Sunday, March 24, 2013

Fall 2013 begins

It has surely been the end of summer here in Argentina with the weather fluctuating between crisp or pleasantly warm, gray or sunny.

Rehearsals for the Easter choir music are getting more serious each week, as we have the words memorized and now must become better at listening to each other and watching our director Nico for direction in volume and phrasing. Even with its challenges, this situation is an answer to prayer, a way for us to connect personally with others in our local church, Altos del Pilar (Pilar Heights Church of the Nazarene). We're enjoying these closer friendships!

We've been involved in a ministry called Missions Coaching for the last couple of years. We attended a weekend of training to be able to be, as a couple, a source of encouragement, support and a sounding board for people who are on track to be missionaries. Of our current missions candidates, we have a young woman who's finishing her master's degree while working in retail management, another young woman who is already a volunteer missionary in Europe, and a young man who has lots of options ahead of him as he decides what career path to follow. We enjoy all these relationships as we Skype with them, usually once a month, from wherever we are! They have all expressed appreciation about having a non-family member to talk things over with – and be accountable to – who understands their passion for missions. We’re accountable too, to our coach in Kansas City, former missionary Hal Frye. Technology has certainly made these relationships possible and we're grateful to God for the opportunity to be a part of these lives!

With cooler weather, I've tried some new recipes (it had been just too hot to bake in our house) so we've enjoyed Baked Blueberry Coconut Oatmeal, English muffin bread, Lemon Cream Scones, and Mocha Chocolate Chip Blondies – yummy stuff! And it felt cool enough for Dan to finally turn on the hot-water heating system, with tubes under the tile floors. A repairman had even been hired by the Regional Office to come and make sure it was working properly. But, one Sunday morning, after I had cooked breakfast, we no longer had hot water (for showers OR to heat the house)! Dan thought at first that the water heater had a problem. We notified Liliana, our boss, while she was already on her way to church. She called Pablo, the head maintenance guy for the Regional Office, who came over and showed us that the propane tank was empty! It had served our house and our next-door neighbors for months and we hadn't given a thought to checking it! Naturally, we started thinking of ways to cope with the problem, especially since we had heard stories of the gas company taking a week – or more – to schedule a time for refilling the tank! We ended up staying in our house that night with an electric heater borrowed from Cindy after the evening church service, but were given a wonderful room with a kitchen at the lodge on the Regional Office grounds on Monday! Amazingly Liliana was able to convince the gas company that this was an emergency, so they refilled the tank on Tuesday morning so we could return home!

Dan has been working on our federal and state tax returns and submitted them online – what a blessing it is to be able to complete this task remotely!

We've been fighting colds the last couple of weeks (initially thinking that we just had some mild fall allergies), but we're both getting a little better each day. It's a good thing, too, since we want to be“at full voice” to sing on Easter Sunday.

Lately, Dan and I have been needed to run errands with Seyda, the Peruvian lady in charge of events for the Regional Office grounds during this time – what fun! We've been to hardware stores, discount food stores, small vegetable markets, and office supply stores. We've made some funny memories with her, especially the day the truck didn't want to restart. Since we were in a small parking lot, Dan asked Seyda and me to get behind and push the truck so he could “pop the clutch” and get it going, but that didn't work. Seyda made a phone call, then had Dan open the hood so she could pound on the battery; after that, it started and we could continue with our errands! Seyda is patient as we speak Spanish slowly with her. She’s generous too; she always thanks us for our help and has even treated us to lunch or Ice Cream!

One Saturday, we were treated to an afternoon at Temaiken Zoo with Cindy and “Lilita” (Liliana Reza, our newest missionary here) and a few others. The weather cooperated and we enjoyed the animals and ice cream on the way home! Another recent blessing was an evening for couples at the Altos church. We enjoyed a Christian movie called “Not Easily Broken” (American, dubbed in Spanish, with English sub-titles!), hotdogs and popcorn, and a discussion about the values in the movie with the other couples!

Our work in the Regional Office seems more intense now, as we strive to keep up our responsibilities and identify, technologically, how much of the same work we can do from our home near St. Louis, Missouri, after we return at the end of April.

Again, most days I'm just in awe that God has actually given us the opportunity to live and work in Argentina, enjoying the culture and the wonderful people here!  On both ends of the spectrum, we continue to be incredibly blessed by the people AND by technology!

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