My story

Most of you know me from one stage of life or another, but there are lots of things in my life that seem conflicting. This will give you context!

I was born in Doylestown, PA, on November 30, 1960. My mom was Argentine and was 22 years old (she turned 22 two days before I was born). My dad was American, and we lived in the home where he grew up, in Newtown. My mom grew up in a non religious family in Argentina. Her dad was a doctor, and her mom owned a school. She had never done any housework because she had always had maids in Argentina. That was just normal for people in her sphere of society. My dad was born to a family with a lot of history in Newtown. One of his ancestors had helped George Washington cross the Delaware! Anyway, he was 22 years older than my mom, and had grown up during the Depression. That really affected his future – instead of going to college, he went to sea and grew up as a sailor. That’s how he met my mom, as an officer of a ship that visited Argentina. Mom’s big brother took him home to visit, and that’s how things got started.

When I was 8, Mom had just had enough of some of the challenges she faced here in the US, and moved back to Buenos Aires (Bs. As.), with all 3 of us kids. She was frustrated dealing with my dad’s alcoholism, which was understandable considering the circumstances of his transition from college plans to work plans! Many sailors have that problem. Anyway, she figured we shouldn’t grow up with alcohol in the house, and if she was going to set up her own home, it would be where she felt like it was home. To ease the transition she took me to St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Olivos, Bs. As., because it was a bilingual church of the same denomination as the church my father’s family had founded in Newtown. I liked it, but didn’t go back after the end of 3rd grade. At the end of the school year they always gave the 3rd graders a Bible, and that was the only Bible there was in my home in Buenos Aires. I read it and prayed the Lord’s Prayer when I needed comfort at times.

In Argentina, I went to school at my Grandma’s school, the William Hudson school. It was great! There were only 8-12 of us in a class, and we had English subjects all morning (8-12) and the standard Spanish curriculum in the afternoon (1-5). I took piano lessons after school or during lunch break, and enjoyed making some friends. In 8th grade the schedule changed because high school had Spanish all day from 8-2, and just an hour a day for English. Then we did homework.

I also enjoyed being part of a sailing club, Club Nautico San Isidro. I started to sail when I was 8, and looked forward to my 14th and 18th birthdays because I would then qualify to sail on bigger boats. I had some good friends to sail with, and spent all my spare time on the river. It was my release from the stress of the big city. I remember we would go to Córdoba every summer, where my grandmother had a summer house. I loved staying there for the whole two months of January and February! It was really hard to go back to the city, to Buenos Aires, after spending two months there! I dreamed of moving there when I grew up and starting an English school or a book store.

When I was a senior in high school I realized that I needed to return to God, and went back to the church where I got the Bible in the first place. There I started to meet with a Bible Study group and developed an understanding of Christianity and prayer that were totally new to me. I have followed Jesus ever since, attending different types of churches along the way.

When I finished high school I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I loved biology, and I wanted to help people, so I figured I’d be a doctor like my grandfather had been. My family thought I was crazy because of the time commitment involved in the work of a doctor, but I forged ahead anyway and got into medical school straight from high school, at the University of Buenos Aires.

After a couple of years of college I realized that my family was right – medicine wasn’t for me. I dropped it and went to school to be a teacher of English and Spanish. I wanted to do literacy work with the people who lived in some very poor areas in the outskirts of Bs. As., and wanted to make a living teaching English. The summer I made that transition I also volunteered to help on the MV Doulos, an OM (Operation Mobilisation) ship that was visiting Bs. As., for a few weeks. It was wonderful to work alongside people from so many countries! A whole new world was opened up to my imagination.

I graduated as a teacher of English and Spanish, but found that working as a teacher had problems: I had trouble with the heat in Buenos Aires and would have low blood pressure episodes when I was supposed to be teaching, and I also lost my voice for weeks at a time. So, I started to work as a secretary for a group called Evangelism Explosion. I found that secretarial work was more interesting than I had expected, so I went to secretarial school in the evenings and worked in the daytime. At the same time, my grandmother was needing care 24 hours a day, and I was the substitute night nurse. Life was extremely stressful during that time, and I lost my job because of that.

I got another job as a secretary for a business, and did very well there. I liked the work, but some friends invited me to a missionary challenge retreat by Operation Mobilization. Frank Dietz was there, and he challenged me to consider joining one of the mission ships, the Logos, because it was going to be going around South America. I figured this was a ship where missionaries were getting training and I had no intention of being a missionary, but I could help the rest in their training by being an interpreter. I signed on for 2 years, and had some of the most intense growing in my life during the year and three months that followed.

During that year and a quarter we went all the way through the Caribbean, along the Pacific Coast of South America, and were trying to get to the Atlantic. We had a fabulous time seeing God at work in loads of ways in each of the ports we visited. Then we shipwrecked at Cape Horn – just before the captain was going to teach me how to use the sextant! That was hard, and we went back to Bs. As., my home town, for debriefing.

In Buenos Aires, I remember it took me a while to crash! First we spent a few weeks at a Christian college campus debriefing. There I helped everyone with airplane tickets, foreign exchange, etc., since I was the only one in the group who had the connections for doing that. I had done that job on the ship anyway, so it was a natural fit. Then I went home, when everyone from the ship flew off to their next destinations, and it took me a while to eat a normal meal. I remember my family saying “Is that all you’re going to eat?” for quite a while.

My next step was to work in the OM office in Bs. As., just to not make any big changes in the middle of a crisis. While I was there, a telex came in asking if I’d be willing to come to the US to work on the replacement project. They needed a secretary who had been on the shipwreck who was an American citizen. That meant me! I had worked for David Greenlee, the boss who needed me, on the ship, and was friends with his family. However, my first reaction was to be absolutely quiet about it when Daniel Bianchi, the OM boss came into the office that day. It was an interesting thing when the topic came up.

