Sunday, December 28, 2014

feliz navidad.

Merry Christmas to all!

This being my first year away from my family for Christmas made it a tough one. It was sad to be away and not be able to eat my grandma's Christmas fudge and to open gifts with my family on Christmas Eve. I was glad to see everyone over skype, but I was definitely sad to miss it.

Our Christmas lights in our room!

BUT! I did get to experience Christmas in Argentina! It's quite different. Mainly, it doesn't seem like such a big deal. Or it's a big deal in a different way.

On Christmas Eve, which they call Noche Bueno ("Good Night") they have a big dinner with family, sometimes friends. Dinner was around 10 p.m. Pork and yummy  and we sat and chatted about things. The family we stayed with spends the last 10 minutes before midnight in prayer thanking God for sending His Son and providing for us. Then they got out all the deserts and champagne, turned on the T.V. and counted down until the Navidad!

5- 4- 3- 2- 1... FELIZ NAVIDAD!

Then the whole city blew up fireworks! Haha! And since our house overlooks the city we had a prime view! Of course they were small fireworks that you set off with your friends on the 4th of July, and they told us that it was NOTHING compared to what it will be like on New Years!

On Christmas day the family we live with went out to their parents house to continue the festivities but we decided to stay back and celebrate our own way, which consisted of reading the birth of Jesus, making some of Staci's traditional family dishes, watching part of The Grinch, and opening the gifts we got each other. It was definitely different but enjoyable non-the-less.

Oh yea, I forgot to mention we made cookies since we couldn't make fudge!

Hope you all were able to find true Joy in the season and that you can start the new year rejuvenated!


Pastor Fabian, Patricia, Andres and Gabriel, 
the family I life with saying Merry Christmas after the Christmas service!

<3

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

weekend in irigoyen.

After a great week of recovery, both mentaly, spiritually, and physically, Staci and I went to visit the last of the four covenant churches here in northern Argentina.

This church is in a small town called Irigoyen (pronounced by the locals as "Irigoshen"). It is a 5-6 hour drive north of La Plata. What makes the trip interesting is that we have to stop for gas every hour and everyone has to get out of the car in order for them to fill it up. I haven't really asked yet, but I have a feeling that its either different from what we us in the U.S. or that their tanks are really small. Anyways, we traveled at night, so every hour I would sleep walk my way out of the van and wait for the guy filling up our gas to finish, then sleep walk back in, get comfortable and crash again.

The decorated door of the church in Irigoyen.

The pastor and his wife, Beto and Claudia, with their young daughter Alma have been making this trip for 6 months! 6 hours there after the work week, two or three days there, and 6 hours back on Sunday night. They do this because the church no longer has a pastor and they didn't want the church to close. After the last pastor left, a lot of the people left as well. The church service was only Staci, me, and three other people that come regularly. Beto explained that they have done a lot of outreach and have a few other new believer couples that they minister to, but they don't make Sunday church a priority.

At first I was kind of sad about the situation. But I was really encouraged by their faithfulness. They really feel called to ministering to the small town, and I think that God will continue to bless their faithfulness.

SO! Our weekend:


Saturday we prepared and ran the kids program that they have every Saturday night. We decorated stars and made angels to hang up at the church for Christmas! We also sang songs and Beto told a Bible story and we ended with "merienda," Argentina's official 4th meal that takes place between lunch and dinner. Staci and I tried to teach the kids Jesus Loves Me in English, but they were all super shy. Claudia said they would practice it and when we came and visited again they would show us!
The kids making little angels!

Decorating stars for the door. 

Claudia and Beto singing songs with the kids! 

Saturday and Sunday afternoon we were introduced to a couple of the young families that have recently become Christians in the town. Their kids come to the kids night and they both work on farms, one a milk farm, and the other a chicken farm!

Cezar showing us how to milk a cow. 
After he showed us I got to try, but I definitely need practice!

It was such an eye opening experience! The cows have to get milked every day twice a day! And there were SO many chickens! It was sad to think that all the chickens would soon be food, but it was also a reminder that there are people that do this kind of work to bring food to our tables!

Staci and I in one of 4 chicken pens. They have 25,000 chickens!

Sunday evening we had church. It was small but beautiful. Staci and I got to sing a song during the service and afterwards we treated the pastor and his family for ice cream before heading back to La Plata. We arrived back at our place around 4 a.m. and slept walked to our beds.


