May 28, 2012

back from the mountains

We just got back from a whirlwind 3-Day Mission Trip to the mountains.

I have much to do this week, but once I get caught up, I have enough pictures and stories for about a month's worth of posts...!

May 23, 2012

Is it all we thought it would be?

My blog friend, Annie, submitted a comment recently and asked several questions, 

".... Is it like you imagined? Do you find joy often? Do you feel like you are doing what you thought you'd be doing? I am so curious as I often imagine living the life of a missionary."

I thought I would just answer these questions here, as maybe there are others who wonder this, too. These are certainly questions we ask ourselves often.

Is it like you imagined?


And no.

Yes, overseas missions is exactly as I imagined. Or should I say, as I've read it to be in all those missionary biographies. We've done several overseas short term mission trips before, but living it long term is completely different. Short term, you know you are going home. Long term, you know you're not. At least, not for a while. It changes everything when the going gets tough because there are no quick fixes, few comforts, little respite. It is what I imagined in that it is : Hard. Crazy. Unpredictable. Messy. Scary. Dirty. Uncertain. Busy. Challenging. A lot of work. Rewarding. Not for everybody. A calling. A sacrifice.

But worth it. Every time we have stepped out into the unknown, sometimes right off a cliff, we have found Jesus to be there, waiting for us, his arms full of grace.

And no, it's not what I imagined: It is not exotic. It is only sometimes exciting. Fascinating, yes. Fun and super cool at times, sure. An adventure, most definitely. But mostly it's hard, frustrating, lonely, annoying. It's upsetting when people misunderstand you when you're just trying to do good and follow Jesus. Upsetting when you are just being yourself and truly have sincere intentions, but the cultural filter and lens others see you through sometimes says something you are not saying, nor doing. It is an ever-present downer to see so much poverty and suffering.

Tony and I are here in obedience. We don't love living here like perhaps some missionaries love where they are living. I envy missionaries that can say that that is true for them, I really do. I wish those were my feelings, it would make things easier. I pray for that kind of love and joy. For us, it comes in smaller windows. But that's okay.

God calls different people in different ways. I am called to two things that I know of: faith and obedience. Right now that means having the faith to obey to live here and do this. Sometimes emotions follow, sometimes they don't. I try not to follow emotions or feelings because I have found them to be fickle and unreliable, often getting me into trouble. God's Word, on the other hand, I can rely on.

Do you find joy often?

I had a hard time answering this one. So I asked Tony. He had a hard time answering it, too.

"Sometimes" I guess would be our answer. There has been joy in the journey for sure, but I don't know that that is always the case.

Did Richard Wurmbrand always find joy in prison? He after all was an obedient, faith-filled Christian.

Did William Tyndale find joy living on the run in Germany? He was doing God's work.

I wonder how Martin Luther felt nailing his thesis to the church doors. Joy? Fear?

Did Paul always find joy in persecution? I can't imagine he felt great when he was shipwrecked, cold, hungry, beaten, and in chains. But He was doing what God asked of him. And that was enough for him.

Is there joy all day, every day, as a Christian? As a missionary?

There are too many hardships in missions - in following Christ period - to have joy ALL the time, at least for us, here. What we find is deep satisfaction that we are reaching others in need. That's what we feel most often: satisfaction. Joy is an overwhelming happy feeling that can elude us in the face of all we see and do here. Yes, I find joy in my position in Christ. But frequent difficulties, stress, and trials can snatch it away pretty quickly.

Like when I was standing on the kitchen counter spraying Raid at the spider that had made its home way up in the corner, watching it twitch and fall to its much deserved death... I was not feeling joy as I hyperventilated many prays that it wouldn't be a black widow. (It wasn't.) But that run-in with, even if it was imagined danger, was kind of a killjoy for me. Every time my kids get sick I think it's Hepatitis, or Scarlet Fever, or a strange disease they picked up in the slums. Yeah, I'm a worrywart, but I never thought these things back home.  

Neither one of us loves it here. But we like it, and we enjoy doing missions; we find joy in each other, in our kids, in Jesus, in obeying his commands. We are satisfied sitting in a dirt house sharing the gospel. We are content sitting with kids in children's homes and talking to them, hugging them, teaching them the Bible.

