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

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Let the 2012 begin

Pardon me, I have the runner's euphoria going on here, so this already fairly optimistic mind is about to be even more so. Why?

Because she has seen a lot of change this year. A lot of good change. While she desires even more, and knows that there are ways this year could have been utilized even better, she is grateful for this 2011 year.

So, a very necessary High Fidelity moment; Top 5 things that changed Sharayah's life in 2011:

Number 5: Learning a new language proficiently enough to teach. I remember meeting in Berlin with Katie and Bryce, and Bryce talking about his frustration with not being able to communicate well enough when talking is his thing. God has blessed me with some rather deep relationships (Sol, Flor and Noemi) in which we are able to delve into God's Word and discussion all in le Castellano. And, although always willing to utilize Javi's assistance, teaching during Escuelita, or having one-on-one conversations with the boys.

Number 4: Living without a cell phone. Without a lot of things really. Without my computer on various travels throughout the country. Without very many clothes or books to read or television or a dryer or a... you get the point. Living without this stuff reminds one that it is just stuff; life will go on and you'll find a way to make do. Because you don't really need it all.

You figure out other ways of communication, for instance. You end up taking a bus to meet someone and they're not there, but it's not because they don't love you. Something came up. And that's okay. Perhaps God had another plan for you in mind..

Number 3: My visit home. Apart from getting to see my parents and family (NOLAN!!!!), it was so interesting to have conversations with the minister of missions at RockPointe for instance. Or the kids and their parents at the church one evening where I shared what I do here "on the island" of Argentina (hehe). I realized how much the kids in the US already have, but I was missing weeks to be with my boys back on Domingo Zipoli.

How can I just let them go on living without someone to love them like Jesus did? Even if I'm a poor example, and need help and forgiveness all the time, at least I'm there. Right?

It changed my perspective on my work overseas, and I'm much more willing to live like this with that thought alone.

Number 2: Visiting the boys' institute. If you haven't read the stories included in this blog, I assume this is your first visit. I can't stop talking about them usually; my mind wanders into how I can make the next week better. How I can make every moment count.

I didn't think I could like hanging out with little kids as much. God has definitely molded my heart in my time with them.

Number 1: Hands down, Iguazu Falls. I have never, EVER, seen anything that beautiful in my life (and that's counting the herd of fish in the Cayman Islands). I have never been so captivated/felt so small/paid so little for an incredible vacation. It's simple for a number one spot, but you'd just have to see it for yourself.

------

So I think I'm ready for the new year to start. I have some Chaco planning to do still, but finances are practically all taken care of which is exciting. I've gone on my first run in a VERY long time. I played the sax last night for the first time in ages. And you know, January might throw things all for a loop since I won't be in the comfort of my own bottom bunk of a bed. But bring it on. Change is good. Hard, but good.

And the Muppet Movie comes out in Argentina in a week.

love and chau,
sharayah from 2011

Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas in Black River

That is, Rio Negro. Eva had invited me several times to her humble abode in Lamarque, but I only just now had the opportunity to come. I also didn't stay for too long, in effort to not impede on her time with her family.

It was a quiet vacation. We did the usual home visits with mate drinking. The walk to the river and to the local plaza. The eating of asado and chivo..
Of course, it was also Christmas time, as previously mentioned, and most likely deduced for the time of publication. My mom had ordered one thing--to shoot off fireworks in her honor. You see, she's a pyro. I like them myself, but I'm not as crazy about shooting them off.

But I obeyed, and bought 42 pesos, just around 10 dollars of fireworks for all three of us (Eva, Adam and myself) to enjoy. Granted, it was more fun watching the neighbors go crazy with theirs, but I enjoyed my run of the mill Roman Candle and a couple cone shaped cohetes that shot off a wide array of colors.

And there was the 100 Fuegos, which was the grand finale of our fun. Talk about going out with a bang.


We had a day to visit the beach, an area called Las Grutas. Surprisingly, I later found out that it's very close to Puerto Madryn, where my parents and I had visited last year.

