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


Annie said...

Chris, it was so nice to read this post and hear about one of your mission visits. I know you feel as though you might not be doing much of anything some days, and then you see God at work, how lovely! You are always an encouragement to me!!

Annie said...

By the way, I forgot to say, I love that tiny little church and those beautiful faces you went to see. Also, I think I would chose to "go" outside instead of a stinky outhouse as much as possible too! Got a kick out of the fly down pic. ;-)

Related Posts with Thumbnails