Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas 2012

December 17-29, 2012

Monday evening, I baked banana bread especially for our friend Robin! She will turn 39 on Tuesday and we had fun at her well-attended birthday party the previous Saturday night, as her husband Carlos cooked chorizo sausages and made choripan, spicy sandwiches on crusty bread… Mmmm!

We’ve been anticipating the arrival of Josh Williams and his wife Brandi for some time so, Wednesday morning, we got to use work time to go to Jumbo and get a few things to stock their fridge for breakfasts. And, while we thought someone else would actually pick them up at the airport, plans changed and we got the assignment. We didn’t mind at all, as we’re excited to welcome them for their short visit! Josh wanted to show Brandi so much of the Argentina that he’s experienced in the past, so we were in for lots of fun in these few days!

Sunday, December 16, 2012


Week of December 3 - 9 , 2012
The spring weather here is turning blustery, raining in waves for entire days, then it turns hot. The mosquitos are showing up and they’re hungry! We saw just one firefly one evening…

Wednesday, the Internet was out. It’s then that we realize just how dependent we are! Evenings, I kept trying to bake – cookie dough, apple empanadas, but the oven just won’t stay on… re-lighting several times is just too fruitless! Carlos Camacho, one of the maintenance men, came over twice, finally tweaking the valve and thermal coupler, until the oven will stay lit. It runs really hot (we have an oven thermometer left to us by Thea when she returned to the States), so I’ve got to really pay attention when something is baking! When the internet returned Janet did some Christmas shopping online to get the kids and grandkids gift certificates.

We brought fewer clothes this year (in their place we’d packed work clothes, for the Work and Witness project, that we wore and left in Costa Rica), so our Saturday project was finding a couple of shirts for Dan. We were successful in a cute shop in downtown Pilar!

Sunday night’s service at Iglesia Altos del Pilar was an awesome production called “Sorpresa en el altillo” (Surprise in the Attic)! This church has a very dedicated bunch of young adults who work hard at their theater productions. They are all good actors and their dedication is evident in the quality of the plays. It was also an evening to honor the end of the Sunday School year and all who had completed their course of study. Two adult classes even got certificates for finishing their levels of Master’s Plan  Discipleship study. The best part for us is that we understand so much more of what’s happening this year!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Settling in... spending time with friends, old and new.

The Monday after (American) Thanksgiving Day was an Argentine holiday, so we’d had quite a long weekend! Dan had reconnected in an online conversation with Ireneo (say “ear-ih-NAY-o), our Bolivian friend who is the technology guy for the Seminary. (We had enjoyed a wonderful Saturday with him and his wife Graciela and their son Josué (Spanish version of Joseph, say “ho-SWAY”) earlier in the year and, when they brought all the parts of a typical Bolivian meal and cooked it in our  house in the Regional Office compound. Hearing that we’d had some Spanish study and needed to practice, he took our need seriously, saying, “OK, when?”

Sunday, November 25, 2012

First days back and Thanksgiving!

We’ve been in Argentina for 10 days and, in some ways, it’s as if we were just here. In other ways, of course, it’s been 6 months and things have changed.

Our new temporary home.
We’re now living in Casa#1, a huge house with 4 bedrooms and 2 baths, lots more than we need, but it was the only thing available until some new housing is finished on the Regional Office grounds. Our small, gated neighborhood is behind the RO and about a half block away down a dirt road. There are 4 identical houses and we’re there by ourselves for a short time. We understand that 3 families will move in December 1. The compound is secure; besides the lock and chain on the gate and barbed wire topping all the fencing, there are workers mowing and working on the houses during the week and there is an overnight guard each night. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

CR language training, week 5

This was our last week at the seminary with 3 days of classes – it’s SO hard to believe that we’ve been in Costa Rica for more than 4 weeks already!

Monday, we had our regular classes of 2 hours each in the morning. While Dan had an afternoon class, I baked a Gooey Butter Cake so, when Pam Tooley stopped by while walking their dog Gryffy and invited us to come over for dinner, I said that I’d bring dessert! It would be our last chance to visit with Joel for a while, as he’ll get on a plane Tuesday morning to do some speaking at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, ID, for the rest of the week. The kids were excited that the family was doing Taco Night (especially when they didn’t have to wait for a Friday), and they all loved the cake! We always thoroughly enjoy any time with them. They’ll be back Florida after the end of November; it will be a bittersweet time for them, as they’ve become very close to the other missionaries and ministry leaders here.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

CR language training, week 4

Monday started off with our Spanish lessons, as usual, but we’d scheduled 2 Skype sessions in the afternoon. We Skyped with daughter Erica and later with missions candidate, Courtney. Skype is a wonderful thing! It’s so good to talk almost-in-person with our favorite people! We are continuing to appreciate technology and its capabilities, as we also are watching the Cardinals or the Presidential debates online (however, we had voted early, the day before we came here).