The other day when I was at the children's home, sitting at the table, listening to the lesson and the gospel being shared, we were asking the kids about their siblings. One little boy, about 8 or 9, said yeah I have some. He pointed up and then drew his finger across his throat. Yeah, I have some: they're dead. They're up there *pointing up with his finger*.

It's hard to hold onto the joy when things like that happen. That kind of stuff leaves me feeling sad, and a far cry from joyous. Joy would be an inappropriate feeling at a moment like that.

Do you feel like you are doing what you thought you'd be doing?

Yes. Absolutely. We are doing almost EVERYTHING that we set out to do. We are evangelizing, working with the poor, reaching the unreached.

This is, I think, our one greatest sustaining joy: that we are doing exactly what we thought we'd be doing. And so much more. A lot of the stuff I don't even have time to post here on the blog. Going on mission trips, organizing mission trips, evangelizing at events (some put on by others, some put on by us), sharing the gospel one-on-one, helping native missionaries, visiting orphans, discipling youth, starting ministries, hosting Bible studies, working with the native church, building houses, doing church construction, and so much more - yes, we are definitely doing what we thought we'd be doing. The only thing we are waiting on is an open door to work with the Mapuche. God will open that door if and when He chooses. After the little we've learned about their culture since being here, I don't doubt that it would be our hardest field yet.

But there are things that have happened here along our mission journey that we were never prepared for, things we never expected we would be doing or even thought of doing.

Following Christ, really following him with our lives, has ruined us for so many things.

I confess, it has ruined us to mere Churchianity forever. Sometimes we wonder if it has ruined us for organized church, as well. We honestly prefer at this point to be out evangelizing or visiting or helping those in need, than sitting in church on a Sunday morning. It fills us so much more to be out there.

Missions has ruined us for the mediocre Christian life. I don't think we could ever go back. We may return to the States some day, but I don't think we could ever go back to some of the pointless things we used to do. Sitting around and talking about God is boring to us when we're not also doing something for Him. We're so done with that. I'd rather not call myself a Christian at all, let alone walk around calling myself a missionary, if I'm not doing anything that makes it clear that I am. What good is my faith if it is without works? Can it save me?

When you see so much poverty, so much abuse, so much spiritual and physical need, when you read the Bible and the words of Jesus and examine what it is that we are we are doing in the church - it just kind of ruins you for all the fluff. I think that's a good thing.

So, yes, Annie, thanks for asking. It is pretty much is all we thought it would be. And then some.

May 22, 2012

funky medicines for back pain, Argentina style

There are some funky medicines here. Every country has their own. Argentina has some pretty funky ones.

Today I threw out my back - leaning over my son's chair helping him with a math problem. Imagine that - how lame. I'm standing there, leaning over a chair - in the standing position, mind you - talking fractions and common denominators [envy me now] and bam! Ow.

How utterly lame of my body to do that to me. I've never been the same since pregnancy. Really, I haven't. I mean, pulling my back out in the standing position is what happens to old people. How utterly dumb.

So Tony came home with these azufre things to rescue me from my pain:

So I do my thankful wifey thing and say, "Oh, honey - thank you! Go ahead. Roll the strange yellow bars of sulfur chalk over my back. Maybe it'll work!" (Note: trying to be positive.)

It didn't. 

my BIL demonstrating - roll on, roll off

Now, maybe it works for other people of the Argentinian persuasion, but my back still hurts. And the dumb things didn't crack and split in half in some remarkable "crack! you're cured!" moment, like they're supposed to.

It's been 14 years since I first heard about this amazing native treatment for neck or back pain, and I STILL have yet to receive a good, detailed, lucid, and scientifically verifiable explanation as to how this works. No one seems to really know. The most common explanation is that, "it takes the air out of your muscles."

Um, okay. That helps. Thanks.

Anybody care to enlighten me?

Bueller? Bueller?

In the meantime, I guess it's back to things I know: Ibuprofen. Bed rest.

Taking other over-the-counter meds here I have NO idea what they are, is also status quo. Googling doesn't help all that much with that either. I still don't know what I'm putting into my person most of the time. I see the irony here. God has a sense of humor. He does. I'm a spazz, I hate meds, I have call-911 reactions to a lot of them, and here I am in a foreign country with no idea what on earth I am taking, but I'm forced to take it anyway because pain sucks. Haha. Funny, God, funny.

