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.

25 December 2011

Saviour of the World

This is my new favorite Christmas hymn:

I cannot tell why He whom angels worship
Should set His love upon the sons of men
Or why, as Shepherd, He should seek the wanderers
To bring them back, they know not how or when.

But this I know: That He was born of Mary,
When Bethlehem's manger was His only home,
And that He lived at Nazareth and laboured,
And so the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is come.

I cannot tell how silently He suffered,
As with His peace He graced this place of tears,
Or how upon the cross His heart was broken,
The crown of pain to three and thirty years.

But this I know: He heals the broken-hearted
And stays our sin and calms our lurking fear
And lifts the burden from the heavy laden,
For yet the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is here.

I cannot tell how all the lands shall worship
When, at His bidding, every storm is stilled,
Or who can say how great the jubilation
When all the hearts of men with love are filled.

But this I know: The skies will thrill with gladness
And myriad, myriad human voices sing
And earth to heaven and heaven to earth will answer:
At last the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is King!

Text: W.Y. Fullerton
Music: Londonderry Air

Listen to most of the second stanza  from Stephen Eager's CD: Breath of Life, an album inspired by the Lewis Revival of 1949.

24 December 2011

Christmas Thoughts

Cherishing precious memories of Christmases past – especially 2009 and 2010. We sang with extended family via Skype in 2010.

Meditating on Truth:

“The darkness of Christmas, whether the first one or the one this 2011, serves as a reminder of why Jesus had to come . . . and why He will come again...”


The darkness of this season is an occasion for worshipful gratitude and a catalyst for the eager expectation that Emmanuel will soon be with us face to face again . . . in light stronger than the brightest stars can muster.

Click here to read the rest of the post...

20 December 2011

God dealt gently...

Tonight marks eight months since Jona’s Home-going. Ten days ago, I had opportunity to tell how God answered prayer during the past year. I told the ladies at our church’s Missionary Prayer Group that it was difficult to decide what to share; I finally settled on the event that had the greatest impact on our extended family. Because it was hard to fit “everything” into the allotted five or so minutes, I wrote out and read my thoughts. I now share what I wrote for that evening...

Many of you know that our Good Shepherd led our extended family through the valley of the shadow of death this past spring. My nephew, Jonatan Torres, had been diagnosed with cancer right before his fifteenth birthday in August of 2009; twenty months later, in April of this year, God took him Home.

In late March of this year, John Mark and I returned from an afternoon walk with the children to find a message from my sister on our answering machine. She told us that Jona was not doing well, and she asked us to come. As we prepared to pull out of our driveway, John Mark prayed. My mind was numb, but I remember his asking the Lord to deal gently with our extended family; I was struck by his choice of words. Tonight, I would like to tell you some of the many ways that God specifically answered that prayer.

God dealt gently with us!

The hospice nurse on call that evening arrived shortly after we did. As the evening progressed and she assessed the situation, the tell-tale signs were there: That evening should have been Jona’s last one with us. But his ministry here was not yet done, and our gracious Shepherd gave us almost four “bonus” weeks with him.

In that time, He allowed all Jona’s grandparents to come from Uruguay and spend time with him.

While the US Embassy in Uruguay had been denying visas, God provided a visa for Jona’s Aunt Julia from Uruguay to come as well.

And on a Saturday in mid-April, as a friend of the family was trying to “buy” a ticket with airline miles for Jona’s Uncle Daniel, God opened up a seat on a flight leaving Uruguay that very next Monday (just two days later) – something that in this man’s experience as an international business man “just does not happen!”

Our loving Shepherd also dealt gently with me, arranging our travel schedule so that we as extended family could participate in Jona’s care during those last weeks – and be eye-witnesses of God’s grace to him.

During his middle-school years, Jona had taken his struggles (specifically peer pressure and consequent lying) to his father. Esteban had taken Jona to the truths of Romans 6 and 7: “If you belong to Christ, you no longer are a slave to sin.” Over and over Esteban emphasized these truths of the believer’s identity in Christ to his son – and, by God’s grace, Jona embraced them. In retrospect we can see that God was preparing him for what was yet to come.

