Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Four Things Meme

I've never done a meme because I've never been tagged. But Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee sorta kinda tagged me when she wrote "4 Friends I tag...All four of you who read all the way to the end of this, the most boring post on the planet."

I thought it was a very interesting post because Linda looks small and yet she once ate an entire pan of mashed potatoes by herself! And that is exactly the kind of scintillating news I am hoping for when I read my favorite blogs (see, look over on my sidebar, Linda's there!)

I am doing the meme because I want to post but at the same time, I don't want to have to think of something to write about, so this seemed a good time to do it.

By the way, why is it called a "meme"? Because it's all about "Me! Me!"? Or is it short for something? There are a lot of blogging shorthands I haven't figured out yet.

Anyway...

FOUR THINGS I LIKE ABOUT MY HUSBAND

Only four?! There are MANY, MANY things I like about my husband but here are the first four that pop into my head. And no, they are not in any particular order. Remember, I don't want to think today!

He is my number one fan. Even if nobody else reads my blog, he does! And he comes up with really good post ideas. And he takes most of the pictures. And he is very patient about my blogging time, which is sometimes considerable.

He loves the Lord and has always worked hard to maintain a close walk with God, and helped and encouraged me in my walk. I am MORE than grateful for this because I know so many other ladies whose husbands don't. And I can't imagine anything sadder than living with and loving someone who doesn't love God.

He is the handiest guy I know. He can fix almost anything! And he has such a "CAN DO!" attitude that even if he can't, he at least gives it a try first. We've saved mucho dolares over the years because of his handy man abilities.

He has a great sense of humor but I can always tell when he's joking because he gets this little smirky smile which is a dead give-away. He loves to laugh and is always on the lookout for word plays or puns to bring into even the most serious conversations.

Boy, I could devote a whole post to my hubby but there's four of the things I like LOVE about him!

FOUR MOVIES I HAVE WATCHED MORE THAN ONCE
Grosse Point Blank (this is especially funny at 2 a.m. in the morning)
Undercover Blues
Princess Bride

Anne of Green Gables (okay, so this is more a mini-series, but still!)

FOUR TV SHOWS I WATCH
The Closer (TNT network) which I download and watch at my leisure.

Well, now that I'm in Argentina, I will have to download ALL my shows and watch later.

NCIS (CBS)
Criminal Minds (CBS)
Bones (Fox)

I am one of the very, very few who *gasp* don't watch reality TV. I've seen bits and pieces of a few shows and I just don't get the attraction. It's painful to watch people act like jerks or pour their heart into something and then get ripped for it or attempt to find love in all the wrong places. So call me crazy, but that's one genre I won't be watching. The closest I come is that show on the Food Network where the chefs compete to create the most spectacular chocolate creation. Now that's some reality TV I could sink my teeth into!

But if I could I would TOTALLY DOWNLOAD MY FAVORITES FROM HGTV and watch them again and again. But that's not an option at this point. Hello! HGTV, why can't you be like all the other nice networks and make your shows available?

FOUR PLACES I HAVE BEEN
Where the Nile begins in Jinja, Uganda, East Africa
Dingle Peninsula in Ireland
Yellowstone National Park, Mount Rushmore, and the Badlands of South Dakota (all in one marathon trip home from Colorado)
Buenos Aires, Argentina

FOUR PLACES I'D LIKE TO VISIT
Iguazu Falls (where Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay meet)
Venice, Italy
The Grand Canyon
New England

FOUR PEOPLE WHO E-MAIL ME REGULARLY

My daughter
My son
SIL Rita
SIL Sharon

FOUR FAVORITE FOODS
Chocolate
Potatoes in any form, but especially fried with onions
Biscuits & Sausage Gravy
Ice cream in just about any chocolate combination OR fruit flavor
And now we know why I need to walk and get into shape!

FOUR THINGS I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO IN THE COMING YEAR (2009)
Becoming, if not fluent, at least moderately capable in Spanish.
Spending more time in God's Word.
Getting into better shape by losing weight AND increasing strength and endurance.
Having my kids visit us in Argentina (?) -- I hope, I hope!!!

FOUR FRIENDS I TAG
I'm going to suggest that anyone who wants to do this meme, go ahead! It's a nice way to pass a few minutes of your time. And your reading public can learn things they never knew about you. Or things they knew and wished they'd forgotten. Or things you never meant for them to find out. Or whatever.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

My Banner Is Making Me Schizo

I changed my banner once or four times today. I just could not settle on one until I posted the one you're seeing now. *sigh* Doesn't it make you just want to stretch out on a blanket and read a book? Or grab your fishing pole and see if they're biting?

For those who are gluttons for punishment and want to see the other banners, I'll post them at the end. Be aware I kept going back to the sunflower, too, that's been featured the past few weeks. I really, really like it and may bring it back again.

So anyway, today we walked a lot. [For me, that is.] OVER TWO MILES. Seriously, son and daughter, I kid you not! We went north of town (we live on the edge of the southeast end) to check out a motor scooter. Those are especially practical in summer, when a million and a half tourists flood the town and it's difficult to get around in a car.

But the one we looked at had been "run hard and put up wet" as they used to say about horses. A 2006 model but all scratched and banged up and had quite a few miles on it. I guess its primary user is a delivery person. There are numerous dirt roads and streets in Carlos Paz (we live on one of them) so it's understandable that it's in that condition, but we'd rather get something in a bit better shape for the kind of money they were asking. And the actual owner wasn't there so we couldn't negotiate.

Which is all well and good. Not entirely sure we want to go the scooter route. Might be better to wait for a car instead, since that is our ultimate goal. For now we just need to figure out the bus system. They have a really good public transport system in place that will be handy when we don't want to walk.

But back to the whole walking thing. We actually took a remis (taxi) to where the scooter was, since we weren't sure how to get there. But then we WALKED ALL THE WAY HOME, even detouring to go the long way around the lake and look at the rental house. I took more pictures too, and here's a better one that shows the whole front of the house instead of just a portion of it. The front door is on the right and the garage on the left but the construction makes them look alike. Pretty cool, huh?

Since the city is built mostly on hillsides, we get a workout when we walk! And the last stretch was in the heat of the day (yes, we did it again!) so I was pretty flushed by the time we made it back to the apartment.

But we're determined to get into better shape and walking is a good way to do it. I have a secondary motivation, too. My tutor told me about a walking group for ladies that meets and walks for an hour and a half every weeknight. That would be an excellent way to meet other women and practice my Spanish, but there's no way I'd be able to keep up at this point. Meanwhile I'll be like the Little Engine That Could and keep chugging up the hills saying "I think I can! I think I can!"

So here are the other banners:

Friday, August 29, 2008

A Day In Cordoba

Knowing our co-workers would pick us up as soon as they dropped their daughter at school at 7:15 a.m., we were up and out the door by a little after 6:30 a.m. so we could hurry down to YPF and guzzle have some cafe con leche to help us wake up.

We had no idea what we were in for, but we knew it might be a LONG and perhaps frustrating day. Doing paperwork here is an interesting proposition, usually requiring trips to many offices, finding out there's always one more piece of paper you need (and another and another)...in other words, typical bureaucrazy at work. Yes, I misspelled that word on purpose because it defines for me how it's usually characterized.

But not when you have lots of people praying for you! Y'all must have some rockin' prayer power goin' down!

Not to say it was a cake walk, but WE GOT IT DONE IN A DAY -- IN HALF A DAY. Oh.My.Word!

