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!

We were a little later than expected, as we took a different route through quite a few little towns instead of taking the autopista, but Dan dropped me off so I could run in and find them.  They had a little time to watch for us and get coffee, but it was great to find Josh and meet Brandi!  We headed outside and, with cell phone contact, met up with Dan again for the ride – on the autopista this time – back to Pilar! It started to rain hard about that time and kept it up into the night, but we all needed some dinner, so we stopped at La Caballeriza (The Stable) restaurant and all ordered steaks at about 10:30 pm, talking constantly and catching up!  It was quite late when we dropped them off at Departmento (Apartment) 'A' on the Regional Office grounds, promising to connect in the morning. 

Morning came all too soon and I headed for CILP (Centro Internacional de Liderazgo Pilar, International Leadership Center) to accomplish my shipping duties there – we’d received a huge shipment of new devotional books, all destined to be shipped out this week to the rest of South America… Meanwhile, Dan and Josh conferred about the technical stuff that Josh was here to work on and, as soon as I was finished with shipment details, all 4 of us gathered at our house for soup, crackers and fruit before getting into the Toyota pickup for a trip to Florida Street in downtown Buenos Aires!  

On Florida Street, there’s a 3-story mall on a very busy corner that is completely dedicated to techie stores.  Josh and Dan have frequented these stores when there’s a need for computers or parts (and I’ve gotten to tag along!). And a miracle happened – they found all that they were looking for (more actually) AND for better prices than they expected! Since the computer parts were acquired so quickly, we had time to shop for souvenirs before going to Florida Street Café, where we enjoyed café con leche (coffee with milk) and introduced Brandi to media lunas (“half moons”), croissant pastries that are perfect with coffee!  Trying to leave the city at 5:00 p.m. was not the best idea, as many offices were closing and everyone was leaving for home.  But it was time to head back so the guys could get some sleep to work on computers Friday!

Rio Tigre 
Friday was full of work so we could do some exploring on Saturday. Saturday morning, we picked up Josh and Brandi and headed for Tigre (say “TEE-gray”), a coastal town once famous for its produce market, but now it’s a great shopping area with LOTS to see. We skimmed through the shops, just to make sure Brandi had the experience of looking at all the locally handmade furniture and textiles, leather items, paintings, and too much more to remember! From there, we headed for downtown again, stopping at the Kansas restaurant for lunch. Yes, it’s called Kansas!  It’s very classy, as is its menu! We thoroughly enjoyed our meals – and a shared piece of cheesecake with dulce de leche on top. Ohmygoodness!  

After all that, we certainly needed to walk some of those calories off, so we drove to Recoleta, the part of town that includes the famous cemetery and the artisan market.  Dan and I know where to find the crypt of Evita (Eva Peron, the famous president’s wife) so we all walked that way, through “streets” of family burial places with incredible architectural details and crosses. I haven’t tired of taking photos there yet!  Of course, we had to check out all of the local artists’ offerings; Josh and Brandi bought a few gifts to take home. They even made friends with one of the artists, a transient guy who used a jewelers hand scroll saw to cut initials into the middle of Argentine pesos. (I have a similar one from a previous trip, with carving around the sun’s rays on a peso.)

After the huge lunch none of us wanted much for dinner (and the guys still needed to do some techie work), so we ordered a dozen empanadas from the shop across the street from the Regional Office.  It was enough, then Brandi and I left the guys to their work.  Dan got back to the house late…

Josh and Brandi
It was a short night, but we were ready for breakfast when Josh and Brandi arrived to share Cinnamon Overnight French Toast (that I had baked the previous morning) and fruit before we headed off to Sunday morning service at Pilar Central Church of the Nazarene. It’s a small church, but very friendly, and most of the folks there had known Josh in the past! He held the pastor’s baby for most of this Christmas service on December 23!  Lots of kisses and hugs later, we drove them back to finish packing for their return trip home!

The trip to and from the airport was full of conversation and well wishes for Christmas; we even made it back in time for the evening service at the Altos de Pilar church! It was a special Birthday Party for Jesus, with the sanctuary reconfigured with tables (with candles) and chairs, instead of the usual pews – a beautiful service!

Monday, we slept in, enjoying the quiet of Christmas Eve day after the last few days of constant activity. But we couldn’t rest all day – we’d been invited to Jorge and Irma Julca’s home on the Seminary campus for Christmas Eve dinner! Jorge is the president of the Seminary; they’re from Peru and have been missionaries to Argentina for about 13 years! They have 2 beautiful daughters. Cindy Downey and Dany, an Ecuadorian missionary who works at the Seminary too, were also invited. Irma had asked me to bring dessert, so I baked chocolate crinkle cookies and an apple sheet cake with almonds (still having some trouble with the oven).  Additionally, the outside temperature was close to 100 degrees (the Internet said there was a heat index of 116 degrees!) while I was baking in a house without air conditioning!!  More Christmas memories...

Dinner began after 9 p.m. and included turkey and potatoes, salad and green beans. We found out the Peruvians often have turkey for Christmas Eve, but rarely at other times in the year. Everything was delicious and, after the meal ended, Jorge brought out a keyboard and we sang Christmas carols!  He plays very well and they wanted to sing our traditional carols; this was such a blessing for me (I’d really been missing those songs)!!  By the time we finished singing, we shared in a time of prayer, toasted the holiday with white grape juice, and then it was midnight – and the fireworks started!  We went outdoors and enjoyed what we could see past all the trees. It’s impressive! Almost everyone shoots off their own family celebration of fireworks before traveling to friends’ homes to wish them a happy Christmas!  About 1:00 a.m. Christmas Day, we drove down Avenida Peron, back to Campo 2, to our own bed.

Merry Christmas! Our Christmas Day was so very quiet and restful, not like ones in the States!  We enjoyed some leftover turkey, potatoes, and salad that Irma had sent home with us. But it wasn’t until evening that we Skyped with family, as Erica had to work all day and the others had their own Christmas meals to share during the day. It was great to see everyone and hear what they got!  I had Erica mail some things I’d bought previous to our leaving the States the end of September, as well as some gift certificates printed from my online orders!  It worked out pretty well!

The rest of the week was very quiet; we only had to feed the goldfish in the CILP building each morning. The pool was being painted, so it wasn’t available yet.

While it wasn’t like any previous Christmas seasons in our lives, God provided everything we needed – friends to celebrate with, Christmas carols to sing, food to share. He’s got it all under control!

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