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

Monday, March 31, 2014

Day 91

Today was what I like to call un lío. As I entered the girls' institute, I could sense said lío coming upon me.

"None of the girls will be there this morning," said one of the workers.

While anger was slowly stirring within me, it was as if a giant hand touched my shoulder. Slow down. Breathe.

This is only a test.

And in the end, I have one less day with the girls, and yet, I have an added opportunity to visit on weekends. So I can't complain. I dunno.

I read the Bible with Gladys. We read a little bit of everything, and I was once again able to share the good news with her. I pray the Spirit really moves in her to understand. We might watch the Jesus film this Wednesday, so who knows?

Worked on various life plans. Don't know any other way to explain that.

Met to talk with Marisol and Marco. Camp season feels like it's coming up so fast!

Home to work on details for camp and then prayer meeting. Now I must get back to chatting with Cristian (he's so fun!). Love and chau!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

94 93 92..

Day 95 actually ended on a high note, sharing the evening with my long time police friend, Romina. She has another child now, Latauro, so it was fun to watch him crawl around and run into things. Oh kids, and how I have so much to learn for if and when that time comes to have a couple of my own (what?!).

Day 94: Friday once again, meetings. This week we talked about God's timing. How he often has to help us realize our need for salvation before he can offer it. Then in the meeting with the team as a whole, we caught up on a few ministries as well as talked about evangelism.*

A new volunteer-type came in to see what we're about. Had a good talk, and Lord willing, he will be helping out in the CI Camps!

Then for the evening I stayed home with Eva watching Miranda and chatting about life in general. Icing on the cake in talking with Cristian soon after that. mmhmm

Day 93: Spent my day off cleaning and taking care of various errands. I am trying to plan out all of the Bible studies for the girls in the institute to make sure I cover the bases about Jesus. We need to pray for God's covering over these times together. That the girls can learn, the Holy Spirit can churn.. I'm all out of rhymes. But basically, that Jesus would become real to them!

Andrea G came over and we had a great chat about the future. There is a lot ahead of us, and I am thankful for her friendship to help my mind process all the changes.

During the evening, I prepared some sloppy joes for my friends Ale and Laura. I also wanted to do something special, so I made a little scavenger hunt within the house where they ended up finding the treasure--an alfajor for dessert. hehe. It was fun to make and watch them frantically search for their clues. I don't think one is too old to look for treasure.

Day 92: Sunday. The official day of rest. Although, I still managed to find details to take care of. One thing on my list for today was to better organize the extra sheets and towels that we have for guests. In the middle of this, I found mold growing. Gross. Long story short, I had to add to my list, wash all the guest towels in extra hot water in order to kill the mold.

Later I met with Andrea K who challenged me to live out these last days in Córdoba to the fullest. I told her about the blog and she simply said, "Good." Nevertheless, her motivation is always an extra, and loving push, for me to keep striving for the utmost!

Which meant...

I then shared the gospel with a woman on the street who was outside with her dog. When she saw me, somehow it just naturally flowed to conversation, which naturaly led to Jesus. So yeah. Thanks God!

Aaaaand, I talked on the phone with one of the girls who formally lived in the institute. She promised to come to church next week!

OH.. and I might be preaching that Sunday. Time will tell...

Week of 91-86, here we come!!! Love and chau!

*I have already gotten a couple of comments saying that the meetings are much more interesting this year. I find that this is an important contribution to my service to OM. Please pray with me for someone to continue the format after I am gone.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A lot of catching up to do!

This is life without a computer.

Thankfully, Eva lets me borrow hers every now and then, and currently, I get the joy of playing on Samuel's MacBook Air. Not a bad gig. No worries folks, by April 9th I will be up and running again, Lord willing. In the mean time...

Day 101: Friday meetings. The Bible study was without our leader, so I had to step in. I invited everyone to share what they are reading, and it was neat to hear about what our team is learning from all over the Scripture.