First of all though I want to share a picture that hubby took from the window of our co-worker's van (so it's not the crispest photo). Cordoba, as well as being the provincial capital, is also the second largest city in Argentina with about a million and a half people plus all the ones like us who come in to take care of business. You can imagine what the streets were like as we were entering the city just before 8 a.m. And then we see this. These horse-drawn carts are a common sight as they pick up trash.

Anyway, the best way to explain the experience of filing the paperwork is in a time line format. So you see what a rush it was YET how God worked out the timing so that it was all accomplished before the office of Registro Civil de Provincia de Cordoba closed at 2 p.m.

8:00 a.m. In line to get a number.
8:30 a.m. We are #A80.
9:15 a.m. Our number is called. But we've been sitting there long enough to know everyone, no matter their business, is being told to go to the fourth door on the right. So we figure it's going to be another line. We are right.
9:35 a.m. We are ushered into a cubicle. We FINALLY turn over the envelopes we have been carrying like precious jewels for months. Envelopes received at the Argentinian Consulate in Chicago back in April. Envelopes with special stamps and seals which we have been ordered NOT TO OPEN by every official and every missionary in numerous communiques. Repeatedly. And now they are opened. And examined. And hubby produces his old documents from when he lived here the first twenty years of his life.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

We take a break from the time line to report what a God thing it was that we found the hubby's old documents just a few months ago. The documents had been misplaced YEARS ago and only found because I'm anal careful about going through things. The hubby often said, "Throw it out. We haven't needed it for years, we don't need it now." But I can't let go of stuff that easily. So I went THROUGH EACH AND EVERY BOX OF PAPER WE HAVE EVER COLLECTED -- AND THAT WAS CONSIDERABLE.

And in the box of things from our first trip to Argentina in 1996, his various documents were tucked in among the pictures, souvenirs and receipts. Neither of us have any idea how they ended up there; just praise God that we found them!

The most important piece is his cedula, an ID issued by the federal police. It's not like the ID cards today (even has a different name) but it's still an ID card. With a traceable number in the system. And this card makes all the difference in the world. It shows he had permanent residency status then, and because he never requested that such residency be rescinded, he continues to have it! This makes our his life much easier.

If it had only been him, we would have been done then and there.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

9:35 a.m. continued The nice woman at the office of Registro Civil tells us that my paperwork is incomplete. Of course. And it will be necessary to have my birth certificate and marriage license officially translated (we have already paid for this but it was by a certified translator in the U.S. and it must be by a certified translator in Argentina.)

10:00 a.m. We fast walk the two or so blocks to the office of Traductatores Publicos de la Provincia de Cordoba. With the understanding that we can get it done there. Silly us! At that office they merely give us a 7-page listing of certified translators. Single-spaced, with one per line, that's a lot of translators!

10:20 a.m. After standing on the street making many unproductive calls, we decide to go into a little coffee shop on the corner and grab some coffee while continuing to make calls. May I just say how heavenly coffee shops smell? I have a hard time focusing on the task at hand when I am surrounded by the aroma of good coffee. Especially when they offer a little something on the menu called the Americano that includes coffee, fresh squeezed orange juice, croissants, ham and cheese. Our co-worker keeps making calls while the rest of us dig in. Four hours since coffee at YPF and we are ready for more!

Did I mention the list of translators is single spaced and seven pages long? His coffee finally cold, our co-worker gives the phone to hubby. Who decides to go backwards, and is successful when he calls the very last translator on the very last last page.

10:45 a.m. We fast walk back to the van and head to meet the very nice Cecilia on the corner of Lima & Maipu by 11 a.m. She tells us she can have the translations done in one hour! While we wait we walk around the neighborhood a little. Find a Personal store (cell phone company) and try to see what they know about getting the hubby's Blackberry activated. They say we have to go to the main office downtown.

12 noon We meet Cecilia on the corner again and she hops in the van with us for the quick trip back to the office of Traductatores Publicos de la Provincia de Cordoba where she gives the lady there the translations and her ID papers and then the lady in the office gives us the necessary stamps of approval. Much cash changes hands in these transactions and we are happy to pay for such quick work! As soon as we have our stamped paperwork we say goodbye to Cecilia and fast walk back to the Registro Civil office.

12:25 p.m. We find out that now we must go to the bank and pay the necessary fees, and also make photocopies of all the work we just had done. Because they will keep the originals and certify the copies for us to keep.

Oh, and thankfully the Banco de Cordoba two blocks away is open until 1:30 because the one at the office of Registro Civil closed at 12:30.

12:40 p.m. Fast walk to bank and pay fees; find a photocopy place next door and have the copies made. And see that Spring has come to the city. 1:00 p.m. Return to office of Registro Civil only to find out the four-page copy of my birth certificate and translation is missing the actual copy of the birth certificate. Our co-worker runs out to do that. And I find that they thought for a bit that I was my hubby's sister because we have the same last name. It is not done that way here. So my national identity card will use the name found on my birth certificate. It will seem weird to go by my maiden name after 29 years of being married!

While waiting for our co-worker to return, the clerk completes the paperwork on me and begins on my hubby. Where is the copy of his cedula? What do you mean? No one said anything about a copy of that! (This is all in Spanish so I am not alerted to the fact that yet another piece of paper is lacking. I am blissfully unaware of the hubby's rising frustration.) One of the ladies in the office, in a show of compassion, says she'll just do it, it would be a shame to make us run out yet again. And so it is done. Just like that. Then we cannot find the hubby's photo that had been included in that sealed and stamped envelope from the Consulate. It had been in there when initially opened but now it is nowhere to be found. Aaaargh! But no worry, says the clerk waiting on us. Just bring us a photo when you come to pick up your DNI.

You mean we're done?! It is 1:40 p.m.

Yes, just come back in six months.

Six months?


Yes, and until then you use your passport (in my case), or cedula (in hubby's case), and these two pieces of paper that show your DNIs are in process.

We leave the office in a daze. We are DONE! Incredible. Amazing. Did that really just happen? "Praise God from whom all blessings flow!"

Our co-workers rejoice with us and we decide we have all earned a good lunch break! And we are not far from one of our favorite places: Las Tinajas, which is sort of like Old Country Buffet on steroids. They have a seafood station where you can get what you want cooked to order. Also a parrilla for beef or chicken grilled to order. And a pasta bar where your choice of pasta is cooked fresh along with the sauce you want. Oh, and don't forget the dessert station where crepes can be filled with a wide variety of possibilities. Plus the traditional buffets, of course.

So.

Where to start? My co-worker is standing by the seafood station. She offers to share mariscada, a combination of fresh seafood cooked in a cream sauce. Yes, that is a little octopus on there. Not sure if I've ever had it before. It's a little chewy but the cream sauce is so heavenly that I don't mind. Yum!

My daughter, who loves pasta with a passion, will swoon when she sees the pasta station. Nine, count 'em: NINE, different fresh pastas you can choose from. I have hubby help me with ordering 'cause I'm not exactly sure what to ask for. And don't wanna be messin' with language barriers when it comes to food! I have ricotta ravioli with alfredo sauce and a bit of red sauce drizzled around the edge for color, and topped with a nice mound of freshly grated cheese. Pasta with alfredo is one of my comfort foods. And this is exceptionally good!

