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 December 2013

This is Christmas!

This is Christmas:

Mans Maker was made man, that He, Ruler of the stars, might nurse at His mothers breast;
that the Bread might hunger,
the Fountain thirst,
the Light sleep,
the Way be tired on His journey;
that the Truth might be accused of false witness,
the Teacher beaten with whips,
the Foundation be suspended on wood;
that Strength might be weak;
that the Healer might be wounded;
that Life might die.

~ Augustine

29 December 2013

Christmas Memories...

Sharing a few of the many happy moments we shared as a family here in Uruguay on Christmas Day...

Grandma Steel sent the cookies & frosting which were
joyfully assembled by the five cousins!

The brothers-in-law grilled the meat(s)!

It’s summer, and the wildflowers were in full bloom...

El Abu is well-loved!

We’re especially thankful for the joy and hope
that knowing Jesus, the Savior, brings!

24 December 2013

En el Pesebre...

E sings En el Pesebre ~ especially for “los Abu” and PaPa & Grandma and The Cousins!

¡Feliz Navidad!

Away in a Manger...

DJM sings Away in a Manger ~ especially for “los Abu” and PaPa & Grandma:

Merry Christmas!

23 December 2013

¡Feliz Navidad!

Allá en el pesebre, do nace Jesús,
La cuna de paja nos vierte gran luz...

¡Feliz Navidad!

¡Cantando con el Coro!

21 December 2013

Joy to the World!

As Christmas Day approaches, I find myself meditating repeatedly on why He had to come...

My thoughts return to blog posts from the past couple of years...

And as I think about why Christ had to come, I echo the hope and joy penned by the hymn writer, Isaac Watts:
Joy to the world! The Lord is come...!
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found...
Amen! May it be so!
The darkness of Christmas, whether the first one or the one this [year], serves as a reminder of why Jesus had to come . . . and why He will come again...

17 December 2013

An Interesting Info-Graphic on HomeSchooling!

Here’s a wealth of information about homeschooling, its history, and its current condition and results. Note that the sources are cited so you can check them out for yourself...
Homeschooled: How American Homeschoolers Measure Up
Check out the original post for more information.

24 October 2013

Connecting the Dots!

While getting ready to go to the weekly meeting at the nursing home just half a block away, DJM and I had the following conversation:

I: Are you going to sit still while I talk to the Papas and Grandmas about Jesus?

DJM: Yah.

(As I finished dressing him, I could see the wheels turning in his mind.)

DJM: Do you have one?

I (looking puzzled): One what?

DJM (smiling shyly, in a whisper): A Bible! [sounds like /uh bah-boh/]

It was one of those extra-joyful moments when, as a parent, I realized he was connecting the dots: We need to use The Bible to tell people about Jesus! Though DJM didn’t know it, that was exactly the point I was planning to make with the folks at the nursing home...

One of our little co-workers, hard at work,
setting out hymnbooks on the very literal
end of the benches – just as hed been asked!

07 October 2013

Pray for us!

Greetings once again from Montevideo! Most of you know that in July we returned unexpectedly to the US in order to clean up our house in SC following a robbery there. The Lord used the break-in... As our pastor summarized it, the Lord (very kindly) lifted us up and shook most everything out of our pockets. We spent the last half of July and the month of August selling, giving, discarding, storing, and packing what remained to bring back in suitcases and boxes. Many decisions were difficult but freeing. We arrived back in Uruguay on September 2, in time for JM to begin teaching the following evening...

We share our home... Living above all of this [shared space] with only an open staircase between has a few disadvantages (your imagination can fill in the gaps), especially as we navigate the ruts and bumps of emptying suitcases, beginning homeschooling, preparing classes, teaching, and generally learning to function in an environment in which life takes just a bit longer to live. Yet we’re thankful for the relationships that the situation facilitates. We feel a bit like Paul at the end of Acts, who didn’t even need to leave his house (arrest!) to enjoy many opportunities coming directly to his door.

In our case these opportunities have included the kids’ (and adults’) participating in a weekly service in a nursing home up an adjoining street, our singing in and accompanying for a choir drawn from several like-minded area churches, and getting to know neighbors whose need for the Lord could hardly be more obvious...

