Volunteering and traveling in Argentina to proclaim God's great love, and hopefully not getting sick along the way.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Day 7 and 8 - Laguna Esmerelda y LOS PINGÜINOS

I made a little solo trek to a beautiful, greenish laguna outside of the city. First you take a bus and then the hike is about an hour and a half, although I was able to do it a little bit faster. Part of the trip is in the forest, and another part is over peat moss which is oddly mushy and fun. I only slipped a little bit into the mud along the way. haha.

Made friends with two older women from Bs. As. on the trip too, but kind of made my own way as they needed to stop and rest a lot. Good conversation though.

Ultimately, I wanted to hike up to the glacier close by, but I didn´t make it in time. So I just sat by the water and began (later finished that same day) The Alchemist. Fantastic little read I must say. Hence finishing it so soon.

Came home and did some laundry. Ate pizza. Chill.

Today was Penguin Day!! I can´t begin to describe the excitement that I had, am having, etc. It was great leading up to the moment, an amazing time on the island, and I already can´t wait to go again! Of course, I won´t, I´ll have to cherish this time I´ve had. But it will last. Because not only did we (Carlito the penguin and I, wink wink) see the typical Magellan penguins that are crazy adorable, but we saw some Papua penguins, and get this.. a King Penguin! You know the last one is a big deal when even the guide says, "I have no idea what that King Penguin is doing here." haha

Once again, blessed by the experiences the Lord has allowed me to have. I can´t describe it as well as I can show it to you once I´m home and can upload the pictures. In other news, I´m excited by the potential to eat king crab tonight, si Dios quiere... Chau!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Day 5 and 6 - Rest and 4x4s

Rest. Relaxation. Almost finishing a book. Buying myself a buzo.. or sweatshirt that is quite beautiful if I do say so myself.. But mainly we just stayed indoors on day 5 which was perfect for recovering from the bike riding. Plus it rained, so it was like Jesus knew we didn´t need to go outside or something. At least I like to think so :)

But day 6, now that´s a different story. Short, for now, as I have some other things to take care of online here, so I´ll say this: 4x4s are intense. As are beaver dams and giant lakes where we canoe a little. And finally asado. Yummmmmmm!!!


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Day 4 - Parque Nacional

The bike rental place is close. Just a couple turns around the block and bam. We met up with our new Córdoban friend, Vane around 11am and made our way. It´s twelve kilometers to the park, and then several more throughout. My main issue was getting used to the gears. Rosita, as we know, is just a plain, yet beautiful, gear-free bike.

Both Vane and I struggled really, while A.D.D. Cleto made circles around us.

Our first mistake upon entering the park was taking a nice downhill trek to a beautiful bay. While the view was worth it, the return trip was not--ha! But I have two feet, so at least I could drag the bike with me back to the main entrance. And like I mentioned, I wasn´t alone.

I told Cletis, as he was very interested in watching the Real Madrid - Barcelona game to go on without us. It allowed us girls to go más traquila. Mejor...

And we did enjoy it all. Both of us adjusted well to the gears in time, and we saw a little of everything. Perhaps the most intriguing, aside from the view of the mountains, the Castorera, or Beaver Dam. Very impressive! Or maybe my ability to draw the zorros (foxes) to me. I almost ran into one when I came off a bridge. He stared me down, and then continued on his way. Well then...

We went to the end of Ruta 3, and snapped the cliché photo from there. Took the trail to Lake.. um.. Animkasdghje7asgdh. Yeah, I don´t remember what it was called, but more interesting was introducing Vane to jumping pictures. She absolutely loved them! And wanted to take as many as possible. It cracked me up! We also took a few together which was sweet. We had one where we were sitting near the water and it splashed all over us! Justo! And hilarious. For the Spanish speakers, take note of the alliteration right there :P

From the lake, it was time to turn back. We timed the return trip, especially as we were about as far as you could be from our destination point. I proudly tell you that we made it back in 1 hour and 55 minutes!! Not without a lot of pain, but definitely worth it! Mainly it´s my backside that is killing me, because that bike seat was NOT comfortable.

