Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Doozy Days (When Daddy's Gone), Part Two

Our second full day after Pedro's departure started much like the first, rousing a sleepy Silas for family devotions before heading him off to pre-school while his older siblings did their studies at home in Eli's company. My big goal for this day was to take advantage of a 2-for-1 special at a new car cleaning service located in the underground parking of our neighborhood grocery store. Since the cars needed to be of similar size to qualify for the sale, I invited our colleague Jenn to bring her little red Fiesta to join mine for cleaning while the two of us enjoyed breakfast together at a café upstairs. This was an unusual treat and I appreciated the time spent with Jenn who joined us on the field just five months ago and has already become an integral part of our missionary team. She has also been an encouraging missionary "aunt" to our children, making time to get to know each one and spending time building relationships with them. In fact, on the schedule for this day was lunch with Eva and Isabel at the Zofri where they would accompany Jenn in search of airtight bottles for her homemade "kombucha!"

One reason I was eager to have my 16-year old "beater" Fiesta detailed was a recent incident where I stumbled upon a strange man sitting inside my car attempting to steal the radio and other loose items inside. I'd felt icky in the car ever since and was so happy with the results of the cleaning! It was also a test of the company's services, as we had two more vehicles to bring in that day: our family's Kia van, and another green minivan which would be used by our returning teammates the next day. With just one driver at home, however, the movement of cars looked like this: after lunch, I drove the Fiesta to the Spinks' house, picked up the green van, delivered it to the underground parking lot of Lider, walked home, picked up the white van, delivered it to the underground parking lot, and walked back home. While the company's services were good, they were not quick, so I knew we'd be cutting close on time at the end of the day. What I didn't realize was that the call to pick up the vans would coincide with an accident at home (little Luciana and her mom were again with us that day, and the baby took a scary but thankfully harmless tumble on the stairs even though we were both within arms' reach!) Unfortunately, neither did I realize I had turned the green van off incorrectly which resulted in its battery being dead when I went to drive it away. By this time, Ian and Alec were on the far side of town awaiting pick up from basketball practice so I called to let them know to sit tight until I could reach them.

Thankfully, the lady at the company was so very kind. She called her husband to come help me jump the green van, so after walking to the grocery store I turned around and walked home to retrieve the jumper cables and then back again to provide them to my rescuer. She then asked her husband to drive our white van behind me in the green van so that I would not have to do another run back for it! In order to charge the van's battery, I kept it running as I picked up Yessica and Luciana and drove them through busy traffic home, finally heading then downtown to pick up my waiting sons. This was definitely one of those "doozy days" and I was not sad to see it go! The boys and I drove the green van back to the Spinks' house, ran inside to turn off a third-story light that was accidentally left on the day before, turned on the patio lights to deter unwanted "visitors" to the empty house, made sure the van was turned off correctly, and then drove the red car home. All's well that ends well, and excitement was running high with the knowledge that the next day our friends would be home after a year away.

Doozy Days (When Daddy's Gone), Part One

I've updated my cell phone screen to a picture of the two of us. It doesn't make the days any shorter or the crazy routines more manageable, but it does make me feel like I'm not so alone. Life with six kids is always an adventure, but it's one we usually take together. I sometimes call it "tag team parenting" which really means we are pulling in the same direction with the same goals, trying to make sure one or the other of us is always present and available to our children. 

We do it imperfectly, but we do it together. 

Except this week, Pedro is traveling outside the country, so I am doing it alone. It's only fair, since he did the same for me when I traveled stateside in May. And I am truly appreciative of the fact that he can be ministered to and soak in excellent training, counsel and fellowship with other missionaries to later share his experiences with us. I'm also so happy that his conference took him close enough to his parents to spend some special time with them as well.

