Volunteering and traveling in Argentina to proclaim God's great love, and hopefully not getting sick along the way.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Begging Jesus

I was preparing the Bible study for this Saturday for my teens, and I was just too excited about the message, that I thought I'd share it with you.

It's from Mark 5:1-20; the story about the demon possessed man. Many know him as Legion, as he had a legion (approximately 6K) demons inside of him.

Obviously, as every story about Christ, there is so much to say, but I will focus on the three groups of people who begged Jesus for something.

1.) First, comes the demons themselves, who beg Jesus to be thrown into the pigs. "If you're going to do anything to us, please send us there," they seem to say. And Jesus says okay. In the Spanish, it says he gives them permission, which is an interesting, and underlying theme of the relationship between God and the evil forces in this world--they have to ask permission to do anything (See first chapter of Job).

2.) The people who have known the demon-possessed man all their life no longer have the town weirdo. Frightened by the sudden normality of the man, they beg Jesus to leave. He gives no verbal response, or at least none is indicated, but is found to be getting on the boat to leave right away.

3.) The man himself begs Jesus for the opportunity to accompany him. Jesus says no.

Isn't that odd? The one guy in the story that actually has good intentions with his request is told no. The demons definitely weren't ready to change their hearts and follow Christ; the people of the area were afraid, and maybe even a little angry at losing a tourist revenue ("Beware of the crazy dude we can't keep chained!" very circus freak-like). This guy is excited to begin his new life side by side with God in the flesh.

But... no.

Jesus instead asks him to share with his family and friends what has happened in his life. Stay and tell your story. "And the people were amazed."

I've been hit recently by another Biblical realization. Amidst the discussions on when someone should get baptized and what-not, there are several examples of conversion baptism in which the person does so right away. No waiting. No verifying to make sure they understood it to begin with. They feel it, they get dunked. It's a testimony to how much has changed in their life. They can't help but share. Let's be better at telling our stories to those we know, where we are.

For while many of us will beg Jesus to get us out of the "hell hole," we don't realize that it's exactly where we're supposed to be so that they may marvel at the work He has done in you.

Like the coach and his team. You know the coach cares when he's calling you out. He wants what's best for you. It's hard to hear "no," but may we remember it's because He's got a bigger, better plan (sounds familiar.. "His good, pleasing and perfect will"... "God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose"). And that's all she wrote.

Chau.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Flood

Do you ever just suddenly have a rush of emotion? The type where you think back on the day and all the extreme feelings exhausted in less than 12 hours' time? Enter Saturday...

First, there was Escuelita. We had more kids come, encouraging. I got to teach, focusing on Psalm 119:105, and found out later that one of the girls who has been asking her mom to stop coming to Escuelita, enthusiastically ran home to quote the verse! But.. there was the fact that one girl, one who is usually sweet and helpful had a tantrum because she didn't want to share. And she did this in front of everyone while we were awarding her for memorizing the week's verse. What do you do in that situation?

I had a break time to prepare some games for youth group, and I was able to have some reflection time which was very calming. I was excited for the meeting we were about to have.

Only, it was smaller than usual. I found out later that one of the girls was having a birthday party, so it made sense, and all was right again. Maria Sol presented the Bible story and she did a great job. Flor stayed later to talk about some things going on in her life, and we had some good laughs. She told me that now that she's single again (another long story), she has the potential to come with me for a vacation to the States when I return in 2012!

Then I met with Noemi for a movie night, where afterward we went to a nearby bar to chat. She told me more about what's going on with a friend of hers, and we got into some pretty deep conversation. Very cool!

I decided to check my email once more before calling it a night, only to read that a friend from college is very, very sick.

Perhaps it is hard to read between the lines and sense my mix of emotions. Perhaps I am very sensitive to the changing of tides throughout the day. But that's the Christian life, isn't it? Reacting to what comes your way, and letting yourself either keep it under your control, or put it in His hands.

Chau.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Good times, great bus stories

Some of you may have read about Marta. The main thing to remember is we waited over 45 minutes for a bus (two having passed us because they were too full), only to take a bus that went in a different direction than normal. I still got home, no harm no foul, but it was quite a wait.

This week, I decided again to take the bus home, but this time wait at the stop that has more busses I can take to pass. I also had to buy one more cospel, which a majority of kiosks sell. This day, there was a shortage. Strike number one. I finally found one and waited at the E/E1/E2 stop, all three of which I can utilize. Strike number two was the fact that the E4 (the one I had waited forever for last week) past before my pouting face. Thankfully, just a few minutes later and I had my E2. There was even plenty of open seats!

So I sat comfortably, enjoying the view along Colon avenue. We turn and then...

