Saturday, September 27, 2008


This past week's devotions were on gratefulness. Tonight's message focused on the theme of this weeks devotions reminding the young people to be grateful. One of the passages used was Esther chapter six, which holds a treasure trove of lessons we could learn about gratefulness...faithfulness....meekness...pride....

Because King Ahasuerus was grateful that Mordecai saved his life, he honored Mordecai. After Mordecai was honored he went right back to sit at the king's gate (faithfulness). Because Esther was meek towards her husband the king he honored her by allowing her to make a request of him. And as a result of Haman's pride he was hung on the very gallows he had made to murder Mordecai, and all the Jews including Ester.

I'm not really sure if all that was preached on tonight because the young man who was preaching speaks so fast that often I get about a quarter of what he says. So the above is just my input on things I learned while studying this chapter for the past couple weeks.

Even though I didn't understand all the message I really enjoyed tonight's youth meeting. I was so encouraged that I got to listen to verses said by teens who are faithful in their walk with the Lord, but also (especially) by teens who have really been struggling. The teens collectively said 190 verses this past week. There were several chapters of Scripture that were quoted. Twenty-six young people completed their weekly devotions. And on one team everyone completed their devotions for the week. Praise the Lord! Keep praying!

PS. For all the interested SIGMA teens and workersthe Black team won last week, while Blue won the Devotions and the Game, and Red won the Verses. Oh yeah, brother Jim, now I understand how that happens!

Gold Ribbons for Childhood Cancer

Dear Friends,

I hope you don't mind that I have passed this letter on to you from a dear friend of mine, Sandy Smith. I'm sure after you read of her families experiences from their first month after diagnosis of both breast cancer for her, and brain cancer for their son, you will be touched by their story.

In the past four years I have known four children with childhood cancer - the preschool son of a friend who died from an undetected brain tumor; my second cousin who endured 3 surgeries, chemo and radiation; a girl in our church here in Uruguay who is has already been in the hospital for a month; and Andrew Smith whose inoperable brain stem tumor gives him a terminal diagnosis. In each of these cases the battle has been with cancer of the brain of varying types and all of these children have been younger than 8 years old.

The Smith family are in the ministry and we are richly blessed to have met them as we presented our ministry in their church. Since that time we have become good friends and our families have had ample opportunities to bear each others burdens through prayer. We know you have also been in prayer for them. I believe you will be blessed by the evidence of God's work in their hearts and lives. Thank you for taking the time to read Sandy's letter.

For the families battling childhood cancer,

Debbie Borrmann

September 26, 2008

Have you seen a gold ribbon? Do you know what it stands for? Have you heard that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month?
I am the mother of a child living with brain cancer, a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma. I finished breast cancer treatment on July 10th and flew from Michigan to West Virginia that day for the funeral of another child...a beautiful fourteen year old girl who lost her battle with the same rare brain cancer.

Everywhere I look I see pink ribbons, I feel gratefulness...and I feel anguish. According to an article published in the New York Times on September 22, 2008, as a result of advances in treatment “...98 percent of women with early-stage [breast] cancers survive at least five years….” Why is this true? Because we have banded together to raise awareness and funding for our mothers, our sisters, our aunts, and our daughters. Our children who are living with—and dying from—cancer desperately need that same attention...and funding.

Helen Jonsen, senior editor and mother of a child who recently underwent treatment for osteosarcoma, stated in a September 12th article, “Cancer is the No. 1 disease killer of children in the U.S. ...We tend to talk about it in hushed tones instead of screaming for help. But scream we should.” The article goes on to say, “The funding for pediatric cancer clinical trials has gone down every year since 2003, and is currently $26.4 million. By comparison, NCI funding for AIDS research was $254 million in 2006; funding for breast cancer topped $584 million the same year.”

September 13th was our nation's first Childhood Cancer Awareness Day. When I didn't see anything about it in the news—but I did hear about National Talk Like a Pirate Day a couple days later, I made some calls to our local news stations. For some reason I can't get the words of one of the story editors out of my mind. “So...what's your event?” Later…”Pitch me a story.”

