Thursday, November 8, 2012

Sixth Bethel visit and First Argentinian wedding

 Sixth Bethel visit

Laura and I teamed up to bring our Bible students, Yanyan and Yayan ( no they are not twins or even related, just similar names) to Bethel. 

We were given a good tour by Darya, a sister from our hall. I think the girls were impressed that all the expenses to maintain Bethel came from donations.

Random facts to impress some people....
For those of you who have never been to New York Bethel, here are 2 stats about the Argentina Bethel:
# of magazines printed per hour: 32,000
Tons of literature distributed from the branch: 120 each month

 If you haven't noticed already, I've been trying to cultivate an interest in statistics and numbers....ok, so 2 pieces of stats is not a lot but it's a start.

 First Argentinian wedding

Finally, a chance to witness an Argentinian-style union! Analaura, a lovely sister in our congregation, married Ariel, a nice guy (yes it is a common guy's name not inspired by little mermaid).  Since the wedding reception was 2 hours by bus away from Buenos Aires, we stayed with our friends near the hall of the wedding. 

Yes, of course, I had to do something a bit different for the wedding. This time, my dear roommate Christine took on the task of making my hair into an updo. She also helped me put on fake eyelashes. Yes, I  did feel like quite a Barbie!

Makeover artist & awesome roommate

All the Single Ladies...except the one on the left and the one in the pink dress!

Cupcake madness

The week before the wedding, Christine and I, plus another sister, volunteered to make 200 cupcakes for the guests at the wedding reception. The funny thing is, our oven could only fit 6 cupcakes at a time, so we were up until pretty late making those cupcakes. By Friday night, we were quite tired of all the butter and sugar flavor from the endless taste tests to perfect the frosting...
Headline: Computer geek turns to expert cupcake froster!

Lomas de Zamora 
The day after the wedding, I stayed to hang out with the Lomas congregation, the only other Chinese congregation in Argentina. It was a very warm congregation of 40 publishers, mostly language learners. After the meeting, almost everyone went out for ice cream.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Farewell to Charlie & Kay

Last week, we had the last visit of our circuit overseer and his wife, Charlie & Kay Kim. They will be serving in Santiago, Chile exclusively in Spanish for their next assignment. Although it was a bit sad to see them go, I have a feeling we might see them again.

It was a busy, slightly chaotic week, as usual, but I really enjoyed the fine-tuned talks that Charlie gave. I also had the privilege of taking his lovely wife on Liping's study.

Things learned
My favorite talk that Charlie gave was the final talk on Sunday. It was very simple but well-done. Off the top of my head....some of the main points:
- The theme was "Keep your eyes fixed upon things above" (Col. 3:2)
The four images to keep in mind are:
1.Neh. 4:14 : Jehovah
2. Col. 3:1: Jesus
3. Mt. 11:12 Kingdom
4. Re. 14:6,7: Angels

To emphasize that we must focus exclusively on Kingdom interests, Charlie held up a piece of paper with his right hand and asked us to focus on the single dot in the middle. After waiting for all of us to focus on that dot, he held up another piece of paper with left hand and asked us to try to focus on both dots at the same time. Of course, it was impossible. So, he drove the point home that we cannot focus on materialistic or other worldly goals and focus on the kingdom.
Charlie with Esteban translating

Letting loose with Kay!

Yayan, new Bible student...her first time to a meeting other than Sunday!

C+T with K! 

Comical lunch!
Thankfully, Christine was able to grab the Thursday slot to invite Charlie and Kay to our home for lunch. Our original idea was to have no more than 8 people, but the guest list grew to 12, which is significant since our apartment capacity is quite small.

I thought we did a fine job of planning the meal.  We stayed up the night before preparing most of the food. I made cabbage soup & steak, and Christine made chicken, salmon, and an avocado-based lemon pie (sounds weird but tastes great!)  We were congratulating ourselves for  avoiding Martha syndrome and being able to just focus on service the day of the lunch.

