Coming and Going

There have been a lot of things to think about this week, but I think we´re OK. 

Thursday our friend and leader came to see us for a much-appreciated visit (all hail esteemed leader).  She and I and Joni went off to a children’s home a couple of hours away where we are preparing a placement for a short-term volunteer who I will be supervising when she arrives.  Here we met up with another team member, who we brought back to San Francisco with us for a couple of hours until he was off on the bus to Buenos Aires. 

Friday I had an appointment in Cordoba which involved leaving the house at six in the morning (the pain, the pain), so I left husband, son and our TL to each others´tender ministrations.  They were all still alive when I got back.  Meeting in Cordoba went well, probably should have done that months ago.  Couple of hours later and TL was also off on a bus to Buenos Aires to continue her rounds. 

Saturday Martin was off to the prison, later brought back with him our friend Miguel.  They didn´t manage to bring the car back as it had a flat battery, so Martin had to organise someone to pick him up to go and start the car.  Miguel left again, destination home-village some 50kms away.  Martin arrived back.  A different Miguel (it´s a common name, Michael) came by unexpectedly to collect some stuff that he had stored in our house, so we spent a happy hour taking mate, catching up and shifting furniture.  Another neighbour popped in; he was on his way to see someone else only they weren´t there so he came to hang out in our house for a bit.  Later in the evening, some friends called with a present for Joni for “Dia del niño” (children’s day) which is an (over commercialised) Argentinean tradition in August, except Joni had already gone to bed, so we put his present for him to find in the morning.  They´re good people, they’ve appointed themselves as aunt and uncle to our kid and he very much rates them. 

Sunday and I was on Sunday School duty, so we had to be on time to church (doesn’t always happen).  We picked up a chicken on the way home, as has become our tradition after church.  In the afternoon we called round to take mate with the afore-mentioned aunt and uncle characters, with a this-time awake Joni.  That took some persuading because he understood “going to say thank you” as meaning that we were going to give the present back to them, cue many tears and “no give the lorry back, I don´t want to come, Joni stay here…”  but having persuaded him into the car, and then out of it at the other end, he had a good time and even let adopted aunt play with the lorry with him on the table.  Daddy and Joni headed home where I later found them watching a ripped off Thomas the Tank engine DVD in Spanish that they´d picked up from our corner shop (DVD’s only come in one format around here, and that’s ripped off).  Meanwhile I went to catch up with the church treasurer who needed to give me money to take to Quebracho Herrado, while we are currently a month behind on the rent.  That turned into a neat opportunity to spend half an hour with someone I don’t often get chance to talk with, so we sat at her kitchen table and found out a bit more about each other. 

And here we are on the eve of a new week.  What will this one hold?

The Sauce of True love


I found a bowl of chillies in the fridge… there seem to have been a fair few people coming through our house while we were away, and we are still discovering random items in strange places.  Maybe the chillies were bartered for my pizza tins which seem to have vanished off the face of the planet.

Never one for inspecting the teeth of gifted horses, and secure in five years´experience that there is no such thing as a hot chillie in Argentina, I blithely tossed one into the pasta sauce, and nearly blew the roof off the house.  When the fire-brigade had left, I did a little celebratory dance before the almighty at delivering this unexpected goldmine.  A couple of further experiments confirms that a third of a chillie is plenty for the two-and-a-half of us.  Hoping to tap into these riches for the future, I´ve extracted a load of seeds which are currently drying in a dish on top of my computer (along with some peppers and tomatoes).  Martin rolls his eyes at my mad gardening projects, but so far he hasn´t objected to eating the results, even the blow-the-roof-of-your-mouth-off pasta sauce… there´s true love for you. 


I turned up yesterday´s passage because I was trying to find the verse that I’d half memorized from a million years ago “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all”, which turned out to be verse 17 of 2 Corinthians 4, and having found it, I then read it in context, and discovered that the chapter begins with “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry….” which was a good and timely reminder.
It´s been rather a bumpy landing, but we´re back in town.

