This blog is one part an effort to relay my experiences here through updates and pictures and two parts an outpouring of the lessons God is teaching me in taking up my cross daily and following Him.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Random Picture Post


The main conference center. I actually haven't been inside it yet.

Close up of the Word of Life sign on the Conference Center

The main floor of this building is the Dining Room (el comedor)

My Room... My bed is the upper right, with the cupboard right next to it.
My cupboard... This is basically all of my storage space. Everything else stays in my bag underneath the bed.

This is the key to my room. Pretty sweet, huh?!

Slacklining!! This one is Caleb's (multi-colored shirt). It was mysteriously stolen the next day from his room.

Josiah slacklining

Wesley and I with an Argentine soldier in the Pink House

The Pink House, the Argentine equivalent of the White House. The President's office is here, but apparently she doesn't actually live here.

On Florida St.

More Florida Street!

I really liked these multi-colored roses.

A door on Florida St. in Buenos Aires.

Fun Times with Josiah

Wal-Mart! A place we all know! This is Brett and Steve.

More slacklining. This one is mine. We slackline at least once a week in the afternoon.

Random worship session. These don't happen quite as often as they used to, but these are my favorite!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Life at Palabra de Vida.

A lot of you are probably wondering what life is like here. Well, it's a lot the same as in the states. I've already shared some of the major differences, but most probably want to know more about the day to day, so here is a breakdown of a typical week.

Monday: On Mondays, most students do not have class, because many are still returning from their ministries in other places, so for them it is a travel day. For those who are still here, it is work in the morning, then a free afternoon. For us, the Bilingual students, we have our tests on Monday, but we get to sleep in a little - breakfast isn't until 9. Then we have a test in our Bible Class and a test in our Spanish Class. (We took a placement test for Spanish, and I am in the highest of the 3 levels). Lunch is at 1:00 and then typically we have the afternoon free until dinner at 7:30pm. I am always starving by meal times because they're all so late (with the exception of breakfast).

Tuesday - Friday: Tuesday is the beginning of our "normal" days of the week. Breakfast at 6:45am (WAY too early to be hungry.) They have cereal, but the milk is room temperature to warm, so it's kinda gross. I usually just eat a banana, and have two (small) cups of coffee. After breakfast we have about 30 minutes set aside for personal quiet time. Every morning (Tuesday through Friday) we have cultito (little chapel) for 15 minutes before class. It's like a short recorded devotional. 8:00 to 10:10 is Bible class with two 5 minute breaks. Our class right now is "The Christian Life." Chapel is from 10:20-11:00, but it almost always goes long, depending on who preaches. We get a 30 min. break then, and Spanish class begins at 11:30 and goes until lunch at 1:00. After lunch we have a little bit of free time until 2:30 when study hours begin. Some people really like the study hours because otherwise they would never get anything done. I don't like them mostly because we can't listen to music during study hours. It's one of those rules that they have, but no one really knows WHY they have it. (And I don't usually have that much studying to do because I always try to get it done right away.) Study hours go from 2:30 to 3:45, then we have 30 minutes to get to either our sport (Wed. & Fri for me) or our job (Tue. & Thurs.) My sport is soccer. I played for the first time yesterday, and it was fun, though they don't play with "Off-side" which totally changes the nature of the entire game. For my job I get to work at the farm here at the school. Right now we're working on building another greenhouse. It's interesting how far behind us they are in many ways, but especially technologically and with tools, etc. Dinner is at 7:00. After this every night is different so I'll explain the differences to this schedule below.

Tuesday: After dinner we have more study hours from 8:30 to 9:15. After that we have what's called "compartir" (sharing) in our rooms with our roommates. Basically someone shares their testimony with the rest of the group.
Wednesday: After dinner we have something called U.M.E. (pronounced ooh-meh). It's like a "union" of missionary groups. Basically we are all in a group for a different country (Though Argentina is split into four groups geographically) and we get together with our group to pray for that country and occasionally plan missions trips. The last two weeks we've met together for a while and then split up into our groups.
Thursday: After dinner we have more study hours from 8:30 to 9:15. Then we normally have a Word of Life missionary come to our room and share with us. This is much like "compartir" just with a missionary. From my experience, you're lucky to be asleep before midnight on these days.
Friday: Because many students leave for ministry for the weekend on Friday, instead of having study hours after lunch we go straight to our sports/work (soccer for me), then we're free for the rest of the afternoon.

Saturday: Breakfast is at 8:00am. We will be having choir practice (we're starting a singing group to go around to churches, schools, etc.) on Saturdays, but other than that, I believe Saturdays are totally free.