Shower.. new roommate in the hostel from Germany.. a little internet time.. and Chau!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Day 2 and 3 - Boat and Long Beach

I have less than ten minutes to account for everything in these past two days?? Impossible. So here come the cliff notes.

Yesterday afternoon, Cletis and I joined three others on a 4 hour boat ride in Beagle Channel in order to see sea lions, lots of birds, and a lighthouse way WAYYYY out there. Hence the four hours. The boat shook like crazy, but it was sort of like riding a rollercoaster, so I enjoyed it. The wind, la causa de las ollas, kicked my butt on a short walk in one of the preserved islands where the natives used to live and hunt the sea lions.

We came back exhausted, but I still spent time with my Brazilian friend who taught me a new version of Truco. Then I rented The Spirit to which I ended the night.

This morning, I had no ganas to leave my bed. But when I finally rose, I took a bus with a friend and we enjoyed a nice hike through Playa Larga. There was semi-mountain climbing involved, so it was pretty sweet. We saw more cool birds, but the best sighting was a Zorro!! That is, a fox. I felt so proud for catching sight of it, and even happier when we were able to get real close to it for some photo op! Thanks God!

Took the bus back, but not without running into a fellow Cordoban! We exchanged numbers, and she might be joining us tomorrow for the bike ride to the National Park!

Please pray for safety on this trip, and no rain! I´m excited for the many adventures to come!

Phew.. three minutes left.. what to do... chau!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Day one - Glacier Martial

It´s an adventure.. Cletis is sick, so I just make my way alone. The alarm sounds at 9 but I remember it´s a vacation, and stay laying down just a little longer. The hostel provides a breakfast, so I grab some toast and an orange. I thought they had boiled eggs as well, but they were raw. Guess how I figured that one out..

Chairlift view
More importantly, I met two others wanting to trek the Glacier this morning so I saved 20 pesos taking the taxi. We ride to the top in a chairlift and find out it´s about an hour trek to touch ice. It´s no question to me, I´m making my way up despite the difficult breathing and the inability to feel my backside once we reach the top. Only Carlos made it with me; Georgiana had to quit at the halfway mark. I slid down the ice a couple times. Video proof to come. Just a little cold, and I thank God I remembered to pack my gloves.

Take the chairlift back down, but I decided to hike all the way back home. I´m told it´s about 6 kilometers, but hey, downhill is easy as pie. Speaking of pie, I rewarded myself with a slice of carrot cake as my lunch. Again, I´m on vacation. ha!

Quite the hike!
Finding the hostel wasn´t as difficult as I thought it would be once I reached the city, but I will say the hike down was a little confusing. I found myself backtracking a few times, but not without cool rewards such as some exotic fauna and birds. Even came to a fork in the road where a woman came out of her home to tell me that I was walking the wrong direction. Again, thanks God!

Came home to see the last goal of Messi´s hat trick. If the day ended here, you could call it a good day. I mean, meeting a Brazilian, Venezuelan and now sitting next to me is someone from Israel, how could one not want to consider staying in hostels more often? Fun conversations to commence!

Here´s just praying that the rest of the vacation is as exciting, and that Cletis feels better later. Chau!

Friday, January 20, 2012

I've lost count

I don't remember how many times I've been to Bs. As. by this point. That's a really strange thought. Nonetheless, while I saw a lot of the same things, I was able to see them in a different light. Specifically, at night time.

I plan on uploading the pics when I get home, but for now the list:

  • Puerto Madero
  • Casa Rosada
  • Obelisk
  • Recoleta
  • Shiny metal flower (not sure of the precise title)
  • San Telmo
They are the classics (minus La Boca), and mainly because I don't know much else to this place. While I would love to see a show, for instance, I have never planned in advance enough for that sort of thing. Makes me regret not going to see Jack Johnson with the girls last time I was here. Rats!