How do you spell the sound of an engine that won't ignite? Imagine it three or four times. Everyone waited uncomfortably to see if the driver would try again. I think he was too embarrassed, as he didn't say anything at all. One by one, we left our seats, continuing our journey by foot.

Only in Argentina? I don't know about that, but yet another experience with the lovely public transportation system. Yet another reason I prefer to ride my bike or walk.

Chau!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Día del Niño

Never had I been acquainted with this celebration, but believe you me, día del niño is not something to be messed with. For the Argentines, "Kid's day" if you will, is like a second Christmas. But that of course depends on whether you picture the North American style Christmas or the south of the border one.

If you'll remember, the AR Christmas is full of fireworks and family get-togethers where maybe a couple of gifts are exchanged (not to mention that it's during the summer). I do not think I have to describe the US style.

All that to say, DDN is a US-style Christmas for kids. Every church, and because this year is election year, every candidate, makes sure to throw elaborate parties for the kids of every neighborhood. Prizes like bikes are given away; everyone gets a nice bag of candy and toys; kids have the opportunity to ask for whatever they want, and... they'll most likely get it.

The church, therefore, made a point to celebrate for our kiddos too. Namely, those from Escuelita. Everyone got involved: making bags, filling bags, making cake and juice to give out, preparing games. 'Twas a three week affair of preparation unlike I had ever encountered since I've been here!

I was involved in the obra, or the evangelistic skit we did at the end of our two hours together. It was pretty neat, as it involved Eva dressed up as an artist, Ezequiel and Andrea dressed as little kids, and me, your go-to clown. (It feels like I've been that a lot, lately.)
I finally understood why we had half of the things that we do in storage (you may remember Operation Lumber Room)--it's all for this one day! Sort of like our boxes in our attics and basements filled with Christmas lights and decor.

The more profunda (deep) part of this story is something that was shared by our pastor on Sunday. As DDN also invaded the pulpit, we focused on the verse about bringing the children to Jesus, because the kingdom of God belongs to people like these. He related that the children were the outcasts of the time, which of course, reinforces that age-old paradigm that we outcasts are accepted by God through Christ.

I think what it also got me thinking about is how kids aren't exactly the outcast these days. Many are, sure--those forced to be sex slaves, or child soldiers--but I feel like in general, kids are highly praised. They are no longer an economic benefit (helping you run the family business or field, for example), they're more likely to be shown off and spoiled.

I told someone the other day how excited I am for one thing in particular if and when I have kids: the opportunity to read to them. As I begin afresh the Adventures of Tom Sawyer, I prepare the voices that I have for Sid and Aunt Polly and naturally, that rascal Tom.

So.. all this.. why? Why so many gifts? So much anticipation to having kids? And what does that mean about where we find value (as parents)? I don't have answers, only new feelings. We celebrated with the boys at the institute and I was able to give them some of the presents sent from my Aunt Melonia, and the glow in the dark bracelets from my mom. The smiles are priceless; how much they won't thank you, but they are sweeter to you when they give their salutations is overwhelming.

I made a point this time to tell them I love them. I don't come here from week to week because I have to, I do it because I want to, I tell them. Many ignore me. Others will continue to take advantage of my love in various ways. It actually reminds me of the parable of the Prodigal Son, not long ago mentioned here. These kids seem to be like the son who runs away, but perhaps they are more like the one who stayed. They don't realize what they have. I didn't realize how much I had at the time either (when I think back at how amazing my parents have always been).

So I guess the moral of the story is I took the time to think on DDN and concluded that I have the Father with me at all times. That is enough. Chau.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Firsts, and in English!

Cordoba Immersions is a group based in the city that helps one with the language barrier. They meet with the people that want to learn English in various mediums--in the office, in classes, through private tutors, and the part where I come in: three- to four-day trips to the Sierras!

Luciano and Facundo: my best jugglers. They even learned
how to do so side-by-side, a recent favorite.
It was a little unorganized, but when you have excited students, it's not that hard to keep them entertained. Well, that, and the fact that we used the circus theme throughout, they were always kept on their toes.

So I had my first real time in Mina Clavero. My first opportunity to teach kiddos how to juggle. My first chance to make crazy circus food like snow cones and caramel apples from scratch. My first time to paint mime faces. My first time to be in charge of my very own group (or troupe, as they called them) by myself.

Crazy Circus Troupe
They were pretty great, I might add. In fact, as I discussed with Andrea this morning, I was very impressed with how well they behaved. I'm so used to kids who can not keep attention, or are difficult to please. With this group, when we needed an hour to kill, I took them outside (in the cold!) and we played with an imaginary ball for half an hour!

