Quotes from Shadow of the Almighty

All quotes taken directly from Shadow of the Almighty by Elizabeth Elliott.

“You speak of it [education] as ’rounding out one’s manhood’ [Jim writes to his father]. It rounds it out, all right, but I’m afraid sometimes it’s more in the style of I Corinthians 8:1, ‘knowledge puffs up.’ ‘Culture,’ philosophy, disputes, drama in its weaker formes, concerts and opera, politics — anything that can occupy the intellect seems to turn aside the hearts of many here on campus from a humble life in the steps of the Master, though we sing about this most delicately! No, education is dangerous, and, personally, I am beginning to question its value in a Christian’s life. I do not disparage wisdom — that comes from God, not from Ph.D’s.”

“Walk as if the next step would carry you across the threshold of Heaven. Pray. That saint that advances on his knees never retreats.”

“Our young men are going into the professional fields because they don’t ‘feel called’ to the mission field. We don’t need a call; we need a kick in the pants.”

“Father, make me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road; make me a fork, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.”

“I dare not stay home while Quichuas perish. So what if the well-fed church in the homeland needs stirring? They have the Scriptures, Moses, and the Prophets, and a whole lot more. Their condemnation is written on their bank books and in the dust on their Bible covers. American believers have sold their lives to the service of Mammon, and God has his rightful way of dealing with those who succomb to the spirit of Laodicea.”

‘He hath led me, and brought me into darkness, and not into light.’ Because I cannot see, nor even assuredly feel, His satisfaction with me, I cannot doubt the leading simply because of the dark. The leading is nonetheless real, the pathway has simply been into a place I didn’t expect or ask for.”

“Yesterday I prayed that God would take me to Peru or Brazil before I pass another October 8. I know inside that the flesh would like more training — and perhaps I’m fitted to train more — everybody seem to be planning on it around here. But those generations passing away at this moment! They must hear of the Savior! How can we wait? O Lord of Harvest, do send forth laborers! Here am I, Lord. Behold me, send me.”

“Mustard seed is rare stuff today.”

“… but are we so childish (I do not say childlike) as to think that a God who could scheme a Jesus-plan would lead poor pilgrims into situations they could not bear?”

“How long shall we sit analyzing, questioning, arguing, discussing, before God lays hold on us with power to thrust us out to the billion and a half who have not yet heard?”

“Betty, I blush to think of things I have said, as if I knew something about what Scripture teaches. I know nothing. My father’s religion is of the sort which I have seen nowhere else. His theology is wholly undeveloped, but so real and practical a thing that is shatters every ‘system’ of doctrine I have seen. He cannot define theism, but he knows God. We’ve had some happy times together, and I cannot estimate what enrichment a few month’s working with him might do for me, practically and spiritually.”

“If men were filled with the Spirit they would not write book on that subject, but on the Person whom the Spirit has come to reveal. Occupation with Christ is God’s object.”

“…remember that we have bargained with Him who bore a cross…”

“I try to get in what I call ‘reprobate reading,’ a little every day, just to keep from dropping into the stereotyped and conventional.”

“II Timothy 2:4 is impossible in the United States, if one insists on a wife.”

“Jim was extremely wary of women, fearing that they only intended to lure a man from his goals. ‘Domesticated males aren’t much for adventure,’ he warned me. Whenever a young lady got a bit too friendly at a social function and I appeared to be taking the hook, I’d hear a voice in my ear saying, ‘Beware, Fisher, beware.'”

“I must not think it strange if God takes in youth those whom I would have kept on earth till they were older. God is peopling Eternity, and I must not restrict him to old men and women.”

“I am not clear that the feeling commonly called ‘romantic’ is not, as much as any other natural feeling, sanctifiable and applicable to Christ’s purposes.”

“If God opens the door, who can shut? And if He says, ‘Go,’ who will dare stay?”

“There are sufficient numbers of believers to turn the whole city [Portland] to God if they would once turn to Christ and confess their shameful neglect of His work.”

“Missionaries are very human folks, just doing what they are asked. Simply a bunch of nobodies trying to exalt Somebody.”

“They’ve asked me to take over the position of business manager of the Tower next year. It would mean that I would get six grade points, free tuition for a year, and a $12,000 responsibility — but it would also mean late hours, a reduced class schedule, and participation in a lot of formal foolishness which I find difficult to reconcile with my non-conformist attitudes.”