Jars of Clay

Courtesy of Bible Gateway:

1Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 3And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness,"made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

7But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. 12So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

13It is written: "I believed; therefore I have spoken."With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, 14because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. 15All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Till next year

And then we were packing once more.  The last few days particularly have disappeared in a whirl of meeting up with friends, family, supporters and all manner of people old and new.  I have a year’s supply of clothes courtesy of Baldock’s charity shops.  My kid has a year’s supply of clothes courtesy of his cousin.  My parents have a year’s supply of jam courtesy of the many blackberries ripening a minute’s walk from their house; Joni and I and the dog spent a happy couple of hours collecting and jamming them this afternoon.  I expect I could have gathered more without my two trusty helpers, but we have more than sufficient and it was fun.  There are also two bucket loads of greengages waiting for something to be done with them (more jam?) following my expedition up the greengage tree yesterday morning.  We’ve watched model trains whizzing by at Bekonscot model village:

Joni and friend riding train

and giant butterflies whizzing by in a glass house in Bedfordshire (while the rain hammered on the roof outside):

butterfly on stalk

It’s been good, and now it’s gone, but we’re quietly bullish about some of the plans that we hope are coming to fruition in San Francisco even as we speak, so we’re optimistic about the next steps.  Unfortunately there are two nights of travelling between here and there, and even before that, the stuff which hasn’t packed itself yet appears to be liberally scattered about the house. I feel some gathering up coming on. 

Connecting and reconnecting

Family time

Family group

Having been nine in the house since we’ve arrived, and up to sixteen at various points during the weekend, it feels rather quiet with a mere five of us at the moment.  We should probably make the most of it though; the ever versatile Baldock Hilton will be back to eleven when the next wave of family descend on Sunday. 

Building relationships

This week we’ve been meeting with a great new supporting church (new to us that is).  So far we’ve just seen a sample of folk over lunch yesterday, but if the advance party is anything like representative of the rest of the congregation, then we’re really looking forward to getting to know them. 

Redefining relationships

When I became a parent I had a whole lot of lofty child-care-professional ideals which it is almost possible to uphold for six hours a day, but twenty four…? Today’s climb-down went:-

– No trainers no trainers no trainers no trainers no trainers no trainers no trainers no trai…

– How about these Thomas the tank engine ones?

– No trainers no trai… oh yes please mummy.

And thus the “no brand named stuff” went off to join “no lying” and “no bribery” long since consigned to the nursing home of good intentions. 

New Toy

This year’s birthday present:

Macro lens

Second hand sigma 70-300 macro, seventy quid from the second-hand-camera-stuff guy on Hitchin market.  Cost new, quite a bit more.  Cost in Argentina, multiply by goodness knows what. Martin enjoyed testing it out for me the other day when we took the kids to play on the big slides at Knebworth park:

 Hazel and Joni on slide

Goofing around

We’ve been back in the UK for exactly a week, and we’ve spent most of it goofing around with my sister and her three kids, Joni’s cousins, who normally live in the USA, and with whom we cunningly planned to coincide on this side of the pond this year.  Today we were goofing around over a picnic in Aldenham country park, which if you ever get the chance is a great place to take kids, and since the only cost is a fiver per vehicle for the car-park, it’s a bargain day out. 

climbing tree DSC_0135

DSC_0143 DSC_0126

A week in and we have pretty much figured out how to drive on the left again without washing the windscreen every time we go for the indicator, and we’re getting used to the cultural idiosyncrasies that make up normal life in the UK.

Things that have struck us this time… you have to put your own petrol in your car at the service station, and then queue up to pay for it… quaintly efficient.  There are real motorbikes in the UK, and their riders wear helmets and proper biking gear and don’t generally ride like they’re on a suicide mission.  Manufacturing standards in the UK are an order of magnitude higher than for the Argentinean market… actually we notice that several times a week in Argentina… every time we find ourselves saying “you know, I wouldn’t have minded paying a few cents more for… a slightly longer bolt, a rivet that didn’t break, a tougher piece of plastic, a product that actually worked the way we wanted it to…” but this time we’re noticing it the other way round; “feel the quality”.  It’s everywhere, even the packaging for Martin’s insulin is noticeably superior, which makes one wonder about the differences between the medication inside the packaging, but maybe we shouldn’t think too hard about that one.   But the thing that has really hit me this time is that stuff in the UK is sooooooo cheap.  I don’t mean “better value because it’s a higher quality”, but actually “costs less”… yep, not only do we suffer trash-level manufacturing specs, but we actually pay more for them… no wonder the multi-nationals are all falling over themselves to conquer the Latin American market.  Luckily these days our kid gets his own seat and his own luggage allowance; I’m compiling a shopping list.

Green and Pleasant

What could be more English than the gentle thwack of leather on willow?


the gentle patter of applause?


the gentle laughter of children at play in a freezing paddling pool?


or the gentle patter of drizzle on the washing?  Welcome to England’s green and pleasant land.  We turned out in force to cheer on Uncle Rob who was captaining the first eleven on Saturday afternoon (luckily it had stopped raining by lunchtime which is plenty good enough for weekend cricket). Meanwhile Joni and his cousins put the park through its paces between overs.