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

Sunday, March 31, 2013

This I choose

Walking toward the Rodriquez house from el Refugio, I thought again about my life. I just finished a conversation with a bunch of preteens about the suffering of Jesus. While preparing the message, I was struck by the fact that Jesus said nothing.

During the sentencing.
During the 39 lashes.
The crown of thorns.
The beating with the rod.
The spitting.
The nails.
The insults.
The piercing of his side.
The wine-vinegar.
More insults.
Hanging there.. naked..

Silence. "Like a lamb before the slaughter," as we read in Isaiah 53.

And as I share this message with 10, 11 and 12 year olds from the neighborhood of Las Violetas, I look at how they are dressed. Well, mainly two of them. Sonia and Satia, 10 years old, have rolled up their shirts to show off their belly buttons. They have the piercing there, a couple in their lips, and their skirts are very short. When I talked with Andrea G. about this later, we recognized that they have no frame of reference as to what is appropriate. They either have parents who don't care, and the girls dress as they see on the streets, or parents who are the examples of such decor.

Surprisingly, I am encouraged by this group of young girls that seem interested in coming the whole year. Please join me in prayer for each of them; and pray for us as we teach them the general history of the Bible.

And so I make my way toward Sol's house. I chat with Coco before he departs for his own. I look around at the plaza full of kids and teenagers who need Jesus. I am clad in bright pink shorts, and a shirt with lots of holes in it. I think, "I am 26 and I chose this life."

I was reading this week from a free downloadable book from Gospel For Asia's website, about the folks who say of missionaries in foreign field, "I could never do what you do." And to be honest, I could never do what they do. "But we are not asked to take someone else's charge," the book says (in my own words).

Because God will give us the grace to do exactly what we are supposed to for his glory. Each one, with a call to do something specific, just as important as the other.

And after spending the evening with Sol - preparing a skit for tonight's church meeting and watching for the 3rd time Argo - I made my way home. The bus was probably not coming, so after taking my key out of my bag, and cell phone placed on my person, I walked briskly through Las Violetas. I am afraid, and not afraid at the same time.

"What would they steal from me?" I thought as I enumerated my belongings in the bag. A crown of thorns.. or at least sticks from our recently trimmed bushes. A fake whip that I made out of a left over stick and pieces of leather I found in the back. My Bible.

It's times like these I actually welcome the thought of someone robbing me. Well, except that my backpack is pretty quality, so that would stink to lose. ha.

I am also not afraid because Jesus, as we all take the time to remember today, has risen! I choose to believe in this, that Jesus didn't just die and stay in the grave. He proved to be God by overcoming death. Which makes coming to another country to hang out with a bunch of pregnant and underdressed teenagers...

... worth it.

love and chau.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

More bragging about the church (read God)

I guess it's because I feel like all my life I've been looking for something like this. I mean.. obviously my church isn't better than yours, since we're all one and the same and all.. And we mess up a lot. A LOT.

But it was just so neat today to come together, even if more than half of the congregation showed up super late, and share a meal afterward. One family donated leftover chicken from a party they threw the other night. Almost everyone brought some sort of salad (though side note: Argentine salads are usually potato or rice based. Kind of a funny topic). Drinks, cake..

..And everyone pitched in for cleaning up afterward.

We laughed. We cried.. We cried because Nieves was so happy to be alive. She had heart surgery just this past January. Everything could have gone wrong, but it didn't.

We cried because Claudio, one who has been truly on the rollercoaster of Christianity - between faith and doubt, between alcoholism and sobriety, being a good father, husband and not - asked his wife of 15 years this Tuesday, to renew their vows.

Sol and I are planning to make a skit for it. I might play a song on the ukulele.

As everyone sings "Que los cumpla..." I raise my glass and thank God for bringing me here even though I had no idea what it would mean.

I want to end using a quote from the book I am reading (courtesy of a recommendation of Bill Randolf, who I hear also lately had his birthday!), Safer than a Known Way, by Pamela Moore. She writes (about moving to another country to serve):

"The surrender of my will had resulted in something I had thought I did not want--leaving England. I thought that to leave England meant losing the joy and security of home. But instead of losing anything, I had gained a great deal. Within me was a deep satisfaction over the work I had done in Africa and even more was doing today in the Netherlands."

I can relate.

love and chau!

Monday, March 11, 2013

The church can dance

Went to Mily's 15th birthday on Saturday. I find it funny that while her birthday is in January, we celebrated in March. Though it's understandable, because when it comes to raising money for things like that, you have to wait.

The father talked on Sunday about their worries as a family to cover the celebration, as it is a Latin tradition to go all out for the girls on their coming-of-age birthday. "I told my wife that we needed to pray, and God provided everything."

He said this and much more, wishing to thank the congregation for their support of Milagros on Saturday. "We were so happy to see everyone there, and we loved all the comments we got afterward."

Cuarteto is one of the famous dances in Argentina, with its birthplace in Córdoba. It's sort of a polka mixed with rock sound; almost always with very cheesy lyrics. The dance itself is very My-Big-Fat-Greek-Wedding if you will. People holding hands in a circle, going in and out, the feet moving in a basic square shape (and of course a little hip action--this is Latin America folks!).

And practically everyone from the church was on the dance floor! It was a beautiful sight. Mily's friends from high school lingered on the outskirts, hardly involved. Someone asked Mily's dad who we were. When he explained we were from the church, she was shocked--"These people dancing and laughing.. not what I expected."

Perhaps she should read about Jesus' first miracle..

love and chau!