*more Quotes here and here, many are repeats, but worth repeating

God works all things for GOOD

what happens when men/boys hang clothes

I have a hard time keeping up with the wash here. Somewhere in the midst of our illnesses this winter when the laundry piled up WAY high, my son took over. I never asked him to, maybe his Dad did, I don’t know – I was either in bed or taking care of someone. Either way, my 12 year-old son has now completely taken over the laundry. He likes it. He enjoys separating the colors, he says… (Huh?). Has anyone ever heard of this? I’m thinking this is somewhat unusual. Either way I tell him that he’s going to make a great husband some day. That and the great back rubs he gives. AND he’s neat and organized. I thank God he takes after my family in that way. My girls on the other hand…

So, as I was lying in bed with high blood pressure and migraines, my boy was diligently doing the laundry.

“And we know that ALL THINGS work together for good to those who love God,

to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

~Romans 8:28

a week in pictures

Some Good News: Feeling better health-wise; we are finally coming out of two long months of illness. Tony has been able to get back to the kids’ home, to the slums, and got a J.O.B. Things are looking up.

Tony working the camera

showing the boys a movie (Spanish subtitles) on science and God’s creation — note verses taped to the wall on the left

A close-up of the verses he’s been working on with the boys. Proverbs 17:17, because the boys always fight. John 3:36, a good gospel verse. I wrote them out in my better hand-writing, and Tony taped them to the walls; no one’s ripped them down yet! The little successes.

Helping to build a house in the slums. The owners offered this little, tiny, very precarious house with a dirt yard to the church to do its outreach to 20-40 slums kids every week. An organization (not related to the church) picked this family to receive a free house, but the family needed to provide their own labor. Tony went to help.

the weekly outreach

prepping holes for the foundation

Tony digging hole posts. He came home really dirty.

After a whole year, we finally figured out how they go to the bathroom in the slums. This particular little house has a sheet hung with a place to go behind it, and a basin sitting nearby with a pitcher to fill with water to “flush”. That’s the best description Tony could give me. I wouldn’t know – I always hold it and don’t drink water on purpose.

In other houses they go in a bucket. And then they carry the bucket out into the desert and dump it. The thing is, the slums are located in what would be the best part of the city if they had actually planned the city well – up on the mesa with the best views of the valley. So when it rains… you know. No wonder we’re sick all the time.

The fence dividing the slums from the rest of the desert.

The government puts up fences to keep people from “taking” more lands in the desert. The slums are called “tomas” from the Spanish verb tomar [to take]. People who have no place to live or money to rent or build or buy land, just “take” open land, build a little shack out of wood or tin or maybe brick, and settle it. Slums spring up this way. But,

…whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold
water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in
no wise lose his reward. -Matthew 10:42

 “These little ones – By ‘these little ones’ are clearly meant his disciples.

They are called “little ones” to denote their want of wealth, rank, learning, and whatever the world calls “great.” They were “little” in the estimation of the world and in their own estimation. They were “learners,” not yet “teachers;” and they made no pretensions to what attracts the admiration of mankind.”  Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD

-proverbs 19:17

Let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good . . . —1 Peter 4:19

“Choosing to suffer means that there must be something wrong with you, but choosing God’s will— even if it means you will suffer— is something very different. No normal, healthy saint ever chooses suffering; he simply chooses God’s will.”

~Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

across Lake Nahuel Huapi from Bariloche

My blood pressure still hovers slightly above normal. It comes down, then goes back up. The human body, they say, is a funny thing.

Most of our ministries have been put on hold. Our illnesses have forced us to take a break. Tony is still going to the boys’ home. But he comes home really down from all the things he sees. I run into the boys often around the neighborhood. That is, when I am feeling brave enough to leave the house. I have completely given up walking. If I go out, I drive. Even if it’s five blocks away. I don’t need to be bitten by any stray dogs. Trying to avoid any more problems, you know. God will just have to bring my blood pressure down without exercise.

The other day I walked into the Health Clinic, and there was Cris.

Hola!, como estas?! What are you doing here?

I seem to run into Cris everywhere. The last time was when I was out for a  walk (back when I walked; I don’t anymore), I saw him walking around the neighborhood with Esteban and one of the caretakers from the home. They were selling bread crumbs door to door to raise money to be able to take the boys out for an afternoon.

Cris is just adorable and, for all his issues, he can be quite sweet.

I had a dentist appointment, he tells me. I have a cavity.

Really? Let me see.

(He opens his mouth wide.)

He’s right – there it is: a huge, brown, gaping cavity in his unusually beautiful mouth of pearly whites.

Wow. So are they going to fix it?

