June 28, 2011

on kids and missions


... was abandoned by her prostitute mother in an Ecuadorian orphanage.
As far as I know, she is still there almost four years later.

(Now this is where I'm just going to be real. And, well, human.)

Days like today, when I'm colosally pms-ing out of my mind (yeah, I know, TMI. I told you it was a family curse.), I think to myself, "Oh, LORD, please don't make me adopt. You know, or open up a children's home. I could never do that. Really, I couldn't."

God probably laughs at me. He often makes me eat my words. Often.

I know we're going to be working with kids to some degree in Argentina. I know that. And I want to. I really do. I love kids. I just hope the Lord doesn't make me actually raise 100 of them. {See how spirtually mature I am - just juvenile of me, I know.}

Because, you know, LORD, the way things are going with aging and all, I'm sure I'll go psycho when I hit menopause, so don't ask too much of me, okay? Okay? You know how I am, LORD. Psycho mommy and all... once a month can't handle anything... you know....


I remember years ago, in the waiting area of the hospital... one of our pastors was there as we were waiting to get in and see my neighbor who had tried to commit suicide. For the 12th time. I found her ODed on her bathroom floor, and called 911. As we were waiting there in the hospital, I remember talking about ministry and what might the Lord have for us in the future yadda yadda, and do you know what I said? I said, "Well (and I probably snorted or something, you know a la Chrissy Snow or something}... Well," I went on - as if I know the future and all - "whatever He has for us I know it's not working with children. I don't do kids. I can barely do my own two, you know?"

(Real sympathetic ear from pastor. Yessiree).

And that settled it. As if that was that. 'Cause I know everything. And I SURE as all get out was NOT going back to Argentina either. Ha ha.



Yah. Anyway...

Now we're going to probably work with street kids, in Argentina, or maybe orphans, and (gasp)... what if they don't have mommies? Or what if we have to (shhhhhhhh...!take them in or something?

If there is one thing I'm learning, it's that following Christ is (news flash) not. about. me. That's right. Not about me...

Not. about. me.

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. Luke 9:23

Following Christ is about suffering. That's right, America. Uh, Chris...

The Christian life is marked by suffering. Not comfort.

So, off to Argentina we go. Probably to save kids. And all the other stuff I said I'd never do.

June 24, 2011

Homeschool Lite: Transitioning to the Southern Hemisphere

Right now I'm trying to figure out how to make the transition from not just homeschooling in the US to homeschooling in Argentina, but from homeschooling in the northern hemisphere to homeschooling in the southern hemisphere. It's a little tricky with the season change.

So this is what we've decided to do this Transition/Homeschool "Lite" Year...

[although this is what it's ACTUALLY looking like so far... LOL!
{credit: Todd Wilson: Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe}]


Art - nada (hey it's homeschool "lite", right?)

Music - nada  (they are not required to be taught every year, you know, at least per our homeschool law... which we won't be under after the move, by the way... insert hysterical happy laughter here)

Science - nada, or at least nothing formal. We're huge lovers of science, so we are ahead of the game here, and I rest in that knowledge. Science is never anything I have to force. They always find some science-y thing to pursue on their own, anyway. I'm sure we'll continue a bit on the dinosaur trajectory - maybe branch out into dinosaurs of Patagonia?

Phys. Ed. - finish swim lessons at the Y; weekly free swim this summer at friend's pool that actually has a deep end (very important as we get older:)); evening basketball with Papi; lots and lots and lots of walking in South America; and, you know, riding an Argentine bus could actually be considered strenuous physical activity, because you can break a sweat just holding on for dear life.

Teaching Textbooks math
Math - start and finish next year's Math this summer (the start part was my idea, the "do-3-lessons-a-day-and-be-done-by-August" was the kids' idea) - they want to be done everything before we move (I almost fainted with delight when they announced this to me); we LOVE and use Teaching Textbooks, by the way, and will maybe never use anything else as long as we and the kids both shall live. As a fellow homeschooling peep of mine says, "Teaching Textbooks saved our lives!". And since I value life and don't want anyone to lose theirs over Math, we love love love Teaching Textbooks! [UPDATE: the 3 lessons-a day-thing not going so hot... mostly what I hear permeating from the other room are groans, moans, and loud exclamations of "Curse you, Teaching Textbooks and whoever invented math!". Like I said, we'll see how doing one year's worth of math in one summer plays out, lol.].

