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

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Spaghetti western

I was timid to approach the house of Ma Elena again, to be honest. She had once scolded me for not coming to her house, that it made actually visiting after another one of those two or three week lulls to be a little bit harder.

This time, she started with, "You're so much skinnier!" And, "I want to hear everything!"

So that made the next two and a half hours of serving mate and catching up on life all the easier. Not to mention to find out that she was just as busy so no one could be fully to blame (nevertheless, I think my secret gift of Nutella also helped soften the blow). I realized that the evil one often likes to mix up lies in our head.. okay, not all of them are lies.. but are heavy truths if that makes sense.. to impede us from doing things we ought to do.

To keep us from doing things we actually enjoy doing very much.

On Wednesday, I made the 20 minute walk to el Refugio to find Andrea completing an art (supposed-to-be-cooking) class with three of the girls from the neighborhood. She told me how surprisingly well it had gone even though she had woken up without much of a plan due to the drawback of certain members of the leadership team unable to make it.

We then started a mini adventure to find the house of Mily. It led us to one home, then another, then another, then finally, a small, and questionable passageway that we had never known existed in Las Violettas. We were making all sorts of new friends, who looked at us strangely in our pale skin and funny accents. But what else were we to do when the only explanation for the address to her house was "the one with the black door."

It was a chance to see what our ten year old, wise craking, Mily's life was like. We had been told that her father was in prison, and that her mom was left alone to take care of the kids. It wasn't until we had seen the true poverty of her household, and the six kids that it began to click.

By the help of the Spirit alone, I was able to let the mother know of Mily's behavior in the pre-teen's class. In previous experience, the mothers are quick to talk with their children, driving in that healthy parental fear, and usually the child behaves for at least a week or two. 

As Andrea described it, this time.. the woman, Paola, just looked numb.

We asked if there was any way we could help her family out, and her doe eyes responded with a nod, but no words. I tried to explain that we are here because we want to show her how much Jesus loves her. Straight stare in response.

Thursday began OM Argentina's conference for future missionaries. They are small in number, but they are full of passion. Having just finished a book about the type of support that a missionary needs, as well as two books before talking about how to take care of missionaries while on the field, I was hyper aware of the reactions of a certain participant.

In the middle of the class, she started almost at a yell, expressing her frustration about a past hurt (without saying what was that hurt). I seemed to understand, and, asking the speaker of the talk for permission, made a concise explanation to help try to alleviate her anger. She subsided, but I was quick to talk to my mentor about possibly meeting with her so that she could talk through some of those feelings. Honestly, it was a weird moment.

That same day, and the next, we had two, 3+ hour leaders meetings for OM. Being the youngest by more than a decade, I had very little to say, so I kept busy by taking notes. Even when they turned to me for comments, I didn't know where to begin or how to respond, and I am certain that I said something silly, because they didn't ask me again. ha.

At the same time, it was a privilege to understand a little more of the inner-workings of this very complicated machine.

Continuing with Friday, I visited the girls' home to find that only two girls remained. The rest had been taken in by families for the long weekend, while these two had none. I was given permission to take them out for ice cream where we talked about random things, and eventually, just as random, what the eating of the bread and the drinking of the wine during church mean.

This morning I got a text from one of them thanking me for a great time. I responded that I like it too. I had added a "You are so special!" at the end and got a quick response.

Quick detail moment: this 18 year old is the only one in the institute that is not pregnant (or already with child). She is hiding from her family because she was being sexually abused. First by her father, then by her uncle. Another reason she has no one to go to during the long weekend.

Her response was, "Are you serious about that?"

"Of course! You are the daughter of God!"

"Wow. Thanks. Te quiero mucho."

Pray for her. There is a 24 year old young man showing interest in her, and I fear for her need to be loved that she will give more than she should to anyone who shows her affection.

This morning, I also had the chance to share a 2-hour, Spanish only, talk about raising a support team for while you are on the field. With the help of a new friend, Yanina, and by God's grace, it went over very well.

But then afterward, I pretty much collapsed in my bed. I watched a couple of tv shows, read a book, and finally came to write about it all. It has felt pretty nonstop, especially when you include the fact that three more women are sharing our downstairs bedrooms in the OM house. I am thankful that I get to rest a bit now.

love and chau!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Rumor Mill

The rumor mill has wreaked a little bit of he-said-she-said havoc this week, and I have come to several conclusions.

The first--if you want to stop it, you gotta stop talking.

Seriously.

Stop it. Now.

Secondly, if kids are involved in spreading said rumor, we need to be clear to ask them to come to us (adults) first before they say anything to anyone else. The temptation is huge, I mean HUGE, to keep it going. But perspective and personality has this magical ability to make a story much more saucy or scandalous than it was ever intended.

If it was even true in the first place.

The good news.

The good news is that God worked wonders this weekend in spite of the rumor mill. The third thing that I had learned is to always present your requests to Him first, because He is truth (truth that sets us free). His intentions are always for the best on our behalf, and it is very exciting to watch him at work.

Some of the results, for example (in this fairly vague story written in effort to show what I got to learn and also to protect those about whom the rumor was started), was to see some pre-teens reconcile. We witnessed another girl willingly open up to the group, and share some of her hurts in her life. We witnessed a parent take a step of faith.

I am praying for even bigger things, but will have to wait.