Every one of us who participated in Jona’s hospice care can give the same testimony: “Jona never complained!” A friend recently wrote:

One comment that keeps coming to me about Jona is that he never complained. That’s impossible! These cancer kids go through so much...

I was able to respond:

God’s grace is amazing! Jona truly never complained. Only Christ can enable one who is suffering so much to follow His own example...

Our Good Shepherd dealt gently with us in allowing us to observe that reality first-hand in Jona’s life.

Because he wanted to remain alert, Jona asked that he not be over-medicated. God gave Esteban great wisdom in the administration of the pain meds in order to honor that desire. The result was that we were more clearly able to see God’s grace through the valley of the shadow of death.

Jona would often request two favorite hymns: Be Still my Soul and Bow the Knee. We could see him mouthing the words and sometimes hear him singing even though every breath came only through extreme effort.

We were able to enjoy his amazing (and sometimes crazy!) sense of humor, teasing or telling jokes even when he could hardly breathe.

We were witnesses of God’s grace to Esteban, encouraging Jona when his pain was greatest to pray for other believers who were also suffering but who, unlike him, were suffering in the shadows, unknown, without a whole support network to pray for and encourage them.

Because he was not in a medically-induced coma, Jona was able to tell us what he saw as his Shepherd led him through the valley: the angels, the second step he needed help to climb, the door he could not open. At one point he told his mom: “We’re all dressed in white – and Jesus is coming for us!”

In August of 2009 when we first learned of Jona’s cancer, we prayed for complete healing. Before the definite diagnosis was given, Esteban’s research had convinced us that we were asking for a miracle. So, we continued to pray for healing up until the very end. During the nights of hospice care when Daniel James would wake me, I would also go and check on Jona. “Will this be the night? Will God heal him tonight?”

When God chose to take Jona, He gave us grace to accept His answer as the best. Certainly it was the best for Jona. But more importantly, it was best for the glory of God.

Our pastor recently drew our attention to an incident in the life of Elisabeth Elliot:

Life Magazine photographer, Cornell Capa, told of an interview he had with Elisabeth Elliot: “I wondered how Betty could reconcile Jim’s death at the hands of the Aucas and the Lord’s apparent failure to protect him from them. Her answer came back without hesitation:

I prayed for the protection of Jim, that is, physical protection. The answer the Lord gave transcended what I had in mind. He gave protection from disobedience and through Jim’s death accomplished results the magnitude of which only eternity can show.
~ from The Savage My Kinsman
   (New York, NY: Harper, 1961), 9

Paraphrasing what Elisabeth Elliot affirmed, we can say: 

We prayed for healing for Jona, that is, physical healing. The answer the Lord gave transcended what we had in mind. He gave ultimate healing and protection from disobedience – and through Jona’s death accomplished results the magnitude of which only eternity can show.

Yes, our loving Shepherd answered abundantly. And He continues to deal gently with us. He is giving us grace. And He is reminding us that He is causing all things to work together for good, conforming us to His perfect image – so that ultimately He, the preeminent one, will receive the glory He so richly deserves!

Christmas is (almost) here!

“Christmas Is Here!” was the title of the K-5 program on Friday. Elizabeth was so excited – and she did a great job saying her lines and singing:

“A Baby was born in a manger over two thousand years ago for you and me!”

Unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6


She was funny... You wouldn’t have guessed it from how distractible she could be at times, but she had most (if not all) of the twenty-minute program memorized. For days leading up to the event, she would say: “So-and-So and So-and-So say... And then So-and-So says...”

She was a lot of fun to watch – especially when she flashed us a big smile upon finding us in the audience!

[Unfortunately, we didn’t get seats very near the front, so I’m very thankful that my pictures turned out as well as they did. The little Canon zooms quite nicely! And, as usual, editing in Picasa is a lot of fun!]

08 December 2011

“You!” (at 13M)

Inspired by a good friend (who’s a great blogger and writer!), I’ve decided to at least occasionally write letters to my little ones along these lines. (Thanks, Julie!)

