“… 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 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.


One thought on “bargained

  1. Well Chris, you have had a really trying past few months. Sickness and resistance. I hear your struggle and I love and appreciate your frankness and honestly. You are real and you don’t sugarcoat things!

    I will be praying for you. First for your immediate health, especially your blood pressure. That is very important and not to be messed with. I will also be praying for the health of your family. Praying also for your spiritual strength and also for the opportunity for that door to officially open to bring the gospel to the Mapuche!

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