I sit for a while, trying to catch my breath enough to eat dessert. Because there is homemade flan. And I am a fan of the flan. The hubby has no problem tucking into dessert. In fact, he can't decide on one so he chooses three. Obviously we are suffering.

From an abundance of blessings!!!

(Yes, I have a small piece of flan but unfortunately cannot finish it all.)

We are not far from the central office of Personal so we meander over after lunch. We are too full at that point for anything beyond a meander. It is fun to walk along the streets closed to vehicle traffic. Much time is spent in Personal but nothing is accomplished. It appears the Blackberry may not function here. It's supposed to be a simple exchange of SIM cards, but that is not working. There is one more thing to try, but we are not hopeful.

At 5 p.m. we are on our way back to the van when we spot a plastics store. Plastic products of every kind, in every color, beckon us. I don't know if anyone else could get so excited about buying two little tubs, but it will make washing dishes in the apartment so much easier! We also buy a dish drain, a bucket, a squeegy on a long handle (they clean tile floors with this and a floor cloth), a laundry basket and a scrub brush.

A veritable plastic extravaganza!

Then a brief moratorium on shopping is called while we rush around getting some things for the co-workers' son. This remarkable young man is attending Word of Life Bible Institute in Buenos Aires AND doing a university course online. He needs his parents to pick up some syllabi from the campus bookstore and it works out well since we are not far from the campus at this point.

By 6:30 p.m. we are back to shopping:
Roberto Basualdo for cleaning supplies, paper products, and personal care items. Similar to a Sam's Club in layout and prices. I am totally ready for serious cleaning at our house now!
Makro is also like Sam's Club but with food and appliances and office supplies. I buy a toaster oven and an iron. And some groceries.
Wal-Mart nets the remainder of the groceries we need.

And at 10:15 p.m. our co-workers are helping unload and carry all that stuff down to the apartment. A long but OH SO SATISFYING day!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

What A Day!

The internet is slower than molasses on a cold day in January so I will have to wait until tomorrow to post about the amazing day in Cordoba along with photos. But I couldn't stop myself from sharing the exciting news that...

WE WERE ABLE TO GET ALL THE PAPERWORK DONE FOR OUR NATIONAL IDENTITY CARDS TODAY!!!

You have no idea how HUGE this is! Normally it takes multiple trips and many days so we are almost breathless from how the Lord worked it out to get it done, not only in a day, but before 2 p.m. Whew! What a story...which I will share tomorrow along with all the other things we did in Cordoba.

Our co-workers picked us up at 7:15 a.m. and we arrived back at the apartment at 10:15 p.m. A marathon day. No, a triathalon day!

Oh, and although the paperwork is done, it will be six months or more before we actually have the ID cards in hand. But our part is finito.

Amen and Hallelujah!

Heading To Cordoba

It's very dark outside but the alarm says it's time to get up. We have a big day planned! First off, to be at the office when the doors open at 8 a.m. so we can get started right away on the paperwork for (1) permanent residency status, and (2) DNIs which are the national identity cards everyone needs.

So as we begin the process of paperwork, pray for a bureaucrat in a good mood who will be helpful and fast. It really does often depend on what kind of day that person is having.

And since it seems wasteful to make the trek into Cordoba for that alone, we are doing some shopping. Our co-workers typically spend one day a month getting all they need at stores there so that's the plan. I will follow, learn, and buy when necessary.

I have hopes of scoring a toaster oven which will make our culinary life much easier. Right now I have the option of pan frying or boiling or pan frying. Mostly pan frying. The End.

And maybe an iron so we don't always look like an unmade bed.

But other than that I don't have lofty goals. Just learn the ropes :-)

We'll be gone all day, away from the computer and all things bloggy. But I'm sure there will be plenty to post about later!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

At Home For The Day

We walked to YPF for coffee this morning, but it wasn't open :-( Our co-workers told us everything would be closed because it's census day for this province (equivalent to a state). But we'd held out hope for the sake of caffeine. The kind of caffeine that comes in a delightful concoction called cafe con leche (coffee with milk).

*sigh* We haven't been having coffee every morning at YPF but more often than not. Partly because it's so good AND cheap, but also because it's a good way for me to get out and meet people. The YPF is much more than a gas station. It's the local coffee shop and hang-out place, and we often see the same faces. The ladies who work there are quite tolerant of my kindergarten Spanish and cheer me on when I get something right.

We've been seeing these signs all over town but the significance did not hit us until this morning. "Wait for the census in your home." So we are home for the day. I wonder if someone will come down to the cave to count us?

Because we had been warned that everything would be closed, we stopped on the way home last evening and picked up some meat for today. Pretty much everything is expensive here EXCEPT the beef. It's more than it used to be, but it's still less than what we pay in the U.S.

Argentines fondly remember lower beef prices like we fondly remember lower gas prices. These prices are for kilos (approximately 2 pounds per kilo) AND in pesos (divide by three to get dollar cost). It takes some mental gymnastics on our part to break down what things REALLY cost.

Produce, cheese and lunchmeat are more expensive than what we paid in the States. We probably won't buy lunchmeat very often and we hope to grow some of our own vegetables this summer [think opposite seasons].

But the cheese...well, the cheese is necessary. We are addicted to the cheese. Cheese is a staple of life, much like chocolate.

Additional staples of life: soft tissues and toilet paper. What I've found so far does not come up to the standards of even minimal softness requirements. So I am on a quest to find something better!

I.am.so.high.maintenance.

Oh, and remember I packed Charmin in our suitcases? Can you believe one of the packages disappeared in transit?! The nerve of those baggage handlers! It did crack us up though that whoever snitched it totally passed up the printer in the same suitcase, in favor of the Charmin :-)

And if anyone who has lived in Argentine before, or who lives here now, has recommendations on which brand(s) of tissue or toilet paper to buy, PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT.

And on that note, Adios!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

City Sidewalks...

One of the things I found most fascinating on my first trip to Argentina was that a block could have as many different sidewalks as it had houses. That's because each home owner is responsible for their own sidewalk. And apparently they use that opportunity for creative expression.

I'm kinda sad to notice that more and more are going the route of plain old cement walkways. BORING!

But some still do their own thing. Like this home owner who may be a bit regimented, and definitely has a thing for really big tile -- these must have been at least 18" square. (This photo is pretty washed out -- the sun was VERY bright!) But their neighbor is more of a free spirit I think. I myself prefer flagstone without cement mortar connections. But each to his own. The transition is quite abrupt at the property line. Here are a few close-ups. The hubby and I really liked these 10" terracotta tiles. He said when he was growing up formed cement blocks were common. These are painted but we saw some plain ones, too. And finally these square cement tiles. Hubby said the sidewalk had recently been re-done and whoever did it had not taken time to clean the joints well. Sloppy work irks him!
One more thing before I close up shop for the night. We're going to need a car eventually so we're sorta keeping our eyes open and came across this one today during our walk. There was no information anywhere on the car to indicate price or how to contact the owner. So we left a note on his windshield under the wiper and the owner called later. It's a 1996 Renault 9. Anyone know anything about this model?

P.S. Sorry if I planted that Christmas song in your head, too. It popped into mine as we walked and it won't go away. Now you can hum it with me! "City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style..."

A Busy Couple Of Days

Renting a house here is different. Our co-workers had to serve as our “guarantors” and provide a copy of the deed for their house as collateral. They built two years ago but before that they rented. I asked them how in the world they were able to rent when they first came because they didn’t know anyone at all. They were required to pay six months up front! Glad we don’t have to do that. And before we can officially rent the house, the realtor will go into Cordoba (the provincial capital) and verify the deed.