Language Arts - both kids (3rd and 6th grader) will do A Reason for Handwriting T at the same time. I decided a long time ago I would just do cursive with both of them together because, well, I value our lives. Why get someone killed over cursive?? Beside, my boy is a boy, and my girl is a girl. Which means he is just now ready for that kind of sit down work/fine motor precision, and she has probably been ready for a while - so we'll just kill two birds with one stone there, see? Smart, huh? Maybe I'll make them do some actual writing later (like essays in cursive entitled, "What I like most about living in South America" or something like that). Maybe we'll just wait until our next Fall (March, that is), and pick up our writing composition stuff then when my son is a junior high-schooler... (okay, weird, somebody stop the aging train - mine, that is!)

I'll pick some historical/spiritual/classic literature I've been planning for, oh, years, to read aloud to them, and that will take care of that. So far I am thinking we'll attempt: The Pilgrim's Progress (Young Readers), The Hobbit, Aesop's Fables and Stories from the Bible: Old and New Testament (both Great Illustrated Classics that I can usually find for 50 cents or a dollar at used book sale somewhere).

(See how easy that was? Five subjects all rolled into one: handwriting, reading, history, literature, and Bible/spiritual growth. That's how I roll.)

Foreign Language/Social Studies/Geography - We're moving to Argentina; I think that will cover most of this. Lots of TV and cartoons in Spanish (hey, that's how I learned a lot of Portuguese - those Brazilian soap operas are really good for that). I think Social Studies this year will be mastering the Argentine greeting. Quite the study in social norms and mores, if you ask me. Hopefully I can get some video of that later on... :)

Bible - Tony went through Matthew with the kids this year. He said we'll do Mark this year. Sounds good. I do like that in A Reason for Handwriting, they copy Scripture every week. But mostly I feel we're really bad at this. We're trying to get better, but I guess Bible is just something we try to live out more than teach as a subject. I do, do, do want my kids to read the whole Bible through before they graduate (or they won't graduate my homeschool), but I confess we need to be more disciplined and purposeful in this area. I know, I know, this is terrible! We're going to be missionaries and we don't have daily devotions with our kids. Neither Tony nor I grew up in Christian homes, so this is simply not a learned habit we have. It's something each of us does faithfully every morning, we just haven't figured out how to do it daily with the kids. We were just proud of ourselves when we began to pray as a family before dinner. That was huge. A new habit is hard to form, especially for old dogs like us. :) Mostly, we don't want to be hypocrites and have our kids be able to recite 100 Bible verses with references, but not ever do them. So we just hope we live it out louder, and that will help speak for the validity of what we profess to believe and try in our own feeble, flawed way to teach our kids. So, anyway, I'll stop rambling now because everyone I know does daily devotions with their kids but us and obviously I feel guilty about it because I just can't seem to stop going on and on about it. So there.

{make a model of a cell with clay}

I'm not big into accelerating kids academically just to accelerate them and make us look really smart, but I've decided that accelerating a bit this summer is better than taking a year off and them being "behind" or having to "catch up" (whatever that means). This way they can be done their school year by Argentina's summer break, which will be by December this year. Sweet deal. We plan to do LOTS of stuff this summer (again, meaning December :)) like Christmas outreach, a mission trip with CCC to the Mapuche, lots of ministry and evangelism, hopefully begin showing the JESUS film, or starting up our own ministry. We can do so much there, we will just have to see how it all unfolds. SO, all that to say, I don't want to have to be homeschooling come summer in the southern hemisphere. I want to us all to be free!

Which we are, anyway... Because there's no restrictive homeschooling law in Argentina.

Let me rub that in some more... THERE'S NO RESTRICTIVE HOMESCHOOLING LAW!

I love that.

(Did I mention there's no homeschooling law?)

So, we'll be free... ahhhh. I've dreamt about this moment for six. long. years. Free, free at last to homeschool the way we want to, and not have to jump through restrictive, suffocating loops. Ahhh... I'm so excited.

So that's our homeschool "lite" year in a nutshell.

{credit: Todd Wilson}


June 22, 2011

The Great Commission is not a suggestion

...but a commandment. Don't just watch this and be "moved". Do something. Surely there is something you can do. Go, send, give, pray... pick one, and do it.

"Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." - James 2:17

June 20, 2011

Update - June, 2011

We're crazy, and our life is insane. That's our update for now.

I meant to write this up a month ago, but things have been crazy busy. We did a huge Yard Sale, a huge Fundraiser Meal, then another yard sale. So now that that's all over, here's the latest on how things are unfolding:

DEPARTURE: We got our tickets! We leave for Argentina September 28th. My mom teared up; my dad is just worried about exploding volcanos and the economy. I don't blame either. I try not to worry about anything myself (Matt. 6:34, Phil. 4:16). I'm sure I drive them nuts (my kids do the same to me).