But there has certainly been more than one "doozy of a day" since he's been gone. And I thought it might be fun to record some of it here and now, so that at a distant time in the future we might look back and remark how crazy our life once was. The trouble is, we are only on Day 5 and already I have trouble pulling up the details of Days 1 through 4! But I do know the early part of our week was spent in preparation for the arrival of our teammates, Jon and Kim Spink with their five children currently at home. My dear husband invested many hours to this end prior to his departure in a desire to "pay it forward" and make their return as comfortable as ours was when friends kindly painted and cleaned our house in advance of our arrival last year. Having done that, he also brought a neglected minivan up to speed so as to pass inspection and be ready to serve their family since the vehicle they left behind was having problems. On Sunday morning before church, Pedro drove to our friends' house to remove several seats from the van so it would be available to carry their luggage on the day they reached Iquique. Shortly after church, this picture was taken as he caught his flight to Santiago and then on to the USA.

So it was that my designated task on Monday was to go online to obtain Chile's mandatory minimum car insurance and Iquique's municipal permission of circulation in order for the van to be fully legal. It was my goal to start the day with our regular family devotions (currently consisting of The Bible Project videos and prayer) then drop Silas off to pre-school while Ian and Alec began their daily schooling with Elisa and Eva, Isabel and Owen did their work online. At 10:00 AM, I had a breakfast meeting with missionary colleague Pam and a FLORECE volunteer (at the volunteer's request.)

When our time together ended, I hurried home to pick up Yessica who would finish cleaning at the Spinks' home while we watched her 1 1/2 year old daughter. Said daughter is very attached to her mom and keeping her happy was easier said than done! Eva and Whittaker our dog joined me and the baby in dropping off Yessica and picking up Silas. We returned home for lunch with our family and "Luchi" (Luciana) who ate a few bites before falling briefly to sleep. Then I drove back to deliver lunch to her mom and planned to buy groceries. My route took me past our house yet again and God used this to put me at just the right place and time to witness a heartstopping unwise biking choice by one of my sons. Instead of continuing on to the grocery store, I summoned him into the car for a heart-to-heart conversation and afterwards poured out my frustration by voice chat to my husband far away!

But I still needed to buy groceries and just then Luciana woke up crying, so Isabel and I took her to Lider as a distraction. It turned out we ourselves were the distraction as people turned to stare while the baby cried loudly, "Mamá! Mamá!" in each new aisle as if she thought her mom might happen to be there. It wasn't until we reached the cookie aisle that her mood changed. Thank goodness for "galletas!"

After Lider, I dropped Isabel and Luciana off with Yessica for the next hour and hurried home to do some necessary paperwork before returning to pick them up. On the docket for the evening was still basketball for Owen, from 7 to 9 PM. I took Ian and Silas with me to drop off our guests, then navigated traffic to a neighborhood park where the two of them could play together for awhile. Finally we picked up Owen and returned home having completed our first day without Daddy and fell exhausted into bed!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Two Abundant Weeks, Part Three

A bittersweet part of the trip my sister Jenn and I took stateside in May was the "trip inside the trip" to take her oldest son Matias to North Carolina for his senior year of high school. It was special to be able to accompany Jenn on this journey, but also painful to witness their parting and to consider ours coming up with Eva the next year. In a short span of time, there were numerous details to be accomplished: clothes shopping, opening a bank account, meeting his principal and touring his new school, among others. 

It was an encouragement to see how God had gone before them to prepare the way for the senior year they had never expected. Rather than graduating in the country, city and school with the class he had always known, Mati would be graduating in another country, city and school with brand-new teachers and classmates. But he would also be joining two lifelong friends for this adventure, and all three would be living with a missionary "aunt" and "uncle" who had known Mati from infancy. Only God could have orchestrated the timing and details of all of their lives to intersect and complement one another at this time!

It so happened that Mati would be living in the same city as the daughter and son-in-law of our colleagues from Chile, who themselves were on furlough and in town to meet their brand-new granddaughter. It always feels a little surreal to connect with each other away from our mutual field of service, but it was a treat to spend a short while with the Spinks on a sticky summer afternoon getting caught up and admiring their sweet new bundle of pink!

And finally, one more surprise for our parents and one more momentous occasion of which we were able to take part on this trip was the Fisher family's commissioning service. Having walked alongside our sister Terri with her husband and kids for several long years while on raising their support, it was a joy to be able to celebrate God's faithful calling and supply in their lives. The surprise for our parents was the song Terri had chosen for the three of us to sing together, which was the same one sung at their commissioning service so many years ago. As we sang, pictures scrolled behind us from the years of ministry our own parents had in Chile, where they are still loved and remembered.


