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 July 2016

Happy (Half) B-Day!

Mostly because: “Life is too short not to...”
Partly because: By now it’s more or less a family tradition...
And partly because: The extra (unforeseen) busyness of the last week made life as a family more challenging than usual...

We took time as a family and celebrated E’s “Half Birthday” yesterday.

We love our Little Lady! 

We went to our family’s favorite “high-brow” tea house. (And we were actually “proud” of our Little People’s developing table manners!) J

And we surprised our Aspiring Detective with a special gift:
Encyclopedia Brown (Boy Detective), a character and
his stories that JM and I both loved when we were about E’s age!

30 July 2016

FEBU Block Class: Montevideo!

This past week, the semi-annual FEBU block class was hosted in Montevideo; the (almost literal!) last-minute change of location was due to illness in the extended FEBU family.

The change made for a busier than normal week for everyone, including our little family. We hosted Mark and Paula Batory, with whom we otherwise would not have gotten to spend much time. E’s and DJ’s school schedules had meant that we would have been unable to attend (if the class had been at the camp in Paysandú, as originally planned).

The week ended up being a success – with much higher attendance than we otherwise would have had.

Some of Thursday’s attendees with Dr. Batory

The five days of class were busy, getting back and forth from one activity to the next, but God gives grace! And we did have a few hours on Friday afternoon to show the Batorys a bit of Montevideo.

Peatonal Sarandí & Puerta de la Ciudadela

One evening “Uncle Mark” and E put together a little after-dinner program for us: “Christmas in July!” He read the Christmas Story while E played the piano.

With help from DJ, they decorated the library quite creatively.

We’re thankful for God’s provision in every way...

28 July 2016

Auditorio del SODRE, Montevideo

On Saturday evening, JM and I celebrated another cultural milestone, attending a concert in Montevideo’s Auditorio Nacional del SODRE; it was a first for both of us. In contrast to the neoclassical architectural style of the Teatro Solís, the SODRE auditorium has a sleek, modern design.

The concert, a highlight for us and three of our FEBU family who attended with us, included the f0llowing pieces:

Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun Claude Debussy
Piano Concerto No. 11 in D Major Joseph Haydn
Symphonic Variations for Piano and Orchestra César Franck
La Valse Maurice Ravel

The guest pianist was Uruguay’s own Enrique Graf – now native to Charleston, SC – who has quite an impressive list of qualifications. And fellow South Carolinians might be interested to know that he founded the Young Artist Series in the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in SC’s Low Country.

He is such a gracious person!

Martín García, director of the orchestra, was remarkable – conducting the first and last pieces of the concert without using music scores! And before the last piece, he announced that, although it was unusual to take a mic and speak in the middle of a concert, the orchestra wanted to honor trombonist Raúl Saavedra, who – with Ravel’s Valse – would be playing his last piece with them. Ending with that warm, personal note helped to make our first visit to the SODRE an extraordinary experience.

22 July 2016

In the news...

Abu Julia was watching the news while we were eating supper...

DJ, who had been only half listening, said to me:
“I’m /shoh/ glad we live in this /cuhn-twee/!”
[“I’m sure glad we live in this country!”]

Trying to mask a smile, I asked: “Why do you say that?”

“Because /awe/ the /uh-thoh cuhn-tweez/ have /pwah-bluhmz/!”
[“Because all the other countries have problems!”]

We love our Miniature Man!

He’d obviously tuned in to comments on current international news… Tonight’s local news, however, included follow-up on shootings in one of our coastal communities, the need for increased security in stadiums (due to recurring hooliganism), and the police and armed forces getting specialized training (partly in conjunction with the Olympic Games, to be held soon in Río de Janeiro, relatively close by...)

Yeah, he was obviously only half listening... But I’m glad he feels safe right here – where we’re supposed to be! J

(Mini) Family Vacation!

Education – ranging from kindergarten to upper-elementary to college (and beyond), in at least two languages – is the “hub” around which family life had to operate during the past semester. The implications, especially the fixed academic schedules (one in the mornings, another in the afternoons, and the other two in the evenings), made coordinating “down time” as a family a real challenge. So it was a treat to be able to take the long holiday weekend (including “Constitution Day”) and go on a mini vacation as a family!

We made “La Casita” (at Campamento Emanuel on the coast) our base.

E & DJ made “wind cars” with JM’s help.

We always enjoy the flora and fauna at the camp.

On Saturday, we took a drive further east...

Looking from Punta Ballena toward Piriápolis and Pan de Azucar...

Looking from Punta Ballena toward Punta del Este...

A favorite: Los Dedos in Punta del Este!
The day was so cold, the site wasnt even crowded!

