Friday, June 30, 2006

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Of Joy Abundant...

To My Most Amiable Readers;

My heart is enjoying His peace. When these sweet times come it's so nice to dwell in their rich, warm embrace; His very Presence reaching down, enfolding us, giving us a foretaste of Heaven. This is what we are here for, to enjoy, and be enjoyed by, God. This is Heavenly consolation.

What brings it; how can one summon it? Why does it leave?

I let the day's events run through my mind and found that nothing extraordinary occured. I did laundry, taught Sophia and read to her, changed Edison's diapers and fed him, checked e-mail, cooked, read in Luke. But, gradually it stole upon me; an infusion of joy. Edison has a fever so I held him until he fell asleep, his hot little head tucked under my chin, listening to his soft heart full, brimming over, thinking how wonderful a task it is that God gave us to look after our dear children when they are ill; how much of ourselves He gives us to pour out in compassion on our wee ones. These feelings, these thoughts alerted me; God is giving His consolation to me...

I laid Edison down and went to fold a basket of laundry. Our bed was now full of stacks of clean, dry clothes, neatly folded. The Spirit was in me because instead of thinking, "oh boy, now I've got to put all these clothes away..", it was "Wow! Thank you God, look at all the nice, warm clothes you've blessed us with! Lord, how many people must have sat in some factory sewing them up, may You bless each laborer!"

In moments like these we are quite capable of joyfully giving away everything we have to the poor, quite fearless to share what God has done for us with everyone we meet; we are full to the brim with the joy and fellowship of our Lord! Now, why does it go away...

It's a gift, given by Him when, in His perfect judgement, we are in need of it, or perhaps simply when it pleases Him to bless us especially. The in-between times of life can vascillitate between happiness, contentment, frustration; the full array of our human emotions, but the lack of Heavenly consolation is most noted by a presence of spiritual "dryness". Our prayers feel feeble, God seems distant, doubts about His reality hound us. Our perceived "need" in that moment is for God to do some trick; send an angel with a message, something to "prove" He's there.

I've been reading, "The Imitation of Christ" by Thomas A Kempis, and in its pages I've found the heart-cheering news that God gives the times of dryness too. In them we grow; in them we find our desperate need of Him, in them we have an opportunity to bless God with our devotion despite our "not feeling like it". An offering that costs.

"Even when You expose me to various temptations and hardships, You order these entirely for my own good, for it is Your way to test Your chosen servants by many trials. During trials of this kind my love and praise is Your due no less than when You fill my soul with heavenly comfort." -Thomas A Kempis

Your Devoted,

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Rowing 101

Lock and Load: make sure your oars are locked in tight; if those puppies get loose you're in a world of hurt!!

Let's go! Remember to push first with your legs, blades in, then tummy, lean back, finally pull with arms, cock the wrists, withdraw blades, slide forward, don't flip, repeat....and look out for water traffic, sea lions, and buoys....

When it gets too dark to see, or more importantly, be seen, row on home...

Posted by Picasa Carry your boat, oars, and seat back to the clubhouse...

Rowing 101- Part Deux

Now, it's very important at this point to gather sympathy for any and all battle wounds incurred during rowing...even if this sympathy is no more than "Guess you should have cut your nails, huh?".

Make sure you hug your friends and help them put their boats up... Posted by Picasa

And on the walk home make sure you pick up some nice, healthy snacks!!

Friday, June 16, 2006

This Side of the Andes

To My Most Amiable Readers,

I have tried unsuccessfully many times to post pictures; I'm not quite certain why they aren't uploading, but alas, the woes of the modern age...

Sophia is currently learning her letters; we do "school" for about a half hour each morning while Edison is snoozing. We're up to "E" now. It's eye-opening when you teach, because you go into it with all your education and experience behind you; which makes it easy to forget that you had to be taught to write from left to right, to develop fine motor skills, and to space letters apart. I'm no expert at teaching, so my methods are a little comical (an "A" is up the mountain, down the mountain, cross the mountain; a "B" is down the mountain, hop, hop; "C" is a circle but not; "D" is down the mountain, one big belly and so on). We have fun.

Edison is getting longer and leaner as he crawls quickly all over the house. I call him a little cat...he loves to burrow his little face into pillows to sleep, is very cuddly, and is most content to be warmly wrapped in someone's arms, his ample cheek resting on someone's shoulder (preferably feminine). I find his one-year birthday arriving with a bit of a shock; where did that year go?? But...then I remember all the loads of diapers I've washed and memory returns : ).

Dustin has been busy out at the island getting the bathroom out there finished, trying to get that project wrapped up so our coworkers can have showers, and eventually even windows!! Funny how poverty changes one's perception of luxury. It's funny how happy I feel when I go into someone's home that is well-heated...such a treat! Dustin also has been making trips to the islands and soon to the mountains; me and the kids staying home for now while the weather is particularly harsh. Soon I hope to go again, but I wait on His timing.

I've been busy with rowing and along with that weight training and running. I feel strong and healthy from the exercise, and spiritually renewed by the opportunities I have of sharing God's love with the youth as I get to know them better.

If you'd like to lift us up in prayer, here are a few requests: continued improvement in language comprehension, servant's hearts as we go about our work, wisdom from God as we make decisions, and guidance as we are soon writing up our "Core Values" as a mission team here in Chile. Thank you, God go with you!

