Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Going into 2009

Last day of the year
Time to look back,
reflect, regret, resolve.

a year of inner turmoil--
hard to walk away from 20 yrs.
also very difficult to part
with all the teaching materials,
still have boxes to deal with.
I poured myself into that career!

Looking back over the losses--
all things I'd grown accustomed to,
taken away against my will,
in God's sovereign purposes,
for my greater good.

The theme impressed on my heart since Christmas
in the words of a familiar hymn from childhood:

Tú dejaste tu trono (You left your throne)
y corona por mí (and crown for me)
al venir a Belén a nacer... (when you came to be born in Bethlehem...)

Jesus gave up all intentionally.
In 2009 I want to follow His example
in every area of life.

So tonight we welcome 2009
with a big event in Muncie:
robotics team drops the NYE ball!
Since Mike has been so involved,
we will all be there!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

My true love gave to me...

...a very fancy model Yamaha keyboard built into our old oak organ furniture after taking out the custom-built-in electric piano which had not worked for years!
Notice on the left, the Santa train jumped to a higher track, probably on its way back to the North Pole till next Christmas; and on the right another of true love's projects--a piece of pottery. He is really enjoying this new hobby and that is a mate he made for me (not glazed yet).
You are not going to believe this next story, how I treated true love today.
We went to take Diane (Mike's little sister) back home after her four days with us over Christmas. Afterwards he dropped me off at Goody's to exchange some items while he went to Lowe's. Over an hour later, feeling hungry, bored and abandoned, I phoned him and yelled at him. And he was only giving me more time in a favorite shopping place and looking for more gifts for me. How could I?
[None of you out there have ever done anything like that, right?]
Well, back to the piano: the goal is to play every day, at least 15 minutes a day, but I don't think I'll be able to limit myself to such a short time!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Projects

Sam, Malachi, Kristie, Elijah
Leah, Jimmy, Skye


Stephan and Karen
Here are the promised photos of what the Grand Sewers, maybe a better name would be the Sewing Grands (grandma and granddaughter), have been up to lately. We thought it very appropriate for all related to the Koch family to own aprons, and tried to find an appropriate design to match each one's interests or personality.
We ran out of time and have a few more to put together so all the Kochs will be 'aproned.'

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Such a Strange Way to Save the World

This song moves me today.

And it reminds me of a Christmas some 31 years ago when Mike was Joseph in the Omro Christmas Pageant. Since then, Joseph's role in the great event has taken on new meaning. Also since then Mike has had a moustache; the beard, however, had to go.
Our dear friend Marlene was the organizer. She had the choir, a young Mary, even a donkey, but no Joseph. She threatened to come by the trailer at night and be the voice of God calling for Joseph by our window. Mike agreed before she had to resort to such tactics.
This year Marlene is celebrating her first Christmas in heaven.

That same year, we had no Christmas tree. One or two days before, a beautiful tree appeared by our door. We never did find out who left it.

By the following Christmas we had a new born son and were on the M/V Doulos, OM's missionary ship, where we served for almost five years.

Many years and stories later...we celebrate the birth of Jesus, moved once again by such love.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Photo Tag

I've been tagged again. This time it is a photo tag. I will include two photos because a strange thing happened which I will explain later.

First, this photo of my young friend from Xocenpich, Yucatán, México, Mary.

I have been to that little village on four different occasions. The first time when I was teaching at The King's Academy and I went with the group of highschoolers for their Servant Safari week. That was when I met my 'Mayan twin', my alma gemela, Femia. (Learn more about her in my other blog.)

The lady who cooked for the group mentioned that she ran every morning at 6 a.m. I was hoping for someone to run with! So that's how my friendship with Herlinda began. Mary is her daughter.

I became aware of her childhood dream--go to college and work in tourism. It wasn't till a couple years later that Femia asked if I would be able to contribute even if it were only half of her college tuition, get this, $80 a month! It was a no-brainer. Even so, I wanted to make sure Mike was with me on this. He has been, even through uncertain times.

So there is Mary: standing in front of her university, excelling in her studies, at the top of the class, willing to make whatever sacrifices are necessary to achieve her dream! I hope to attend her graduation summer of 2010.

OK, so that was the fourth photo that showed up in folder four the first time I checked. That was before Mike installed an amazing, unbelievable free photo organizer that allows you to view, group and regroup, etc., etc. all your gazillion files.

So now the 4th in the 4th is another one, seems they have been reorganized. It's all well worth it, believe me. And this photo, tho' not the greatest quality, also tells a story.