Thank-you for your prayers!

(You can read the entire ministry report on our ministry blog.)

02 July 2013

Greetings from Uruguay!

We are grateful to report that by May 1 the Lord answered your prayers, providing the remainder of our required support and opening all doors for departure. Our final six weeks were divided between travel to churches in the eastern U.S. and packing in preparation to leave the country on June 11.

Flying over the Andes -- breath-taking and sobering...

We are renting the upper floor of a house owned by the Evangelical Mission to Uruguay, the building in which the mission’s office and Bible institute classes are located... Our home is extremely close to nearly any major bus route, including the route to Pando, where we have begun helping on weekends. Please pray for the ongoing discipleship and growth of people in Iglesia Bíblica Maranatha in that city...
JM has been invited to join the committee making plans for the opening of the new Facultad de Estudios Bíblicos del Uruguay (FEBU)... Over the last year and a half, this planning committee—with your prayers and with regular input from area pastors and missionaries—has spent many hours preparing for what we hope will be a Christ-centered, college-level program of study serving the churches here in Uruguay. Please pray as this process continues. An important need is the Lord’s guidance to and provision of the proper location for the school.

June through August are not warm months in Uruguay. Please pray for continued health for us and for God’s grace as we adjust to life and ministry here. We are glad to be here and depend on your prayers...
(As always, you can read the entire ministry report at: Good News from a Distant Land.)

08 April 2013

Extended Family Photos!

Here are some highlights from the Extended Family Photo Shoot last week:

All the Cousins – first good photos ever of all of  ’em together!

Siblings & Cousins

PaPa & Grandma with all their GrandKids!

This one is: “Who They Really Are!”
(or “Mountain of Cousins” as our Elizabeth says!)

“The Four!” (Siblings, that is!)

My Family!

These are, incidentally, a Big Deal. The day of the photo shoot, I posted on fb:
Polishing shoes and ironing clothes for our Extended Family Picture this afternoon! First time ever with all the Little People! Pray for the photographer(s): 14 people (6 little!) are going to be a challenge, for sure!
The last time we had a Steel Family Photo taken was ten years ago. So, we’re especially pleased with these results – and with the fact that Portrait Innovations now puts thumbnails online for sharing, etc.

So thankful that Mom insisted and then finally got us all to coordinate our not-so-easy-to-mesh schedules!

06 April 2013

Do pray for us!

We recently sent out our April Ministry Report; I’m including excerpts here:

We appreciate your prayers for JM’s questioning and ordination service in February. We feel God’s kindness and the love of our sending church, and we’re thankful for each one who is currently partnering with us on a regular basis. Many, many others – including our parents and numerous teachers – have had an important part in our preparation for the gospel ministry and for work in Uruguay. We thank God for you and invite your continued prayers, counsel, and gracious accountability. You are part of God’s means for our growth into Christ’s image.

Please continue to pray that we’ll be able to leave for Uruguay on June 11. When we sent out this report, our monthly support was at 87% of the amount required by EMU before we can leave; since then we received news of a new ministry partner – and are now just over the 88% mark!

We’re moving forward in faith...
These next two months promise to be especially busy: We need wisdom and efficiency in making decisions and packing our belongings – and fitting everything in around three weeks of travel in May. These are good days; we feel more keenly than ever our need for God’s grace and enabling in order to meet all our obligations!
(As always, you can read the entire report on our ministry blog.)

Do pray for us!

23 February 2013

Tomorrow: Ordination & Commissioning

We are rejoicing in God’s continued grace to our family!
Tomorrow evening, Lord willing, we will be celebrating JM’s ordination and our commissioning service along with friends Jon and Andrea Crocker, who hope to begin gospel work in Mexico City this year.
We go in faith, our own great weakness feeling,
And needing more each day Thy grace to know:
Yet from our hearts a song of triumph pealing,
“We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.”

13 February 2013

Ordination Exam Tonight!

In holy contemplation, we sweetly then pursue
The theme of God’s salvation, and find it ever new!
~ from Cowper’s Sometimes a Light Surprises

(You can read our Winter Ministry Report on our ministry blog.)