Fortunately I'm still alive. God is good, after all. Thank you, Jesus.

So for now: Telling my kids to hang up the laundry, and absolutely loving the husband making dinner and serving it to me rocks. Milking the being waited on thing.

Yeah, back pain's good for something!


May 21, 2012


We are getting ready for our third mission trip to the mountains - and 3 day evangelistic event in a few remote mountain villages in the northeastern corner Patagonia.

This is a sample of some of the things on our packing list:

portable DVD player
all necessary cables and battery rechargers
220v-120V converters
sleeping bags
extra blankets
pillows with dark pillowcases (so I don't notice how dirty they get)
warm, dark colored clothes (same reason as above)
winter jackets
gloves and hats
baby wipes (there's no shower where we are staying)
long-life milk in a box
instant coffee and tea
box of snacks

UPDATE: portable shower - Tony just called to tell me he bought one [it looks exactly like this. fill it with water, plug in to heat. very important next step: UNPLUG].

We're so lame. But, it was only 89 pesos (20 bucks!). We're only buying it for the Boy (...that's what we're telling ourselves. He gets his Fruit of the Loomers in a bunch if he can't shower before bed. He's a strange boy, I hear...). But I'm sure we'll all be fighting over it. I'm going to be laughing when all the young'uns quickly forget their proclamations of, "But, we're MISSIONARIES!" and meekly ask if they can use our shower. LOL yeah, I'm getting pictures of that. Well, not action pictures, that is...


May 16, 2012

the not Mother's Day post

{written Mother's Day... finally finishing up and adding pics four days later...}

I am sitting in bed blogging on my laptop. What a treat - Wifi!

My boy found a random open Wifi signal here in the 'hood. It beats sitting hunched over at the regular computer. We don't have Wifi here at our house, I don't know why. Life is just more complicated here. So much so that you just shrug when they finally come to install your internet after six weeks only to discover that Wifi isn't part of the package, so you learn to live without: one of the many first world luxuries we live without. But it is a luxury, and no one has ever been known to die without Wifi. I mean, really.

We are going on eight months here in Argentina. Soon it will be a year. It feels like a lifetime. I remember my old life in the States as a vague recollection of hazy mental snapshots accompanied with feelings of warm fuzzies. I do remember that it was clean and neat and organized, predictable and boring and I had a lot of control over it. That I remember.

It is the EXACT OPPOSITE here.

Normal now is so vastly different than what it used to be.

Now normal is no TV (well, we have a TV, just no reception), no landline, no dishwasher, no (working) microwave, no dryer (whine), dogs that bark incessantly, bars on our windows to keep out the bad people, a water filter on our tap to keep out the bad critters, only one car, and little money.

Normal is seeing babies (or entire families) on motorcycles.

Today we went to visit a rural church plant south of here, out in the middle of the desert. Today was Mother's Day in the US. I only knew that because of Facebook. {Thank you, Facebook. Whatever would I do without you? Oh yeah, probably have a cleaner bathroom and all the clothes would be folded so, no loss there.}

This is not a Mother's Day post, because I have nothing deep or though-provoking to say about today. Every day is Mother's Day to me. And Christmas, and birthdays... we should celebrate every day. But I read quite a few Mother's Day posts; this was my favorite, I guess because I agree with her sentiments pretty much exactly.

I spent my Mother's Day getting dirty. It was a day like any other here.

When we arrived in time for lunch at the rural church (meat on the grill), my daughter took one look and said to me [fortunately in English], "Ew. I am not eating that meat. Do you see all the flies on it?".

I did.

I have never seen so many flies in all my life (this is not an exaggeration). Fortunately, there were only a few on the meat. The other thousands were swarming nearby.