Sunday, October 21, 2012

CR language training, week 3

Monday was a holiday, so our lessons this week were a little mixed up. No problem, we’re flexible!  And along with our lessons, we got to do a few other fun things too!

Tuesday was our field trip day this week, changed so we could attend a midday concert at the National Theater of San Jose, Costa Rica.  We hurried to the front gate of the campus and to the bus stop, riding to a bus stop farther than our usual park, so we would be closer to the theater. Gaby was concerned that we might be late or that the tickets might be gone; after exiting the bus, we had a hard time keeping up with her!  But we arrived before the start, bought tickets ($2 each!) and took our seats; the theater was full!  The stage was set with 16 chairs and several short music stands.  In a few
minutes, out came 16 young men with their acoustic guitars, all students at the University of Costa Rica. One student stood and plucked some notes for tuning… their conductor came onstage. They became silent… and the concert began! The group performed 5 numbers (and later, an encore), all quite complex with 2 or 3 men playing each part, like an orchestra!  If you closed your eyes, you’d have been sure that there were several more instruments there as well – a drum, a harp, a viola… extraordinary! We thoroughly enjoyed this 30 minutes or so of spellbinding music, totally professional quality!  Dan recorded it on his cell phone, so we can experience it more than once! It was worth so much more than the ticket price!   You can download and listen also, follow this link to all 6 tunes + a video he created - Guitar Concert link.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

CR language training, week 2

Dan and I had decided over the weekend that we really needed to get moving, literally! So we got up a few minutes earlier on Monday and walked around the campus, up to the front gate and back – twice!  The sun comes up here, over the mountain, at about 5:40, so you can just imagine how early the folks on the east side of the mountain see the sun!

We attended our Spanish classes as usual (Mondays, I have a 2-hour class and Dan has two 2-hour classes).  I could tell you about the verb tenses we’re studying… but I’ll enjoy more telling you about our Canadian Thanksgiving dinner that evening! Because the Kuceys were missing their friends and family this time of year, it was decided that we’d join the missionaries and all celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving. We had divided up parts of the meal in a discussion last week and I was to make the mashed potatoes. I’ve never made mashed potatoes without a mixer before, but they turned out just fine and were a great accompaniment to the “turkey” (really chicken this time) and carrots and stuffing at the Tooleys’ home.  (Dan and I had found a bag of almonds at a grocery store, so I also made sugar-spiced almonds to share… mmm!) We’ll get to share another missionary Thanksgiving in November in Argentina, but this one was unique, sharing a meal and our thankful thoughts and prayers with these special friends.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

CR language training, week 1

Tuesday, after we each had a 2-hour class, then lunch, then my second 2-hour class, we were planning to walk to the Pali grocery store by ourselves to fill in some gaps in our pantry supplies, but our teacher Gaby was going that way and was willing to drive us to the store and we’d walk home. I had finished the shawl I had spent the last few weeks knitting for her and decided this was the time to give it to her.  I had taken some photos of it earlier, to document the project… Gaby brought her car over from the classroom parking and we asked her in for a minute and gave her the shawl. Her reaction was predictable, as she’s always muy enthusiastic, but I was thrilled that she appreciated the fancy pattern and the hours it had taken to complete! Dan took a photo of us together before she drove us to the store. And thankfully, it didn’t rain on us on the walk home!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Leaving again (2012)

Well, here we are, beginning another extended time away from our home in the US.  This has been a busy time since our last post.  Late spring was filled with obligations in various areas across the US.  In July we participated in 3 regional youth events.  These were all related to our continuing involvement with our denomination's Bible Quiz Ministry.  We had the privilege of being at: 1) the US national Quiz event at Olivet Nazarene University, near Chicago; 2) the MesoAmerica regional youth conference in Panama City, Panama; 3) the South America (SAM) regional youth conference in Cali, Colombia. Soon, we hope to have another set of photos to show a little of our summer.

August and September, we enjoyed staying home in St. Louis and reconnecting with our home church and neighbors.  At the end of September, we left for "immersion" language training in Costa Rica for the whole month of October.  In November, we will welcome a team of volunteers from our home district with whom we will join for a 2-week work project here in Costa Rica.  When the team returns to the US, we will go on to Argentina for another 5-month assignment there.  This brings us to where we are now. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Holy week 2012

It’s Easter! Christ, the Lord, is risen today!! Alleluia! 