It was taken during the FIRST simulcast, the first Saturday in January, comin' up soon! Mike dedicates almost all his spare time and energy to mentor the Muncie robotics team. That event is

most exciting--the announcement of the game and guidelines for building the robot. They also get their kit of parts and begin the build season, six very intense weeks till shipping day, same all over the world!
And that is when I become a robotics-widow.

Now for the game.
The rules of the Picture Tag game:
1. Go to the 4th folder in your computer where you store your pictures.
2. Pick the 4th picture in that folder.
3. Explain the picture.
4. Tag 4 people to do the same.

I tag my brother Lynn, a new blogger!
And Brittany, a former student who is out wandering the world.
Dani, another former student, who is done wandering for awhile.
Finally, fourthly, not leastly, Jenna, another FSNF who wandered down to Mexico with me and loved it so much she went back twice!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Come and See!

What there is to see
Like the bright blue tree,
Mary and Joseph in the entry way,
and on the piano, Santa's train.

Help yourself to the neighborly sweets
and gaze at the little ones we miss each year.
Most of all reach out to the Babe in the manger:
"Come into my heart, Lord Jesus."

This was a somewhat poetic attempt at an entry for the BooMama's Christmas Tour of Homes, and a less than successful decorating deadline.
  • The tree has no ornaments yet. (Any ideas for toning it down?)
  • Mary and Joseph made by my wheelchair-bound friend Viola--a traditional welcome! (Her husband is with Jesus as of a month ago today.)
  • Santa's train reminds me of when consuegra (co-inlaw) Debby was staying with us and we wrapped gifts together and piled them on the steps all the way up the stairs.
  • The only treats I can offer you are those given by neighbors and friends.
  • Yearly photos of the grandkids on Santa's lap are part of traditional decor.
  • Often, as we read the Christmas story the little ones each had a nativity set to 'act' it out.

Such as it is, enjoy!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Other Changes

Some positive:

  • Stephan's ice carving business is expanding. He has regular customers and many return orders. The Indiana Ice Studio is now in a building a couple miles from his home.
    This is the busiest time of the year. Chris, our South African house guest has been a God-send--helping with the move and with all kinds of support-type jobs while 'Chef' keeps on carving "like a madman."

  • Kristie was offered the opportunity to go to school full time. She is enjoying this new routine working on completing a B.A. in psychology.

Some neither + nor -, just different, I think:

  • I did NOT write an end-of-year family letter this year. If you know me that is one of the MOST important to-do's before Christmas, or soon thereafter. So, if you know me you are wondering what happened to me. Blogging happened!
  • Michael put up the Christmas tree and bought new lights, LED's to be precise, light emitting diods which use a fraction of electricity compared with anything else. Did I say they are BLUE!!!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Changes--for worse or...?

Habakkuk 3:17-19 (New King James Version)
A Hymn of Faith

Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—

Sounds like our times: economic failures and future uncertainty dominate the news.
In our own experience:
  • 126 were laid off where Mike works, even after many years with the company.
  • In our family we have experienced losses: Sam got out of the skateboard business; Leah had to quit studying; and I am no longer teaching in the university.

What has been our response?

Mike is asking, Why me? Why was he not let go?
Sam has been kept busy with remodeling and carpentry type jobs.
Leah is doing what she can. She is a survivor.
And I still have much to learn in my position as bilingual specialist.

Though we have questioned, complained, doubted and grumbled at times, our ultimate desire is to be grateful, adjust and learn.

Mike has to work longer hours, but he has employment.
And I enjoyed subbing four weeks for a Reality Spanish course for Teachers.

There is a saying in Spanish:

No hay mal que por bien no venga.
Basically: Good comes out of every bad thing.

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The LORD God
is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


First week of Advent=Coming
We wait to celebrate the first coming of Christ into our world as a baby.

Pastor Mark's sermon was an unusual Christmas message from Habakkuk.

The prophet was complaining to God about the world he lived in, a description very apt for our days--violence, destruction, injustice, innocence overwhelmed by evil...
The Lord: "Be astounded! You won't believe what I'm going to do!"
Nor could the prophet believe the means--a mighty trampling force to overrun his people?!
Again the Lord urges Habakkuk to wait, believe, trust--He is at work!
The promise may take a while, but the vision will come true.
As unlikely as it may seem now, the land will be filled with people who know and honor the Lord, just as the water fills the sea!
So the prophet concludes that even in the bleakest of times and circumstances, he will remain steadfast.
And in the meantime, God gives him strength to climb mountains like a graceful deer!