The path that I have trod, has brought me nearer God,
though oft it led through sorrows gates.
Though not the way I'd choose, in my way I might lose,
the joy that yet for me awaits.

Not what I wish to be, nor where I wish to go.
For who am I that I should choose my way.
The Lord will choose for me, 'tis better far I know.
So let him bid me go; or stay.

The cross that I must bear, if I a crown would wear,
is not the cross that I would take.
But since on me 'tis laid, I'll take it unafraid;
and bear it for the Master's sake.


Submission to the will, of Him who loves me still,
is surety of his love revealed.
My soul shall rise above this world in which I move;
I conquer only when I yield.

Terri did a wonderful job of planning every detail of the service. It was a blessing to see friends from different seasons of their lives who made the effort to come and join them on this evening. Extended family members - Dave's dad and our aunt and cousins - joined us also, as did several individuals from our mission board who have been an encouragement to the Fishers along the way. Soon Dave and Terri will join us in Iquique, and as the words above their heads declare in the picture below, "To God be the glory!"

Monday, June 17, 2019

Two Abundant Weeks, Part Two

It was a blessing to visit my parents' church twice during my brief visit to the States for their anniversary. Our family "met" Grace Baptist Church of Lancaster during our 11 1/2 months of stateside ministry/furlough. During that time, a previously unknown-to-us congregation became dear friends and supporters. In a weekday morning Bible study and my mom's Sunday School class for adult women, I was blessed by the fellowship of sweet ladies from various backgrounds who truly cared for one another and expressed sincere interest in our family's story. In youth group, AWANA, Sunday School, choir and Sunday morning services, each of our children found encouragement and friendship. We were challenged individually and as a family by the practical, Biblical messages by Pastor Greg and the fleshing out of those messages within the church through ministries such as Discovery Recovery which was new and encouraging to us.

I love to listen to my mom teach, and was happy to be able to do on this visit. She is sincere, self-effacing, studious and sympathetic. She has read the entire Bible many times through, yet continues to have a teachable spirit and refreshing wonder at the truths contained therein. She spills this interest and excitement onto her listeners as well, never assuming vast knowledge but seeming to learn right alongside them. I love my mom so much!

On this trip, I also treasured Sunday morning breakfast prepared by my dad. There are so many memories wrapped up in this one simple meal! I don't think I exaggerate when I recall that throughout our growing up years, Sunday morning breakfast was the only meal I ever knew Dad to cook. He had one recipe: scrambled eggs, a bit on the dry side. Sometimes we'd enjoy bacon with our eggs with a strict limit of two pieces each. Often buttered toast rounded out the meal. It wasn't until later in life that I pondered the idea that preparing breakfast for us on Sundays - a pastor's working day - was an act of prioritizing our family before focusing on "ministry." Certainly doing so now is not an easy task for my dad with his struggles to stay on his feet and balancing/fine motor skill issues due to challenges from MSA (Multiple System Atrophy.) But in honor of two of his girls being home, there he was carrying out the task we witnessed hundreds of time in our growing up years. How I love my dad!

Dad's MSA has limited his lifestyle in recent years, restricting him to use of a walker as his legs often give out and sapping his energy so that he does not venture far from home for long periods of time. This made it all the more meaningful that he put out so much extra effort on our visit, summoning the desire to join us on outings that certainly taxed his limits physically. On two occasions we enjoyed theatrical productions together. Servant Stage brilliantly presented the musical "My Fair Lady" which brought back family memories from my sister Jenn's role as Eliza in a high school production. And as Lancaster residents, my parents were able to purchase half-priced tickets to Sight & Sound Theatres for their magnificent musical "Jesus." I am so thankful for these special moments shared together.

Sight & Sound Theatres, Lancaster, PA

Servant Stage production of "My Fair Lady"

It was a blessing to have so many family events packed into a short while, so that we were able to see extended family more than once during our two weeks stateside. The birthday of our niece Carey and the graduation from masonry school of our nephew Sabastian allowed us a pleasant afternoon with them and other friends and family members. Our former missionary colleague Crystal drove to spend the day with us and it was a joy to reconnect with her! 