This has been a week to remember, or forget (!), as it was a very busy week of more training and acclimating for the Claytons. Our heads were full of information to “download” and decisions to make with our possessions, as we prepare to move back home to the States.  Beyond the work duties here, practically speaking, we needed to eat the food in our fridge and pantry, box up things to be stored, wash and pack clothing, and pass along the things that can be used by others in our absence.  No Spanish lessons are scheduled this week, as the seminary in Costa Rica is having Spring Break, but we’ll continue with those after we get settled at home!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Where has the time gone?

As we prepare to head back home to the St Louis area for a few months, we're soaking in all the details we can!  Even as our minds are so full of what-to-leave, what-to-store, how-to-train, duties-to-fulfill in the months to come in the States…

We're soaking in our last looks at Argentina – for a while – as we prepare to leave all we have become accustomed to and the people who we’ve grown to love.  How can it be April already? Didn’t we just get here and begin the learning and adjusting process? It felt like it would be months and months before April would arrive. And now it’s here.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Pieces and parts

With my laptop all charged up, I’m typing as we’re on our way to the airport to pick up the Claytons. David and Pamela are the couple who has answered the call for replacements for us in the SAM Regional Office. Their skills seem to be very close to ours, so the next two weeks’ training should go well. The clouds are burning off with the sun coming up; it should be a beautiful fall day! Following the calendar, it has turned to autumn here this week. There are still warm days, but cooler nights and more variables – some mornings are foggy, some have a little rain.

Skype has become our best friend, connecting us 4 times last Tuesday, to get our Spanish lessons and give Mission Coaching sessions. It’s hard to imagine what it would have been like to do this a few years ago, without the latest technology!

Constantly in the back of our minds, we’re formulating lists of what knowledge and procedures we need to pass along!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Late Summer days...

What a busy couple of weeks this has been! Two families have returned from deputation tours in the U.S. and it feels more like a neighborhood already! Carlos and Robin Radi arrived the first Monday evening, back from a 3-month deputation tour in the U.S. They spoke over 80 times in 60 days! That evening, we had quite a tormenta (storm), not much of a “welcome home!”

Tuesday, we Skyped with Thea, keeping in touch and coordinating our team efforts. Regional Director Christian Sarmiento (our boss) was in Argentina for a few days. We met with him and Liliana Radi and Carlos Fernandez about our ongoing relationship with them and the SAM Region, how things can work as we continue to work remotely, via the internet. Christian was joined here by General Superintendent David Graves and his wife Sharon, although we didn’t get to see them this time before they headed off to more district assemblies and ordination services in other South American countries.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

In Days of UPS and DOWNS our God is Faithful!

After helping Thea get checked in at the airport last week, I knew it would be strange not having her around, but I didn’t expect to feel so incredibly DOWN the next morning. I moped my way through the day, tearing up whenever anyone asked, “Did you ride along to take Thea to the airport last night?” It’s not like we’ll never see her again! But, I think, I’d been caring about and for her so much, that it was such a let-DOWN to not have to stay UP for her. Sunday evening, Ana Melva’s mother (who’s been staying with Ana, caring for her as she heals from surgery) wanted to go to church with us, so we all hopped on the colectivo (public bus) and went together. Even the Sunday night church service was difficult; I understood very little of the service and it seemed to last longer than usual.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Is it already the end of February?

We found on Tuesday (silly Americans) that the holiday from Monday was one of the two-day variety, so we had another day off! We did go to work, but only for the morning, then just had to take another swim in the new pool! We visited with Anna Melva again (she was having computer issues) but didn’t want to stay long; she’s still in mucho dolor (a lot of pain) from her tumor surgery 2 weeks ago. She and her mother received a gift of a large crate of grapes – and they gave us a couple of big bunches, delicious!

Thea is beginning to put aside things for us that she can’t take home, so we’re taking those things from her – some to use and some to store for future missionaries. She came over to our house to play Farkle one evening and was thrilled when she won both rounds!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Valentines and Carneval

It’s a holiday here in Argentina, Carneval, and we get a day off work too; well, a day out of the office anyway. Dan’s working on security camera wiring and a presentation for Christian Sarmiento to use at Naz HQ tomorrow!

Last week included Valentine’s Day and, while it’s not celebrated in a huge way here, I wanted to share Valentine’s Day treats with our co-workers. I get any number of emails with creative ideas for cooking and holidays, so I had an idea in mind. We bought a bag of lollipops and made colored paper into hearts and leaves, using glue to make them into Valentine flower-pops, and standing them up in a plastic container filled with cracked corn.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Time flys when...

