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.

31 March 2011

March 31: Update on Jonatán

Jona had a rough night; finding a comfortable position is becoming increasingly difficult, and breathing is a constant struggle...

He asked his dad to pray with him throughout the night last night. Earlier this morning, he spontaneously prayed out loud, asking God to comfort his family, to give him peace, praying for another day with his family and asking that if any of the family do not know Christ they would come to Him...

I mentioned in the note last night that I have never heard Jona complain about anything – big or small in this situation. His dad, who spent countless (often excruciating) hours at the hospital with him, gives the same testimony.

What an amazing work of grace God is doing in our sweet Jona's heart!

March 30: Update on Jonatán

We have been truly overwhelmed by the outpouring of prayer support from so many all around the world. May God bless you! Please continue to pray...

Sitting down to write an update, I realized that I last posted details on Jona's situation two nights ago. (Where has time gone?!) We're thankful that last night went better for Jona than the night before did. In fact, he slept so soundly last night that John Mark had to work really hard to get him to wake up for the next nebulizer treatment...

When the hospice nurse checked him last night, she said that his chest sounds fairly good; however, the constant struggle to breathe is making his heart rate high. In spite of all this, he continues to be a blessing. I've never heard him complain about anything – big or small in this situation. That's very convicting!

Please keep praying.

Pray for Jona's Aunt Julia, who will be having an interview tomorrow morning at the American Embassy in Montevideo. Thankfully, the letter from Jona's doctor arrived in her inbox today. Please pray that she will be approved for a visa so that she and her mother can travel to the US as soon as possible.

Pray for Jona's other set of grandparents who are in flight from Uruguay as I write. They are scheduled to arrive in Jacksonville at mid-day tomorrow and would like to be in Greenville by tomorrow night. Please pray that they will be able to rest well on the plane in preparation for a long day's drive.

Pray for Jona to rest well. He has had a relatively good day today but is having trouble finding a comfortable position for sleep tonight.

From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for praying!

We continue to rest in the loving arms of our Good Shepherd...

29 March 2011

Praying, believing...

A friend posted on FaceBook the following thought-provoking perspective on prayer:

"This is the day that the LORD hath made..." That same God that created our day, our life, our world can certainly take care of us. How amazing of a testimony would it be to everyone who knows him, if our prayers were answered! I know all of us have prayed that prayer at one point, but how many of us prayed this morning expecting God to answer!

We start out fervent, then we doubt a little, and prayers become like half court shots. We shoot them, we have seen other people make them, we know it's possible that it might go in, but we don't actually expect it to. It just seems too far away! My point is God doesn't get glory from us when we treat HIM like he doesn't care. I think most of us don't do it on purpose, it just seems to happen when we pray over and over for the same thing.

My challenge to all who read this is: Please pray for God to reach down and touch Jona today and bring him peace and healing. He will do it! Believe it. Allow this boy's life to change yours.

28 March 2011

March 28: Update on Jonatán

This will be a very quick and rather short update: Telegraph Style. (I'm sitting in Marcos' bedroom with a very squirmy almost-five-month-old...)

Please continue to pray for Jona. He has had several rough moments today... Breathing is a constant struggle as his lungs fill with fluid. He did have at least two incidents coughing up "stuff" today, granting some measure of relief. He also has moments when he breathes extremely fast. At one point today, he was breathing fifty times per minute!

Please pray for continued grace and strength for the family  especially as we watch by Jona's side during the night. He rests better, knowing we are there for him.

Please keep praying for extended family. (A list of specific prayer requests is included in the March 26 update.)

Jona continues to be a blessing. We are so thankful for God's extending his time with us. We are trusting our loving Shepherd to do what is best...

27 March 2011

March 27: Update on Jonatán

Thank-you for praying! What a blessing, encouragement, and privilege it is for us all to know that our brethren are praying and want to know how to keep praying...

Jona rested very well last night. ("Very well" must, of course, be interpreted in light of his current condition and the seriousness of his situation this past Friday night.) He slept four hours straight last night in between nebulizer treatments, which seem to be helping immensely.