PROVISION: We are thrilled to announce that our ratty missions fund envelope that a month ago contained a few hundred dollars has bulged to, well, a lot. Between the Yard Sales, gifts at the Fundraiser, and other gifts that have flowed in, we now have most of our expenses covered. We wish we could say thank you to each person individually, and we do to the ones we know of, but we don't know who many of them even are. May the Lord repay you, whoever you are (Ruth 2:12).

Between the yard sales and fundraiser we were able to pay off the cost of shipping Big Blue, as well as some supplies for ministry, clothing, and some furniture - so as not to have to start from scratch in Argentina. (Which, incidentally, we we were willing to do, and thought we would - until everyone down there kept saying, "Bring everything you can, bring everything! It is soooooo expensive here." After they told us several times, we decided to listen.)

"They said to him, Rabbi
 (which is to say, Master),
where are you living?
He said to them, Come and see."
- John 1:38-39
 As for where we will live once we get there, we don't know. But you can read this post, and THIS (timely, thought-provoking, convicting).

The next biggest thing right now is getting a job for Tony. Right now he doesn't have one there, but we are in faith that he will get one. Some people have told us we should try to raise monthly support. How? (see Missions Orgs below for why that is difficult for us). Anway, if Tony can't get a job before we leave, he will have to look once we're there. It's the Argentine way. No sending your resume by email, then following up with a phone call and interview. That's the "first world way"; it's different in Argentina. Almost everything is done in person. But you can pray for us. Because, yes I am aware, it is a little crazy to just move across hemispheres with your kids and without a job or monthly support.

One or two people have expressed interest in supporting us financially in Argentina. We are so encouraged by this. Even though Tony will be working to (hopefully be able to) pay our living expenses, we know it won't be enough. We are expecting him to make about $1000 a month. Hopefully more, but quite possibly less. Doing missions up in the mountains and surrounding villages, as well as reaching out to street kids and others in need requires funds. But, as the cookie has crumbled, we seem to have fallen into missions a la Hudson Taylor. We aren't into asking for money. We trust God. God is already showing us that by prayer alone, He is able to bring in all we need. It just encourages us to trust Him more and believe Him for greater things. We want to stay in Argentina, invest in the people and the gospel going forth over the long term. God knows that. We believe He put that desire there, we know He did, so He'll just have to provide for that. He's never let us down before.

TRAINING: Tony started going to a juvenile detention center to help with a Bible study. I'll be going tomorrow night for the first time. Tony loves it. His only regret is that he didn't know about it sooner. It's been going on for two years now. Oh well, experience is experience, right? It just fans the flames of his desire to work with young people and to go into the prisons in Argentina. He is talking about studying and getting some more training in Argentina - it may just be easier there with the language and connections with the church, etc. There's certainly nothing around here for him (in Spanish, that is).

Our second vehicle finally died a definitive death. Transmission. Getting used to what it's like to have one vehicle (not conducive to the American way of life, but a good training for our new life).

PREPARATION: We're packing! And buying supplies. I just hit the local homeschool used book and curriculum fair. Got what we'll need to homeschool for the next two years. After that, I'll be relying on people coming to visit us to bring us stuff. We've also talked about putting our oldest in school there maybe in the future, but not sure if we will; we'll see.

Busy also getting our finances in order - visiting our bank and setting up ways people can support us if they feel so led. We also paid off our credit cards at tax time; so that felt really good.

THE KIDS: Their teeth are clean, shots are up to date, and potty-training is under way... They've also been watching lots of cartoons in Spanish. Tony put them on one day months ago, and they've been watching ever since. They say they understand everything. The 11yo has finally started speaking some Spanish. At his mother's expense. His Spanish at this point consists solely of repeating phrases Tony says when he makes fun of me (which is all the time) by imitating the way I talk (which is not the way I talk, I keep insisting, but they don't seem to care - boys). Well, at least it's a start. And the miracle isn't lost on us (this was the kid who announced at five years old he was not ever going to speak Spanish because he's American. He stuck to that conviction, too... until now - hallelujah!). His accent isn't too bad either, which surprises me.

The kids wrapped up the school year only to hear Mommy-slash-slave-driver announce that we were starting next year's schooling now - as in now, June. They love me. Really. They were initially somewhat dismayed, but once I pulled out the calendar and explained my reasoning (summer break comes this December, kids, so you don't want to have to be doing school when everyone else isn't, do you???), they actually jumped right in and began calculating how many Math lessons they had to do to be done one academic year in T minus 3 months. They seriously are planning on being finished by September. They make me proud - and God seriously surprised me with this one. So far, so good; they are actually doing it - six days a week! Some unexpected fruit of homeschooling - owning their education.