In the meantime, notice that what the evil one intends for harm, God can transform into something way better!!!

love and chau!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Inspiration

Every Tuesday, I take a nice long walk to Marisol's house. I could sleep in a little more and take the bus instead if I really wanted to. But there's just something about a little fresh air, exercise, and..

the blessing of podcasts thanks to my handy dandy iPod.

I listen to three different churches mostly. Occasionally, I like to tune in to a friend in the northeast, but lately, it's mostly been my Flatirons (Colorado), some Mosaic (LA) and the church that my parents go to in Texas.

This morning's walk consisted of a sermon from Flatirons back in 2011. At the end, the pastor told a story about three young women (ages 23 and 24) who went to Africa to help with an orphanage one summer. At the end of their time, one of the girls decided to stay. While she still had college, while she had no money, she took a leap of faith and stayed to make sure that the conditions for these children improved.

Pause. I used to admire a couple of people, but my outlook has changed.

For instance, I used to admire James Dean, that rebel who was a true star in three movies before he died in a car accident at 24 years of age. I used to really admire Michaelangelo, especially after seeing the David in Florence. He was around 24 or 25 (I think) when he created this sculpture out of which many thought was a piece of useless marble.

And while they did great things, and they are things that have left a legacy, or some sort of claim to fame, these two missed the point. Dean was reckless, and selfish. I read a biography about him and realized that he never really taught others his gifts. He just kept hoarding his talents, and constantly looked for ways to improve them.

Young Michaelangelo also missed the point. The other day, Marisol and I realized that David is not the David from the Bible (ahem.. being Jewish you would expect his.. ahem.. to be.. ahem..). We also discovered that Michaelangelo's Sistine Chapel includes references to the Greek goddess Delphi. He was mixing humanism with Christianity, which simply does not align no matter which way you look at it.

I found that I do admire a young woman named Vittoria Colonna, who quite possibly influenced Michaelangelo with the truth of depending on Christ alone for our strength*. Many believe that because of her influence, Michaelangelo then made his own face on the Nicodemus/Joseph of Arimathea sculpture in the Florentine Pietá.

I admire these young women mentioned earlier, who did all they could to make a difference in the world by serving children who have no home.

I admire the young woman of 21 years, who I just met today, that has left her home and comfortable job in Jujuy, to be a missionary in Córdoba.

They get it. They get that we aren't on this earth to make the most of our own lives, for me and me alone. We are called to love God and to love others. Seeing young(er) people do that ought to be enough to get all of us off our keester and get moving!

love and chau!

*Humanism stresses that man is capable of all on his own.
I have been reading Francis Schaeffer's How Should We Then Live in case you're wondering where this knowledge about Michaelangelo comes from!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Speaking of CI and its influence

Today.. or technically yesterday..

I had a conversation with one of the campers from last week. She tells me that she was thinking about Abraham Lincoln's quote about making our enemies our friends.

"There's this girl at school who is really mean," she tells me. "So I decided to talk to her."

And?

"Turns out she is really lonely."

The young woman from camp then describes how great she felt afterward to take the time to get to know the lonely girl.

"It's always hard at first," I tell her. "But afterward we realize that our enemies are people too!"

I told her I would be praying for her and her new friend. I also hope that doors will open to be more specific about the bigger truth behind Lincoln's quote--that technically it is derived from Jesus telling us to love our enemies.

love and chau!

What is Cordoba Immersion camp?

I have talked about Córdoba Immersions before, but never had we such wonderful advertisement for it as we now do, thanks to a film major named Nanda, creating beauties such as these.

This year, we are using the movie Back the Future, to resolve a problem of our own. We teach the kids some of the basics of film (and a little of how to sell a fight scene) and they have to make their own 3 to 5 minute scene to save a young indian girl in the wild west. Then of course, return back to the future! They have to show compassion towards the antagonist, utilizing a quote from Abraham Lincoln about making our enemies our friends.

We have a lot of fun in the process, and sometimes God allows us to go deeper with the students in our team. This particular video above is extra moving. Notice the last words of the video.

Then notice the blond kid every now and then who is playing Marty McFly (minute 1:42 for example). His name is Luciano.

A week after this camp, he and his father died in a tragic car accident.

Since I was not a coordinator for this week, I wasn't as close to the situation, even though yes, it was still quite difficult to bear. The coordinators who were there, particularly OMer Adam who was Luchi's team leader, had abundant opportunities to share Christ with the students that were hurting and confused. The CI leaders stayed in close contact, and continue to do so, to encourage the friends and family in their grief.

As we debriefed about last week's camp, a camp of 53 students who come from all corners of the country (think about the impact we now have the opportunity to make with this sort of social network!),  another coordinator, Tania, told us that one of the students from the first camp accepted Christ two nights ago.

Then Blas, yet another coordinator, told us about one of the parents calling him to thank him. Blas noticed one of the students looking sad at last week's camp, so he took the moment to encourage him. Apparently it made such an impact that the student (Fernando) went home and told his mom about it.

While the camp is not explicitly Christian, it is exciting to see doors open to deeper conversations with students. And teachers! We have seen a few teachers come to Christ over the years as well.

So.. while we have a lot of fun (perhaps too much sometimes ;) ).. it's a really cool ministry that you can add to the prayer list. This year we find ourselves struggling to keep schools committed to coming. A lot of them will say that they come, but in the end can not due to finances or miscommunication. It is also difficult to keep a location, as prices go up.

The next camp will not be until August, but we pray for more opportunities with the contacts we have already made, as well as other camps to pop up, beforehand.

love and chau! (and thanks!)