January 27, 2012

Tony's 2nd Post

Here is Tony's 2nd post (you can read his first post here). He asked me to post this verse back in July of...um... last year?


And after he saw the one measly picture I put up the other day of an entire afternoon's work, he was like, "That's it?! That's the only picture you posted?? What happened to all the other pictures I took that day? You have to put them up, too!"

So, here you are, the scripture he wanted me to share last year {the one that keeps coming up over and over these days} intermingled with the rest of the pictures from the other day's water run to the slums.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,

I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,

I was a stranger and you invited me in,

I needed clothes and you clothed me,

I was sick and you looked after me,

I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

That's all from Tony, til maybe next year.

January 26, 2012

thank you, more photos, and other stuff

Thanks for all the recent comments and the de-lurking, it really made our day! We were laughing out loud at some of the comments, our hearts warmed. It's so good to know people care. Everybody needs that, even rebel missionaries.

Last night I had a killer migraine, a stomach ache, and a neck ache. I sent Tony off to the pharmacy to get me some drugs, only to look out the window and see half the neighborhood pile into our van: the kids from next door, their friend, Yoli and her husband who just happenned to be walking by carrying a huge bottle (more like a small barrel) of water on their shoulders, plus all three of my kids and Tony. Nine people in a 5-seater van (we're missing a row of seats). I bet that was interesting. But who needs seatbelts, anyway. I guess the trip to the pharmacy was a neighborhood affair. Never boring around here. And all this after Tony spent all day demolishing a building, brick by painful brick, with a pick and hammer. Literally.

Now there's a man.  Back off, ladies, he's mine.

It's a great story, the brick story. God provides yet again.


more bricks

Someone from church who works in construction let us know about a farm that was sold and subdivided to be developed. The brick barn is being taken down and all the bricks gotten rid of.

the brick barn
We were able to get them for free to give to Ceferino to rebuild his house! This is an amazing blessing. There are about 8,000 bricks, worth about 10,000 pesos ($2,500 or so). Ceferino makes 3000 pesos a month (about $700);  the bricks alone are worth over three months salary to him.

The only catch is, we need to take the bricks down ourselves. One by one. Using a hammer and chisel. No bulldozer available 'round these here parts.

So, Tony and Ceferino and Dani and his brother Kevin are now spending their days pounding bricks.

Ceferino getting the bricks for his new house
Hopefully it won't take more than a few days.

Kevin working hard. Kevin is 13 and a pastor's son.

We didn't let our MK go just yet. He's can be a bit spacey, and these brick walls have been known to just topple over. Construction sites down here are not what you would call up to code. Not even close. You need to be quick and on your toes. 

Ceferino, Tony, Kevin
It's pain-staking work, but they are having a good time. Marcela is happy, too. It does her good to be able to get out of the slums and spend a day in what used to be a fruit plantation, surrounded by green and quiet, compared to the brown dirt and trash she is used to seeing.

fresh-picked grapes from the farm!
This weekend we are invited to a Pastor's Conference some 11 hours away. Edgardo wants us to meet all the pastors from all over Argentina, which would be really great. We would love to go, but we are almost out of money, and Tony is still looking for a job. It's either pay next month's rent, or go to the conference. We can't do both. The gas alone will put us under. Not to mention the car is not registered yet. Sometimes - especially at times like this - we feel the strain of not having a missions organization, a sending church, or regular monthly support like most missionaries. [Note: we do have some supporters, and we know who you are... all three of you! Thanks :)].

But God is not bound; His ways are not our ways. God is still God, and He has not left us, nor will he forsake us. HE is our provider, leading and guiding. And blessing. We know it, we feel it, we see it. We ask and pray for God to speed up the registration process with our car and to give Tony a job, but I think that, in the wait, he is doing other things. Being here is not about us. It's about who He wants to reach. In the meantime He is doing many things, like, perhaps, changing us.

January 25, 2012

Another day. Another water run to the slums.

Marcela, Ceferino, their children - and everyone else up on the edge of the slums we have been reaching out to - use water like this to drink, bathe, and wash. Cool water in rusty barrels. It's all there is. Imagine.

"For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink..."

[Read the whole context here. Sobering.]

January 24, 2012

new look, and doing the followers thing

After almost two years I picked a new look for our blog. Check it out.

I don't know if I like it or not, but it's simpler, less cluttered, quieter. I still have to clean it up bit, but now I can since we have a fairly reliable, higher-speed internet at home. Yippee!

Also, if you read here, let us know by signing up on the side bar. (Pleeeeease?) My stats tell me a lot of people read here, but no one seems to want to do it publically. Which I can understand, I lurk on blogs, too.

