Friday, July 27, 2007

Lessons From the Deep South

Crossing to Isla Tenglo with the children's Chilean "grandparents" Voni and Gigi.

To My Most Amiable Readers;
Having just finished reading the latest copy of Missionary Messenger, which focused on the lives of missionary kids, I was inspired to think of what my children are learning in their host culture. A number of things came to mind; things I've only learned as an adult, but which will be natural to my children as they barely remember American culture. So here are some things we've come to learn and appreciate in Chilean culture:

1. Saludos. Translation: greetings, regards. When you walk into a gathering you personally meet and greet each person in that room with a kiss and, if needed, an introduction. This acknowledges the worth and value of each person in the room and extends your acceptance to them. When you go to leave, you make the rounds again, kissing each face and saying goodbyes to each and everyone of them.
Our co-worker's children, who are more Chilean than American after 15 years here, feel uncomfortable and unwelcome when visiting stateside as "relatives just stare at us, they don't hug us or kiss us". My children are also accustomed to saludos, even at the age of one year Edison would tilt his cheek upwards to receive kisses, and now gives them with relish (much to the delight of Chileans). Sophia throws her little arms around their necks and gives a big smackeroo along with her joyful "Hola!". And each adult is greeted with the name Tia or Tio (Auntie or Uncle), followed by the first name. This extends respect and honor and also affection for adults.
It's amazing how just having your presence recognized in a room can put you at your ease, make you feel at home in any gathering. I imagine that the early church experienced the joy of this in their "holy kiss". I wonder if my children will try to give kisses when we're home on furlough and if they'll feel unwelcome if others just look at them.

2. A glass with an inch of drink in it is still a blessing. Oftentimes we've been in gatherings of, say, thirty people and there's been one liter of Coke. Instead of hiding it away in the refrigerator in embarrassment that there isn't "enough", each person recieves their inch of drink with ease and joy; often having to drink quickly so that the cup may be used for someone else's inch. Can you imagine this in the States? Someone would've taken off in their car to the local gas station and come back with liters of soda and a pack of disposable cups before the embarrassing "lack" could be discovered. So, our children have learned, and so have we, to be thankful for what we receive, whether it be a full glass or no.
The children playing in Isla Tenglo with friends.

3. Paciencia. Translation: patience. In the States it's sort of taken for granted that each person has their own vehicle and can go where they please, when they please. I certainly took it for granted, hopping in my VW Jetta and whizzing around town, efficiently running my errands, visiting friends, taking the kids to the park, and so on. It's different here. Most people we know DON'T have vehicles of their own, have riden buses all their lives, and are used to walking long distances after the buses drop them off. Our own vehicle has been broken down or in the shop more often than it has been on the road, and when Dustin takes his missions trips I'm left depending on public transportation. So we've learned how to wait. Sometimes when we're on Isla Tenglo, exhausted from a day of ministry, we wait in the soaking rain on the boat ramp for an hour for the little ferry to come pick us up. To find a bus headed towards my neighborhood at night after rowing club usually takes about a half an hour, standing on a cold, dark street, sometimes in the rain. Then, as is the nature of buses, it takes about three times as long to get home as it would in a vehicle, and often we're packed in like sardines. A few years of this grows in one a certain tolerance for waiting that our North American culture would balk at. And this is not limited to transportation; if you'd like to withdraw money from the bank, expect at least an hour wait in a line. If it's time to pay the bills, you have to go directly to each business and stand in line for around a half hour at each one. Want to mail a letter? About a thirty minute wait. This is what makes it so difficult to explain an "average day" here to anyone. To say "I spent all day getting out money and paying my bills", to a North American would get quite lost in translation! We have learned to wait. The children do not go bonkers when forced to stand in a line or along a road for an extended time. It's normal to them.

Well, I hope you've enjoyed glimpsing the world as my children see it, and as we are learning to accept it. Blessings to you all!
Your Most Devoted, Sarah
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Friday, July 20, 2007

Milk Box Nursery

Edison tenderly caring for the babies in their brand-new milk box beds. Why milk box? Because in many Latin American countries, milk is sold on the shelf in either 1 liter boxes or bags. The milk is processed at a high temperature which enables it to keep safely at room temperature until opened. This is great as many people do not own refrigerators and the small size makes sure the opened milk doesn't go to waste. Each morning I "milk the cow" for the kid's cereal by cutting open a liter bag and pressure squeeze it into a pitcher...hee hee. Sometimes the milk ends up all over the countertops and floor; I call that "mad cow milk", instead of Sarah-has-morning-hands-syndrome. Does anyone else get weak hands in the morning? It's like my hands get stupid while I sleep and opening anything is beyond impossible for the first hour or so.
Anyways, I think boxes are the best toys a kid can have. Thanks Mom for letting us take over the living room whenever an appliance box became available for castle/house/boat/fort construction. These milk box beds sure made Sophia's day. Finally I end with two content little ones making sure my cake batter is up to snuff. It was. : )
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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

As Of Late...