Of course, we loved more opportunities to hold beautiful grand-niece Josie as well. Both sets of grandparents and her great-grandfather Fisher were also visiting, so there were many arms awaiting her! Another special person we met was our nephew's girlfriend Emma (to whom he would become engaged several months later) which made it so nice to place a face with a name!

While at Terri and Dave's for this celebration, many hands made "light work" of crushing galletas de vino that Jenn had brought from Chile and mixing those with manjar to later roll in coconut, creating delicious Chilean cocadas for the Fisher commissioning service and dinner. The beauty of the body of Christ but especially those of us who have connected across countries and cultures is the ability to pick up not only where we left off, but also incorporate shared customs and tastes that bring back so many sweet memories!

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Two Abundant Weeks, Part One

On Monday the 20th of May, a day dawned that had been months in the making as my two sisters and I planned to surprise our parents in a special way for their 50th wedding anniversary. On that day, Jennifer and I flew from our respective points of origin in southern and northern Chile to meet at the Santiago airport and continue flying together stateside. I was accompanied by my oldest daughter Eva, who remained in the capital city with friends for the duration, while Jenn's oldest son Matias joined us on our northward journey.

awaiting pick up in the Baltimore airport

Terri and Dave graciously made the drive to retrieve us in Baltimore, even detouring for a Chick-fil-A stop as a "Welcome to the USA!" As always upon reentry, we marveled at serving sizes and the wonder of free refills but we were all most eager to reach Lancaster. After nearly 24 hours of travel, we arrived to find our parents' home empty as they were at a doctor's appointment. This gave us the perfect opportunity to choose hiding places and agree upon secret signals in order to carry out the long-awaited surprise!

We later realized that our parents upon first glance confused Matias with one of Terri's son, thus resulting in less surprise than we had anticipated. But the appearance of their daughters awakened the shock and tears we had hoped for, making all the long months of whispering and waiting so worth it! It was somewhat surreal to sit down to a meal all together after two years (for Jenn) and a year (for me) of separation from Mom and Dad. 

around Mom and Dad's table once again

With the meal pictured above began two abundant weeks lived in fast forward, with so many special moments packed into so little time. Meeting our great niece Josie; celebrating Mom and Dad's golden anniversary with 150 family and friends; transitioning Matias into his home away from home for the next school year; participating in the Fishers' commissioning service; enjoying a family birthday gathering; sightseeing; shopping; and more. Making it bittersweet was the knowledge that our spouses and children in Chile dearly wished to be with us. We attempted to stay connected with them through pictures and chats and videos during each new experience, and cherished their willingness to let us go in their stead. (Of course we also shopped diligently on their behalf, as any good trip to the States requires!)

an outing to Olive Garden with our niece and grand-niece

It was a special treat that several different opportunities allowed us to spend time with extended family whom we don't always see often, even when we are stateside. Early in our visit, we planned a girls'-only outing to Olive Garden and the Lancaster shopping outlets with our niece Carey (married to Terri's oldest son, Jonathan) and darling great- (or as I like to call her, grand-) niece Josie. It was one of Josie's very first outings in her stroller, and she was the cutest and calmest little company as we explored together. Let me just say, bags pile up quickly when sales are great and you are shopping with mothers to five or six children and a grandmother to seventeen! I texted the picture below to my husband in Chile and his immediate response was, "Those better not be clothes!" Oops!

Of course, the highlight of this trip was Mom and Dad's 50th wedding anniversary. Friday, May 24 dawned beautiful and bright with the flower delivery person arriving that morning to deliver multiple bouquets. It was the simplest of these - a full vase of white daisies - that brought Mom to tears. Dad had remembered her bridal bouquet and ordered them as a sentimental surprise. He also whisked her off to dinner at a lovely restaurant they'd heard much about, and which did not disappoint. 