Let's see...ummmm...would the deaths of 2,300 children each year be newsworthy? What about the diagnosis of 46 children each and every school day? What about the fact that only 2/3 of children diagnosed with cancer will survive? We could move on to funding. Is it newsworthy that for every dollar spent on a patient with prostate cancer, less than 20 cents is spent on a child with cancer...or that a patient with breast cancer has triple the research resource allocated to her when compared to a child?

When I mentioned that Child Cancer Awareness Day--and month--are a national thing, I was told, 'We put local news first.' Okay...I can handle that. A local event...I have a list of them.

The shock of a family receiving a breast cancer diagnosis on an October Monday afternoon, and taking their six-year-old to the Emergency Room on Thursday only to be told, “There is a large area of swelling in the brainstem; we suspect a mass.” We could always throw in the comic relief of the words, “My mom has a mass!” coming out of the mouth on that happy little face.

How about a mother leaving the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit late that night to go home because she knows she needs to get a good night's sleep before attending an Interdisciplinary Clinic early the next morning...where her own treatment plan will be recommended?

How about a local pastor, husband, and father being given the specifics of his son's grim diagnosis and prognosis in one hospital while waiting for news of the specifics of his wife's diagnosis and prognosis from the Cancer Center at another hospital?

How about an 11-year-old boy and an 8-year-old girl being abruptly pulled out of the routine world of reading, writing, arithmetic, language, history and science as taught to them by Mom at home...and being thrown into a class on brain anatomy and abnormalities (specifically their little brother's) taught appropriately and compassionately by an MSU med school professor...who also happens to be their brother's new oncologist?

How about a six-year-old who finds himself no longer able to play the piano, the violin, or the cello because he has lost the strength on the left side of his body?
How about a mother waking up in her child's hospital room one morning, showering, and walking downstairs for her lumpectomy...while her husband takes over the duties of hospital parent and waits anxiously in his son's room for news of his wife's surgery?

Looking for a human interest story? Try the same mother moving back into the hospital early on a Sunday morning four days later so that her husband, a pastor, can be in church...only to watch in disbelief as her fun-loving, active six-year-old--determined not to have an accident--becomes too weak to sit up to go to the bathroom on a bedside commode. What about the willingness of that little boy to allow the nurses to help him even with the most private of things...because he knows his mother is recovering from surgery and he is concerned for her well-being?

Not sensational enough? Let's fastforward to Saturday, November 24th, 2007...two days after Thanksgiving. A mother sits in a hospital room with her sleeping son. She ends a phone call because she hears an alarm she has never heard before, an alarm letting the nurses know that her son's oxygen level is dropping. Soon the room is full, and it is determined that the child is disoriented, then staring ahead...completely unresponsive. Somehow everyone moves with the child on that bed through the hallways to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit where the intensivist begins the work of saving a precious life. Aside, the question parents never want to hear, though one that must be asked, “Given his prognosis—do you want us to resuscitate him, if necessary?” The father, who has just arrived, breaks down in the unbelievable stress of the moment. The mother realizes the urgency of the situation, pushes emotions aside, and asks, 'Do we know what is happening?' The answer is no. 'Then, yes, we want you to do everything you can for him.' She stands at the foot of the bed with one of her son's oncologists. Together, they watch the PICU team work...with a machine. The mother steps outside the room only when the child is intubated. The drama continues, as the entire department revolves around that one room...that one little boy.... The eyes of those outside the room...every nurse, every resident, every doctor...are looking in the same direction. The parents sign permissions as they are handed to them, and the work goes on. Everything seems to be happening in slow motion. Finally, the intensivist approaches. The child is critical, but stable...on life support....

I have just highlighted the first month of our new life in the pediatric cancer world. I am aware of four precious children who died this week—within 48 hours—as a result of just one type of rare cancerous brain tumor, the same as my son’s. Skyler...Adam...Mara...and Brynne. They belonged to all of us. What will it take for people outside of the childhood cancer community to notice what is happening to our children? What will it take for everyone to understand the urgency of the situation? What will it take for the federal, state and local governments to finally engage in the fight? Will it be the cancer diagnosis of a celebrity’s child or the child of a political leader? Will it be the death of child belonging to someone in the media? Will it be your child?