It was an interesting mix of people squished into the tiny realtor’s office: the realtor is originally from Rosario, our co-workers from Corrientes, the owner of the home from Mendoza and we came from the U.S. NONE of us are from Carlos Paz :-) Just goes to show ya, this is a happenin’ place!

Yesterday was a long day. We left at 9 a.m. and didn’t get home until 10 p.m. Besides starting the paperwork on the house, I caught up on laundry (at the co-workers'), we had both lunch and dinner at their house, and ran errands with them.

One of the stops was an appliance store where they picked up a blow dryer. Before letting them leave the store, a clerk took the dryer out of the box and made sure it worked. This is common practice because it’s NOT easy to return something once you’ve bought it. Our co-workers said if they don’t automatically check to see if something works, ask them to do it.

Last evening we had a wonderful time of fellowship with another missionary from Cordoba and a national pastor and his wife. The pastor, Hugo, has the same sense of humor as my hubby and we had to threaten more than once to separate them. They’d get rolling with word plays and puns, the two of them laughing hysterically. The dinner was a typical Argentine meal with milanesas de carne (chicken fried steak for those in the south) and milanesas de pollo (thin chicken fillets breaded and fried), mashed potatoes, and a salad of lettuce, tomato, chopped cooked potatoes and hard boiled eggs with an oil and vinegar dressing. Everything was yummy!

And then we went to an Italian gelato place for dessert. The hubby was quick to notice it’s within walking distance of our house. Uh oh! But I figure we lived next door to The Coney Hut Drive-In Restaurant in Jonesville, Michigan, for over ten years and managed to avoid the seasoned fries and rootbeer floats except on rare occasions. We just have to be strong!

We’ve been eating quite well the past few days because most meals were at the co-workers’. Sunday we had asado with an assortment of grilled meat: chicken, chorizos (sausage), ribs, tapa and vacio (cuts of beef commonly used for asado), and morsilla (blood sausage). Not being a big fan of the morsilla, I still took one wee bite to be polite. A missionary has to be willing to eat anything so I’d better get used to it now ‘cause I’m sure there are many more asados in my future! It doesn’t taste awful, it’s just not my favorite; most of it’s simply an aversion to anything with “blood” in the name.

Here’s another photo of our barrio. Our co-workers live within walking distance (about 15 blocks) and this is one of the views on the way to their house, taken on Rosario Street.

One of the hard things about being so far from loved ones is that when someone is going through a hard time, you'd really like to give them a hug and you can't. Some dear friends are dealing with a difficult situation as Wally's mom, who came to visit for a few weeks is now in the hospital and only expected to live a short time. Wally shares some of his thoughts on his blog. Through it all they are determined to praise God for His faithfulness.

We're praying for them. AND sending virtual hugs.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Something Was Missing

This week something has been missing. Despite the adventure of moving to a new country, having wonderful co-workers and finding a house, that one little thing that was lacking kept niggling away.

It's happened before but that doesn't make it any easier.

You try to fill the void with other things.

But the sad fact is...There.Is.No.Substitute.

You try to do without. I mean throughout history people have done without.

But once you've HAD it, being without simply creates an ache that just won't go away.

*sigh* You try to resign yourself to a life without the one thing that gets you out of bed in the morning, keeps you going throughout the day, and sends you to bed happy at night.

And then Saturday I found this. And that delicate balance of life was restored.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The House on Canning Street

We've found a rental house! (And decided to wait until really getting to know the area before we jump into buying anything.) So let me just tell you how God has provided a house with ALMOST EVERYTHING ON MY WISH LIST...

(1) On this side of town. This wasn't a deal breaker but it sure was near the top of the list. Especially this first year while I'm taking Spanish lessons with Marcela. Riding around downtown the last few days made us truly happy for this answer to prayer -- it would not be fun to have to drive across town every day.

(2) In a great neighborhood and only two blocks from the lake! There will be more traffic on one of the side roads during the summer, but there's no beach by us so we won't be inundated with tourists close by.

(3) THREE bedrooms. AND each of the bedrooms has a built-in closet (believe it or not, that's an unusual feature here). AND there's additional storage above the closets. Woohoo! Those extra spaces will be great for storing Christmas decorations, winter clothes in the summer, etc. As any woman knows, you can't have enough storage space!

(4) Large kitchen. Considering that most of the kitchens I've seen here are wee bitty, this kitchen is downright palatial. There's enough room for a center island and plenty of space along one wall for the fridge, a hutch and even a small table and chairs. Storage is at a minimum in the kitchen -- better than some I've seen, but definitely not sufficient. At least there's room to add more.

(5) Big living room AND separate dining room. There's actually enough room in the dining room for a large table and chairs plus the perfect space for an L-shaped desk in one corner where we can set up our "office". And the living room...oh, the living room is my favorite room in the house! With two big walls of windows, the sun just streams in and creates a very happy place. (I have enough fabric coming in the container that it won't be a problem making either Roman blinds or simple curtain panels to keep the sun at bay when it's really hot.)

(6) Covered parrilla and patio area. Argentines take their grilling seriously and you won't be finding big American style gas grills. Heaven forbid! No, each house has a large brick parrilla with a grill you can raise and lower. This house goes one better and has a built in counter and storage area around the parrilla. And notice that door the hubby's trying to unlock? That's a small shed which will be perfect for storing tools and yard implements. Both the parrilla and the patio right outside the back door of the house are covered, making year-round grilling not only possible but practical. (7) Decent-sized yard with some landscaping [a number of rose bushes along one side of the house!] but also space to plant tomatoes, peppers, lettuce and so on. Remember, we're going into spring here and we'll be moving just at the right time to get some things planted. Yeah!

(8) The price is below market rate because the owner wants to rent "as is" without cleaning or painting. This is actually a plus for us -- not only do we get to save money in exchange for some elbow grease up front, but WE get to choose the paint! This makes me VERY happy. Especially considering some colors I've seen in houses. There are just some that shouldn't be put on the walls of a home, know what I'm saying?

Now, for the one disappointment. And it's such a piddly thing I hate to even bring it up, but...there's only one bathroom (I know, I know, my humor is so junior high, but I couldn't help myself). I was hoping for at least a bath and a half. And there's no bathtub -- although there is a separate, distinct shower area which is a big step up from our current abode.

So a long wish list and just about every item checked off. Thank you Jesus!

We'll have three weeks or so to clean and paint before our things arrive and the hubby heads to the port in Buenos Aires to get our things through customs. How's that for timing?! God works everything out, right down to the last detail.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Barrio Costa Azul Sur

Spring cannot come soon enough! And I think it must be pretty close because the allergies have kicked into high gear, with the sneezing frequent and, at times, violent. We noticed the ground cover ivy has a lot of new leaves, too. Sort of odd to see their bright shiny, brilliant color in contrast to the duller green of the older leaves. Our place is cold all the time, due in large part to the block construction and the fact that this is a walk-out basement apartment. I find myself looking forward to doing dishes because of the HOT water. Which I heat on the little two-burner camp stove while wondering if I can get marshmallows here ‘cause it sure would be nice to toast a few and make some s’mores while I’m at it. Not sure if it’s the camp stove, the tight quarters, or what, but I feel a bit like we’re camping.

