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 September 2015


Today marks an important day in our family’s history in Uruguay. Today is a day between two very important days for our family...

Yesterday, I received my certificate of permanent residency, which represents a huge milestone for our family. (The short story is that I “got in” under my brother’s good name; he’s an Uruguayan citizen.) Ironically, I had previously enjoyed “permanent residency” (as a child and teen, living here). In the interim, however, I resided elsewhere – and without returning often enough – and the immigration process changed. So the irony is that this very important milestone could also look like “starting over” – like when you get sent back to the beginning on a game board...

We are obviously hoping that my having (re)obtained permanent residency will assist JM and the Little People in getting theirs sooner (than otherwise might be the case). Please continue to pray to that end!

Tomorrow, Lord willing, we will be attending a ceremony at the Feria Internacional del Libro (International Book Fair). We received a call six days ago, inviting us to the Salón Dorado of the Municipality, where the winners of the writing contest – “Un Cuento Celeste” – will be announced. Our Elizabeth is in the top seven out of 260+ contestants in the 3rd & 4th grade category!

E & DJ were photographed with others participating in the contest.

We’re extremely thankful for our Loving Shepherd’s grace to our family in helping our Little People adapt to learning – and, in E’s case, excelling – in another language.

She has definitely readjusted to her first (spoken) language!

When E submitted her story at the end of July, I told her that her even being able to participate is already a reward in itself. Now we’re telling her that being in the top seven in her category is an accomplishment. But we’re all eagerly awaiting the results that will be announced tomorrow...

Whatever the outcome, I’ll undoubtedly be posting again soon!

29 September 2015

Back to Camp in Paysandú!

Late last week, we enjoyed returning to the camp in Paysandú. We’re thankful for all the opportunities represented...

FEBU students gave testimonies.

We enjoyed spending time with (both old and new) friends!

The mud everywhere (the result of recent rains) was a special highlight. (And, yes... I’m still recovering...) J

But canoeing was a happier highlight (IMHO!) – and a first for E & DJ.

And the weather and scenery on the return trip to MVD were especially beautiful!

We’re thankful!

28 September 2015

¡Eclipse de la Súper Luna!

Comparto algunas imágenes del eclipse de la Súper Luna, visto anoche desde Uruguay.

Cuando veo tales maravillas celestialesmedito en lo que el salmista expresó hace siglos:

Los cielos proclaman la gloria de Dios,
y la expansión anuncia la obra de sus manos.
Un día transmite el mensaje al otro día,
y una noche a la otra noche revela sabiduría...

La ley del Señor es perfecta, que restaura el alma;
el testimonio del Señor es seguro, que hace sabio al sencillo.
Los preceptos del Señor son rectos, que alegran el corazón;
el mandamiento del Señor es puro, que alumbra los ojos.
El temor del Señor es limpio, que permanece para siempre;
los juicios del Señor son verdaderos, todos ellos justos;
deseables más que el oro; sí, más que mucho oro fino,
más dulces que la miel y que el destilar del panal.
Además, tu siervo es amonestado por ellos;
en guardarlos hay gran recompensa...

¡Y le doy gracias a Dios más que nada por su Palabra!

23 September 2015

¡Bienvenida, Primavera!

Even though the “real feel” of this cold, gray, and rainy day seems to indicate otherwise, the fact stated on the calendar trumps feelings: Today is the First Official Day of Spring here in the southern hemisphere!

And weve already enjoyed some pretty warm weather; the trees are all budding with new leaves, and the flowers are starting to bloom everywhere.

Several weeks ago, we took advantage of the beautiful spring-like weather and rode the bus down to the Rambla (on Montevideo’s coast). It was a perfect almost spring afternoon, and we made fun memories as a family!

Welcome, Spring!

22 September 2015


Sitting next to DJ at lunch (on May 21), I told him that “los Abu” would be going to the USA on the same airplane as us.

“Wow! And Tía Tini, and…”

“But they won’t be coming back to Uruguay… And that’s sad for me because el Abu is my Daddy… He’s the one who used to carry me on his shoulders…”

(I knew DJ would understand that description because he loves to ride on JM’s shoulders!)

Without any hesitation, he put his little arms around me and said: “I’ll be the one to cuddle you now!”

I love this picture from Christmas 2013!

Choosing the Spanish option on the Smart Play Pad, DJ didn’t recognize the pronunciation of “camello.” When he finally associated the picture with the word, he exclaimed: “Oh! It’s cameLLo!” (emphasizing the “SH” sound instead of the “Y” sound)

After all, we do speak “casteLLano” here in the Río de la Plata!

¡Es uruguaYo de verdad este chiquilín!

We’ve recently taken up a renewed interest in space (due to E’s recent science studies combined with a new placemat, featuring the solar system).

In mid-August, walking into Pando from the church (on the outskirts of the city), DJ was riding on Manuel’s shoulders. Manuel was speeding up and slowing down – and making DJ very happy – but finally had to take a break.

M: I ran out of gas!
DJ: Then you need to use your solar panel!
M: But it’s night now!
DJ: But the solar panel can still collect light from the stars!

His relating the sun to the stars reminds me of a comment E made, when she was only slightly older than he is right now.

Recently, while trying to pinpoint when a certain event took place, DJ exclaimed: That was yester-yesterday!

E and DJ both have “imaginary friends” they include in stories they tell as they play. These friends’ names are Marianne and John, respectively.

Right before falling asleep one night just a couple weeks ago, DJ whispered confidentially: John has pianos for organs.

While I was processing his statement, he added: They’re all covered up with muscle.

And this one is perhaps my favorite...

