If, like me, you love a good paradox then the Christmas story is definitely the place to be (which obviously I’m illustrating by posting this Easter video!). This week I’m reflecting on how the magi knelt before a baby for a first hand encounter with the most high God. Back when I was a student (not quite as long ago as Matthew’s magi…) apologetics was the order of the day, partly, I suspect, fuelled by a fear that science was in danger of replacing God and that he therefore needed a bunch of spotty youth to defend his corner for him. Thankfully most of us (hopefully) have moved on from such nonsense. The bigger our understanding of the universe, the more in awe we must be of the God who made it, and the more amazing it becomes that the person who flung stars into space should choose to become not only a baby, but a baby carried by an unmarried teenage girl from a poxy village in the back end of no-where and subsequently born in a barn.
Meanwhile, on the theme of teenage girls from the back end of nowhere (tenuous link), I was playing with my kids in a plaza a few blocks away and an adolescent girl came up and greeted me; "Hazel…!" We are quite used to random strangers saying hello because we’re the only foreigners in the area, so I said hello politely, and she said "Do you know who I am?" And I said "No, I’m sorry I don’t know who you are" and she said "E.., from the home in San Marcos…" No wonder I had no idea who she was, the home in San Marcos is six hours drive away from here in the hills on the other side of Cordoba province. I used to go there once a week when we lived in Cordoba but now we’re another 200 km further away, and I haven’t been there since Joni was a baby. E was nine when I last saw her, and now she’s fourteen. She’s been transferred to San Francisco a few months ago, and of course she had no idea I was here and I had heard nothing of her for the last five years. So, I went to the home here to give them my details so she can contact me, and the staff at the door said "Someone knows this kid….!" It transpired that she’s been transferred without any information, no-one knows anything of her history, which even the little bit I know involves several children’s homes and even more families. But the urgency is that the home here shuts for the summer (ridiculous in my book but there you are) so most kids get farmed out to whichever blood relatives are willing to have them, and then there’s a scramble to find placements for those who don’t have anywhere to go, so to cut a long story short, E. is coming to our house for a couple of weeks, and we’ve also managed to put her back in touch with another volunteer who used to visit the home, who lives in Cordoba, we all met up last Monday, and E is going to stay with her for the other couple of weeks. I have long been thinking and praying about fostering and adoption as possibilities, but as foreigners in Argentina it is nigh on impossible. And I don’t think I would have necessarily started with a fourteen year old girl as a first placement. Fortunately we don’t have too many other commitments through January this year, so at least I should have a reasonable amount of time to try and figure out how to suit the needs and tastes of the three very different young people in our care.