Please, join the effort to raise childhood cancer awareness. Show your support by wearing a gold ribbon, and by making the issue an important topic of conversation. Distribute copies of this letter in your place of employment, in your place of worship, and in your community. Contact government officials, and express your concern.

A decade ago, we noticed a person wearing a pink ribbon on a t-shirt or lapel. It didn't take long for pink ribbons to raise breast cancer awareness in the public eye, and to mobilize our society to action. I hope that in 10 years gold ribbons will be as common as pink ribbons...and that the survival rates for pediatric cancers will be comparable to those for breast cancer. With your help, it will gold ribbon at a time.

With Hope for Our Children,
Sandy Smith
Breast Cancer Survivor & Mother of a Child who is Battling Brain Cancer ©

Monday, September 22, 2008

A day in the life of MK's

Last week Brandon went with a small group from our church to Salto, Uruguay to assist the Sanders family in distribution of tracts and information about their new church plant. From what I understand our young people and the Sanders teens had a lot of fun with eachother. I will probably get myself in trouble for this, and I sincerely hope I don't offend anyone with this quote of Brandon from a note he wrote. Please note they did not joke around like this while they were passing out the information, just when they were sightseeing.

I do plan to have him blog about the more serious aspect of his trip. Until then enjoy reading about the fun an MK can have on the mission field.

1: Ask where non-existant streets and stores are and watch people either tell you that they don't know, or be too proud to tell you they don't know and give you directions to no where.

2: Act like you're a gringo that doesn't know much spanish, and go around asking for directions to the jungle to see the monkeys (there is no jungle in Uruguay).

3: Try not to laugh while people deny you a 5 peso donation to "The Foundation for the Assistance of Children with Chronic Diarrhea", while your accomplice stands behind you complaining that he "really has to go!" (we didn't actually pull this one off...there are only so many hours in the day, hahaha.)

P.S. Lest anyone call me a horrible MK, Salto is NOT my family's place of ministry, and we were only there for three days (not enough time to even see the whole city.)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

This week's character quality...Deference

It is our desire that the young people, and adults, involved in the youth ministry would grow in their faith. Each young person has a devotional book which includes a section for sermon notes. The theme for this first SIGMA block is based on the character qualities of Christ. Each week's devotions have a different character quality - deference, thankfulness, honesty, meekness, and self-control. It is our prayer that each young person would understand more of what it means to be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ; that they would know just who Jesus Christ is; and that most importantly they would place their faith and trust in Him for their salvation.

Tonight was another great youth meeting. Throughout the past week we were encouraged by the number of verses being said to us and the leaders and close to 200 verses were said this past week!!! One Christian growth book and one missionary biography were read. A mission project is being planned. Five visitors were brought. And over 60 ministries were counted - young people playing in the orchestra, teaching or helping in Sunday School, and a mission trip to Salto, Uruguay to help the Sanders with their new church plant were among those counted.


I love the moments when confusing things finally click in my mind. About 3 years ago, through tutorials, I learned to use my computer to scrapbook digitally. I had days, weeks, where I could not grasp what in the world the tutorials were talking about. There are still things I don't get but now I can scrap on my computer with relative ease.

Spanish has been a different story, it just hasn't clicked. Though I have been pretty immersed, have taken language classes, used computer helps, etc. the ability to understand the words being spoken has escaped me. Often times, as is in English, the native speakers can't explain to me why they say the things the way they do, they just know it's the right way to say it. So for 20 months Spanish has been swirling around in my head more like a rip tide than a flowing stream of thought.

Three weeks ago, Scott and I started intensive Spanish classes with Rebeca Valiente. Rebeca is from Peru and has been using the materials used there to teach missionaries Spanish. Each day after starting with prayer, we quote verses that we have memorized, we quote from memory the books of the Bible, and then we read aloud a chapter of Romans. Then we get into the conversation and question answer period using the verbs of the lesson...all in present tense for right now. We have 16 hours of class time and at least another 8 hours of study time. This has done wonders to firm up Spanish in my mind. So much so that I am actually able to comprehend much of what I'm reading and hearing.