We ended up eating it, of course. It was fantastic and delicious. It's hard to get a bad piece of meat in Argentina. The smoke and heat from the fire eventually scared the flies off so they were at least no longer sitting on the grilling meat, just hovering and buzzing nearby. Hundreds of them hung out on the hood of our car, where it sat warm in the autumn sun.

the bathroom
When nature called and it could no longer be ignored, I asked where the bathroom was. I was not surprised when they indicated the outhouse behind the tiny house. I took my toddler's hand and we headed back there, and continued walking right on past the outhouse, down the country lane. With all those flies outside, I felt a flicker of momentary missionary weakness and just didn't feel like braving the inside. Some days I opt out of roughing it. In this case, there was a more appealing second option. The Great Outdoors.

We found a few waist high desert bushes and squatted there. I am teaching my girls how to properly pee outside - something previously unknown to them. The prep and logistics are a learned skill, after all. So far they think it's funny and get a kick out of seeing me demonstrate. I have actual "after" pictures of me with my pants unzipped because I often forget to close my fly. Squatting and unzipped pants are the norm now. I have also relaxed to the point where I don't care too very much if a car zooming past several hundred yards away happens to see my bare white butt gleaming in the desert sun. Oh well, sorry, hope you enjoyed the view.

My kids got filthy today, as usual. Sometimes it bothers me, sometimes I handle it just fine. Today it bothered me. Sometimes I just get so tired of all the dirt. It's inside my house, it's outside, it gets dumped in the car, on the seats, and on the bathroom floor. It brings out the dirt inside of me, too. Because I HATE DIRT!

unzipped fly at potty break on field trip somewhere in the desert

Recently we went on a field trip (the one above. Dino museum and excavation in the middle of the desert - pretty neat). When I had my kids fill out a one page Field Trip Report because I'm such a slave-driving homeschooling mother, my daughter put this as the answer to one of the things she saw and learned about on the trip,

"Dirt and dirt and dirt and dirt."

Later, as I threw the kids' thoroughly soiled sneakers and clothes into my small washer, and as I washed the dirt and sand out of my socks and rinsed it off my battered and worn Mary Janes, I thought of Jesus.

He washed the dirty, dusty feet of His followers. He kneeled before them and washed filthy feet. Desert dust encrusted feet. He washed them.

And He said,

"Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you."

Sometimes I wonder if I do this - wash feet the way Jesus did. Wash them at all. As we drove home, I felt like the day had been a failure, mostly pointless. Like, what good did it do, us being there in this rural, dirty place full of really great, humble people? More humble than I am, for sure... What good did it do, me being there? In situations like today's, I am just babysitting - following my adventurous three year old around, keeping her from stepping on rusty nails, in dog poop, and playing with trash. Probably looking like an overly-preoccupied mother who just needs to sit down and let her kid wander around unsupervised like everyone else does. But I can't. I'm just not like them. I never will be. And it shows more than I like it to. It exhausts me, and I feel like I just take up space at times, helping no one, reaching no one, unable to finish conversations, and what's the point? Tony is able to sit at the table and talk, but I rarely sit in these situations. After several hours in places like this, I just want to leave.  

Oftentimes I find out later that it really was a good day. God did show up, in spite of my shortcomings (many) and my personal feelings on how the day went. This little church plant of new believers, very humble country folk, needs visitors. The pastor works mostly alone. He's doing a great job, but I'm sure he could use some help. He asked for it in a certain way. He actually told Tony that it would be great if he could come back and disciple the youth there. 

It's hard to say no to something like that, and I don't know that Tony will. He loved it there. I can't see him saying no. But we are getting to the point now that we have to actually pray for wisdom to know what to start saying no to. There is just so much to do here and so much that we are already doing, we have to begin to put on the brakes and really seek God as to where to focus. I can see us spreading ourselves very thin, then burning out.

Every little thing we do counts. In spite of fickle emotions that may fluctuate on any given day, the ups and downs of being here, the hard things, the dirt, I have to remember that in all labor there is profit. What I have to offer may not be much, and even on days like this when I may even feel that I don't do it well, that it's pointless, I have to remember that God is working out his purposes.

the church - an old, abandoned trailer

grilling behind the church building

inside the church - this is as big as it is

Isaiah 60:1
José and Daniela
their daughter Luzmila

“Arise, shine, for your light has come”   ~Isaiah 60:1

May 9, 2012

living here

Living here is like living on an emotional, daily, roller coaster. One minute we are flying high because we see God is so in this, the very next we are thrown down deep into a pit because of something that has happened. Third World missions, especially when your focus is the unreached poor, is really tough stuff. Believe me.