The team meeting was also quite fun, as it was discussion driven over how we should improve the way we welcome new team members. For the evening, I stayed inside with Eva, watching a few episodes of Miranda and preparing for the girl' institute.

Day 100: Cristian would show up for day 100!! He surprised me on this visit, as he has a friend who is also dating someone in Córdoba. So yeah.. free trip. Which we celebrated by going to Aslan's 3rd birthday. It was Mickey Mouse themed, and it was awesome.

Afterward, we went bowling. It was the first time Cristian has ever played a true game! I had to teach him how to roll the ball, and then he beat me. What nerve! Haha. We had a great time.

Day 99: Cristian and I walked to Jesucristo Rey for the morning. The sermon was on nutrition and how we ought to eat better because God has already made things good. We have distorted them with things like cheetos and doughnuts. While I flippantly summarize the meeting as such, it was actually very convicting. Cristian and I continued talking about it all through lunch!

Then we watched Lone Survivor. Read, way too many emotions for one day. Good movie. Tough movie. You'll just have to see it for yourself.

Church in the evening was a get together at one of the church family's home. They ate chorizos; we played mafia like we were in high school again.

Day 98: I went to the girls' institute where we read about Joseph and his coat of many colors, as well as his time with Potiphar's wife. The girls' were able to compare what they had learned about David to Joseph, and distinguish that sins are not only committed against man, but moreso, against God. Fantastic!

For the afternoon, Cristian and I had some visa stuff to do (oh, we had also done a lot of this on Saturday morning). We reviewed all the paperwork that was lacking. Overall, we feel pretty good about it. We just have to wait until May for the last vaccination before we can really move forward. This gives me time to work on his parents' visas so they can come later for the wedding!

Later we had to go to the terminal where we said our bittersweet goodbyes until the next occasion. Still, I can't complain for all the moments we have been able to share together in last few months!

Day 97: Stop time, you are going way too fast!! Ah yes.. institute. A complicated story, but the short of it is I ended up playing with the kiddos the whole time. I think they are really getting used to me! Praise God. Seriously.

Tuesday afternoon was sleep and wedding planning. And perhaps another episode of Miranda. ha.

Day 96: For the morning we were able to officially have our first pre-teen Bible study. We loved it! We being Andrea and myself. The three girls we have prayed for most came, and are excited to continue. We noticed how each of them is at a completely different level of learning, but that they are all interested. Keep praying for Aylen, Dara and Dalma!

Then in the afternoon, I hung out with Gladys and we made a really cool bracelet together. I just love when she goes around showing everyone the things that we have made together.

I was supposed to visit a friend later, but she had to cancel. More wedding planning then!

Day 95: Today. Morning with the kiddos in the institute. I have noticed more and more of the details of their character. I try to bring simple games that we can all play together. At the same time, I try to adapt to their uber short attention spans. I think I will make for a very strange mother some day.

Lunch with the Greens, Laura and Eva. Then I finished reading a fantastic read, Pasión por las almas. Now I am here preparing for tomorrow's meeting(s) and catching up in the old blog. However, I do have some laundry to finish, and other chores to take care of! chau and love!!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Day 103 and 102

On Wednesday, I had to deal with technology issues.

Currently, I write from my friend's computer because on Tuesday evening, the computer, my precious MacBook Pro, died. Which meant Wednesday morning would be very full.

First there was Bible study where none of the girls came. In part to our driver waking up late, and perhaps in part to my phone also being dead (no worries, it's okay, just needed to be recharged). I didn't worry too much either, because I felt like maybe God was protecting me and giving me time to talk it out (and cover other interesting topics) with my fellow Bible study leader and friend, Andrea.

From there, I went to the center to buy a new phone line. We are switching companies because the prices of the one we are with have gotten ridiculous. This seems to be an international phenomenon. The woman at the desk was very helpful nonetheless, even when I told her that I might not be in Argentina for much longer. I asked her how I could suspend my line.