Thank you all for praying for us as we learn Spanish. We know for some it clicks right away and they learn with very little effort. Unfortunately for us it has taken more time and definitely a lot of effort. But finally it is coming. Your prayers are working!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Update 3 on Belen

With sighs of relief we rejoice with Belen and her family that her tumor is benign. I've been told that Belen may be transferred back to Colonia the end of this week. She is doing very well and still eating, drinking and talking. The only problem she has had is fluid build up in her head. I'm not sure if that is a result of the trauma of surgery and will resolve with time, or not.

Please continue to pray for the Mengens and for other families whose news is not so good. This week our friends, Shawn and Sandy Smith, received news that Andrew's tumor is enhancing. Meaning that it is either growing or necrossing, neither is good. They are 11 months into their new life in the brain tumor world. I know they have been a blessing to other families thrust into that horrible reality. And I know they would greatly appreciate your prayers.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

SIGMA Begins

For several weeks we have been preparing to begin a new youth program here in Colonia. Scott and I had two full years as SIGMA team leaders in our church in North Carolina. We also had several months after that helping in the youth department while we began deputation. I can't tell you how thankful we are for having had the opprtunity to train under Jim Ogle's leadership. The things he taught us about young people and working with them are a tremendous asset to us. We have accessed that training to begin a new youth program.

I guess I should call it SIGMA modified. For now we are only have 5 weeks. After this period we will announce a winner. Have a couple weeks break, announce new teams and do another 6 weeks. In March, Lord willing, we plan to have the full school year SIGMA year.

Here in Colonia we have our youth meetings on Saturdays. So tonight we kicked off SIGMA. Our team leaders are Gabriel and Rebekah Chauvie, Pastor Daniel and Amparo Lopez and Pastor Archie and Ruth. They all did a fantastic job cheering on the young people as their rosters were announced. Then later in playing the games. They encouraged the young people to pay attention and to take sermon notes by setting that example personally. Finally they did a great job explaining the "rules" about verses, points and projects in their team meetings .

We came home with 4 very excited young people. I took some videos on my cell phone of the games. I hope you enjoy the excitement.

Happy 5th Birthday Isabel!

I cannot believe another year has passed so quickly, and now, Isabel is 5. I had fun teasing her this morning about whose birthday it was.

We've had a very full week. Monday we enjoyed celebrating her birthday with our Peruvian friends. Their daughter, Cesia, turned 5 on Sunday. Somehow this fact escaped us last year. So this year we had their parties together. It was a princess Strawberry Shortcake theme. I made a simple cake this year - strawberry with strawberry frosting and sprinkles. We played simple games and painted faces.

I've tried to post photos but for some reason blogger doesn't want to let me. I'll try to remember later.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Lies We Believe About Marriage

After four hours of Spanish class I wasn't too sure my mind was in a state to teach the ladies Bible study last night, but God intervened and kept my mind working. It turned out to be a great lesson. Several of our ladies questions were answered in this section of the book. As we read the many verses applying to marriage the ladies heard straight from God about the blessings that can be had if they counter the lies believed about singleness and marriage with the truth from His Word.

LIE: I have to have a husband to be happy.

TRUTH: The single ladies learned that happiness is not found in (or out of) marriage. There is no person who can meet our deepest needs. Those who wait on the Lord (including for a mate) always get His best. God has promised to provide everything we need. If He will receive more glory from her being married, then He will provide for her a husband.

LIE: It is my responsibility to change my mate.

TRUTH: The ladies learned that God can do a far better job of changing
our husbands than we can.

LIE: My husband is supposed to serve me.

TRUTH: The ladies learned that God made us to be the helper to the man. We are never more like Jesus than when we are serving others so we ought to seek to serve not seek to BE served.

LIE: If I submit to my husband I'll be miserable.

TRUTH: The ladies learned that submission places us under the protection of God. Our willingness to place ourselves under God-ordained authority is the greatest evidence of how big we believe God is. Our submission to our husband should demonstrate the way the church is to submit to the authority of the Lord Jesus.

Since the ladies are reading the books on their own and then we meet I have used more of a review format with the studies. At times I will teach on the chapter as a whole and hit on the individual lies. Other times I will use the Walking in the Truth book to help clarify some things for the ladies...and for myself. I am constantly amazed at the sweet teachable spirit of our ladies. Their hearts are tender towards the things of the Lord and God is able to change them into His image as a result.

