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

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The obstacles

The intention was to simply make some pastelitos and encourage a couple of the girls in selling them to buy yet another baby crib. I sat down with Belen and Flor, explaining the various initial costs of the materials needed, the time factor, etc. I then explained how important it is to have an idea of how much you want to sell them for, perhaps marking a discount if customers want to buy half a dozen or a dozen.

I told them to fix a day each week, find their donor, y ta. (I must apologize, but even as I type this, I can't help thinking there are phrases in Spanish that cut to the point so much better than if I were to write them in English).

The girls learned how easy it is to make these sweets, and were animadas.. umm.. excited to start selling right away. I asked permission from the director, but was clear that this was not my intention. She gave us permission, and within an hour and within one square block, we sold 4 dozen.

84 pesos - 25 pesos in materials = 59 pesos

Not bad. Not amazing, but a great start. I got a text this morning from Ale asking where I bought the materials because they wanted to try again today.

Another phone call later in the day, and I hear that someone has stolen 200 pesos from Ale (from the 800 earned for selling 130 bracelets recently). "I don't understand why these things keep happening to me," she says. (She had been robbed of 100 pesos in May.)

She adds that they tried to sell 5 dozen pastelitos today, but they couldn't sell all of them. "But at least we tried."

I am reminded of The Alchemist. When we first have a dream, everything seems to push us forward. But after awhile comes the testing to see if we are willing to persevere to achieve our goal. I told Ale this--that while she is becoming a better person, everything will try to push her back. I said that I was sorry it happened, but I am sure they would be able to recover the money.

Then I said that people can be pretty flaky. One day, they want membrillo, and the next they want batata. Unpredictable, but you keep going. In the end, if you earn even just a little more than you spent, you're on the right track. After all, we are already almost a third of the way to buying the crib for Flor's baby (boy! we found out it's a boy on Friday!).

Chau, and sorry for the bad English.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Arañita y besitos

This little man is Luciano. I've mentioned him before. He is the son of Ale, and I can still remember seeing him again when they moved back into the institute. He saw me and the rest of us, screamed NOOOOOOOOO and ran off.

He was a hitter, and a screamer.

He still is a cryer.

And when we finished our visits, he never wanted to give us kisses, as is the tradition for greetings of hello and goodbye.

To be honest, today I was very tired. We had an almost all-nighter due to today being a day off from school (Happy Flag Day, Argentina). I didn't sleep well, and had a major headache all morning. Worse, when I arrived, my stomach was killing me.

This is included to also say that I hadn't prepared anything. I brought the game Uno and Jenga, some string to make bracelets if they wanted.. and some mate. Naturally.

But as it turns out, I got to see some beautiful things. Despite the pain; despite the unpreparedness.

Sidebar. I don't want to undermine preparation. I believe it is very necessary, but it is not the end goal. And while I am usually much better at preparing for my time with the gals, I don't let unpreparedness stop me from going all together.

We had a fantastic time. It began slow as all the girls looked at me with my two options. But as we started, everyone got into it, laughing at the fall of the tower. Getting excited about winning a round of Uno.

At one point however, I had to go to the bathroom. Let me make it clear that I HAD TO GO TO THE BATHROOM.

It was not pretty, and I apologize for the probable mental image just then.

So Nieves took my place in the card game, which left me to return to taking care of the kiddos Luciano and Maria Luz (ML has returned! Hooray!!). Luciano was using the blocks from Jenga to make a domino effect. Maria Luz built a couple of little towers on her own, only to knock them down. Oh how we laughed and laughed. And what surprised me most was watching Luciano share the blocks with Maria Luz. Or maybe it was to hear Maria Luz say, "'Ca 'ta!" when she built her little tower.

I began to play "Arañita" with the two, which means I made my hand act like a spider and it would crawl up their arms to tickle their necks. Which of course, is most fun when you don't even touch the kid and he or she are laughing any way. While I was making the silly noises that accompanied this, I realized that everyone was staring at me.. laughing.


The girls asked us to stay for merienda. Which means our normal hour and a half, stretched out to 2 and a half. It's such a privilege to be wanted by them. That they actually enjoy our presence, because sometimes that's all we can give them.

When we made our way home, Luciano jumped on the back of my bike. He has made it a tradition to ride on the back from the front door to the gate. It's adorable. He has also made it a tradition to give me kisses. Besos he yells.. such a contrast to what we had first known.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Lessons from Cinema pt 4

It's been awhile since I've commented on movies that I have watched, and well, it has a lot to do with the fact that I am not watching as many as I had in my former life.

Former life.. what does that even mean? Perhaps something to do with the fact that movies were a lot more easily rentable, were in English, and not pirated.*

But let us ignore these facts and get on with the show. First scene, to your right, comes from the daughter in the movie Moneyball. Obvious reasons for enjoying this movie? Baseball.

It was also a movie that surprised me because Brad Pitt's character is driven by regret and his daughter. Ignoring the first one because it is complex and somewhat over discussed, I want to simply say, "Awwww." While there are so many things going for him by the end of the film, he chooses to stay in California because he doesn't want to be away from her.

How often does that happen in the movies? (Again, ignoring that this is based on a true story) Usually the guy makes an error based on money.. or perhaps that's exactly what he had been doing his whole life. And he finally gets it.