Your Devoted,

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Not Overcome

To my most amiable readers;

As of late I have been sorrowful of heart, starting with a dream several nights ago. In my dream a woman had just given birth, the baby in the arms of a another woman attending her. My mind's eye zoomed-in on the mother's plain face while she nodded assent. I looked to the attendant who started to twist the babies head, snapping it's neck and literally tearing the head off. Dark blood flew. I awoke.

I can't describe the horror I felt, the nausea, the darkness of it. I lay awake, the dream replaying itself in all of its terror. I thought of violence, how real it is, how far removed from it I usually am. I began too to think over the horrors of warfare, the maimed, the raped, the orphaned. 'How?' I thought, 'How could people do this? How do you get to the point where you can be so cruel, so merciless?'. I took comfort for a moment that I am on the side of the Light, that my side combats the deeds of darkness. Then I thought of the Old Testament, how God directed His people to take an entire city, leaving no survivors. Surely there were babies there, toddlers, pregnant women. To think that God had endorsed such atrocities...I could not bear it. I was shaken.

Today I was told that two babies had been found dead in trash cans here in Puerto Montt. One was newly-born, still had the umbilical cord attatched. The other was an aborted baby, seven months along. They were discovered because the dogs had found them. My dream flashed before me; two women, consenting to murder, innocent little baby newly-born. This was too much. 'How?' 'Dear God, why?'

In this state I prepared to attend a birthday party for a girl from rowing. I felt far from strong, full of sorrow in my heart. This girl does not know the Lord, and my heart's desire was that I would be able to share with her at the right time. Towards the end of the party, Deborah and I asked if we could pray for her on her special day. They turned off the loud music and we prayed, sitting on either side of her, blessing her life, asking God for wisdom for her in this her fourteenth year, thanking God for her life and friendship. I had to go, so after saying goodbyes all around, I started to go outside to catch a bus home. She followed me out and stopped me on the sidewalk, thanking me for my beautiful prayer (how forgiving of my poor grammar!). This was the softest I had seen her; usually she holds a proud, mocking front. God gave me words for her. She stayed with me until a bus came, standing in the rain, while her party went on without her. After many hugs I hopped on the bus...overcome with joy.

"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Romans 12:19

I think I still need help to understand the Old Testament, to more thoroughly understand the character of God and His motives. If anyone has any help for me in this, I'd greatly appreciate your insight. All I know in my despair is that God is good, that He loves me, speaks to me, and that I am completely lost without Him. Clinging to this hope, I am not overcome.

Your Devoted,

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Some Certain Sentiments

To my most amiable readers,

Due to technical frustrations, my writing has been impeded, but now I go on, bravely into the foray of digital communication once again! Take heart, young writer, and type!

Well then...surely that should be followed up by some profound insight or something of that nature....hmmm. Our dog got hit by a car, again. He's alright, he always gets babied after run-ins of that nature, and besides favoring his one leg is up and chasing away any and all other dogs who might seek to usurp his position of benefactor of our home. To my unprofessed delight, he follows me to the rowing club and sits on an old leather van seat while I lift weights and awaits me on the dock when I row back in. I've developed quite an unexpected fondness for the now-familiar streetdogs too. Especially one named "CHA CHA" who is a bundle of energetic muscle, vaulting off the sidewalk at every motorized vehicle attempting safe passage through her territory, giving them a good barking-at, and then sauntering cheerfully back to her perch.

I'm currently reading Middlemarch by George Elliot, having just finished Candide by Voltaire, both of which I am greatly pleased with. I'm a little startled by the similarity of Candide to Gulliver's Travels and The Odysey, and quite, even Pilgrim's Progress. If you have read Candide, please be sure to let me know what you thought of it.

May this find you in good health, high spirits, and close communion with God,
Your Most Devoted,

Friday, June 02, 2006

Play Me a Tune

To my most amiable readers;

No, it isn't a world-famous rock band...yet. This is our church worship team, from left, Elizabeth, Constanza, Deborah, and Consuelo. The music is beautiful and inspiring. Liz and Deb are our co-workers' daughters and give selflessly of their time in leading worship and teaching the younger children in sunday school. Consuelo and Constanza are amazing young ladies who are gifted in music, teaching, and have a missions call on their lives. I so appreciate all of these ladies' approach to worship, not as a performance, but as a guide, leading God's people to adoration in song. You guys rock!

Even Dustin and I get in on the music scene sometimes...the other day we had a surprise birthday party for a guy in our church, and we were all sitting around laughing and talking. Someone got out an old out-of-tune guitar, an egg shaker, and the rest of us grabbed anything that made noise (including coffee cans and broken toys). As we beat out the rythym, we passed the Bible around and each sang out a line of a Psalm to the beat. It was so fun.

At home I'm still practicing guitar, and Dustin is still honing his i-Pod skills. Also, a couple from our church in the states sent us a hymnal, which I'm loving!! We have an echoey (did I just invent that word?) house, and it's very fun to sing in.

Well, this has been a bit of a rambling blog, but I just rowed 8 km. along with racing drills....and whew....

Blessings! Your Devoted, Sarah