But please know that we missionaries find it very encouraging to know that people actually read our blogs. Really we do. It makes us feel like people care about us and care about what we are doing. We don't get old-fashioned letters anymore, so also feel free to leave a comment! We read them all and they are so encouraging - not so much what they say, just that someone took the time to say something. And thank you to our friends that do comment! It really means a lot to us. Know that Tony reads the comments, too. He will often ask me if anyone wrote to us or commented on the blog. Know that outside of the internet, we seriously have no contact with anyone back home!


7 Lies About Homeschoolers, debunked


January 23, 2012

crazy rain, typical days

We were asked recently what a typical day for us looks like. We were actually confused by this question, unable to answer. Not because we don't have plans, or love routine or schedules, but because there is nothing typical about living here. Someone even asked this question of us last year, way before we even left for the mission field. As if we could possibly answer what our life would be like in a place we'd never been to sometime in the near or far future. We still marvel at this question. Apparently, missionaries in other places do, too.

Case in point:

We live in the desert. Rain is very rare. There was a drought for nine months last year. It began pouring the day we arrived here. I never did tell you how we spent an entire day, all five of us terribly sick, squeegy-ing the rainwater out the door of our little apartment as it threatened to flood us out and soak all our earthly belongings. Things are not built for rain here. Now it's raining again. This is Day 3 and it's supposed to thunderstorm again today, as well as rain tomorrow. Four days of rain here? Unheard of.

We spent Saturday night and all Sunday evening moving buckets and towels around as our tin roof leaked like Niagara Falls during the torrential downpour this past weekend. Our house is a new construction, so I guess as the first renters, we're the lucky ones to discover something's not quite right with the way they laid the corrugated tin sheets on the roof.

Our leaky roof didn't spoil our plans because we didn't really have any for the weekend, besides maybe rest. Very last minute, at church, while Tony was talking to several people, including the pastor, about all that is going on up in the slums, they decided to, very last minute,  all head up for a visit to see how we can further help our new friends there. So they went. Including the pastor. And, shocker, he didn't have to check his Day Planner first (love that).

While they were up there visiting, it began to downpour again. As I ran to place our only bucket under the biggest leak, I yelled at the kids to "Grab towels!".

They screamed and grabbed rags. Little itty bitty rags.

As I was yelling, "No, TOWELS! BIG towels! In the closet! In the bathroom! I don't know, just grab towels! AHHH!" the three year-old was walking around in circles with her little hands on her cheeks exlcaiming, "Ow howse is fwudding, ow howse is fwudding! Oh no, who wiw fix it?"

How do you make plans and complete them when your roof spontaneously springs massive leaks like that? After a while, you learn to "make plans" with quotation marks around them. You never know what could happen in the third world.

In the end, I do think we accomplish a lot here, eternally speaking, in spite of our lack of "planning". Definately more than we did in the US, Tony and I agree. God doesn't need our schedules and plans and meetings do His work. They can be an aid, even a help of course, but sometimes they can be a big hindrance.

Down here, we go with the flow. We have ideas, we make plans, and we have visions (many visions) for the future, sure. Just like Jesus did. But we go with the flow. Just like Jesus did. He was walking along one day, on his way to somewhere to see someone, and BAM. A woman with bleeding issues interrupts his day and *gasp* touches him. He stopped and helped her. His apparent plans and schedule were delayed. Shame on that wretched woman. He was late for a meeting. People were waiting for him. He had a PowerPoint presentation he had to give. He didn't get there when he was supposed to.

When we talk about walking as Jesus walked, what if it looked this way? Would it be wrong? Or Christ-like?

Well, I must get back to drying out all the towels we own before the rain begins again. Shame we don't have a dryer. I do pray the rain stops. But, if not, I guess it's God will for today that I mop up my wet floors. His grace covers leaky roofs, wet floors, and even more rain.

Our New Normal is...

{just to name a few...}

90 to 108 degrees every day, no A/C

eating dinner at 10pm

the kids going to bed at midnight. every night.