Daniel: Did you see this telex, Helen?

Me: Of course.

Daniel: What? Do you mean you read the telexes?

Me: Of course! It’s a secretary’s job to check the mail and see who it’s for and what it’s about.

Daniel: Well, it’s about you…

Me: I knew that. …

Anyway, Daniel wasn’t the least bit happy about losing me, but I wasn’t planning on continuing with the OM office in Bs. As. beyond March anyway. I had to make a living, and didn’t feel that the OM office was a good fit for me.

However, I remember going for a walk that day, at lunch, and being furious that God was trying to uproot me again. I was frustrated, because I’d just gone through a shipwreck, and really wanted to stay home and relax. My mom wasn’t happy either. However, after about a month I felt that it was the right thing to do and flew out to Atlanta to work on the replacement project.

I spent another year and a half at Atlanta, working on the replacement of the Logos and the launch of the Logos II and Love Europe. After that, I left OM to work with the Luis Palau Evangelistic Association (LPEA). That was another unusual connection.

When the Logos had visited Bonaire, in the Caribbean, I had met Angel Bongiorno. He was an Argentine who was in charge of the radio ministry of Trans World Radio for Latin America. He had asked me if I’d be willing to be his secretary when I left the Logos. I said I’d only been on the ship for a few months, and he’d just have to keep in touch and ask me that in a couple of years. Then I ran into him in Los Angeles. We were both at a convention for Latin American Christian leaders. I was running an OM booth for the replacement of the ship with Elba, and Angel was at the TWR booth. He interviewed me for TWR and put the interview on the air.

A couple of months later, Angel left TWR and went to the LPEA. He called and interviewed me for the first anniversary of the shipwreck for the Luis Palau news program. Then he mentioned that they were looking for a Spanish bilingual secretary for the LP office. I blew it off as a joke, and ended the conversation. A couple of days later, he called and put Jim Williams on the phone. Jim was the VP for Latin American ministries for the LP office. That morning I had made a rough draft of my resume, and I sent it to them listing all the reasons why I wouldn’t be totally qualified for the position. Anyway, they flew me out for an interview, and I got the job. I was shocked and excited!

So, in September of 1989 I started to work as a secretary for the LP office in Beaverton, Oregon. It was very exciting to be in something like that. I loved my job and expected to be there pretty much forever. I remember at the interview they had asked “You’re not going to move all the way out here and get married, are you?” My response had been “Hey, I spent the last 3 years in an organization that has a very high percentage of singles. I’m obviously not a flirt or a husband chaser, so I don’t expect that to change.”

However, around Christmas and New Year I felt alone. It was the first time in my life I had been without friends or family for those celebrations. I missed them. I celebrated Christmas with my roommate’s family, but for New Year’s I was totally on my own. I remember praying “Lord, I need to have a family. I am tired of all my friends changing with their own moving on to different things every couple of years. I need someone who will stick with me for life.” Anyway, I called Jim and Gail (my boss and his wife) and said I’d like to celebrate New Year’s with them instead of sulking in my room by myself. They invited me to their care group’s celebration. David Eby was there, and we met. He was recently widowed, and was the only other single adult there. I enjoyed his company, but avoided it. I had heard that he was wanting to remarry, and didn’t want to “market” myself.

A couple of days later, David called and asked me to go out with him. I sent him packing. We saw each other in church and at Bible study for a while, and then he invited me to go to a concert with him. I was starting to trust him, since Jim and Gail thought highly of him and he seemed nice, and went. It also helped that I hadn’t been to a classical concert for about 3 years, and that had been a huge part of my life before I started off with OM. Anyway, on July 28 of the same year (1990) we got married! He had a 6 year old daughter, Elizabeth, who I developed a deep love for.

A few years later Daniel (1992) and Cynthia (1993) were born. At that point I really had to drop working for the Palau office. I had been working part time since our wedding, but I could no longer be much help with two kids who kept me busy.

In 1997 we moved to the Boston area. David’s company, Tektronix, had purchased a startup in the Boston area and transferred his product to them. David offered to go there to help support the continuation of the product. He really liked the people he worked with and things were great for a while.

I didn’t like the Boston area as well as Portland. It was pretty much the difference between Buenos Aires (Boston) and Cordoba (Beaverton, Oregon). However, we made our home there and got involved in church, school, etc. David played the organ and piano at church, I led a ladies’ Bible study and helped at the kids’ school, etc. David was in a wonderful amateur choir, and I taught Spanish at Gordon College at the introductory levels. Daniel and Cynthia loved their school (Covenant School).

David’s job became unstable in the Boston area, because Tek sold David’s branch of the company to another company. The new owners were totally different in their management style, and David was uncomfortable with that. We also started to realize that Boston would never be home, and Oregon always felt like home. So, he started to check with the folks at Tek in Beaverton to find a position for him back in Oregon.

Right about then, I started to homeschool Daniel and Cynthia. Homeschooling made it easier to be ready for moving whenever Tek was ready for us to move. That year David’s mom, Hazel, developed some precancerous cysts in her pancreas. We flew out to Oregon to spend some time with her, and the kids and I ended up staying for two months until she had been transferred to a skilled care nursing facility after her Whipple surgery, which was successful. Over the next year I travelled back and forth so I could help her with all the transitions that followed, moving into her Assisted Living apartment, putting the house up for sale, cleaning out the house, etc. David went on some of the trips with me, but I travelled alone for quite a few of them. It was good to be able to help her through that.

In 2006 we finally moved back. David started to work at Tek on Cynthia’s 13th birthday, October 2. It was good to be done with the wait! Daniel and Cynthia started orchestra and AWANA here in Oregon, and started to make good friends. We found a church (Lake Grove Presbyterian) that was a great place to serve and be encouraged.