[Can you spot the Lilliputians?] J

The day was so windy and the sea so choppy,
there was sea foam on the Rambla in Piriápolis!

We ate supper at Don Vito in Atlántida. Chatting after the meal with our server Mario, he and I figured out that we had lived just up the street from each other when we were kids in Minas!

We celebrated our 17th Anniversary – explaining the occasion to DJ as “our family’s birthday!” (He liked that explanation!) J

[Photo credit: our very own E!]

We’re thankful!

(And I’m especially thankful to not be teaching second semester! I’m looking forward to getting some editing, translation, and future class prep work done...)

20 July 2016

Pray for us! (July Ministry Report)

Please continue to pray for our involvement in what God is doing here in Uruguay!

We rely on your prayers!

Our latest ministry report is posted as usual at: Good News from a Distant Land.
Final exams in FEBU classes ended on Friday, June 24. During their break students either remain in Montevideo or scatter to other places outside the capital. At least two have traveled to Argentina; another will visit Peru to evaluate future ministry opportunities there. Lifting our eyes (sometimes a bit glazed from correcting writing assignments) to remember the places these young men and women will be serving—not only during vacation but also after graduation—reminds us of why we are glad to have a small part in this good work...

We took a break from class mid-semester to celebrate
my birthday with FEBU students.

Highlights during the past quarter included JM’s taking the next course toward completion of the D.Min. program in early June and working at Campamento Emanuel during the winter break in early July.

We celebrated Dad Garwood’s birthday long distance
with the church in Pando.

Upcoming highlights include the FEBU block course during the last full week of July, the beginning of second semester for both the institute and the college in August, JM’s teaching an institute course at Iglesia Bíblica Marantha on the outskirts of Pando, and my participating in teaching the ladies at the camp in Treinta y Tres during spring break in late September.

Thank-you for praying for Uruguay!

12 July 2016

“¡Feliz Día!”

“Día del Padre” is celebrated in July here in Uruguay.

It’s a winter holiday here!

Every year “special days” like Father’s Day (and Mother’s Day) tend to evoke a range of emotions in my heart. While I’m thankful for blessings I, through no merit of my own, have received, I’m also saddened... Saddened at the memories of my own losses... Saddened especially for those who weep (at least inwardly) on these “special days” that can bring to the surface memories that force what is a constant heartache into very sharp focus...

And I pause to remember that opportunities like these can serve to remind us that there is only ONE who is the Perfect Parent. That One is our Creator and the One who delights to also become our Rescuer and Perfect Father. In every point where we (as parents) fail, He alone is perfect – and perfect in those very points! (I urge you to read details of His Plan – and accept His invitation to wholeness!)

But “special days” like Father’s Day can also be opportunities to pause and express thankfulness for the many ways in which we are blessed.

And today I’m doing just that – with the help of a few pictures...

We celebrated with a favorite Uruguayan meal: Chivito al Plato

 E & DJ gave JM gifts! 

And E made us all laugh with the note she included
with one of her gifts!

05 July 2016

Teatro Solís, Montevideo

Yesterday evening, JM and I did something we’ve been wanting to do for a long time: We attended a concert at the Teatro Solís in downtown Montevideo.

It was JM’s first time attending an event there.

The entire program was very satisfying:

Zoraya – Antonio Camps
Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini, Opus 44 – Sergei Rachmaninoff
Symphony Nº5 – P.I. Tchaikovsky

Photo from

Sean Kennard, guest pianist from the USA, is lauded in the program notes as “one of the most outstanding young pianists of the moment.” He played Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini, Op.44. Though obviously a brilliant musician, he also exhibited winsome modesty and an almost boyish quality as, with a genuine smile, he accepted the audience’s profuse applause and turned to applaud the orchestra. Yesterday’s being the 4th of July and all, we felt that he represented the USA as we wish all Americans would, combining excellence with a humility that implies cross-cultural awareness.

Photo from

The conductor, Uruguay’s own Diego Naser, was fabulous! He conducted the entire second half, comprised of all four movements of Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony, without a music score! His energetic, expressive communication to the orchestra was truly remarkable – and so much fun to watch!

After the program, we took our time leaving – and, upon walking into the lobby, discovered Sean Kennard and Diego Naser, talking there. We got to chat with each of them. When JM mentioned to Sean that he’d noticed that Enrique Graf from Uruguay had been one of his teachers, he said: “He’s here tonight – right over there!” And then he introduced us to him!

Photo from

We still find it hard to believe that the tickets to this world-class concert were only 200 pesos (less than seven dollars) apiece!

“Selfie at the Solís”

Yes, it was truly a wonderful evening – a very rewarding combination of the two cultures I love and a highlight for my “third-culture” soul.