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

Friday, January 25, 2013

Mariposista is a great word

Swimming lessons can be a double entendre, which I am very much into these days. The first lesson, is that of learning the basics of the butterfly today and this past Wednesday. It has been fun to learn, even if it is rather tiresome and I can't do more than one pool-length at a time. For now. But how fun is it to call myself a Mariposista, no?

The next lesson is that of putting things together. Focusing on each part, so that the whole may benefit.

Specifically, with the breast stroke, or that one style that makes you look like a frog. I still feel like it's an unusual form of swimming. Maybe because all along I wasn't doing it right--and I could feel that that was the case. So when I went to my first summer class, I told the new profe that I felt like something was wrong. When he watched me go, he was able to tell me exactly where I had fallen short.

Instead of just showing me, he divided the style in two parts. The brazada, or arms, part, and the patada, or feet part. I would go back and forth between the two--pool length after pool length--until both were mastered.

Finally, when he had confidence in me to put the two together, I went for it. After the first intake of water up the nose and mouth, I had a feeling I was doing something wrong. But the very next attempt felt just right. It felt different from what I had done before..

I still believe the breast stroke is an odd one. But I get it now, and I relate it to the spiritual life:

My friend Ceci and I were reading the Bible together the other day. She explained to me how she is not the best at studying the Bible, and in part it is because she doesn't have a method that she goes by. I told her about using a commentary which she could easily find online, as well as taking personal notes. It would be good if she could combine them, but if she should just focus on one or the other for now.. slowly build herself up to both, she would get a lot out of her studies. I know because it helps me a lot!

(That, and listening to sermons all the time!)

Any way, it kind of makes sense. Maybe I just wanted to brag (in the least sinful way possible?) about the fact that I can butterfly now! haha

chau!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Days come and days go

Today's post is more of a diary entry than a reflection on life in general. In part, I wanted to share with everyone things I am doing; in part, I wanted to prove that I am not wasting away the days (although I do my share of that as well haha.. details to come).

Today I met with Paloma again, to read the Bible. I wasn't as prepared this time because I focused the morning on cooking. Quesadillas. And they were scrumptious:

(hey, another excuse to finally post a picture I suppose)
So we read Jeremiah 1 together, and stumbled through some thoughts that we could muster. I wish I had prepared more.

I suppose I could blame last night, having gone to teenager Mily's house for her 15th birthday. They are going to have the official celebration March 9, since the 15th is the more important birthday for girls here than the 16th, but they had a little get together yesterday which I well.. obviously attended. We had a nice chat late into the night, under the stars.

And before that there was the girls' institute, where the three that are currently living there made personalized notebooks so we can organize all of their bracelet designs and cooking recipes together and not just rely on mine (which I often forget to bring). Tomorrow we are supposed to make alfajores de maicena :)

Or there was the fact that Tuesday was spent all day in Villa Retiro, just north of the city, with a bunch of missionaries, or soon-to-be missionaries, who had gathered for a conference. I was inspired by a guy named Rodolfo, who does Bible translation. The stories he told about watching a village in Brazil transform through the Word of God blew me away (and hey, I even got a free caramello out of it for guessing how many variations of vowel sounds their language has. I guessed the exact number  -- 46 -- without batting an eye. But don't worry, I was very surprised, as were the rest when he said that I was right). It impacted me to think about the fact that not only was it the first time for the people to hear about Jesus, but it was the first time many of them had even learned to read and write.

It led to a question Paloma and I wrestled with today: what excuses do we have that impede us from sharing the gospel? Why isn't it enough to remember that God is with us?

I was also able to sell some books while I was there, making a little money for the OM team and any possible ministry that might need it in the future. Always a plus.

In general, I am just cleaning the house without end. Organizing rooms (especially my own), throwing a lot of things away, and making room for future guests. Sometimes I play the sax, sometimes I play the uke. I waste time watching Friday Night Lights (almost shamelessly) and... Gossip Girl (completely shamefully).

I have hung out with Sol, where we played Skip Bo (I finally beat her), and another time where I introduced her to the beauty that is Princess Bride. Oh, and went to the movies with Coco, Mauro B., and Sol last week to watch Life of Pi. LOVED. Great conversations with Sol and Paloma, and another new friend, Aye (pronounced Ah-zhe). There's swimming three times a week where I struggle a little with not having the definitive swimming lanes. Not because I can't swim straight.. um.. well.. haha. No, it's more because the buoys help soften the blow of waves created by other swimmers. Puts the idiomatic expression "tirando onda" to a whole new level! (points to you if you get what I mean)

It's very hot here, but it has been nice to have fans for almost every room. It doesn't feel as bad as I felt that first summer was. Am I getting used to it? I dunno..