In other kiddy news, Firstborn bought himself a laptop. He's been saving up his birthday and Christmas money for years and asked us if he could buy one. We let him do it, because he's growing up and we need to start loosening the reigns (hard). We also knew it would help him feel better about moving if he had something special that was "his" that he could take with him. He'll also be able to do his math without tying up the family computer, which is nice, since his sister started math on the computer this year, too, and we only have one. He's been very responsible with his computer and, even though there are rules in place and parental controls on it, my boy has a strong sense of right and wrong. I can see he means it when he says he won't search for or click on anything "bad". So far so good... Tony also thinks it will be a huge conversation piece for him in Argentina. He'll be forced to talk to the kids in Spanish as they gather around him to gawk at his very own laptop and bombard him with a million questions. God uses everything.

MISSIONS ORGS: This is hard for me to write, but here it goes: We put our application with OM on hold. They will hold it for us for the next two years - we may continue the application process at any time, but it's not likely. I don't feel the specifics are bloggable, so forgive me for leaving you hanging. That's just the way the cookie has crumbled. You can ask us in person if you want. Although we were devastated and deeply grieved by this door which closed - it can not be understated how this affects us for years to come (which, incidentally, is the very reason Tony is looking for a job in Argentina, we don't really have a choice since we're technically on our own and can't go with an organization, nor are we going with a church) - it has nothing to do with us, but with details that that are out of our control. We are learning to move on in the will of God. We are trusting Him. He has taught us some deeply painful, but very good and valuable lessons. And for those we are thankful. God closes windows only to open doors, right?

my favorite picture of Tony - reading the Illustrated Bible to orphans in Ecuador - man I LOVE this picture...

June 18, 2011

volcano update

Since my highly caffeinated post the other day on exploding volcanos, I've chillaxed on the coffee, and we have been gathering some specifics on what has happened, and how it has effected the area we will, I'm assuming, still be moving to in three months. So, as is our way, I jumped on the Web, and Tony jumped on the phone.

Puyehue volcano, Lakes District of southern Chile

Chile's Puyehue volcano recently erupted beginning June 3, 2011, and by June 4th, the ash cloud had reached a height of almost 40,000 feet. By 4:30pm the same day, the ash cloud had shut down the airport in our soon-to-be new home, Neuquén, Argentina. The east-travelling ash plume quickly reached the Atlantic Ocean, and has now made it's first trip all the way around the world arriving once again in Chile. As of June 15, ash is still billowing 9km into the atmosphere, and shows no signs of slowing down.

Here's a map showing the trajectory of the ash plume and relative amounts of ash fall.

Red = most affected; Black = frequent ashfall; Grey/Blue = some ash fall
[photo courtsey of Clarin.com]

[satellite view: Reuters]
 We were finally able to get a hold of our friends in Neuquén, and they said they have received quite a bit of ash. "Bastante" (a lot). It's enough to be "quite bothersome". They have family in Bariloche (in the red zone), and recently made the 5 hour trip to help shovel the 2 feet (70 cm) of ash off the roofs of the houses, just so they don't collapse under the weight. What used to be one of the most beautiful and verdant landscapes Argentina has to offer, is now covered in a blanket of grey.

[ash in the neighboring village of Villa La Angostura, red zone.  Photo credit: Clarin.com]

Volcanic ash is not soft and powdery like baby powder. It actually has the chemical composition of glass. Because it is glass. When inhaled it can lodge in the lungs and cause respiratory infections, hacking coughs, discomfort, and difficulty breathing. And, as you can imagine, getting little tiny flecks of glass in your eyes is quite irritating, as well, and can cause ocular abrasions. The toxic gas emitted from volcanos can also make you feel sick. Those in areas affected by the ash have been told to stay inside; but, for the less fortunate, there is little escape from the ash.

[Imagine not being able to shut your door... because you don't have one.]

Sources say it's hard to tell just yet the affect this will have on tourism and livelihood to the area. I don't know about you, but I'm not so sure I would be running to vacation here and swim in this lake...

[ash along the shore of one of the many lakes in the region]

So, there's an brief little update on the volcano situation. I guess we'll just see how it unfolds.

[photos courtsey of Reuters and Clarín.com]

June 17, 2011

Dominican Pigeon Peas with Coconut Milk

Installment #2 in the Fundraiser Recipe Series :)

[photo credit: DominicanCooking.com ]
I present you with Recipe #2 in our Fundraiser Foodie Series:  Guandules con Coco // Dominican Pigeon Peas with Coconut Milk.

This one is my personal fave. It's AMAZING. Trust me. Try it, you'll see.

