Saturday, May 27, 2006

Leather-Bound Journey

To My Most Amiable Readers;

What an odd thing it is to dip your mind right back into memories, emotions long past. I've been skimming through my dear journal. It's content is mainly imported; scripture verses, quotes from the famous and the familiar, songs, and recipes. Between these, scribbled-in with a fervent tilt, lay my writings, be they rants, be they raves, be they poems half-finished. As I read these I was astonished by the clarity with which I could plunge again into the very chair, into the very room or lakeside or rock edge, into the very mentality of when and where I put down my words long ago. I was there again, emotions surging again, pain or joy rocking me in turn.


Argentina, April 18, 2006: "Would that I could run unheeded down steep trails cloaked in dark foliage, slapping wet leaves, pacing faster. On a small clearing to gather new breath and turn, running on hidden trails. Faster and faster, hearing water flowing. Seeing jewels through the mass of trunks and branches, cutting right to meet their brilliant rays. Ah, stream full of sun, I meet, I greet you. Happy feet slap you as I run, up to know your secrets, your falls, your pools. How peaceful you are and what a torrent am I. If you were as I am, I would be as you are. I must have some turbulence, in me or not...."

October 1, 2004: "Today we found out that Mom has breast cancer. We don't know what to do so we hold her a lot and we cling to hope. Cancer...even the name leaves you cold inside..."

November 1, 2003: "November is here and the day is unseasonably warm and sunny. The short days make the sunlight a coveted pleasure. Today we raised our noses to the reality of Autumn and stole back a few hours of summer. I laid Sophie in the thick green grass, naked and content, and subtly dared winter to show its frosty face..."

March 2006: "I want to be where You are! I want to please You and bring You joy!! Bind me to your side! I fear this mortal coil that can bring immortal death..."

As I read, it became clear to me the value of recording our history. In a way, it redeems the past; it makes us remember what God taught us, and how He brought us through despite our waywardness. By looking through our words to the heart of who we were, we can see the measured steps of growth and grace in our lives, or even perhaps, be shocked at our current state in light of more joyful, close times with the Lord.

As we read in the Old Testament, we find few characters who don't in some way let us down. David, a "man after God's own heart" robs another man's wife and orders his death. Samson, a man set apart from birth to serve God frequents prostitutes. We make an error if we read the Bible looking for "morality plays"...looking in vain for clean-cut models of beliefs we hold dear. So why read this twisted history? Not to look to be like Rebekah, or not like Rebekah. We read to discover the history between God and man; not to focus on the imperfect, stumbling, boorishness which pock-mark our living story, but on how it illuminates God's character. In knowing how we have been, we see how God has been in contrast. Our darkness, His light, our faithlessness, His enduring love and patience, our fickleness, His unchanging righteousness.

I look back on my story, the good, the bad, the ugly; and the beautiful thing is, I see redemption. God is redeeming me, redeeming my history, making my life a stone in His temple, something beautiful, and intregal to the kingdom.

Your Devoted,

"He knows us inside and out, keeps in mind that we're made of mud." -Psalm 103:14

"Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you." -Jeremiah 31:3

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Rapelling off High Bridge

Was it really

that long ago???

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Of Wildness Born

"Ocean Park" by Stephen Pitt
Really, I don't know how to many thoughts pressing...

Have you ever been taken hold of by a yearning, so fierce and bright with pleasure...

....when you plunge into a cool lake at evening, to just go on swimming, needing no reprieve, like a fish to the depths?

.....when you leap off a rock to not follow earth's tug downward, but to defy it, flying up and out, faster, Faster!?

.....when seeing shady, ancient woods draped in moss to go romping wildly through them, more deer than man? meet a wild beast not with terror, but camaraderie, walking together?

.....when listening to music, to dance with abandon, joyous, laughing, embracing Celebration?

.....when in prayer, to be lifted up in loving arms like a child delighting in his father's attention?

I'm unsure to what degree you may be able to relate to any of these...but at times they possess the whole of my mind. This wildness, this unbelievableness, this passion which I believe to be more familiar to our original nature than what we are now. The more I have come to hope and live for the world yet to come, the more frequent these pangs of longing come upon me. Is it an odd way to anticipate eternity? Perhaps, but I have good reason to believe that God engages our imagination to express things we have no vocabulary for.

I think we do Heaven a great injustice to imagine it a solemn choir meeting...

I think too we forget God too much...

These surely are weapons of the Enemy, driving us to love this life so tenaciously, to make possessions of such delight, to fret so over our jobs, our money, our education, our theology, our very beauty. In the process of this, becoming fattened, petted, pampered, unsatisfied, fearful creatures. Oh to break free! To play and laugh like children in His company!! What, oh Earth, can you offer that does not break or rot or die?

Surely some will think I've lost my head. Very good that you should know regardless what is always humming below the surface of your dear,

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Cleaning the World and Other News

To my Most Amiable Readers;

Sophia took the northern hemisphere, and I the southern. We met around the equator, hands covered in bubbles, sponges and brushes flying, giggling. The shower curtain in our apartment features a world map, and yesterday found us scrubbing it clean in a fit of giggles on the bathroom floor. I've found that curtain to be quite informative...I've started memorizing capitals, locations, and flags of countries...which probably means my showers are too lengthy.