The following day was one long planned and prepared with the help of so many kind hands, including we three sisters but also our cousins, aunt, family, church and neighborhood friends of our parents. First came a professional photo session with Jen Mininger, who having previously experienced her own parents' golden anniversary and more recently the loss of her father, was the gentlest and sweetest person who could have done this for us. She drew stories, songs and laughter from Dad as she encouraged natural communication between him and Mom, capturing tender memories as a result. A smiling family picnicking nearby noted to us that "either they're newlyweds or they've been married a long time!" and gave their best wishes. True to character, Dad was interested not only in his own story by also Jen's and by the end of the session, stopped us to gather around in a circle of prayer for her. 

There are many photos I love from their session, but below are three of my favorite images taken by Jen:

And finally, after the pictures it was back home for brief moments before entering the fellowship hall brimming with people who love them. Family members on both sides, friends from Delaware and Chile and Pennsylvania and places between. Those who were their "flock" when Dad pastored and also teammates in ministry at home and abroad. So many precious people who took time on that Saturday to stop in and express care and congratulations for Mom and Dad's 50 years of marriage together.

Our nephew Matias, Jenn's oldest son, made a beautiful video for his grandparents which was shown at the beginning of their anniversary open house. It was another surprise, made possible by hundreds of slides being digitized after dusty decades of unuse, and brought more tears and laughter.

Our cousin Heather bought the cakes and brought them from a bakery in Delaware in the neighborhood when Dad was born and raised. Our Aunt Joann helped us with purchases and our talented cousin-by-marriage Ana created beautiful floral centerpieces. Mom's friend Nancy who lives in their neighborhood and attends their church, organized so many details "on the ground" while we were far away. Whether in preparation or presence, each person contributed to the overflowing blessings of this day! 

cousin Heather with husband Dave serving behind the scenes
cousin-by-marriage Ana who created beautiful floral centerpieces
Mom with sister Debbie and Melody

When all was said and done, it was with full hearts and tired bodies that we retired to Mom and Dad's cottage with some other family members we see all too rarely. Aunt Deb Lincoln with Aunt Melody and Uncle Bruce Clark (Mom's sisters and brother-in-law) joined us for pizza and post-party conversation and company. Though we had stated "no gifts" on the invitations, our parents received a basket full of cards and thoughtful wishes and generous love shown to them. How evident God's abundant faithfulness and amazing grace was on this day! Yet another reason to be so very grateful.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Happy 17th Birthday, Isabel Hope

Our daughter Isabel has been her own unique person from the very start. I can still remember waiting with bated breath the news of her impending arrival after emotional months of expectation. She set her own schedule for entering the world, and when she did it was under critical circumstances that nearly took her life. We spent the night of her birth day on June 12, 2002 in prayer, hope and tears until we could finally meet the following morning in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of a Pennsylvania hospital. Against all odds, this beautiful dark-haired baby girl was released just over a week later with many follow-up appointments which she proceeded to pass with flying colors. It wasn't until a year and half later that it became evident she would need some additional support in some areas, thrusting her into the world of friendly therapists and doctors and devices as a little girl.

Now at 17 years old, Isabel is still her own unique person. She loves to read, mainly mysteries. She says she's not a writer but has spent hours spinning stories that I have yet to read (hint, hint!) She prides herself on her taste in music. She is a fun-loving sister to baby brother Silas and a sharp wit in competition with her other siblings. She likes riddles. She's a great game player. Social interaction is her thing. She (along with brother Owen) is the kid we can send to the counter to ask a question, or designate a solo seat on the airplane because meeting new people does not usually faze her. She hides a tender heart behind a bit of bravado. She likes to joke that she is "fun size" and it's a cute label that fits her well! 

With friend Tiffany, Aunt Pam, brother Owen, and Aunt Noni

When birthdays roll around, it is a creative quest to decide what "Sissy" will like. Rather than wrapped gifts, we often settle on experiences of some sort. For her 12th birthday, it was straightening her hair. This year for her 17th, it was highlighting her curls with some copper tones. As I write this post, it is actually four months after her birthday (shame on me!) and she is still enjoying the reddish tint which looks naturally lovely.