This is the part where you say, "Mira vos!"

I had some very sweet kids. Bueno, as already pictured above, my jugglers. But also in my group on the bottom right is Delfina--always willing to help and lead our rag-tag team. Then there was Gonzalo, who was very insistent that I sit with him during meals. He even learned the English idiom, "to save a seat." Only because he successfully executed this phrase did I sit with him more than once, as our goal was to spend time with all of the students, so they might "mejorar" their English.

Example of one of my "masterpieces." ha. 
I was also assigned to waking everybody up on the first day. I took advantage of this with some very annoying noise-makers and a colorful costume. Some of the kids noted that they're best memory of the trip was when I stormed in saying "WAKE UP! IT'S TIME TO GO TO THE CIRCUS!" muah ha ha.

The three-day trip ended with each troupe performing what they learned. Again, impressed with how quickly they could grasp the expressions of a mime, or the subtle humor of clowns, and the various acrobatic tricks.

Any way, I have finally updated this thing. Feels like it's been weeks, although there has been much to say. Less time, or more time spent away from the computer with people? Like this "re-lleno" weekend spent at yet another birthday party, or playing cards with Romina and her family, or dia del nino (more on that for sure), or visiting with the Quinteros... ay carumba.

Chau for now, and have a blessed evening!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Word on the street

Two characters: Maria Sol and I.

"Estos chicos..."

"Claro! Cada vez, estoy agradecida que le dije a Eze que no puede venir al grupo de ados el Carlito."

"Ay sí! Él es tan wuaso."

"Wuaso?"

"Bue.. es como decir hacen chistes. Pero demasiados."

"Entiendo. Es--"

"Muy Violetero."

"Como.. palabra de la calle?"

"Eso. Bueno.. Sharayah.. Nos vemos!"

(cheek kiss)

"Nos vemos, chabona!"

(laughs)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Movies, nothing more

The following is simply a personal list of the movies I've seen recently and a generic thought or two about each one:

Crazy Stupid Love: Hilarious, but typical. Very well developed plot twist.
An Education: After watching Up in the Air a couple months ago, I wasn't as shocked. Yet, it was a good commentary on the place of women in 1960s England. Interesting use of Clive Staples as well.
Strangers on a Train: A brilliant work of Hitchcock's. How could one not love? If I were to make a list of must-see movies, this would be included.
Easy A: Per recommendation of pops, a treat. A little vulgar, but funny.
Waiting for Superman: Every teacher and parent should watch and think about the consequences. Sometimes though, I didn't like how the music forced you to think a certain way. Hard to explain, but after auditing a film class, one is more prone to note the cinematic cues.
The Rebound: Silly.
Midnight in Paris: Thank you Woody Allen for coming back with something more your style. Owen Wilson recreates your personality (or at least what I sense of it from your other flicks) to a T.
Ramona and Beezus: Aww shucks. Even teared up a couple times.
Sixteen Candles: For Eva's sake--to educate her on the John Hughes flicks. Thanks Easy A for making a reference to almost all of them.
Source Code: Surprisingly, good. Not what I expected, although it does have a lot of gaps it couldn't possibly realistically cover.

The end. Good story, I know.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Let me count the ways

This morning, I don't know why, but on my way home from the gym I began to sing to myself:

"Count your blessings,
Name them one by one.
Count your blessings,
See what God has done.
Count your many blessings.
Name them one by one........

Count your many blessings see what God has done!!!!"

Though, perhaps I should also tell you that anytime I sing this song, I always add a sweet beat boxing mix, as well as a few scratches of the old turntable to spice things up. Hmm.. I'm sensing that you lack a demonstration. Let me just tell you it's sweet.

The point is, I am blessed.

Then, we went to the boys institute and it really sank in.

First there was Sergio who acted tough, but then made not one but TWO of the little piggy (chanchito) bank craft that I brought (by the way, thanks Martha Stewart). There was Chechu who made fun of the craft, but made it all the same. Then Rodrigo, who instead of making a piggy, made a "Javi 2" which made us all laugh.

But there was another side to it. The part where travieso Ivan came and didn't want any part of any of it. He came to me, knowing that I always bring the snack to share with one question. "Can I have one?"

Now, I have struggled with him in particular as of late. He doesn't treat anyone well. Always hitting, always saying mean things. So more than once, I have withheld the snack from him. We treat the snack, after all, as a prize. Therefore, I responded with, "Why?"

He looked at me with some sad eyes and gave me a hug. I smiled back and said, "Ivan, I really like hugs. Of course you can have a snack!"