As it was getting hotter each day in Lamarque, I prayed for cloudy weather. Adam joked and prayed for sun. I then interrupted his prayer and said that God should listen to me. We had a good laugh.

When we arrived it was.. cloudy! And windy. And cold. Not ideal for the beach, but I was determined to make the most of it. We had a couple hours on the playa, where we made a snow/sand-man, ran around and drew in the sand.

We then waited for an earlier bus to take us back (the original plan was to stay all day), playing Chinchon and Skip-Bo in the terminal.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The bicycle accident

I was ahead of the pack (Javi, Adam and myself), and foresaw an obstacle ahead of us--a large truck blocking both sides of the road. So I entered sidewalk territory until the truck was a good distance behind me, and then re-entered the street.

"Whoa!" They shouted behind me. Apparently I cut Javi off and we were inches from collision.

"That's okay," I chuckled. "You would have been at fault because you're riding the bike behind me."

"But I would've won because you're a woman," Javi retorted, jokingly. And we all laughed. Welcome to machismo, no?

"Fine, you're not getting the prize for the day," I smiled back. After all, the daily prize of alfajores that we give to the boys was in my backpack this time.

We all had a good laugh. And then...

Maybe five minutes later, Javi had pulled ahead, and there was a dog crossing the street. Javi was inches from crashing and killing the dog! It shrieked and appeared to have lost a piece of its tail.

"Ahh, now I have evidence to support my side," I told him. "Who will they believe? The upstanding citizen with no record of bicycle accidents, or the one that almost killed an innocent dog after almost running into a woman?"

On our way home that day, Javi, again in the lead, had looked back to check where we were. It was after one of the more dangerous turns, so sometimes we can lose each other. All I remember was seeing him swerve uncontrollably and go into the sidewalk as another car passed close by.

"What? And now you're drunk?!" I shouted.

All in a day's work. I suppose then the title should have been "The bicycle accident that didn't actually happen," but I thought I'd throw my readers for a loop. Chau!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Lunch

Today. Today was one of the most fun and relaxing days with the boys. Today was also one where everyone was forced to leave the house for several hours so that this could be taken care of:

While last year we were bombarded with cockroaches, this was the year of the Scorpion, if China has a year for that. Now, I've only seen a couple, but apparently they are on rampage in our house. Which explains why this morning we had the house fumigated.

Thankfully, it fell in line with our time with the boys, so I wasn't inconvenienced at all. Chau alacranes :) !!

Any way, back to the boys...

We had no plans again. Just showed up and asked them what they wanted to do. It's good to have these days every now and then; something we don't have to be too tense about. So we went to the river with Sergio, Rodrigo (this would be the third one), and Gabriel (dos).

I joked, "Hey guys, we aren't allowed back in our house for lunchtime, so y'all should catch a couple fish for us so we can eat!"

Who knew that these boys were a regular Bear Grylls?

Sergio, a few minutes later, carried a 1.5 footer in his bare hand. About twenty minutes later, Rodrigo did the same. While Adam and I were talking about the boys on the shore, we watched Rodrigo walk toward us with his prize. He yelled at us that he was coming over. We turned..

.. and then he reached his free hand into the water and pulled out another.

[Jaw. Dropping.]

I mentioned that I was just reading Leviticus this morning about how to determine whether we were technically allowed to eat these fish. They had scales and fins, so check! haha

Gabriel was on shore in the mean time, and he was throwing rocks at the birds. Boys will be boys was the theme for the day. All I could do was laugh, because in a silly way, it was also kind of adorable. These kids could have this freedom to play like boys play.

We returned to a scorpion-free zone. Enjoyed some chicken, and other non-essential life in Argentina details. Chau!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Check

Someone needs to work on their arm muscles--ha!
Do you ever add something to your bucket list simply because you just completed that something and never knew until that moment that you wanted to do it before you died?

So.. how do I put this.. I.. er...

I just preached in a bar in another country. 'Twas about grace and glory and it was a lot of fun!