Well, I suppose this is all I can think of for now. It's been real. No, to tell the truth, I am enjoying the house to myself. I also know that I will enjoy having others around in a short while!

chau!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Snakes on a pole!!!!


I was too lazy to write this all out. I hope that's okay...
love and chau!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Opportunity

Ok. I think I'm settled back in. I've made the phone call to the girls' home to get permission to start visiting again; I found out the hours for swimming; I've actually slept..

Doing various chores around the house to get it ready for three new members of the OM team (!!). Finances for 2012 are done; the 2013 spreadsheet commences (I changed its color from that awful magenta to a happy blue)..

But I must. I must look back on the 17 day vacation with Kathryn as well as the year 2012 as a whole. Here we go:

Kathryn and I went from Mendoza in the west to Bariloche and Puerto Madryn in the south to Iguazu (one day layover in Córdoba) in the north and finished up in the nation's capital: Buenos Aires. We truly had an adventure. From brown water rafting to all-night buses (that would introduce us to some interesting folk :P) to swimming with sea lions to Devil's Throat and the other typical touristy things of the big city. I think we calculated over 75 hours on a bus, but we figure we can sleep on it (sort of) as well as save money in staying yet another night in a hostel.

Then there was the fact that we hitchhiked once (it was raining and miserable!). Or maybe include the boy who wouldn't stop hitting on me on the bus from Mendoza to Bariloche--at least we had a lot of laughs!? Should I include the Christmas miracle? An older gentlemen we met in Puerto Madryn, paid for our entire trip there. That is, two dinners, the trip to the penguins (which is not cheap) and all three nights' stay. We met Greeks and Swiss Germans and Dutchies and Israelis and Frenchies.. lots of Argentines as well, obvio.

We laughed. We cried from laughing so hard. We marveled at the Andes and the waterfalls and the beach (!). We have so many more inside jokes, and thankfully we wrote all about them. Unfortunately, you wouldn't understand a single one. hehe

Above all, we talked. We had some really good conversation about what we want and what God wants. As single females in our twenties, it's really easy to get caught up in the family we still don't have. And yet, at least I know, our loving God has a good purpose through it all. I pray, we pray, for more confidence in this truth. Which sort of segues into the thoughts from 2012.

What I learned from the first adventures in January up til the last one with Kathryn December 31 was that opportunity is all around us. We literally have no idea where one conversation with someone might take us. But we have to be the ones to start that conversation.

Think of Vane and how I could have just taken her picture on the beach, nothing more, continuing a walk with a guy named Carlos (not my penguin). Instead, we shared info, went on a bike ride the next day, and two months later, I am visiting her house in Río Cuarto. A week after the fact that she almost killed herself. We continue in contact.

There's everyone from 30 de Agosto--a connection made through another venue, and completely unsought. I continue in contact with a few of those, and I am encouraged daily by their faith.

We met Charlotte in Pto. Madryn, only to find her again in Iguazu. An evening in the second place, we had a conversation about kissing boys, and I got to share about how I've only kissed one. Which led to talking about why :)

And the man who paid for us in Pto. Madryn sent an email to me about two Brasileros coming to Córdoba. I opened my home to them, trusting in the man's word. It was worth it. They are not believers, but we were able to talk about what I do and why several times while they were here. They were surprised that I would invite them, and even let the guy smoke (outside of course, hehe). They invited me to their homes in Brazil. I asked if 2014 was a good year, and they nodded, understanding what I meant.

Making the most of every opportunity, in faith knowing that God is working. I still pray for courage to speak forthrightly about Jesus, even moreso than I do. Maybe it has to do with something I recently read by A.W. Tozer (to which I honestly responded out loud, "Dang it Tozer, you're making me feel bad!"):

I wonder if some holy one, some watcher who had spent centuries by the throne of God, if he came to earth and stepped into one of our pulpits, if he would be allowed to speak. I suppose that if he spoke here, he would say very little of what we usually hear. I suppose that he would charm our ears and fascinate our minds and cheer our hearts by his talk about God--the great God, the rapturous God, the One that gave his Son to die for us, the One in whose presence we expect to live while the ages roll.

And I suppose that after we heard such a being speak about such a God, we would never consent again to hear a silly, "timely" sermon preached out of Time magazine. I imagine we would insist that anyone who dares to take up our time preaching to us should not try to settle the political or economic problems of the world, but would talk about God and God alone.

(The Attributes of God, Volume II. God's Transcendence. p. 39)

Here comes adventure year 2013. What will you do?

love and chau!