“You!” (at 13M)

Actually today (12/08/11) is the one-year, one-month, and one-day milestone! (Cool, huh? Although, by the time you read this, you probably won’t say that something is cool.)

You weigh 22 pounds and are almost 32 inches tall. That puts you in the 50 percentile for weight and 90 percentile for height.


You’ve outgrown most 12M clothes and are wearing more and more 18M clothes. (And your current pajamas are size 2T and are only slightly long for your arms and legs.)

Most of the time, you’re a very happy Little Man; you love to flash your charming smile at anybody and everybody – especially your immediate family.

You seem to have a sense of humor. You often crinkle up your nose and show your teeth when you smile; you seem to understand that doing so will make others laugh.



You love your family. (And I, Mamá, am still your very favorite person – just as your Daddy predicted I would be!)

Most days, you still take two short naps. Either Daddy or I rock you to sleep – “en la silla de mimos” – singing Jesus Loves Me or Mi Mi Sol.

You already demonstrate a very tender heart, specifically by making concerned little sounds when you hear your sister crying and hurrying to her to offer a smile and hugs! (It’s very sweet to watch you hug your sister!)

You look like a miniature version of your Daddy. (I’m so happy!)

You still nurse three times a day: morning, mid-afternoon, and night. You fall asleep in my arms while you nurse at night – and I cherish those moments!

You love to clap your hands – and your feet! (I was glad that you cooperated and allowed me to capture that on video.)


You race around on all fours, often “stepping” with one foot as you’ve been doing for several months now.

You haven’t tried to walk on your own yet, but we’re expecting that any day now you’ll let go of the furniture and launch out. You sometimes hold out your hand, asking one of us to help you walk. You like to walk holding our hands and more and more often holding only one hand.

You seem to have a very keen visual memory and are not easily distractible. You remember where forbidden objects are (e.g. electrical outlets or the tube of toddler toothpaste you recently discovered when you managed to pry a bathroom drawer open as far as the safety latch allowed).

You love to point at objects.

You enjoy playing with the Fisher Price farmhouse and animals, often inviting me – through sounds and gestures – to play, too.

You amaze us with how expressive you are – making very eloquent sounds when you don’t have the words.

Best I can tell, you consistently say ten words:

Mamá
Papá
Nena [often sounds like Deda] – referring to your sister
Ta – OK! (Uruguayan style)
[la lu] – la luz
[lo] and often [lo lo] – flor (your general term for all flora: flowers, leaves, trees, bushes)
[nana] and more and more often now [nanana] – manzana (your favorite fruit!)
[tata] – pelota
No
The first time I heard you say it, you were standing by your favorite bookshelf, pointing to one of Daddy’s thickest commentaries. The second time was at the Christmas Lighting when I tried to give you to Daddy because my arms were giving out…
[ba] – bye (your first English word)
When your sister was getting ready to leave for school just two days ago, you waved and said: [ba] and then [ba ba]

You love music; you often “bounce” up and down in time to music, and you already seem to have an amazing sense of rhythm!

You seem to think the birthday song is your song, smiling broadly when you hear it. (Having other birthdays recently in the family has certainly contributed…)

You loved “getting into” your b-day cakes! And we suspect that [tota] (torta) might be your newest word.

You have ten teeth: eight in front (top and bottom) and two molars (top and bottom right), and you’re working on getting another molar on the bottom left.

Apples, bananas, and olives (black, green, and kalamata – like your sister!) are your favorite foods.


You eat very well! If you keep up your current pace, we wonder how we’ll keep up with your appetite as a teenager!

You seem to remember your cousin Jona – and I’m especially grateful. I pray that you will grow to love and follow Christ like he did...

You are our precious Miniature Man – and we love you!

06 December 2011

Jesus Loves Me!

I often sing this hymn to DJM as I rock him to sleep; I typically sing the first and second stanzas in English. Part of the third stanza recently came to mind, reminding me of Jona. A quick search told that the hymn text first ap­peared in a novel by the author’s sister; she want­ed a song for a Sun­day School teach­er to sing to a boy who was dying.

