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 March 2015

Little Mechanic?!

On Sunday evening a week ago, he toppled into the ditch that runs right in front of the church. (Thankfully, there was no water. Thankfully, there were no serious injuries!)

“How did that happen?!” I asked him later. I had seen him leaning over.

“I was studying the motor on the Balls’ car.”

And without even pausing for breath, he traced an arc in the air with his finger:

“It has a pipe that goes this way and another one that goes this way…”

Fun stuff! J

He loves to assemble – and disassemble and creatively assemble and reassemble – the crane truck from Aunt Ruth, using the alternate nuts and bolts in the tool set from PaPa!

He’s cutting out paper copies he traced of some of his new tools.

26 March 2015

“Education Update”

¡Saludos! We’re enjoying the first few days of fall here in Montevideo. The weather, amazingly, dropped almost 30 degrees (Fahrenheit) from one day to the next – just in time for the “official” First Day of Fall on March 20th! And we’ve been enjoying cooler weather ever since...

Life picked up speed here in Uruguay with the start of the school year on March 2nd. This is the beginning of the second year of the (FEBU) Bible College project, so there are real challenges as we all learn. JM is teaching a music class twice a week, helping with general administration of the college, teaching a section of the Philosophy of Ministry class now and then, and co-teaching the “research writing” class with me; I teach two evenings per week. The biggest challenge continues to be the lack of resources; this semester I’m (again) having to translate (or otherwise author) the material I’m using for the writing class. (Right now, I’m especially thankful for Purdue University’s online articles!)

On the same day the college classes started, Elizabeth started 4th grade. Shes getting acclimated to the increasing demands of learning how to study on her own – in Spanish! While the road can be rather bumpy at times, I know from experience (growing up bilingual) that the benefits will eventually far outweigh the challenges.

The school year got off to a great start...

To add to the excitement, later that same first week of March, DJ started K-4 – also in Spanish and an adventure all its own! He wants to “go to school” (because he gets to paint and play with other toys and do lots of other fun things that make “school” special), but he wants Mommy to stay with him. (Sniff! Sniff!) Let’s just say that the last two weeks have been a major adjustment, interrupted (thankfully?!) with a runny nose and cough. I say “thankfully” because I see the “cold” as one of God’s ways of providing a respite for our family in this process of “adapting” to the new demands of preschool.

To give some background: In late summer, DJ was very excited about “starting school” (counting the days until March arrived), and the first three days went fine for him. However, halfway through that first full week, we ran into some very rough sailing! Thankfully, two days ago (for the first time since that first week), he did not cry when JM dropped him off. We’re hoping that this is the beginning of a new trend. We certainly would appreciate your praying specifically!


So... Why are we proceeding as we are with E’s and DJ’s education? The answer is undoubtedly rather complex! Uruguay has traditionally had a high level of education (public education included) – a fact of which they have understandably been very proud. And a recent development for those immigrating here (our family included) is the fact that the Immigration Office requires proof that all school-age children (now beginning with age 4) be enrolled in a “recognized” school.

Implications for educational institutions (both public and private) include the requirement that all teachers hold the recognized “teaching license/certification” (very similar to requirements for public schools in the USA, if I’m not mistaken). The implication our family was not expecting when we arrived in late 2013 was the fact that “homeschooling” (even with a supervised program like the Academy of Home Education offers) is not “recognized” as a viable option for meeting that educational regulation. So, at the moment at least, while we work on obtaining residency, our children have to be enrolled in “recognized” schools here. We would appreciate your specific prayers for this ongoing (and more involved than we anticipated) immigration process.

Once we reach the (more challenging!) high school years, we may look into putting together “a small private school” where families could work together, teaching some extracurricular classes but allowing each to choose their own (but obviously competitive) curriculum for the main learning. This type of idea has worked in the past (at least for expats) and may be an answer for us down the road. Or maybe we should pray for personnel (etcetera) to start a truly biblical (bilingual?) high school by 2018!

A very bright side to this whole story is that the school day here is only four hours long! Both E and DJ go only in the mornings and are home for a late lunch – a definite blessing for our family! We’re thankful, especially because JM is “on call” for the college most evenings and I teach two evenings.

