Having been back in the UK for almost two weeks I thought it was time to write something. So far we’ve been enjoying seeing family and friends, going for walks over the fields, and revisiting old haunts. We did our first official church presentation last week, which went OK in a slightly disorganised “wondering how this powerpoint projector thingy works…” sort of way. Luckily we were among friends and they were good to us. I will write about my impressions of being back in the UK, but not this time because I haven’t figured out what I think about it yet.
The last couple of weeks in Argentina went a bit mad. The contract finished on our house, so we had to pack everything up and store it in someone else’s spare room. I had an invitation to go to a conference in Ecuador in the last week, which I declined, thinking that moving house, going to England, and being the parent of a small person were three good reasons not to be going anywhere. But I was persuaded by Small’s other parent that it was a good opportunity and that he would be delighted by the prospect of taking charge of his son for a week. So having boxed all our belongings, we installed Martin and Joni into the pastor’s house, and off I went to Ecuador.
For reasons best known to someone else, the most logical route from Cordoba to Ecuador is via Panama. And it wasn’t until I reached Panama that I discovered the time difference and realised that the wait was an extremely long one. Hence, on exhausting the entertainment possibilities of the airport (allow twenty minutes max), I was stamped through immigration and went out to discover the world.
From my brief sojourn, Panama looks like a place worth returning to. Watching massive boats ease their bulk through the canal at Miraflores Lock is enough to bring back any little kid’s fascination with transport, while Panama city is the clash of two worlds. On one side the shiny glass and chrome tower-blocks rise above air conditioned shopping centres and white people drive around in showroom 4×4’s; on the other side the afro-carribean population crouch on upturned crates along cobbled streets lined with rickety ex-colonial terraces. Then the digression was over and on we went to Ecuador.
“Sometimes this missionary thing does have its exotic moments…” I thought as I strolled along a mountain track, at 4100 metres with the mist swirling around us, high above the city of Quito, sharing a mango with a Brazilian theologian, and a Peruvian disability activist. It was a good conference, a first consultation on disability and theology from a Latino perspective, organised by EDAN, the disability network of the World Council of Churches. We tackled some brave issues, of embodiment and the image of God, as well as thorny questions of Bible translation. It was good to see that EDAN has also moved forward in its thinking since the last event of theirs that I went to a couple of years ago. They don’t have all the answers, but at least they’re now asking some of the questions that hadn’t yet made it onto their previous agenda. And now I have a whole lot of notes to read through and things to think about. I’m also wondering if it might be time to start doing some more theological study. Probably in Spanish and possibly with a more “traditional” establishment in order to have freedom to explore ideas without being browbeaten by the self-appointed thought-police. Now, how to slide that idea in past an organisational hierarchy…