Especially when I take a shower in that VERY COLD bathroom. Tiled almost to the ceiling, those ceramic tiles do an amazing job of retaining the cold. And sharing it. This is how I remember showers at Winter Family Camp.

I’m thinking the cold bath will feel quite refreshing come summer.

I should remember that it takes a lot to keep my hubby down. He ventured forth yesterday, hunted down and bagged a wireless router, bringing it back to our “cave” so that we could have FREE WIFI IN OUR VERY OWN APARTMENT. [With the living room ceiling just 5” taller than the hubby, we affectionately call our place the “cave”.]

You know how excited I became when we learned free WiFi was just a block and a half away, so you can imagine how I squealed upon learning we had it right at home :-) And with the wireless connection we can also use our Vonage phone. Which provides an excellent connection, by the way. Thanks, son, for providing this for us!!! We used it to call hubby's mom and dad today to wish them a Happy Anniversary -- their 66th!

Yesterday the hubby learned that because he still has his ID papers from way back when (we won’t say how long ago that was) he may be able to get permanent residency status right away. Before going to Cordoba, though, we had to go to the police station here for a “certificate of domicile” that proves we live in Carlos Paz now. That was accomplished this morning with the help of our co-workers. [Again, what would we do without them?!]

While we were at the police station a friend of our co-workers came in. She is a real estate agent so they talked to her about being on the lookout for a place for us. And we also picked up the weekly paper that came out today, and the hubby is busy searching through the classifieds even as I type.

I may have mentioned how costs have risen quite a bit in the past year and a half. It just hurts to think of spending so much on rent, so we’re looking into the possibility of buying a fixer-upper that’s in good enough shape for us to move in while we work on it. With hubby’s construction and remodeling skills (to say nothing of the fact that we’re having all his tools shipped in the container), we could so totally handle a fixer-upper!

But things will have to fall into place...finding the right house in the right area at the right time, to say nothing of the financing. So will you pray with us that God will make it clear if we are to pursue this idea? Or if we should just bite the bullet and pay the rent. IF we can find a place to rent. The realtor didn’t know of anything available right now but she’s going to look for us. Both for fixer-upper possibilities and for rentals. We hope to look at some places tomorrow.

Today is sunny and warm, so we walked about our “barrio” and found some great little stores within easy walking distance. I picked up a broom! And came home to chase all the dust bunnies around. The flannel sheets we’re using shed little blue fur balls in great quantities. I’ve never seen anything like it. They’re from Land’s End; anyone else have this experience before?

And that’s all the news from barrio Costa Azul Sur. What’s happening in your barrio this weekend?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Yogurt & The Skype

Nope, can’t top Tuesday! Wednesday was...well, Wednesday.

We spent about an hour at the equivalent of the County Clerk’s office only to find out we have to go to Cordoba, the provincial capital, to begin our paperwork for D.N.I.s (identity cards). Sounds like they have a situation similar to what the U.S. had last year with passports; they are backlogged with over 600,000 D.N.I. applications and they’re saying the process takes six months to a year.

So we’ll need to get into Cordoba soon. But maybe not too soon. We caught the tail end of a news story last night about a protest in Cordoba. Not sure what they’re protesting but they showed video of people shouting and throwing things.

In my younger days I’d have fit right in. I did a pretty good job of screaming and throwing things back then.

Hmmmm, what else did we do? Oh yes, on the way back from the office we decided to grab some grilled chicken for lunch. Good idea, bad practice. We were both up during the night with stomach issues relating to the chicken (we think). No need to say more, except we won’t be going back to that place again!

May the consuming of much yogurt restore equilibrium to the system. Amen.

Had a great time of fellowship with our co-workers Wednesday evening... sharing stories and requests, laughing together, and praying.

Needless to say, our arrival on the field did not lower the average age on the missionary team. We’d love some younger folks to bring fresh ideas and youthful energy so we are praying specifically for two young couples we know. That God would impress on their hearts the desire for cross cultural ministry in Argentina!

It might seem strange that we’re praying for more people as soon as we get to the field. But it’s precisely because we know HOW LONG IT TAKES to get here. So they need to get a move on!

And last, but certainly not least, we now have SKYPE! Woohoo! Last night we walked down to our favorite YPF gas station where they not only have free WiFi but also little telephone kiosks that make it super easy to call back to the U.S. We spent $7.00 total calling our son, the IT guy, who walked hubby through the installation and then WE TALKED TO OUR SON AND IT WAS FREE.

And to our daughter, too, and even had video feed. It was so good to see her face!

There might be additional exciting technological advances on the horizon but I’m not saying anything until it’s a definite. We had planned to pursue it today but after being up half the night and still not feeling up to par, that may be put off for a day or three.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Just Another Tuesday In Carlos Paz

Argentina beat Brazil, we took a chair lift to the highest spot in Carlos Paz, and later watched several fire fighting planes put out a large fire close to our co-workers’ house. Not bad for a Tuesday, heh?

And it all started because I needed to do some laundry.

Well, except Argentina beating Brazil. That’s simply ninja soccer skilz by one of the world’s premiere teams. Or so the hubby tells me.

Our co-workers (have I mentioned how amazing they are?!) came over after lunch to haul us and our piles of dirty clothes to their house so we could have clean underwear.

And in the middle of laundry we decided to hop in the van and cruise downtown to check out what it will take to get the hubby’s Blackberry functional. Ah, but how could we forget it was siesta and everything is closed? So the next thing I know we’re at Aerosilla, taking a chair lift to the top.

Have I every mentioned an unreasonable fear of heights that might afflict me on occasion? As in every time I get higher than three feet off the ground? Make that two feet.

So. As you can tell, the hubby’s in 7th heaven and I’m trying not to throw up since obviously bending over isn’t an option because then I’d be looking DOWN. Down is bad when you are up.

Once we arrived at the top, the panorama was breath-taking! The city spread out as far as we could see. I knew it was a good sized city but until today I had no idea how big it really was. Wow! This is looking toward downtown. We actually had to take six pictures to cover the entire city, and even then we missed some parts hidden from view by lower mountains to the right and left.

I’d have been quite content to leave it at that and GET OFF THE MOUNTAIN. But our dear co-workers had arranged for us to take a little train ride. “Little” being the operative word for both the size of the train and the length of the ride. It just went a little way out and around the mountain but, people, we were perched in those wee cars on a tiny little track high above the earth. Definitely more than two feet. I must admit that my eyes were firmly shut for 99% of the train ride as I clutched the side of the train and my hubby’s leg. He was the one taking the pictures while I moaned “Oh, I feel sick!”. [He thanked me later for not throwing up then either.]

Coming down on the chair lift was such a relief that I OPENED MY EYES.

And as we drove back we saw a huge fire less than 500 feet above our co-workers’ home. The smoke soon sent me inside since smoke of any kind is a major trigger for my asthma. But everyone else in the neighborhood was out quarter-backing the action. A difficult place for the fire trucks to reach so three planes were sent in and within the hour had put out the fire. Don't blink as you watch this video clip; it's only nine seconds -- just long enough to show the plane dropping its load of...well, whatever it is they drop on fires.
video
Our co-workers said that several years ago a fire came within 150 feet of where they built their home. I guess the very dry conditions make this area comparable to California and the brush fires that plague that region.

Now how do we top this Wednesday?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I Could See My Breathe This Morning

But it didn't matter quite so much. 'Cause our co-workers came to our rescue with sweaters, coats and TWO SMALL SPACE HEATERS. Woohoo! Definitely takes the edge off the cold.

