Thursday, August 28, 2008

Happy Birthdays

This is always a fun, busy month for our family with Edison's birthday on the 19th and Sophia's on the 24th. We had a lot of fun preparing for their parties; we made decorations and the kids picked themes they liked: for Edison-a 'fishy' birthday, and for Sophia-a princess one. I became a first-time pinata maker, which actually worked out nicely. I really love spending time with the kids doing creative things; when they see me getting out craft supplies they always ask, "What are we going to make?".
Above are Sophia's birthday party guests: Edison, Javiera (a ballet friend), Jasmine (a neighbor), Sofia (another neighbor), and Vicki (along with her parents Voni and Gigi, friends of ours). We had Polynesian meatballs, mini pizzas, and french truffles : ).
Below is a picture from Edison's party. The fishy theme extended to the cuisine, including cajun tuna spread on bread and salmon and dill canapes. Oh, and gummy sharks and octopuses! We had Gigi, Coni, Cole, and Vicki over and enjoyed watching Edison play with his new doctor kit, tool set, and racecars!
Both kids are growing so much; I just love being their mom. We start homeschool September 2nd and I ask your prayers that I'd do a good job teaching them. We're using Sonlight Curriculum and I'm really impressed with the books. For each day there are also ideas of activities to do that correspond to what they're learning; field trips, art projects, even baking! I'm pretty excited and a bit nervous!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Thoughts Within the Brute

To My Most Amiable Readers,

Entering the bus which looked as though it had rolled down a few unforgiving slopes in its day, I braced myself for the lurch forward while I thumbed through my change for the driver. My cold fingers somehow grasped the itty-bitty receipt from his hand, and I surf-walked my way to a seat. Sliding into a row, the bus lurched and I banged my knee hard against the seats in front of me. Yowch!

Realizing from experience that I liked the view on the other side better, I hobbled myself to the other side of the bus and slid into an equally cold, hard seat and gazed out the fogged window. The bus, which I came to call the "Brute" in my inner dialogue, lurched and groaned its way through the darkening streets of Puerto Montt. If it ever had springs I'm sure they've since given up the fight. Some buses are nice, bright, shiny, new. Some are not, some festively not with lots of fringe trim around the front window, skeletons dangling from the rearview mirror which itself is decked out in stickers of the Holy Mother. This had no such attentions...ah, except one Tweety Bird sticker on the ceiling....The Brute (went my mind)...Birdy and the Brute. Such are the quality of my thoughts after a particularly punishing workout at rowing.

I had caught a festive brute on the way to rowing and got off, as is my habit, at the bread store about a 1/4 of a mile before the club. I get off there as it has an enormous speed bump in front of it which slows down traffic enough to make a safe crossing. Crossing safely I turn right and head up a slight hill, passing a fishing dock, a shack that smells to high heaven of 5-day old shellfish, and a huge green dumpster which hogs the sidewalk. Further up and I'm near my friend Yoya's house, and the family business of another rowing friend. By now I've received the honking compliments of quite a number of enthusiastic motorists; welcome to Latin America. I'd just listened to Coldplay on my mp3 player and the words "open up your eyes" were still going through my head as I took in the sights that have so long been normal for me.

The sidewalk is gradually dissolving, down to about 8 inches across at one point, crumbling down a slope toward a house nestled amongst trash and overgrown patches of grass. Most of the houses have tin siding, tin roofs, and a whole lot of mold and mildew. The houses are stained brown at the bottoms from all the rain splashing up. Some people lay down crushed seashells to keep the mud covered. I walk past the calm streetdogs that I've walked past for years. I walk past the "god house", the little doghouse type structures which people pray to their ancestors at and place candles within. I notice how the fake foliage some devotee has placed has turned odd colors over time. Then the vicious ankle-biters come running out of their yard. So much bravado in such little dogs. I yell "SALE!", no not sale like "shoes on sale, half price!", but sah-ley, Spanish for "GET!". They scurry then come back for round two, nearly getting me this time. I have to wonder where they get their rage from.

At rowing the trainer, Felipe, tells me that I need work on building up pain resistance. Oh happy happy joy joy. Apparently this is done by going through lots of pain. After jogging myself into a lather, he sits me down at the rowing machine and barks out orders: 15 hard fast strokes, 5 slow, 15 hard, 5 slow....etc. I literally think I'll throw up from the pain and burn in my muscles....and I'm a cross-country veteran...I know pain. Okay, so maybe I forgot.

About an hour of rowing machine behind me I felt like my back was going to hurt FOREVER. I sat and stretched on the pitted concrete floor, and bravely managed a smile for my, trainer. I did it! He reminded me to go do the 100 sit-ups and push-ups. I think my smile faltered a bit then. We then had a discussion about demons, ghosts, and the power of Jesus' name. Felipe is a Christian, but doesn't know too much yet about God and the spiritual battle going on around us. I share as God gives me opportunity.

Finishing my work-out I signed out in the big, dusty rower's log and hefted my backpack onto my aching back and set out for the rest of my work. I'm helping my rowing friend Coni with her english, and her family business is just a bit up the road. We sit at the little table in the back of her family's business and go through pronunciation. The majority of english teachers in Chile don't know how to pronounce english; odd, no? Arriving at the store her mom tells me Coni is out, so we chat for a while and she tells me I'm a doll (she always fusses over my looks, and I admit that it buoys me a bit). Leaving with big kisses on my cheek, I head over to Yoya's gate. Going through it I descend down a steep slope on seashell pathways, willing my fatigued legs to match the uneven lay of the steps. I'm greeted by an array of dogs and cats and the sight of Yoya's home.

If I showed you a picture of it, you would likely pity her and her family. Irene, her mom, is the mother of seven, grandmother of two, and dear friend to me. Many of the childen still live at home. When I arrive I see that Irene's aged mother is visiting and I immediately wonder how on earth she navigates those steps. Welcomed with hugs and kisses into the kitchen/dining/living area, they offer me a warm stool by the woodstove. Laundry hangs to dry on a rack over the stove and I recognize Yoya's quirky hat. Yoya's sister fills a baby bottle with water from one of the huge aluminum teapots on the stove at all times. Little Vicente tottles toward me, his almond-shaped eyes sizing me up, his black hair shining in the dim light. Conversation flows. I almost fall off my stool amid much laughter. We air our woes, our happinesses; I painfully answer questions about the church. It was getting dark, time to go while I could still catch a brute. Lots of kisses and hugs and off I trudge, up the steps and onto the busy street.

Walking briskly amid much honking (the motorists get bolder as the sun goes down) I make my way back to the bread store where I reward myself with some broken underpants. Yes...calzones rotas...their name for sweet bread twists ; ), and some peach juice to wash it down. Then I wait for my brute.

I wonder if you'll enjoy this everyday bit of life. Maybe I want to paint a picture for you of what I mean when I say, "I'm involved in rowing...".

This, even this, is God's kingdom advancing where the devil has had his foothold too long. Please remember this work in prayer; our enemy is awfully busy.

Your Most Devoted, Sarah