February 4, 2009
Ever have one of those days? One of those weekends? I told you about all the fun we had Saturday, and Sunday was no less eventful. We had a special guest speaker, a pastor from a church in Asuncion, who came to preach and then stay over for a small camp. He shared about his childhood in poverty, and a lesson from the life story of Joseph. This really hit home with these children who have been separated from their families, too, to live in an entirely different setting. As we closed in prayer, he looked up at Ken and me, called us by name, and said God saw the hardships we'd been facing and was placing a large shield over our family. Wow! Who doesn't want to hear that sort of message? For a man who knew nothing about us, he read our book.
That evening, Ken and the girls were playing soccer outside when I heard the front door slam. Ken was calling for me and Caroline was crying hysterically. Twenty minutes of applied ice-pack later, we decided to make the trip to the now familiar emergency room in Carapegua. Caroline was very nervous, and I was quite sure she'd broken one of the major bones in her lower arm. It was knotted up and she complained of sharp pain, and any movement of her hand or wrist had her screaming. Ken gathered us for prayer before she and I and our translator Fredy loaded up.
Imagine my thrill (and Caroline's, as well) to find out that the doctor on duty that night in the tiny little clinic-type hospital was a very intelligent young surgeon who spoke English and seemed thrilled for the chance to practice it with us. He was SO friendly, but it was obvious he thought the same thing I did--a sure break. He sent us right away for an x-ray, and we learned that the bones of the wrist had shifted from their place but were back where they should be again. Small cracks in those tiny wrist bones showed up very plainly in the x-ray, but the long bones were intact. Praise God!
He wrapped her wrist, hand, and forearm, explained to me that this would be very painful for a good while, and gave us an Advil/ice regimen. He actually told us that she'd need to have as much Advil as she could for the next three years. I asked in Spanish if he really meant years and he laughed and corrected his English. He gave us strict instructions to keep it wrapped and limit mobility as much as possible. She's complaining about the pain and hasn't quite figured out how to do things one-handed, but Caroline is quite happy that she doesn't have a hard cast in this wretched hot weather. She'd appreciate your prayers for the pain and for a proper healing.
The next morning (Monday), we headed into Asuncion to start the paperwork for renewing our visas. We realized on the way there that we probably didn't have enough gas for the whole trip, so we stopped off part of the way in for a bit of diesel. We were talking, and Ken forgot to turn the lights on when we started back up. That's a big no-no here, and we were stopped at one of the handy check-points that are set up along the route into the city. After refusing to pay the bribes the policeman kept insisting on, we were on our way again, complete with a hefty traffic ticket and instructions to pay it within the week so we could have our paperwork returned to us.
Back on the road to the capital. We found out that there was a chance we wouldn't have to pay for our renewal, since Ken and I got our passports stamped coming back into the country from Argentina, with a new three-month date on them. We'd packed clothes in case we could cross the border again and do the same for the girls. It would have worked out to be more cost effective to drive over to Argentina and spend the night in a hotel, rather than pay for the renewals. Not to mention we'd be exploring a new city in a country Camille and Caroline had never been to. Despite that each government employee we asked gave us a different answer, it seemed the only thing to do after all was to pay to renew all four of them. And I was so looking forward to a night in an air-conditioned hotel!
We took care of some other business while there in the city, and met up with a friend to retrieve a package from home. A visiting friend of a friend carried a care package for us in her luggage and after passing it through several hands, we got a couple bags of goodies, including pop-tarts, my silverware, and a few books. We got back in the toasty car to find out the air conditioning had ceased to operate. Nothing like rolling around in 100* weather with no air.
Leaving there, we went to try to pay the traffic ticket, only to be told it was too late in the day. We headed to Itagua, where we planned to spend the night with the Millers, get up the next day and go back to the capital to pay the ticket (their house is much closer than ours to Asuncion), and then spend the rest of that day preparing a house for the Mortons, who arrive Saturday to live here. When we got to the Millers' home, we found they'd been out of electricity and water for quite some time, and they didn't need the added inconvenience of our family piling in for the night.
We waited out a massive thunderstorm and started making our way back home, to Carapegua. It was already after dark by then and the girls were falling asleep in the backseat. Good thing, because we went through a lot of rough patches, where we could not see the road for all the flooding. Control freak that I am, I wasn't cool with that at all. Ken bravely plowed right through it, reminding me that "This is why we have an SUV." I just kept a tight grip on the armrest.
Not too far into the ride, Ken noticed that the truck was running hot. We stopped several times to give it a chance to cool, we turned on the heat at full blast, we prayed. At that point, I just wanted to laugh at our day. Ken did not. Ever the gentleman, he locked us in the truck, got out in the rain, and released the thingy under the hood that you have to be careful with lest you get burned by the steam. Yep, you know what thingy I'm talking about. And yes, he did wait a while in the truck to let it cool off some first. I did mention it was dark and we were on a fairly remote stretch of highway, right? Anyway, when it was sufficiently cooled, he began to fill our water bottles over and over from water in a nearby ditch, until he thought he'd added enough to cool the engine down. We did eventually make it home.
In all that fun and the "other fun" that's been a regular part of our lives here lately, I still see that God is with us, and I feel His peace at times when peace makes no sense. I guess that's the peace that passes all understanding. It might not feel like we're being shielded sometimes, but I know we are, and I'm thankful that He is watching over us and conducting this crazy orchestra that is our life.