He had taken it and immediately left. While we continued to make the craft with the rest of the boys, we heard major screaming inside. It was Ivan, who was refusing to take a bath. He sounded like it was the end of the world. It took a lot from all of us to remain in our seats, knowing that everything was really okay.

On the way home, we talked about each of the boys. How little we know of their pasts. How much of their future is not in our hands (and even if it was??). How Rodrigo's older brother has been sent to another boys' home outside of the city, too far to visit. The worsening of Chechu's sight. The fact that the boys don't even have a soccer ball any more.

I praise God for a good day in ministry that could only be brought on by His mercy with our many weaknesses. I also am very grateful for how easy I've had it in this life thus far. He truly has been too kind. Chau.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Variety

Change can happen fast. Within a day, I have already switched rooms and have made a new nook for me to inhabit for the coming year and pico (new vocabulary!). And speaking of new vocabulary, I used the subjunctive mood correctly today. Big steps!

Then there's the new routine of going to the gym thrice a week in the early morning. I'm so sore today that I am reminded of some painful softball punishments suffered in high school. If Shannon were to read this, perhaps she would remember how we couldn't go up and down the stairs to pre-cal that one time.

As for what's going on in ministry life, we have visited with the boys and teenage mothers over the past couple weeks. A new missionary couple is visiting with us, conveniently both named Chris (bueno, the wife is named Krysta, or at least I think that's how you spell it). They are great, and are interested in helping with el Refugio. I enjoy combining forces with other workers to serve these kids. It's good for the kids to have a couple fresh faces as well. In general, the relationships with the young'ns continues strong.

Anything is possible with a few random scraps of fabric
and yarn
Oh, I did have an interesting moment with a kid in el Refugio on Monday. I assist Maria Sol each Monday afternoon with the handcrafts, though I must say that I kind of like doing the handcrafts a little too much, as you can see my pirate puppet to the left.

Carlos is a rough one. That is, he plays rough, although I think he has a good heart. He hit one of the kids while we were waiting to enter the building, and so I told him and motioned to the rest that we don't hit. If he hits someone again, he will have to leave and wait until next week's craft. He seemed to understand.

About ten minutes later, he hit one of the others.. I first gave him the stare down. Sort of as a way to let it settle in his mind that what was coming, indeed, was coming. Carlos seemed abashed. I firmly told him that he had to leave and he went into the natural, I'm-so-sorry-I-won't-do-it-again mode, but I led him out the door. "You are welcome next week, but for now you must go."

Shock. Utter shock in the room. Inwardly, I wonder if these kids have people to show them any form of discipline.

He proceeded to wait outside for several minutes, watching us from one of the windows. One of his good friends, Gaston, came inside to join us. He was confused at what was occurring and so he asked if Carlos was allowed in. I looked at Carlos and asked if he was going to hit anyone again. He shook his head in the negative.

Then, to re-establish for everyone, "We have decided that this place is not one in which we hit each other, right?" All nodded. "Welcome back, Carlos."

And there wasn't another fighting problem. In fact, everyone was much better with sharing in general. Carlos seemed to forget the whole thing by the end of our time. Though, I'm not that great with kids, so I could be completely wrong. But I pray for the best. He's been on my heart a lot recently, so maybe I'm also hyperaware, you know? Any way, if you could be praying for Carlito, that would help a lot!

Welp, time to stretch (ouch) before calling it an early night. Twas a long day and I sorta hope to read s'more of Sherlock Holmes. Thanks for reading and chau!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Latest cultural distinctions

..what we learn in school. I discussed with some of the youth the different sports focuses we had. Namely, football, baseball, basketball and volleyball. There was track, and even swimming for some, but mainly the four that students got most involved in. Here, girls especially, are held from sports knowledge. Maybe they'll play soccer. Maybe. Only two sports are taught for the most part; volleyball and handball.

..superstitions. We find Friday the 13th to be an unlucky day. Here it's Tuesday. They joked that the unlucky-ness hits them first. I laughed more at the fact that even the infamous Jason movie is changed in the translation.
for some reason, just not that scary...
Then there's the fact that cats don't have nine lives. They only have seven. I feel like there's a really good joke in there somewhere, but I don't want to try too hard to get it. I'll just play the inside joke card and say that I hope my "earthy" father gets it. hehe.

And finally, I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but something I mentioned to my mentor once when she asked about why my parents didn't have more kids. I don't know the full answer, but I know that by one point, my dad got "fixed." Yes, slightly awkward to talk about, but also funny. Even funnier to learn that the verb here is not to be fixed, or arreglar, but to fail, or fallar. Quite the difference. Think of the mindset then, behind this! It's obviously a social status to have a certain amount of kids here rather than in the EEUU.

Any way, that should cover it for now! Time for church, asi q, chau!!