Sonidos Serranos

Sonidos Serranos: Sounds of the Sierras...
Reflecting some of my family's interests: God's wonderful creation (especially mountains and hills!), music, and language...

Psalm 121:1-2 (NASB)

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.

30 January 2010

January 30: Update on Jonatán

Urgent prayer request!

Jona's blood levels were low (undoubtedly the effect of two new medications in the last chemo) when he was checked yesterday at his regular check-up. The phrase dangerously low was used. But he was not given a blood transfusion yet.

He has been quarantined at home and cannot be seen by anyone right now. Please pray for him – and for his family!

He goes back on Monday for a check-up. We're praying the LORD will heal, bringing his blood counts up to the necessary levels over the weekend.

Thank-you for praying!

29 January 2010

A very exciting evening!

First, we went to The Picture People – for birthday pictures. (We had $25 Fun Cash to spend from our previous visit.) The pictures turned out beautifully. (It’s not just our bias as parents; the studio asked us to sign a release form, making the pictures candidates for display!)

On the way home, we stopped by Publix for some ice-cream. Conveniently for us, it’s on sale this week. With the $1.00/1 coupon from the Publix Toddler Club, the half gallon was $2.00! Hurrah for Publix! Elizabeth chose the “It’s Your Birthday Cake” flavor. It really does taste like a cake from the Publix Bakery.

While there, we ran into a dear friend and former co-worker from our days at The Press. It was great to catch up a bit…

As we were getting ready to check out, we saw him – Patch the Pirate! (I had told Elizabeth that he lived in town, and she had been asking to meet him.) It was quite amusing to watch Elizabeth’s face. First, she looked terrified – and then delighted. Then she blushed a deep red before turning pale. SO funny!

He was so gracious, putting her at ease, trying to guess her name – which, incidentally, she refused to tell.

“Is it Willy? Jonathan? Tom?”

“Is it Tomato? Is it Banana? I’m trying to think of all the good names I know… Is it Strawberry?”

She giggled with delight at his guesses.

On the way home, she asked why he had a patch on his eye…

“He had cancer in his eye (like Jona had in his arm). The doctors had to take his eye out… It’s kind of like the story of Joseph in the Bible.”

She loves that story!

“God used something bad to cause something very good to happen – and that’s how he became a pirate!”

Very different from a current favorite book

Yes, it was an evening of great adventure!

28 January 2010

January 28: Update on Jonatán

An overdue but quick update!

Jona left the hospital on Saturday morning. It had been a rough week. Because the two new medications in the chemo made him so sick, he was given something to counteract the nausea – which in turn caused him to sleep most of the week! (To sum up the past week: When he wasn't sleeping, he was vomiting.) Thankfully, he is now enjoying two weeks off – and undoubtedly trying to catch up on school work, etc.

He will go in for his regular Friday check-up tomorrow morning. Please pray that his blood count levels will be where they need to be – especially following the new chemo he endured last week. We are praising the Lord that so far he has not needed a blood transfusion!

God is answering our prayers specifically!

Please continue to pray!

27 January 2010

miscellaneous travel notes

By God's grace and the graciousness of His people, we have been thoroughly enjoying this time of travel, presenting the future ministry to which God is calling us.

Elizabeth is making new friends. She does well with names, too! Maybe we'll have to make her our little secretary. She's funny though! She expects me to remember who was wearing what?! (Must be a little girl thing.) After our service at Cleveland Park Bible Church in Spartanburg, she kept asking:
Mommy, who was the girl in the red dress? Who was the girl in the black dress? Who was the girl in the black and white dress? (She knows the answers, of course – but I have to stop to look at the pictures!)

Will you pray for this current stage of our ministry? Our goals during this time (often called deputation) are to serve among God’s people, to share our future work in Uruguay, and to ask for prayer. We are praying for the experience of Acts 13, where the Lord’s people recognized His call and sent His servants out.

Pray for us!

John Mark shared the following list of prayer requests two weeks ago when we presented our future ministry to our home church. (He even made them alliterate for ease of remembering!)