While the remainder of the world may not have liked the ending the movie gave us, rest assured all the girls did! haha

Yes, yes. I am very late in the game in watching this movie. Nonetheless, a few comments.

Bill Murray--HILARIOUS.

Lots of inappropriate moments. Seems to be the Woody Harrelson way.. and yet at the same time, a good ending.

Trying to show the need for community in a broken world. Sound familiar? You can find a cry for being accepted in a "family" in the strangest of places sometimes.
Obvious reasons for enjoying this movie? Do I really need to say it? haha.

But in all seriousness, the gems of this flick are in two quotes:

"All you need is 20 seconds of courage."


"Why would a beautiful girl like you ever in her lifetime talk with me?"
"Why not?"

End of story. Chau!

*My friend just borrowed a movie someone gifted me recently, but couldn't open it on her computer because it was the real deal. Simply ridiculous!

Late on purpose

I have had so many experiences where the bus doesn't come on time. As a result, I decide not to get angry about it, but to simply let it be, explain why when I get where I am going, but more importantly, see if there was a reason.

When we went to the youth group retreat back in March, we were waiting for what seemed like forever for the La Calera colectivo to pass by. There was one seat left for us, and I ended up getting to sit by someone who not only was taking care of a gal from the States, but he also used to live on the same street on which I take up residence now in Córdoba!

Or back in the spring of last year, when I got to know a woman with a Russian background. Or the other gal from when I was going home after a long day with Noemí.

Or the other day when I was waiting for the bus to get to Sol's. I can only take one of 3 of the buses that stop close to our house, and it seemed like the ole R8 just wasn't going to come. Then my friend Inti passed by and we had a chance to chat a little bit. Nothing too important, but we had a good laugh.

He walks on, the R8 makes its way over. Hmm..

Perhaps the culture in Argentina allows me to be more open to being late. The stress of being on time in the States is much higher; the consequences much more severe. While here, persons are granted hours of "errand time" in which they may or may not be doing something work related. It's not a bad thing at all, if you ask me.

Monday, June 11, 2012


She was born last Thursday at 6:17 in the morning (I read the time wrong, dad!). Unfortunately, I didn't get the text message until 6:40pm that this was so, which made for a pretty hectic run to the hospital to see the beautiful, 3.25 kg, little girl.

It was all a part of God's plan though, since He gave me the opportunity to share the gospel with the taxi driver, AND I got to see Ale and Morena even though visiting hours were already over!

I don't have much more to say because her beauty speaks for itself. She was born healthy, and Ale is already back in the institute. Well, we're both busily making bracelets now.. per usual...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wisdom beyond her years

Alejandra continues to surprise me. Here is this 17 year old that sure, has made poor decisions, but seems to be quickly learning from her mistakes.

(On the other hand, there I am, having made plenty of poor decisions, but taking my precious time to learn from them.)

It was Ale who recognized that her friends weren't very good for her, so she started coming to church with us. It was Ale who made a list of how many bracelets we need to make and what price we should sell them at to make the most of an opportunity we have with Steph and Joy (they want to give them as gifts for their supporters).

And today, she recognized some frustration that was building up in the institute, so she figured it was better to avoid trouble than be a cause for tensions to rise. To live at peace with everyone.

I told her the decision was pretty Biblical, and it made her smirk. She knows that I sneak in the Bible and Jesus as often as possible because I so want these to be a part of her life.

Any way, so today I was proud of her. We talked a little in her room, which is really part of a common area where all the girls stay. I realized how much change has gone on in her life and thought about this wisdom she seems to have. Perhaps it is God's gift that will flourish all the more when she puts everything in his hands!

love and chau.

Monday, June 4, 2012

An interesting realization

It's nothing new for me to say that I'm not a fan of kids. I know how bad that sounds, but it's absolutely true. I've learned a lot since my time coming to Argentina; and I can appreciate all the work that goes into teaching them and loving them.. but in the end, I definitely stick with pre-teens and teens.

Enter Dara.

Dara is the daughter of my mentor. All last year, she came to Escuelita, and of all the kids, I struggled with her the most. Maybe it had to do with the fact that I respect her mom so much, any time she caused trouble, it irked me more than it should have. "How come your mom is so great, and you are such a rebel?" I thought to myself.

Victim of the missionary kid syndrome; we project the expectations of the parents on the children.

I realized that I was in the wrong, but also made an effort to avoid her so I wouldn't be so frustrated anymore. So much for being a good missionary (though that's nothing new).

But then recently, in our Friday morning Bible study with the OM team, the father of Dara mentioned that he and his wife were feeling convicted about how they raise their kids. They asked for prayer to be better at being attentive to them. At really spending one-on-one time with them, and the prayer request gave me pause. I should have been praying about my time with Dara too!

Two weeks later, Dara asked if I would lead a game for her birthday. She told her mom, "Sharayah always has good games." My eyes were widened to the possibility that we were finally warming up to each other. I even found myself making time to chat with Dara during Escuelita, or during church, or when she was at the house during team meetings.

And this past Saturday was a new experience: she came to me to ask how I was doing. She asked about a specific thing going on in my life, and I was touched. We laughed together. Her mom later told me about how we had laughed together.

Some of this has to do with God changing me, and some of it has to do with Dara's parents making more time for her... all of it has to do with God. Obviously.