In other news, my race on Saturday was quite the experience. Rising early we strapped the boats onto a makeshift rack on the back of a pick-up and made the beautiful drive to Valdivia, the mecca of rowing in Chile. Getting there we warmed up our muscles and took the boats out to get a feel for the river. Sea lions, BIG sea lions, were lying all over the shores! Apparently this is where they come when they're very old and ready to die. When it was time for my race, I took my place with five other rowers and assumed starting position.

At Go! I was right with the pack, getting a good quick, controlled start. But about 100 meters out, my sliding seat jumped its tracks, coming to a sickening stop. I raised my hand and called for the judge (they do a restart when a seat jumps in the first 100 meters) but he didn't hear me and didn't look my way in time. When he finally saw me, it was too late and I had to stand in my boat and fix my seat, by this time way behind. But I still had to finish so away I front of a big crowd...and a pep band.........smiling at myself. But I felt good about the day; at least my last place finish wasn't quite my fault, and I had a good time with the youth.

Your Devoted,

Monday, May 08, 2006


May 13, 2000

Was it really six years, two children, three countries ago?

So many adventures since then:

-flying ten feet above treeline up in Alaska, chasing bears in a fabric plane

-braving the wilds of Saskatchewan, basking in the Northern Lights in sub-zero weather while studying Hermeneutics, Philosophy, and Tim Horton's Donuts

-living in the ghetto, getting robbed, and learning parallel parking on a hill, with stick shift, at night in Lancaster City, Pennsylvania

-flying to Ireland, finding my 5Xgreat-grandfather's grave, and then driving all around the grand isle

-the birth of our dear Sophia Grace (insert inexpressible joy here)

-God's call for us to be missionaries in Chile

-living in San Jose, Costa Rica for five months studying Spanish, peering into volcanoes, surfing, windsurfing, snorkeling, teaching English, and romping through rain forests

-the birth of our precious son, Edison James (more of that aforementioned joy)

-arriving in Chile, our new home for three years, adapting to life here, learning the culture, loving the people, being loved and cared for by God in an intimate and tender way

I thank God for my husband, whose winning smile and fun-loving nature have always lifted my spirits. What a gift. What a blessing

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Lions and Ferries and Boats...Oh My!

To my Most Amiable Readers;
If you weren't warned by the preceeding picture, I am yet again to speak of rowing. I've graduated to the "big kids" club; I now go out with the others to train further up the channel doing sets of 2000 meter loops. Previously I stayed near the club, and most of the time out of water traffic.
Quite a day to graduate...choppy seas and strong winds greeted me as I pulled towards the open water. If you've ever backed out of a tight parking lot, in an unfamiliar vehicle, in the fog, at night, with little children running'll get the feeling I was experiencing. Forget good rowing form, the wind and waves kept trying to push me into anchored boats and buoys as I struggled to sweep by them before I was pushed into them. Not only that but I was constantly looking over my shoulder for ferries, yachts, or other vessels that can appear quite out of nowhere. And not flipping over was also high on the list.
Having crossed to a more peaceful stretch and focusing on legs-then-stomach-then-back-lastly-arms, I was greeted to a rather loud splash. Then quite a few more in ominous succession proceeding ever closer to my boat, the large furry form gliding just beneath the surface. Sea lions have a dogged curiousity. I think that was the fastest I've ever rowed. The adventures weren't over yet. A large navy vessel buzzed by us creating waves up to my head (which when sitting basically at level with the water is rather unnerving). Aligning my boat horizontally with them so as to not take on water I rode sideways up and over trying to maintain balance and not panic. It was fun...when it was over.
Continuing on I had one more encounter with the lion, a few cat-calls from a ferry, and called it a day. That was yesterday. This morning I was told that I'll be competing in a race this coming Saturday....
I've never raced, I've hardly even rowed quickly except when pursued by sea lions. I don't know starting position, I don't know a good 500 meter pace, I don't know "on your mark, get set, go" in goes my panicky thoughts. I guess I have a week to learn.
I appreciate your prayers : ).
Your Devoted, Sarah

Friday, May 05, 2006

Our little Sophia.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Warm Greetings from us to you!

A word to our supporters; thank you so much for your generous gifts of finances and prayers. Thank you for keeping in contact with us, including us in your lives through pictures, updates and such. You know, life here is hard, but good. Daily we are challenged to do things we never thought we could or would do. For Dustin, the language is an ever-present obstacle, understanding and being understood, which we all know is tantamount to participating in a community. For me, I face the lesson of learning how to work cooperatively with others in a group. I prefer working alone on projects, but that is rarely the situation. We are being pushed to grow in areas where we are uncomfortable. Despair and frustration compete with joy and laughter as we face new challenges, each making their case, each attaining victory in turn. What continually gives us joy is our new-found dependence on God and His Word; that is beautiful.

Our house church is doing well; as of late we have been more unified in our vision, and have passed through some strong trials with His grace. Construction is continuing in the addition to the Hostetter's home and is already being used for our meetings. Dustin and Mike are also installing radiators in the rest of the house which will be heated by a water tank welded into our woodstove.

Hope this finds you in good health and high spirits!
Your Devoted, Sarah