Chau.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

That's twice now

Twice that I've prayed about adopting one of the kids here. Twice that the Lord has taken him to his house within a week after really, seriously, begging God to show me if it's His will, to adopt a kid.

The first was Rodrigo. He was a handful, but over time was becoming a sweet kid. I had told Sarah about my thoughts. That if he were to still be here by the time I was gone, I would see what it would take to bring him home with me.

I know, I know. It's insane. And not just a two word sentence kind of insane, but an all caps and larger font kind of insane.

INSANE.


I know how old I am. I know I'm a single girl. I know that when I return I wouldn't have a job lined up, nor would I have much money. Not to mention that I will be living with my parents.

But something just kept feeling right about the idea. I kept thinking about how these kids need someone that's consistent, even if it's just one side of things. And more importantly, they need God, and He would help me do my very best to show the young man His love. I just know it.

Two weeks after seriously praying about Rodrigo, a family took him in.

My mom had asked while I was home if I was thinking that way about Nahuel these days. It's no secret that while he too had his rough edges, he had been softening. Just yesterday, he gave me some of the sweetest hugs, and he's getting excited to receive his autitos, or Hot Wheels we bought for him and all the boys.

When she said it, I had definitely been thinking about it, but not praying as much. Ever since I got back, Nahuel's face kept popping up in my mind, and so I took things more seriously. 'Okay God,' I said. 'What is it that you want?'

I thought about what the process must be like; about how long it might take; how it would ruin my so-called plans. About how it would still be worth it.

Today, we played cards with some of the boys. Afterward, I asked for a final headcount so that I could best prepare their gifts for the Christmas party next week. They gave me a number that was less than I was thinking. "No Mariano?" I asked.

"Nope. And Nahuel is gone too."

They explained that he's with his family. Now, I don't know if that means just for the holidays. It might be some sort of confusion, but I'm wondering if that's not the case. As in, he's gone for good (double entendre).

So who's the insane one now? The one who is willing to adopt as a single 25 year old, or the ONE who keeps putting kids on my mind to start praying about and then providing a home for them?

Does this mean I should start praying for the one's I'm less inclined to adopt?

I have no clue. Chau!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

From Genesis to Revelation

There is a new group of brothers and sister who have been coming to Escuelita each Saturday. I don't know why they started coming so late in the year, but they did, and they seemed to enjoy it. What's crazy, is just when we were giving up on Escuelita, God gave us this gift of kids as if to say, "Keep going."

The Bible memorizing continues, and the sister, Melany, keeps winning. The other brothers have memorized the verses too, but when we go to draw their names from the hat, hers is the one always drawn. What can you do?

I told them that I will be giving away the cereal box I made to look like the Bible, as well as all the leftover goodies inside it to the one who can say the most memory verses next Saturday. Everyone said that they will practice them as best as they can, which is encouraging. I keep thinking about how great it is in general to have these kids want to open their Bibles on their own time, and pray that they'll want to do so more often, not just for the prize.

Melany came up to me afterward though. "I'm going to study real hard. I'll read all the way from Genesis to Revelation," she declared to me.

His Word is sweeter than honey. May these kids realize that, and may the Spirit change their lives by revealing the beautiful nature of our loving and just God. Chau!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Growing up is hard to do

If you read number two of this previous post, you'll get a small glimpse of what it is like to be raised in the midst of poverty. It has a lot to do with not having the money for other forms of entertainment, especially vacationing, as well as the way that poor education can impede creativity.

The kids stay out in the streets all day out of boredom. Or suffocation. So many living in a house, sharing a room, means that home is not a haven, but a havoc.

Yesterday, I made one of the "never-ending" cards with Gabriel. He's one of the most well-behaved, sweetest kids in the group, and he talks often about his family and passions. When we made the card, we asked if he wanted to make it for his mom. He began to write about how much he loves and misses them.

"Even though we are separated, we are always together in our hearts."

I wanted to cry. Imagine living in a home when you know there's someone out there who does want to take care of you. The other day Gabriel walked for six straight hours to visit with his mom.

