Monday, December 26, 2011

UP IN THE SKY (storms, fireworks, butterflies)

This was Christmas week so, in addition to walking through the events of the week, we will include some photos of the signs of the holiday season here.

Monday morning at staff devotions, we found out that, on Saturday, Liliana had 3 broken ribs as a result of a handyman falling from a ladder in her home, on top of her! She came into the office late, wearing a brace to hold her together as she heals, and she is very sore. Since it’s the last week of this working year, though, she must be here; lots of accounting and year-end payroll to accomplish! We’ll pray daily for her swift recovery, but we know it will take time.

On a higher note, we were blessed in a BIG way when Dan was granted permission to use one of the regional vehicles when it is not otherwise needed.  With the prospect of the compound being virtually empty over the holiday season, it is hard to explain what this means to us, but to all those who helped make this possible, thank you!

That evening, with keys to the Toe-sho-tah (that’s how they say Toyota) HiLux truck, we drove to Carrefour to stock up on the weekly groceries, keeping in mind that more people would be shopping for their holiday meals later in the week!

Tuesday, Dan spent part of his morning in a Skype Spanish lesson, and I kept tabs on Marcy’s Facebook communications while in the Finance office. Marcy and John’s son, Tucker, had a cyst surgically removed from inside his mouth (under the tongue, behind the chin area). By the end of our morning, the surgery was over and he was in Recovery. It was great, later in the evening, to see a photo of him at home, wearing a special shirt we’d ordered for him. The shirt read, “Eat. Sleep. Nintendo DS.” Marcy quoted Tucker as saying, “It’s perfect!” (Makes a grandma proud!)

Wednesday evening, there were lots of high winds and lightning, a tormenta (storm), and Neo is hiding! He just can’t stand the extra noise!
Friday, we woke to cool-but-nice weather but, by afternoon, it was actually cold and later a cold rain fell. Not a lot to do in the office today, but we understand, and it’s actually starting to feel festive. The church Christmas dinner is this evening, so we peeked in to see the set-up in gym (part of the CILP building) – it looks great with tables set and decorations on the walls.

In the quincho (an open pavilion on the other side of the park from our house), a couple of asadors (grillers) were cooking those 50 chickens that were delivered last week! The only wall in the quincho is the back wall, and it’s all grill! They know just how to feed the hard-wood coals and distribute them for slow, smoky cooking. We took a picture of the two guys working and tried to tell them how good it smelled – amazing! I don’t know if we can wait for the 9 PM start of this party!

We went home and Skype-called Dan’s Uncle David; it was great to surprise him and to catch up! Finally it was time to change clothes and walk over for the party. A bit awkwardly, we waited near the wall for a while, trying to figure out if we should just claim a seat, or wait to see if anyone would ask us to sit with them. We finally chose a table where we could see the “stage” area, as we’d been asked by Thea to take some photos while she sang, as part of the entertainment for the evening. Some others joined us, but we didn’t make much conversation.

The evening was very nice as we enjoyed empanadas as a first course, with grilled chicken and a salad as the second course – delicious! The entertainment was varied; beside Thea, there were a girl who did a toe dance, film clips of last year’s Christmas play ("A Gaucho's Christmas"), and a group of the young people with a new Christmas song. At the end of the evening, Pastor Hernan played his guitar and taught us all a new song, “Su Nombre Es” (His Name Is), using the text from Isaiah 9:6. That’s a great song and I hope we sing it again soon; I’ll have to write it down! It was around 1:00 AM when we walked a few meters back home, giving Argentine cheek-kisses and saying Feliz Navidad to all we passed…

Saturday, Christmas Eve, we slept in and fixed a nice breakfast, then reviewed our Christmas list regarding ordering anything more over Internet. (All the shopping, except some gift cards, had actually been done before we came here in October!) Dan called both sisters, Denise and Diane, and caught up with them and their families. It was good to connect! I spent time in the kitchen baking cinnamon bread, chicken breasts, and a large turkey breast we’d found at Carrefour! It was a pretty day, so we did a little sitting outside in the sun, enjoying all things in the sky - the sun and the orange butterflies and lots of dragonflies now! Neo joined us so we spent some time brushing him (it’s summer and he’s shedding).

The evening was spent looking at emails and Facebook as we waited to experience the first moments of Christmas at midnight that we have heard so much about. Since we don’t have TV, I’ve also read several free-downloaded Christian fiction books on the Kindle software on my notebook computer.
Cracks and pops during the early evening were the precursors of the noises to come… and, at midnight, they did! All at once, fireworks started ALL around, outside the compound. We rushed out to enjoy all the celebrating! We could hear and see fireworks all around the compound, so we walked to the front, near the gate, closer to the barrios (neighborhoods) across the street. It’s hard to imagine if you haven’t experienced this; in the States, we see fireworks generally from a distance. And they’re noisy, but high in the sky. These were all around and seemed to not be far up in the air. There were big, splashy ones, all colors and so much noise!
Here a link to a video of what we heard and saw...Mid-Night sounds of Christmas
I think my favorites were the lanterns that had small fires inside – looked just like the lanterns from the movie “Tangled”! (Thea told us later that, at the Christmas Eve gathering she'd gone to, after the fireworks was a large meal, then everyone went out to visit other people. After lots of stops – there was a lot of traffic too, she said she was finally back in her apartment at 4:00 AM!)

Christmas Day, I fixed a nice breakfast, and we relaxed in back yard, read, and watched the butterflies and dragonflies some more. Gorgeous weather with blue sky, feathered clouds… I prepared some plates with cinnamon bread and we walked up to the guard house to share with Juan, the guy stuck with Christmas Day duty. He seemed quite surprised and appreciative! We took another plate to the only family still here, my coworker Mirna and her husband and daughter Luana. The only reason they’re here on Christmas is that Luana has bronchiolitis; they can’t expose her young cousin to this illness. Later, we found Pablo (the oldest employee here, who lives in the back corner of the compound) and made sure he had some cinnamon bread slices too. It was nice to Skype with Derick and Nola late morning. Later in the afternoon, we caught up with Marcy and her family before they went to their Christmas Day celebration with John’s side of the family.

We invited Thea over for dinner (turkey and broccoli tetrazzini), and she supplied the cookies and ice cream for dessert, before we used the truck to go to church. It’s been strange for us not to hear Christmas music at church during Advent. (In our house, though, we’ve been listening to Joy FM online and really enjoying all the traditional and contemporary songs we love.) This was a nice service, just not what we’re used to! Thea sang with the band, leading us in 4 verses of Silent Night, in Spanish, of course, and that was fun! It’s always easier (for us) to sing a song for which we already know the melody even when the words are different. We Skyped with Monica and her kids (and Darin was there too) after we got home. The kids were blurs across the computer screen most of the time since they were still pretty “wound up” from Christmas events and having just returned home from their dad’s house!

Well, it was a very different Christmas, emotionally tough, but looking up has been the key to getting through it! God is with us, as always, through the emotional ups and downs, as we encountered so many things this week, UP in the sky!

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