Friday, February 18, 2011

New Friends

Good morning,
Everything this week has been challenging and interesting. Sunday evening me and my friend Audrey went out to an old part of the city called "La Boca" to visit local coordinators of an international NGO called "Word-Made-Flesh" (WMF). Jen and Jeremiah invited us into their home where we met 3 kids ages 1.5, 3, and 6. Also, field coordinator David joined us at the grown-ups table to talk to us about WMF while the kiddos went swimming in a kiddie pool on the roof.
David explained that Word-Made-Flesh is an organization that tries to be the hands and feet of Jesus by reaching out to the poor--primarily relationally. One of their major areas of involvement is with street kids down by the Retiro train station.
They go down to the train station and in groups of two begin playing Uno, soccer, or just chatting with the kids. Over time everyone gets more and more comfortable opening doors for conversations on (I would assume) everything from hygiene to vocational possibilities to spiritual matters. Honestly I'm not sure if the mission of WMF is more evangelistic or social and physical... or if it is a tie between each. I still have more questions than answers, but I get the feeling its more about empowerment than hand-outs.
I was glad to have met them because it was an excellent start to getting to know the non-profit world in Buenos Aires... a major goal of mine right now.
By the end of the night, Audrey and I learned that WMF is not in a position to invite new volunteers because they are forming policies o how and when to do so and what would be the necessary steps and qualifications. I understand that.
On the other hand, after all the chit chat with the grown-ups Audrey and I really hit it off with the kids. They loved playing with English speakers... and so did we! At the end we set up a date to go back and baby-sit, and Audrey and I will be headed back out to do that tonight.
Just briefly, since I've already written so much, I met a new friend from the US in the mall this week who does work ministering on university campuses through an international organization called Cruzades for Christ. Yesterday Audrey and I spoke with her and their coordinator in their office to talk about the organization, its mission, strategies, and what information they had gathered through surveys and conversations with university students in Buenos Aires--hopefully what we learned will help us over the next few months.

See ya,
Ashley Musick

ps The night before I visited my new friends from WMF in the Boca, I got this drawing of the Boca via facebook from Shannon Morgan. She drew this for me about 2 years ago and just posted it on facebook last Saturday... and the picture is of the area of town that I met those people in the very next day. Cool right? To give you an idea of how cool it was to me, Sunday was only the 3rd time I ever saw that part of town and was the first time I ever spent time in the residential area or met anyone who lived there.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Long awaited updates and info on the future

Dear friends and others,

So nice of you to look at my blog and be reading right now. Of course I want to tell you about several things… But first let me preface by saying… Since it’s been so long I’ve posted several blogs right in a row so I could separate the long awaited post into topics. So there’s about 3 new posts here today and the one you are reading now covers the most recent. Clear? Ok.


Pray for this coming school-year. My teaching and the college students from church’s classes. Also, I’m open to new things as my Spanish is at a functional level. I’m trying to get to know and understand the non-profit organizations and community needs around the city. I hope to learn a great deal about volunteer opportunities and what Social Work looks like in Buenos Aires… this week even. In other news, I’ve been granted a form of temporary residency and have an appointment to get a National I.D. number and card in April. This i.d. will open up the door to any educational or job opportunity that would be available to an Argentine; so, be praying the process goes as planned / smoothly.

To whom it may concern… ha ha

My current plan is still to come home at the end of this year pumped and ready to go into the Social Work profession or grad school.

Well and I’m glad to be here. Aside from living in the moment and the adventure aspect, I feel the lessons (from Spanish to the humbling aspects of being a foreigner) I’m learning are without a doubt invaluable and preparing me for… the things that come next. Ha ha.

Hugs and kisses,

Ashley Musick


In Spanish there is this word "confianza" that means trust or confidence... The sentence that will help you understand this word and its connotations would be "I trust that you will do the right thing" or "I'm confident that you will do the right thing"... Also you would say, "we have confidence/trust" which means that we trust one another... I like this concept. It brings out how you have to lean into people and without CONFIDENCE it can't work. One will not lean and the other will fall.