As always, thank you all for your prayers and keeping up to date with what's happening in Argentina. Here are some things you can be praying for:

- Please pray for Beto and Claudia as they continue making trips to Irigoyen. Pray that the new believers would be strengthened in their faith and that the church would grow. Also that God would show Staci and I what it looks like to continue helping in Irigoyen; whether we should make monthly trips with them, or something of the sort.

- Please pray that God would continue to shape our time with the churches in La Plata. There are a lot of ideas being thrown around, but want God to lead and direct our steps as we put ideas into action.

- Please pray for the relationships that we have started building with the community as well as within the church. There are people we run into a lot (the owner and workers at the local market, the lady that works at the kiosk down the street, and our normal server at the coffee shop in town). Pray that God would use us to encourage and speak truth to them!

- Also! Please pray for my mom back at home as she might have to have surgery in the near future. Pray for healing and a quick recovery if it has to happen. Thanks!


Last night I went to our church's prayer meeting. (When I say "our church" I am referring to the church of Fabian and Pratricia's, which is the church that I am living at.) It was so encouraging and great to see the congregation come together to talk to God. Please email me with any prayer requests as I would love to keep you in my prayers as well as being prayed for by you!


<3







Thursday, December 11, 2014

a falling star pt. II

I posted my rainy day poem as I said I would, but I did't want to leave it at that, so I thought I'd share a bit about the happenings around here. (Also, I usually don't like a post without pictures, but I'm having issues getting them uploaded due to wifi troubles... they will be added soon, but here's what's been going on!)

Tuesday and Wednesday have been full of helping decorate for Christmas! On Tuesday evening we joined Patricia (whose home we are living in) in making ornaments to decorate the church with. We wrapped balloons with gluey string and hung them up to dry. The first of a few different Pintrist-y sort of projects.

We were also invited to help out with Pastor Elia's churches decoration night. We had stayed in the home of Pastor Omar and Natalia, who are the assistant pastors of Elia and Martita. Their church is across town so we headed off towards trying to figure out the bus lines to get there (a nearly impossible task..). We got there and were put to work covering stars with tinfoil and tying a string on them to hang from all over the church. The tin foil was like tissue paper, which kept things interesting.

Pastor Elia lives pretty close to Fabian and Patricia, so he gave us a ride home, LUCKILY, because a huge storm blew in and by the time we got to the house it was a icy downpour. The 50 yards to our room left us drenched and we reached our room just in time to stop a flood of water from reaching our suitcases! Close call!

Yesterday we took the afternoon to take a trip to Carefore, which is the Argentine version of a Wal-Mart, ironically, next door to Wal-Mart. After missing our stop and getting off the bus 20 blocks later, moving to the other side of the street, and waiting for the bus back, we finally got there, got the essentials, and took another bus back home. Who'd have guessed that something so simple would be a 3 1/2 hour process! I've definitely been thinking of ways to fill my commuting time.. books, sermons, etc.

Last night we spent another couple hours with Patricia making decorations for the Christmas service. This is a big time of year, and decorations are expensive, so making them is the way to go. She is a teacher, so has all these neat tricks that make decorations fun and less costly. Hope that you enjoy the pictures!

We also got some great news yesterday! We are officially accepted under the care of Covenant World Missions... We found out that this process usually takes 6-12 months, and my pastor in Salina said that a month ago he would have given it a 5% chance of working out. But the right people were here at the miraculously right time (we had to meet with the two directors of South America, who have never visited here until this year and they came 3 days after we arrived here). God has been working things out behind the scenes in SO many ways that I can't even imagine. All we have yet to do is fill out some paperwork and skype with some people so that we can get our account open.

I was just told yesterday that, "God is doing a thousand things in your life and we might be aware of two of them." This is so true! I think that there are plans for me here that I can't even imagine, but I am hoping to be continually guided and see the fruit of His labor, both in and through me.

Thanks for reading! You can sign up for getting these updates sent to your email by typing your email address to the right. Leave a comment or email me at l.iman1989@gmail.com. I'd love to hear from you and be able to pray with and for you as you have been doing the same for me!


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a falling star.