Most days we know why we are here, and we believe in what we are doing. We know that it is GOD who has called us here, not we ourselves.

But other days we wonder out loud, "Lord, Why did you bring us here?!". To think that we could be living the good life in America - man!

I mean, seriously, I miss my dryer. I miss my dishwasher. I miss my big, comfy house and tranquil life. I miss my culture. Yeah, isn't that weird? My culture. The one that doesn't expect me to explain myself because it already understands me. I miss my family. It hurts me when my kids ask, "When are we going to see Mom-mom again?", and all I can say is, "Well, God knows when we'll be able to go back and see her."

We miss snow. Tony misses the organization and safety in the US. Me, too. It is not easy for us to live here. It is a sacrifice in every way. In every way.

Tonight we were talking at the table, a late dinner, 9 o'clock or so.


Did you hear that?

Yeah, I heard somethin'.

Sounded like a gunshot.

Nah.... I don't know. I think it was a firecracker.

Hm (head cocked, listening).


There it is again!


Yeah. Firecracker.

Well... that's good, then.

(conversation resumes)

It's hard not being able to talk to anyone here about things we find to be strange or difficult. Sharing our difficulties with our native friends, we run the risk of offending them or making them feel as if we are criticizing their home country. So we don't, because we aren't. We like it here in many ways; it's just difficult on a lot of fronts.

Gunshots, or even the possibility of gunshots, are not normal for us.

And shouldn't be.

In a perfect world.

But, at the end of the day, it's the small things that make it worth it - living here: the people we are reaching. The ones who have never heard before. Yes, that makes it worth it. I don't worry about the nuances of the future - will they get saved, will there be anyone to disciple them, is there a church in their location they can attend. I really don't worry about that sort of thing. God is faithful. This is His Business. The details are for Him to work out. Mostly, I'm just trying to get through today.

I find it hard enough to be faithful today.

I know God is able to not only save Camila, but He is also able to send help her way. Maybe we're it, maybe we're not. I do know He promises to give us the wisdom to know what to do if we ask.

He sends us the Holy Spirit at salvation to teach us all things. He promises to send her a Comforter, too. I often remember getting saved at my kitchen table in downtown Buenos Aires, all alone. I was lucky if I got to church a half a dozen times that first year. And yet, here I am. God has kept me.

He will keep the work of His hands.

I have no doubt about that.

So no, I'm not worried about Camila. God's got His eye on her. She is a sweet, sincere little girl that has a genuine hunger for God. I consider it a privilege and a pleasure to sit and read with her, explaining and helping her to understand God's Word. Even if her little brothers are climbing all over piles of scrap wood, pulling down their pants to pee as the urge dictates, who chase my own son with scraps of wood nailed into makeshift play swords.

I'm not worried at all. Mostly I stand in awe that we are here at all and God would chose to use us at all.
Lord, you are Good.

"not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." -2 Peter 3:9

May 7, 2012

Camila, and my favorite picture of all time

I think this is my all-time favorite picture taken in Patagonia. Ever.

"I want to read the Bible, but I can't understand it. I need someone to help me. Can you help me?" she said.

Camila is one of our little friends. She lives deep in the slums. She is nine years old. She lives in a wood slat house with a dirt floor. Her dad is a drug addict and former pai de santo. But she wants to read the Bible. She wants to learn about it, but doesn't know how to begin. So she asked Tony.

And you know you don't have to ask us twice.


May 4, 2012

older boys' home

Tony took this picture last night on his visit to the children's home for older boys (13+) - a ministry he's started here recently.

(blurry on purpose, all the kids have cases in court)

Isn't that weird? A ministry he's started here.

But it's so easy to start ministries here. We have started several so far: a slums ministry, a movie ministry, a children's home ministry. It's really not that hard; so much easier than in the United States. You don't need a degree, seminary, or an FBI background check.

We have found that all you need is a desire to actually do something and the gumption to go ahead and just do it.

You don't have to be super spiritual or exceptionally talented. God uses ordinary people. Peter was a fisherman. The differentiating factor?  He was recognized to have been with Jesus.

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.