"Just tell them you got robbed," she says, without blinking an eye.

I asked her to write it down on one of the pages of my contract just to make sure I heard her correctly. That's right, ladies and gents, I have written confirmation that I have to lie in order to stop the company from continuing to charge me.

Any way, per usual in the Argentina waiting department, that took over an hour. Then I went to the one of two Apple stores in the city and that are quite small and scarce of merchandise. Nevertheless, the overall Mac feel of the place is genuine. An incredible peace bestowed upon me as I entered the door. Perhaps they had programmed the sound of the computer starting as I opened the door, or maybe I am just hearing things.

Turns out the computer is fine, the charger, however, no longer works. Long story short, I charged my battery with what they had and my only hope for getting a new charger any time soon is from a guy in England. But I promise, it's more legit than saying I got robbed. I will just have to wait a bit, and remember that things could have been much worse!

I had gone to the main office of the cell phone company that has not been helpful over the past year. They wouldn't give me my number to "liberate" the phone in order to put the new chip in it (and it`s the same reason I couldn't just use the phone my dad had given me at the beginning of my journey here). Only the one in charge of the phone lines (my mentor), could get the number.

Came home with just a small enough window to siesta the negative feelings of figuring out phones and computers before going to see Gladys in the institute. We had a lovely time actually. I had bought some more beads, since they seem to really like making this sort of jewelry. And I say 'they' because most of them were home instead of school for various excuses.

Afterwards, my mentor and I worked together to try to fix the phone issue. No avail. Had to wait for an unforeseen time. My chip for the other card just stared at me longingly, 'So much freedom when you use me!' I felt it saying. Once again, I have the tendency of hearing things.

Okay, way too much information for one day, but I figured I will want to read this and laugh about it at a later date. Or cry. Who knows?

Today, day 102 (what?!), was clean house and hang out with Mariela! I got to clean mold that I had found recently, so that was interesting. Super fan of bleach now. And rubber gloves. Eva and I had a nice vegetable and rice meal as she had just returned from her home visit.

OH! Super important. Visa info arrived in my email today! We are yet another step closer to wedding bells!!

Mariela and I were supposed to visit Ale. Yes, that Ale. But when I talked to her one more time to verify our visit, she said she couldn't. Not wanting to waste the opportunity, we decided to go to the movies. It is perhaps better for me to focus on the conversation before and after. I am very concerned for her these days. She has literally nothing to do for now while she waits for Pólice Academy to start in September. I have learned that boredom usually leads to sin. That and other factors in her life, causes me to intercede for her more than I ever have before.

So yes. Good time together, even if the movie was 300. The second one. 302?? Any way..

I came home to a phone that finally let me change chips so all is well again. Ha.

God is good and not just because He fixes technology issues.

love and chau!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Day 105 and 104

I had the lovely surprise of Esperanza, one of the newest additions to the OM Córdoba team this year, accompany me to the girl's institute yesterday morning. We read the story of David and Bathsheba where we discussed how God is more than willing to forgive us, but we will still live with the consequences of our sin.

The walk back was a talk about the different experiences we've had in the different childrens' homes we've worked in. Fascinating.

Came back to an array of necessaries: English camp prep, cleaning house, wedding planning...

Then in the evening we had the weekly prayer meeting for the needs in the world.

Afterwards, I quickly gathered the bracelet-making materials for the girls for this morning, talked with Cristian, then went to sleep.

Just got back from the institute. We had a fun time, as the gals enjoyed the new "pulsera" look, where they don't necessarily have to work too hard to make the bracelet pretty. Each of them made 2 or 3 in our short time together.

The awkward moment, was seeing one of the other volunteers come for the first time since her vacations. She asked what days I come, and honestly, I thought she was already coming regularly on Wednesday mornings as has been her tradition. Monday and Tuesdays and Thursdays, for the morning, I told her.