Why did this message resonate so with me?
This has been a difficult year for our family: loss of jobs and opportunities; economic hardships; circumstances that threaten to tear us apart; and things may get worse before they get better.
We look around and see: terrorism in Mumbai; economic collapse; our children surrounded by negative influences.

But then this message of hope and these strong promises, so I say with the prophet: "I will still celebrate because the LORD God saves me.

Signs of celebration have merely begun: a poinsettia on the counter; some Christmas cards waiting to be addressed; a red tablecloth on the dining room table; a few wrapped gifts on the love seat and the wrapping paper under the spiral stairs (in that I am way ahead of other years!). No Christmas tree yet. Downstairs by the sewing machine a bag of various fabrics for a special project Kayla & I will be working on--a uniquely special gift for each member of the family. (Photos later, after Christmas!)

Meanwhile life goes on: school and work, robotics and home projects and repairs. The new water heater is working. The hanging garden is nearly finished (photos later). And somehow we find strength to keep going.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Giving Thanks

For provisions: among them the venison that fills our freezer(so far Mike got two out of the four allowed) along with the duck meat he brought back from Idaho (the yearly water foul hunting expedition with brother and nephew).

For health: coming down harder than ever with a sore throat and a head cold makes me appreciate the good times even more.
For family: a recent bonding activity has been around the potter's wheel, reminding me of the verse in Isaiah: "We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand." Those members who have attempted to make something resembling a pot have found out how difficult it can be!
Nevertheless, these same family members built an outdoor kiln on Thanksgiving day. They are not about to give up.
Another passage comes to mind as I watch the family potterying: "So I went down to the potter's house [the lower solarium in our case], and I saw him [or her] working at the wheel. But the pot he[she] was shaping from the clay was marred in his[her] hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him[or her]."
I am grateful that God will not give up on us either. His purpose for our lives will not be thwarted.

For friends: We have been so privileged this year to extend hospitality to old and new friends coming through. On Thanksgiving Day we were joined by two from India: Stefan Eicher and his 'adopted' brother Upendra Kumar (currently studying at Taylor University),

and an OM friend from way back, Jack Rendel. Another interesting connection is that Jack went to school with my cousins in Nigeria.

Chris Le Roux from South Africa, who was with us back in April-May to woo his lady friend, returned a couple weeks ago, living with us again but, of course spending Thanksgiving break with Rachael and family in Ohio.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Epocas de la vida=Seasons of Life

epoch=a period marked by distinctive character or reckoned from a fixed point or event

Sunday we celebrated our asked-of-God-Samuel's 30th birthday. It was a fun, hilarious time. Our rendition of the birthday song has become infamous famous. Comments that followed: "I never heard a family make such a noise." "No one sings the birthday song quite like we do. And the lovely part is that it's different every time. It never gets old. (:" "Next time we should record and post on YouTube!"

The 'fixed point or event' that marked the beginning of Sam's 30 year epoch happened on November 6th, 1978. He was brought forth to the light (the concept behind the Spanish expression for delivery or birth--dar a luz) by a surgeon in a planned Caesarian operation. The doctor said the procedure was so routine, he'd done it so many times he could probably do it with his eyes closed. (Did he think that thought would comfort me?!)

Of course, that was a very expensive way to enter the world. Samuel was, however, a good and perfect gift from above, so God footed the bill through his people of the Omro, WI, church we were attending.

Then a couple weeks later we began another long journey, as a family we rejoined Operation Mobilization, this time as part of the M/V Doulos crew. Baby Samuel and I flew to Norfolk, VA, while Daddy and his two older siblings drove crammed into a vehicle with all our earthly possessions. Somewhat of a rough start to that epoch of our family life, but it's safe to say the rest of the family felt it more than the pampered babe.

The next big move took place when Sammy was almost five and we left the ship to settle in Upland, IN. The adventures of the intervening 25 years could fill several chapters or blog posts, so I will move on to comment on other epochs.

Another memorable celebration: Billy Graham's 90th birthday. Anyone touched by his life and ministry was invited to write a message. I wrote about Mike's mother, my mom-in-law, who gave her heart to Jesus at a very precise moment after reading one of his books.

Another epoch: after 40 years, our friend George Verwer was allowed back into India a nation very much on his heart and the focus of so much of his ministry.

Here on the homefront, this week marked the return of an earlier house guest, Chris from South Africa. He will be with us a few months to continue courting Rachael, pictured in an earlier post. There's 'a time to love,' said Solomon.

This fall season has been unusually mild and beautiful. We are now moving into cooler rainy weather...and I have a sore throat...ughh.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Indian Summer and Ww

Another wonderful Sunday!

First of all we got to sleep in longer, with the time change (end of Daylight Saving Time).