Not that I'm poo-pooing degrees, or seminary, or FBI checks. These are all good and helpful things. But they are not a requirement to do God's will or His work. God can't wait on possessors of these things in say poor, rural, mountainous Tibet. The Bible shows us time and again that Jesus doesn't need these things to use us. He used Peter and John, and Andrew his lowly fisherman brother, and many, many others - who were all just ordinary people.

Blue-collar Joes.

Tony and Facundo went last evening to the home together. Facundo is one of the youth from church who plays the drums.

We are enjoying working with the young adults from church. Some are not involved in any kind of outreach or ministry - they're just kind of there. Tony is working hard at encouraging them to get out there and we often invite them to various different things we have going on. It's so sweet to see their eagerness to do something for the Lord.

This was their second visit to the home. The boys were looking forward to their return, and asked them last time if and when they were coming back. Tony projected the John Bunyan Torchlighters movie onto the pale, green, smudged wall of the inside of the home. As usual, there was dead silence when the movie was over. The movies are powerful, and they have that effect on just about everyone - believers and non-believers alike.

Afterwards, they did a little reflection and discussion of the movie. They are slowly introducing the study of God's Word. The boys are very open and receptive and thankful for the notebooks Tony brought for each one. In them they write down their memory verses to study, questions, notes, and prayers. He is teaching them to pray, to think about eternal things, to open up about their lives, and pointing them to Hope, to the One who longs to rescue them from the pit. The church we attend also gave us eight small, pocket-sized Bibles for each one. After their visit of course they played a round of soccer. Because what's ministry and evangelism in South America without a game of soccer?

Truly, we can say, God is richly blessing us in all things. It is our one, main, sustaining grace, all this that we see the Lord doing. 

Some days we ourselves fall into a pit, despairing when we look at all the challenges and difficulty of our journey in the Way - but as Christian in The Pilgrim's Progress, we often find ourselves climbing the Hill Difficulty only to happen upon, midway to the top of the hill, a pleasant Arbour, made by the Lord of the Hill, for the refreshment of weary Travellers.

We continue to be so amazed at all the doors that have opened up for us here. Tony found this particular place walking home one day - back when we didn't have a car. He was walking down our dirt road and walked up along side an older man, also walking. And, of course, Tony can not not start talking to everyone he meets, so they struck up a conversation. Pedro loves to talk almost as much as Tony. Turns out Pedro worked for 20 years in homes for troubled youth. When Tony shared that that is something he would like to do as well, Pedro took Tony to this nearby home for troubled youth. Pedro now comes to our weekly Bible study, has from the first day we opened up our home. Pedro lives in a tiny, three-room house nearby. He has been a Christian his entire life, and we enjoy listening to his observations and the wealth of knowledge that only years of living and years of Bible reading can impart.

Pedro welding a wheelbarrow for us in his back yard

May 2, 2012

holiday weekend stuff

 Fall has finally come to Patagonia.

May is the equivalent of November back home, but I'm wondering if it ever really gets cold here in the northern Patagonian desert. Flies are still buzzing around and it's in the 70s today.

It was a four day holiday weekend. I'm feeling a little unmotivated to write about it. Must be the gray skies.

Friday night I thought Tony was dead. Or the car was stolen. I have an overactive imagination, my mind often going to worst case scenarios first, faith second. Tony had taken off for the gym and didn't come home at his usual time of 10pm. By 11 I had called him about 15 times but couldn't get ahold of him. He usually calls if he's running late, so I was worried when he didn't. I was sure his fanny pack got lifted from the gym, taking his keys and cell phone with it, therefore he was stranded and couldn't call. Or - even worse - the car got stolen, so that's why he was late. Of course! It's just a matter of time. I knew it! I told myself. Surely it will get stolen one of these days. Things always do. Then, by 11:30 and no Tony, my mind had him knifed and bleeding, lying by the side of the road, unable to call for help.

I really shouldn't let my mind get away from me like that, it's much too small to be left alone running around by itself.

Naturally, I could have killed him myself when I finally heard from him. Guys, it's bad enough to do stupid stuff like that to your wife in the States. It's almost unpardonable to do that to her when living in a Third World country. Just call, okay? Saying you forgot and didn't realize the time doesn't cut it.