¿De dónde las dos últimas semanas a ir?  Where did the last two weeks go?
I’m sure we ate 42 meals, handled 6-8 loads of laundry, each had 4 Spanish classes and did lots of homework, worked in the offices, went to the big grocery store twice and walked to the local tienda 4 times… it just flew by!

The first week was full of details to be worked out before the second week’s SAM (South AMerica) Regional meetings. Leaders from all over South America were coming for strategy meetings and I (Janet) had to keep a schedule of their flights and the trips to the airport for their “comings” and their “goings.”  The spreadsheet for the airport runs changed several times each day, but we finally made it; they’ve all flown back to their home countries!

Dan continues to deal with software and hardware issues around the compound as well as being the go-to guy for issues on any of the leaders computers as Josh, the IT director for the region (from his home in Idaho), asks him to be his hands here.  

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Youth Congress this week

Last Sunday evening, at the end of Sunday worship, we noticed that the church was particularly full – lots of chairs had to be set up in the back. We realized that the crowd must be due to the youth conference starting here (across the street at the Bruno Radi Convention Center on the Seminario grounds) on Tuesday. Right away, Daniele and Rafa, 2 young people we had met here almost 4 years ago, ran up to us and we knew just who they were! When we met, they were in a group of Brazilian teens serving at Extreme ’08 with us! We had immediately connected with Dani, even though we could barely communicate with her. She had declared that we were another set of grandparents to her and that she wanted to come home with us in our suitcase!

A few months later, Dan had been invited to give some Bible Quiz training at a youth conference in Campinas, Brazil, and this same group of teens was there also! So we were able to meet Dani’s parents and reconnect with her and some of the other youth. It was a very special time! And now, a group of 15 of them are here with their youth pastor, a dynamic woman named AnnaMaria, for this 2012 Argentina Congreso de Jovenes! I’m so excited to see what this group will do (they have quite a repertoire of dramas!) and how all the young people will be challenged this week.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The value of friends.

This week seemed like what is becoming a typical work week now that things are getting back to normal, post holidays.  But as we reflect on the things to share from this time, we see a common thread of friendship and valued co-workers giving and receiving as the Body of Christ within the compound (Regional Office campo).

German (say “hair-MAHN”), one of our coworkers in Communications, and his wife have seen us walking laps around the compound. He gave us a challenge one morning after devotions, that we should speak only Spanish when we walk! Buen idea! We tried it and think it was really beneficial! It forced me, at least, to think of verbs to use with the nouns I know pretty well, things we see on the way, and forced us to practice conversation, which is exactly what we want to be able to do!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Day trip to Colonia, Uruguay

This week marks our halfway point in our 6-month time here! It also means that, according to Argentine laws, that we must renew our 3-month visa. And to do that, we must leave the country for any period of time and have our passports stamped somewhere else before returning! In order not to incur too much expense (some countries have entry and/or exit fees), we decided to take a day trip to Uruguay on the Buquebus, a large and luxurious ferry. Dan made the arrangements online and bought our tickets, which included a tour of Colonia, Uruguay, where we’d spend the day.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Year 2012

Thank goodness, we went back to work this week! I think we’d had enough of unstructured time! On Monday, the mail was gathered from the post office – it had been more than 10 days since anyone had gone! And we got 2 new Christmas cards in the (snail) mail! It’s a bigger blessing than most people would realize since we’re so far from home. It’s easy to feel forgotten, even when we know that we’re not, when we don’t get much email, much less physical expressions of caring. Thanks again to Bud & Julie Rager, Pastor Rich & Tawnya Hadley, and friends (and twins) Melissa Steele and Mary Steele!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Wrapping up 2011, Welcoming 2012

Happy New Year!! This has been a different week, closing out a very different year!

Fair warning… this one’s long! Out of the office, and on the go, it’s much more fun to describe our outings than talk about wrestling with some equipment, software or spreadsheet in the office…

It’s been some time since we both had time off between Christmas and the New Year! And with offices closed this week, everyone except us and Thea have “flown the coop!” Monday the 26th was the first day of the small job I’ve been asked to do each morning this week – feeding the 2 goldfish in the tank in the CILP building where I work in the afternoons. After doing that, we filled our time relaxing around the house but, since we had been graciously granted permission to use a vehicle, we just had to use it! So we decided to explore Derqui, the town past where we live. It’s small and, I think, a typical Argentine town; nothing too memorable, but at least we’ve seen it!