Then Daniel went to college at Grove City College, and graduated as an electrical engineer. He took cello and organ lessons and was in the orchestra all the way through, and almost did a double major (music and engineering). That was too much. Now he is an engineer, is the organmaster at his church, and is playing his cello as well, in places that fit him! Best of all, he is a young man who does his work with integrity and excellence, and encourages others with cheerfulness. He uses his music to serve others and to keep cheerful wherever he is. He is currently engaged, and plans to marry Brenda Barry in August of 2017.

Cynthia graduated from homeschool and went on to Seattle Pacific University. She’s been fun to watch! She started out as a Chemistry major, and switched on to Linguistics, with a Spanish minor. After spending some time working with me, she married Nathanael Sleight in December of 2016 and now lives in Seattle.

Hazel, David’s mom, is having some health problems as she ages, and we are overseeing her care at the Mennonite Home in Albany, a 65 mile drive from our home. We are privileged to be able to serve her this way. We visit her twice a week.

I am also trying to stay connected with my family through all means possible: trips, email, whatsapp… you name it! It’s exciting to have the technology to be able to do that!

A friend used to say that every year she had a new family. It’s true, and exciting! As our children grow, we adjust to their new levels of maturity and it is a different family in some ways. The Eby family is fun to be around!

La hormiguita viajera

De chica siempre me gustó hacer la valija y salir de viaje. Volver, no tanto. Nací en Pennsylvania, pero el día que nací mi abuela, que vivía en Buenos Aires, hizo las valijas para venir a visitarme. Según me cuentan, estaba en una fiesta escolar de fin de año, le dieron la noticia del nacimiento de su primera nieta, y no tardó mucho para tomarse un avión y el resto del transporte necesario para aparecer en mi casa a los pocos días en Newtown, un suburbio de Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. En Newtown, los Slack son conocidos como una de las familias tradicionales del pueblo.

A los seis años visité Buenos Aires por primera vez, y volví a los Estados Unidos con mi mejor souvenir: el uniforme escolar del colegio de mi abuela. Me lo puse para ir al colegio en los Estados Unidos. Eso no resultó tan popular… Me acuerdo que mis compañeros se reían de mí cuando me lo ponía para ir al colegio en Newtown.

A los ocho años me tomé otro avión para ir a Buenos Aires, y esta vez nos quedamos a vivir. Fui al colegio Hudson, porque ahí mi abuela era la dueña y señora (o directora). Hicimos las valijas enseguida para ir a Córdoba para las vacaciones de invierno. ¡Qué lindo viajar! Desde entonces, siempre andaba con ganas de subirme al auto para ir a Córdoba.

A los doce años, mis tíos me llevaron a San Elías, la estancia de mi tía en Tandil. Ahí aprendí a andar a caballo,  pero también algunas cosas que me sirvieron de mucho después. Pero más que nada, me encantó conocerlos mejor a los Casco y a Elena, mi tía, una persona espectacular. Su interés por temas intelectuales siempre me dio mucho que pensar, y su amor por la belleza también me mostró la importancia de la elegancia, de la belleza, y del arte.

También iba a Chapadmalal, donde Elvirita, la hermana de mi abuela, tenía una casa. Íbamos con La Negra y Rauly y sus hijos, que son de mi edad. Era divertidísimo estar ahí con mis primos en el verano. Con Juan Andrés y Cecilia, que fueron compañeros de clase, hacíamos toda clase de cosas. En los días de tormenta, Juan y yo íbamos a la playa rocosa de Mar del Plata de noche a sentarnos en las rocas y mirar. O nadábamos juntos en las olas todos los días, y nos animábamos a ir más lejos y nadar en la parte más divertida del mar. Un día de tormenta, Juan y yo fuimos a la playa a caminar y se nos ocurrió nadar un poquito con bandera roja. Nunca más. Ahora sabíamos lo que significaba la bandera roja. Con Cecilia, jugaba al tenis. Con Juan, navegaba. Con Delia Inés, charlábamos como amigas mientras ella estudiaba arquitectura. La Negra me dio clases de canto, y Rauly y yo hablábamos de temas científicos. Eran una segunda familia para mí. Éramos como hermanos.

Cuando ya tenía que trabajar durante el verano, mi tío Andrew vivía en Río Cuarto. Venía a la capital de vez en cuando, y me colaba en su auto un viernes a la noche para ir a su casa. Volvía a Buenos Aires en el Chevalier del domingo a la noche para llegar directo a la oficina el lunes a la mañana. Me encantaban esos viajes a Río Cuarto y esos fines de semana con su familia.

El club tenía un barco, el Náutico. Una vez por mes me anotaba para ir a Colonia por el fin de semana. Era una linda forma de navegar, y de salir un poco de la ciudad. En el medio del río, donde apenas se ven las dos riberas cuando hay buena visibilidad, uno está bien tranquilo, sin interferencias.

Después viajé más en serio. Me uní a un barco misionero, el Logos, que hizo una gira por toda América Latina. Hice de intérprete y traductora en todos los países de habla hispana que tienen costa marítima menos Colombia y México en esa gira. Lamentablemente, naufragamos en el Canal de Beagle el 5 de enero de 1988. Era la secretaria del sobrecargo (el que se ocupa de la documentación del barco), y esa madrugada estuve ocupada con la gente de migraciones, pasaporte por pasaporte, pasando revista de los sobrevivientes. Habíamos sobrevivido todos. Ver a cada uno pasar a dar el presente fue conmovedor.

De ahí fuimos a Punta Arenas, donde tramité las visas de los pasajeros y tripulantes para ir a Buenos Aires por unas semanas. Llegar a casa y ver a mi familia fue un alivio enorme…

Pero mientras estaba trabajando en la oficina de Operación Movilización, la organización de la cual era parte el barco, llegó un fax preguntando si estaba interesada en ir a Atlanta, en Estados Unidos, para ayudar con los preparativos para el reemplazo del barco. Dije que sí. A hacer las valijas otra vez. Estuve ahí un año y medio, hasta agosto del 1989.