Yeah, they gave me this medicine. He shows me a little box.

Oh. Well, that’s good. So, who are you with?

One of the tios; he’s over there, pointing.

Come sit with me while I wait, I say.

He does. We sit down on a bench.

So, what’s new?

So-and-so at the home raped Diego (not his real name). That’s what’s new, he tells me point blank, right there in the waiting room.

I look at him.

What?, is all I manage.

He raped him. [He actually uses a different word, one I won’t translate.] So they sent him to another boys’ home.

Who raped him??

He tells me. I’ve heard Tony mention the boy’s name before. I’ve never met him.

I sit there thinking.

How old is he, the one who did this? I manage to get out.

Fourteen.

And Diego? [not his real name] How old is he?

Eleven.

I sit for a moment, aware that many people in the room could possibly have  heard the whole conversation if they had paid any sort of attention.

I ask him if he did anything to him.

No. No. Not me. No. I recall later how he didn’t look at my eyes. He looked down.

Good. You know that no one is ever allowed to do that kind of thing to you, you know that, right?

No, no. He didn’t do anything.

And you should tell someone immediately if they do, right?

He nods.

(I find out later that he is not telling me the whole truth. The rest of the story is quite disturbing. And not appropriate for public places.)

I sigh.

I call Tony right then and there from the waiting room, with Cris sitting next to me.

We chat for a minute. I pass the phone to Cris and they talk for a few moments. I can’t say anything while sitting there in that waiting room.

The nurse finally calls me in to take my blood pressure. I’m sure it can’t be normal after the story I just heard. It is. To my surprise it is finally normal after three weeks. But it goes back up. Then down. Up. Down. Up. Down.

I drive the six blocks home. I no longer walk; I refuse to walk. The last thing I need to add to my already too-full plate is a dog bite and rabies shots.

When I tell Tony, he is saddened, but not surprised. He saw it coming. He saw the signs. We wonders why they can’t protect the kids from these things. Maybe they can’t. Or won’t. Or don’t bother. Who knows. Just as much abuse seems to happen in some homes as in the situations that they were taken out of. What a mess. What a MESS.

More comfort food. I make Martha Stewart’s Lemon Cream Scones and read again Oswald Chambers,

He calleth . . . by name. — John 10:3

When I have sadly misunderstood Him?(John 10:17.) It is possible to know all about doctrine and yet not know Jesus. The soul is in danger when knowledge of doctrine outsteps intimate touch with Jesus. Why was Mary weeping? Doctrine was no more to Mary than the grass under her feet. Any Pharisee could have made a fool of Mary doctrinally, but one thing they could not ridicule out of her was the fact that Jesus had cast seven demons out of her…

Andean condor

Do I know Jesus? Huh. That is the million dollar question.

I Skype with my Mom. After eight months she finally gets the audio on her computer fixed and we can hear her! She says it all sounds so overwhelming… so unbelievable.

It is. Other worldly, really. Or maybe it’s just the world in general. The nitty-gritty dark places. The one in which over 3 billion people live on less than $2.50 a day.

People came to our door four or five times this week asking for food, for money. We know them all. A man came tonight while Tony was at the store. I told him I didn’t have any money, and we needed to go food shopping so, not much to spare, but if he wanted to wait until Tony came back…. He thanked me and waited. Tony talked to him, while I gave him one of the muffins I had just pulled out of the oven. He asked to borrow 100 pesos ($25); his new job doesn’t pay him until next week. Tony said he would help him and gave him the 100 pesos. I trust his judgement. He’s much better with people and a very good judge of character – sometimes he’s wrong, but rarely.

I went back inside and the kids asked if their dad had “helped that guy.” When I said yes, he gave him 100 pesos, my daughter said, “But what if he buys something with it he’s not supposed to?“. I reminded her how people have helped us, and God helps us and gives to us, so we should do the same to others in their need. That’s what Jesus tells us to do. We believe he will buy food with it, but if he doesn’t, that is between him and God. For what we know of him, we are pretty sure he will buy what he needs. But if he buys a bottle of wine too, well then, “Let him drink and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more” ~Proverbs 31:7 — because I can guarantee anyone reading this right now would not want to trade places with him, have to peddle vegetables for a living, and live in the shack he lives in. He will die a poor man, chances are we won’t.

He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to
the needy honors God. Proverbs 14:31

There is other good news, finally. Tony got a job. Just Saturdays and Sundays, but it’s something, and it helps a lot. We are very thankful. He has missed working at a “real job”. Me, too.