A positive “ministry” aspect of having to enroll both kids in schools here is the opportunity to meet and interact on a long-term basis with other school parents. We’re praying for opportunities to form friendships and share the message of salvation in Christ as a result. Please pray with us to that end! Already, both E and DJ have each been invited to a birthday party for a classmate. Birthday celebrations are culturally a big deal here in Uruguay and give natural opportunities to meet the families of classmates.

The cotton candy was a real highlight at that party!

The Jesus Storybook Bible is our gift of choice for E’s classmates...

In the midst of all the uncertainties, we’re convinced that our Loving Shepherd has led our family to Uruguay. And we know He is always faithful! And we believe that He has made His leading clear regarding schooling in the immediate future – with the immigration office now enforcing attendance at “recognized” schools. That said, I often feel, as a Mom, that I’m groping my way along. But I know that God will give us grace for every moment – and there are definitely challenging moments. But these are the challenges my Uruguayan sisters and brothers in Christ face every day!

We would definitely appreciate your specific prayers – not only for E’s and DJ’s education and our involvement in the developing college project but also for the success of the Truth here in our beloved Uruguay!

25 March 2015

Día del Niño por Nacer

¡Qué terrible ese momento cuando le tenés que explicar a tu hija inocente – a la que siempre será esa bebé por la cual le rogaste a Dios con lágrimas (y Biblia abierta al capítulo 1 de 1 Samuel) – lo que significa “el aborto” y por qué es un tema polémico hoy día.

Marcha por la Vida: Montevideo (octubre 2014)

Tratás de hacerlo con muchísima delicadeza, no dándole pensamientos demasiado “pesados” para la mente de una niña – todavía muy inocente – en tercer grado de escuela… Esa niña que siempre ha crecido sabiendo que la hemos amado desde que sabíamos que estaba en mi panza… Esa que sonríe con esa sonrisita tímida, gozándose como si fuera secretamente al oírnos relatar nuestros recuerdos de oír por primera vez el latido de su corazoncito, de sentir las pataditas (¡algunas fuertes!) que daba y de cómo respondía a nuestras voces (desde mi pansa), siempre moviéndose cuando le pedíamos que lo hiciera…

El momento más impactante de esa conversación fue cuando ella exclamó:
¿Hay gente que cree que si un bebé en la pansa de su mamá no es deseado, no es persona – pero que si es deseado, sí la es? Pero ¡eso no es lógico!
Y el oírlo en esa vocecita de niña debería hacernos verlo más claro que nunca…

17 March 2015

Two Little Scholars!

Love ’em!

1st Day of School 2015!

Reminiscing, as she starts the second half of elementary school and he starts K-4…

Remembering nostalgically her artwork at that age...


And smiling again at the hilariously creative comments she would make about her drawings...

In this one, my arms (I was informed) are by my sides.
That's why you cant see them.

Just today, he decided that he wanted to copy this drawing of hers. (And I just realized: He’s exactly the age she was when she drew the original! Fun stuff!)



Her artwork is, as you would expect, much more sophisticated now.

This one was inspired by the artist Holly Hobbie
in the book we gave her for her birthday.


Just for fun, here’s a glimpse at a horse drawing from three years ago:


We’re so thankful for our Sweet Little Lady – and for her excitement about life in general. She inspires her little brother not only to draw but also to love learning in general.

This is his second attempt ever at drawing a horse; the occasion was Aunt Shannah’s birthday.

The arrow is a favorite theological allusion:
“Someone Invisible is up in the Sky...”

His 1st attempt at drawing a manger scene

His drawing of sheep: A Mommy & Baby


And these are definitely favorites inspired by her favorite literature!

Aslan Singing Narnia into Existence

Again, inspired by her work, he attempted his first drawing of a Lion; the occasion was Aunt Ruth’s birthday.

Note the arrows again – a favorite theological allusion
often included in works of art!


And the latest works of art were inspired by E’s current science studies:


He seems to have understood some of the basics... (Or maybe he was remembering a favorite conversation we have: Hugs are for Mommy what sunshine and water are for plants!”)

Note the motion of the water droplets...

15 March 2015

Remembering Dawn Marie (Braun) Black...

Remembering... The sparkle in her eyes... Her ready smile and genuine laugh... Her warm personality... Her humility... Her beautiful voice... Her love for people and, most of all, for her Savior...