He is having to take quite a bit of medicine now to help him relax and breathe and to ease increasing pain. In spite of that, he's very alert and still joking! For instance, at one point yesterday evening, he took the oxygen tubes off his face; Esteban asked him if he was taking a break. "Yeah, just taking a breather!" Jona said. He then made a thumbs-up sort of motion to show us he recognized how great a pun he had just made!

He's been able to take several such short breaks from oxygen; he's also walking a little, but he tires easily. He's eating little bits at a time, sitting up in a recliner someone loaned them. That recliner is giving him huge relief and has been a wonderful God-send!

When we left the house this afternoon, Jona was just settling back into the recliner. He looked rather tired. There has been a non-stop stream of visitors many of them classmates and teachers as well as friends from several churches in town. As we left, a group from a Spanish ministry had just arrived to sing hymns with Jona. Previous to this, he had been sitting up, playing "Apples to Apples" (I think it's a kids' card game) with some of his classmates. All the love being shown in these and so many other ways has been a great encouragement to Jona and to his family!

We're trying to spend as much time as possible with the whole family; it's hard to know how long Jona will be with us. From our perspective, we are thankful for the break in our out-of-town travel schedule. It's been very good to have this time together as family.

Please continue to pray for the extended family. (A list of specific prayer requests is included in the March 26 update.)

I'm still asking the Lord to perform the miracle of healing, fully confident that He will do what will most glorify Him. He is a perfect, loving Father, who wants His children to make our wants and wishes known  always praying for His will, not ours...

So, please do keep praying. And please pray specifically! We are thankful for you!

26 March 2011

Jona: my first favorite Little Man!

How proud this Aunt Deborah was of her Little Man!

How much prouder I am of the fine Christian man he has become!

To God be the glory!

Little Jona (November 1998)

March 26: Update on Jonatán

This update comes primarily from an email sent by Jona's grandparents in Uruguay:

How thankful we are for the prayer support of family and friends during this difficult time!

Late last night we received a phone call from John Mark, telling us that Jona wasn't doing very well. The hospice nurse had told them she thought it would probably be Jona's last night. Based on his condition, she felt that the Lord would likely take him Home within the next 24 hours; his breathing was very labored, and he was struggling to breathe.

We called this morning to find out how the night had gone for Jona and for all of them. John Mark (who had alternated watching at Jona's side) said, for the condition Jona was in last night, he did remarkably well. His heart rate was down some (though not normal yet), and he seemed to be breathing a little easier. He had slept some and didn't seem to be as restless. He found he could lie on his right side to get some relief. All these things are answers to prayer!

As we (grandparents) mentioned last night, we already have tickets to leave next Wednesday, arriving in Jacksonville, FL, on Thursday. A couple hours later we'll drive to Greenville to be with all of them. We're SO thankful for gracious friends who provided the tickets with airline miles, a car (sending it from Ohio), and a cell phone...

Daniel, Esther's brother, and possibly his girls plan to travel up when the Lord takes Jona Home. Esther's Uncle Will and his wife also plan to travel down from Canada, so there will possibly be lots of traveling in the coming days. Please pray for safety.

Docila and Julia, Esteban's mother and sister, would also like to go. Both have passports, but Julia does not have a visa for the US. John Mark and Deborah are currently working on finding a way for her to have an urgent interview at the American Embassy here in Montevideo  on Monday, if at all possible so she can get a visa. Please pray! (Current wait time for an interview to try to get a visa is one month. Obviously Julia can't wait that long.) Pray that an interview and a visa would be granted even if it's only for a week or ten days. Also pray the Lord would provide funds needed for their airfare.

The Lord continues to sustain us, and we thank Him for His goodness and mercy to Jona and to all of us.

We continue to covet your prayers. Pray for us this afternoon as we challenge the teens with the questions: What would you do if the doctor told you that you have only 4 to 9 months left to live? Are you ready? Pray for God to work in hearts.

We remain grateful for HIS grace...

25 March 2011

March 25: Update on Jonatán

Please pray!

We got home from a quick afternoon walk to hear a phone message from Esther, who was leaving work early. We immediately called their house. Esteban asked that I send a note requesting prayer.

Jona is having great difficulty breathing; there is only one position in which he is comfortable...

23 March 2011

March 23: Update on Jonatán

Thank-you for praying and writing and expressing love and concern in so many ways...