In my experience... and a lot of my contact with Argentines has been within religious circles...but in my experience it is a pain-stakingly slow process here to build CONFIDENCE. But look it's different here too. I mean when they LEAN into you, it's a real LEAN and not just with one arm orone leg, but back-to-back. It means a lot to be considered a friend here. This is the worst part of culture shock to me when I tend to open up after about 30 seconds anywhere. All it takes is the right questions and BAM! I'll tell you whatever you want to know.

But here, I was super up-tight at times. Took me a while to see why, but apparently its not easy being in a place where all your relationships are starting from ground 0.

Well, I passed through Brazil on my way home for Christmas looking to use the return portion of my 2 way ticket between Dallas and Sao Paulo.

Almost immediately, I began to relax. I let down my guard, said silly things, received compliments on my Portuguese (which is actually REALLY bad), entertained people with my laugh and worshipped with my life (including even the guitar at times).

What had happened to me? Why wasn't I living in Brazil? Was there a really strong reason to ever go back to Buenos Aires when I could find a room-mate to replace me, an English teacher to work in my place, and a special friend to take some of my church responsibilities over?

I went with friends to the Sao Paulo airport and took a shuttle to my airport a little outside the city. I slept all the way to Dallas and was greeted by 2 friends at the airport. One of them an expected visitor and the other a major surprise... I cried as Barbara embraced me and let me in... Well I didn't really cry. But I teared up a little. ha ha. A lot more things happened, but let me rush to the point. My friend Barbara will lean into you even if she doesn't know if you will lean back. I mean about the confidence thing... I give her credit for being a good friend after her heart pulled me in first. She probably doesn't make every one be her friend or anything like that but she does let a lot of people see that she's willing BAM confidence.

Enough about that because if I get too specific maybe it will embarrass her or someone else. But... ok, I'll give an example... take her friendship with her dog: She loves that dog like a son, and maybe the dog is unaware or overwhelmed, and creeped out... but she keeps on loving him anyway.

What about me and Argentina? Well maybe when I let down my guard they will lean back... And I'll love them anyway if they don't. But I'm bringing a helmet just in case.

January Blog

January is a month off from English teaching. Since I went home and many students cancel during the summer months (January-mid-march), it made sense to just take all of January off and start clean in February. My time off has been nice. I went with the youth group to church camp and shared with everyone my most favorite silly songs. Also, a group of us made some games for everyone one a daily basis. My favorite was definitely the game that mixed capture-the-flag with water balloons… and my team won by the way. Sometimes my co-planners would let me explain the game to everyone.This always made for a laugh. Without fail, in my eagerness to explain the game. I would almost always come to a word I didn’t know and would… without hesitating… act that word out. Sometimes my explanations became dancing sharades with sound-effects. To a listener it probably sounded more like, “So if the ball does splat make sure you zoink or else you’ll have to… ‘oh no I’m dead!’… understand?” Somehow everyone understood. That’s probably a miracle. Ha ha.

Ok. On a more profound note, the church I meet with has seen 5 baptisms in January. Pretty attention calling because the annual average is 10. I’m pleased to say we can’t much take the credit… When it’s the lives of other men and the work of God. But we tried to be there praying and some were teaching and all were listening. Nice!

Saturday, November 27, 2010


I went to Montevideo on Tuesday before Thanksgiving and came back Friday night. It was great to spend the holiday with some ACU Study Abroad students as well of some of my friends from Brazil that were visiting the area.

Pretty much, I couldn't ask to have a better or more encouraging Thanksgiving (unless I could have shared it with my family too). Audrey and I contributed mashed potatoes to the humongous feast, and there was more than enough to go around to the students, travelers and Uruguayan guests. It was also nice to have a time off of work and away from the city for a little bit, but I'm excited to be back.

For free-flowing reflections on life in another country and what I got out of my trip, continue reading...