I love this picture, posted by her church family.

Years have passed since we last talked in person, but I feel the loss of someone who prayed for my family and our ministry... She subscribed to this blog...

Today, I weep with her family: her husband and four young children...

I cling to the words of Jesus:
“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?”
(John 11)
Yes, Lord Jesus, we believe!

Pastor Chris Anderson, shares favorite college memories and words of encouragement in his blog post at ChurchWorksMedia:
Rejoice with those who rejoice, for she sings in a heavenly choir, beholding the face of her Savior. And weep with those who weep, for her family has suffered a deep loss, for which nothing but Gods grace will be sufficient...

13 March 2015

We ♥ you, Diego Forlán. Thank-you!

...uno no lidera solo con palabras sino con el ejemplo...


¡Como uruguayo agradecerte por todo lo que diste a la Selección y, como compañero y amigo, gracias, Diego, por lo que me enseñaste y por todo lo vivido juntos!
~Diego Godín


¡Diego está en la historia como uno de los más grandes de nuestro rico fútbol! Su leyenda va a ir aumentando sistemáticamente con el transcurso del tiempo y sólo en algunas décadas vamos a tomar real dimensión. ¡Soy un agradecido por haber sido contemporáneo y beneficiarme como uruguayo y jugador de su talento!
~Diego Lugano

Gracias por tanto, Diego Forlán.
Gracias por todos los momentos que nos hiciste disfrutar, por todo lo que hiciste por nuestra selección, por todo lo que me enseñaste como profesional y como compañero dentro como fuera de la cancha.
Siempre fuiste un referente no solo para mí sino para muchos jugadores y lo vas a seguir siendo.
¡Un grande para todos los uruguayos! ¡Diego, muchas gracias por todo!
~Luis Suárez


En estos 13 años obtuviste títulos, premios, marcas históricas y merecidamente el reconocimiento mundial. Pero el logro más importante en tu paso por la selección fue ganarte el cariño de todo un país. Fue un orgullo y un honor haber compartido la cancha y el vestuario contigo.
Gracias, Diego, por todo lo que nos diste y lo que nos seguirás dando desde fuera de la cancha.
~Edi Cavani


Aquel rubio delantero que el 27 de marzo de 2002, con el número 21 en el pecho y solo 22 años debutó en el combinado absoluto de Uruguay, 13 años después y vistiendo la 10, tras lograr inéditos registros de partidos jugados y de goles -fue superado por Luis Suárez unos meses después-, cerró una de las carreras más exitosas que haya protagonizado un futbolista uruguayo con la camiseta de la selección a lo largo de su centenaria historia y, por tanto, desde anoche dejó de pertenecer a la historia viva de la AUF para transformarse en leyenda.
~El Observador: 12 de marzo, 2015

09 March 2015

Sermon Series on Hebrews: “God Has Spoken in His Son”

Our pastor recently began preaching through the letter to the Hebrews, in the New Testament. The first two messages were an effort to arrive inductively at the theme of the book; yesterday’s (third) message began the section-by-section exposition, starting from chapter one, verse one.

If you are wanting to understand more about the person and work of Jesus or about the message of Hebrews (the message that flows from a study of the words themselves, not one imposed on the book by preconceived tradition of church doctrine), please consider studying with us! It will almost certainly be a lengthy study; but I’m confident it will be profitable.

Now—here at the beginning—is the time to begin!

The first in the series, preached on Feb. 22, is entitled: God Has Spoken in His Son.
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.
He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high...
(Hebrews 1)
You can find all the sermons and listen to them by clicking HERE. 

06 March 2015

Sweet Little Philosopher

DJ and I recently talked about the fact that he used to be attached to me by a cord where his belly button now is – when he was in my tummy.

He thought about it for a moment... And then he assured me that he’ll always be attached to me!


The subject came up again on Saturday. I told him that he’ll always be attached to me with an invisible cord that goes from my heart to his.

He immediately smiled! “And from my heart to Daddy’s heart and then to Sister’s heart and from Sister’s heart to yours again!”

I thought: “What an awesome definition of family!”

And then DJ said: “And as I get to be a Big Man, the cord will get longer and longer...”

Yes... Yes, it will... (Sniff. Sniff.)

I love this Sweet Little Philosopher!