Saturday, September 29, 2007

Going Full-Time

I got back into my study on Colossians this week, after a hiatus while my sister was here. My modus operandi is to study on my own, check out the Greek words, look at it within the context of the surrounding scripture as well as tearing it apart phrase by phrase, and then when I’ve exhausted my own study, I turn to commentaries (I like Matthew Henry) and books (for this study I’m using Treasures of Wisdom: Studies in Colossians & Philemon by Homer Kent Jr. and Be Complete, Wiersbe’s “be” book on Colossians).

My pastor recently started a Sunday morning series on Romans. He likes to do book studies and it will probably take him two years to go through the book. Romans is so “meaty”! Since we are rarely at our home church, we’re trying to get the messages on CD to listen to later in the week. Yesterday after we dropped my sister and her girls off at the airport we stopped in Ann Arbor on the way home. I picked up a nice fat journal at Barnes & Noble to use for my note taking as I listen to his messages on Romans. I know it will take a really fat journal! But I’m really excited, since I love the way my pastor preaches/teaches AND because it’s the book of Romans. Good stuff!

Ivan officially finished at The Manor this morning. We started out 19 years ago as houseparents in one of their group homes. We had up to six mentally and emotionally impaired teens at any one time. Some stayed just a month or two, but we had others for several years. Nine years later, when our church called Ivan to be a part-time associate pastor we moved out of the group home and into the parsonage. Our boss at The Manor asked Ivan to stay on to maintain the facilities. They had ten buildings at that time, but over the years they added several more, and Ivan went from being the lone maintenance guy to supervising a crew of three others. It’s been a good job. They’ve allowed a lot of flexibility over the years which allowed us to do more in ministry.

But it’s time to move on, and we realized if we wanted to get to Argentina in February or March, we had to spend more time building our support team. So now we’ll be “doing” deputation full-time. It will be great to have more time for one-on-one meetings with pastors. And we look forward to a lot more traveling, spending several days helping out in a church rather than just blowing in and out for one service. There might be some additional changes coming up as well, but I’ll wait to see what happens before I say anything about that. Regardless, some major changes and adjustments coming up!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Girl Time

My sister and her two girls went home yesterday. We had such a good visit but now it’s raining and I’m feeling sad (why is it so much easier to feel sad on rainy days?). We plan (hope!) to be heading to Argentina in February or March. Currently we live in Michigan and they live in California so, yeah, this was probably our last visit for several years. That’s hard! Oh dear, I feel the tears coming.

Okay, on to happier thoughts…

While they were here we had something going on every day. My nieces are 4 and 6, so I invited other little girls over one day for a “tea” party. Since none of the girls really like tea, we made punch but still used the teacups. Happy compromise :-) Another day we got together with other moms and kids at a friend’s house for a play date. My nieces loved tromping through the woods, seeing pigs and tiny kittens and great big dogs, jumping on the trampoline, and just plain having fun!

Our local library was participating in Read for the Record so we attended one of the story times and the girls had a blast listening to “The Story of Ferdinand” and making paper puppets. The ice cream was an unexpected treat, although since it came right at lunch time (our bad for picking that particular reading time) the girls weren’t very hungry when we got home. So we just packed ‘em up and headed for Battle Creek. My sister LOVES the store Tuesday Morning and hasn’t been to one since she moved to California last year. We spent a happy couple of hours scouring the store for good deals, made better by the additional 50% off all the already-marked-down items. I stocked up on a few Christmas presents. That gave me a warm fuzzy that for once had nothing to do with menopausal hot flashes :-)

My son and his wife came up on Saturday and my daughter didn’t have to work so we had a Family Day! Just hanging out and enjoying time together. We did go out for ice cream and Jon brought a new game he taught us to play. The girls loved all the attention from their older cousins!