Para entonces, Luis Palau, en Oregón, necesitaba una secretaria bilingüe. Hacía rato que estaban buscando a alguien, pero dieron con mi pista cuando estaba en Atlanta, y me invitaron a Oregón cuando terminamos con el reemplazo del Logos y se había lanzado el Logos II. Me mudé a Oregón, porque la idea realmente me resultó interesante.

Una vez en Oregón, lo conocí a mi marido, David Eby, que había enviudado hacía unos meses y tenía una hija de seis años. Nos casamos el 28 de julio de 1990. Hemos tenido un matrimonio excelente, y por suerte le gusta viajar. A nuestros hijos también. Hemos ido a la Argentina, por supuesto, pero también a Europa y a casi todos los estados de los Estados Unidos. Para nosotros, tomar un avión y visitar un lugar nuevo sigue siendo una aventura interesante, que nos da placer. La hormiga viajera se casó con otro viajero, y seguimos viajando, porque al viajar se aprende. De eso no nos cansamos.

Ahora, con mi trabajo de traducción, nos encanta buscar excusas para combinar trabajo y placer. Uno nunca sabe qué oportunidades se pueden presentar en los lugares donde uno va…

Nuestros hijos viven cada uno por su lado, en lugares más o menos distantes. Han seguido mis pasos de hormiguita viajera. Les gusta viajar, y tienen sus propias vidas bien organizadas. ¡Ahora tendremos más excusas para viajar, de eso no hay duda! De tal palo, tal astilla.

Life happens

I haven’t blogged on my personal site for two years! Amazing… A lot has been going on.

Cynthia graduated, interned with me, and got married on December 17, 2016! I am so proud of my daughter and Nathanael, my son-in-law!

Daniel is engaged and will be getting married in August of 2017! I am totally proud of him and Brenda, his fiancée.

David’s mom, Hazel, took a turn for the worse with her health in January of 2016. She has been in skilled nursing since then, and that has taken a lot of our attention. I have been visiting her twice a week (3 hour round trip drive) Tuesdays and Sundays plus other visits as needed at times. Today we finally cleared out the garage from the things we brought here for temporary storage, and I will be able to park my car in the garage again.

Professionally, I’ve been juggling life and work as best I can. I have been fortunate in that I have amazing colleagues who supported me and have been able to help during times when I needed it.

In other words, it has been a couple of years of… not routine life. I have learned a lot about the value of life, the value of people, and what is truly inside us, what makes us human. Walking with my daughter as she starts her journey of starting a family, and with my mother-in-law as she goes through her journey has been a time of great personal growth. Walking through these changes with David, my husband, has brought us closer together.

It’s been a very special two years. We are not done learning and growing. And through this time of growth and challenges, I am still contributing to my colleagues and my profession, which is a true privilege. I am thankful.

El Barco – Boats have character

This was written by the boat I sailed across the Río de la Plata many times from 1982 to 1988. It has written its own story of its last sail in the Southern Atlantic Ocean. Of course, since it is an Argentine boat, the story is in Spanish…

Enjoy its last log entries. My commentary is in italics. 

On September 30, the news reported that Nautico, rebaptized Sanmartiniana, had been lost at sea. This post from an old captain was found on Facebook:

REQUIEM PARA UN AMIGO.

Sostengo la vieja teoría que los veleros tienen alma. No se explicaría de otra manera cómo se comportan en buenos y malos tiempos, en bonanzas y peligros, en calmas y tempestades. Y que tengan carácter. Que sean buenos, perdonadores, vengativos, arteros o agradecidos. Es algo que se siente cuando permiten circunstancialmente que algún humano los dirija. Recuerdan al caballo, que ayuda a su jinete en sus correrías o le hace la vida difícil, se torna esquivo y empecinado.

Cuando las circunstancias de la vida, la buena vida, lo ha llevado a uno a tener la dicha de capitanear uno de esos ejemplares nobles por muchas millas en los mares del mundo, digamos unas 26.000, se crea una simbiosis, un lazo casi de parentesco y cada uno, barco y capitán, se llegan a conocer a fondo, sus valores, sus falencias, sus manías sus bondades. No se critican pero se perdonan, porque es humano cometer errores y es de veleros resolvérselos. A mí me ayudó a cruzar cuatro veces el Atlántco, a entrar enbCadiz, Nueva York, Bermudas, Azores, Canarias y toda la costa del Brasil. Me permitió doblar el Hornos, arribar a Ushuaia, Punta Arenas, a recorrer el estrecho Magallanes y el Mar Argentino. Tuvo la humorada de hacerme perseguir durante tres días y dos noches por la fragata inglesa Penélope por cruzar inocentemente el famoso círculo de exclusión, cuando éste aún regía. 

Si se ido a pique, hoy estoy de duelo. He perdido un amigo. Quizá esté por ahí flotando en una nube de esas tormentosas de nuestros duros climas sureños. Quizá su esqueleto material se esté quebrando en las rocas. Quizá, anegado, esté descendiendo en zigzag hacia un frío fondo, para acostarse allí a descansar. Lenta y mansamente. Y, analizando el mapa publicado por LA NACIÓN, qué curioso: puede estar buscando un lugarcito al lado del Crucero General Belgrano.

Adiós, pues, noble compañero de todas esas navegadas en que, con orgullo, me permitiste y ayudaste a estampar en el rol al llegar: sin novedad.

Hormiga Negra

Today, October 11, I received this message from the boat. Appearances had been somewhat deceiving. 

La gran ironía.

