May 27, 2009

More Awesome

We forgot to mention another fantastic event.  Two of our nieces and nephews graduated from high school this past weekend.  We're so proud of both of them that we had to pubilize it!  Congratulations Brittany and J.P.!  We love you both and were sad to have missed it. We didn't have a photo of Brittany at her graduation, so this one is of her and her cousin when we last went home in 2007.

We Love Our Job

Today marks our official complete recovery from last weekend.  It took three days to recover - including Monday when we slept until noon, stayed in our pajamas all day and caught up on Lost (¡¡¡GREAT season finale!!!).  The reason behind all this resting is that we took the kids on a retreat.  We loaded 21 hormone crazed teenagers onto a bus Friday afternoon and drove them two hours into the desert, where we stayed in a small little town equipped with a very reasonably priced retreat house (cold showers and broken bathroom doors included).  Retreats are probably one of the most work intensive things we do here, but one of our favorite parts of the job, because they have such a positive impact on the kids.  This retreat's theme was "Conversion" and we focused on creating an atmosphere where the kids could feel the presence of God and experience a true conversion in their hearts.  Some may think we have high hopes, but with lots of prayer, support and help from a good team, God can do all sorts of wonderful things.  The weekend's highlights were testimonies from David, Felix (remember him?) and a recovering drug addict.  They talked about their own conversions and how they have changed due to the power of God in their lives.  God really touched hearts with the talks, as many of the kids could relate to the stories of drugs and violence prevalent in their lives today.  Their stories, combined with time away from the "real world" to reflect had a wonderful effect and we brought the kids home on Sunday afternoon, rejuvenated and ready to live their lives for Christ.  We'll see where it takes us.

We arrived home at 3 pm and quickly remembered that we had an activity at 4pm.  We were exhausted and sleep deprived and thought about canceling it. But, ten minutes before the appointed time, we saw a group of kids gathering outside the church gates and ready for their activity!  Last week, we told the kids from our pre-teen group that we would be having a "secret meeting" the next week and that they should bring a walking stick and a back pack with snacks.  The kids knew immediately what they would be doing and didn't fall for our sneakiness at all. With all their excitement, we couldn't cancel, so we loaded up our own backpacks and took them on a hike up the hills around the chapel. David started the group off, stopping at a couple of houses to pick up kids who were lagging behind.  Anna snuck ahead and built a fire.  The kids were stoked to see the fire (and very impressed with her girl scout fire building skills).  We all sat around, talked and shared the snacks that they had brought.  Besides being a lot of fun, the kids learned that they liked walking together much better than walking alone and that God was there to help them when they got tired along the way.

It was a good weekend.  Here are some pictures to prove it:

May 17, 2009

Joshua Walking and Crawling

Our little guy is growing fast.  You can see him in action by viewing the video below. 

May 15, 2009

Donate Money for Free

We're long time clickers over at the hunger site.  Yesterday, someone called our attention to another fun site where you can answer trivia questions in order to donate rice.  So, we decided to direct your attention to these and other sites that use clicks in order to support worthy causes.  The result is the link list to the right, "Sites Worth Clicking."  Please take the time to click if you can.  It's a very worthy time waster!

May 11, 2009

Loving God with Alternative Energy

About a year and a half ago, we met a woman selling plants in the local street market.  Her name was Marta and when she learned that we were missionaries with the Catholic church, she glowingly smiled and said, "Well, you can teach us how to make solar ovens then!". (Hmm, we thought... what an odd assumption.)  We continued the conversation with Marta, who is a native Aymaran woman who, like many of her indigenous family and friends, has left her land in the interior of the desert in search of an education for her children.  However, along with education, she has also found dirty, crowded city life filled with materialism and a disconnection from nature.  She explained that her people have a long history of respect and love for the earth, water, plants and animals.  She lamented that her children were losing that special relationship with the earth and asked for our help in teaching them.  This afternoon conversation was the impetus for us talking with another lay missionary, who is the coordinator of the Columban Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) office here in Chile.  We wanted to offer a simple workshop to the people of our community, where they could learn about solar energy.  We knew there would be interest because of the abundant poverty and the high price of gas, which they use here for cooking and heating water.  Plus, Marta was right - we are losing our connection to God's great creation and by losing this respect, we are also killing ourselves and other life with contamination and abuse of resources.  The JPIC coordinator was excited and promised to look for some resources.

The resources were found and the fruit of Marta's concern for her children began this past weekend, where we started a course teaching not just about solar ovens, but also about other alternative energies and encouraging our small Christian community to lovingly care for all of God's creation.  The facilitator of the course started us off with the "Cocina Bruja" or "Witch's Oven," named so because it allows you to cook with seeming magic.   The idea is to get a pot of food to the boiling point on a stove, and then to place the pot into an insulating container, where it continues to cook with no direct heat, simply by maintaining the hot temperature. Here's a video of what we've learned so far:

May 6, 2009

Around Town

After the sad week we had in Santiago and another really busy one here with work, we decided to go on a little outing with our friend, a Columban priest that works with us here in the parish.  We went to Pica, which is a true oasis in the middle of the desert.  It's amazing to be driving through miles and miles of sand and then to see a patch of green on the horizon.  Pica is famous for their fruit - especially limes, oranges and mangos.  They also have hot water springs that contain medicinal mud.  We're not really sure what the mud cures, but they sell it and people line up to buy it.  Joshua had his first experience "swimming" and loved it.  We brought the camera, but forgot to take any pictures.  So, the one above is of Anna and her sister, who visited last June.  Can you see them? They're hiding behind the giant fruit sculptures that form the entrance to the hot water springs.  It was nice to get away for a day.