You can read more about the hymn’s history and impact at hymntime.com.

Now I can sing these simple, vital truths with even more understanding and conviction!

Jesus loves me! This I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong;
They are weak, but He is strong.

Refrain:
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

Jesus loves me! He who died
Heaven’s gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin,
Let His little child come in.

Jesus loves me! Loves me still,
Though I’m very weak and ill,
That I might from sin be free
Bled and died upon the tree.

Jesus loves me – He will stay
Close beside me all the way,
Then His little child will take
Up to Heaven for His dear sake.

Words by Anna Warner, 1860
Refrain and music by William Bradbury, 1862

03 December 2011

Christmas Lighting & Carol Sing!

The Christmas Lighting and Carol Sing Event at BJU is an almost-yearly family tradition. We enjoyed it once again this year.


DJM was especially excited about all the little lights!


Seeing Marcos was another highlight!

And running into dear friends is always a treat!

27 November 2011

Thankful...

On Thanksgiving evening, we sat around the table with Elizabeth to compile a “thankful” list...

Here’s what she came up with (and in this order):
  • MegaBloks
  • my brother
  • Thanksgiving
    – and specifically turkey
  • PaPa and Grandma
    [Yes, the above two are linked!]
  • my cousins – all 8 of them!
  • Uruguay
    – specifically pretty flowers and boniato-zanahoria
  • the United States and Canada
    states and provinces – i.e. places where we’ve traveled
  • Krispy Kreme
  • Christmas – i.e. the special day when Jesus was born
  • Easter
As JM wrote down what she said, I was remembering the 2009 and 2010 lists...

22 November 2011

Picnic in the Park

We continued the birthday celebration with a “Picnic in the Park” at PaPa and Grandma’s house...

It was a great excuse to get together and have a hotdog roast – definitely a favorite activity for the boys.


DJM showed great leadership skills, getting into the bags of apples (his favorite!) on the porch and then getting at least two older cousins to do the same. (At last count about two dozen apples had bites taken out of them!)


We continued the soccer theme...


It did a Grandma’s heart good to see a grandson “getting into” his first birthday cake!


Look at that face!

He again enjoyed untying the ribbon on his present – a special gift of love from Elizabeth after the inspiration of the previous evenings celebration. (She was sweet, choosing and wrapping it.)


Believe it or not, Elizabeth really was very happy about the gift!

Happy 1st B-Day, DJM!

DJM turned one in late October while we were traveling in Utah.

The folks at PBC were very gracious to our family...
Elizabeth chose the cupcake with chocolate frosting for DJM!

We took DJM’s 12M milestone pictures – with JellyCat – at Bridal Veil Falls near Provo.


We celebrated two more times – first with a “Stadium-Style Supper” and then with a “Picnic in the Park” – when we returned to the Upstate.

I’ll start with the “Stadium-Style Supper” story (with the Torres Family and SJS):


Elizabeth was very excited about the Uruguayan soccer theme!


DJM was excited about everything!

He made us laugh as we sang the birthday songs to him:


And he really “got into” eating his piece of cake!

Yum! Yum!

He entertained us all as he opened his gifts...

...untying the ribbon...

...trying to put on his new shirts...

...showing interest in everything...

...seeming very appreciative...


...and interacting with Tia Esther over a very special photo book.
(Thank-you so much, Miss Sarah Joy!)

[“Picnic in the Park” post pending...]

20 November 2011

Remembering: Quintessential Jona


Seeing the following conversation on a Facebook page, dedicated to remembering Jona, made me smile:

Charlene wrote:
I never met Jona, but I’ve been telling everyone that he’s my friend. I can’t wait to meet him someday.

Several of Jona’s friends commented:

Jaime:
Jona would not have needed long to become your friend. He was a very friendly guy and would probably have introduced himself before you had a chance to!

Willy:
Not to mention telling a blond joke!

Chelsea:
And by the time you were leaving teasing you about something.

What a blessing to read your descriptions of him – even through tears... Thank-you! In just a few short phrases, you all captured the essence of his personality!