Catch a falling star
And put it in your pocket...
What happens on that rainy day?
Do the clouds get tossed away?
As if they're less than this star
You possess?
This is the start of the mess.
Judging beauty by function,
Making assumptions,
Not having the gumption to look in the mirror,
To not see flaws, but drops of rain.
None the same.
Known by name and cherished
By every flower
Every tree, blade of grass,
Bees that pass;
They rejoice!
Loving the booming voice
Of thunder!
The wonder!
The plunder of worms it brings.
And the baby bird sings
As it's mother returns.
It's a dance;
A chance to renew.
A time to find life
Whether it's in the midst of a storm
Or the clearest of nights.


<3

Sunday, December 7, 2014

rainy days.

A storm rolled in early this morning.  A cold relentless downpour, followed by ten minutes of calm, then a light drizzle that hasn't stopped. Seems kind of synonymous with how life has been in the last month.

This week Staci and I are finally settled into the house that we will be staying in. Take a visual trip with me. ^_^ You walk through a gate, unlock the door to a cement hallway. To the left there are doors that enter the sanctuary. The hallway is about 50 yards or so. If you go straight, you turn the corner to a patio, with nothing overhead. Bathrooms to the right. If you turn left after the hallway there is a staircase. Our room is half way up to the right. Keep climbing the stairs and you reach a huge room with tables and chairs set up like divided classrooms. Off to the left is our kitchen. And across from the kitchen there are more stairs that lead you to the roof, where there is another patio, a guest house, and a two bedroom house of the pastor and his family. It's a blessing. Cockroaches and all. ;)

The last month has kind of caught up with me now that we're settled; concluding in a lot of tears and wondering what God is up to.  It's a conglomeration of everything: the trauma of having to leave the organization I was with, the struggle of culture shock, homesickness in the holiday season, worrying about money coming through, and just trying to trust God through it all.

We were talking the other day about how we have started expecting for things to go wrong. Like, how God has been faithful to take care of our needs, but if it's not absolutely necessary, it has not been consistent. We didn't have running water this last week. We toted up water in buckets to the kitchen to clean and cook. Taking cold make shift baths. No one has air conditioning here. It's alright at night, but with the tin roofs, our bedroom becomes an oven. We keep the windows open at night for the breeze, but it lets in the bugs. Haha this morning I kept waking up to the buzz of a mosquito in my hear and started dreaming of being covered from head to toe in bites. Of course, wifi is a luxury when it's working. I know it's not a need of mine, but it's hard to feel so disconnected, especially when it's already hard enough to feel connected with people here being non-fluent in the language.

All this to say. God has definitely been showing me that He is all I need, which led me to listen to Nothing Without You, by Bebo Norman on repeat.

"All my soul needs
Is all Your love to cover me
So all the world will see
That I have nothing without You."

It's crazy that you can give up all you have to serve in another country, just to be taught more about God and needing Him than you could ever teach anyone else. It's humbling. And of course makes me question my usefulness. But as I was reminded before coming here: God doesn't call the qualified, he qualifies the called.

Thank you for all your prayers. And for listening to my semi-sad processings. I wrote a poem about how rainy days are just as beautiful as starry nights =) I'll share it on another day.


<3





Thursday, December 4, 2014

The other day I was chatting with a friend back home. After a while she asked, “So what are you up to down there?” As I fill her in, I realize that I’m doing the same thing she is doing in her town. Some mundane, like cleaning. Some essentials, like cooking. And some church functions, taking the youth group on an end of the year trip, going to prayer meetings, and listening to people. Of course there’s things like drinking m├íte, eating at weird hours, having to take 30 minute bus rides to town, and worrying about drinking the water and eating the fruit. But no matter where you are, you’re serving “overseas.” Ha! I learned this in Indonesia, when I heard they were sending missionaries to other countries. The main difference is there are a lot fewer believers and less opportunities for people to hear the gospel here.

It has been a trip. Kind of what I expected, but, a lot of unexpected. Like leaving the group I came with and joining another one. Like traveling to a different location more than every week for two months. Like not getting to cook for myself until today! Then, not knowing what to cook or how to buy what I want when I can’t read everything on the labels.

It’s a learning and growing experience. But I want you to know that you can learn and grow where you are. You can meet someone at the park or at work just as easily as I can on a bus getting lost on my way back to my host home. I read an article recently about how missions is everywhere. And something they said that stuck with me is that we are all called to be a neighbor to those on our street, it’s just that some people live on streets in other countries.

Bendiciones mi amigos. (Blessings, friends)



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