We are experiencing God’s grace; He is good!

Jona has been able to get some rest with the help of oxygen (as needed) and pain medication (as needed). Night time is hardest; there just doesn’t seem to be any good position for sleeping since lying down puts extra pressure on his chest. Please pray for Jona (and the family) especially at night. Right now, Esteban is “sleeping” on a mattress on the floor beside Jona’s bed so he can be there for him as needed...

Jona continues to be in amazingly good spirits. He’s such a blessing! He’s still going to school (and attending the Bible Conference services during the day this week.) On Sunday morning, he taught Children’s Church – as usual!

Please continue to pray!

Pray for God's continued grace for Jona.

Pray for Marcos who is right now fighting an upper respiratory problem; he’s wearing a mask so he doesn’t share any possible germs with Jona.

Pray for God’s continued grace for Marcos; he and Jona have always been very close...

Pray for Esteban and Esther. God is giving them amazing grace – but, as you can imagine, it’s very difficult for them to see their boys going through all this.

Pray for continued opportunities for the family to glorify God through this trial.

Pray for God’s provision for extended family in Uruguay.

Pray for complete healing for Jona. Yes, do! Doesn't our Savior tells us to come boldly before His throne?

If you know HIM, you know His promises... HE is the same yesterday, and today, and forever!

Just today I heard once again of His healing a leper; leprosy was a disease that had no cure in that day! In the same passage, we read of His forgiving and then healing the paralytic. Do we really believe that HE still has that same power?!

We are praying (as the family has asked us to do all along) that our Good Shepherd would do what will most glorify HIM. Will you pray that, too?

We appreciate your praying. This is a very difficult time, but we are resting in our loving Lord; HE is always faithful!

22 March 2011

Abba: Father!

“My testimony is that of a dishonorable man that God has saved and honored in every conceivable way. Every good thing that I’ve ever wanted to do, God has let me do; and every good thing I’ve ever wanted to have, God has let me have. That’s the way dads are to their children.”

~ J.D. Crowley, current missionary in Cambodia

21 March 2011


The kids and I have been enjoying the opportunity of being in town, spending time with extended family – especially Jona and Marcos and Esther and Esteban.

Marcos and Elizabeth have apparently been doing a lot of philosophizing. She keeps sharing facts that she’s learning from him...

On the way to church last night, she leaned over and solemnly asked DJM:
Do you know what that black thing in your eye is?
After a short pause, she continued:
It’s a hole; it’s so your brain can see!
I’m just sure Marcos’ explanation was more sophisticated...
(Hee! Hee!)

18 March 2011

March 18: Update on Jonatán

Thank-you for praying for Jona and his family. Thank-you!

Please continue to pray fervently...

Although Jona had been doing well for several weeks (considering all things), he had a difficult evening – with a lot of pain – on Wednesday, March 16, followed by a very rough night – with difficulty breathing and, therefore, sleeping. A chest scan on Thursday revealed that the lung which was operated on in early November is entirely overtaken by tumors; a large tumor is pressing on the trachea, making breathing difficult. The doctors have prescribed new pain medication...

Jona attended school on Thursday. (Yes, he loves school!) When we stopped by to see the family in the evening, Jona seemed as encouraged as ever – telling us about his good-natured joking with hospice representatives earlier in the day, playing the guitar for us, singing a song he composed for his literature class, and holding his littlest cousin’s rapt attention with familiar Sunday School songs. He is resting in the Lord, confident in Christ...

If you read this right away, please pray for rest tonight – for him and for Esteban and Esther and Marcos as well.

Pray for wisdom in decisions that will be made in the next few days, concerning ongoing care.

Pray for continued grace and strength for the entire family – including extended family. (There are moments when our hearts are breaking...)

Pray that the Lord would continue to be glorified through this situation. We continue to rest in Him, confident that He knows and will do what is ultimately best...

17 March 2011

He's growing SO fast!

DJM reached the four-month milestone during our Ohio travels. While comparing this month’s milestone picture with the three-month milestone pictures, we noticed that he’s wearing the same jeans. Although we had to turn them up last month, they fit him perfectly this month – meaning that he probably grew at least one inch! We'll verify that as well as find out his current weight at his check-up next week...