This recipe was given (and taught) to me by my friend Leti, who spent three years in the Dominican Republic serving in the Peace Corps.

The earthy pigeon peas, the creamy coconut milk, and the fresh cilantro with a touch of thyme always leave me swooning and coming back for more. There is just something about the tropical and the earthy together that make me happy. (Okay, most food makes me happy.) Here it is...



2C cooked guandules
2C water
2C coconut milk, unsweetened
1 small onion, chopped
1/2C celery, chopped
1T oil
1 cube chicken stock
1t parsley (or 1/2 bunch fresh chopped)
1/2-1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1t thyme
pinch of oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced (or 1/2t garlic powder)
1T tomato paste
1/2-1t salt to taste


Heat oil on medium heat in medium pot. Sauté onion, garlic, and celery until tender. Lower heat and add all herbs + 2T water. Stir and cook until water evaporates. When water evaporates, add chicken stock, tomato paste, and 2T water. Stir well until water almost evaporates. Add pigeon peas, 2C water and salt to taste and boil on medium until all water evaporates. Add coconut milk until creamy, up to 2C. Adjust salt. Serve over/with rice. Enjoy... mmmm-mm.

DominicanCooking.com also has a nice variation of this recipe with great step-by-step photos! Check it out!

June 15, 2011

What is it with us and volcanos? and why I'm a freak freaky

Check out that ash plume... I'm trying really hard not to put an exclamation mark here as if this is a good thing - but I AM a rock and geology geek, so this is somewhat awesome and fascinating to me. Fortunately no lives lost here, just incredible inconvenience and hardship for some or maybe a lot, which is a bummer. But it could be worse, right? Just read Revelation. It could.  Photo Credit: National Geographic]

As many of the well-informed (those that actually follow global news) may already know, a volcano exploded in Patagonia recently. I know, I just lost all of you that said you were coming down to visit, didn't I? I know, it's okay. You weren't coming anyway, just admit it. You were thinking of coming, but you didn't really mean it.

As Nat'l Geographic reports on their site,

"...the volcano's five-day eruption has sent a thick column of ash into the stratosphere, streaming across Patagonia to the Atlantic."


I mean, what is it with us and volcanoes? I would like to know.

Mt. Tungurahua in Ecuador, see it right there? And the kids with their gas masks, aw.

It seems every time we want to go somewhere and do missions, a volcano explodes near said destination right before we leave.  What's the deal, Lord? (and yes, sometimes I talk to God like that. I think He can handle it. I do.)

Because (and bear with me as I ramble, I am going somewhere with this), as I said, I'm a freak freaky kind of mommy. Just ask my friend, I'll call her uh, Alba. Her cackles always ring in my head when the topic of the beach comes up around our house - usually in the form of the kids asking when we're going next. Alba makes fun of me. She doesn't understand. No one does. Least of all myself. So, I just duck and dodge the dreaded beach plea whenever possible. 'Cause there are sharks there. And I don't like the beach. But then we end up going. Because I'm not that selfish, after all. And no I'm not getting in! What are you crazy? It's yucky, and dangerous, and the water is murky. And jellyfish. Blech. They sting your eyes when you go under, you know. And NO, kids, you can't swim in there! Do you really want to swim in THERE?!? Too many sharks. And you can't see your feet, for goodness sake! Why would you go IN that?? I then proceed to absolutely grit my married teeth and pray like the freak freaky mommy that I am as my husband gives them permission (totally vetoing me, can you believe it?!) to go in there. UGH.

I have strange fears. I'm okay with it. Most are not.

So why does the Lord send freak freaky people like me to the mission field? (see, I told you I was going somewhere with this). Least likely candidate in more ways than one, I tell you.

Yes, I can do this missionary thing no problemo ("Wow, Chris is so brave, isn't she?" Uh, no.), but don't ask me to go to the beach. Or climb a tall ladder. Or fly. I HATE flying and I can't believe I have to actually get on another one of those flying tins cans in the sky in a few months! I think my brother, who would never go anywhere for years because of a paralyzing fear of flying (I just laughed and laughed at him back in those days) finally got over his fear and got on a plane (with the help of some little tiny pills) and now wants to travel everywhere - he transferred all those flying demons to me. I'm sure of it. I used to love turbulence. It was FUN. Uh, not so much anymore.

But explode a volcano before we're supposed to go somewhere, and I'm okay with that.

Yep, freak. Freak freaky mommy. I do not understand myself. I've just learned to accept it. Jesus accepts me, doesn't He? My friends don't understand me, neither does my husband. S'alright. I am beyond understanding. I am a woman. I have my redeeming points, I do. Not sure what they are, but at least my husband still loves me and tolerates me. He thinks I'm adorable. I actually cause him great amusement. But he finds amusement in everything. He's shallow like that.