You can add that we ate at Fridays in Puerto Madero; that a woman coughed smoke on us while asking for money; that I have now tried the Dulce de Leche Frappaccino from Starbucks; and zzzzzzfffffffffONE. Inside jokes. I'm afraid they've only just begun.

I can't wait for cold weather. Just a few more hours... Chau!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Los jovenes

Every night was a surprise.

We started at Mauro's home until about 6 in the morning one of the first evenings. The events ranged from  eating, Truco, Playstation, music, chatting, etc.

There was a night of Mexican food, where I got to teach some how to make tortillas from scratch, as well as how to appropriately fold the burrito.

Another night we grabbed late night Grido (which was also the night I said hello to our artesan friends who gave me my first "trenza").

On a more serious note, they had asked me to prepare a couple meetings on group dynamics and leadership. We acted out various group roles with a certain task to complete. Eze the Charlatan was the most interesting (read, "hilarious"), and I believe it helped everyone start thinking about what people are like, why they are that way, and how to respond. The chat about leadership focused on the example of Moses, who seemed to be training up Joshua to follow in his footsteps. We too, need to think about those who follow us, how to encourage them in their journey toward leadership.

In general, the young adults wanted to help with the other ministries. Less events planned for them (did I mention that there was a Bible reading one night?), and more serving the others. Pretty neat to see their willingness to volunteer.

Back to playtime, we played more cards (including Uno); with a few I got to play paddle ball for the first time which was a lot of fun; more asado; more Fernet; driving around the city center during the wee hours of the night.

Laughing. Sharing stories about the accidents we've been in. Sharing lives in general. If I could survive on less than 3 hours a night, I think it would be worth it with the young adults in Saenz Peña. Chau!

Youthseses (not a word)

Teenagers... my favorite group of people. The plan for these guys was to get them playing. Play hard, then end strong with a meeting that got a lot deeper.

Day 1: Rain. One teen comes and isn't able to stay the whole time. The rest of us played volleyball until we got tired. Or kicked out, since there was a prayer meeting afterward.

Day 2: Rain again, but Elber properly made the most of it as seen below:

We played in the mud! I didn't run so hard, as I've never been very confident about my knee in slippery situations. Plus, I had taken off my shoes for the sake of keeping them semi-presentable for the future.

More importantly, all the rest of the teens had a lot of fun! The shrieks of the girls, including myself, was part of the hilarity, aside from everyone falling down at least once. There were mud clots thrown. There was some sliding. There was some sneaking up behind people to cover their face in mud (thanks Eve!).

Day 3: Capture the flag! I have been a fan of capture the flag especially after college, but I have yet to find a form of playing as fun as when we played in Tech.

Chaco was no exception. We tried water balloons, but to no avail. We tried various rules, but it just got confusing. We finally had something going, and then..

..I twisted my ankle in an unforeseen hole in the ground and couldn't play anymore.


Nonetheless, I think the rest had fun. I mean, look at Eze's face in the following picture.
We finished around 8 that day, sun still shining, and invited everyone to bring a friend the following night for some tragos, or fruit shakes.

Day 4: The leaders and I met early for some discussion on the year ahead. After, they rehearsed a beautiful little skit we had taught them that incorporates the song "Agnus Dei," version by Third Day.

When the kids came, we were surprised to see so many! We played some Trainwreck, watched the skit, and then I shared the first half of my testimony. Vanina later told me that all of the kids were in awe of my story. Most people expect a missionary's life to have been easy breezy, I suppose.

We attempted to play 4 on a couch later, but it was hard with a group of 24. I still enjoyed it all the same, as well as the durazno (peach) shake. DEEEEE-licous!

As I seem to be focusing on one or two persons during each description of ministry events, I suppose I'll concentrate a little time on dear Eze of whom we've been previously introduced.

I had stayed in Eze's house last year for half of our time in Chaco. His mom is amazing, and I had lots of conversations with her. With him as well, as much as could be understood. This year, the Lord provided some pretty meaningful moments in which I learned more about his family, and his dreams of possibly serving overseas. I told him about a cool opportunity in Chile, and he is very interested.