We were in charge of leading the Sunday School discussion. Today it was about Ww, God's WISDOM and man's wisdom, from James 3:13-18. Much food for thought in those few verses leading us to ask ourselves where and how we might be buying into the wisdom that is earthly/worldly, natural/fleshly, of the devil/demonic?! The kind that is 'reasonable' but not from above.

Yesterday I attended a conference for Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), my new area of work. And I was reflecting on God's Ways, not always our ways. I wouldn't have chosen to change career paths, but I can trust His leading. So, I learned some, and was encouraged and was loaded down with materials and ideas.

Back to our day TODAY... After church we got to talking to Rachael, MK from Cambodia, Chris' girl (he's the South African who lived with us six weeks in order to stay in the area, get to know and woo this maiden) and Upendra, from India (adopted son of our friends the Eichers). And then continued our conversation over a meal on our deck.

Mike needed this leisurely time. He's had a rough week and a half: leaks in the heating system, both water pump and heater needed to be replaced; research and order, wait, install; trips to find more parts, try again, not right yet; meanwhile on colder nights start up the wood boiler; car breaks down has to be towed, fuel pump replaced to the tune of 100s...Oh, and the ongoing demands of the robotics team, his 40 hr. a week job, and his wife. ¡Pobrecito!

I, on the other hand, had an entire week off for fall break. So, what did I accomplish? Un montón de cosas, a whole bunch of things, a list of tasks that make me happy but wouldn't interest y'all very much.

You might like this one: I went with Mother and Dad to the Senior Center during my one day visit, after all I do qualify. It was the monthly Fun Day. The theme was Western Wheel of Fortune. Most were wearing cowboy attire--hats, boots &/or the whole works--very colorful, indeed. They called three people up at a time to spin the wheel and answer trivia. The only one I knew was the singer referred to as the Man in Black. (Anybody know the name of Roy Rogers' ranch?)

So, I sat at their regular table with them and met some of their friends and had a free meal provided by...uh...I forget the name of the business that donated their time and food this month. Free food, fun time, a beautiful day...not bad, eh?

Well, I've rambled on and time is running out. Back to work tomorrow. Life goes on. They say this Indian summer is going to last through most of the week. But change is a comin' and I'm not talkin' weather now, folks. No matter who wins the election this week, there will be change.

In GOD we trust.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Basking with Basques

to bask= regodearse en; deleitarse en
To expose oneself to pleasant warmth: sunshine (lit.), spotlight (fig.).

To take great pleasure or satisfaction; to enjoy, relish, savour.
A member of a people of unknown origin living in the western Pyrenees in France and Spain (Euskadi).
The language of the Basque people; of no known relation to any other language (euskara).

We are still basking in the warm afterglow of a wonderful weekend.
Our house guests--the Ybarrolas, un verdadero vasco and his esposa, otherwise known in our family as Curly Steve and his wife Lorie--were here to expose our church people to an unreached people group.
Steve was one of the young men on our team when we lived in Europe. He was especially kind to our small daughter and she gave him the nickname that described his 'big hair' at that time.
He also spent some time on the ship Doulos with us when our youngest was a baby and remembers picking him up by the straps (?) and flying him around to Sammy's great delight.

The Ybarrola relatives live in a village in Northern Spain. Steve's grandfather's ancestors go back 500 years living in the same house!

Since the time our ways parted, 30+ years ago, Steve has reconnected with his ancestry, lived 15 months in the area with his young family, revisited his people regularly, and become an anthropologist expert in the Basque culture.

We thoroughly enjoyed the renewed fellowship with Steve and immediately fell in love with Lorie. And next summer we hope to be 'aunt & uncle' or 'grandparents' to some Basque young people as our church gets involved in Impact Basque.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Banana Bran Muffins

Following my dear SiL Kim's example in her blog , I will add a recipe to Linda's Fall Into Flavor .
My culinary successes are few and far between, and therefore merit publishing!
However, the recipe I'm about to share is not mine. It came out in an upscale magazine some years ago. I clipped it and came across it recently when I had several very ripe bananas that I hated to throw away. My grandson, an extremely picky eater (I cannot emphasize that enough) LIKES/LOVES/EATS these muffins. We are all astounded and acknowledge the significance of that endorsement. So, here goes:

1/2 c butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 medium ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 c buttermilk
1-1/2 c all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 c Raisin Bran
1 c miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 c chopped pecans

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, bananas and buttermilk. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into creamed mixture just until moistened. Fold in the cereal, chocolate chips and pecans. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full.
Bake at 350º for 23-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Yield: 2 dozen.

