Saturday, August 30, 2008

Next stop--Córdoba

Argentina Series: Day 14-15

Actually I arrived at the Colle's the evening of the 14th day. Juan was waiting for me at the bus terminal and the rest of the family at home.




They welcomed me with a wonderful dinner prepared by chef-son Guillermo.


Daughter Lorena (pictured here with her fiancé, now husband) gave up her room for the night.

We attempted the impossible--catching up on 40+ years of life in one evening! Photo memories helped. It was great to become acquainted with the younger generation, all grown adults establishing their own careers. Their married son was not there.
Juan has been a faithful pastor for all these many years, and is also an accomplished artist. A few years back I gave myself a birthday gift, I purchased one of his paintings that brought back happy memories of youth--a landscape of the sierras where our church camp was located. I have greatly enjoyed it in my office at the university.

I admired his work all around their home and also visited his studio.
(You can visit his website.)
Here he is pictured with the painting he gave us of Yehudi Menuhim which we treasure.
Mirta, his wife, insisted I take some of her grape jams.
Laden with gifts and precious memories, I left the next morning for a visit to a university that has wonderful programs for international students--Universidad Blas Pascal. I met the resident director of CC-CS in Argentina, the office staff, some current students in the program, a host mother (who grew up near some well known missionaries, the brother of martyr Nate Saint), and the president of the university (who had heard of Juan Colle, my friend, because his brother is also an artist of reknown).
They gave me a tour and thorough overview of the program, including attending a literature class. From what I saw, I highly recommend it to college students with intermediate competence in the language to experience either the intensive Spanish month-long program or an entire semester abroad.
I recently cane across a great prayer by the seventeenth century mathematician/physicist/theologian, Blaise Pascal, whose name the university bears:
"Lord, help me to do great things as though they were little, since I do them with Your power; and little things as though they were great, since I do them in Your name."

Friday, August 29, 2008

Domingo con Delia

Argentina Series: Day 14
I had a four-hour visit with childhood compañerita. Delia lived around the corner from our first house in Don Bosco, a suburb of Buenos Aires. We walked to school together from third through sixth grades.
Delia also attended Sunday School in our home off and on.
Eventually her mother also became a follower of Jesus.
Delia went with us to church camp in the sierras of Córdoba and there met Alberto. They've been married almost 40 years. They live in General Deheza.
During this very special visit, though brief, I was privileged to meet the three sons and their spouses, not the grandchildren, maybe next time.

Delia worked for many years as a school administrative assistant. Alberto just recently retired from a prominent company, AGD http://www.agd.com.ar/, which has contributed significantly to the growth of the local community and had a global impact in the area of edible oils and natural food products. Three family members continue to work there.
I learned from the website that Argentina is second only to China in peanut exports.
One son works for another important peanut exporter, IMC http://www.martincubero.com.ar/ (check out the recipes on the website). And the eldest is in a related field, machines for sorting for quality control, http://www.sortex.com.ar/empresa.htm.
What an educational tour, just searching these websites!

Delia and Alberto are very involved in their local congregation in music, women's ministry and fellowship opportunities for adultos mayores (PC for senior citizens).

Four full hours were not nearly enough, so my dear friend and I continue our conversation via e-mail.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mirtha--my BFF

Argentina Series: Day 12-13








Río Tercero, provincia de Córdoba



So Day 11 was the last day of the Borges conference. I did not stay for the evening session. Instead I took a taxi to the bus terminal where I had already been to purchase a ticket and store my luggage.

The ride from Buenos Aires to Córdoba province is an overnight trip which includes an evening meal.

My childhood friend, Mirtha, was waiting for me bright and early.

I spent two beautiful days sharing life with the Ferros and their guests.

Mirtha y Aldo
Older sister Eunice was spending the week there also, teaching a Seminary course. And sister Sara lives in the same town with pastor-husband Cacho. My visit coincided with that of niece Lilia and her family from London. It was a very special time for the family and I was so privileged to be a part of the action.

Our friendship goes way back and runs deep. (We are the two little girls on the left.)
As young girls we promised to be best friends forever. Both of us discovered an interest or gift in the area of literature and writing. We wrote volumes to one another growing up. Both of us have studied and taught Spanish literature. However Mirtha has already been published!
Mirtha was only a baby when she contracted polio which, in her case, affected the spine resulting in a pronounced scoliosis. As an adolescent the doctors ordered her to months, even years, of bedrest. Her wise father encouraged her to write. She won third place in a Christian fiction contest and Moody Press published her novel!
More recently she was editor of the only Christian Spanish language magazine for children.
She would love to get back into the ministry of writing for children. Her husband battled cancer and they are still recovering, praising God for his healing mercies.

Recently a friend from that era, who understood the impact of our friendship, commented that Mirtha does not even appear in my profile. I hope this post helps to correct that omission.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Borges




Argentina Series Resumed:
Day 10, second day of VII Jornadas "Borges y los otros"

On the very day of my parents 65th wedding anniversary, I was in Buenos Aires attending a professional conference, the day I read my paper: La trayectoria de Aureliano: análisis del cuento borgeano "Los teólogos".

Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986), Argentina's number one representative writer, should have won the Nobel Prize in Literature and was forever a nominee, but at the time they considered him unfit for the honor due to his supposed political views.

Another assumption about him, widely proclaimed, was that he was an atheist. The more I read his writings the less I believe that claim. His English grandmother taught him the Scriptures and he himself delved deeply into the truths of the Bible. His inquisitive intelligence led him to read widely, to study and question all religions, analyze and play with theoretical concepts. These became the premise for many of his short stories.

The piece I chose, because I was attracted to the title, is one of his lesser known writings, and even so when googled leads to endless pages on the internet. The story takes place in the 5th century Roman Empire; two theologians are battling heresies; the one is so driven by envy and jealousy of the other that years later he is able to contrive an accusation that leads to his rival being burned at the stake. Ironically his own death came also by fire and in heaven they were both alike to God. It is one of Borges' more complex but ever fascinating stories.

I have always enjoyed the challenge of reading Borges, like putting together a puzzle. I soon found out that Dora, my hostess, shared my interest. In fact she had first hand knowledge of him.

Some time in 1976 or '77, Borges came to their town to speak. The old theatre was packed, standing room only. By then he was already blind and was led in by his sister. It was raining. The table reserved for them had a tin can to catch the drips from a leak above. He was staring in raptured silence. When he began to speak he thanked them for arranging such a beautiful inspirational moment where the steady drip carried him back to childhood memories. When offered to move to another table, he declined.

Dora remembers how journalists insisted on asking him if he was an atheist; it became the standard expected question. She also recalls hearing Borges' response:
--Para Ud., ¿qué es el ateísmo? ... ¿Ud piensa que yo escribo como ateo sin reconocer la autoridad máxima que hay en la vida? [What do you think atheism is? Do you believe I write like an atheist who disregards life's maximum authority?]

On another occasion she heard him say, "No puedo contender con el Creador...un día lo veré." [I cannot contend with God...I will see him one day.]

His unaffected humble attitude was recognized by all.

On that occasion in Coronel Suárez, when they wanted to know what gift could they give him, he asked to taste dulce de leche con pan casero--a taste of the typical caramel spread on homemade bread.

So how did my scholarly adventure end? The paper was well accepted, but sure enough the standard assumption was brought up, "But wasn't Borges an atheist?" Another gentleman in the audience answered and spoke at length on the subject of Borges and God. He is writing a book about Borges and the Bible!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Bible "versions"

Another Spanish lesson...

As we reminisced together with the amigos argentinos, friends from half a century and a continent away that happen to live or be visiting in the area, we were regaled by some very funny Bible quoting errors.

A Clean Gospel
When Victor and Dory's oldest was very young he recited John 3:16:
"Porque de tal manera amó Dios al mundo, que ha dado a su Hijo higiénico unigénito, para que todo aquel que en él cree, no se pierda, mas tenga vida eterna."

Godly Math
Eduardo remembers the time when a poor-reader was called upon to read Philippians 2, speaking of Jesus humbling himself and therefore being exalted by the Father:
9 Por lo cual Dios también le exaltó y hasta lo sumó, y le dio un nombre que es sobre todo nombre,

Moral Reversal
I was then reminded of the time back in high school when Mike signed the yearbook of one of the most popular girls, a beautiful and upright person, and added a Scripture reference--Proverbs 5:3-6. He earnestly desired the best for her, however, the numbers were reversed. Can you guess what he meant to write?
Look it up and smile. (Easy way: search http://www.biblegateway.com/)

Monday, August 25, 2008

66 Years

My parents have been together 66 years (8-22-1942)!


Friday evening we celebrated with a few friends from Argentina, the country where they lived and worked for over 40 years.








Tho' very significant we kept the event simple: cake, terma (Argentine herbal beverage), Dory's cream puffs, and piles of old photos. These kept the conversation, laughter and fellowship flowing and could have gone on and on...so many meaningful memories!





These are some of the dear friends from when I grew up in Argentina. Eduardo (far right) has been a pastor/teacher/writer for 45+ years. He gave me his autographed book Deléitese en su Biblia. I am delighted!

So, I didn't keep my promise in the Argentina Series.
If there are any disappointed readers out there in the bloggy world, please forgive the delay.
The promised 'tomorrow' has become a latino mañana...an unknown future, hopefully not too far off.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Southern Delights

Mostly photos today and more Spanish.
No time for more as I prepare for a job interview.
Reminds me of a year ago when I was wrapping up the final revisions of the paper to be read the next day. I had spent two days holed away, late at night or early morning, plugging away until I was satisfied. Dora was more nervous than I. But I must say that I shouted when it was done and we all celebrated.
Later that afternoon I ventured downtown Buenos Aires to the Fundación Internacional Jorge Luis Borges, into the hairy scary scholarly world! (more on that tomorrow)


Medialuna con jamón y queso y una Coca-cola
(purchased on the bus en route to Montevideo)


Pastelito de hojaldre con dulce de membrillo
(Eunice bought me one on the catamaran)



Flan
(the most wonderful dessert in the whole wide world!)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Home Away Fom Home

Argentina Series continued...

