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.
Monday was yet another Argentine holiday with no offices open. We spent the time walking, doing homework, and using the Internet. Dan continues 'playing' with the security cameras settings and, with Josh's remote help, building a wireless link to Campo 2. They are enjoying the necessary 'MacGyvering' for this project.

Monday night there was una tormenta, a huge storm, typical in that it began with lots of high winds, but unusual in that it kept raining all night; we got very little sleep under this A-frame metal roof! The weather was quite a bit cooler on Tuesday and it was a good thing we stayed busy in our offices, as tired as we were. By late afternoon, we were on Skype having our online Spanish lessons from Costa Rica, followed by Skyping with one of our Mission Coaching candidates and then another session with our youngest daughter Erica, to catch up with mail and stuff at home. (While technology is wonderful, I’m looking forward to seeing some of these people in person, not just on a screen!) We slept pretty well that night!

By the end of Wednesday, I had finally gotten on an even keel emotionally and I’d gotten home from work before Dan did. As he passed the pool on his way home, he said that Patricia was in the pool and had asked if I would join her (she’s Argentine and is the Coordinator of Sunday School ministries for the South America region). So I quickly changed into shorts (I knew the pool would be cold so I wasn’t really interested in putting on my swimsuit!) and headed over there. Patricia and her daughter and a friend were swimming so I sat on the side, legs in the water, and we visited while I practiced Spanish and asked her about her recent trip to Peru. She knows some English, so we used both languages – as needed! How nice it was to have been invited – this was definitely an “UP” – for fellowship and Spanish practice!

In my Spanish textbook, I’ve progressed beyond using simple, present-tense verbs. I’ve started learning the conjugations for past-tense now – and it’s HARD! (One small “UP” was that, in seeing these new word endings, I had started to hear them in conversation around me, now that I knew what they were.) But the volume of all this seemed to pile up on me and, by Friday, I was totally overwhelmed, and felt like I couldn’t even remember how to conjugate in present tense anymore, much less past tense. It was simply difficult to even think – I really felt DOWN! I explained all this to Gaby, our profesora, and told her I had even looked up the word for discouraged - desanimada. She told me to try not to worry, that it was quite normal to get to a hard place when trying to learn a new language. She said she just wanted to give me a hug! While that was comforting, I still felt depressed and exhausted! I had really done OK with the current homework, but we decided on some easier past-tense exercises from Dan’s Level One book for homework for next week. (By the way, Dan also gets frustrated with the slow pace of learning Spanish, but he takes it out by griping to his textbook book and his computer!)

After the lesson, Dan sympathetically suggested that, after dinner, we should just relax and forget about homework for the evening and go walk around Las Palmas, the nearest shopping center. What a great idea! 

'pique a lo macho'
In the meantime, though, he was on his computer, IMing with Ireneo (say “Ear-ih-NEH-oh), a Bolivian fellow on the Seminario campus in charge of technological stuff there. And he suggested that he and his wife and son would love to share a meal with us – when? Well, how about mañana? Just like that, we had a social get-together to look forward to! And they said they’d bring Bolivian food over to our house! Things are really looking UP! And we did go to the shopping center and strolled, finishing up at Jumbo, the grocery store, for a few things. Guess who was also there getting what they needed for a Bolivian feast!

Saturday morning, we straightened up the house and moved stuff to places out of reach for a two-year-old. Dan did the breakfast dishes while I peeled apples and made a Streusel Apple Pie. About noon, Ireneo and Graciela and Josué Samuel were walking up the road in our compound, loaded with a backpack and several bags. With Josué being a VERY active little guy, they’d even thought to bring an inflatable “house” for him to play in (pretty funny watching Dan and Ireneo wrestle with it and even funnier to watch them deflate it later!)!  

Although Ireneo has lots of English skills, we used this as a good time to practice Spanish too. Graciela unloaded her containers of food and we got busy putting the dish together in my tiny kitchen (after I finished hard-boiling some eggs and baking some French fries as part of this enormous meal). What a good time we had! The guys finished first, and Josué wasn’t really interesting in food, just more activity, so they took him to the playground across the way. Graciela and I talked and, when she was finished eating, I asked if we should go join the guys. Her answer was a definite negative – she needed a break from that active little boy! We kept enjoying our conversation and she told me that she’d been careful to speak slowly enough for me to understand – what a compassionate lady! That way, we could both participate – and we both shared my dictionary! We traded lots of family information and, when the guys returned and after they put Josué down on our loveseat for a nap, we swapped how-we-met stories. They hope to travel to Bolivia soon to visit family members. After a bit, we enjoyed the apple pie with vanilla ice cream and continued to talk until the little guy woke up.

THIS was just what we needed – fellowship and practicing Spanish! What special people!
God knows just what we need and provides ALL we need, when we need it!

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