Turns out Space Cadet had left his fanny pack and cell in the car and, in typical Tony fashion, had decided to stop by a friend's on the way home to chat. Without calling me. It was great. Really. I had myself widowed and moving back to the States by the time he remembered to call me.

After threats of "If you ever do that to me again I will kill you myself", he laughed at me (as usual), and we turned our attention to our busy weekend.

Pastors Conference in town all weekend. Three days, all day, non-stop. We hosted native missionaries - the same ones that hosted us when we were in Chos Malal last month. Lovely couple. Such great guests. You know, the kind you want to bless, but they just end up blessing you?

I stayed home all weekend with the kids, while Tony and our guests spent one 12-hour day after another at the conference. I missed all the action. One child was sick, the other two would have just run around unattended all weekend at the church, because that's what kids usually do at these things. There is never child care here, for church or any event. Parents just let the kids run wild and don't seem to worry about where they are or what they are doing. I've seen one year olds wander around for unbelievable amounts of time, completely unattended. It baffles me that they even survive. My kids at that age would find a ditch and fall into it, or a street and run out into it. I don't get why these kids don't, my kids never stayed on location if left to themselves. This is still a great mystery to me.

Tony helped paint the new church all weekend, between showing a movie or two at the conference and attending seminars and sermons. What I was sure would be the most tiring weekend ever, turned out to be the most restful. The kids and I spent way too many hours at home on Godvine watching videos. My eyes were red and puffy but happy. Funny how God ministers rest and rejuvination to us in unexpected ways. It was an extremely restful weekend, a true stay-cation. Ahhhh. Things are rarely that quiet here.

Delbert and Frida
We've never been big conference people, for lots of different reasons. But this is our second conference here in Patagonia, and we've really appreciated the opportunity to meet native missionaries and pastors scattered all over the region, doing hard things in hard places. There were a few Americans in town, as well. One couple who have been missionaries their entire lives.

Delbert is in his 80s and has been here in Argentina since 1952. His wife was a missionary for 17 years in Bolivia, then 28 in Argentina. They have retired here because, they say, at least here they can do something in their retirement. They are still active in missions. Amazing.

Before our guests left, we sat down and scribbled out plans over breakfast for the evangelistic event we are organizing near their town of Chos Malal later this month.

We will be taking a group of about a dozen people, most youth, from church here in the city up to the mountains for a three day mission trip to reach the unreached mountain people in their area. Stuff we love to do, and stuff it seems the Lord is really in. The response has been great, things are coming together wonderfully, and we are all very excited. Damian and Marta, missionaries, told us that they have been praying for years for help, and that we are an answer to their prayers. They have been working for ten years, mainly alone in their little town, and are pretty cut off by time and distance. They don't receive much help or visitors and there is a gap there of support they say. Our goal, we explained, is not that they would depend on us per se, but that we could mobilize the church here to go and do the work there. Maybe that is part of this burden we have to work with the youth. They are the next generation. They are the ones that will to carry on (or not) the work to go and make disciples. And we are thrilled that they jumped at the chance to go. They just needed the opportunity and someone to organize it.

Now we can see why, at least in part, God has called us to this region. Somebody was praying that God would send help. It's quite strange, and very humbling, to think that we are an answer to someone's prayer. Mostly it just shows that God is the One who does the work. We just need to listen and obey. I think most of us are listening, we just get stuck on the obey part. Obeying can cost, sometimes cost a great deal. We know. Maybe you do, too. Sacrifice is not natural, it's a supernatural choice which costs. It oftentimes pushes us over into the land of "partaking in His sufferings". And who wants that? Not me. Yeah, I want Jesus, but... I am okay with ignoring that verse in the Bible, Lord, if it's okay with you.

Poverty, illness, black widows, gunshots? Yeah, just not my bag. Thanks, Lord, but no thanks. Can we go home now?

We need each other, the Body. We can't do it alone. The Bible says we are co-laborers with Christ, but the arm can't do more than what the arm is designed to do. The arm needs the rest of the body behind it. When the Body of Christ works together towards the Great Commission, it is really Christ working to bring about his kingdom here on earth. I always find it amazing that He could do it any way, but He choses to do it through us.


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