Everything was in order when we arrived home, and the idea was that all we had to do was heat up the food. As guests started arriving one after the other, however, the kitchen transformed into a hidden panic center. First, Christine discovered that the salmon we had picked out for Charlie (he can't have meat due to gout), had not been scaled. So, she was frantically scaling the raw fillet. Then, as all the food was already on the table and ready to be served, it dawned upon me that we didn't even bother to check if we had enough utensils. And we didn't!! Not enough soup spoons or forks! While preserving a calm exterior, my inner panic alarm went from slight to extreme. We had 4 pairs of chopsticks though, which came in handy. And, we found 2 slightly bent up plastic forks that we had meant to throw away and never got around to it, whew! Some guests had to drink the soup with small teaspoons, jaja.
     We survived! Nobody died!

Here was the funniest scenanario: After breathing a sigh of relief in realizing that we had somehow managed through the utensil disaster (everyone was eating with something other than their hand, thank goodness!), I realized that I didn't have a single utensil to eat with, no fork, no chopstick, not even a spoon. I didn't want to look awkward since I was seated right next to the circuit overseer. So I looked over to Christine's bowl, and saw her plastic fork which was missing a prong. She was in the kitchen so I figured she wouldn't need it just now.  I grabbed it and started eating my salad casually. When Christine came out of the kitchen, she was ready to sit and eat and then recognized her fork in my hand. "Is that my fork?" I kept eating with it and answered back "Yea" with the tone of 'you got a problem with it?' Christine wanted to eat, so of course she said, "Can I have it back?" and I had to give back the 3-pronged plastic fork to its rightful owner, darn! Right in the middle of enjoying a nice, crisp salad! Charlie also saw and giggled. Besides the fact that I couldn't enjoy my salad, I still didn't want to look like the only person who didn't have something to eat with. Finally, I remembered that I brought back some extra chopsticks from the States and ran into the room to get a pair. I was in such a hurry to tear the wrapping off that the plastic sticker holding the chopsticks together was still flapping around while I used them to eat.
Anyway, the best part of the lunch was that Charlie and Kay really made an effort to take personal interest in Liping and Angelina, the real Chinese in the group. They really commended their efforts and encouraged them to continue progressing.

Christine's avocado lemon pie

Assembly groove

Hello friends,

Just wanted to report on our assembly.
Here are some stats:
Peak attendance: 331
Baptized students: 2
Countries represented: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Columbia, Peru, Paraguay, Uruguay, United States 

1. Again, the Chile Chinese congregation performed wonderfully for the drama this year. The main sister, who acted as the righteous Christian, was actually not from the Chinese congregation, but she was able to lip-sync perfectly to the recordings.
2. Both Christine and I had minor parts in the assembly, Christine as modern-day Martha, and me as the sister who can't informal witness.

3. On the way to the assembly, we met 2 sisters from Ikike, Chile, who are learning Chinese. Ikike is a small city where a missionary couple had been sent recently to start up a Chinese group. Anyway, one of the sisters had never left Chile before, let alone attend a Chinese assembly. Jehovah really makes sure that His message travels to the "most distant part of the earth", even for the Chinese field!
I also met a 14 year-old girl who just started learning Chinese. She took the plane up from Mendoza, south of Buenos Aires, with her mom to attend this assembly.
On the way to assembly, Ikike sisters behind me.

Lovely girl from Mendoza
Chillin' before the program starts

4. I met 2 sisters from Uruguay, who brought their Chinese Bible student for the first time to the assembly. Their Bible student, a young Chinese girl, had found the Witnesses through her husband. She had always wanted to learn more about the Bible. She has been studying the Bible in English with the sisters and making good progress. There were some complications in applying for a visa to attend this assembly since she has not received residency privileges. Fortunately, she received her visa just in time a a few days shy of the assembly.
With Chinese Bible student who traveled from Uruguay, and mom, of course

5. It was wonderful to welcome two new Chinese brothers, one in his 20's from Lomas, and another from Chile. Gaby and I met one of them, an older Cantonese brother, during our trip in Chile. He had studied for 6 years, and used to be an atheist.