Yo, el Barco, he navegado muchas decenas de miles de millas. 

Un día aparecieron a bordo unos principiantes, ineptos a mas no poder, que pretendieron timonearme, y no solamente ello, si no que se creyeron capaces de ir a los mares donde yo había navegado con los que realmente saben. Además se creyeron que yo era un barco de propaganda, cosa que realmente lleno el vaso y me harte. 

Empecé a pensar cómo me los sacaría de encima y se me ocurrió una idea brillante. “Voy a darles un gran susto del que no se van a olvidar mientras vivan.” 

Los dejé que arrumbaran al Sur, donde el agua es fría , muy fría y donde el dueño de la cosa es el viento, que a veces sale a estirar las piernas y se pone como loco y sopla, sopla y sopla. Pensaron que la Isla de los Estados era una islita tibia del Caribe y allí me llevaron y los dejé ir. Entonces apareció mi amigo el viento y sopló, y de paso les dijo a mis amigas las olas que saltaran un poco y así se armó un quilombo de aquellos. 

Empezaron a asustarse , a tener frio, a vomitar, todas cosas que les pasa a los aprendices, y sin saber qué hacer pidieron socorro. Este les llegó un tiempo después, pero por suerte para ese momento estaban hechos pelota y se fueron y me dejaron solo. 

Me dije, “por fin me liberé de los indeseables”, y como soy amigo del viento y de las olas decidí seguir flotando hasta que salió el sol. Ahí se me ocurrió otra idea para completar la maldad , si así la quieren llamar. Puse rumbo a Malvinas. Unos kelpers, seres odiados por los tipos de los que me acababa de sacar de encima, me llevaron a Puerto Argentino para que me limpiara y quedara presentable.

Estoy contentísimo, modestamente reconozco que la idea fue genial, me los saqué de encima a los inútiles, a raíz de ello he salido en los diarios y TV varias veces y los jodí yendo a Malvinas a donde ellos jamás podrán llegar. Realmente una Gran Ironía.

Un gran abrazo a todos aquellos que me han acompañado en muchas singladuras.

Yo, el Barco  

It then wrote to its  old captain. 
CARTA DEL NÁUTICO.
Anoche recibí una carta del Náutico, vía telepática, claro. Como todas las mañanas cuando navegaba con él, comenzó con un optimista “Buen día, Capitán” y de ahí en adelante, en simpática coincidencia, programábamos las millas que íbamos a gozar. 

Hoy también comenzó con su habitual “Buen día Capitán. Le escribo desde Malvinas, amarradito y con buenas defensas al muelle de Puerto Argentino, adonde ni usted ni yo habíamos podido llegar antes. No ha sido por venganza, aunque quizá sí para escarmiento de los que me maltrataron, menospreciando mi capacidad de maniobrar a vela sola, como alguna vez hicimos usted y yo, lanzando un injustificado mayday, porque demostré que nadie corría peligro a mi bordo, y siendo abandonado por la tripulación, dejándome prisionero con un cable triste. Me salvé solo y no fue adrede mi rumbo en libertad. Me llevó el viento, el mar y nuestros dioses. Y al fin me pescaron, esos especialistas en pescar pesqueros y me llevaron, medio preso quizá, a su puerto, donde ahora soy un objeto jurídico. Pueden reclamar mi devolución, pagando el precio, pero para eso hay que reconocer que el juez que lo acepte tenga jurisdicción en donde aparecí y que ese lugar del mar pertenezca a la sede del juez. ¿Qué lío no? ¿Será este uno de los líos que recomienda Francisco? Modestamente, no valgo tanto como una renuncia a la soberanía. Déjenme, no más aquí, donde otra vez me cambiarán el nombre y aun la bandera, para inquietud de los que creen que eso trae mala suerte y quizá un gozo a quienes repudian a esta gente. Buenas noches, Capitán.”

Hormiga Negra

All these log entries were found on Facebook. 

My first vacation on my own

I will never forget that summer! I had always gone to my Grandmother’s summer house in Villa del Dique, Córdoba, with my family. However, this summer I was just going with a friend. Nobody else in the family was available, and Patsy and I were going. I was going to have a good time relaxing for a couple of weeks, and also getting the house ready to go on the rental market for the summer.

Patsy and I got on the Colta (it´s like Greyhound) in Buenos Aires, and 10 hours later we got off in Villa del Dique. We took a taxi to my grandmother´s house, about 10 blocks up the hill in dirt roads, and waved the driver away. Then we went to put the key in the lock. Though I had sent a telegram to the caretaker to be ready for my arrival, the lock was in place and we couldn´t get in with my key. So, I unlocked the garage, put our gear there, and tried to figure out what to do. We tried the other doors, and they didn´t work. I only had the key to the one door.

I remembered that the bedroom window that was just above the garage never latched perfectly, though it looked closed. So, I tried to walk over along the ledge to get there. In my skirt, on a 2 inch ledge, hanging on to brick, Patsy got a little nervous. So, I went to the neighbor´s home and got a ladder from him. Then I opened the window, walked around, and opened the front door to get our stuff in.

The caretaker was doing yardwork way on the other end of town, and was totally shocked when we showed up and told him what was going on.

Well, we only had two weeks to spend in Córdoba, so we figured we´d go ahead and get started. We had to stock up on groceries and other supplies. We walked downhill to the stores, and figured we´d bring our supplies up on foot. That worked great… until it started to rain very hard. The rain was so loud that when we stopped at a friend´s house for refuge because we were soaked, about halfway up, they didn´t hear us knock on the door. I had to bang on it with the broom we had bought, and time my bangs between thunder claps.

I remember Patsy couldn´t believe this. First I broke into my own house, then I was banging on a friend´s door in a crazy way, etc. Our friends the Peronas (they had known my grandma for at least 50 years) opened the door and were really happy to see me. They let us in, and didn´t mind my methods at all. They gave us a ride up the hill when the rain stopped.