people showing up at your door unannounced and staying for hours

kissing everyone hello on the cheek

men kissing men hello on the cheek

volcanic ash is in the forecast

your neighbor getting Hepatitis A

your friend casually mentioning that her baby had Scarlett Fever

the house three blocks away gets infested with black widows

you find out there are also biting red ants, tarantulas, and coral snakes in your new home

you don't have a dishwasher

...or dryer

...or microwave (that works)

you've forgotten what it is like to have a dishwasher and dryer and microwave

you see the five year-old that lives next door walking down the street by herself

you can't eat breakfast because you're still too full from eating dinner at 10 at night

there were 5 murders last year in the neighborhood next door (oops, don't read that, Mom)

your toddler gets bitten by a dog and you're genuinely concerned about rabies

you toddler gets bitten by dogs all the time

going to the hospital, but leaving after two hours because no one seems to be attending patients

dinner guests come for dinner at 10 and leave at 1 or 2am

time is no longer an exact science, but is now expressed in terms of "in a little bit", "this afternoon sometime", or just "later"

a local farmer selling a cart full of fresh farm vegetables at your front door

going to the ATM but there in no money it

no car seats

going to church to find that someone threw a rock through the window leaving broken glass all over the floor

everyone shrugging nonchalantly at any of the above and even remarking, "oh, yeah... that's normal"

hearing your kids speak another language

being so proud daily of your amazing, awesomely generous, thoughtfully kind husband who is reaching so many more people for Christ than you every could

riding bikes with your kids and a dog-sized hare runs across the dirt road

when someone come to your door asking for a Bible

when little kids come to your door selling fresh-picked cherries from their cherry tree

getting mail once a month

never getting junk mail

when someone says they'll come by at 10 and show up at 12

when someone says they'll come by tomorrow, but shows up a week later

when you go to the gas station but they're all out of gas

blood-sucking gnats

Bible study starts (not ends) at 9pm

driving half the people you had over for Bible study home at midnight because they don't own a car

when your daughter begs to go with her dad to take everyone home at midnight, and you let her

losing your life for Christ's sake and find that you love the new life he gave you so much more than the old one

{And you wouldn't trade any of it for the world.}

January 22, 2012

the view when I wash the dishes sometimes

This hawk (of which we see a lot soaring over the neighborhood daily) decided to land on the neighbor's trash thingy while I was washing the dishes and staring out the window one day.

A "trash thingy" is my sophisticated name for the raised steel basket we all have to put our trash in here so the stray dogs don't tear your trashbags to pieces.

January 21, 2012

on being ready

It's not about being ready. You'll never be ready.

Then Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready." ~John 7:6

Be willing to get dirty.

January 20, 2012

Tony has been spending a lot of time in the slums these days.

Tony with Sebastian: his plywood house burned down and he is now living in a tent with his wife

There's always something to do.

Bring fresh water. Food. Comfort. Friendship. A helping hand. The Good News.

Love in action.

Fix-it-yourself electrical repairs: Dani holding the ladder for Raul, Sebastian's uncle

During one of their visits Ceferino, Marcela's husband, told Tony his story. He grew up in a landfill. He is one of twelve children. As a child, he picked through trash to survive. His body is riddled with gunshots. Two to his head (one grazed his jaw bone, the other his scalp), more than a few in his legs and stomach. Miraculously, he's still alive.

Dani, Sebastian, Raul

While Tony was in the slums, Yoli stopped by our house and asked for a Bible. No one has ever actually asked me for a Bible, and I was about to give her mine, right when Tony came home and said he had found one while unpacking. It was hers to keep.

Oh, Thank you, she said. I want to read the Bible at night, but I don't have one.

Now she does.

Sometimes, I venture to say most times, reaching the lost, helping those in need, spreading the gospel, takes the form of small things. Jesus doesn't necessarily ask us to do big things for him, He just asks us to be available, to obey. Knowing His will is not far from us, we can open our Bibles and read what we're supposed to do as professed followers of Christ. The question is not "What does God want me to do?", but "Will we do it?".

January 19, 2012

random cell phone dump

I never know what interesting pictures I will find on our cell phones...

I'm not sure what this is.

A tree growing out of the street? A protest? A lame roadblock?

I do know what this is, though: Utter Cuteness.


January 18, 2012

a midsummer's night sunset

"The heavens declare the glory of God..." ~Psalm 19:1

"Behold the clouds which are higher than thou..." ~ Job 35:5
"Bless the Lord..." ~Psalm 104:1

"Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment:..."

"...who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain" ~Psalm 104:2

"The LORD looketh from heaven; He beholdeth all the sons of men." ~Psalm 33:13

"Hast thou with him spread out the sky, which is strong and as a molten looking glass?" ~Job37:18

"...wherein the heavens being on fire..." ~2 Peter 3:12

"Sell that ye have, and give alms;
provide yourselves bags which wax not old,
a treasure in the heavens that faileth not,
where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth." ~Luke 12:33

January 15, 2012

love looks like a new old fridge

getting ready to deliver the fridge and more water

14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other. ~John 15:14-17

Ceferino, Marcela, and two of their five children and the new owners of an old fridge

Thank you, Lord. You always provide. You always come through. All glory belongs to You.