--Alyce Wyman
Pembina, North Dakota
She experimented by adding the gran cereal to a banana muffin recipe and also by replacing the chocolate chips and nuts with chopped dates.
I suspect it was the chocolate chips that won over our grandson, and every other tastee since!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Random Reflections

Mike is back from a week out West in Idaho, his yearly hunting trip with brother and nephew, and in his luggage he brought some 25 lbs. of frozen duck meat.

This was another beautiful fall day though cooler than it has been . We went for a paseo, a leisurely ride, on our tandem. First we stopped to watch our grandson Skye's last football game. The season was good for learning and growing, certainly not a winning one. (Y'all would be proud of me, I think I finally understand how the game is played!)

Our next stop took us to Payne's, a unique artsy-type custard and coffee shop. Being a local hangout one is likely to meet friends or acquaintances. And we did--a precious young couple who have seven children, among them a 3-year old is battling cancer. They were out on a date, thanks to the kindness of our own neighbor who was looking after their children. This Wednesday Isabel starts a 6-week radiation treatment.

We are grateful to live in a very supportive community. We have been here 25 years now and have worked in a variety of settings and moved in different circles. Not a day goes by without a friendly encounter or meaningful conversation. And lately, I seem to come across former students more often, and they seem happy to see me!

Circles of influence, the contexts where I have lived and worked--that is one of the themes I've been reflecting on. I started to draw a circle for each one, noticing how they overlap or affect one another. I want to think on this further to gain insights into God's ways and His purpose for my life.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

sS, vV

My weekdays, moving between three schools helping English learners, vary greatly: from Kindergarten to 8th grade; from letter recognition (little letters/big ones=lower case/capitals) and practicing finding the ones that belong to their names (Luz was lucky, only three; Ignacio had to keep looking at his crayon box) to pre-algebra concepts I never learned (or forgotten by now!); from filling out IEP's, translating forms, interpreting for non-English speaking parents to administering spelling and reading tests and English competency placement tests to just being there for a diabetic teacher whose blood-sugar-level fell suddenly.
f.l.e.x.i.b.i.l.i.t.y is the name of the game. Those are some of the things I do as a "bilingual specialist." The title is fancier than the job.
Saturdays bring even more variety: I ran Taylor's Homecoming 5K; went to grandsons games--Skye's football and Malachi's soccer; did some shopping; and dropped in on former colleague's 40th birthday open house. And here I am attempting to make sense of all the day's thoughts and post another blog. (How on earth did they/we manage to reflect/write/edit without a computer in the "good old days"? Oh, there was no blogging!)

Anyway, many questions tumble around my mind, like clothes in the dryer.
People are always asking me, "How do you like your new job?" or "How's it going on the job?" And there is so much I am still trying to figure out, not only about the new job, but about myself and life's transitions. Like, why am I thrown into new contexts and learning situations over and over again. Is it wrong to question? Am I putting on a good front most of the time or am I truly content? Are there feelings I simply push down?

As I was running today, I overheard the conversation of the group behind me (obviously they were not racing if they could still converse!) The woman speaking was talking about story vs. Story and vision vs. Vision. My story, our stories vs. God's Story. My vision, our vision vs. God's Vision. How do the struggles and successes of my life story fit into the bigger picture of God's Story and His Vision and purpose? I need not know, simply trust and follow and love.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Glimpses of the Grandboys

Skye (7/29/97), Malachi (11/21/98), Elijah (1/27/05)
Lest the boys feel left out, here are a few of the many recent photo-memories.

Upland Labor Day festival purchases. (Mom isn't going to like these boy-favorites.)

Grandparents Day at Desoto Elementary--Malachi.

Malachi--Saturday Soccer

Skye making churros at Grandma's after school.

Skye--Upland Cardinals quarterback

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sweet Seventeen

Kayla, our oldest grandchild, wanted a fancy dress-up dinner to celebrate her 17th birthday. Chef-trained son Stephan offered to prepare and serve a special meal for his neice and her three VIP guests. We are hardly acquainted with the level of sophistication he provided. It was a learning experience for all of us and especially the young ladies at the birthday table.
Most family members were helping produce and present the elegant courses.

Lovely Karen, chef's wife, and Mike in the kitchen.

We started with a Tableside Caesar Salad followed by an Entree of Peanut encrusted Balantine of Chicken, Swirled Yams and Mashed Potatoes, Carmelized Onions and Peppers, and Glazed Carrots, then followed that with a Lemon Sherbet on an ice plate for a palette cleanser and finished with Strawberry Lattes Tableside.