Yesterday was restful, with time spent catching up on e-mails and posting on my blog, spending a little time with our co-workers, taking a siesta (didn't sleep but did rest), walking about ten blocks to the nearest market, and then watching my hubby fix a yummy meal of milanesas and potatoes. I kept him supplied with whatever he needed, including cheese and crackers to munch on while he cooked. We had not had "tea" after siesta so we were quite hungry when we ate about 8 p.m. Which is very early by Argentine standards, but just about right for us.

This morning we headed to our favorite YPF gas station where they serve the best coffee and have free WiFi, but the place is filling up with people watching the soccer match between Argentina and Brazil (the ultimate rivalry). So this post will be short as we need to clear out soon.

This week we plan to rest, get some necessary phone calls made, and make a list of the things we need to do to (1) get ready for our container to arrive in Argentina next month, (2) start the paperwork for permanent residency, and (3) talk strategy with our co-workers about how the hubby can help in the ministry.

Moi will begin one-on-one Spanish lessons with my tutor at the beginning of September. Meanwhile I plan to listen to the Coffee Break Spanish podcasts I downloaded before we left the U.S. Hopefully these will get me back in learning-a-language-mode. Especially since I haven't done much with Spanish in over a year. It's not to early to begin praying, folks!

Monday, August 18, 2008

We're Here!

Still recovering from jet lag so thought I'd simply share my first impressions. That way I won't ramble so much (hopefully)...

It is colder than I thought it would be. I mean, I knew it was winter but it's the END of winter in an area that has mild winters anyway. And weather.com totally had me conned into thinking it was going to be in the low 70s. Ha! Low to mid 60s maybe in the heat of the day, but much cooler morning, evening and night. I had re-packed our luggage a third time, removing most of the cool weather clothes. My poor hubby does not have a single sweater! And I have just 4 pair of pants. I did have five until the zipper broke on one yesterday.

Anyway, I'm set if warm weather arrives before our container. Which I hope it does!

The internet is faster in Carlos Paz than it was a year ago. AND WE HAVE FREE WIFI A BLOCK AND A HALF FROM OUR HOUSE! Our favorite YPF gas station where we'd come for the best coffee in town and the chance to call our kids from the tiny phone cabinas now has free internet. *sigh* Life is good. God is good!

Soccer still reigns supreme in Argentina. Every TV at the airport in Buenos Aires was tuned in to the game between Argentina and the Netherlands (we won!) and every TV we've seen elsewhere is also always on soccer.

SIDENOTE: Sportcasters sounds the same the world over, no matter the language.

Everything is much more expensive than a year ago. I about had a heart attack when we stopped for some basics at the Walmart on our way home from the airport. Yes, we have Walmart in a town about half an hour from where we live. AND McDonalds. But after being reminded that meat and produce reflects KILOS, not POUNDS, the palpitations settled down. Still expensive but not as bad as I thought. Sorta like moving to California :-) About 30-40% more than we were used to paying in rural America.

Our barrio (neighborhood), like all of Carlos Paz, is situated on a hillside. On a clear day you can see across the lake to Cosquin, the next city in the valley. I'll try to get a picture one of these days to show you that. But for now, here's a picture taken at the end of our street, looking across to the Sierras (we are in the foothills of the Andes). We really like our barrio and hope to find a place to rent long term in this area. Especially since I'll be coming to Marcela's daily for tutoring in Spanish.

Have I mentioned the cold? I have an aversion to the cold. And it would warm my heart -- and hopefully the rest of me, too -- if y'all would pray along with me for a place with HEAT. At this point I don't even care if it's central (although that would be nice), just some kind of heat!

Really glad we lugged along flannel sheets and a couple fleece blankets which are coming in VERY handy. But it makes getting out of bed a challenge 'cause I'd rather just hibernate beneath the covers.

Folk lore is alive and well in Argentina. At least in this area. The municipality provides lessons for anyone who wants them, and there are hundreds of people involved locally. The city also hosts encuentros (folk lore gathering/competition) and we attended one featuring adult groups last night. They came from as far away as Tucuman (northwest Argentina) for the gathering last night. We stayed for just a couple of hours. Apparently they go on ALL NIGHT LONG so that's a lot of participants! And spectators -- the gymnasium where it was held was packed with people; I'm guessing around 700-800 in the audience. A gymnasium that was not heated, and it was COLD even with all those warm bodies. Now that's dedication to folk lore! Next month there will be another encuentro featuring children and young people. I'll be able to learn a lot of history and culture from attending these, as they not only have the traditional music and dances but also dramas and multi-media presentations.

It's gonna take a while to get past the homesick phase. As we settle in, I'm sure that will gradually fade. But it just makes me so happy to be able to keep in touch with family and friends through various ways on the internet!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Almost There!

I´m currently sitting in a cyber cafe at the smaller airport in Buenos Aires (most local flights are routed through this one). After arriving in B.A. and getting through customs (painless and not even very time consuming) we took a remis (taxi) over here, hoping we´d be able to catch the earlier flight to Cordoba. No such luck. Another eight hour layover.

At least they have good coffee and a cyber cafe :-)

The coffee is expensive though. Wee little cups cost the equivalent of almost $3.50. Sorta felt like I was back at Starbucks. But at 5 a.m. we definitely needed the caffeine! Although we both slept some on the flight down, it wasn´t much. Dinner wasn´t served until 8 p.m. on the plane and they served ´breakfast´at 1:30 a.m.

The hubby might be coming down with a cold. So pray for him! Don´t really want to start out feeling all cruddy. He´s gone to find a place to stretch out and get some rest while I check e-mail and post on the blog. Then I´ll join him for a little R&R (or something resembling that hopefully) while we wait until time to board the plane.

Even though our flight isn´t until 1:30 p.m., we were able to check the big pieces of luggage through and kept one of the wheeled carts for the carry-on, computer bag and my things.

If the remainder of the trip goes as scheduled, we´ll arrive ¨home¨ around three or four o´clock this afternoon. Meaning our trip will have lasted 34-35 hours from the time we left the hotel near the Detroit airport at 5 a.m. Friday.

The plan is to...have no plan! We´re hoping we can just go to Marcela´s (my language tutor) and just haul our stuff in and go right to bed. Not even make dinner plans. If we can sleep straight through, that would be the best thing I think. And if we wake up hungry, there is a small area market and several restaurants within walking distance.

So the wee little cup of caffeine is starting to wear off. I think it´s time to find the hubby and try to get some rest. Hasta luego!

Friday, August 15, 2008

En Route To Argentina

We're finally on our way! At this moment I'm sitting in the middle of concourse G at Miami International Airport, two wheeled carts fully loaded with luggage right beside us. We'd hoped to check in with Aerolineas Argentinas early but they don't even open their ticket counter until later in the afternoon. But the carts are sturdy and easy to maneuver so it's not a hardship to have all our luggage with us.

I've talked to my son once and my daughter twice since we arrived in Miami. Thank the Lord for cell phones! We canceled ours but the cancellation isn't effective until tomorrow so we can talk right up until we board the plane for Buenos Aires this evening :-) I have a close relationship with my kids so it's necessary to wean me off the almost constant communication sloooooooowly.

Yesterday was WONDERFUL! The son and his wife stopped and picked up two of our large suitcases on the way to Ann Arbor and we fit the rest into the daughter's car. We all enjoy botanical gardens and the daughter-in-law knew of one in Ann Arbor and it was a perfect day for enjoying the gardens, inside and out. It rained lightly little while we were walking the trails but we didn't get very wet at all.

