to calculate the tax). This is still infinitely cheaper than to buy one there (like $12,000-$20,000 cheaper).

So, we had a reality check this month when we peeked into our Mission Fund (ratty envelope) and saw a couple hundred dollars there.

What to do?

Pray. And have other people pray? And thank other people when they pray? And ask God to do the impossible even though you really don't believe He actually will or can?

(We're such worms.)

So, then we got THIS email from a customs agent in Argentina who (Lord would have it) is a Christian. He writes:

"It seeems that God wants to do something regarding your situation. Today a new law passed, a law that has been pending for more or less two years, which states that any Argentine citizen that has been living outside the country for over two years who wants to bring his personal belongings together with his car (which can not have a value exceeding US$10,000) will not have to pay any importation tax.

This is all very new, so new that this morning the official newsletter came out... I wanted to tell you because we can now forget [the import tax]. You will still need to own the car for at least three months before arriving in Argentina.

May God always bless you and your family."

Isn't that INCREDIBLE?!? God just saved us almost $5,000 - that we didn't have anyway!

May 16, 2011

"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature... We are ambassadors for Christ... as workers together with him... and that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again... for we walk by faith, not by sight... Now the Lord is the Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few." - Mark 16:15; 2 Cor. 5:20, 6:1, 5:15, 5:7, 3:17; Matt 9:37 

Are you working in the field, or are you living for yourself?

May 14, 2011


"And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers." ~ John 10:3-5

We will be officially homeless as of September 30th! We officially gave notice in writing on the house that we rent.

We're locked in now, I guess. No turning back! :)

Someone at church asked me if we have a Plan B. We actually never thought of that... No Plan B. Just a Plan A: follow God to Argentina to do missions. That's it.

That's the plan.

What a walk of faith and practice in trusting God this has been. It is all a joy to follow Him, because we hear His voice. "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." - John 10:27

The hardest part about this has not been trusting God, but dealing with and accepting the misunderstanding, the questioning of our motives, the doubting of us as Christians and people. We just shake our heads that there are people that choose to believe we are just "moving back to Argentina". Like life is better there or something. It's not (imagine going to this hospital in Neuquen where we are moving - just take a look, go ahead. Then tell me we are going to be living large.). We're just "moving back to Tony's home country" - we're not really going to do missions. We just want to live abroad and have other people support us and not work. Who are we to do missions anyway? We've heard it all (or at least I hope, because I can't take much more of this). I could go on, but won't... (sigh). That has very much been the. hardest. part. of all this, hands down. We never in a million years imagined that our greatest support and encouragement would come from outside of church, from non-believers, from the third world even. But it has, at least so far. It doesn't make sense. For every word of encouragement from a believer, we have received two from non-believers. I don't understand it. [And please don't criticize me for just telling the truth, I don't know if I can take one more person jumping on us for just wanting to do mission. This has simply been our experience]. Of course, we hope and pray that this changes.

I love what Hudson Taylor said in response to his critics and doubters when he was about to leave for China,

'“A foolhardy business,” said those who saw only the difficulties.

“A superhuman task,” sighed others who wished them well. And many even of their friends could not but be anxious.

“You will be forgotten,” was the concern of some.

“With no committee or organization before the public, you will be lost sight of in that distant land. Claims are many nowadays. Before long you may find yourselves without even the necessaries of life!”

“I am taking my children with me,” was the quiet answer, “and I notice it is not difficult to remember that they need breakfast in the morning, dinner at midday and supper at night. Indeed, I could not forget them if I tried. And I find it impossible to think that our heavenly Father is less tender and mindful of His children than I, a poor earthly father, am of mine. No, He will not forget us!”' - from Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret, p. 124 [read the whole thing here]

I thank God for the example of Hudson Taylor. For Gladys Aylward, and for all the others that have gone before us in faith and have proved God to be faithful. Their testimony speaks and encourages us even to this day. Thank you, Jesus.

So... we're looking forward to being homeless!


May 9, 2011

if I wrote a letter to my mother

Thinking of leaving, and thinking of all we are leaving behind, I think of my mother. My parents, my whole family, my friends - we are leaving them all. It's hard, it really is. My parents are older - in their sixties and late seventies. I can see they are aging. Their health is relatively good, but that doesn't mean it will be tomorrow. That worries me a little. The hardest thing about leaving is knowing how sad this makes them. I don't want to hurt my parents. It makes me sad that this makes them sad. I don't blame them, though. I can imagine how I would feel if my daughter told me she was leaving the country, maybe forever, with my three grandchildren, and moving half way across the world to live a life of danger and sacrifice in order to do missions in a third world country.

