Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Overwhelmed by Beauty

To My Most Amiable Readers,

I've not written but I've been full of thoughts. Maybe that's a sign of the things which truly impact us; they leave us grasping for words to describe it and we seem to fall short at every attempt. We did nothing spectacular. We wanted to show our rowing kids who are meeting with us to study Jesus' life something of what Jesus would do; and what we should do if we are truly His hands, His feet in the world.

We developed a plot with Fredi Solis; a wonderful, wise friend who grew up in an orphanage in nearby Osorno. Let's bring these Jesus-seekers to some kids who really need His touch, His smile. We got together around a cramped table with our rowing youth and together created 33 Christmas cards in a flurry of glue, glitter, paper, and budding inspiration. We felt our hearts going into each card; almost like a prayer.

We were much fewer than the full group as we headed to the orphanage. Unexpected events took away all but two of them; Felipe and Coni. I wish that you knew them so that you could rejoice with me in their willingness to do this; needless to say they are not yet in love with God though He's chasing them relentlessly.

Arriving at the orphanage, Coni was overwhelmed. Just looking at where these young boys live with no mommies and daddies watching over them broke her heart. We all were on the verge of wide smiles and/or tears as we caught glimpses of little ones. We went to a small mass with the children. I sat beside Mario, who said he'd lived in Mi Casa for eleven years. I asked how old he was. He said "fourteen". Since he was three...so young to be left in a brand new world.

Then we toured their home, played with them, and waded through alternating waves of sorrow and joy. We helped serve the children their Christmas meal; chicken with rice. Sophia LOVED being the life of the party at her table. She literally amazed us with her wise-crackin' Spanish and social ways. We then watched as Santa Claus (a former orphan of the home) slid down a slide that's welded to the side of the house as a fire escape, delivered gifts to the children one by one. The Tios, grown-up orphans from the home, called "uncles", helped distribute and belted out lots of "HO HO HO's!". We then gave out the cards we'd made along with board games for the orphans to play when it's rainy outside (which would be 80% of the year).

Like I said, we did nothing spectacular; if pressed for the reason of my absolute certainty of the success of that evening I could not explain it to you. But it was one of those rare Joy Baths; where Heaven pours over you something thicker than happiness, something that makes you equally susceptible to laughter or tears. Felipe said it well as we drove home, "I felt so much pain for them, but at the same time so much joy; it was so weird!". Coni said, "Sarah, that was so beautiful." I agree.
And on the homefront, our little barrio "neighborhood", has been filled with the mischief of God. Doors are being opened every day to share more about the God we love. As I wrote this post the man in the left of this photo, Christian, just accepted Jesus into His heart in our living room alongside Voni and Dustin, who are studying the Word with him every week. Praise be to God! I'm overwhelmed by the beauty.

Your Most Devoted,

Sunday, December 14, 2008


We did it!!!
Yoya and I won the women's doubles 500 meter race this past Saturday the 13th.
Needless to say, we're pretty psyched!

In my second race of the day, we raced mixed doubles (one guy, one girl). Daniel and I lost by about three strokes! All in all a fun day and one more opportunity to
invest in the lives of these amazing youth. Please keep us in prayer as we live out a life of love among them.

Our rowing kid's Bible study group has agreed to our crazy idea of visiting an orphanage in another town on the 22nd of this month to bless the 33 boys that live there. We're going to make Christmas cards and goodies for them and hope to have lots of time to play with them at a local park. Please pray that our youth would be challenged by this experience to walk more closely with our Lord.


Saturday, December 06, 2008

A Gift of a Day!

To My Most Amiable Readers...

Sometimes in life we run into days that smack of joy; this was one of them. I was far from thinking that today would be such a day. We had rowing exams today which involves rowing as hard as you can (sustainably) for 2000 meters on a rowing machine, with (hopefully) enough strength within the last 300 meters to kick it in hard. If this sounds relatively easy (we row up to 21 km on an average day), it isn't, not even close. It's around eight minutes of heart-slamming, aerobic, muscular, and mental torture. My stomach hurt this week whenever I thought of the trial awaiting me Saturday!!

My day started with some fresh Chilean bread, spread thickly with Nutella, and a cold glass of milk; eaten standing in my kitchen as my appointment with Senor Ergometro (rowing machine) loomed large. I knew I'd need the sugar, protein, and carbs for what awaited, but had to force the food down. After kissing my babies and Dustin goodbye, I hailed a taxi. The sun was already beating hot and heavy at 9:20, when I existed the taxi and began the walk to the club. I was wondering why I was wasting precious strength on the long walk (I could have taken a bus nearly directly there), but I was glad to get limbered up.

Arriving at 10:00 at the club, I noted several omminous signs: no brackets outside ready to receive boats, no youth filling water bottles at the hose, and a distinctive WHOOOOSH! sound (Senor Ergometro's). The tests had begun.

We gathered around our ancient rowing machine as one by one we were called to warm-up before our exam. After warm-up, I was called upstairs to where Felipe, the trainer, had set up a lovely Senor Ergometro that we borrow from a guy whenever we need to do exams. I honestly had to use every ounce of self control to enter that room and not turn around and run away!

It was boiling hot in the room; the sun beating down on the aluminum roof and no windows to bring in a breeze. Felipe started entering the data into the machine's computer and I sat and prayed. I prayed for strength, perseverance, and that I would not feel desperate as the pain set in hard.

Felipe said I could start whenever I was ready. And then something incredible happened. I had the strength. I pulled hard. I was breathing well (one can fall into shallow panting as pain hits). I was not feeling wildly desperate (like last time I'd done this test). And I kicked it in at the end. Felipe was all smiles. "Buena!!!!" He showed me that I'd improved 30 seconds over my last exam! Wow!

I would have gotten up and danced around that musty room, but after 2000 hard meters your body can't stand up right away. Not to mention that you're heart's slamming and your breathing sounds berserk. I sat until I could get up, praising God with all my heart that He brought me through this. I walked out of that inferno dripping with sweat, hobbling on tense muscles, and smiling wide.

When exams were done we went out on a 45 minute run in the intense heat, out to a hotel on the peninsula and back. Yoya, my doubles partner, and I ran side by side and endured together one more test of strength that day : ).

Arriving back at the boathouse we went down to the docks to see catch the breeze on our hot faces. The water looked so invitingly cool. "Banamos?" (swim?) I asked Yoya with a twinkle in my eye. Before we knew it our entire club were in the water (clothes and all). We all decided to swim out to a buoy way out. We spent probably an hour out there, trying to climb it, swimming under ropes attached to it, being crazy clowns. A fellow club's instructor came by in a boat to see all the "lobos del mar" (sea lions) : ).

I rode home on the bus dripping wet and smelling like canal and totally happy. Arriving home I showered quick and headed over to our neighbors where Dustin and the other guys had prepared a huge bowl of ceviche de salmon...YUMMMM! We passed a few hours there talking and joking, until the toll of the morning's exercise hit me. I stretched out on our couch near the open window and took a hard siesta.

What a gift of a day.....

Your Most Devoted, Sarah