After working up a bit of a sweat, we cooled off at IKEA in Canton, where the kids found some things they were looking for. Being fully packed with no room (or weight) to spare, I was a good girl and only bought some hooks for the kitchen. Hey, you can't go to IKEA without buying something!

And for dinner...oh, my goodness!...dinner was amazing! We discovered Paesano's many years ago during an anniversary weekend in Ann Arbor. After that we went whenever we were in town -- until the last few years when the budget didn't quite cover one of our favorite places. But last night the son treated the whole family to a very special meal. The kids always loved ordering hot cocoa, in large part because of the presentation. They'd get a big cup of cocoa with whipped cream on top PLUS a tray with more whipped cream, shaved chocolate swirls, cinnamon sticks (for stirring) and brown sugar. Half the fun was adding in all the extras :-) I always enjoyed trying the soup of the day, which was never the same over the years. Besides homemade soup, they also make a lot of their pasta and all their desserts. The cooking has always been exceptional but now they have a renowned chef on staff who's even written a cookbook.

We all ordered something different and then shared. What I chose -- veal scallopini with prosciutto and fresh sage -- was the hands-down favorite. Absolutely delicious! Everyone also really liked the daughter's roast lamb and goat's cheese in a light pastry with fresh cherry mint sauce and the son's summer pasta with some kind of spicy sausage and grilled vegies.

It was always TRADITION! to order tiramisu for dessert. Paesano's was the first place we ever tried this yummy treat and the memory has always reigned supreme in our minds. And the reality was just as beautiful and tasty as we remembered, right down to the large chocolate curls artfully arranged on top.

Yep, we're definitely a bunch of foodies!

And I'm so glad we enjoyed a wonderful meal together on the eve of our departure. Thanks again Jon, Nat & Tina for a wonderful, wonderful day of good memories!

An excellent send-off on this next stage of our life journey!

* * * * * * * * * *

4:25 p.m. update from Miami International Airport
During the packing process, we were most concerned about meeting the American Airlines weight restrictions...and managed to keep every large piece of luggage right at or just under 50 lbs., except for one bag. Knowing we'd have to go over, we deliberately kept the overage concentrated in one piece. And with that one weighed in right at 70 lb.! I'm afraid it left me feeling a bit cocky at my packing prowess.

Shoulda put more thought into the whole picture.

I might have mentioned we were taking my sewing machine in one of the carry-on bags. The machine isn't big but the hard case that fits over it makes it over-large. Which created a problem when it came to packing it. We had two carry-on bags, both on the smallish side and the zipper on the bigger one was seriously stressed when we tried to close it over the sewing machine. So at the last minute (Thursday morning right before heading to Ann Arbor) we picked up a bigger carry-on at Walmart and it fit in okay. Not great but okay.

No problem with American Airlines.

Muchas problemas con Aerolineas Argentinas.

So good thing we decided to check in at three o'clock 'cause it gave us time to TOTALLY REPACK. The 70 lb. bag was left alone, coming in within their weight limit, but the three 50 pounders each received items from the larger carry-on, including the carry-on. We put as much as possible into it and then placed it inside one of the bigger pieces. Otherwise we would have had to leave behind the carry-on that we'd just bought.

The sewing machine and very little else fit into the smaller carry-on, but did manage to fit the LCD digital picture frame our kids gave us into it. And we took our camcorder out of its case and put it into our computer bag and smushed the case into one of the bigger suitcases.

And get this -- I managed to salvage two out of three big packages of Charmin! Woohoo! It just killed me, but the hubby insisted on throwing away the third big package we'd used to fill space without adding a lot of weight.

And so the journey continues. Wonder what additional challenges await us in Buenos Aires?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

It's The Little Things That Might Kill Me

The feeling of relief was palpable when the container pulled away on Monday afternoon.

It was short lived.

The packing of the suitcases commenced. And the canceling of cell phones, post office boxes and checking accounts. And the finishing of paperwork and thank yous. And the picking up of glasses and contacts and prescription medicine.

There is more but I will not burden you with the minutiae of my life.

Except to say that at 6:30 this morning I was on the computer, finishing the packing list so we could e-mail it to the shipping company. I finished at 10:15.

I have lost our camera. I put it in my purse yesterday morning and it is no longer there. Nor is it in the bedroom in which we are staying, or the car that we are driving. It is not in any of the bags (computer, Walmart, overnight) currently in our possession. It's making me very sad.

I am going to take two aspirins and call you in the morning.

Oh wait! Tomorrow we will be spending the day doing fun things with our kids. So I will not call, nor will I respond if you call. I will be out all day. And for several days to come. Unless one of the airports has free internet. One of the airports where I will be bunking down for hours on end.

Eight in Miami.

Seven to eight in Buenos Aires.

Our trip was supposed to start at 7:20 a.m. Friday and end at 7:30 a.m. Saturday but...

Aerolinas Argentinas decided to re-do their Saturday morning line-up and our flight was canceled. So we will be taking a later flight. Much later. An additional six hours worth later. So now we will arrive at approximately 1:30 p.m.

So here's praying that they have free wireless! What better way to wile away those hours!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Bye Bye Belongings!

The hymnals didn't arrive at 7 a.m. but they did get here by nine. I'll tell ya, my heart sank a little when I saw the sheer volume of boxes. But by the grace of God, and a lot of hard work by Rob & Daniel, everything eventually fit into the container.

And we loaded it within the two hours allotted before the extra charges kicked in. Woohoo!

A friend loaned us a fork lift and pallet jack, simplifying the job immensely. But we realized this morning that the fork lift was too tall to fit into the garage. So hubby decided to use the pallet jack and move all the pallets out and then use the fork lift to haul everything across the street. Our friends own a business directly opposite and have a circular drive, making it easy for the truck to pull straight in and out.

Here's the first couple of pallets hubby moved. And this is just before he brought the final pallet across. Once the truck arrived with the container, the fun really began! Getting the long and skinny pallet in first was interesting :-) Come on guys, push just a little harder! Here's hubby at the very end, looking just a tad relieved wouldn't you say? And notice there is SPACE TO SPARE. Not much, but some! I was a little worried when it first pulled up 'cause it looked smaller than I thought it would be. Here's a shot of the truck and container with the guys standing beside it so you can get an idea of its size. So that job's finished and now we can concentrate on tying up some loose ends, like closing out the local bank account, canceling the auto insurance, picking up hubby's new glasses...Still a few things left to do, but boy are we glad our stuff is gone!

Bye bye belongings -- see you in Argentina!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sunday Reflections

The living, breathing eyeballs are getting too much oxygen, methinks. I've had to take the new contacts out mid-day every day this week because they get so dried out. I need to get into the habit of carrying rewetting drops in my purse. Why does every new thing have a learning curve?

Had a wonderful weekend getting to know new people and re-connecting with old friends at one of our supporting churches. Had fun teasing our hosts last night, a couple about our age who (like most people) are a little surprised to find old more mature folks heading to the field as "new" missionaries. I warned Sherrie that our journey all started when we hosted a missionary family many years ago :-)

The daughter loaned us her car, a 1982 Mercedes Benz Diesel which, as she puts it is not a good get-away car :-) Reminds us of the Fiat Uno we used while in Argentina last year. Not a high-powered car to begin with, and then it was retro-fitted to run on natural gas which slowed it down even more. But if a car gets you from Point A to Point B, what more can you want?