We relaxed for a couple of days, walking to the beach at the lake a couple of miles away in the morning, then coming back, and got in touch with the realtor, etc. It was fun and relaxing.

One morning we woke up and the kitchen was full of bees. Well, cooking in their company simply wasn´t going to work. They were flying in to the kitchen from the water tank, which was above the kitchen and had a place for a person to climb in from the kitchen. They were going from that opening right out to the window. Well, since the windows had mosquito netting on them, they got stopped there. We opened the windows, trapped them there by closing the windows, sprayed them with RAID from the outside, then did the next batch. That worked, so we had breakfast after that and called a guy to take care of the nest. Then we went to the beach.

When we got back, a bunch of wasps had set up camp by the front door! Right on the wall, to the left of the front door, there was a bunch of wasps that made a circle about 3 feet in diameter (well, it might have been only two feet, but would you want to put a measuring stick on it?). The guy who took care of the bees nest in the water tank said the wasps were looking for a home. Fortunately, by the next day they had found another home.

We also had fun riding horseback around the area, and made friends with another college girl who was staying down the street from us and didn´t know the area. It was neat to go around the Cerro de la Cruz together on horseback. We had to convince the horses that we wanted to go there (it was not the route everybody took for their half hour rides), but it worked well.

Then we went to Cumbrecita, but on the way there we stopped at Hilde’s place in Athos Pampa. We told the bus driver to give us a second to check and see if there was anybody home, and when we got an answer we stayed in Athos Pampa. Since there were no phones and we didn’t know their address we had no way of sending them advance notice, but they were very glad to see us. We ended up staying several days because the weather turned on us, and you just can´t get out of that area when the roads are wet. They were about 20 km down a mountain dirt road. I rembember Hilde telling me that she would like me to spend a summer with her, so she could teach me how to cook and learn some things that my family would not be able to teach me. She had been a very good friend of my grandmother’s, and I considered that invitation an honor. She said that German families had a tradition of trading daughters over a summer so the girls would learn things that were different in another home.

That was my last summer at a very special place, my refuge from the busyness of the city of Buenos Aires. The next year I joined a missionary ship, the Logos, and when I went back to Argentina I wasn´t able to spend any more summers there. After my time on the Logos I was only home for a couple of months after the shipwreck, and then moved to the US. During those two months my priority was spending time with family and unwinding after a very stressful time, as well as finding direction for the future.

However, I will never forget those adventures (and there were a few more). Patsy and I went through them together, and it was a great experience to see that God could help me with all those very strange types of problems that I had never anticipated solving. I remember crying on the bus as we left Villa del Dique, with the feeling that I would never be back.

I think if I ever wrote this up for a magazine they would think I made it up, but those of you reading this are all my friends and mostly know me, so you will know that it’s true. What a summer! I was about 25 at the time, and grew so much that year!

Questions for dating – 26 years later. They worked!

David and I celebrated our 25th anniversary on July 28th.

I posted this on Facebook back in 2010, but I’m going to just republish it here. It shaped our dating, and it really helped me and has helped young people as they get going in their dating relationships.

David is awesome! He passed this test, and we have had 25 great years! Sure, there have been a few days when… well… but overall, this has been a great 25 years. These questions were a great place to start!

These are questions I asked myself a little over 20 years ago. They are still good! I am willing to answer questions, etc., about these…

1.       Is he a committed Christian, specifically committed to obeying God’s direction in Scripture whatever the cost?

2.       Does he look for God’s solution in a problem?

3.       Would we be keeping each other from what God has called us to as individuals? Do we support each other in this area?

4.       Is he respected and appreciated by other Christians?

5.       Is he pushy or patient?

6.       Do we get along with each other’s families?

7.       Is this relationship bringing us closer to God?

8.       Do I  consider him capable of being my spiritual leader?

9.       Can we relate to each other in public or are we ashamed of being seen together?

10.   When we do something inappropriate, how do we handle it?

11.   Do I trust him with myself, or do I feel like I have to be setting the limits all the time and protecting myself from him?

12.   Can we share our concerns with each other freely, or do we have to “perform”?

13.   What is his view of missions? Does he have an interest in supporting missions if he is not doing so already? Has he ever been on a missions trip?

14.   Does he speak any Spanish? If not, how does he feel about my doing so with my family and other Hispanics?

15.   Would I be willing to commit myself to him and trust him for final decisions even on my own schedule and lifestyle?

16.   Do we encourage one another to love and good works?

17.   Do we include others in our friendship?

18.   Does this relationship keep us away from old friends?

19.   What common interests do we share?

20.   Am I a good helpmate for him? In what areas?

21.   Are we intellectually on a par?

22.   How does he mix with people from a different social or cultural group?

Back in late 1989, early 1990, I was thinking I’d have to find some guidelines for dating. I didn’t have any family locally, and was working as Jim Williams’ secretary at the Luis Palau office. Jim answered counseling letters from all over Latin America and had developed some well documented standard answers. Some of those answers were foundational for these questions. I also checked other books on dating, and considered the experiences of others who I had observed, either as dating or married couples. I was 29 years old, and had seen a lot by this point in time.

Now that I’m 49, I still feel that these are good questions. The questions about Spanish and missions are obviously specific to things that were very important to me, and others may have to modify those depending on what is really important to them. At that point I had been working full time for Christian or missionary organizations for the last 7 years, and would not do well with someone who did not respect this area. I had seen the problems friends of mine had because of this.