For a complete photo story go to: . What the photos are lacking is Chef Stephan's ongoing humor-filled description. This event really deserved to be on YouTube.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Friendly Faces

One week into the new job and still trying to figure out what, when, where and how; feeling a bit lost or overwhelmed at times. Today, however, after days of gathering information about the ELP (English Limited Proficient) students and meeting with most of the teachers from the three schools, I had a sense that things were beginning to come together.
Everywhere I go, I meet up with people I know from church or Sunday School, dear friends and new colleagues, some former students--all kind and encouraging, a very present help in this life transition. More importantly, however, we are a significant presence, strategically placed to impact lives in the schools.

Friday, September 26, 2008

New Things

Today was my second day into a new job: bilingual specialist. So far we've been pumped full of new information and spent a day sorting through materials and resources, and finally were assigned to certain schools and now have a list of the specific students who need our help in the English learning process.
There are four of us for nine schools. I have been assigned to a middle school and two elementaries. Monday I will visit the schools, talk to the teachers, maybe meet some of the students, but mostly hammer out a workable schedule for meeting with students in groups or individually.
There will be a learning curve:"...old things are passed away, behold all things are become new."
I may need some time to adjust before I can blog creatively, if at all!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

More Old Photos

Yesterday I wanted to include a photo where you could see the beautiful coat/hat set Mother made for me, but I had left the completed albums with my parents. Then, sorting through the hundreds more Mother excitedly provided for continuation of the gigantic project, I found another copy! Now, use your imagination to visualize the colors--turqouise and brown velvet trim.

I also discovered an early forgotten photo: I am drinking mate at a young age! For those who are not acquainted with this social Argentine custom, just google it! It's like a green-tea infusion partaken of in a circle of family or friends, all drinking from the same gourd and metal filtering straw--great fellowship and flavor, IF you have the acquired taste!

During hurricane season I kept remembering my closest encounter with natural disaster as a young child and wondering whether there might be a photo to go with my memory. I came across one yesterday!
We were living in La Carlota, province of Córdoba, on a ranch-type large estate with a 15-room house that we shared with a new missionary couple, James and Margaret Marshall. (I remember always wanting to go visit them in their quarters and being told over and over by my Mother that I would surely wear out my welcome.) It was from that setting that I recall looking out the window and watching the terrible storm which we called huracán or ciclón (probably neither one the correct term).
At the time, Daddy was building his first church, literally. After the whatever-it-was had passed over, the first thing he did was go check on his work. And this is what he found: the walls, ready to be roofed, had collapsed.

I was too young to comprehend the emotions he must have gone through at the sight. I do know that he perservered and rebuilt from the rubble a practical and pleasing structure that still stands--el Templo Evangélico de La Carlota.

Today I read and related to the words of Psalm 102:23a: "In the course of my life he broke my strength..." There have been many instances of brokenness in our family history. BUT God's faithfulness has remained a constant.

Monday, September 22, 2008


I have always jokingly called myself the favorite daughter because I am the only girl. But now, after sorting through piles of family photos, I know I was the most photographed child in the family which is typical for a firstborn.

When I came to Aldo, the middle child of the five, I felt so sorry as there were so few photographs. But one stands out because it captures how much we were enjoying baby brother, as well as Mother's resourcefulness using what was available--a canner.

(Sorry about the bluriness. Think of it as looking back in time: "now we see through a glass darkly," to quote Scripture, though out of context.)

Yes, I was very privileged and pampered. The many photos record for posterity the things my parents made for me and the time they spent with me.

Daddy, always the builder and craftsman, made most of the home furniture and toys for me. There was the wooden rocking horse, the chalkboard and desk, and much more. And mother, the amazing seamstress sewed my first winter coat and hat as well as many dresses. As we looked at the photos together she pointed them out as well as the color of each one. (Too bad, no color photos back then.)
She loves certain color combinations: turquoise and brown. For her senior picture she was wearing a favorite dress, brown with aqua collar. And my little coat was aqua with brown velvet collar.

Conclusion: Yes, I was the favorite first-born and now it is my turn to give. "To whom much is given much is required."