With the girls gone for school in the afternoons, I dedicate one afternoon a week to Gladys solo. But even Thursday mornings are just to hang out with the kids and not the gals.

She asked if I would give up one of my mornings. I explained that I already have other plans during the other hours (and thought about what I had just written, that otherwise, it's hard to get the girls all at one time). Is this selfish of me?

I told her that I am leaving in a few months, so she will have more time later. The girls really like her too, so they will have something to look forward to? I dunno.. like I said, it was awkward for me.

Now I am about to meet to prepare for the pre-teens that gets together on Wednesday mornings (yet another planning debacle, as some students have classes in the morning, and others in the afternoon, where they don't arrive until 8pm).

Then Skype. Then planning and hopefully reading!!

love and chau!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Day 107 and 106

Saturday is officially my free day. I was supposed to meet with a friend, but unfortunately, that didn't work out. Nevertheless, I took advantage of the moment to buy certain things for the house. Carrying a few grocery bags home however, proved to be an intolerable task.

Then God blessed me with a woman who offered me a seat on the overcrowded bus. But then, a woman and her child got on board and while I was ready to offer my seat (as is the culturally appropriate, and just straight up nice thing to do), a man stopped me and offered his. I rested comfortably the rest of the way home.

Got to thoroughly clean part of the house that has been abandoned in the past couple months. And as the motto of "Leave things better than how you found them" was repeated several times this week, I felt like it was my way of helping out.

Talked with the parents, then Cristian..

Started watching The Wolf of Wall Street, but as it was way too inappropriate, I switched it off. Some things in life are best left alone. I did read about the protagonist's real life, and it seems the movie was spot on when it comes to his endeavors. "Can't serve God and Mammon," kept coming to mind...


Today, the "good deeds" come to dropping off all the recyclables that have been accumulating in the house as well as paying the latest cell phone bill for everyone. We plan on switching services this week, therefore the earlier to pay off the debt, the better. Oh, and there was washing the house linens.

Why do these details count? On Friday, the team talked about being stewards of our time. The teammate from Belgium talked about how he feels it appropriate to treat the mission work like a job; as if we need to clock in 30 or 40 hours a week in order to be faithful to those who are supporting us. The Argentine teammate talked about her busy schedule being her life, and not compartmentalized for things which are God's time, and things that aren't.

First, let's recognize the cultural differences in the treatment of time between the two. In a sense, both are right. In a sense, there are human fallibilities within them as well.

In the first one, we should consider how much time we are working. But our focus is not our supporters, our focus is God. We need to be faithful to him. At the same time, we are to be people of integrity, and recognize that money is helping us be here in the first place.

Personally, I lean toward the other perspective, but I see how some might take that in the wrong direction. One might give themselves too much personal time (free time), without feeling the urgency for the gospel.

And the final comment is to remember that certain everyday tasks from the States take longer here. Drying clothes depends on the weather. There is no dishwasher. No microwave. No carpet for which to use a vacuum. No car to get you to the shops/ministry locations/etc.

The temptation is to say that one way is better than the other. I even caught an Argentine complaining about "our" way of handling time. Rather, we should look at the advantages and disadvantages of both.

I just got back from mentor time with Andrea. Next comes church. I am continually trying to be fully present in these moments (and not distracted by work, wedding planning, etc.) to best utilize the time here.

love and chau!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Day 108

Most Fridays will consist of the team meetings. I have been allowed to change the format this year, so I guess I can say that that is my contribution to the day. We had a great Bible study in the morning where we talked about man being made in God's image. To which, I responded later in the day by painting this:
I only have three colors...
The idea is that man seems to be (still not 100% on the theology) one half spirit, one half land. God formed him from the dust (land) and then filled him with air (spirit).

Any way, then came the team meeting as previously mentioned. Then I spent time washing house laundry and cleaning house. Found a few things that I could give away and did that.