To My Most Amiable Readers,
Greetings! A bug just crawled into my computer keyboard. I wonder which letter will deal the death blow to the little interloper. If it flies out at me I will make an odd outburst I like to call a scream-laugh. It happens whenever I'm startled, and basically sounds like a typical scream which shudders into cascading ripples of high-pitched laughter. It happens a lot during rowing when sea lions submerge and flare their nostrils at me. Also happens when moths get stuck in my hair....shudder. Anyways....
God has been at work! It has been our prayer that we would be able to impact our neighborhood for Christ; forming relationships in which we can share Christ's love and plan for mankind. This was not an easy task; unlike many Latin Americans, Chileans are a bit "colder" towards outsiders. Whereas in Costa Rica we said "good day" to everyone we passed on our street, here people tend to look away from you and avoid eye contact. Complicating matters further was the fact that I'd end up introducing myself not to my neighbors, but to their nannies and maids (not a bad thing, but I did wish to meet my neighbors too!). But God in His way, His timing, is bringing about relationships I never thought I'd have.
One evening, a few weeks ago, my neighbor Monica dropped by with a couple whom I didn't know and approached me about tutoring their children, and another couple's in English. They all attend school a block away from me and all live within five minutes. What a great opportunity! Every Wednesday I have three little boys in my home for an hour for English tutoring. They are six-seven years of age and are named: Juan Jose, Francisco, and Diego. God has given me supernatural patience and love for them (they are very squirmy pupils)! Francisco's mom also comes and I rejoice that she too is becoming a friend. The money I earn goes to childcare during the session and then towards buying a white board and easel that can be used in tutoring sessions. Please pray that God would give me ways to share about Him with my little charges and their parents.
Another neighborhood relationship that is forming is with another mom at the ballet school whose daughter is in Sophia's class. We sit in the changing room during their class and chat with the other moms and nannies, and I've found her to be a unique and lovely person. It turns out that she lives just a few blocks from me and volunteered to pick us up and drop us off for each class!!! This is a HUGE blessing from God! Our car is yet in the repair shop, so getting to Sophia's biweekly class means taking a bus for twenty minutes, then walking another ten with my two little children and big heavy belly! God even met a very special desire for me; she has a son Edison's age whose carseat is in the car vacant; so Edison travels in safety!! Yay for God's caring provision!!! Please pray that God would open the doors for conversation about Him in this new friendship.
As for my spiritual walk, God is calling me to a deeper life of faith. The expenses from our chronicly-broken vehicle shook me up a bit, and I think God is asking me why. Who or what am I trusting in if financial burdens can trouble my faith? I need to be looking for what He's teaching me rather than just stewing about the truck. One night while praying with Mike and Nancy, Mike told us that he had a vision. In it Dustin and I were in a boat on rough seas. He said that Jesus was inviting me to come to Him on the water; "Step out of the boat". Step out of my worries and illusions of control....step out to a life of radical faith. So, with His help and your prayers, that's what I'm trying to do. It's a little scary, but at least I feel spiritually alive!!
God is truly at work here in Chile. He's putting people in our paths and answering our prayers in the unexpected ways I'm learning to expect. He's teaching me to trust Him, He's teaching me what faith really means. He's also drawing Sophia to Himself...
Wednesday the 27th of June, Sophia came into the office/Edison's room where I was working on the computer. She pulled up a stool and sat beside me with an earnest look on her face. She said, "Mommy, I'm not sure that Jesus is in my heart". Woah. I stopped my work and turned to face her. I asked her, "Would you like to invite Jesus in your heart? Would you like to ask Him to forgive your sins?". She nodded. She prayed; "Jesus, please come into my heart and forgive my sins and thank you for creating all the children, amen". With that and a big hug she galloped off to play and I sat stunned and joyful. Praise God.
Your Most Devoted,

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

First Day of Ballet

Preparing to leave for her big day, Sophia doesn't forget to ham it up with Edison!
All dressed up and ready to dance!! If you wonder why her bangs look so crooked...not only is she an aspiring ballerina....but a hairdresser as well. Below the little girls mingle before class begins. Her outfit (white leotard, white skirt with a blue silk ribbon, tights, and leather shoes) has not yet arrived from Santiago, so for now you can pick her out by her little black tooshy. She is still needing to wear eye patches and glasses to correct her wandering eye. Please pray that God would heal her eye so that we would not have to consider surgery.
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