18 November 2011

Mid-Western Autumn & 11M Milestone

This is the first in a series of catch-up posts on our Autumn 2011 Travels:

We paused to enjoy the beauty of autum in the Mid-West...
(Location? Just a random but beautiful rest area in Iowa!)


...get some much-needed exercise...


...and take DJM's eleven months milestone pictures!

He thoroughly enjoyed the leaves.

Wanna bite, too?!

15 November 2011

Beginning Year Two

Mid-May of last year was a time of great emotion, reminiscent of high school or college commencement; we stood at a defining moment made up of an end as well as a beginning. We were leaving the predictability of life as we had known it in the Upstate to begin full-time travel, preparing for full-time ministry in Uruguay. Originally, our goal was to be in Uruguay in April 2011. We continue to trust God for His perfect timing...

In mid-May of this year, we were preparing to fly to Uruguay as short-term furlough replacements for my dad and stepmom. We returned from Uruguay in late August and began Year Two of full-time travel in September. We are currently at 43% of our targeted support level and prayerfully plan to be in Uruguay in mid-2012.

Year One was undoubtedly filled with “stretching” and learning opportunities. Our experiences have been – for the most part! – encouraging and enjoyable. I say “for the most part” because traveling with a four-year-old (now five) and newborn (now one) has certainly provided an array of often unexpected challenges. We continually find our Good Shepherd to be faithful for each step of the way; He is blessing us and providing our every need. His people have been very good to us, and we have enjoyed reconnecting with friends as well as forming new friendships with like-minded brothers and sisters who now pray specifically for us and for the ministry in Uruguay.

Our most recent travels took us from SC through the Mid-West to churches in CO, UT, ID, Alberta, and back through MT, UT, CO, and IA. After that last week of thirty hours in the car, we’re especially thankful for God’s grace and protection. And we’re content to be “sojourning” in South Carolina once again!

Elizabeth gets excited about real-life geography lessons!

(I do plan to post pictures of our trip – as time and the demands of getting resettled allow!)

As we continue this stage of our ministry, we recognize more than ever our need for God’s grace. Each day on the road offers new challenges, new opportunities for growth, and new mercies – all from the hand of our perfect and loving Shepherd. We’re thankful for His promises!

Will you pray for us?

28 October 2011

Happy Birthday, Dearest!

Wishing the Happiest and Best Birthday Yet to my dearest friend, wonderful husband, and beloved daddy of my little people!

We do love you!

21 October 2011

Remembering...

Today as I write from the Canadian Rockies, I lift my eyes beyond these amazing mountains to the LORD, the One who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121)

Tonight marks six months since our dear Jona was escorted into the Presence of His Creator and Savior.

Earlier today, as DJM and I watched video clips of Jona, I wondered how much the Little Man might remember about what we suspect he might have seen that night six months ago...

Jona undoubtedly had a great impact even on his littlest cousin.

In late May, DJM tried to interact with Jona's portrait.

The tears fall... I long for Jona's impact to continue and have eternal fruit in my children's lives.

Please continue to pray especially for Jona's immediate family...

We miss him more than ever. We continue to sorrow yet not without hope. We have much to be thankful for...

01 October 2011

First Words!

On Sunday, September 11, our Little Man gave me a very special present – his very first word!

He and his sister were in their room. They were in rare form, amusing themselves. He was sitting up in the crib, and she was nearby playing and singing. I walked in on them, rather unexpectedly, and he startled – first in surprise and then in joy – and exclaimed: ¡Mamá! His immediate and obvious joy at his accomplishment seemed to prove his having used the term meaningfully, and he has since continued to say: ¡Mamá! in meaningful contexts.

Eleven days later, on September 22, he spoke the next most meaningful word!

We were at the airport, waiting for JM to arrive. When DJM first saw his Daddy, who had been gone for almost three weeks, he hesitated, studying him very seriously. Then he gave a little jump of joy. And then in response to my question: ¿Quién es? ¿Es Papá? He repeated: ¡Papá!

