How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?

Out of focus and bemused

Questions that I have never previously been asked by a passport-office; “Can he write his name?”  “Can you get up in the morning?” 

Joni’s baby Argentinean passport runs out in November so I went to the civil registry to see about another one.  “Can he write his name?”  “Er, not really, he runs out of A4 paper after the first few letters…”  “Right, then we have to do this before he’s five because he has to be able to sign his own passport when he’s five.  Can you get up in the morning?”  “Er yes….” “Good, be here at seven tomorrow then.” 

That was yesterday.  Thus today found us in the passport department of the civil registry at 7 a.m. where an electronic device took his photograph and another electronic device took his fingerprints, and a human being informed us that a new passport will be arriving by courier in a couple of weeks. 

How do you solve a problem like…

  Maria isn’t her name, but it’s how we know her as it’s the first name she gave us.  And she isn’t so much a “problem” as a conundrum.  My itinerant friend reappeared this morning and our peaceful if not entirely productive post-passport-office mud-pie making session out on the patio suddenly became a confetti chase around town.  We went to her current bedsit, followed by two queues in the benefits office, followed by the bank.  The benefits office insists that there’s a pension in her name that has been drawn since 2007.  She insists she isn’t drawing it.  The bank insists that the money is being drawn out of her account with her bank-card from the cash-machine.  She insists that it isn’t her, although she has the bank card in her possession but claims not to know how to use it.  I would decide not to believe her, except that the benefit office also volunteered the information that she has been going in there every month for the last while to ask when her pension will be paid, which I can’t see why she would do that unless she really isn’t being paid it.  So, is this an elaborate hoax, or is she telling the truth, or is something very strange going on that I have no idea about?  What I do know is that if she were middle class and articulate, both the benefits office and the bank would be at least a little bit interested in finding out, but because she’s poor and confusing, they assume she’s lying through her teeth and they have washed their hands of her.  She knows that the jury’s still out as far as my believing her is concerned, but I am also morally driven to act as though she might be telling the truth at least until I’m convinced otherwise.  So where to go next? 

How do you hold a moonbeam?

Martin and Joni with Shrek Shrek was a strange creature of uncertain parentage.  The neighbourhood kids had aptly named him, for although he wasn’t large or green, he was definitely a species all on his own.  We identified shark, cockroach, anteater, and alien somewhere in his genetic make-up.  He came to live with us when his previous owners threw him out and he took to sleeping on our door-step, until we relented and started feeding him.  Dog-ownership is a fluid thing in Argentina, there are many street-dogs, and many of those are “owned” in the sense that someone feeds them, maybe takes them in at night, maybe does their inoculations, and maybe pays their vets bills.  A collar claims ownership of “your” dog.  So Shrek became ours, although he regularly lost his collar.  He knew where his food was, and he always came in at night eventually (although sometimes not until the wee small hours).  He liked home comforts, he would sneak onto a bed or the sofa anytime he thought no-one was looking.  He loved to play; chasing madly after birds and guinea pigs, or fishing for stones in the drainage ditch, or running after a ball with Joni (we got through many plastic footballs courtesy of his sharp front teeth).  He was clear he was top dog in the neighbourhood, often coming home with bloody ears from defending his turf, and he once spent three days hiding under our bed having misjudged the pit-bull that used to live next-door.  You can take the dog off the street, but you can’t take the street out of the dog, and today he died as he had always lived; chasing after the traffic.  Joni and I said a little prayer tonight to ask God to look after him for us.  Stuff theology. 

I won’t get trouble about daddy

“See mummy, I got dressed very quickly so I won’t get trouble about daddy” 

Monday was a bank holiday, another one, this time remembering San Martin.  I asked one of the fathers at Joni’s school who San Martin was.  He said “some guy who rode a horse to Chile”.  Whatever, it was a day off.  So we went for a picnic to Miramar. 

“Ohhhhhhhhh, I don’t want to go to Miramar, the water’s all salty”  (Why do kids the whole world over do that ohhhhh thing when they’re whinging about something?  They come out of the uterus knowing that that will be the most effective sound ever when you really want to annoy your parents.) 