So, back to the volcano exploding.

My dad calls me last night and says, "Christina! Have you heard about that volcano that exploded in Patagonia???"

Uhm, yeah...? Ton-loc watches the Argentine news almost every night, I try to say in my best, loving, patient daughter kind of way. We're pretty up to date on the whole thing, actually. And throw in the expat blogosphere, and we've got live reports and first hand accounts streaming in. Prit-tay cool. We tried to call our friends down there in NoMan'sLand to get the scoop, but they didn't answer. Probably buried under ash somewhere.

"Well, youbetterlookintothisbecausetheysaythiscouldgoonformonths! Like three or four! That thing's spewing ash all over the place down there - it's even reached New Zealand!"

My dad knows everything. He is on top of it. He is. Got a question about something? Ask my dad. Want to know how to do something? Ask my dad. He's really smart, well-informed, and prepared for any natural disaster or economic collapse you can think of. Just ask him about his back up generators and gallons of water and extra gas and stock of canned food and the dry goods in his garage. He is the man. Somewhat high-strung, perhaps, but the man nonetheless. And none of us are perfect, you know. We've already established that I'm not.

So, yeah, we're still going to Patagonia. Exploding volcano or not. And I never did get to the root of WHY I'm actually a freak freaky in this post, did I? - maybe I'll try to unpack that ugly can of worms, or maybe not, when we're down in Argentina, and I'm feeling lonely, with no one to speak English to, and one reminiscent night at the computer I'll air all my dirty laundry share - something I'm exceptionally good at in my own TMI, socially-inept kind of way (my husband cringes when I open my mouth, he told me so once.) It's a family curse, what can I say?

Anyhoo, flights have started up again in and out of Buenos Aires, and good thing we're driving from BA to Patagonialand, because Tony told me last night that things are still pretty shut down in them there parts.

Oh, well, too late now. We got our tickets. September 28th. YAY!


(Can you tell I started drinking coffee again? Huh, huh, can you, can you??

Life IS better with coffee. It is.)

June 13, 2011

Argentine Lentils

Known in Argentina as guiso or estofado de lentejas (lentil stew), or simply lentejas (lentils), this rich, warm winter dish is packed with protein, iron, and fiber. It's happy food on a cool fall's eve, or a cold winter's night.

Since we received so many requests for recipes from our Fundraiser - here's the first installment. I have to say, this is my own recipe I was forced to write down years ago when someone asked for it. I always just had it in my head, because I was taught to make this in Argentina by Argentinians. Which means no recipe. Recipes are not the standard fair in Argentina. Or at least not necessary in your average kitchen. When you ask how to make something, this is about what you get, "Well, it's lentils, some water, onion, a little bit of garlic, a pinch of this, a dash of that - y ya está, and there you go! It's ready!" But I know that's not going to cut it in America, so here you go...

[photo credit and lentil recipe en español]

[My recipe, modified to our family's taste - meaning heavy on the spices]:



1 lb of lentils, rinsed
2 lg. potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 lg. carrots, peeled and cubed small
1 lg. onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4T butter*
1 chicken bouillon cube
2 T tomato paste
1 T paprika
4 T cumin
1 T oregano
1 bay leaf
1/4 t pepper
Salt to taste (about 1/2 - 1T)
*the secret ingredient! But you may substitute any kind of oil here if desired.
**MEAT OPTION: add up to 1 lb of any kind of sausage (we like garlic sausage, mmm...), cubed beef, or bacon (chop and cook bacon first to drain some of the fat).


In large pot, sauté onion and garlic. Add 8 cups of water, turn heat to high. Add lentils and all remaining ingredients. Stir well, bring to a boil, lower heat, cover, and cook, stirring frequently until lentils are tender. You may add more water if needed (or not) for desired consistency. Adjust salt.

Serve with fresh homemade bread (or rice, as we did at the fundraiser). Yummy happy tummy. :)

casa sin terminar and stinky fish

"Do you know if you will be living in the slums? Or in a nicer neighborhood and just working in the slums?".

I answered that I didn't know. We don't know yet where we'll be living. I guess we'll have to see.

(I am vaguely aware I must make people uncomfortable when I give strange and vague answers like this.)

But it's true. We have no idea. We don't have a home in Argentina yet. We do not know where we will live. We will be homeless for at least 2-4 weeks. Or more. But that's okay. We know that and we are prepared (at least mentally) for it. Getting through it with three kids living out of suitcases with a potentially cranky toddler and no where to lay our little heads may be a different reality. But, like pregnancy, it's a temporary state of affairs.