Friday, September 19, 2008


I've been tagged by to list 5 things I love, excluding family. As I pondered what topic to tackle in today's blog, after being away for nearly a week due to an Ike-forced internet fast, I decided this was a good re-entry subject.
This has been a good exercise and serves to summarize observations about myself that have surfaced over the summer as I worked through the transition from teacher to a new and unknown routine. So, in no particular order:
I love...
reading--to occupy my intellect in the act of learning/researching/finding out what's going on more than for pure enjoyment. Mike knows that when we go somewhere where there are free newspapers (restaurants, hotels, etc.) I will always pick one up and use any waiting time reading.
I do enjoy books and well written stories, but mostly listen to them in audio form. I rarely sit down with a book. However, I have always very much enjoyed reading books to anyone who will listen: children, students, husband or family as we travel.
writing--to communicate, to tell life stories, to stay in touch with people.
As a wannabe-writer I chose Psalm 26:7 as my mission statement: "That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works." (KJV)
photography--taking, sharing, arranging photos in an artistic and meaningful way. It is a form of story telling, of recording family history.
Though I do not consider myself a scrapbooker, one who goes all out with the materials and trimmings that go with the craft, I am gifted at taking a group or pile of photographs and arranging them chronologically or thematically in an artistic display. I offer my services to friends when their loved one dies and each time the result is different but the effect is impacting and positive.
Currently I am working on my parents collection. It has been like putting together a difficult puzzle, trying to reconstruct their growing up years and my own. So far I have three albums completed and probably that many more to go.
traveling--to see people more than places. I have been very privileged in my life to have had so many opportunities to travel the world and have lived for lengths of time in various countries and continents, even on a missionary ship that took us to numerous ports. However, my main desire to travel now is to visit people. The exception to that is when I travel with my husband, on our tandem vacations or road trips, then I enjoy the sights with him.
teaching--helping others grow in the enjoyment of what I am passionate about. For many years it has been the Spanish language and literature. But can also include teaching Bible truths to children in junior church and sharing knowledge with my grandchildren.

As I reflected on this list, it occurred to me that all of these passions could be the spokes of a wheel and have to do with mind, heart, soul, but the hub or center is the spirit. I would be starved if I could not engage my mind and share with people, but would be aimless and empty without Jesus and the Spirit of God at the core of my being.

Now it's your turn:

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Ongoing Projects

Michael, being the gifted inventor that he is, thrives on creative projects. He designed a gardening system for the solarium. We have had no luck growing things in the woods (except for daffodils and hostas!), so his busy mind came up with a hanging/rotating trough contraption.

But before he could install the garden-thing, he had to deal with the eight large double-paned windows which have become opaque, the inner film is impossible to clean. He tried taking them apart and though they did come clean with calcium-removing-chemical, they were impossible to glue back together without trapping moisture. So he had to replace all the windows and just finished that last night. In the photo you can see the difference. Now we can see our beautiful surroundings clearly! It's a good thing there is a railing or I might run right into the glass and break my nose!
The other projects are mine. The boxes of teaching stuff I could not part with are still under the spiral staircase waiting to find a home of their own. They've lived there for weeks now waiting for an office or classroom where they might be put to use. But since that is not happening I am trying to deal with a little every day...and feeling quite embarrassed about the mess.
But maybe not enough...
And as I wait for a job offer (latest interview was last week for bilingual specialist) and/or inspiration, I keep busy either writing to an unknown audience via this blog or sorting and rearranging photographs in acid-free albums. Right now the dining room table and chairs and the coffee table are covered with my parents collection of old photos and albums.
I tend to do what I enjoy and put off what I don' cleaning, cooking. Anyone else have that problem? Perhaps by confessing my mess you will keep me accountable to clean it up!

Saying Goodbye

Argentina Series: Despedida

The day of my departure, Dora and Erni accompanied me to Eunice's place, several stations away by train. But first we had to walk to the train station, about 10 blocks away, with all my luggage. We were only a block and half away when I realized it was not going to work. We were passing a remis agency and by then I was more than willing to pay to be transported. The local taxi service is very reasonable anyway.

The train route was familiar to me by now. Those many times I enjoyed observing my fellow travelers and listening to a variety of sales pitches--people of all ages either begging or selling most anything from bread to books to socks or candy. You can see in the photo that there is room for luggage, bicycles, wheelchairs in the rear of the cars.

Eunice's apartment, where I had stayed a week years ago on a previous visit to Argentina, was now full of family. We enjoyed visiting, catching up on a wide range of subjects, as much as possible in the limited time we had.

Here Eunice is absorbed in my collection of old photos from when she was/we were young.

The visit became even more animated when Julio arrived.
Eunice had intended to take me to the airport, but my former boyfriend offered to do so as we had not seen one another yet.
And here he is taking in the same collection of old photographs.
So many memories.

So with mixed emotions I said goodbye to dear friends and safely flew back to the USA very excited about seeing my family again.