A few minutes later in the parking lot, we captured a similar moment on video:


Because DJM is growing up with two languages (as Elizabeth did), I frankly did not expect him to talk before his first birthday. Elizabeth attempted her first word/phrase la luz [/la lu/] almost one week after her first birthday. Because bilingual children tend to be later than their peers in their first attempts to speak, DJM’s earlier start probably means that we have another little talker in our lives!

23 September 2011

Hair!

I was finally brave enough to give Elizabeth a haircut:

Just kidding!

But, seriously! Here’s how her hair looked after the much-needed trim:

This was only her third trim ever!

We all like how much healthier her hair now looks – highlighting her natural waves.

And while we’re on the topic of hair... Check out this hairdo:


When Elizabeth saw how I’d pinned up my hair that morning, she said: “With your hair like that, you look like the soccer player – like the one with a 10 on his shirt!”

That’s the closest I’ll ever come to being anything like Forlán! (Hee! Hee!)

20 September 2011

Remembering today...

Marcos played his first soccer game for the Cavaliers – the same team Jona played for in seventh and eighth grade...

Today DJM crawled around on the grass for the first time – and even ventured out onto the field! But his Mommy cut short his fun when he started stuffing fists-full of grass into his mouth...

Today at Tío Esteban and Tía Esther and Marcos’ house, Elizabeth and DJM ate ñoquis for the first time... (Yum!)

Today marks five months since Jona’s Home-Going...

Night approaches...

We remember... We sorrow...

We have A Sure Hope!

Jesus said:
I am the resurrection and the life;
he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,
and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.
Do you believe this?”

18 September 2011

Sweetness!

My Sweet Little People!
(What more need I say?!)

16 September 2011

¡Feliz Cumple, Flor!

Espero que hayas pasado re-lindo hoy...


¡Te queremos pilones!

15 September 2011

More Multiple Milestones

Here’s an attempt at a catch-up post...

We celebrated multiple milestones in January with Elizabeth turning five and DJM three months old. In July we were once again celebrating multiples with Elizabeth’s “Half Birthday” and DJM’s nine-month milestone.

We went to a favorite tearoom in Montevideo (filled with childhood and teen memories for me) to celebrate with Elizabeth.


She’s our Little Artist, constantly surprising us with her creations. Here’s a sample:

Notice that she copied the penguin on her shirt
(from the previous picture).

She made great progress with her reading lessons, although other demands tended to crowd out the regularity of lessons. And she’s now enrolled (part-time) in a local pre-school – which she loves! We’ll also be “road-schooling” as well. (In theory, that will look like “home-schooling” – but we’ll see...)

Very happy about her first day of K-5!

She loved our time in Uruguay and was conversing fluently in Spanish by the time we left.

Being out at “The Ranch” in Totoral was a real highlight!

This is DJM’s “official” nine-month picture.

He was already becoming quite a handful!

Look at those long toes!

DJM weighs nearly 21 lbs – compared to Elizabeth’s 41 lbs! He measures 30.5 inches “tall” – compared to Elizabeth’s height of 45 inches – keeping him at 98% or 99% on the growth chart. He’s wearing mostly 12M pants right now.

He’s still very much my “Milk Baby” – but he’s (finally!) sleeping through the night, allowing me to get some nice six, seven, or even eight or nine-hour stretches as well! I now have a new lease on life!

He has eight teeth now! And he loves standing!

He eats very well and seems excited about new flavors. New items on his menu are too numerous to recount, but some of the more exciting (or unusual?) include plain white yogurt, hummus, peaches, and strawberries.

He wasn’t too sure about plain white yogurt at first.

His Daddy pretended to share mate with him.
(But that’s just the angle of the camera...)

He loves to ride on his Daddy’s shoulders!

He went from “commando crawling” in Uruguay (and something that looked more like lunging than anything else!) to tentative crawling to racing around on all fours.

“Catch me if you can!”

He’s now unashamedly trying to get into everything!

Trying to get him to stay still for a posed picture is becoming more and more of a challenge, too! Here’s how the ten-month photo shoot went:




We’re so thankful for our little people!