These wild roses are part of an ancient hedgerow, believed to be several hundred years old, knitting together I don’t know how many species of trees, shrubs, and climbers.
And all these riches just from one short post-breakfast walk in the home-counties.
There are lots of things we like about living in Argentina, some of which I’ve written about in previous entries, but these photos remind me that there are sacrifices too. People tend to have a fairly simplistic idea about sacrifice in mission, i.e, how we have abandoned our “first world comforts” in order to live in “third world hardship”. While this might be true in some parts of the world, for us in Argentina the sacrifices that we feel most keenly are much more subtle, but none-the-less real.
Family and friends; the obvious big one; not being able to see people for ages at a time, particularly since some of our friends here require third-party assistance to communicate. Not knowing when Joni will next see his grandparents. Realising that even four months here isn’t going to be long enough to see the half of the people that we had hoped to.
Free time; a network of footpaths, varied and accessible countryside, rules about what sort of chemicals we spray on it, RSPB reserves, books in English, public swimming pools, lots of friends, a “local” that serves real ale… In Argentina we have none of these things, and we still haven’t figured out what we would do with free time.
Church culture; being part of a church where we feel part of the scenery because its mistakes are our mistakes. Church in Argentina also hampers the development of friendships because “being spiritual” seems to mean “being seen at a lot of meetings”, so the people with whom we are trying to build relationships often don’t have time to do anything outside of work and church.
Being useful; it’s an ongoing joke that our greatest impact on people in Argentina has been through Martin breaking his neck, and me having a baby. We used to be known as competent professionals who other people called upon to do things, now we are neither known nor called upon.
The weather; people moan about British weather, but really the weather in the UK is as gentle and predictable as any in the world. Most of the year we have no concern more pressing than whether to take the jumper, the coat, or both. In Argentina we spend the summer hiding indoors hoping for Autumn; and the Winter hiding under the duvet hoping for spring. This has a surprisingly big impact on our motivation for life and ministry.
Thinking, “hmm, that’s a bit of a negative note to finish this post on”. Big temptation to find a way of writing a rounded conclusion with the ends tied up to say that it’s all OK really. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. But we do sincerely believe that we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing, so we’re going to carry on doing it anyway. And maybe tomorrow will be another day.