My suitcase, however, could not keep up with the customs procedures in and out of four countries so was delayed a whole week.
The frequent flyer arrangement I had obtained could take me only as far as Santos, Brazil and that via Canada! I then purchased a ticket on another airline between Brazil and Argentina.

Thus ends my memorable trip to Argentina, 2007, a gift from heaven.
In my journal I quoted a Scripture to summarize the experience:

2 Corinthians 9:13-15 (Worldwide English (New Testament)

13This gift will prove something to them. They will praise God because you obey the good news of Christ. They will praise God because you have given this gift to help them and all the others.
14They will love you and talk to God about you, because God has blessed you very much.
15Thank God for his gift so great that no words can ever tell it all!

P.S.: Now, a year later, I received news that my Borges paper will be published in the journal of the Fundación Borges, not that it matters much anymore...just God's stamp of approval and sense of humor.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Panadería, Puerto de Frutos y Pizzería

Argentina Series: Last Day

One full day and so much my hosts wanted to show me!

First, Dora took me to Raul's bakery and confitería. She very much wanted me to meet this dear brother, a very humble simple man with a big faith. On four different occasions when he was about to be robbed he cried out in the name of Jesus and the would-be thieves fled in fear and trembling. The crowd outside ran in to see what had just happened.
We went at an hour when students on lunch break were standing around enjoying a pastry in the sunshine.

Raúl gave us each a palmerita, a pastry that resembles a palm frond.
Energized by the sweet treat we continued our walk through the neighborhood and made our way to an area with many gift and craft shops and tourist attractions.
There were so many photos I wanted to share, so here is a link to an album about El Tigre, photos I took all throughout my visit.
Dora and I walked and talked for hours and I bought some gifts to take back home to family and friends.
That evening for dinner they had planned a special farewell outing to their favorite pizza place, a very family-friendly local restaurant--all you can eat pizza for $3.00 each! The waitress kept coming around with different varieties tempting us to overeat and we obliged.

On our walk back to the apartment we passed the internet cafe I had frequented throughout my stay. I invited Dora and Erni in to show them some websites, like Stephan's Ice Studio ( and Mike's robotics team ( Dora seemed to be interested but Erni appeared confused. Now, a year later, they have entered the cyber fellowship and are thrilled! They are taking computer lessons, and Erni at 80 years of age is fascinated. Both of them are so blessed by the human warmth they feel from connecting and communicating with loved ones in this way.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Back to School

Yes, I'm back in the classroom for a few days attending a training workshop to become certified by Lingua Lynx to conduct Reality Spanish courses to diverse groupings. To begin with I am being trained with the Spanish for healthcare curriculum, but may add on further certifications at a later date.
I am staying with my parents because the three-day training is in Warsaw. My youngest brother, Alan, is also in the class. We are very impressed with the effectiveness of the methodology and especially convinced of the need for this program which aims to build human connections using language as the bridge-
We worked hard today practicing the new techniques and will prepare and present a segment of a lesson plan tomorrow. I highly recommend the experience in whatever role applies to you! Do you speak Spanish? You can easily learn how to teach enough language to build bridges. And if you do not know the language, join a class you WILL acquire communication and cultural skills that will amaze you.
Only one problem, this revolutionary training is not available everywhere. So far only four states are represented and accredited: Nevada, Indiana, Colorado, and New Mexico. But it is growing. Check it out!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Back to BA

Argentina Series: Overnight travel from day 15-16

For the return trip to BA (as we used to refer to Buenos Aires instead of the proper abreviation--Bs. As.) I chose to pay a little extra to have the Betel Ejecutivo experience ( It is unique, the only bus service of its kind in the world--a Christian bus line that exists to minister and serve.
Betel, from the biblical name meaning 'house of God', was chosen to describe the restful refreshing environment they aim to provide through excellent caring services.
As we boarded the bus the stewardess greeted each one and handed us a couple papers. One was the Bible reading and devotion for the day and another was a coupon to fill out with any prayer burden we may have and contact information.
A newspaper awaited on each seat. The stewardess read the Scripture and devotion aloud and offered a prayer at the beginning. Then we were served a lovely meal in two courses: first cold cuts, then that plate was replaced by a hot tray.

The prayer 'coupons', as they called them, were collected after the meal and not long after they 'tucked us in' for the night, closed the curtains, turned off the lights, made sure we were warm enough.
Worship music woke us up early in time for breakfast and prayer before arrival at our destination.

The very next day I had an e-mail from Betel assuring me that their team had prayer for me and offering further follow-up if I so desired.

When we are in God's heavenly home we may hear of how many people were blessed by this creative method. In any case, we DO know that God's Word will accomplish what it was sent out to do!