There is a pastor in Neuquen who is relocating this year to an area 20km away to lead up a new church plant. He is leaving his house in the city of Neuquen open and available to anyone that might need it. We have the option of staying there (assuming the timing works out). But we have been told it is a casa sin terminar (an unfinished house/a house still under construction). It is "livable" by Argentine standards - he lives there, after all - but "livable" for Americans means something somewhat different. There may be bare bulbs hanging from the ceiling, electrical wires hanging out of the walls, gaping holes, piles of bricks, unpainted walls, no air conditioning, no heat, no hot water, no washing machine, nothing that passes for a civilized bathroom.

Casa sin terminar could mean anything.

If it doesn't work out that we stay there, I guess we're in the Lord's hands (well, we're in the Lord's hands, anyway). Our pastor friend said we could stay with his family until we find a place. That's super nice, they are so humble and generous, but we really don't want to have to take them up on that. I think there's something to the saying, "Company and fish both stink after three days." Or, I like this one better,

"Two dayes y'ave larded here;
a third yee know,
Makes guests and fish smell strong;
pray go." -[1648 Herrick Hesperides 169]

Yeah, so we don't really want to be that kind of company for anyone. Our two week pit stop in Buenos Aires will be hard enough.

June 10, 2011

Who Cares?

A message from William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army:

June 9, 2011


One of the great bonuses about walking this missions thing out is seeing how God is using it in other people's lives - to strengthen their faith, to encourage them unto good works, to reflect on their own lives, and to inspire them to obedience. At least that is what people have been saying to us. We praise God for that, and we thank Him for answering our prayers - because that has been our prayer exactly.

And, believe me, doing what we are doing has made us reflect on our own faith, as well. You can't do what we're doing and go a day without wondering, "What on earth are we doing?!". We always come to the conclusion that we know exactly what we are doing - we are following the One who commands us to go, who asks us to give back to Him the lives He has redeemed, who empowers us by faith, who strengthens us with grace upon grace, who upholds us with the Everlasting Arms. Walking this out has been the greatest blessing to us because we are getting to know God in such a greater way. We have seen how much we have put the Lord of the Universe in a box. We have defined Him, limited Him, boxed Him, not believed His Word, I mean really believed it - all of it - and He has shown us how dumb and small we really are and how big and powerful and good and faithful and GREAT He really is. I can only assume He will continue to do this even after we jump off the cliff and free fall into South American missions.

"I came to bring truth to the world. All who love the truth are My followers." -John 18:37 

What is so awe-inspiring about taking your family halfway across the world to follow Truth? Is Truth not true? Is He not Who He says He is? Are we crazy, or just simply believing the truth? I think we are just simply believing what He has said in His very own Word, and we are simply trusting it to be true. Faith is only as good as its object. We are trusting in His promises, trusting in Him. That's all. No big deal.

Like I said before, I don't think missions is some special calling for the chosen few. I know some people believe that, but I don't. I really don't. That's like saying "serving" is some special calling. We are all called to serve, just as we are all called, as Christians, to missions. It may look different for you - you may not go to Argentina - but you are still called to missions if you are a Christian. Matthew 28 is for you, too.

Spurgeon said it so much better...

“I will never leave thee.” -Hebrews 13:5

"No promise is of private interpretation. Whatever God has said to any one saint, he has said to all. When he opens a well for one, it is that all may drink. When he openeth a granary-door to give out food, there may be some one starving man who is the occasion of its being opened, but all hungry saints may come and feed too. Whether he gave the word to Abraham or to Moses, matters not, O believer; he has given it to thee as one of the covenanted seed. There is not a high blessing too lofty for thee, nor a wide mercy too extensive for thee. Lift up now thine eyes to the north and to the south, to the east and to the west, for all this is thine. Climb to Pisgah’s top, and view the utmost limit of the divine promise, for the land is all thine own. There is not a brook of living water of which thou mayst not drink. If the land floweth with milk and honey, eat the honey and drink the milk, for both are thine. Be thou bold to believe, for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” In this promise, God gives to his people everything. “I will never leave thee.” Then no attribute of God can cease to be engaged for us. Is he mighty? He will show himself strong on the behalf of them that trust him. Is he love? Then with lovingkindness will he have mercy upon us. Whatever attributes may compose the character of Deity, every one of them to its fullest extent shall be engaged on our side. To put everything in one, there is nothing you can want, there is nothing you can ask for, there is nothing you can need in time or in eternity, there is nothing living, nothing dying, there is nothing in this world, nothing in the next world, there is nothing now, nothing at the resurrection-morning, nothing in heaven which is not contained in this text—“I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”"

Yes, we are free to go, to follow - He will freely give. He will take care of us; we need not worry. We may go to Argentina (or China, or Timbuktu) and He will never leave us. Never.

