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Overwhelmed

It's a split second when our dachshund, Mandy, streaks into the house, jumps into our arms and licks our faces. Actually I think she licks us before she lands in our arms. There is no way to be ready for it. If you are on her list of delicious masters you might as well welcome her overwhelming love.


I have been thinking of the word "overwhelmed". It could be the new song by Big Daddy Weave called Overwhelmed, which is worth a perusal if you haven't heard it yet. Or it could be the fact that we are transitioning back to the US and everything is overwhelming in the best, the worst, and the strangest ways.

Maybe it was Jorge Cuevas's recent visit with his son JB. Just his face reminds me of a time 15 years ago where he perched himself on the scoop of a front end loader and rode it to the top of the infamous hill where our little chapel in Reñaca stands. He followed it up with five days of intense, back breaking work along with an entire team. Their work and many prayers paved not just one of the steepest roads in our town, but also the way for our small church plant to have some way to survive the battering spiritual storm we were weathering. We were completely unable to physically and financially produce this important road. Jorge did something that God had uniquely gifted him to do and he did it for us! I was overwhelmed.

It's overwhelming how impossible it is for us to have anything to do with God, how eternally separated we are. There was no one else who could bridge the eternal gulf, no one could stop the sickness and sadness. Only extreme measures could save us. Jesus had the choice to avoid all that He endured. He was the only one who could, and He chose to humble Himself and become obedient even to the cross. God Himself knew me before I had breathed even a wisp of air. He has written my name on His very hands knowing the rottenness that decomposed my soul. He had complete disclosure as only God can. He was the only one who could. . . It's overwhelming love. It's split second. It's irresistible. Guess we must just get ready for the spiritual licking.

Laura Dye

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My heart can break now

My heart can break now. The truck left with all our belongings. The rooms are empty. Now I can be sad. Yes our kids were babies and teenagers in this house, but I am more overwhelmed that God knew what we needed before we did and provided luxuriously for us.

I wanted a Chilean style house but what was available was a cute wooden American farmhouse. It was cheap and a little too big. I remember walking the halls and being embarrassed that a missionary had a house so large (1800 sq. ft.) simultaneously wondering about how we were going to rattle around in the place just the five of us. The pregnancy answered some of those questions followed by the sweetest stream of visitors to our home, eleven years of tea guests and sometimes overnight guests. How blessed we have been to enjoy the presence of so many! How even more blessed to know that God used us in some small way as a balm for the hurting!

I leaned into the attic beside what was to be Suzy's room and thought to myself, "This is the kind of house I would have wanted as a kid." Nooks and crannies to hide in, deep closets. Almost immediately I thought parental thoughts, "I hope they don't get into this space." Of course they got into that little spot and many more! the walls have the handprints of hundreds of little Chilean and gringo hands.

We sang so much in the living room that the walls should be full of God's praises for many years to come. We laughed so hard that the windows still sparkle under the dust. The impression of those hearing the Gospel for the first time is burned into my own soul, an Ebenezer for always.

It was the packing and getting everything ready to leave that had me distracted, but now that it is all gone my heart is indeed breaking. It is hard though to make a list of things that we are sad about without making a list ten times as long about things we are grateful for. The marks on the walls, the half burned candles in the fireplace. . . It all tells a sweet story of how God loves us and provided for us filling our cup up overflowing. The lines have indeed fallen in pleasant places for us. My heart is breaking because it is just too full.

Laura Dye
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Breaking the Rules

I wrote this back in September 2013 but did not post it until now.

Sixty degrees and a walk to the grocery store reminded me of all the rules I had almost forgotten. Don't wave at people in the neighborhood unless it is neighbors we know well. For Pete's sake don't pet the street dogs or even someone's pooch loose on the street. They bite! I passed a woman on the sidewalk. Don't look at her and don't smile at her. Don't speak. Ok, I broke some of the rules. With the sun so brilliant and a cool breeze how could I not say "hello". I am sure she thought I was a tourist.

It's these rules that always bother me here. It's these rules that make me sigh a relief when we get back to the US and the cashiers say, "My pleasure!" I know they don't always mean it but it does make me want to behave in such a way that they feel like it is a pleasure to serve me. Niceness breeds niceness. I won't spiritualize such cultural customs, but it does make it harder to walk in love with those around us if you never make eye contact or greet anyone. For a country that values relationships above all, Chile is fraught with ways to avoid them.