Eze is an outstanding young man, with great great potential. I sincerely believe that he will be one of those people who changes the world.


Devotional and pool time

For the pre-teens, we had planned to meet for three days at one of the homes of a church member. She had set up two small pools for the kids to enjoy.

Too bad the first day was rainy. Nonetheless, it didn't stop us!

Cletis led the devotionals with the students, talking about the difference between what it feels like to be welcomed into a group, or to be rejected. The conversation continued all three days, as we saw between 8 and 12 kids during this time.

So here we are the first day, after devotional time, enjoying a fun little game where you try to get the ball to go under the others' legs. I had first played it with the young adults one evening in the plaza, and figured it would be fun with these guys too.

I think it's important to include a picture of 13 year old Oriel. He and I had first bonded on the bus to camp last year in Tirol. He is a feisty one, who also loves to draw. When I met up with him again this year, I asked him how the art was coming. He smiled, "I'll show you my drawings tomorrow!"

Oriel is a boy that needs love. I used the word feisty to describe him because he is quick to joke and it is often hard to get serious with him. At one point, we had a short one on one time right before the prayer meeting and I said, "Look, I'm only here for a short week and a half. If there is anything on your mind about how things are going for you, now is the time to say it. I promise confidentiality, and even more, I promise to pray for you."

He finally paused, and began to share some of his concerns in life. You could tell it was not easy for him to share. He has a hard shell for some reason, and when I discussed things with Vanina our conclusion was the same. He just really needs to be shown love. Perhaps he's lacking someone trustworthy, or someone willing to go deeper than the superficial. I do not know. But he's a great kid, and I will definitely be praying for him!


Hijos del Rey - kids camp in Chaco

First of all, a huge applause for the help of the young woman pictured on the right--Vanina. I had first been impressed with a talk she gave to the youth group in Santa Rosa about homosexuality, and then continued to be surprised by her sincerity and servant nature.

She definitely was a major asset to the team as she was always ready to help in any way she could.

The picture is a little peak at some decorating time we had on Monday to prepare for the big day.

On Tuesday, bright and early, Vanina, Cletis and I made our way to the church to meet up with what would eventually be 58 kiddos for an all day camp in the sister church of Iglesia Cristiana Evangelica 41st Street.

From there, I gave a short talk on being an adopted child of God, which was followed up later by Vanina explaining that God has a purpose for us being in his family.

In between, we had game time, pool time, soccer (duh), and much much more.

I include the picture of the boy on the right, Agustin, because I had a couple cool moments with him during and after the camp. I told him about why I am in Argentina, and why it's so great to be loved by God. He had a great smile and laugh; I hope he realizes how much he is loved.

There were two girls who came that were much older than the rest. As a result, they chose to hang out in the outskirts solo. I opted to spend some time with them and ask them about their lives. Question after question, and it was difficult to get much out of them apart from a sentence or two. Thankfully, they then started to ask me questions, curious about my life, and I was able to share a part of my testimony with them.

While I had invited them to the pre-teen event we would be having, they never came. I hope though, that God could use our time together!

It was a tiring, but extremely wonderful day. The kids all seemed to enjoy the pool more than anything, while I enjoyed the countless servings of tereré amongst the leaders. haha


Thursday, January 12, 2012

For my brother's birthday, I was not given the opportunity to give him a call over skype. Sad face.

However, the day was filled to the brim, and enjoyable, and I have been talking about him ever since I got here.

For instance, at the children's camp we had all day Tuesday, I got to share from the verse in Ephesians 1, how God chose us to be adopted as his own children. To be loved. In accordance with his good purpose.

On the day of, we went to Mauro's to eat asado, and I ate in the name of my brother ;). We played Truco, a game I know that Mark would like, for over an hour. Then we played volleyball inside the church, and every ace I served was in his honor. We had a prayer meeting where I was paired with Belen, and we both gave thanks for the hermanos that the Lord has blessed us with. And when that was over, we played Uno until the crack of dawn. Okay, that wasn't so much brother-related, but I thought it ought to be included.