Kisses from Katie

I found Katie's blog about a year ago. Couldn't stop reading. Amazing how God can use one person fully surrendered to Him, simply obedient to His word....

January 14, 2012

Marcela, cold water, and refrigerators

filling up water tanks to take to the slums

Days are full here. None are ever the same. I wonder if that is, in part, because it's summer. It is very difficult to have a schedule when people drop in unannounced every day, some with great physical and spiritual needs, some for lunch, some for dinner, some to just talk and visit. Much grace is also required as temperatures climb back up over 100.

Oh, and the dust. Don't forget the dust! I have never seen so much dust and dirt in a house in all my life. I feel like all I do is clean, clean, clean. And surely, I think, God did not bring me here to just clean all day long day after day, did He?

Dany drinking terere
Yesterday, Tony and Dani went back to visit the families whose houses burned down. The third time this week.

Dani is one of the pastor's sons. He is 17 years old and he is pure genius. He handles all the car repairs for the church, is a master electrician, mechanic, welder, and builds his own computers. And he loves to do missions. He also recently repaired our TV all by himself - the one that Tony (ahem) blew out. Dani is very smart and always busy helping out.

Today my boy asked me why Dani is so white but doesn't understand English.


I told him that it's because his parents are of European descent, but he's Argentinian, so he speaks Spanish.

On Wednesday when Tony and Dani went up to visit the families for the second time, bringing water and the food we forgot to unload (duh), one of the women, the one who has 5 children, opened up and told her story.

Oh boy.

When Tony asked the families why they thought this may have happened to them, all were silent. Then, Marcela spoke up. She said, yes, she had thought about that question many a time since her house burned down.

Marcela, in the middle, wearing a dress

Marcela uses cocaine. Her husband abuses alcohol, does coke, and also smokes pot. Fortunately, Marcela's husband holds down a job. He works from midnight until 10am loading and unloading fruit crates at a fruit distributor. As she opened up, Marcela also shared that they have dabbled in Umbanda. They have five children. She admits that she feels empty.

Tony and Dani stayed all afternoon visiting, baking under the sun, sharing time, conversation, and Christ. When the guys were getting ready to leave, Marcela asked that they stay. She wanted to talk some more. It did her so well, she said, that they came. She has thought many times of taking her own life. But she was feeling better now that they had talked. So they stayed and promised to come back in a few days. Tony told her that even if we continue to bring food, water, a refrigerator, or any and all sort of material things, without Christ in her life she would still feel empty.

When Tony came home after this visit and announced that we would be buying them a refrigerator, I confess that my reaction was more like, "Woahhh... Hold on there a minute, don't forget you don't have a job yet. We have to pay rent, you know. Refrigerators are expensive. Why don't we wait til Sunday, make an announcement at church, and have everyone give 100 pesos?"

No, he said. They need a refrigerator now.


The construction guys next door have a used fridge they can sell to us for 800 pesos ($200). New ones cost $2000-3000 pesos.

Where are we going to get an extra $200??, I asked. If you hadn't noticed, we don't have much of an income.

Worry, worry, worry.

The next morning fellow missionary Lee came over. We had given them 3 big peices of furniture that literally did not fit into our smaller house here, even after three yard sales and tremendous downsizing. We needed to sell one of the pieces, hoping to help pay for our own rent while Tony still waits for a call from the TV station (they say he is #1 on the list to get a job, but everyone is on vacation now, so we need to wait.). We're living on faith already.

While I was wondering how on earth we were going to give Marcela a refrigerator, when we don't have a job or fixed monthly support to even pay for our own roof, the next morning Lee came and offered us 1000 pesos for the 3rd piece of furniture we were selling.

Not the first time I've felt ashamed of my lack of faith and amazed at the goodness of God at the same time.

Yesterday it was 38 degrees Celcius up there on the desert hill. That is 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Today it will be hotter.

There is no water. There is no shade. There is a not a tree or a blade of green in sight. They do not have ice, or even a refrigerator. One of the women had a headache from the heat and the beating sun, which are brutal here. The low pressure system that constantly hangs over the city, inviting hot winds to blow in, can make your head bound. I know this personally since I've had to take Tylenol or Ibuprofen every single day for three straight weeks for constant headache. Even Tony complains it bothers him.

Today Tony and Dany will be going back to Marcela's neighborhood. They filled two big tanks with fresh, cool, sparkling water.

Our kids ask why they keep going back there. I tell them that the Bible says to Love the Lord God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself. Would you want to be thirsty and hungry and homeless and without Christ? Wouldn't you want someone to come help you if you were Marcela?