Personal: watched Suits as well as a couple of episodes of a new favorite, BBC's Miranda.

Went to Mike's bday party where we hung out and played a type of Taboo/Catchphrase. We could never finish because people kept coming and leaving. The cool part was seeing people from the team who hardly come to these types of events, so that also made me happy!

Now I am off to bed. Love and chau!!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Day 109

A full one.

First stop--girls' institute, but this time with the chiquitins as I like to call them. Just me and two of the kiddos, Ian and Valentina, hanging out. On Thursday and Friday mornings they have team meetings and the girls are in another workshop, so they asked if I could be sort of a nanny, minus the diaper changing. I especially appreciated that last part (I can't lie).

But it was a blast! We played all sorts of random games as is the case for 1 and 2 year olds.

Then I went to Andrea Green's house to bake a little for the birthday party for Mike tomorrow. We made the dough for pizza, and I made banana cookies. We also watched a talk about mental illness and talked about what that might look like in a person. I definitely wonder about the spiritual aspect in those cases. I usually end up feeling very small for how little I know and understand of the spiritual realm, so I am glad we could chat about it.

Next came conversations with three of the OM teammates about their plans for the coming year. Each were done one at a time. It's exciting to think about so much potential for the coming year, even though I also know it will be quite the challenge!

I finally arrived home around 7pm. People are always in the house since we share the space with the local church. Can't lie number two when I say that this is a sensitive issue for me sometimes--when is your house ever your house? For example..

However, I looked to the brighter side of things! Since I couldn't cook (the worship team had to practice in the kitchen due to another meeting taking place), I went to Las Leñas to buy some of their delicious french fries with chimichurri! I realized how much I need to take advantage of this place before I leave!! ;)

Any way, the guy at the shop happened to ask how long I have been in Argentina. I told him, and he asked about why. He wondered if I didn't want to be in the United States. I said, "Honestly, I could live in either. I really like it here. But it also has a lot to do with what you feel God calling you to."

Per usual, we were interrupted, but he did smile. So you know.. more reason to stop by and eat those delicious Arabic empanadas once Lent is over!

love and chau!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Day 110

If I've done my math correctly, I am finishing my time with OM in only 110 days. Thinking about this reality (and how, Lord willing, a few more weeks after that, I'm getting married!), I have a new burden for how I want to spend my time.

To the fullest!!!!!

Which means, if I can, I will write down some God moments that have occurred in these final days. Why is it that when we know there's an end, it is then we want to do the most we possibly can? To squeeze out those final juices until there is absolutely no more to give? I dunno. But here I am.

I will start with Day 111.  Nope. Changed my mind.

Day 112: we had our very first Bible study with the girls in the institute!!! We read the story of David and Goliath, all 58 verses, together. It was awesome! They had questions; God helped me with the answers. Or straight up, was the answer to my prayer after so much time. Praise the Lord that we could read His Word together.

Yesterday, Day 111, I made some bracelets with the girls. In doing so, I was able to share the gospel not only with them (2 out of 4), but one of the educators that is there each morning. What I had read in the morning devotional was also the answer to the main question this educator had. Rock!

I was supposed meet with a friend later, but she had to cancel. Instead, we will be not only hanging out, but once again, READING THE BIBLE TOGETHER this Saturday. Please pray for that time.

Also spent a lot of time preparing for the English camps which start in May. Speaking of, my Day 110 has started off with a meeting with the boss of the camps. If everything works out, we may even have a trip to northern Argentina (La Rioja), where we can meet with teachers to encourage them in their work, but also have workshops on the side that would be specifically Jesus-centered!

This afternoon, I will be visiting with Gladys at the institute.

While these are little things that I can be a part of each day, I am trying to be more open to how grand my simple obedience in the greater story of God's redemption for the world really is. We shouldn't wait until we know the end is near to act this way.

God is merciful. At least he helped me recognize this now :)
love and chau!