I also couldn’t bring myself to accept someone who would take away my way of relating to my family – speaking in Spanish. That simply wasn’t going to fly. So, if he was upset by seeing Hispanics talk to each other at the grocery store and fantasizing that they were criticizing him every time he heard a foreign language, this was a big red flag. I had American friends who had this attitude, and simply couldn’t understand their response when I said “well, they are never speaking about me when I overhear them, so I can’t see why they would be speaking of you. What makes you so special?” They were still sure they were the subject of these foreign language conversations.

Question 11, regarding boundaries, was the result of a previous date wanting to see how far he could get on a regular basis. I found this put me on edge, and I needed someone I could trust. Besides, if he was that way with me, could I trust him when he was on business trips, etc.?

Question 21, regarding being on a par, was based on observing a couple where the wife was a doctor and the husband had just a high school education. My observation was that she was constantly having to explain her thoughts to him, not just regarding her field of work, medicine, but on just about everything. I didn’t want to spend my life that way. I needed someone who would not need explanations for everything I said.

Friends are important. They can enrich yourlife in many ways. They can also give you an outside perspective on the relationship. You need to be open to friends saying “you really don’t work well together. I’ve observed that this guy isn’t right for you.” And I’ve also noticed people who cut themselves off from their friends while they were dating, and later had a really hard time reconnecting with those old friends. This was a really important question to me.

Question 6, regarding families, seems a bit out of place in the US, where everything is about the individual. However, we each come from a family, and when we get married, we end up inserting ourselves in a new family. There are lots of problems with people who can’t do that.

Question 10 is a when, not an if, because we generally end up slipping a little bit. Our anger or our hormones or our emotions take over at times. Does the other partner say “Hey! Watch out!”, or does he/she participate in the impending situation willingly? Do we repent together, and help each other avoid this in the future? Being faulty humans, we need to learn how to support each other in our faults.

Cynthia, the graduate!

Cynthia has graduated!

She finished her studies at Seattle Pacific University as a University Scholar. She graduated with a major in Linguistics and a minor in Spanish.

Everyone is asking what she is doing next…

The obvious! Helping grow the family business, of course! Gaucha Translations, aka Gaucha TI needs and administrative assistant, and she is a perfect fit. Look at her credentials!

  • She has been interning for Gaucha over the last few summers, helping with small jobs every year since the business started.
  • She has been studying Spanish, so she can answer the phone for some of the clients and get the conversation started.
  • She has excellent writing skills.
  • She has no problem saying, “Hey, I’ll start picking up the phone. You are getting too distracted by phone calls right now.”
  • She can do a lot of background work that is very important, and likes it.
  • This allows me to use my time efficiently enough to spend some of my time teaching her Spanish, so she can improve it even more!

So Cynthia is now my intern/business partner. She is an excellent teammate, and knows how to see what needs to be done and help out. Her training will be very valuable! What next? We’ll tell you later… but she will surely grow professionally!

Some of my colleagues are jealous…

My US Heritage: Celebrating July 4, 2015

On Sunday, as I was in church, we sang God Bless America. I was thinking of my ancestors, who risked their lives in the founding of the United States. We don’t often talk about them!

Today I did a little research about them…

James Slack helped George Washington cross the Delaware and win the Battle of Trenton on Christmas Eve of 1776. He was the operator of the Johnson Ferry House, and this is memorialized at Washington Crossing, in Pennsylvania. I grew up knowing that he was important… We visited Washington Crossing a lot when I lived in Newtown, Pennsylvania, the first 8  years of my life! I was born in Doylestown, and Newtown was home until my mom took us to Argentina in June of 1969. Then we started the Argentine chapter of my life, a wonderful chapter!

But now I know why we played “Washington crossing” in our leaky boat in the creek every summer… Every time friends came over in the summer, we would drag our boat, full of leaks, into the creek, and pretend we were crossing the Delaware with Washington. Of course, it reliably sank in the middle of the creek and we got soaked, which was great on a hot summer day! In the early 1960’s, it was better than the air conditioning we didn’t have! The creek was shallow, and there was no danger of drowning.

It all makes sense now…

James Wilson, a relative of my grandmother, Helen Kerr Wilson, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. We didn’t talk so much about him, but my mother mentioned him a few years ago when we visited Philadelphia and told her that we saw the Declaration of Independence.

“Did you see your ancestor’s signature?”, asked my mom.

“What? I didn’t know about this…”

I didn’t think much about it. But today, I decided to research it a bit.

James Wilson was one of the members of the Pennsylvania delegation. He was born in Scotland, where he went to college, and emigrated to America in 1766, where he taught at the Philadelphia College.

In 1774, he attended a provincial meeting as a representative of Carlisle, where he had a farm, and wrote a pamphlet titled “Considerations on the Nature and Extent of the Legislative Authority of the British Parliament.” In it, he argued that the Parliament had no authority to pass laws for the colonies. It was published, and later found its way to the Continental Congress, where it was widely read and commented on.

He strongly argued for Independence, but he respected the will of those he represented, and took time to consult with them before voting against their beliefs.

He served as a leader in the Democrat-republican party, was elected to Congress, was appointed to the Constitutional Convention, and was appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in 1789.

You can read about the lives of the signers of the Declaration of Independence on this page.

The Pennsylvania Signers had an amazing mix of talents. Some were born in the United States,others were natives of Great Britain. Some had started off as Tories, others had not. They all were men who took a stand for what they believed: that they colonies had a right to make their own decisions. I would expect them to have had lively arguments at the Congress! They came together.

I am proud that one of my ancestors is among them. It is an honor to know that my family contributed to founding the United States of America in such a direct way.

More about my Argentine heritage another day… probably celebrating the Argentine declaration of Independence on July 9!

Christmas at the Ebys!

It is December 22! This year, it took the season a while to hit full swing. It got here today! Cynthia got back from her 5 month study-abroad in Spain a couple of days ago, and she is finally decorating the Christmas tree. That is the official start of the Christmas season at our home!