Do you believe it?

June 8, 2011


[It helps if your camera is actually plugged into the computer when you want to download (or it is upload?) your pictures... glad I figured that out... It only took me three days...]

So, like I said, on Sunday we did a Fundraiser Meal to enable us to do missions down in Argentina. We fed over 300 people all-you-can-eat latin food at church after the service. It turned out to be a tremendous success and definately yum-o (at least judging by all the requests for recipes). The biggest miracle: everybody got fed! There was only rice left over.

The menu included: your choice of White Rice or Brown Rice, Argentine Lentils, Brazilian Black Beans with meat (feijoada), Dominican Pigeon Peas with Coconut Milk (guandules con coco), Venezuelan shredded meat (carne mechada) with arepas (Venezuelan cornmeal pancakes) and black beans (Venezuelan-style), Puerto Rican Fricasséed Chicken, Kenyan Samosas, salad, dessert, and bottled water. (recipes to come)

Here we are setting up and talking administration. Lee (in the light blue shirt), I discovered, is Mr. Administration. He got busy rearranging tables and power cords and crockpots and food for the ultimate serving experience. He had that line flowing like no one's business.

Since we had no use of the cafeteria's kitchen, we had to bring food for 300+ people, already cooked and warmed, ready to go into crockpots and electric roasters - of which we had 20-30 easily! 

Maribel (from Venezuela) made fresh arepas (cormeal pancakes). She actually thanked me for letting her do all that she did (she thanked me??). She said she feels like she has been given certain gifts and hasn't really been using them. It made her feel good to do something. That really touched me.

...beginning to serve...

...the masses...
We had salad and utensils at the end (Lee's idea) - it made it much easier to carry your plate through the line without dropping anything (Lee is so smart).
The desserts (donated by the youth - thanks, guys, you rock!).
So bummed I didn't get to try these! I know it was all amazing, because
it all vanished in the blink of an eye.

It was only after we planned this that I realized there was NO WAY I was going to be able to cook that much food for that many people. We did a fundraiser when we went to Ecuador a few years ago - but this was twice as big! We are so thankful to all the people that came forward and offered to help and cook and serve and donate their time and resources. We seriously could not have pulled it off without all the help. It was beautiful to see the Body of Christ rise up and work together for the purpose of advancing God's Kingdom through missions (in this case, helping to send us). Truly beautiful.

And, even though administration isn't anywhere close to what I would call a gift of mine, somehow I managed to organize who was to do what, when, how, and how much. Some gifts can be learned with practice, like hospitality or teaching or administration - so this was a good experience for me. Like when they asked me to be in charge of 30 babies and toddlers in the nursery one year for VBS... nerve-wracking, but a good experience. As Tony once said, "Well, you want to be a missionary, don't you? You'll need to know how to do a little bit of everything." So true.

And in case you're curious how we made out, we can now pay off the remaining cost of shipping the Mission Mobile down to Argentina! (the yard sale paid for the first half of the cost:))

Isn't that great?!

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good" -Psalm 106:1

June 7, 2011

The Fundraiser...

... meal was a smash success! But my cheap-o Walmart camera has gone cranky on me, so when I get it working again, I will put up pics and recipes. So many people asked for recipes. I promise I'll get them up, but it may take me a week or two, so bare with me!

For, now I am soooooo tired and just recovering. I need to get an update on here about how things are coming together, but I'm so exhausted I can't see straight. It's been a non-stop two months and I may just have crashed. Tony is also looking for a job, so until he gets a something, I can't seem to get anything done around here!

Must. rest. now...


June 4, 2011

missions to NW Argentina

This was posted on FB by our friends as Campus Crusade for Christ in Argentina this week, so we wanted to show you some of what we'll be doing after the Big Move. Every year CCC, staff, and students visit this area of Argentina. We are tremendously bummed that we won't be there for this again this year - but next year we'll be living in Argentina so, Lord-permitting, we will be able to participate in this! Tony always talks about going to the north of Argentina: he wants to go to the north, the north, the north, the north... it really pulls him. So check this out. Even though this video is in Spanish, you can see the need and all there is to do! :)

June 1, 2011

more on compassion... real and in action

I'm soooo busy right now organizing a fundraiser meal for 300 people for this weekend - so not much time to post...

So read this - I love these guys. And am so bummed they don't work in Argentina! Maybe we can convince them to... or start our own kids ministry... :D

[read about the founder of Compassion International here]
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