I was glad to get back to the small apartment where Erni and Dora had made me feel so welcome.

The next couple days are a blur, mostly sitting at the computer revising the Borges paper. So I will describe my surroundings.


The futon I slept on was the first thing you faced upon entering the apartment and to the left the all-purpose table, living-dining area and big window. How we enjoyed the light, the view and the sunsets! The door you see opens to the kitchen, and to the right, the one you can't see, to the bathroom and master bedroom. So small, snug and sufficient. Tan acogedor.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Elena

Argentina Series: Day Six
Uruguay Adventure: Day Two

When I met Elena some 25+ years ago it was on the last day of one of the MV/Doulos' visits to Montevideo. And it was in answer to a prayer: to meet/impact ONE person in that port city that would follow the Way and that we could have a lasting relationship.

At the time she was a young mother of two and her husband was in prison. I corresponded with her for years and with Wilson, her husband--a gifted writer/poet. We sent help when possible.Years later he was released.

We lost touch for a period of 10 years or more. Over time I used different addresses and tried many means to reconnect. Once again prayer was more effective and an answer came in God's time.
One day, a couple years ago now, I received another letter. Family circumstances had changed and she had suffered considerably, but the most notable change was the spiritual.
The good news: involved in a church, in evangelism and ministry, she wrote very insightful words of encouragement.
The bad news: her husband had left her and was living with her sister and in the same house. She was banished to a one-room apartment on the rooftop!
For a long time she had held a job at a hospital. Since giving it up, however, she has been unable to find other employment.


She sang beautifully for us , a song of praise and victory that I have carried with me in my heart and on tape (see the little recorder on the table?).



Golpe de espada es la alabanza
Golpe de guerra que sale de Dios
Canto de gloria es la victoria
En la batalla del pueblo de Dios.

But we were so sad for the emotional turmoil she endures living there and really urged her to find a way out. Economic realities keep her trapped there. However, her spirit soars! She is still going out and ministering in hospitals to AIDS victims and the needy, faithful in church, sings, would love to study guitar and perfect her skills.

Truly the joy of the Lord is her strength and His Word sustains her.

This is the board full of promises and photos that keep her keeping on. (If you look closely you will notice some of our family photos which I had sent over the years.)
I will always look back on that one night we spent in her hospitality with awe because in the most unlikely of situations it was one of best nights of sleep. Elena gave up her bed and joined her daughter on the loft right below the roof apartment and they brought up an extra cot. It was so cold and we felt so snug.

Eunice was able to contact her nurse friend as well and we all met at a very nice restaurant in bus terminal. The food was amazing and the fellowship sweet.

Soon Eunice and I were off again by bus and catamaran reflecting on divine encounters.





Sunday, August 17, 2008

Weekend Getaway

Argentina Series: Day Five
Uruguay Adventure: Day One

Eunice and I had decided to cross the pond, rather the delta, and visit Montevideo.
Both of us had friends there we hadn't seen in a long time and Eunice had been hankering to try the river crossing via catamaran.
We met early, boarded the DeltaCat, and breakfasted on board, then thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful day, watching the scenery go by and above all our rich fellowship.

(You can enjoy the experience virtually http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQ4tcB9SDE4, except for the conversation.)

The crossing took a little over two hours and the bus ride from the coast to the capital another couple hours. There we were welcomed by Elena and made our way through city streets and busses to her one room abode. (Tomorrow I will tell you all about her.)

Here are some of the sights and yet more Spanish to decipher.





How about this ad: "A decent house ought not to be unreachable/unattainable."

........................................................................................

Interrupting the year-ago-series to update you on the present:
Today, a great day re-connecting with dear friends from Argentina.

Eduardo C. comes every so often to the USA to visit his son and family in Indiana. The Hispanic congregation in Warsaw is blessed with his ministry every time. So, today I took off and went to hear him speak. A great message on "Spiritual Shortsightedness and Its Cure" II Peter 1:3-10 and wonderful fellowship afterwards. We filled a long table of FoAs (Fans of Argentina) at the restaurant. Two hours later (or was it three?) we had not yet exhausted the topics of conversation...but life must go on.

Which one is my brother?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Saturday Spanish Lesson

Argentina Series--Day Four

Eunice came over to visit.

She's the dear friend I stayed with for a week once before. This time her niece and family were visiting from Ireland, filling up her small apartment.

Eunice is my childhood BFF's older sister. She should long be retired but still heads up UCEA (Unión Cristiana de Enfermeras Argentinas) and travels teaching for Seminario Bíblico de Fe.


We never did figure out how we could miss each other at the airport. Have we changed that much? I think she was hiding under a winter hat, out of habit, because the day was beautiful and spring-like. Next time a huge welcome sign is in order.

Can you find my two friends among the antiques? We went for a walk and enjoyed the picturesque streets of Tigre together.

And here is your photo Spanish lesson: How many of these signs can you read?