Our county fair began on Sunday which is (I think) the best day to go. The rides aren’t operating yet so it’s a LOT quieter and not nearly so crowded. Also, if you take your bulletin from church, you get in FREE! It’s our family tradition to eat our way through the fair. This year we began with vinegar fries. For the uninitiated, these are freshly peeled and deep fried potatoes that we slather with vinegar. Goes great with fresh lemonade! Proper protocol involves eating, looking at an exhibit, eating some more, then checking out another exhibit, and so on, until we’ve worked our way from one end of the fairgrounds to the other. So between noshing on vinegar fries, corn dogs (hot dogs dipped in fresh batter and deep fried), and elephant ears (bread dough flattened into rounds, deep fried and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon), we saw all the animals, humongous vegetables, photographs (my daughter had entered several she’s taken this past year), and quilts. (Have you noticed everything we ate was deep fried??!!) Anyway, the girls enjoyed all the food but I’m not sure they appreciated all the exhibits we dragged them through :-)

The one exhibit they did enjoy was the quilt display. That’s because I had entered my most recent completed project, an appliqu├ęd quilt of my oldest niece. They thought it was pretty cool to see her “picture” hanging with all the other quilts. I was surprised but pleased to see a blue ribbon attached to it! Now I have to finish the one of my youngest niece one of my many UFOs (unfinished fabric objects).

It sure seems quiet now that they’re gone. I got used to little girl giggles and squeals :-) Oops, starting to feel sad again. I think I need to get up and get busy and stop thinking about how much I miss them!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Why I'm Just A Southern Girl

Kentucky is my birthplace. I embrace memories of "smokey mountain" mornings when fog created a faery land and in its thickness you could smell the smoke of wood or coal burning stoves, from which bubbling sausage gravy and puffy brown biscuits emerged ready to satisfy the appetite. Scuttling down the steep gravel drive to wait for the school bus and seeing it emerge from the fog, big, yellow, belching exhaust. Simple suppers of soup beans, corn bread and greens. Sitting on your porch with neighbors and catching up on the gossip from up the holler. Strolling down to the store where you could buy everything from bird seed to bib overalls to any food or cleaning item, fill your car with gas, and see if you had any mail since the store owner became the postmaster by merely moving from behind the grocery counter to the locked cubby hole in the corner with its iron bar window. I especially enjoyed the times we had a little extra money and we could buy a nickle's worth of pickled bologna (about 3" of ring bologna about 1-1/2" in diameter). The shop keeper threw in a few saltine crackers to go with it, and we'd wash it down with an RC cola (Royal Crown for those not in the know). Back then Pepsi and Coke wouldn't deliver up in the mountains so RC was the only choice. And if we were really good, we got a Moon Pie for dessert. Life didn't get much better than that!

I spent part of my growing up years in Kentucky, and the other half in Michigan, where I re-located again about 20 years ago (more about that in another post).

But I'm getting ready to be Just A Southern Girl again! Only we're moving a little farther south than Kentucky. Like way, way, way south to Argentina -- which if you're good at geography, you'll know is as far south as you can go. Argentina and Chile make up the southern cone of South America.

This is, of course, a huge move for us.

It started many, many years ago. I won't bore you with the details. But in the past few years God has re-directed us firmly on this path. Along the way my husband, Ivan, has served as an associate pastor at our church, we spent a year in Africa filling in for missionaries who needed to come home on furlough, and now are in the process of preparing for full-time church planting in the Punilla Valley, which is in the center of the Province of Cordoba, which is itself in the heart of Argentina! People sometimes get confused when we tell our story, because they try to figure out why we're going to Argentina if we spent a year in Africa. (Although we've met a few who are NOT good at geography, and they don't know there's a difference.)

The simple truth is, God used that year in Africa, that "pressure cooker experience" as Ivan likes to call it, to teach us things in a short time that we couldn't have learned anywhere else. And He is taking us to Argentina because that is where we best fit into His plans. Simple, no? Yes!

Ivan grew up in Argentina as an MK. He knows the people, the language, the culture. He'll be able to "hit the ground running" when we arrive there next year. Not so for me. After two years of college level Spanish, I'll need to spend the first year in intensive language acquisition. Whether it's not having a bent toward languages, being my age (approaching 50), or a combination of the two, but learning Spanish is HARD WORK! But as Ivan likes to point out, I like to talk too much not to learn!

We hope to be in Argentina by March of 2008. Some ask how long we'll be there (especially those who knew we spent the one year in Africa). This will be a permanent move. At least until health, age, or whatever conspires to make us retire. We're in this for the long haul. We may be middle-aged, but we've still got a few good years left in us :-)

And that's why, once again, I'm Just A Southern Girl.