With friends Elisa, Catalina, Isabel, Meme and siblings Eva and Ian

Isabel also chose to save all birthday monies towards a special trip. Last year, she and I joined a team of medical professionals from the States as translators on a medical missions campaign in Temuco (southern Chile.) Immediately Isabel made the determination to focus saving towards next year's trip so that she could participate again. Unlike many of us, she does a great job not spending money! So birthday gifts from grandparents and missionary family were a blessing to that end.

With Mom and Dad, Uncle Jon and brothers Silas and Alec

Of course, Isabel's birthday would not be complete without time spent with friends. The evening of her birthday, she was joined by her missionary "aunts" and "uncles," special Chilean friends, brothers, sister and parents to sing Happy Birthday and enjoy a rousing game of Guesstures! It was a joy to celebrate our sweet, sassy, special, newly-minted seventeen-year old. 

Dear Isabel,

Happy 17th Birthday! I am so grateful God gave you to us one unforgettable June day. You have made our life so much more exciting and entertaining, deeper and richer than we would have otherwise known. Watching you grow up into a young woman has taught me so much. Believe it or not, you often remind me of myself at your age and I love that we can share interests such as a favorite author or books we both enjoy. I also cherish our Fridays going into FLORECE together! Even though we may each do our own thing, it is special to have a routine that the two of us share and as a mom I am proud to observe your warm reception and hospitality to each client who comes our way. I admire your interest in people and your courage in tackling new situations. I know that even though the details of the future may look uncertain, God has is all figured out and He has something tremendous in store for your life. Keep pursuing Him first and foremost, and He will make it clear to you! Daddy and I and many others are cheering for you always.

All my love,

Birthday Posts by Year:

16th Birthday - Isabel
15th Birthday - Isabel
14th Birthday- Isabel
13th Birthday - Isabel
12th Birthday - Isabel
11th Birthday - Isabel
10th Birthday - Isabel
9th Birthday - Isabel
8th Birthday - Isabel
7th Birthday - Isabel
6th Birthday - Isabel
5th Birthday - Isabel

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Across the Sea & History, Part Two

Young W.A. D'Arcy was buried far from home under the piercing sun and arid desert sands of the Atacama. His grave sits high on a hill in the Pisagua graveyard, overlooking the ocean which brought him to this forgotten place. My search for details of his century-old story does not fill in all the blanks, but it proves his existence and that of the ship on which he apprenticed. First, his name on a list from Ancestry.co.uk:

Then, information on his ship. The Largiemore, described as a "Steel Sailing Vessel 3 Masted Ship" was built in Glasgow just two years before D'Arcy's demise. It set to sea on November 2, 1892 and twenty-year old D'Arcy died just eighteen months later. Perhaps he was a member of the Largiemore crew from the very beginning. Regardless, he was certainly under the captaincy of John George Spencer (Master Mariner) who governed the Largiemore from its inception until its sale to Norwegian owners in 1910 (to be lost four years later between Montevideo and Adelaide with twenty-two persons aboard.)

Known for its speed, the Largiemore set a record for a 43-day passage between Rio de Janeiro and Adelaide in 1897, three years after D'Arcy's passing. I found five photographs of the Largiemore online, including a beautiful glass plate negative print by the Samuel J. Hood Studio of Sydney. Apparently Hood "would approach a ship on the assigned tug boat and photograph it as it lay off Sydney Heads. Once the ship reached the dock, Hood would board the vessel and approach the captain to allow him to sell the photographs of the ship to the crew. The captain authorised for the photographs to be paid for by the shipping company and then deducted a fee from the crew's wages." Hood was a creative businessman of his day!

What I would dearly love to see are the documents described in this entry from the Royal Museums Greenwich Collection. In a box buried far from here - under the weight of history and surely hundreds of other similar items - lies a log of the Largiemore including the year W.A. D'Arcy died. It also holds the letters written by Captain Spencer, beginning with the year of D'Arcy's passing. What more might we learn of this young sailor whose only memory is that of a fading marker on a sunlight sandy hill in a hidden corner of the country of Chile?

But perhaps the mystique is maintained by what we'll never know. Perhaps indeed those stories were carried far away "across the sea and history!"