And it was nice to offset the cost of our trip by partially filling the tank with the 5 gallon bucket of waste vegetable oil the daughter had filtered and stashed in the trunk.

Now the last meeting is over, our traveling for deputation done. A truck will come with a container tomorrow and all our earthly possessions will be loaded into it. It will be trucked from here to Detroit, then put on a train for New York where it will be stacked in a large ship bound for Buenos Aires. We fly out of Detroit at 7:20 a.m. Friday and arrive in Cordoba, Argentina at 7:30 a.m. Saturday. In a month the hubby will take a bus to B.A. and with the help of a despechante will (hopefully) get our things through customs and then another truck will transport the container on its final leg of the journey to Carlos Paz.

After being somewhat homeless for a few months now (neither the parsonage nor my in-laws really felt like home) I'm hoping we can locate an apartment or house to rent within a couple of months. I'm SO ready to "nest" again. The housing market in Carlos Paz is tight with a huge influx of folks moving there from Buenos Aires, so this is a matter of prayer. When we were there last year we talked to a couple of realtors and at that time there was simply nothing available. I know God is in control and we'll find a place in His time. But it doesn't hurt to pray that it won't be long before we can call a place "home" again.

Tonight the daughter told me about picnik.com. What a great site! It's so easy to manipulate photos and add text to create new banners -- I'll probably be changing mine every month now :-) I wanted my bloggy "home" to be a happy place and I thought this photo that hubby took recently conveys that feeling. What do you think?

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Car, "It Is Over"

For anyone who's been reading my blog for a while (all five family members) you know I like to use phrases picked up in Uganda. And this one certainly fits the situation. Our car? It is over! Didn't quite make it until we left, but close enough :-)

The same thing that happened to us in Atlanta last year during pre-field happened today, only the other side. The ball joint gave out.

But this time, with less than a week left, we are NOT fixing it!

Our daughter and her Man Friend are driving up after work tonight and had planned to carpool but now they'll drive both their cars so we can use the daughter's for our final meeting. We're speaking at one of our supporting churches in Caledonia, Michigan, on Sunday and since it's a two-plus-hour trip, we'll go up tomorrow evening.

*sigh*


I'm amazingly calm about the whole thing.

After packing enough boxes to fill a TWENTY FOOT CONTAINER, this is nothing. We didn't think we could fill it, but we surely did! Eight square pallets and one long, skinny one, loaded to the gills. I'd take a picture but it's dark and I'm too tired anyway.

The other-associate-pastor-who-lives-in-the-parsonage helped us this morning and our son spent all afternoon and into the evening re-enacting his old role as dad's-right-hand-man. THANKS ROB AND JON!!! We're amazed (and extremely grateful!) that we're basically ready for the container which is due to be delivered at 1 p.m. on Monday. All that's left is to load a couple small items on the last pallet either Sunday evening or Monday morning.

And figure out where to put the 300 hymnals arriving at 7 a.m. Monday. Fifteen boxes of hymnals shipped second day air in order to arrive in time. We're just praying that the boxes are smallish in terms of width. We can stack 'em high, but we're seriously limited on floor space.

Back at the beginning of this process the hubby said, "Let's just buy everything there." But I said, "We already have the stuff. Why not just take it?" Silly me!

I cannot emphasize emphatically enough, I NEVER WANT TO DO THIS AGAIN. What goes to Argentina, STAYS in Argentina.

Except maybe my sewing machine.

'Cause I totally have my priorities straight.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Steven Curtis Chapman Speaks Out

Cnn.com features an article by Steven Curtis Chapman that you should read right now. (Well, finish reading this first.)

And tonight (Thursday, August 7, 2008) he will be on Larry King Live at 9 p.m. ET.

What a great testimony of faith in the midst of tragedy! An inspiration to all who hear it. Makes my sadness about leaving family and friends for three years seem pretty petty.

No time to post anything except this today. We leave shortly on our last trip to Michigan to finish packing and palletizing. Doubt we'll have much (if any) free time until next Monday AFTER the container is loaded and gone.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

We're Feelin' The Love!


We were up pretty late last night helping the daughter with the tie-dye marathon -- with most satisfactory results! Aren't those onesies just too cute for words?! We also did a boat load of t-shirts but you can't see those in the photo.

I think the daughter's partial to onesies 'cause she lived in 'em the first few months of her life. She was born in south Florida near the beginning of September. A cousin who had a daughter 7 months older sent a suitcase full of clothes, including 27 dresses -- by the way, wasn't that a cute movie? 27 Dresses, I mean -- which was largely a waste since the only time I ever put her in anything but a onesie was on Sunday morning for only as long as it took to go to church and back. She never came close to wearing all those dresses. But they looked pretty hanging in her closet. Which didn't so much resemble the closet in 27 Dresses. 'Cause 3 months to 12 months size clothing just doesn't quite spill out like bridesmaids dresses do. That closet cracked me up. I know some ladies with closets like that. Not full of bridesmaids dresses, just spilling-out-full.

Anyway, today the daughter is doing her more specialized, "custom" work. I won't be here tomorrow when she finishes them, but I'll try to get pictures up over the weekend. As I mentioned, she'll be selling the tie-dye AND some custom-made jewelry at a little outdoor event on Saturday with the hopes of raking in the cash.

But this isn't the end of her entrepreneurship -- she's also setting up shop over at Etsy with Azygous: Not Being One Of A Pair. In other words, everything she makes is unique! Not sure when she'll get it all online but I'll let you know when she does, so you can go admire her work :-) I'm not a proud mama at all!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Storms & Other Things Out Of Our Control

The daughter was a little worked up about something out of her control today. I sagely *ahem* pointed out that even when things don't go as we think they should, God has a purpose in it all.

Then I learned about something I was planning/counting on that has spiraled out of my control. Uh-oh

Easier said than done. My emotional equilibrium teeters on the edge. The last few days have been much better (comparatively speaking) but I'm afraid it wouldn't take much to push me back over the edge. And I'd rather not go there and repeat last week.

So just pray for a little peace of mind for both of us, will you?

Last night a storm swept through the area and treated us to quite the thunder and lightening show. The hubby and I were in the basement where you can't hear anything so we had no idea the weather was even bad until the daughter got home from work.

Weather.com showed us right smack dab in the center of the storm's path. The hubby went outside where he said it just felt weird (that calm-before-the-storm-feeling) and he could hear the weather sirens so we woke his parents and had them come down to the basement, just to be on the safe side. The worst passed over by 11:30 p.m. and they toddled back to bed although the thunder and lightening continued throughout the night.

I didn't notice any serious storm damage while out running errands today, just a little higher humidity. Ahhh, summer in the Midwest!

Tonight was slow at work so the daughter came home early, bearing gifts of fresh figs stuffed with gorgonzola and topped with fresh rosemary, caramelized shallots and pancetta. Oh.My.Word. These are SO GOOD! The hubby says maybe we can have a fig tree in Argentina. Ooo! Happy dance :-)

I'm going to help the daughter get some things ready for the tie-dyeing marathon planned for tomorrow. She's hoping to score some sales at an outdoor event this weekend to help pay for some of her books this fall. Do y'all realize how expensive college textbooks are now? They cost about as much as I used to pay for tuition! So we're praying she sells a LOT of tie-dye!