During the past month and a half, he has become more fun than ever – especially for his big sister! Shortly after turning three months old, he started to enjoy playing with his own hands and trying to grasp objects, including his sister’s fingers – to her great delight!

He chewed on his fingers so much that we thought he might be getting his first teeth. That doesn’t seem to have happened (yet), but he did manage to free his tongue, which had previously been tethered all the way to the tip. He’s enjoying his new-found freedom immensely!

Check out that heart-shaped, tethered tongue! 

Look, Mom! I can stick out my tongue now!

He consistently flashes a big grin whenever a camera is pointed his way.

He jabbers more than ever – and really gets going at times!

He notices a difference between Spanish and English, turning and flashing a smile my way when I address him in Spanish.

He listens intently to music and loves our singing to him – especially on long road trips.

He loves high-contrast patterns – and finds them everywhere! He also loves bright colors.

Daddy's books are especially intriguing...

He started grabbing and even holding his “crinkly” book – just like his sister did when she was about the same age.

Little Elizabeth!

DJM and JellyCat!

He loves to kick his legs and beat on his chest – especially when “splishing and splashing” in the bathtub!

He smiles and laughs more than ever. And as some of our hosts have pointed out to us, he rarely cries! (We’re still trying to believe it!)

Having hiccups or a dirty diaper or being too warm in the car seat do frustrate him. Although he rarely cries, he’s very communicative; he lets us know if something is bothering him. The expressiveness of little people (without words) constantly amazes me!

He consistently takes good naps in his bassinet or car seat, or on beds, or even while reclining in his Boppy Pillow – and he generally wakes up happy (even when he’s hungry!)

He loves church nurseries!

Yes, our Little Man has proven to be a very good traveler (so far) – and we are very thankful!

Sweet Baby Boy!

15 March 2011

Ohio Travels

Our recent travels have taken us to OH and back – and back again!

Most of the traveling has been enjoyable for all...
(We're very thankful!)

Highlights have included the SNOW we experienced!

We actually had several snows...

We enjoyed a snowy evening drive through Amish country.

But it sure was sad to see the snow melting...

However, we later got enough to make a snowman (of sorts)!

We're very thankful!

08 March 2011

Lovin’ It!

1 fast-food restaurant – with free wi-fi and a play area!
2 large beverages
3 hot-fudge sundaes
4 hours of internet work
5 dollars
6 refills

Can you guess the location? I remember lovin’ it as a child, too...

05 March 2011

March 04: Update on Jonatán

We had a wonderful Christmas... Jona played the guitar, and we sang with extended family in Uruguay – via Skype! (A short video clip is included in an earlier post.)

It’s been awhile since the last update... Thank-you for praying so faithfully for Jona; he continues to stay encouraged – in spite of increasing challenges...

The Torres family had a wonderful two weeks in Uruguay. Many hearts were touched through Jonatán’s testimony and that of his family during their time there. Please pray that God would continue to use the family’s testimony to reach others and that those who do not know Christ would come to know Him as personal Savior. Continue to pray that God’s grace would be shown through them to others.

The chest scan Jona had shortly after returning from Uruguay showed more “nodules” in his lungs; however, the doctors were amazed that he was not in pain, was not having problems breathing, and was still able to walk. We praise the Lord for giving him unusual strength.

Jona has been experiencing some pain since that time but thankfully it has not been continuous. He has decided not to take any further chemo treatments; he will see the doctors only when necessary and also will have scans and tests done only to check progress of the cancer.

Jona has continued going to school each day but often takes a short nap during the day and when he gets home. He has been having trouble sleeping at night; please pray that he’ll be able get the rest he needs.

Two Mondays ago Jona woke up, coughing copious amounts of blood. Esteban drove him to the hospital; as they arrived, the coughing (and bleeding) stopped dramatically. As Esteban later told us, it was as if God turned off the faucet. Seeing the amount Jona had lost, the doctors were amazed that he was standing – and even talking and joking with them! A blood test revealed that all his blood counts were within normal ranges, and by 10:00 that morning, Jona was in school!

That episode freed Jona from pain and coughing for about ten days. Since then he has again had some lesser coughing and some pain... Please continue to pray fervently for him, for Esteban and Esther and Marcos, and for the rest of us as extended family. We are all resting in the Lord, knowing that Jona’s days (and ours) are in His hands (cf. Psalm 139). We continue to pray for complete healing, recognizing that our Good Shepherd will do what is best...