Tony with one of the boys from the home

Cris trying his hand

Esteban taking a shot

the only snow we received this winter. it was gone in a few hours.

bargained

“… we have bargained with Him who bore a cross…”

~ Jim Elliott, Shadow of the Almighty

I know, I haven’t blogged for weeks. Sick. Uninspired.

Not that it’s been “quiet”. Quiet doesn’t exist around here, I am convinced there is no such thing. Just different kinds of busy.

A sand storm; house guests for three days; many, many more trips to the hospital; more illnesses.my sweet God-daughter and half the family was in from Buenos Aires

The sand storm wasn’t Lawrence of Arabia or anything, but the whole sky turned a nice brown. Whipping, gusty winds left a coating of brown dust on every flat surface inside our very closed-up house. We miss the green hills of home. They don’t kick up dust and make cleaning your house an exercise of veritable futility.

We’re so sick of hospitals. I’m sure we are well over twenty visits in two months. This week I got up at 5am for a morning of waiting in lines, tests, more waiting in lines, more tests. At least it’s free. I try to be thankful.

I brought my urine sample (sorry if that’s Too Much Information) in my own container because they just didn’t have any to hand out at the hospital. It was desert drizzly that cold, dark morning, and cardboard was laid down at the entrance of the hospital to keep the mud tracked in at a minimum. The parking lot at the hospital is dirt. A dirt parking lot at the hospital. And Dirt + Rain = Mud.

It was discovered on one of my many visits to the hospital that I now have high blood pressure. It was very high – not stroke high – but way too high. 180/100. That’s bad. I felt horrible and gladly took the doctor’s advice to stay in bed for a week. I probably cried, too.

We’ve been “trying” to take it easy since then. Most of our ministries have been put on hold. Tony has been doing a great job at taking care of me and the kids. But it’s been a scary wake-up call. We need to slow down. Or something. For now we are staying local. Tony is still visiting the boys home and some other stuff, but Forced Rest is priority. We need to get our health back. Without our health, there’s no point in being here.

The doctors think that perhaps mine is “stress-induced hypertension”. I hope that is all it is. I am having tests done to rule out anything else that may be causing it. If I’m healthy, then perhaps it is stress. Or inherited. Either way, living here is HARD. It’s even hard for Tony, who is from here. We’re not at all surprised the pot boiled over. I’m hypersensitive to all things germs now, and am turning into somewhat of a hypochondriac. We’ve been so sick for so long that I worry about everything now because I JUST DON’T WANT US TO GET SICK ANYMORE.

Fortunately, the ultrasound I had today of all my internal organs confirmed that I am not in fact dying of cancer, I’m actually in pretty good health. Hanging out in the Valley of the Shadow of Death a little too long has left me traumatized, I guess. I’m a little jumpy and think the worst too often.

Then my three-year-old had a bad reaction to a DTP shot – a red, rashy, hard and painful upper arm. She is fine now, thank the LORD. I hate shots. A necessary evil. I won’t even tell you about our dentist visits. It has become clear to us that The Boy is NOT getting braces here. They are ROUGH, let me tell you. I will (almost) gladly pay $5,000 in the U.S. sometime in the future instead of subjecting him to… well, never mind. I am now afraid of dentists.

Nine-year-old stepped in a nest of red ants today. It hurts when they bite you. I still keep my eyes peeled for black widows. So far, so good. Thank you, Jesus.

Missions is crazy hard. I’m pretty convinced at this point that you either have to be off your rocker or extremely well-grounded in the faith and stable to be able to do it. Perhaps we are the first, not the latter. I take heart in that God uses the weak.

Being on the frontlines receiving the first darts of the enemy eventually takes its toll. Sometimes people write and ask us about missions, how to get started, or should they do it, etc. I say we definitely have the Biblical command to go, so that is not the issue. My only advice would be to think twice, three times before taking the plunge.

MISSIONS IS EVERYTHING YOU READ ABOUT. Can you do that?!? Don’t overestimate yourself, but consider yourself soberly, as you ought. Consider this as you make your decision.

Some people don’t believe in the spiritual battle. Some Christians don’t believe in it. Some have never felt it. This boggles my mind. To those who doubt that spiritual warfar is real, I just say come to the mission field and you will find out.