12 February 2013

Pray for us: Exciting Updates!

Thank you for your continued interest in the work in Uruguay. God is answering your prayers:
  • We now have a target departure date: June 11, 2013. (You can read details in our Winter 2013 Ministry Report.)
  • Our current support level is just under 85% – We continue to be encouraged!
  • Plans continue for a start date of March 2014 for FEBU (Facultad de Estudios Biblicos del Uruguay: College of Biblical Studies of Uruguay).
During the past three months we visited churches in SC, NC, IL, and OH.
The TN mountains were especially beautiful with fog and frost!
In family news:
  • JM is finishing another course in the D.Min. program.
  • Elizabeth is on target to finish first grade by the end of this month so she can begin second grade in March and be in sync with the school year in Uruguay.
  • She turned 7 at the end of January, and DJM turned 2 in late October. If anyone knows how to keep them from growing so fast, we would like to hear from you!
We would appreciate your prayers during these next several months:
  • February 13: JM’s public ordination questioning
  • February 24: Our commissioning service, along with friends, the Crockers, who hope to begin gospel work in Mexico City this year
  • March through May: Safety in travel and God’s gracious work in churches we visit here in the US
  • June 11: Travel from Miami to Montevideo, Uruguay!
(You can read the entire report on our ministry blog.)

08 February 2013


All the Garwood Cousins together again!

22 January 2013

Random Moments Are Often Hardest

Following loss, random moments are often hardest.
He would have been graduating from high school this spring, but random moments on random days may be harder than graduation day will be...
  • Going to soccer games and remembering how much Jona loved the sport and how he excelled...
  • Seeing some of Jona’s best friends across the campus or across the room... Watching them become men...
  • Watching my own son grow, remembering some of the same milestones in Jona’s life...
  • Remembering the special bond between Jona and “DJ” (as he called him). I’m so thankful that our Little Man still gets excited about photos and video clips of his oldest cousin; he was only almost six-months-old the night of Jona’s home-going...
 Thanks, Sarah Joy, for capturing this moment on Nov. 30!
  • Waving good-bye to Esther and Esteban and Marcos as they back out of our driveway and start down the street, remembering the many times we waved good-bye when Jona was at the wheel...
  • Using a recipe Jona liked...
The last time Jona ate supper at our house, I served Greens & Rice Casserole. He was so sweet as he expressed his appreciation for the meal; I treasure the memories of the time spent together as extended family that evening. And even though that casserole was a dish we also liked, I hadn’t been able to make it since that evening almost two years ago...
At the very last minute before leaving on our latest trip, however, I’d thrown a pound of organic baby spinach into a zipper-bag and into the freezer. Upon returning home, I wondered how I’d cook it so my little people would eat it; I really didn’t want to waste it. Finally, after cooking the greens, I made myself pull out the recipe for that casserole...
And then... So many precious memories came flooding back with the memories of that last meal Jona ate with us at our house. And with the memories came the tears – and the renewed realization that it really is the random moments that are often the hardest and that catch us off-guard...
As you pray for loved ones now going through hardships, remember that our loving Shepherd sees moments only He can see – and He knows best how to comfort, strengthen, and give desperately-needed grace...

10 January 2013

Thoughts on “evangelical obedience”

During last night’s prayer meeting, we meditated on Psalm 119:4.
You have ordained Your precepts,
That we should keep them diligently.

We examined thoughts from Bridges’ commentary on the psalm. He highlights “evangelical obedience” – and the born-again believer’s motivation for obeying God’s laws.
We concluded with the question: What is “evangelical” (i.e. gospel) obedience?
  • It is obedience that transforms all the business of my day into my Master’s business.
A mother’s day is filled with the care of little people: wiping noses, changing diapers, doing laundry, sweeping up crumbs, again and again… Gospel-inspired obedience means that all (even the most ordinary, routine, menial tasks) will be done as if done unto Christ!
At the beginning of a new year, I plead for the grace my Savior stands ever-ready to give – and take heart from these encouraging, motivating thoughts!