"For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward." ~Mark 9:41

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

You are my friends, if you do whatsoever I command you."
~John 15:13,14

January 11, 2012

Dumb Missionary Moment

I love that Tony asked upon seeing what was forgotten, "Who unloaded the stuff?"

Uh... The men.

Mental Note When Delivering Supplies to Those in Need: CHECK THE TRUNK.

Oh, well. Good thing they were non-perishable food items.

We are heading back today to deliver what was forgotten. I guess God wants us to go back after all.


January 9, 2012

Learning to do Good

"Learn to do good..." - Isaiah 1:17

Yesterday we heard about a family of 7 whose plywood house burned down. Mom, Dad, and five kids were left with nothing. Literally nothing.

So a group of us from church loaded up some non-perishable food items (they don't have a fridge), clothing, mattresses, sheets and blankets, a tent so they have somewhere to sleep, and some water in big plastic jugs, and drove our little caravan out to the very edge of town.

Because, the Bible says, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Edgardo lent us his truck, onto which we strapped our extra mattresses
(now when people come visit, we will just have to sleep on the floor and give them our own bed,
hardly a sacrifice considering the needs we see here daily)

we half emptied our own cabinets to pile food and clothes and other supplies into our van
 I made my kids pick out some clothes that no longer fit them, and some shoes that still do, to donate to the family of 5 children. Because no one needs five pairs of flip flops when your neighbor has none.

"He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise." Luke 3:11

heading out to the site
"If you love me, keep my commandments." John 14:15

on the way we stopped to pick up Dora, who lives 4 blocks from where the houses burned down
 - she goes to our church, and lead us to what was left of the homes

getting closer - the brick houses turned into plywood lean-to's

finally there

one of the three houses that burned down
Fires are common here, they either start with electrical shorts or from sparks that fly off of wood fires or gas stove used for cooking.

one of the burnt houses is already being rebuilt
the woman in the red shirt lives in the gray tent
her "home", a tent

The neighborhood sits on the very edge of the city. It's a squatters village and it's sprawling and huge. It seems to go on and on and on. People who have no place to live and no money to rent or buy land just "take" a small plot of land on the edge of town, sometimes in public squares or parks, and build ramshackle houses out of plywood, scraps, or brick if they can afford it. The government put up a fence on the edge of town to stop the squatters from taking any more land.

right next to the burnt houses was the fence (behind me), beyond was desert

unloading the mattresses and supplies
It was about 100 degrees and there was not a tree in sight. There was broken glass, dog poop, charred wood and ash, and trash mixed in with desert grit. The kids who live here were filthy and were walking around in underwear and bare feet. Bare feet! My mommy instinct wanted to just stick them in a bathtub, scrub them up, comb their hair, and put some shoes on them. But there is barely water in the neighborhood. The government hasn't extended the pipes to this edge of town yet.

Keren playing with the kids

Mario, one of the pastors, comforting the families with God's word

after unloading everything, we prayed with the families that lost everything
the woman in the middle in the dress will be sleeping in the tent we gave her until they can rebuild

afterwards, conferring about the possibility of coming back, and what kind of help is most needed

and, of course, the truck wouldn't start (it has had battery problems) so we had to push it to pop it into gear

Afterwards, when we were driving Dora back to her house, we drove by some little kids playing outside -two adorable little girls, maybe 4 and 6. I smiled out the window and yelled, "Hola Hermosas!" and they waved back. Dora said, "Oh, if you knew the things those girls have lived through..."

Oh, no. What? What things??

Their mother is mising one leg, so has trouble taking care of them. Last year, some men broke into their house and raped the mother and her daughters.

This is the neighborhood that Jorge and Monica do the Happy Hour outreach. We were told that 90% of the people who live here are alcoholics or theives. There are a few that work hard and don't commit crime, but they are not the majority.

Tony was following me and told me later that he thought I was probably scared driving one of the cars by myself through this neighborhood. I wasn't. At all. I attribute that to prayer, and God's grace, ONLY, because I am a bit of a scaredy cat. So thank you, friends, for praying. We definately feel your prayers.

Our night did not end there. Argentinians are lovers of the night. The youth/young adults invited us back to Edgardo's house for pizza. All I really wanted to do was get my three-year-old into a bathtub stat, and myself into a cold shower, but we said yes and went. Our three-year-old fell asleep on the drive back into town with dirty hands and filthy feet. Dinner wasn't until 10:30. But it was delicious - they made pizza from scratch and torre de panqueques (stacked crepe sandwiches). Yum! Sorry no pictures of that - our cell phones were already full of pictures.

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