For us, I can’t even begin to convey how very real spiritual warfare is and has been, how under assault we feel here every day. Some of it is just normal physical stuff – different viruses and bacteria for which we do not have defenses, the go-go-go of the culture here that never seems to rest, the being “ON” 24/7, the real aspects of living in the Third World. And it IS the third world. Dirty, unorganized, poor, chaotic, dangerous, depressing. But some of it is spiritual: the dark mental, emotional, and spiritual oppression that suffocates like a heavy blanket. The kind you can’t put your finger on but that does all sorts of crazy things to your mind and your faith. The kind that leaves you on bedrest.

I’ve been baking a little. Looking for comfort, distraction from anxiety and worry, time spent with the kids.

We used up the last stash of Nestle Chocolate Chips in a batch of chocolate chip cookies. Our peanut butter is gone, too. This is really depressing for an ex-pat, to run out of precious irreplaceable food. No more real, albeit frugal, spoonfuls of rich, yummy, all natural Smucker’s. The peanut butter here is not good; saltless, raw, stale-tasting. The kids don’t like it at all, and it upsets their stomach. Fortunately we discovered that it does make for a decent batch of Peanut Butter Cookies. Which we whipped up and presently devoured.

I made a pan of Apple Crumble with a box of Patagonian green apples someone gave us. This recipe is SO GOOD. I let the kids have some for breakfast, too. “REALLY?“, they exclaimed. I’m not a fan of sugar for breakfast, but this was somewhat light on the sugar, and it does have apples in it, and flour, and… butter. Earned some Mommy brownie points, anyway.

Homeschooling a bit. Which is complicated when you seem to live at the hospital and life is SO unpredictable. But I had my 4th grader pile high all the books she’s read in the past year since we’ve been here in Argentina. Ivanhoe and Pride and Prejudice and all this other stuff I’ve never read were in there. Really? Wow. Whatever we are doing is working. We’ll persevere.

We’re a little confused on the seasons, not sure which grades we’re in, and not sure if it’s winter or summer, fall, or what. Oh well, does it really matter? She read Ivanhoe for goodness sake.

I started walking. Doctor’s orders: “Be careful with the salt. Walk 30 minutes every day. And reduce stress.”

The salt, believe it or not, has been the easiest part. I can’t seem to manage the other two very well, though. Can’t at all.

I have discovered I really like walking. I just don’t like doing it here. You take your life into your own hands every time you walk anywhere in this place. It’s just loco.

Sunday I braved it, pumping myself up with many You-can-do-this-Chris‘s, and walked out the door. Bad idea. I was charged by three ferocious street dogs and was crying (and cursing) within ten minutes. Crazy lady walking down the street, blubbering and cursing to herself. I bet that looked good. I have never cursed so much as a Christian as I have this past year. My kids have learned some new words. My only consolation is that they are nine and twelve and they didn’t know any bad words before this year, so that makes me feel a little better.

ferocious attack dogs – I’m hiding in the car, hence the reflection

Yesterday I got attacked again. I got two blocks this time and was charged by two dogs on either side of the street, careening towards me, barking and baring their teeth. I came home crying again, asking Tony where I can buy a gun. The kids were a little worried about me. Perhaps because they could see I really meant it. And I did. I could see the headlines, “American Christian Missionary Shoots Dogs with Gun.” Hell, yeah. And they deserve it, too.

What would Jesus do in this situation? (Probably wouldn’t say, “Hell, yeah…”). Oh, well. Another fail. We’ll survive. And really, that’s the important thing around these here parts.

My kids have learned this past year that Mommy is {obviously} not perfect. She also HATES the dogs here. They are evil and all deserve to be exterminated. I threw various rocks at these minions from hell, shouting “Fuera!” in my loudest, most crazed (and quite petrified) voice. It didn’t work. I threw more rocks, and they finally backed off. It is doubtful that walking is helping to lower my blood pressure. Doubtful.

I miss home. This is not home. This is CRAZYLAND.

In other news, the door seems to have finally opened for us to go into a Mapuche community. This perked me up a bit and gave us renewed hope. Ah, the all familiar roller coaster of Third World Missions: Up, down, Up, down. High, low. Happy, sad. Wanna go home, wanna stay. Hate it, love it. Repeat.

I should say the door has opened up LORD-willing. Something bad is bound to happen, it usually does before a big trip. Or during. Hopefully we are actually able to go.

There is a very remote mountain village the church here has been visiting periodically for a few years now. It is so remote it is not on the map. There are a many Mapuche communities that are not on Argentinian maps. That is a way for the government to act as if they don’t exist, some natives have noted to me. But they do exist, and some have heard the gospel and come to believe. In this village they are hungry for the Word. We hope to show some movies. Encourage them in the Word. Perhaps see some come to the One True Living God.

Here we go again.