Saturday, December 29, 2007

Los Tres Botones

The Estrema family, missionaries in Buenos Aires, Argentina, came for a visit the day after Christmas. Jeremy preached on Wednesday night. The Estrema's daughter Ellie turned 4 on Wednesday and for her birthday we went out Los Tres Botones on Thursday.

First we toured the farm. I had to laugh at the crinkled noses when we went by the pigs pen. Their smell is quite familiar to me since I used to raise pigs. But nobody else seemed to appreciate their cute muddy faces and body as they tried to keep cool. Oh well, at least they like farm life. Our family all felt reminiscent of our Michigan farm life when the farmer brought out a bottle of milk for Simeon to feed to the new calf. I remembered the time I was reading a farm animal book to Simeon, when I asked him where the cows were he ran to the front door and pointed out to the yard. Finally they all got to pet a rabbit and see the geese and chickens.

While we were touring, the farmers wife was cooking up a wonderful lunch of Asado and all the typical Uruguayan fixings. Including cheese made right there on the farm. To say it was all delicious is an understatement!

Before and after lunch we went horseback riding. All of us had the best time! Not one of our children was afraid of the horses. Simeon wanted to ride the HUGE (he was at least 5' 8" at the whithers) gelding with Scott. Though there isn't a picture of it I got to ride the gelding as well. I sure miss my aggie and veterinary days when we get to do things like this. Boy, we have the BEST mission field.

Christmas in Uruguay 2007

At midnight on Christmas morning the entire city of Colonia erupted into a huge display of fireworks. For over 30 minutes we listened to the explosions. Let me say our 4th of July fireworks display have nothing on the Uruguayans Christmas display. We even had some of our own but we set them off at 10 pm.

This years Christmas was much easier than last years. This year we had some familiarity with our home, not to mention all of our things. The kids had presents from grandparents and bags full of treats. Simeon ate all his candy that morning then ran around hammering and drilling everything in sight with his new tool set.

We had the traditional asado meal on Christmas Eve our Peruvian friends, Pastor Daniel and Amparo and their children, and Pastor Cristian and Jessica and their children were with us for the meal. For a Christmas gift we gave them all time to call their families in Peru on our Vonage phone. I'll post the pictures of Christmas Eve later as they are on a different disk.

Christmas Card 2007

Thursday, December 20, 2007

People are the same everywhere.

Visitation today was a bit more like in the States than what I have typically experienced in Uruguay. Here are some examples of what I mean:

One man actually raised his voice and shut the door on us - this is a first for me in this country.

Two children came out of a house to tell us that their parents were not home and that she was not allowed to talk to strangers. A short time later the mother came into the front yard. The problem was that I was looking back up the street and saw her. When she saw me she ran back into the house. I said to my visitation partner that the mother was teaching her daughter to lie. He responded "Yes, and one day she will lie to her mother too"

Another lady was very receptive and talkative until we mentioned death. She then became visibly disturbed and asked that we leave.

I admit that we, my visitation partner and I, were dressed similar to the Mormons. White shirts and ties. One boy even exclaimed the Mormons are coming. How sad it is that a white shirt and tie are immediately associated with Mormons. When we arrived at his house we clarified that we were Baptists.

The reality is people are the same regardless of where they live. There are no boundaries to the lost condition of man. There is no place that someone can be born where they do not inherit the sin nature. Today was a great reminder that even though the people are very friendly most of the time, they are still lost and in need of Christ as their Saviour.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Temporary Cedulas, Passports, and Consular Birth Certificates

One of the benefits of legal residency in Uruguay is the ID card called a Cedula. After spending several hours over 3 different days, and waiting for just over a week, we now have in hand our temporary Cedulas. First, Scott took me, Brandon, Kaitlin and Silas then he took Bethany and finally he took Nehemiah, Isabel, and Simeon in. This was all stretched out over 3 days. Thankfully we have a cedula office here in the city we live in, as I could not imagine making three trips into the capitol for these.

Hopefully, we will have our legal residency cedulas not too long into the New Year. Knowing it would take a lot of time and effort, and knowing we would have to do this again once our residency came in we waited (hoping our legal residency would be here by now) to get these temporary cedulas. Since our international drivers licenses are due to expire we needed our Cedulas to get our Uruguayan drivers license. Of course, because Silas is a dual citizen (Uruguayan/American) his cedula is permanent and won't need to be renewed for 5 years.

When Silas was 10 days old we headed to the US Embassy with him to gain his born abroad US citizenship. In order to get Silas' birth certificate and passport we had to prove I was pregnant with him, show his Uruguayan birth certificate and also prove that we are US citizens. They asked that we bring photos while I was pregnant and in the hospital, documents to prove we had lived in the US for at least 5 years after we turned 14, our passports, etc. Their suggestion for documents was old pay stubs, high school/college transcripts, bills, and the like. Since we left most of that in the States we showed up with what we did have - 7 birth certificates, one for each of our children born in the USA. I guess that satisfied their requests and proved our citizenship and Silas'. In two weeks time we had his new American passport and his consular birth certificate. It's amazing how quickly a passport makes it through the system when it's applied for abroad.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Silas' dedication.

Baby shower for Silas, Esteban and Jeremias

Presents from the church were attached to small Christmas trees. What a neat idea!

Debbie, Rebekah and Elida open the gifts for their baby's. Elida was still with child.

Judy Baltzersen, Amparo and Debbie with Silas.

The group photo. In front Debbie with Silas, Rebekah with Esteban and Elida.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Tick a year off the calendar.

One year ago we woke up for the first time in our Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay home. Two days before we were up early packing all that last minute stuff into our 22 checked bags. My mind was filled with all the last minute details and thoughts of what we had ahead of us...getting seven children, 11 carry ons, and 5 other bags (purses, diaper bags, etc.) plus two car seats through Chicago O'Hare, Washington Dulles, Buenos Aires and Uruguay airports and all 30+ hours of travel time without good sleep. Making a very close connection in DC. Life ahead of us on the mission field. Surviving in a country where we didn't speak the language. Man alive! How in the world did we manage all of that??? In short, the simple grace of God and a lot prayer warriors!

Some of the highlights of the last year:
  • We spent several months in Spanish language study.
  • Learned enough Spanish to communicate.
  • Scott has preached in English and Spanish.
  • Debbie has taught the ladies in English and Spanish.
  • Brandon has preached, joined choir and headed up game time for King's Kids.
  • Kaitlin has taught children in English and Spanish, joined the orchestra & junior choir, and works in the nursery.
  • The children have nearly completed a year of school.
  • Scott (with the Perez' help) has dealt with all of the paperwork to bring in a container, gain legal residency, get our Uruguayan ID's, renew our American Passports and apply for Silas' US citizenship.
  • Debbie experienced a pregnancy and delivery of a healthy baby boy.
  • We have all made friends and developed relationships with the Uruguayans.
  • Debbie has learned to cook nearly every meal from scratch, and Scott has learned to make awesome Chocolate Chip cookies.
  • Everyone has adapted to the basics of life in a foreign country.

Without question this year past year has been filled with blessings beyond measure. And we are ever so thankful to God that He has allowed us to serve Him here in Uruguay.