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. 

These houses were formerly used by full-time missionaries with families. Since the ceiling is vaulted in the large living/dining/kitchen and all the floors are ceramic tile, we sometimes have trouble hearing each other – everything echoes!  There’s a loveseat in the livingroom area and a dining table across the room but, with all that space, I’ve threatened to buy roller skates to get around in the house! The kitchen is well-stocked with black granite countertops and lots of cabinets. The stove has its issues, however; the oven is temperamental… The Region had authorized Pam Clayton to grocery shop for us before we arrived, so our fridge and cabinets were stocked with several days’ worth of breakfasts and lunches! What a blessing!

The Claytons took us out for dinner the first night back, to a restaurant we hadn’t tried before, Morgana. We shared a delicious Asian chicken meal and slept very well that night.  Friday, we walked to the Regional Office to gather more keys and the boxes of house items we had left in storage, and to borrow a microwave.  We greeted coworkers and can see that there is a smaller group working in the Regional Office building – the Southern Cone (field office) workers (including Jessica and Robin) have moved to new offices at the Seminary compound.

Jessica Rojas and her 2 boys came over in the afternoon to deliver some cookies along with the recipe – Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookies.  It was great to catch up and to have dessert for later!

We spent part of Saturday getting reacquainted with the large grocery store, Jumbo, stocking up for the next week.  We’d already been asked to help with the Seminary’s graduation ceremony so we went there Saturday evening, to the Bruno Radi Convention Center (that we had helped work on in 2007 and 2008 with Extreme Nazarene Ministries) and assisted with handing out programs, and cutting and plating cake (5 cakes x 60 pieces each…)  and pouring soda.

Sunday, we attended Altos Iglesia del Nazareno (Pilar Heights COTN) and enjoyed reconnecting with people there.  There was a worship service followed by their annual meeting – it was gratifying to see so many people honored who lead and work in their many ministries!

Our first week back, it was great to start each day in staff devotions with our co-workers. The work will be pretty much the same as last year but I’ll need to get reoriented!  Cindy Downey has invited all the missionaries to a Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday night; we’ll work 3 ½ days then have Thursday afternoon to prepare our contributions to the meal. Jessica will bake 2 turkeys (her first time!) and I chose to make mashed potatoes and Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake.  

Thursday afternoon, after the thermal coupler in our oven had been replaced (Dan understands these things, not me!), I got the Gooey Butter Cake assembled and asked Dan to light the oven. Well, it would light, but not stay lit – same problem as before! Fortunately, Carlos Camacho, the handyman who’d worked on it, was in our compound and came to help. When he still had problems, I asked if I could use an oven in one of the empty houses – which I did, in Casa #3! Thirty minutes later, I checked on it and it was done!  The mashed potatoes were another story – peeled, cut, boiled, then mashed with milk, sour cream and butter – in a bowl with a salad fork!  Reheated before we left to return to the Regional Office comedor (the large group dining room), the potatoes were just the way I like them, creamy and a little lumpy (that way, you know they’re not from a box!)!  The evening was full of great food, about 20 missionaries, and stories of thankfulness!

We still need to visit the grocery store and the neighborhood market (for fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat) every few days.  Unlike in the States, most items are sold in small amounts or sizes for two reasons:  Argentines don’t have the storage space for the “large economy size” nor do they have the disposable income to buy ahead. 

With Friday off too, Dan has been spending every free moment working on the 3500+ photos and some videos taken by the Missouri District Work and Witness team earlier this month in Costa Rica. What an extraordinary time we had with days full of hard physical work, special connections with our District team,  excellent devotions and contemplation about real discipleship, new friendships among Costa Rican Christians with a vision for ministry, and wonder at God’s creation of beautiful Costa Rica – its trees, birds, butterflies, waterfalls, coffee plantations, and rainbows, not to mention its people!

Saturday, we had plans to go to Buenos Aires, as Dave and Pam Clayton had seen little of the capital! We borrowed the Region's Toyota pickup and we were off to the city! Our first stop, after finding parking, was Recoleta Cemetery, where lots of dignitaries are buried (and lots of other people too) – President Sarmiento, Eva Peron… the crypts are fascinating! Many others had decided to visit this day as well and we heard other languages besides English and Spanish being spoken! We’d been there before, but again took lots of photos of the old stone structures, stained glass windows, crosses on top, and plants growing in cracks! When we got hungry, we left the cemetery and walked through part of the Recoleta Artisan Market before deciding to check out a mall in the same area. Even though it was already past our lunchtime, the restaurants were almost empty (Argentines just eat later meals than North Americans), but we found one that had an interesting-looking menu, Prima Fila.

We were glad we chose this one! Dan ordered a “Bianca” pizza and I ordered a salad with shrimp, and both were extraordinary! Absolutely delicious, we shared both and polished them off, as well as most of the breadsticks and bread in our basket! After that much lunch, we needed a walk, so we walked a short distance to Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, an art museum with not only Argentine artists, but great masters of Italy and France! We spent a couple of hours there and returned to the Artisan Market to see if Dave and Pam needed anything in the way of souvenirs or remembrances. We finished with a stop in Starbucks and enjoyed our drinks outside! What a great day!

Sunday evening, the “frosting on the cake” was being able to use Google+ to get online with several of our kids at once! We connected with Marcy and Tucker on the computer, then added Derick, then Monica and Caitlyn and Dylan.  The boys especially had fun talking about video games, after we asked about everyone’s Thanksgiving experiences. 

Technology is wonderful (when it works)!  Being this far from home could be lots more lonely without technology! 
God provides everything we need, and more!

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