Sunday: Breakfast is at 8:30? (I think) Church is at 10 (I think) :). Lunch is at 1:00, like normal, then we have the afternoon to ourselves.

We will often go into town on weekends, because those are the only days we have enough time to go. We have to get permission to leave campus, and town (Monte) is like a 20 minute walk. It's a nice walk, though.

Well, study hours are over, so, that's all for now!

Friday, September 10, 2010

What I Have Finally Learned from Daniel!

“God allows hard things in our lives so we can show the world that our God is great and that knowing Him brings peace and joy, even when life is hard.”

In the wake of Daniel’s death, I have found this statement to be truer than I could have ever imagined. God has used Daniel’s death in so many ways to bring glory to Himself. Who are we to question God’s plan or timing, all that we can do is seek peace and joy in Him – seeking always to bring Him more glory.

Seeking God’s glory in everything is one thing that I know Daniel thought about more than anyone else I have ever known.  I know this, because he talked about it. All the time. As humans, we talk about the things that mean the most to us, and Daniel’s conversation fell into two categories: living for the glory of God, and programming for the glory of God. Though he had many quirks and was significantly different than me, the thing for which I remember him most is this: He was always seeking to live for the glory of God!

I have just finished reading Francis Chan’s book “Crazy Love” and found this quotation by C.S. Lewis that reminded me of Daniel, and was very challenged: “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.

Daniel and I were very different people in almost every aspect, including this one. I wanted to bring glory to God, but really only as far as it fit into my plan for my life. Though I am ashamed to admit it, I have always thought more of this life than the next. I have wanted my career and family, and to serve God with the leftovers of my life. I am only now beginning to learn the most important thing in life—what it really means to live for Christ and to trust Him with and for everything.

I am beginning to see that sadly, to my own discredit, I have learned more from Daniel in his death than in his life. I am beginning to see the devotion and faith that Daniel had for God, and to want that for myself. I am finally beginning to pursue God instead of what should have been my biggest fear—succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter. Now, don’t get me wrong, Daniel had plenty of faults, but there is a lot that we can learn from him here.

I have found that in the words of Francis’, I haven’t really wanted to be saved from my sin, just the penalty of it. “We must genuinely hate sin and be truly sorry for it; not merely sorry that God will punish us for it!” I have also found myself guilty of loving everything (the things/family/friends) God has given me more than the God who is everything. The question that really challenged me, however, was this: “What are you doing right now that requires faith?” Can you think of even one thing?

In the last few days God has shown me that I have never wholly surrendered my life to Him. There is no human explanation why a perfect God would continue to love and pursue a sinner like me, but He has finally brought me to a place where I am not only willing, but desiring to say, “Lord, here is my life. Do with it as you will. I am willing to follow you to the end of the world. I am willing to sacrifice my relationships with family and friends, and my own personal desires, dreams, and goals, to serve you, wherever and however that may be.”

I have finally decided to follow Jesus; no turning back. Though none go with me, I still will follow; no turning back.

I know it will not be easy; I know I will often not feel like it. At times I may wonder how I will survive or where my next meal will come from; in times like these, others may look at me with ridicule. Yet, God has graciously given me each day. Each breath comes from Him. No longer can I spend my life serving myself. I am compelled hereafter to seek an eternal return on the gifts that God has given me.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Random Thoughts on Argentina and Culture

I've really been enjoying it here, but there are some very different things here. Here are a few of my random ponderings since I've been here.

1. On the way down, at the International Airport in Washington D.C. at the gate next to mine there was this huge jet for a Saudi Arabian airline. On the side in huge bold letters it said "God Bless You" or "God Be With You". Why is it that no American airlines say anything like that, but a Muslim nation's airline does?

2. The bathrooms here are dirty. It's just a fact of life. I'm not sure about all Argentina, but here at the school T.P. is not flushed after use but thrown away. This makes for very dirty and very smelly bathrooms - all the time. This is something I may get used to at a surface level, but will still never really be able to get used to doing.

3. I realized today that I'm having trouble staying hydrated. The water here has this weird salty taste. It's not really salty, it just has this very strange taste that makes me not want to drink it. I never thought I would buy water, but I think I might have to - especially since it's about $0.75 for 1.5 liters.

4. I think it's great that the first two days of Spanish class will be spent studying English grammar. Apparently they realize that you really can't start learning another language if you really don't even understand your own, so we spend two days of class studying English grammar. After that, we have a test. Each individual can't begin Spanish class until they've passed the English grammar test.

