It was six years to the month since we answered the Lord's leading in our lives to serve Him full time as missionaries. It was not long after that we went on a survey trip of Argentina and Uruguay during which we sensed the Lord's leading to minister to the people of Argentina. For the next five and a half years we visited churches establishing our support base, both prayerful and financial, as well as spending a year at language school. During this time we learned a lot about missions and the local church, different philosophies, our role as missionaries with the local church and abroad, ourselves. These experiences all serve to prepare us for what is ahead, most of which we do not even know what that is!
On October 1 we boarded a plane with our family, about fifty bags of personal possessions, and a young lady from our church to help us with the transition. At our commissioning service, Pastor Bob Philbrick said that it would be completely different than a short term mission trip—he was right! Together, we have been on at least sixteen different mission trips which have helped to prepare us for this transition, but when we arrived, there was a sense of finality that we have never experienced before. We sold our house and gave our van and furniture away. That page has been turned and there is only the possibility of moving forward where we are.
Our co-workers, Tom and Debbie Gibbons, had already secured a house for us before we arrived, but because of the work that was being done to it we were not able to enter until after being here for two weeks. We immediately began our search for a vehicle and furniture. We discovered that there is really only one practical vehicle choice for us which is a Hyundai H-1. Although there are other vehicles that would fit our family, most of them would cause us to be constantly harassed by the police in thinking that we were using it for a commercial transport vehicle. When your options are limited, it is helpful to narrow your search! We have found a vehicle which we purchased, but then discovered that we had received some mis-information from an authoritative source and actually were not able to transfer it to our name because we do not yet have the right documentation and will not till March or April. Once again, Tom and Debbie stepped in and we put the van in Debbie’s name to complete the transaction. We are discovering that things work differently than we are used to.
The kids are really adjusting well. The house that we are renting does not have a back yard, but we do have a park two blocks away. This has been helpful in that we are meeting people at the park and creating the opportunity for the kids to make new friends outside of the church. The language is a barrier, but it is not a hindrance in their ability to make friends.
One of the challenges that we face is moving from a daytime to a nighttime culture. We are accustomed to eating dinner at about 6 in the evening and then having the kids go to bed between 7:30 and 8:30, but it is typical here to eat between nine and eleven. Consequently, when we get together with other families it ends up being a late night for us and the kids, but we enjoy it, especially the kids for staying up late!
We are finding that most everything takes longer here. One stop shopping does not exist, so we find ourselves going to two or three or more different stores to get what we need for the day. Back home we might do our shopping once a week or couple of weeks, but here it is more practical to go shopping every day both because of what is available and the size of the refrigerator that we were able to purchase. Although this is an adjustment and adds to the daily chores, which causes meal preparations to take longer, it also adds to the opportunities to visit with and build relationships with the people in our area.