Check out Jonas glasses! He has to wear them to drive!

04 March 2011

New teeth?! Runny noses?! Eternal purposes?!

(As the Camry cruises across OH, the baby naps in his car seat as his sister plays quietly with her bag of car toys; from my supervisory station in the back seat, I have ample time to meditate on truths I’ve been learning as my loving Lord shepherds me along on this “deputation” trail...)

DJM is constantly trying to cram at least one finger – and often as many as all eight at once – into his mouth. He’s drooling – a lot! And he’s had an alternately runny and stuffy nose. All are symptoms his sister tended to have when she was teething five years ago.

Thankfully, he hasn’t been very fussy... (Yet?!) He has, however, been extra restless at night. And all this has started just when he was developing a pattern of “sleeping through the night” consistently. (If “sleeping through” can include a restless period or two – consistently resolved with the pacifier – right around 3:00 or 3:30 in the morning.)

Admittedly, four months of age seems rather early for the first tooth. (I didn’t bring my book from the Academy of Pediatrics along on this trip so I’m unable to look it up.) Maybe it’s “just” a cold; Elizabeth and I have developed runny noses, too. Whatever the case, we’ve had some extra interruptions in what tend to be already short nights on the road.

Don’t feel sorry for us!

But do pray for us!

Periods of night-time wakefulness can be profitable times to think...and pray...and recognize that God is lovingly at work in our lives. In the midst of my foggy, sleep-deprived state, He gently reminds me of great truths He has used to comfort me in the past: None of these circumstances come as a surprise to Him; as my loving and all-wise Father, He has ordained them!

These difficulties are part of the “all things” He is causing to work together for our good. After all, we have been called according to His purpose, and He has determined the boundaries of that purpose: Those who know Christ personally as Savior from sin and its eternal penalty can rejoice that God will conform us to the image of Christ, the only perfect Person who has ever lived on this planet! The ultimate result will be that HE, the Son, will be glorified; He will be the pre-eminent one among many who have been made like Him – they are called brethren! (cf. Romans 8)

This conformity to Christ’s image comes about through the “all things” – including sleepless nights, fussy children, runny noses, and infinitely more serious situations that try us to the depths of our beings as parents... God has predetermined this perfecting; it is His purpose – it will happen! He loves us that much!

As I renew my mind with these truths, the Author comforts me; He gives me hope in the depths of the night when I am tempted by despairing thoughts... So... Don’t feel sorry for us as you read this. If you know God, He is also using “all things” in your life to conform you to the image of His Son! “All things” in your life probably look quite different from “all things” in mine, but God is just as certainly at work in your life if you are His child. He loves you!

Will you pray for us? Will you pray specifically? We need God’s grace if we are to accomplish anything of eternal value. We are not sufficient for the task that lies before us. We are all too keenly aware of our weaknesses... But we are also thankful that, as our Lord has promised, He stands ready to help. He gives grace!
[Nothing] will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus...

03 March 2011

Even More Travel Tips

As you read these particular travel tips, remember to pray for us – for me!
  • An mp3 player is a wonderful tool for “redeeming the time” in the car. (Thanks, Dad and Mom!)
  • The sovereign King of kings controls all things – even rising gas prices! HE is faithful to provide...
  • Listen to advice from well-meaning brethren; ask our gracious Father for wisdom when that advice is collectively contradictory...
  • Rest in the fact that HE who is All-Wise entrusted our children to us; He has promised the wisdom we (so desperately) need. (cf. Proverbs 2 & James 1)
  • The littlest one whose ever-present, pressing needs occupy so much of my time (especially during church services when I sense my own needs and afterward when opportunities for fellowship might seem so sweet!) is “ A Soul to Train for God.” Those other opportunities will undoubtedly be present (and more appropriate) later...
  • Fellowship with other young moms in church nurseries is often an unexpected blessing!
  • This stage often referred to as “deputation” – with all its duties and (thankfully!) delights – is our present calling, our present ministry. Jesus may come today! May He find us faithful...
“Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living…”
~ missionary Jim Elliot