I love my mom. She gave me life. I am forever indebted to her. So, after my husband brought me coffee in bed on Mother's Day (I don't need much more than that), we went over to my mom's to wash her clothes, clean out her garage, fill up her bird feeders, cook her lunch, and wash her dishes. I can't think of a better way to spend my Mother's Day than showing my mom how much I love her and appreciate all she's done for me in my life. I will miss her so much! I am so sad for my own kids who ADORE their Mom-Mom. In their eyes, she is just perfect. Mom-mom can do no wrong, and that's just the way I like it. I do hope we can come back and visit. But, even with that, we have to trust the Lord. I can't imagine having the money to come back at all, but we do pray we can at some point.

If I were to write a letter to my mother, this is what I would write. Hudson Taylor, famous missionary to China, wrote this letter to his mother. He sailed for China and never saw her again. We have it easy compared to Hudson Taylor's day. He put my feelings into words perfectly in this following letter to his mother:

"Do not let anything unsettle you, dear Mother. Missionary work is indeed the noblest mortals can engage in. We certainly cannot be insensible to the ties of nature, but should we not rejoice when we have anything we can give up for the Saviour? . . .

Continue to pray for me, dear Mother. Though comfortable as regards temporal matters, and happy and thankful, I feel I need your prayers. . . . Oh Mother, I cannot tell you, I cannot describe how I long to be a missionary; to carry the Glad Tidings to poor, perishing sinners; to spend and be spent for Him who died for me! . . . Think, Mother, of twelve millions - a number so great that it is impossible to realize it - yes, twelve million souls in China, every year, passing without God and without hope into eternity . . Oh, let us look with compassion on this multitude! God has been merciful to us; let us be like Him. . . .

I must conclude. Would you not give up all for Jesus who died for you? Yes, Mother, I know you would. God be with you and comfort you. Must I leave as soon as I can save money enough to go? I feel as if I could not live, if something is not done for China."

~ from Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret

May 7, 2011

The Vagabond Evangelist's Journey into Laos

[photo credit: The Vagabond Evangelist]
I have been having a great time reading this story about a fearless evangelist who travels through Laos on a motorcycle.

And since Laos is a closed country, riddled with land mines and tigers and persecution, his Facebook pictures and stories on the journey are just AMAZING.

Check it out. He's so fearless and so full of faith. It's just like God's Smuggler. I love it. My kind of guy. And if we didn't have kids, my kind of missions. :D

May 5, 2011

quote of the day... year

"Stand up for what you believe in, even if it means standing alone." - unknown

May 2, 2011

answer to prayer :)

"...for your Father knows what you need before you ask him." ~Mat. 6:8

Oh, if I could just believe the truth of this more often!

Last year when we decided to do this thing and follow God to the foreign mission field, I admit I struggled a lot with fear. My mind was filled with all sorts of horrible things that could go wrong: the kids could get sick, one of them could die, we could get sick, what if one of us dies (or both!), what if the kids get kidnapped - you know someone slips something in our drinks and takes off with the kids (I know, I am neurotic...) - what if we end up living in a dump with a leaky ceiling and no hot water and cockroaches everywhere, what if we make the move and Tony never finds a job, what if we move and people forget about us - we leave it all for Christ and no one supports us - what if we don't have access to medical care, what if we can't afford to buy a car, or it gets stolen from us... and on and on and on.

I was seriously gripped with fear. Fears of all kinds. Some rational, most irrational. Fear is like that - mostly irrational.

One of my prayers over this past year has continually been, "Oh, Lord, please provide medical, at least for the kids! If it's not through a job, please at least provide the money so that we can afford to pay for medical if one of us gets sick!"

Medical attention is just something that's important to me at this stage in life. There are a few things that I feel like I "need" in order to go (that sounds lame, but it's kind of true). Medical for my kids is one of those things. It's just important to me, and to my peace of mind as a mommy.

I don't know that I have "big faith" - the kind that can just go with nothing. I wish I did. Some people might look at us and think that we have that kind of faith - but let me just tell you right now, we often pray for faith, that God would simply give us faith. We are not spiritual giants with a "special" calling. There's nothing special about me, or Tony, or our faith. I admit my faith is small, as small as a mustard seed. But that is all God requires. (Luke 17:6)
So, back to my story....

We recently found out that medical attention is entirely free in Neuquén. Free for everyone. And it's really good medical care, too.

In all my prayers, it never occurred to me that God would provide FREE medical for us in Argentina.

The government apparently actually uses the money it has and it's given, at least in the province where we are going, to actually do something good with it. Hats off to you, Neuquén!

They not only have free, quality medical attention, but the province of Neuquén, specifically the capital where we will be, also has free sports programs for kids, free educational workshops for adults to learn a new skill or trade, and free public libraries, as well as many other community programs.

We were stunned to learn this. Buenos Aires wasn't like that. And most parts of Argentina are not like that.

So, Thank you, Jesus! Forgive my unbelief, and help me to trust you more!
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