After the study was complete, well most of the study, we had to stop for lack of time, we had a birthday party for Amparo Lopez. She and her husband are missionaries here, from Peru. It was so much fun to surprise her with the blanket that we made, that she thought was for one of our older ladies. The ladies also brought gifts for her and we had lots of sweet treats. I'm thankful for my friend, Amparo. I'm so looking forward to seeing how God will continue to use her here in Uruguay.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


We all remember seven years ago when for the first time, at least for my generation, we experienced the fear of being under attack on our own shores; The wondering of what was coming next; The concern of just how many planes had been hijacked and how many more buildings would be destroyed; The realization that thousands of lives were sent into an eternity. It was a day we will never forget.

Until someone told us, or we heard the reports over the news, many of us were oblivious to the terrorist attacks. And when we did realize what was happening, the day was so extraordinarily beautiful that it was difficult to really believe something so horrific could be occurring.

We felt better knowing the planes were grounded and, other than military patrols, the skies were void of air traffic. There was a certain odd feeling though when we gazed into clear skies no longer streaked by jet exhaust. Then came the ominous, disquieting feeling of having the world we've always known come to an end.

Those who had loved ones in New York and Washington DC experienced the range of emotions of intense grief for those who lost a loved one to intense relief for those who knew their loved one was safe. We grieved and rejoiced with them both.

And then the war began. One on our own shores and one abroad. The frustration of losing certain freedoms - traveling by air with nail clippers, baby bottles of formula, medicines, etc. The questioning fear about every middle eastern person boarding a plane.

Still today, seven years later, the experience of September 11 seems almost like yesterday. Today, we remember those who lost their lives, those who sacrificed their lives to try to stop what seemed to be inevitable, those who searched for survivors and those who go to foreign shores to protect our shores.

Today, we remember!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

God Will Make a Way

In Spanish the word Prueba means proof, evidence, sign, ordeal, trial, exam or test. Yesterday a simple drivers test "prueba" became a significant ordeal "prueba". A week ago Scott told me that we had an appointment to take our drivers license "prueba". My response was to sigh and ask God to help me forget about it. Those of you who are wondering why I didn't ask for help in studying, I most definitely would have requested help had there been anything to study. Though Scott asked a couple times at the entendencia they told him there was nothing to study. We asked Uruguayans who also told us the same thing. It wasn't until we were in the midst of taking our tests and I was fighting back the tears that the exam officer told us there are study materials on the internet. GRRR!!!!!

I tried to focus on the test as I fought back the tears and the frustration. As soon as I would get my focus back I'd realize I had no idea when I was supposed to use my horn, how far from the curb or the corner I needed to park, what the speed limit is in neighborhoods, the difference between a cebra and a regular crosswalk, etc. In my discouragement I kept thinking, "Well, there is no way I'm passing this test and I'll not be able to drive here anymore." Then "God will make a way." would come into my mind. If it weren't for that reminder and that I'm not a quitter I believe most of my test would have been left unanswered.

I thank God for the reminder that He can work things out. And for the reminder to trust in Him and guard my heart. I'll admit after I turned in my test and they called me to have my picture taken I thought, "Man, they have a wasteful system here because there is no way I passed that test." And then as Scott went to take his moto test he told me that my license was being printed and as soon as I had it I could go on home. "HUH? Did they even grade my test?" I wondered. I was still so upset from the test that after I paid for my license and put it and my cedula into my wallet I hadn't taken the time to realize what had happened. As I drove home "God will make a way." came rushing back into my mind. Indeed He had!

Scott told me when he got home that they didn't grade our tests. Evidently our US drivers licenses were enough proof to pass us even though we probably failed the prueba. I still have a lot to learn about my response to God when He puts me through a prueba.

Pray for your missionaries! Pray for them for all those things that seem to be little, mundane, and simple. I'm not sure about other missionaries but I have found in my life here in Uruguay that the simple things are often the ones used by the devil to overwhelm me and get me to question God. Even so, I need only to remember the faithfulness of God. God will make a way!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Update 2 on Belen

This afternoon Belen is recovering from a second surgery. This time the doctors found and removed a very large brain tumor. The last report I had was that she was out of surgery and recovering. Please continue to pray for her family and her recovery.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

All the little B's are legal residents...