Tomorrow we head to a good asado with the Castro family. We will grill some good cuts of meat, take the day to prepare salads together and sit in the sunshine talking about the lifetime they have lived while we were gone four months. The conversation will include things we have prayed about these ten years. Their marriage is making progress and Aquiles led his dying sister to Christ. From the graveyard where broken marriages are the rule, never has it felt so good to break rules!!

Laura Dye
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Yip yip

I sat in a dusty field watching Suzy ride a small muscular horse named Chocolo and Hudson on a tall narrow horse named Octavo. Cows bayed on the hill beyond the riding ring and the Chilean cowboys chased them with piercing "Yipyips". Chilean rodeo is famous but we rarely get a good look at the actual profession where these cowboys get their practice. They run those cows so hard it is no wonder Chilean beef is so lean.

Hudson popped off of Octavo, landing in a pile of dirt, which actually is a pretty good place to land around horses. Suzy was not far behind but she ended up with thorns in her pants and enough dirt for a sandbox. Galloping without stirrups is fast learning but has its drawbacks.

It's all kind of our final goodbyes to horse riding in Chile. Of course we said our "goodbyes" when Deanna left. I thought then that we left well. It was that flyer from Johnson and Wales equestrian program that brought it all back! Chalk one up for junk mail. So we say a cautious "goodbye" this time figuring that we will always have some sort of connection here. Hudson and Suzy cut their teeth on cochayuyo (hard sea weed) and grew strong and tall with the big orange zapallos. I guess we will never be "done" here and I am not sure I want to be.

Laura Dye
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This Old House

For two people who don't move fast, leaving Mission to the World is kind of like moving an old house across town. It is worth it but complicated to say the least. Roger has been with MTW since he was four when his parents went to Mexico. I can't help but remember the day when they gave me my name tag with the words "Laura Park, missionary". I looked at that and felt a deep sense of rightness about that title.

I can't say that FamilyLife has made it difficult. Quite the opposite. They continually provide feedback and encouragement that we have been craving for a long time. FamilyLife was kind to put up with us in every interview as we recounted our philosophical uneasiness with parachurch organizations. Even when reviewing the job description Roger clarified that he was in this for the good of missionaries, pastors and leaders (as if there might be some objection to that emphasis). Our new boss smiled and marked clearly the clarification on Roger's job description. Oh how patient this man is who dared to do the Insanity workout with our daughter Deanna. She says he is "buena onda" which means she approves.

Each conversation, each email is full of promise that excites us about being FamilyLife Global missionaries. We both have a deep sense of rightness about this clarified title. The house is still being settled on its new footings, maybe a little crooked in a few places, but soon to be right.

Laura Dye
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The Senters

The church in Osorno had no sooner entered our denomination than the pastor had to be removed. The wake of his behavior left the church struggling at best. Changes in churches in Chile are difficult, but this was ridiculous. Alex and Paty Frites moved to Osorno for Alex to finish seminary studies and take the church there. Greg and Marilyn Senter, MTW missionaries, arrived with their family to assist Alex in finishing his studies, as well as many administration tasks. Together they watched one of those "God things" happen - the Church.

The Senters are a minority in mission work. Not being an ordained a pastor, but holding a degree in electrical engineering, does not mean that Greg is not equipped for ministry. He is just not called to the pastorate. That was a good thing for Alex. Greg was well equipped to help Alex. He needed Greg, and Paty needed Marilyn. Marilyn is a nutrition junkie, grinding her own wheat and making her own peanut butter. When Paty found that she was allergic to eggs and gluten, Marilyn knew how to pray her through the nutritional challenges. Being a pastor's wife in a country that serves wheat bread every time one turns around was no easy adjustment!

Our time with the Senters is always fun, but a little bittersweet this time as they are packing to return to the US permanently. Their time is finished and family needs call them back to Asheville, NC in mid December.

The next few months will be full of "good-byes" as their youngest daughter graduates from high school here in Chile. They will say "good-bye" to students and their parents who have been dear friends. They will say "good-bye" to the church members and the Frites who have been their life for years now. I imagine Marilyn will hate saying "good-bye" to all of the little shop keepers where she has found the freshest produce.

