January 2, 2012

random day, random night

Found this post in Drafts. lol This is a random day and peek into my Mommy life and brain, and attempt at stream of consciousness writing...? Bored with the way I write lately, so not creative. I was probably bumped off the internet signal mid-write or something, so forgot this was there. No days are typical here yet; this was just one. Follows is a random night, tonight.


Woke up by barking dogs and sun streaming in windows, chatting over coffee about the previous night's fledgling Bible study we began in our living room, quick showers, reveling in the peace and quiet left in the wake of the holiday departure of the live-on-site construction guys next door (I can't go outside without having 8-10 eyes on me and without getting annoyed at having to talk over the fence every single time: does that make me very American? a bad Christian? a terrible missionary? I wonder), a repeat half-day long visit to Gendarmeria to register the van only to find out it's another week's wait to get it registered [UPDATE: make that a month, at least] and no we can't drive it yet after all surprise, surprise, half-hearted attempt to homeschool in rising heat before lunch, received some good news from Immigration Office: we don't have to go to Chile to renew tourist visas afterall yay (just can't leave the country until we begin residency papers), sent pre-adolescent out to water our dirt to coax random tufts of grass to root, ended up watering it myself since boy forgot and so did I, flooded dirt after 10 minutes due to compact desert sand, lunch, struggled as usual with intermittent internet reception, ignored laundry deciding it's too hot to hang clothes and it can wait until tomorrow, read board books to almost 3 year-old, scolded 3 year old for screaming and older kids for fighting, received response of "Okay, Ms. Tony", laugh instead of getting mad, checked email with the memory of it taking only 5 mintues once upon a time with high-speed internet as opposed to now when it takes one hour, sidetracked by the frustration of trying to read other things with a lousy connection, bagged it all and decided to distract cranky 3 year-old by making Christmas cookies, mildy noted to self that to do that in this heat means I must really love my kids and Jesus, Tony came home from Gendarmeria visit with milk before car goes into lock-down again, sat and discussed Christmas plans with husband while drinking terere, informed by son that I'm being "first class" (as in on the Titanic) by not wanting to turn on the oven to bake said cookies in 91 degree heat no air conditioning, further reminded by 11 year-old that "this is South America, you know", broke down and turned the oven on, almost 3 year-old burns herself on hot cookie sheet immediately after clear admonition to "Be careful, it's hot!", smoothed some antibiotic ointment on crying child and administered half shot of bubble gum flavored Ibuprofen, attempt to distract crying child again by frosting cookies, it works yay, it's now 8:00 and wondering what to make for dinner, momentarily annoyed upon remembering that we still hear from the natives, "You eat this early?" um yeah, 8, real early..., facing doubts about ability to handle Saturday's forcast of 99, youth group leaders pop in to pick Tony up to film skit for Christmas presentation, we drink more terere and hot mate, decide family will have to survive on hot dogs and left over pasta because it's just not right to cook in this heat, realize not for the first time that I suck at self control so let's just eat more cookies, bored and increasingly frustrated at the thought of being housebound one more day and not having our car ready to do anything mission-y for Christmas. Sigh.

Time for another cookie. The end.


I pop some meat in the oven at 7, hoping to eat by 8. It was 100 today, and we lost electricity. Meaning we lost use of our fans, too. But light is back and it has cooled down to 90. Visitors drop in at 8 so dinner is postponed til whenever they leave. It is Marcelo and his wife and family. They walk over from the neighborhood next door. Some call it a slum. Some are nicer and call it a "needy neighborhood". We have to drive through it to get to our neighborhood. Tony says it's not a place you want to be at night. Argentines here have said to me, "You (looking at me), don't even show your face there after dark".