So we went anyway….

     kids on beach   Danny on beach 

 On dodgem cars  bouncy castle

We managed the challenge of walking the parapet without anyone falling in…

walking on parapet wall  

Beware the wild baby…

Danny looking scary

And as the last vestige of light disappeared from the evening sky;

watching sun set

“Ohhhhhhh, why do we have to go home already?  Didn’t we bring the tent?” 

Efesios 6

Life’s chugging along as usual, one kid at school, the other trashing the house, the car being fixed; normal service in the Frost household. The car had to go back in to fix the last fix when we realised that they’d left a spanner hanging out of the undercarriage, and the undercarriage itself was dripping oil, fun all the way. But it seems to be OK now, for the next two minutes at least.
I was writing a sermon on and off over the last week or so, on Ephesians 6 (Efesios in Spanish). It’s up under the sermons tab for those who read Spanish or want to look at the pictures. It went down well this morning, received a rousing applause at the end anyway which isn’t how we normally respond to the message. It’s probably a moot point as to whether it’s good or bad that folk like what you say, but it’s nice to be appreciated anyway.

The sun was shining so we took the rest of the day off and went to Devoto, small town half and hour away which has a sizeable plaza and kid’s play area, and an ice-cream shop and a duck pond full of turtles. I don’t know what we’ll do with ourselves when our kids have grown out of thinking of Devoto as an exciting afternoon out, but thankfully that’s a few years away yet.

Less travelled by

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

It’s a funny old life this one.  Martin is currently holed up in the house of an ex-prisoner, where the XP is so far trying to avoid talking to him because of what he knows that Martin knows but doesn’t want to acknowledge that he knows Martin knows… fun and games, Martin’s hoping to bring him back here tomorrow.  Another XP is in a live-in relationship with a transvestite and says he wants to get out at least some of the time, but he’s also financially dependent on his partner which is a real concern in a land where “job-seekers allowance” isn’t even a pipe-dream.  Both of these guys are Christians, and we do believe that both of them have a genuine faith even if their current life-styles are more complicated than the bitching about their neighbours and looking down their noses at the church down the road which most Christians are free to indulge in without having their salvation drawn into question by those around them.  The question is how to stand with these guys (and others) in a way that says we know that you don’t want things to be this way but we understand you can’t do it right now? 

I finally tracked down where my itinerant friend is currently living, after several months of trying to make head or tail of her directions (beyond the big tree, near the horses, past the red car that sometimes parks there… ) coupled with the fact that she’s changed location half a dozen times (part of the job description).  And having found her she’s currently hiding from me having conned a third party into phoning me up to try and extract more money from me.  She knows I’ll be annoyed about that, we’ve known each other for a few years now.  Question is, do I wait for her to come to me (she always does in the end) or should I go to her first, now that I know where to find her. 

When I hear my husband’s phone conversations “Let me check that I’m understanding you, what I think I’ve heard you say is that you’re working as a male prostitute…” it makes me feel truly proud that he’s at the real chalk-face dealing with the grit of societies casualties.  But as he says, why is it that prisoners is considered sexy ministry, whereas chasing around town after funny old itinerant ladies wouldn’t get half the press coverage in a mission magazine, and yet we purport to believe that to Jesus both people would be worth exactly the same. 

And when I see so many mission related bulletins and presentations it strikes me that so much stuff is about being big; big conferences on big stages with big names and middle class people with clean faces singing songs and gazing upwards in adoration (presumably of the expensive paint on the shiny ceiling, can’t imagine what else there is to look at up there), it is kind of hard not to feel a tiny bit smug that while all that racket’s going on, we’re standing with (walking with/limping along with) the people who Jesus might have walked with had he walked in Argentina.  But at the same time, I am also totally aware that had we been able to fore-tell the future and see ourselves today before we arrived, we might well have run several miles in the opposite direction.  So the fairest thing I can say is that if we are on “the road less travelled”, then it is either by accident of fate, or possibly because the road has chosen us.