I definitely miss him. And love him. I hope that his day was as blessed as mine.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

She said it all

Tonight marks my first real preaching in Argentina. I remember teaching a little last year in Chaco as well, but the more I look back on it, the more I am certain that no one understood me. This year, I'm pretty sure they got the message. hardy har.

I spoke about something that God had impressed on my heart during Noche Buena, or Christmas Eve. I talked about Psalm 23 as well as Luke 15:1-7, looking at the metaphor of being shepherded by Jesus. I focused on what it means to be broken by God.

When I sat down after my 21 min 26 sec sermonette, the older woman next to me pulled my ear to her mouth. She began speaking quickly and very softly that honestly, I didn't hear much of anything. There were some "thank yous" some "you don't know how much I was blessed by what you just said" and some other things.

All I know was it was enough to confirm that God used me, and that was cool.

In other news: Truco has been played, Fernet has been drunk, siestas have been enjoyed, long drives in the back of a truck with some great friends have taken place, a little PlayStation 3 action, and much much more.

I love Chaco.


Friday, January 6, 2012

Since coming back

Since coming back to Chaco, I am reminded of the importance of consistency.

Vanina and I took a walk the morning of our arrival to "conocer" the city. We are staying in the same house Sarah and I stayed in last summer, so we are close to the center. At one point, we passed a street vendor and looked at his various hand made bracelets and rastas. Naturally, conversation began and we got to explain why we are here. We invited Franco to church with us on Sunday (by the way, I'm preaching this week--watch out!), but he declined. He said he won't be staying much longer, and that it would be his first time to ever go any way.

"It's never too late to start," Vanina told him.

We progressed further down San Martin street and eventually turned around. Franco was in his same spot, but this time a young woman, his traveling partner, was with him. I noticed Franco's juggling clubs, so I told him that I could come over later and juggle with him if he wanted. The girl was pleased as well, "Just make sure you bring some terere," she shouted as we made our way home.

Before the prayer meeting, our first event with the church, we dropped by with the thermos of mango juice in hand. Fabiana smiled as we approached, and thus began a friendship. Another young woman came by talking about how she too, sells artesan items. Her name is Romina.

I sat back and listened to their stories: how they roam from place to place, selling, sleeping in bus terminals, buying materials, living off the land, gathering seeds to decorate the jewelry, etc. etc. Franco was not there, so there was no juggling involved. Nonetheless, it was a well spent hour.

At the prayer meeting, Jandra was one of the first to greet me. I showed her the pressed flower she had given me last year, still in Philippians, marking chapter 2. She hugged me tightly, and we chatted about how things have progressed over the year.

The next day I had seen Vane (my bicycle friend) on the street, so I sent her a quick message on Facebook to see where she was. She dropped by the church specifically so we could exchange the two-cheek customary Chaco greeting. We didn't get to talk as much, since we had to go, but we saw each other later that evening for dinner.

Vanina, Cletis and I all made another stop to visit Franco and Fabiana. We told them how wonderful it was to get to know them, with the hope of seeing them one more time today. We asked if we could pray for them, and if there was anything specific. Fabi seemed to be emotional, and thanked us for our time together.

In the other plaza with the young adults for dinner, I kept looking at everyone I had gotten to know last year. Had just under 365 days really passed between us? We joked and played as if we'd known each other forever.

Of course, one face had not been there in all of our time thus far with the church, and I was reminded that some years certainly are more difficult than others. I tried to comfort his sister earlier that day, as I have a similar experience. Hopefully, I'll get to see him at some point during my time here. If not, Leo is most definitely in my prayers.

The group in the plaza had already begun talking about next year. I told them that I would probably be out of the country by that time, but they said my visiting wasn't optional. ha. I suppose there is hope for camp-type ministry after all, if you can be consistent. I still have my doubts.

Then again, you can have two day relationships such as ours with the street vendors, and it's proof that Bill Bright's 5 minute theory is valid. Or maybe it's better to say the Holy Spirit is much more powerful than we give it credit for.

I dunno. Chau!