It is hard to leave behind a life of sweet routines and kind friends, not to mention the work. It will be an adjustment to say the least. Maybe they will find several "someones" to help them through the adjustment to life in the US.


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If anyone lacks patience…

If anyone lacks patience, let him get puppies?

I have enjoyed our small yard taking shape and not stepping in anything this last year without our beloved dachshunds, but I still miss our dogs. I mentioned that to Roger a couple of weeks ago. He is definitely not taking one side or another. He just looks at me like I have a few screws loose and well, I might have to agree with him.

Deanna's visit to our friends' horse farm brought about the adoption of two puppies with paws as big as a bear's. (Yes, we will blame this all on Deanna.) One is a white Lab mix, Hercules, and the other has Rottweiler markings, Rosy. At seven weeks they learned to open the back door. At eight weeks the kids brace themselves before going outside to play. I used to think clips of the movie, Marly and Me, were comical. Not so much any more.

Hudson is my human version of a white lab —way too much energy and strength for the brain that we hope is developing. After three days of playing, I thought for sure Hudson would be worn out. No, but the puppies were flat out exhausted. A quick power nap and they are ready to go again. Hercules is really the one who is wild. I mentioned to Hudson that Hercules might be happier back out at the farm. "But he is mine!" There is a sense that the two have something in common. Hercules' thoughts must go something like this, "If they would just let me lick them all over! They don't really understand me and why I have to run, jump and chew on everything." Hudson does.

So the backyard is getting messy with chew toys, and other things. They won't chase the cats away and I daresay rats are invited too. We are hoping we will live through their puppyhood. My father's wise observation comes to mind after a two year old Hudson dumped a box of blocks down the stairs barely missing Daddy's head. "Hudson will be a fine young man if he makes it to adulthood." Maybe Hudson will grow up with these crazy dogs!




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That sweet place of weakness

I sat behind a beautiful older woman at a concert. The concert hadn't begun, but there was music playing. Her hands moved uncontrollably clapping to the slow contemporary beat that framed the old song, "I Need Thee Every Hour". Her lips moved and her hands clapped, every part of her being telling God that she needed Him. Somehow in that neediness she was strengthened.

Never have we felt more weak and powerless than in the loss of both of my parents. If my prayers were ever neat and orderly, they no longer are. They sound more like "Oww!". Surely God is ok with the infant cries of my heart.

Mom was very healthy. Just a few days before she died I told myself that I would ask Dad's hospice nurse to take a look at her on Tuesday because something wasn't right. We never got to Tuesday, just a late Sunday night with her lying peacefully in her bed asleep for eternity. I couldn't take my eyes off of her for a while, she was so peaceful and the room just seemed to be filled with God's mercy. The hesed kind that means more than our English word can convey and only God can give.

Her last days were filled with contentment. According to her prayer notes she had thanked God for the taste of contentment. So in the hardest days of her life, caring for Daddy round the clock, exhausted, anticipating losing Dad, she was content. It showed on her face as she blew her 75 candles out the week before. She basked in the pleasure of kissing Daddy's frail cheek, playing Scrabble with grandchildren, and walking in the cool wet spring grass with whomever would walk with her.

Mom's passing sent us all into a tailspin, being so unexpected. The reality of the care Dad needed sobered us very quickly. So there we sat at 5 AM, "Dad, what pills do you need?" terrified that we had missed something very important, like a snack for a diabetic man with Parkinsons and kidney cancer. Our attention turned to Daddy and his needs. Daddy, on the other hand, rallied to the occasion and began eating again, strengthening himself, because he now had to take care of us. And he did! He ran all the funeral preparations from his lift chair, reminding us of so many details. When the funeral was over he talked for weeks with my sister about financial and insurance issues, helping her find all the papers she would need after his passing.

When all the paperwork was in order, Daddy started deteriorating again. His mind was clear until the week he died, but he was able to make sure we knew exactly what to do when he could no longer speak. He held off on pain meds nearly every day so that he could speak clearly with us, preferring to be in pain and clear headed. It was a courageous battle that I sometimes wondered why he was fighting, yet he fought until his body would no longer sustain his will.

So we gather at the house, mostly talking and laughing, remembering our parents and thanking God for the heritage we have. Sometimes I sing "I Need Thee Every Hour". That sweet place of weakness where God loves to show His glory . . . I must stay there.
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