Then there's Santi of Las Violetas. Another great kid. Unfortunately, many of the others pick on him and call him gay. Just this past week one of his cousins died. The child of 7 or 8 years drowned in the canal that borders the neighborhood, while his dad was there, not paying attention.

How do you explain to Santi that death is a part of life? How do you explain to Gabriel that his mom just economically can't keep him in the house right now?

They have to grow up quick, so to speak, in order to cope with these daunting stressors. It is unjust, to put it simply, that anyone their age should have to deal with these things in the first place. We have had it so good.

Please pray for Santi and Gabriel. Pray for their broken hearts to be filled by the love of Jesus, who hurts and cries with them. The same Jesus who hears the prayers of the downtrodden. Thanks and chau.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Crafty

I have been meaning to update my fellow readers on the various crafts that we've made with the institute boys and young mothers.

They have varied from home-made yo-yos, to table basketball, to what you see on the left. A Javi special Cornball game! I let him do the wood cutting, Betania and Flor to sew the beanbags, and I picked out the paints (and painted... most of it).

It was funny trying to teach the game. They still don't understand the scoring aspect of it, but I hope they enjoy it nonetheless. Makes woodworking another thing I want to add to my list of skills.
To the right, I had watched a Disney show on crafting for this idea. I also knew we had a whole bunch of various colored tissue paper in the back (perks of Operation Lumber Room).

So Flor and I cut away, and had a blast at the mom's institute where the various young'ns made fish or trees or houses--filling up the entire page!!

It's sort of fun preparing a new craft each week, though it can be tiring. If I'm good, I'll utilize my summer to prepare a list of things and buy the materials more than a couple days ahead of time to reduce the stress.

This week: the never-ending card. I watched this YouTube video on how to make it. Simple. Fun. And now funny, because I made each page be part of the conversation between those two vultures in the Jungle Book. Chau!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Distinctions

When you're in between two cultures in a short amount of time, you are able to sense the differences even stronger. Like Daredevil's enhanced sense of everything apart from sight, I sometimes feel the difference just from a whiff of the panaderia, or something like it:

1. Traffic. Wide, usually well lit, lanes in the States. Here, no demarcations to separate lanes. Each car fending for itself. And the cars... in the States, everyone has a nice car. Even your "junker" is probably at least 10 years newer and cleaner than the average car here. Be thankful.

2. Bread. I loved getting to pick what I eat while I was home, and I'm not just talking about getting to pick the restaurant because people were excited to have me home. I'm talking about portion sizes and leaving leftovers. The first thing I'm offered here were criollos, the famous little biscuit given during snack time. I love them so much, I have called them my pecados (Sol always laughs about that one). But I have gone two weeks without them, and I sort of view them as my rabbit hole to engordando. So I had one and stopped. I paused to think about how many things here have bread--a lot of bread--in them.

Such is the life of, as I have previously deemed, second world. Bread and rice, bread and rice. Because these things are cheapest to make a lot of to feed many. I mean, Jesus had fed several thousand on a couple of occasions with it! Again, be thankful for the food you have access to (this includes Asian food!).

3. Air conditioning. We don't have it.

4. Book stores. I have told my fellow reader Flor of the wonders of Barnes and Noble. Even better, the fact that both a B&N and a Half Price are in walking distance to where my parents live. They are places that you can not only (most likely) find the book you are looking for and at a reasonable value, but that you can also have plenty of space WITHIN the store to sit down and read it. For free.

But enough for now. I am enjoying being back, in the summertime, of Cordoba. We had a great little Escuelita this morning, where I was impressed by Javier's handling of some bad behavior by a couple of the boys. We also played this old dice game I used to play at the local skating rink and had a blast with that.

Additionally, in thinking of all of these differences, it is important to try to combine the best of both worlds. Just because it is different, doesn't make it better. Or maybe there is something that is better, but not easily accessible to the rest of the world. Be thankful for what you got, but be okay when you don't have it. From dust to dust any way, right?

Love and chau.