5. I never thought I'd be so excited to have sheets and blankets! The Hoyts were kind enough to loan me bedding while I am here, which is great because I never would have been able to fit it in my one suitcase. I arrived, however, on Thursday, but wasn't able to get them from Pablo Ramirez until sometime Saturday. I really didn't have a problem sleeping on a bare mattress with the airplane pillow (the kind that goes around your neck) that Rob gave me, but once I had real sheets, blankets, and a pillow with a pillow case I was so excited! I didn't realize how much we take that for granted. You can sleep just fine without them, but they make it so much more comfortable!

6. I love Matte (mah-teh) and the process of drinking it. Matte is an herb made into almost a tea. The cup or gourd used for preparing/drinking matte is called the "matte". The leaves are called the "yerba" (here in Argentina pronounced sherba), and the straw with a filter (it's like loose-leaf tea) is called the "bombilla" (bombisha). One person will be the "host" (whoever has the matte) and they'll fill it up, pass it to someone who will drink it all and pass it back. The host will then refill it and pass it to someone else. This process is repeated throughout the entire time of conversation or whatever the event is. The other day while talking with a Missionary in our room I had 4 cups of matte. Yesterday, while in town I bought my own matte and bombilla. I will try to upload pictures. This is something I've been waiting to get down here since before I came.

Well, enough for now. I will write more later.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Alive and Whole in Argentina!

So, I made it! I was supposed to be the first person to arrive today. Instead, I was the last. BUT, I am here. My luggage is here. It's all here. And it's not damaged. I got into the country with no problems. I should have taken pictures today, but it wasn't the first thing on my mind.

Like I said, I was the last to arrive. I dropped my stuff off in my room, and we loaded into a bus owned by the school (a double-decker bus) and went to lunch at a nearby restaurant. Once we returned we had about 45 minutes before registration. Registration was pretty painless. We have satellite internet in a few of the buildings, but it seems to be really slow right now. I think the weather has something to do with that. I have met most of my 7 roommates, and 3 of them speak English. I have enjoyed getting to know them all and trying to have conversations with them in Spanish. It's beginning to come back to me.

Not too sure what the rest of the evening holds. I'm not really sure where to unpack to, because there is hardly any space in our room besides beds. We get one cupboard to put our stuff/clothes in. Mostly I just need to wait until one of the English speaking guys in the room to find out, so they don't feel like I'm trying to take over their room.

I knew Argentina was less developed, but I underestimated that a little. The campus is nice, but very simple. I will try to take pictures tomorrow to post. Until then I am thankful that I have arrived with no complications, all my luggage, in relatively good physical condition (besides my back and neck being sore from sitting/sleeping sitting down for about 30 hrs, and being tired), and VERY thankful to finally be here!

Halfway There is a Good Start... I Guess... Could be Worse!

It's 11pm back home, and I am sitting in the airport in Bogota, Colombia waiting for a plane that was supposed to be leaving now. Apparently our plane was struck by lightning, and they are repairing it. The earliest they hope to have us leaving is 3am.... Oh the joys of travel!

It's been a busy day so far with wake up at 5:30 for a 6:30am departure from home. We got to the airport and I got through security without any problems. My bag was overweight by 13pnds, but the most I could have lost was a couple pounds. They said it would be the same price for a third bag (I think this is mostly because the Latin American airlines go more by total weight of luggage, not number of pieces and weight) so I had no choice but to pay the $200 fee.

My flight from Detroit to Washington, D.C. went well, and once I got there luckily stumbled upon the gate for my next flight in my search just to find information about what gate I was supposed to. This took all of 5 minutes, so then I got to wait... and wait... and wait some more until finally about 1:15 before the flight was supposed to leave, representatives finally showed up and I was able to check in. I had to check my backpack, because they only allowed one carry on, no matter it's size, and I had to keep my laptop bag with all of my valuables (laptop, ipod, etc) with me. Luckily I wasn't charged anymore. Jose, the guy at the desk even gave me a better seat. I ended up with a window seat, with an older woman on the aisle seat with a free seat between us. That was nice to have!

My flight from D.C. to Bogota went well, though it was a bit long. It was my first time being fed anything that could be considered close to a real meal on a plane, with a small salad, a small main dish (The choices were beef or pasta, I had beef and it was relatively good), and a dessert. I'm not really sure what the desert was, but it was really good.  Later on they also gave us a small sandwich. I mostly slept, listened to music, and watched an episode of "House", "Glee", and part of "Man vs. Wild", before we landed. Overall, I was quite impressed with the service.

Once we landed we ended up sitting waiting for our gate to open up for about 20 minutes. I was starting to get a little nervous because I was supposed to be boarding my next plane already. I did still have 30 minutes until departure, however. Once off the plane I had to have my bag sniffed by a dog, a first for me, and then walked to gates over only to discover that I'm not going anywhere anytime close to now. Well, at least I made it half way there!