Will you please pray...?
  • Pray for us. Pray that we would seek the Lord, offering Him our exclusive worship, rejecting any would-be idols, trusting Him alone. (cf II Chronicles 14)
  • Pray for Elizabeth. Pray that she would soon trust Christ for salvation from sin.
  • Pray for this current stage of ministry. Our goal during this time called deputation is to serve among the Lord’s people, to share our future work in Uruguay, and to ask for prayer. We are praying for the experience of Acts 13, where the Lord’s people recognized His call and sent His servants.
  • Pray for the summer camp ministry, going on now in Uruguay. Pray specifically for John Mark as he preaches a total of 22 messages during two weeks of camp in February. There will also be opportunity to serve at Iglesia Bíblica Maranatha in Pando, where my family ministers.
  • Pray for safety as we travel many miles. Pray for our flights to Uruguay and back. Pray that the Suburban would pull into every church parking lot the Lord wants it to pull into!
Please do pray specifically!

conversations in the car

We have some interesting conversations in the car. Today was no different...

– Why is Daddy wearing gloves?

– Because it's chilly today.

– Hey! Chilly is a type of weather, and chili is a type of food, too!

A little bit later, as we're driving home...

– Where are the evergreens?

After a slight pause...

– Are there any ever-yellows?

She waxed eloquent on her idea and then added...

– I'd like to see some ever-purples, too!

She then launched into a story – a favorite pastime when we're driving...

– Once upon a time, there were two trees in a front yard: a purple tree and a pink tree...

We're SO thankful to the Lord for our Precious Little Treasure!

26 January 2010

¡Soy celeste!

Enjoy a glimpse of our little Uruguayan soccer fan in training!

Were getting ready for the World Cup!

23 January 2010

Her list of sight words!

Elizabeth has been a huge fan of letters since before she turned two. While I was studying Greek in the fall of that year, she loved to grab my textbook and try to identify the Greek letters that looked like English letters she already knew...

She’s now learning the sounds of English letters. (We’ll probably save Greek for later!) Her class has gotten as far as the sound N makes. She doesn’t read yet, but she is developing a list of sight words (or what her Aunt Ruth refers to as service words, as I learned this morning). Loving languages and being a definite fan of a phonics approach to reading English, the whole concept of sight words intrigues me and makes me believe that all of us do memorize “pictures” to some extent, visual learners logically doing so more than aural learners.

At any rate, here’s (what I remember of) Elizabeth’s list, undoubtedly a commentary on her favorite places. If you read my other blog, you’ll know which ones are frequented far more than others...

Publix has The Cookie Club (as well as the best B1G1 deals, customer service, the Penny Item, etc.)

Funny story... We were driving up to the extended family’s favorite NC campground last May with Elizabeth’s cousin Joshua, three years her senior and going into K-5. When we passed a CVS, she turned to him in the booster seat next to hers and earnestly said, “That says: CVS Pharmacy!”

Chick-fil-A is definitely a favorite – for all of us!

Wendy’s used to be “lo de la nena” – the girl’s place! We like her dollar menu when traveling.

As for the competition, last summer she used to ask: “What is that store with the upside down W?”

Would you have noticed that the “Hot Now!” sign at Krispy Kreme looks like the computer service sign at Office Depot?! (She used to say: “Look! It's another donut store!”)

And the two sight words that make it look like she already knows how to read are:



She loves to say: “E-X-I-T spells exit!” and: “S-T-O-P spells stop!” Since she also loves rhyming words, she’ll inform any willing listener: “Stop and Pop rhyme!” or “S-T-O-P spells stop and P-O-P spells pop!”

It’ll certainly be fun to see what she comes up with when enrolled in K-5 in Spanish, Lord willing...

20 January 2010

January 20: Update on Jonatán

Please continue to pray for Jonatán. Today is the third of five days of the newest chemo treatment; the two new medications in this chemo are causing quite a bit of nausea.