When we were in Bible College our Pastor often had to make difficult announcements, sometimes he was able to share a blessing at the same time. He would say we have an opportunity to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. We have one of those times.

It seems odd to share this news with you know, but we know God's timiing is best and we want to give Him the glory for answered prayers. On Friday before we left for the ladies retreat Scott got a notice in the mail that he needed to get the certificates granting the kids legal residency in Uruguay. Yesterday before spending the afternoon and evening at the hospital awaiting Belen's surgery he took the morning to go to immigration. This morning he showed me the 7 certificates for each of our USA born children. PRAISE THE LORD!!!!

10 months ago when Silas was born there was no law on the books which would help us to gain residency. We simply (ha, was there anything simple about it?) had to go through the process, and continue going through it. But God knew that in February of this year a law would be passed granitng residency to parents of Uruguayan born children. All our other children fell into this same benefit. We can't tell you how glad we are to have that finally finished. Our support level ought to go up now that we don't ahve to keep making trips into the capital for red tape. Thanks for praying.

Update on Belen

I can't begin to imagine the patience a parent would need to have to wait as long as Pocho and Leticia needed to for the surgery of their daughter. Originally scheduled for 2pm Uruguayan time the surgery didn't begin until 5:30. Unfortunately the surgery was halted after the surgeon repaired a prominent vein he accidentally cut through. After exploring the area they decided that there was too many veins and they weren't certain there was even a tumor.

So now they are keeping Belen in a drug induced coma for a couple days for the vein to begin healing. Hoping to discover the reason for the excessive amount of veins the plan is to inject her with a dye and see where it goes.

Please continue to pray for the family. They are all resting in the Lord but they need our prayers nevertheless. Also pray for Pocho and Leticia's other children, Lucas and Timoteo. Timoteo is one of the six babies born last year and right now is sick with a virus and has a fever.

Monday, September 01, 2008

When Life Gives You Lemons...

The theme for our first ever ladies retreat seemed very poignent to our ladies as we received a phone call about Belen Mengen's brain tumor. Certainly beginning a retreat with this theme in prayer for a family who had just been handed a bushel of lemons was quite difficult. It was heartwrending to say the least for us. God was working in their hearts as they were trying to figure out how to help turn the Mengen's lemons into blessings...aka lemonade. One thing they knew they could do was pray.

Elizabeth Sanders spoke on how God worked in her heart as they had to leave their beloved mission field of Venezuela. She reminded us of the examples in Scripture of people who were able to take trials or difficulties in their lives and turn them into blessings and those that did not.

I taught the ladies how to make double layer fleece lap throws. They all loved that they were being a blessing to our shut-ins who will be the receipients of the throws.

Throughout the retreat we gave out gifts to each of the ladies. The gifts ranging from Bath and Body Works to ladies Christian growth books, and Sacred Music Cd's were wrapped and sat at the front table. The deep appreciation for their gifts was a highlight of my weekend.

The men were a tremendous blessing as they made and served us all the meals. They also cleaned up after each meal. The ladies loved being able to relax and not worry about anything.

Thank you again for your prayers. God really blessed the weekend and made it a huge success.

More aware every day

Thank you for praying for the Mengen family. Belen is scheduled to have surgery to remove the tumor in her brain at 1pm (EST). They are expecting that the surgery will take about 4 hours. Please continue to pray for this family as the Lord brings them to mind.

Before July of 2005 childhood brain cancer was something that affected others. When my 3 year old second cousin was diagnosed with Medulablastoma, a tumor on her brain stem, childhood brain cancer was, in a sense, brought home. In October of 2007 our friends, Shawn and Sandy Smith's son Andrew received a diagnosis of a Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, an untreatable brain tumor that is found in the brain stem. On Friday pediatric brain cancer hit within our church family here in Uruguay. Though I don't know the name given to Belen's tumor I do know it is situated at the lower back part of her brain near the cerebellum.

After Andrew's diagnosis last year I have learned quite a bit about just how little progress has been made towards curing childhood brain cancer, DIPG's specifically. September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. I'd like to encourage you to stop in at these web sites and learn more about childhood cancer and how you can help to raise awareness. Team Unite , Just One More Day, Andrew Smith's CaringBridge Site, and Madi