I, Helen, am writing the letter. Being a mom is an interesting role: I am the “keel” (the one that keeps the boat level). That can be a challenge when the seas are stormy! I also have a business to run, which is becoming more important this year, both because of David’s work situation and because of the need to have trained and certified medical interpreters in Oregon. My business has gotten busy in unpredicted ways: I taught five 64-hour sessions of my Medical Interpreting training class this year. This was the first year I did that, and it is becoming a well-respected program. David’s been helping me out a bit as we think of how to balance a lot of this.

David had been doing a great job with Tek until around the end of October. Then I got home from teaching one day, around noon, and he was home. He had been laid off. That was a shock! He’s going through the process of deciding whether he’s retired, he’s a consultant, or he’s my support staff. We’ll see what happens. At this point, we are making no sudden moves. All three options have good possible outcomes. Oh, that’s how come he’s been able to help me think about things! He’s been going to my classes, conferences, etc. with me the last month and a half. It’s been great to have his company and insight!

Daniel visited for Thanksgiving (well, the week before, really) and was able to be here for a get-together with David’s co-workers. It was great to see how much this young man has grown-up! He is doing a good job as an engineer, of course, but he is also working on being a responsible leader, being compassionate as he deals with the people he works with, balancing leadership and influence in his church organist and choir director position.

Daniel is a grown-up young man! He is living in New York, and is balancing the responsibilities of keeping his own home going (he’s a single young man, so that means groceries, cleaning, etc.), work, and church, etc. Drop him a line, and send him a card! He probably hasn’t gotten into the routine of sending out cards, but he would probably like to get a card or two…

Hazel, David’s mom, had some hospital adventures last year, but this was a year of recovery and healing. She’s doing well. She’s 91, and she’s getting along with a walker. We visit with her just about every other week, and most often those visits involve going to church. We don’t have any health problems to report for her! She enjoys getting out to church, spending time with David and me on a regular basis, talking about the kids, visiting with our kids when they visit, and just staying in touch with folks. Just email her any time at haeby@heleneby.com. I switched her email to my domain because it keeps things simpler. She does check her emails! Oh, and she loves cards too… Last year she missed the Christmas card routine because she was in the hospital recovering from her knee surgery at the time. She’s making up for that this year, but she’d love a card from those who know her!

Cynthia! She’s back from five months in Spain! FaceTime hugs have been replaced by the real thing. It’s so nice to have her downstairs, setting up the Christmas tree, just like old times. It’s her senior year at Seattle Pacific University. She makes lots of decisions this year. And it’s been a tough 2014. Uh… can we say rough? Let’s see… A couple of weeks before the end of the semester, a classmate she was doing a project with was shot (he survived) on the SPU campus.

Anyway, Cynthia had planned to go to Spain to study-abroad, so she did. Our job was to get her ready to go regardless of how she had been impacted by this. And we did. It was work! And she went. She spent 5 months there. She grew, and she called by FaceTime very often. Well, I’d say almost every day! As I told her occasionally, “Back in the old days, when I was in my 20s, back in the dark ages, when my hair was dark and the internet didn’t exist, and I was on a ship, it took about 3 months for my mom’s letters to get to me when I was on the Logos! You have it good!” She spent one month in Salamanca, and after that she spent the rest of the time in Seville. We have some good friends in Seville, and she was able to spend her 21st birthday and Thanksgiving with them. Oh, and she wrapped up her time in Spain by singing the Messiah with a 400-voice choir, professional orchestra, and taking a flight home the next day! Way to go for a kid who grew up singing the Messiah and playing the viola part in our living room!

This is a review of the concert (in Spanish)
This is an on-line ad for the concert (also in Spanish)

Cynthia graduates from Seattle Pacific in May, as a Linguistics Major, Spanish Minor. We’ll see what she does with that. Let’s just say that her Spanish is “purty good” right now… and I won’t let her lose that!

Liz is in transition too. She has moved to Maryland, and she’s starting a new stage of life. As far as I know, things are going quite well over there!

Signing off for 2014, and hoping you can stay in touch. I hope I didn’t bore you too much!

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

David and Helen Eby

Overcoming obstacles as a family

Cynthia is Spain now, at her Study Abroad. She is spending August in Salamanca and the Fall semester in Seville. It will be a great adventure. She just got there, and it was really good to hear that she is communicating with people well, able to find places to relax, and able to establish her own boundaries.

After the shooting at Seattle Pacific, our goal was to help Cynthia be ready for the next exciting steps in her life, and she is doing great now! We enjoyed going to the coast and visiting tide pools, hiking some trails, and just spending time as a family. Daniel came home from Binghamton, NY, and visited for a week. We talked, hiked, and just had fun with music and with each other.

Now Cynthia is keeping a blog about her study abroad, Cintia estudia en España.

David’s mom is 91, and she is also doing exciting things!  Hazel can walk again! On Tuesday, July 29, the Physical Therapist said she is well enough to walk again, with a walker, anywhere she wants to! Let’s see… She broke her knee on October 25, 2013, so that would be… 9 months! You can see the rest of this story at Hazel’s blog.

After the surgery, Hazel could walk, but she had to have someone with her all the time in case she needed any kind of support. When she was by herself, she was limited to a wheelchair. However, she was working hard to get better. She had someone walk with her part way to the dining hall every day, went for walks with us in the Mennonite Village, starting one day when we decided to go look at the roses, and was doing her physical therapy exercises in her room. She was certainly working hard, and when we saw progress, she was encouraged to keep working at it.

Daniel’s comment: “Grandma is my hero! She worked really hard for this! I saw her take some of those steps, Mom, and she worked harder than I’ve ever done!” Cynthia was on her way to Spain for a semester abroad when we heard this, and she was thrilled!

More cool stuff to come this summer!