Returning home from the Cementerio del Norte a couple weeks ago, we passed the monument that looks like a “U” – inspired by a former president’s “V” for “victory” gesture.

DJ whispered to me: It’s a smile… On a sad day…

(I just love the perspective our Little People give to life!)

18 September 2015

Expo Prado 2015

We enjoyed an afternoon outing to the Expo Prado with Abu Julia and one of our FEBU students yesterday.

DJ thinks that spring starts with a visit to the Expo Prado. He’s been looking forward to going ever since our visit last year. Now that he mentioned it, I remembered telling him that the Expo Prado would happen in springtime... (So, we’re only one week early!)

This year there were lots of “worker” machines to climb on!

That’s a John Deere tractor tire!

Once again, the animals – especially the lambs – were the highlights!

Look! It’s an Oreo Cow! 

Fun stuff!

16 September 2015

Happy B-Day, Flor! ♥

Fun, eh?!

They’re opposites!

But their clothes seem to have been coordinated...

This doesn’t happen in every family!


14 September 2015

“The School Boy’s Walk Home”

DJ and I are still enjoying our weekday (1.5K) walks home from K-4. And JM and E still join us – because DJ still “gets tired” about halfway. He’s found a great excuse to keep riding on Daddy’s shoulders – and he provides a progressive weight-lifting program for JM!

We often vary our route, admiring the architecture, trees and flowers, and  most recently  the change of seasons reflected in new colors on the trees along the way.

Our wandering ways remind me of a favorite French idiom – and inspiration for the title of this post!

Our favorite sweet gum is getting new leaves.

The silk floss kapoks are illustrating their name.

These tiny snapdragons fascinated me as a little girl, too.
Watch out for the caterpillar! He’s not known for being friendly...

It’s not at all unusual for our walk home to include a stop for a treat and sometimes a walk to a nearby plaza to eat the treat. Consequently (and when I’m in a hurry), our “meandering” might sometimes be a strategy to avoid walking past the panadería or the kioskos – places where treats are known to be sold!

This treat is appropriately named “Cara Sucia” (“Dirty Face”)!

We’re enjoying celebrating the change of seasons!

12 September 2015

¡¡Un dúo!!

Elizabeth y yo cantamos nuestro primer dúo esta tarde.

11 September 2015

“Most Close Friend!”

Four years ago today, our Little Man said his very first word: ¡Mamá! He said it in Spanish. And, just like his sister, he continued to speak only Spanish (with a few scattered words in English) until he was just over two years old. Then, from one day to the next – literally overnight – he went from partial phrases in Spanish to complete sentences in English.

That phenomenon surprises me more than ever (over two and a half years later) because – although he now understands “everything” in Spanish (due to the “public” nature of life on the first floor of this house, combined with his attending K-4 in Spanish every weekday morning) – he refuses to speak Spanish at school; he won’t say a single word all morning!

As soon as I pick him up at the door, however, he starts telling me all about whatever is on his mind! But maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised...

A couple evenings ago, he and I were discussing his reticence to speak at school. In characteristic boy fashion, he was averting direct eye contact. And I, in characteristic mom (and teacher!) fashion, was encouraging (admonishing!) eye contact. I was telling him that he should start talking at school (even in English) “because his teachers and little friends at school would like to hear him…”

He raised his head and looked right into my eyes. And with great sincerity, he stated: “But, Mommy, you’re my most close friend!”

“I have a Mother’s Day Gift – even though it’s not Mother’s Day!” 

07 September 2015

Stretching through Schooling...

Since writing our “Education Update” (almost six months ago), I’ve been doing a lot of thinking... (Dangerous! I know...)

As I’ve watch our Little Man, compelled to learn aspects of life he would not choose to learn right now, I’m beginning to understand the heart of my perfect Father in Heaven, in ways that are more real to me than ever. And I’m beyond thankful for His great goodness to me...

DJ’s transition from life as he’d always known it at home to life in K-4 was anything but smooth at the beginning… So, I found myself taking advantage of the unsought life lessons to explain some great truths: Even when he doesn’t understand our choices as his parents (why he must attend school right now, why we don’t stay at school with him, etc.), he can trust us. He knows that we love him – more than anyone else (except God Himself) does – and we are choosing what we know to be best for him right now.

As I hold him close and whisper these truths in his little ear, I’m thankful for these opportunities to impart truth. I’m thankful that I can reassure him with the fact that we are choosing what is best for him. I can say with confidence that we are “choosing what is best” because of truths I previously affirmed in my original “Education Update” (back in late March):

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!

So, I hug my Little Man and reassure him of our love for him, telling him that we choose what is best for him – because we love him! I tell him that even when he doesn’t understand our choices, he can trust us; and, as I tell him these earthly truths, I grow in my own understanding of my Heavenly Father’s wisdom – and love – in a more real way than I ever have before!

I know my own heart as a parent, imperfect as it is: I love these two Little People tenaciously! In stark contrast to me, however, my Father in Heaven is the Perfect Parent; His love – and wisdom – are perfect! He will never fail! And I marvel again at the many illustrations of Himself and of His perfect relationship with us who are His children, His redeemed ones, He gives to us day by day as He gives to us daily life in our families.

Like our Little People learn from us, their earthly parents, we all learn larger life lessons from the loving hand of the only Perfect Father. As I meditate on these truths, I’m reminded again of His ultimate purpose for His redeemed ones – stated in the great context of Romans 8.

In early 2011 when I penned similar thoughts, the reminders came through sleepless (or at least greatly interrupted) nights, runny noses, and new baby teeth. Today they come through the stretching of an unexpected (for us) schooling process.

Once again, however, I can affirm the same eternal truths I clung to over four years ago...
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!