Missions isn't all salt and tears. There are unexpected blessings for following Christ overseas. In our specific case, one of those for us here has been free sports for our offspring. We didn't know about this particular benefit when we sensed it was Patagonia that God had placed on our hearts. We were completely prepared for bare bones living - meaning, in part, nothing extra for the kids. For all I knew we'd be living high up in the mountains, far from civilization, my kids whittling toys out of sticks because there was nothing to do. That has not been the case. God surprisingly brought us to a city, and, even though I neither like cities nor city living, we have been really blessed by all it has to offer.
The province we live in in Argentina is unique in that it offers free sports for all kids. There are clubs all over town that offer swimming, basketball, gymnastics, volleyball, handball, racquetball, and many others I can't remember. All you have to do is sign up.
We are so thankful for these classes. It's a great way to get our homeschooled kids out of the house, around other kids, speaking Spanish, and run their energy off at the same time. It's a good stretch for them physically, culturally, socially, and linguistically.
But even though it's a great blessing, this is still the Third World. The gyms are built and subsidized by the city and province, but funds are limited. [EDITORIAL: Tony says because the corrupt politicians pocket all the money and don't give it to the programs that serve the public. I guess he would know. He's Argentinian.] They are often unable to buy new equipment because they are just not given any money to do so. The equipment is sparse and often in ill repair. But the teachers are great, and we are really impressed with them and all they do.
Because of the severe lack of funds, the coaches and parents have to raise the money on their own to buy any equipment they may need for the gym. Interesting, when we remember the fully stocked, shiny YMCA's back home.
Somehow Tony was nominated to be the money collector guy for all the funds this year. The coach's excuse was because "he was at every single practice". My incredibly supportive response when I found out was, "How did you get sucked into that? That's all we need, something else to do. Great."
But sometimes these unexpected things are really a blessing in disguise. Most of these kids are not Christians and have probably never heard the gospel. I know this because of all the interesting words the girls teach my girl in class. Words she's never heard before in her life. The boys actually seem a bit calmer. Or maybe my boy is just so spacey he's completely unaware of what they're saying. I don't think he cares much what they talk about, he's just there to play ball. And he still pretty much refuses to speak Spanish, too (I wonder where he got his stubbornness from....}. We don't worry much about negative influences with him. He's so head-strong we can hardly influence him, let alone someone who speaks a language he barely cares to understand. Hardly any worries there.
Anyway, so - big fundraising event this past month. Bake sale, lottery-type money-raising thingy, activities for the kidlings, snack - and a movie! When Tony asked if we could show one of our movies, they said yes. He made it clear it was a movie that talks about God yadda yadda, but they were okay with it and said sure that would be great.
(I wonder if that would happen in the States. Probably not...)
So, after their bake sale, lottery, fun activities, and snacks, all these kids sat down and watch The Gladys Aylward story. Completely unexpected open door. Completely unplanned evangelism. Completely awesome. And they raised all the funds they needed for the new equipment! Score and score.