If you would like to send a note of encouragement to Jona at Greenville Memorial Hospital, you can do so by clicking here and then clicking on the eGreeting link in the first paragraph. Or go to and then to the "Patients and Visitor Info" tab on the top left and then click on the eGreeting link in the first paragraph.

If you want to leave a comment for Jona on this blog post, we will make sure that he knows about it.

Thank-you, most of all, for praying!

Jesus, Savior, Blessed Friend!

This hymn, based on Psalm 73, has been a blessing since college days. It is one of many hymn texts that point troubled believers to Christ – and then end with a focus on eternity.

Whom have I, O Lord, beside you?
What have I except your love?
Where is home if not for heaven,
There to dwell with you above?

Who are you, if not my Savior?
Who am I, if not your own?
What are you, if not my shelter,
Christ, my rock and cornerstone?

Jesus, Savior, blessed friend,
I will love you without end.

Who will share my earthly sorrow?
Who will heal my broken heart?
Who will hold my life together
When it seems to fall apart?

When the fears are far too many,
And the joys are far too few,
Who will comfort and defend me?
Only you, Lord, only you.

Jesus, Savior, dearest friend,
I will love you without end.

Where, O Lord, when life is over,
Can I go, but home to you?
What have I except the promise
Where you are I shall be too?

When at last I reach the comfort
Of that bright celestial place,
There with joy will I behold you,
Gaze upon your glorious face.

Jesus, Savior, heavenly friend,
I will praise you without end.

Text and Music by Deborah R. Govenor
Copyright 1988 by Beckenhorst Press, Inc.
Sheet music (to order) and a sound clip are available here.

14 January 2010

January 14: Update on Jonatán

Please continue to pray for Jona. The new semester started yesterday, but he was still in the hospital – waiting for the chemo that was administered last Friday to flush out to the desired (acceptable) level. The concern, of course, is the toxicity of the medications.

He is scheduled to begin a new chemo treatment on Monday, January 18. This will be a new combination of medications for him – of the type we would have liked to avoid because the possible side effects can be very serious and long-term.

We continue to rest on the only One who can ultimately heal Jona. That does not mean these days are easy; we feel our need of God's grace to sustain us more keenly than ever!

Please continue to pray for God to be glorified, for complete healing for Jona, and for continued grace and strength for him and his family.

Thank-you, more than words can say, for upholding Jona and all of us in prayer!

The Lord is my Shepherd!

We're meditating on these truths this year...

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me;
Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
(Psalm 23)

09 January 2010

January 8: Update on Jonatán

Quick update!

Jona went back to the hospital this morning for the next round of chemo. This is the type that is administered for four hours and then is supposed to be flushed out of his system over the next three or so days.

Please pray that the chemo will flush out to the desired level quickly so that Jona can return home – and get ready for the beginning of a new semester on January 14!

And please continue to pray for complete healing for Jona – and for continued grace and strength for him and his family.

Thank-you for praying!

04 January 2010

The One Year Devotions for Preschoolers

Elizabeth and I have been enjoying The One Year Devotions for Preschoolers 2, by Carla Barnhill, illustrated with endearing Little Blessings artwork by Care Bears artist, Elena Kucharik. Intended for three to six year olds, each reading pairs a Little Blessings illustration with a short Bible verse and devotional thought to get parents and children talking about the simple truths of Scripture. A rhyming prayer or application completes each devotional.

Elizabeth and I started at the beginning – and then jumped right into the middle. The lesson from Psalm 139 is definitely a favorite; because of the avid little “painter” and “builder” at our house, I love the connection made between activities she understands and loves – communicating in terms she can grasp the wonder of the Creator’s delight in making her:
“When God made you, He picked out all your parts and put them together. So He knows and loves everything about you. You are His special creation.”
Another favorite is A Solid Rock, in which the qualities and uses of rocks are explained in terms little ones can appreciate:
“[Rocks are] really strong. Big rocks are great to stand on when you want to see higher or to sit on when you need to rest… God is incredibly strong, and He’s always there when we need Him.”
I do find myself fleshing out the more simple entries, sometimes substituting stronger vocabulary and more often adding in the message of salvation through Christ. For example, the entry on King David states: “He knew God loved him, even when he made bad choices and big mistakes.” I added: “Because God loved David and because He loves you and me, He sent Jesus to die for David’s sins and for your sins and my sins, too – so we can be forgiven!”