Marcelo works construction next door, they are building an apartment building there. Marcelo's wife, Yoli, stopped by last week wanting to talk to Tony. I had given Yoli some kitchen stuff weeks before, of which she was very appreciative since they have very little. She asked Tony, somewhat embarrased and not wanting to bother us, if I had any work for her: cleaning, ironing, taking caring of the kids. Tony said no, we didn't, why? She explains that they returned to Patagonia from their hometown to continue work, but his boss hadn't shown up. Now they are jobless until the site manager returns. He is a week late. A week Marcelo doesn't get paid. They had 50 pesos ($12)  in their pocket, no food, and no news about when Marcelo's boss would be coming back so he could begin work again and earn money an income. Tony said not to worry, we will help them in what we can.

As a result, we try to convince Son that he does not need his bureau. Son insists that he is saving it to take back to the United States to sell at a yard sale and make money. We have a very long discussion about why it is not worth shipping it back to the US only to sell it at a yard sale (not touching on the fact that we do not know if we even will be moving back). We try to convince son to give bureau to this family who had very very little, no luck. We buy bureau off son for $40. Son happy. We happy. We give bureau to family in need, stuffing with random pieces of clothing. A win, win. Tony also leaves them $50 for food. Yoli is interested in a Bible, but we don't have one at the moment. Maybe the Gideons can hook us up.

Still standing there outside while meat is cooking in oven, it is now 9 o'clock. I ask Yoli if the furniture we gave her came in handy and she is visibly pleased and says, "Oh, yes." She half smiles and says glancing up, "I thank God above for all of the help you have given us." She then explains that they didn't come to spend New Year's Eve with us because she felt bad that they couldn't afford even a cider to bring over. So they didn't come. It was a bare year for them.

Marcelo and Yoli and family leave. We sit down to juicy meat dinner, slicing into the most amazing beef I think I have ever had, and I think of Yoli and her family. Tony says, "We need to do something for them." We grab our cooler (they do not have a refrigerator) and fill it with yogurt and cans of tuna and juice and Christmas fruit bread, and a tract or two. We pile the kids in the car at 11pm, and slowly drive over dirt and pebble roads to the neighborhood next door.

As we drive, I roll up the windows. It is still almost 90 out, but the kids here are setting off fireworks, the kind that should be set off pointing up, but they point straight across the street. Bright flashes of green and red fly across the street, horizontal, and die in the dry grass beyond.

As we drive, Tony points and says, "See those guys over there? Sitting on the wall? Those are the kind you have to watch out for."

"When we get there, roll up the windows all the way, turn the air conditioning on, and turn off the cell phone. Anyone outside the van can see in and see you have a cell phone and might want to steal it from you."

I repeat the last part about the cell phone back to the kids, one of which is playing something on mine that makes the screen light up bright.

We get there, deliver the cooler stuffed with food. We feel good, not scared, God is with us.

It is more blessed to give than to receive. It is.

Tony says goodbye, I am bummed a little. I wanted to go inside and see where they live. It is very, very small, two kids sleep on a mattress in the kitchen. I remind Tony we have an extra box spring and a flimsy mattress we save for guests. I wonder if they can use it.

We drive slowly, slowly back through their neighborhood to ours. We see young kids running around at midnight alone. The youth gathered in a park void of grass, just dirt. On motorcycles, a four wheeler, walking. Lounging. Some drinking. Some on drugs. Tony beeps and waves and says hi. You need to be friendly here. You hit a child or kill a dog here, you're gone. They'll just lynch you. Residents of the neighborhood nod that, yes, this is true. Drive very slowly here, and smile. Make friends.

One street over and back in our neck of the woods, we take a detour down the diagonal that borders our neighborhood, looking for the dog-sized hares that come out at night to hop down the street that runs along a field. We don't see any. We talk about how it has quickly become completely normal for us to go out for a drive at midnight with our kids, who are, we notice, still wide awake.

These are the days of small beginnings.

1 comment:

Denise said...

I got brave and read this post since there were no spider warnings. I'm so glad I did; you wrote so descriptively that I felt like I was right there with you. I'll be selfishly honest and say that I'm glad that I'm not. You guys amaze me. Continuing to pray!

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