Saturday, March 29, 2014

Photo "Friday"

OK, somehow I keep missing Friday.  So I guess I'll just post this on Saturday, and call it Friday!

The big news right now is that Dana's dad arrived over a week ago, and our kids have been having a great time with their "Papa Mac."  Tom has jumped right in and has been teaching English in the school, as well as to some of the instructors at the Spanish school we attended last year.  He's a real trooper!

I also had an opportunity to visit the "Mana a Mano" airplane hanger, where WorldVenture donated goods and money for fuel to help in providing emergency relief to the tribal people in the North of Bolivia who have been completely flooded out this year.  It was interesting to see what 1 person is doing with very limited resources.

We are half-way through a series of workshops we are doing on Integral Mission, linking church, family, society, and work.  Last week was my first chance to take the lead and teach specific to the area of work.  I have enjoyed learning of a Theology of Work, and the importance of work in the Christian life.  This was a real challenge and success for me, teaching a new topic area, and teaching in Spanish too.

As a part of this process, we are also visiting each of the churches of these pastors, and encouraging them in their place of work.  Last weekend, I had a chance to see a new and different church as part of this process.

A little street graffiti poetry in Cochabamba.

This is one of the knife sharpeners with a portable grinding wheel.  They push this around and use a very specific whistle to let people know they are in the area.  Then the attach the large wheel to the grinder with a belt and use their foot to make it spin while they sharpen knives.

 Finally, here is a picture of a billboard reminding people they have to provide an official "factura" (government tax receipt) to make sure taxes are paid on every purchase.  To the side, is a reminder that if you are caught not doing so, your business will be shut down for 6 days.  The 2nd time, 12 days; 3rd 24 days, and the 4th time for 48 days.  There is still a lot of "unofficial" businesses here, and we have had some very interesting conversations with businesspeople on both sides of this issue regarding the challenges and frustrations.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Photo Friday

I have been playing "Fronton" with a group of guys here as a way to get some exercise, practice my Spanish, meet some new people and develop new relationships...  And oh yeah, generally be humiliated because I have never really played anything like this, and they seem to have a shortage of oxygen here.
Generally, it is a lot like racquetball, played in pairs, but with a much larger court, outdoors, with concrete walls and floor.  See that high fence above the wall to catch errant balls?  Yep, I've cleared that many a time!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Dress Comes Back

Wearing blue velvet with Swiss style
 floral ribbon, with my brother,
Wade, who's looking quite dapper.
Like an Australian boomerang, a few things leave us, only to surprise us when they return.  At times we seem to live crestfallen, knowing that our words and secret hopes pinned on faulty situations will not return fulfilled.  And yet there is one promise-maker whose words never return empty.
Sentimental from the beginning, I loved my childhood clothes.  I had beautiful dresses from “Fee-fee-a-la-tee-tee,” or “Fee-fee” for short, boutiques.   What my aunt Corlette called fancy in her funny way, was to me, where all beautiful clothes were found.  Clothing stores where a girl automatically remembers to use her best manners.  Here the racks contained the kinds of creations made from real velvet and lace, gorgeously lined, or hand smocked summery frocks from tropical locals.  They were wonderful, these dresses, and I knew it even from a young age.

Like every Girl Scout in Central Indiana in the 1970’s, I knew that duty prevailed when clothing drives were held.  My heart ached to see my special dress treasures folded up into Joe O’Malia brown grocery sacks, to be given away through the good work of the Girl Scouts.  I had no justifiable plea to keep things that no longer fit.  With no little sister to dress, I had no logical plea comprehensible to regular grownups.
Except for our three little girl neighbors, whose mother was no regular grownup.  Heather, Kelly and Nicole could serve as a bargaining chip for me.  So with all my six year old wisdom and charity, I lent them one of my favorite dresses; a rich, green velvet dress with soft pleats, a Peter Pan collar, and white lace waist.  I was willing, begrudgingly, to lend the dress, but I was clear I wanted it back.

Our neighbors,
at a horse track in Kentucky 
Who takes sentimental six-year-olds seriously?  Our neighbor of the three girls was no ordinary lady.  With southern manners, I was taught to call her Miss Dawn, even though she was really Mrs. Smith.  She was so young that “Mrs.” certainly couldn’t apply to her.  She was hip in her bell bottoms and light cotton sleeveless blouses, and she had beer and volleyball parties in her front yard, and she took a special interest in me.

One of my fondest childhood memories was going on a short day trip with Miss Dawn, to pick strawberries fresh from the field.  I remember cradling the little cardboard carton in my hands.  I don’t remember if anyone else came along that day, but I have a strong memory of being thrilled to be invited on this little excursion.  I felt prized to be out and about with Miss Dawn, away from 909 Preston Drive to open fields in the warm summer morning.
Many years passed and we moved away.  Fortunately my family kept in touch with Miss Dawn and her family.  Sometimes when I look back at how God has grown my faith, I have an inkling that her prayers are somehow linked to God’s grace in my life.

Always a ham, Astoria poses with her pal, Kitty. 
Always in my mind and in our interactions, spanning some 40 years, she’s been “Miss Dawn.”  Faithful.  Unchanging to the things that matter most.  When I turned 30 and got married, she and her husband travelled long flights from Florida, to Montana for our wedding.  And what gift did she bring?  The dress I'd lent her girls, the green velvet dress, with the lace waist and Peter Pan collar.   I was overjoyed that she remembered, and kept her promise.  And now, some 11 years after our wedding, who wore the dress this Christmas?  My little five year old girl, who knew it was special indeed to wear the heavy velvet dress to Christmas Eve dinner with dear friends in Cochabamba. 
Sometimes, our life stories joyfully come full circle.  But oftentimes we are left waiting until a crushing conclusion.  And yet, God stands in sharp contrast to many of our experiences.  When our hopes and promises are pinned in the right place, His promises, we can have confidence that word, promise, or grocery sack of lent clothes, will not come back empty. 

Another childhood dress of mine on Astoria.  The
three pockets are with hand embroidery
 "Flopsy, Mopsey and Cottontail"
Isaiah 55:10-12 (NIV)

10 As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower
 and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,

but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. 
    (Emphasis mine)