Audrey and I did not intend to share our Turkey with people from Brazil, but we somehow ended up in the same place at the same time. For me this was amazing because I accepted it as a divine gift. My time in Brazil in June really made an impact on me; and so, to share with those individuals again without planning to was more than I could have asked for or imagined happening. We went around the city together, looked at monuments together, told stories together, and laughed together. Together is so important. Without meaning too, they helped me realize how easy it is to be more focused on details and plans and ideas and learning and being perfect and on and on and on.... to be more focused (or should I say distracted?) on all of that that there is no room for appreciating each other or for true partnership. And I feel like by talking about it so much, I'm sort of ruining what a simple thing it truly is. So let me start over.

I feel reminded to be myself and love others as they eagerly work towards the same :-)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Viver Coisas Noivas (Living New Things)

See the men and women-
I'm living new things.
Here they work through and run
I'm living new things.
Don't worry with tomorrow,
I'm living new things.

They are hurting-try to fix-pray to help
I'm living new things.
Wanna go home
I'm living new things.
Went for it!
I'm living new things.

See the house
I'm living new things.
Receive some new things
I'm living new things.
Work outside
I'm living my new things.

I wrote this as a poem to think about specific things that happened the 2 months in Brazil. A vague line to you represented and symbolized something specifically in my minds-eye... After writing the poem, I read it again and let my mind imagine Argentina, and the poem worked perfectly to describe my feelings and what I've seen here as well. If you're into poetry, try reading it through your own eyes and context currently or from your memory. Read it through someone else's eyes too... What do you think?

Excerpts from a letter to my mommy and daddy :-)

I finally have a somewhat regular job as of about a couple of weeks ago. He knows about my trip to the states and everything, and I should be able to work for him substantially in March as well as working part-time (which I've already started doing) now. I don't get paid well by American standards... about minimum wage... but I've never made much more than that, and I've never worked much more than 20 hours a week either... So it seems like a normal amount of money to me. And compared to my peers, I'm living like a queen. I really like my job. My boss is in charge of receiving students that want all kinds of teachers, tutors, and classes. Every time someone needs an English class, I come ready and prepared. I'm not always super-well informed about the needs of my client before I show up at their house or office, so I'm always having to think on the fly and respond to the needs in front of me. It reminds me of social work. I take notes about what they already know and what they want to learn etc, and then I plan lessons. It's really fun.

I have two Korean kids as students in the 2nd and 4th grades. Whenever I enter the apartment, I have to take off my shoes and put on slippers. On the other hand, whenever I enter the business building down town I have to put my most professional attire on and speak with the most proper Spanish I can muster to arrange things with the receptionist to teach an employee there. My clients make more than all of my friends and I combined... ok I'm exaggerating. But it's interesting to see the difference. Someone the other day from church about my age said to me, "I make really good money at my new job: about 17 pesos an hour." This is a little more than U$S4 an hour, but my clients that I teach English to, each have cars. The disparity is really incredible...

Church has been fun. I got to show 2 ladies from Harpeth Hills around town the past two weeks, and now we're looking at wrapping up the Lets Start Talking (teaching English using the bible) season and trying to put various and different English students with mentors etc. It's exciting to be a part of this. I mostly just organize data and help it to pass hands, but I know this is a big help to everyone... and it's not boring to me either. (I kind of like it).

I'm still studying about the church of Christ and baptism and whatnot. As tedious as all of this is, it will be so helpful in the long-run if I will ever participate in or serve in or with a church. I'm so glad I'm in such a good position to learn how things work here even though it's hard at times.

I have lots of good friends, and I love spending time with them. Pray for my friends. Also pray for Lets Start Talking (the English program at church) and for the unity of the church.

We have a Tuesday group that is exploding with new people... and all from different faith backgrounds... several looking for a church community. Pray that we all grow up in the Lord together and don't exchange Spirit for truth or exchange truth for Spirit... as if they could be separate. I don't know... really I don't know what God wants to do with the group, but it seems significant to me the way that growth has exploded over the past month and a half. So may God be praised. Amen.