Elizabeth is captivated by the artwork, the letters on the page, the “just right for little people” size of the book, etc. Etcetera! We're looking forward to reading more together!

A complimentary book was provided to me, as a reviewer for Mama Bzz, by Tyndale House Publishers, in exchange for posting a complete review on my bargain blog (B1G1, Bargains & Blessings in a “Banana”) as part of today’s blog tour.

You can read my complete review here.

A big “Thank-you!” to the folks at Tyndale House Publishers for the opportunity to review and enjoy this wonderful book!

03 January 2010

Garwood Girls Christmas

Well, were not technically Garwoods anymore (at least not in the good ol USA) – but Garwood Girls alliterates (kind of like Steel Siblings does).

On Christmas Eve, we gathered with our families and enjoyed a wonderful meal of Roast Lamb, Mashed Potatoes, Pumpkin Veggie Bake, and Tomato Bread – with Pan Dulce for dessert!

As a result of a spur of the moment idea, we set up the Uruguayan Pesebre (which had not yet made its appearance this season), telling the part of the Christmas Story that corresponded to each figure as we unwrapped each one. We then enjoyed a time of singing Christmas Carols.

Lots of pictures were taken and video clips were recorded. (The latter is thanks to Uncle Wills gift to Jona and family!)

We then exchanged gifts and talked and laughed – until very early Christmas Day!

I love my family!

Steel Siblings Christmas

The Steel Siblings and Cousins celebrated together on Saturday, December 19, since most of us would be coming and going over the next several weeks...

We love you, PaPa and Grandma!

In keeping with the siblings tradition, we recycled our wrapping paper from last year – and maybe even previous years?! Doing so enabled me to have a snow theme for all our packages. Hee! Hee! And I think we all brought snacks that we had managed to get for free or almost-free, too.

We tried the Drawing Names Thing for the first time; the general consensus seems to be that it simplified life, for the most part. And a highlight for us was being surprised with the coffee maker that plugs into the car. We had been joking that we could live out of the Suburban on deputation, but maybe now we really can?!

That evening, our family strolled through downtown – enjoying the Christmas lights, riding the carousel, and walking through the Mast General Store for the first time ever.

We did manage to snap a few pictures before the camera battery died...

We also learned that Mr. Poinsett, for whom a number of local landmarks have been named, was also the one for whom the famous Christmas Flower was named! Hes the one who first brought Poinsettias to the USA from Mexico. So, I guess it was an educational outing, too!

01 January 2010

Blessed New Year!

Several years ago, John Mark and I claimed Psalm 90 as our prayer for that particular new year. I've been meditating on it for this new year, too.

Teach us to number our days,
That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.
Do return, O LORD; how long will it be?
And be sorry for Your servants.
O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness,
That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
Make us glad according to the days You have afflicted us,
And the years we have seen evil.
Let Your work appear to Your servants
And Your majesty to their children.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us;
And confirm for us the work of our hands;
Yes, confirm the work of our hands.

New Year's Eve

The Picture People sent me a coupon I just couldn't pass up, so Esther and I and the three cousins celebrated New Year's Eve by taking Oso, the new puppy, for a special portrait session.

The pictures turned out wonderfully – and they even gave us an extra free portrait sheet for waiting so patiently and sweetly!

I couldn't resist doing a comparison...

So much has changed in three years...

So much to be thankful for!

T'was grace that brought us safe thus far...
And grace will lead us Home!

Christmas Tags!

Elizabeth made these tags for Jona and Marcos... I did help with the letter "Z" – but the rest of the work is hers!

She had to explain to me that the tag for Marcos depicts "things blowing in the wind!"

And the tag for Jona is a picture of him "with lots of hair!"