Considering how many more talented, qualified, envisioned, holier, spirit filled, inspired ideal textbook mission candidates have come and gone in the last decade, we are somewhat amazed, and more than a little chuffed to realise that this week marks our tenth anniversary of landing in Argentina. Late November 2005 we left the UK in minus six degree biting hail, and a few hours later found ourselves in a thirty five degree swamp of Buenos Aires.
If folk in the mission office in blighty back then had been asked to bet on which new members of our cohort would still be there ten years later, I am fairly sure that nobody would have had their money on us. We wish we had been better prepared, we wish we had been better supported, we wish a whole bunch of other things. And at the same time, we are so glad that we had no idea what was going to happen or we might have been on the next plane back to London. We have been stretched and challenged in ways that we could never have dreamed, and God continues to be good in ways that we frequently don’t understand.
Here are a few back photos from random points along the journey…
Thanks to everyone who has continued to walk with us, we hope you will join us in raising a glass to the next bit of the adventure.
I went to collect Danny from school on Friday and discovered him pretending to clean the floor with a toy iron. It’s a fair mistake to make. When would any child of mine have ever seen an iron, let alone one in action…?
On Tuesday he took a toy animal to school and got into trouble for messing around with it during assembly. So on Wednesday when he thought he was going to take a toy alien, I said no. “Well I’m not going to school then”, he said. Hey, you know what kiddo? When we got to school, he staged a little one-boy sit in in the corridor outside the classroom. His teacher and I tried to argue with him, but he wasn’t moving anywhere. Right before I thought of building a brick wall around him like Henry the green engine (Thomas the Tank engine link here) I gave him a choice; “Danny if you’re not going to come into the classroom then we’ll need to go and talk to (the head)”. “I’ll go and talk to (the head) then” he said, and off he marched. She’s a nice lady, received him with a straight face, dismissed me with a wink, and apparently when they were done Danny went off to his classroom and was good as gold all morning.
Joni’s class were responsible for the “acto” on Friday morning – think equivalent of school assembly. I asked him what it was about. “I don’t know… some war” he said, not very enthusiastically. I should probably have guessed that. In four years in the school system one of the things we are very sure about is that the most important dates are wars, and all true heroes are soldiers. This year for the first time they did read some work by an Argentinean writer, Maria Elena Walsh, but she was in no way promoted as a hero, and we’re still waiting to discover the names of any national artists, sculptors, musicians. scientists, and in particular any non-military agents of social change. (Anyone know who abolished slavery in Argentina?). It’s a strange and narrow patriotism, which is sad in a country with so much that could be celebrated – not least the fact that slavery was effectively abolished twenty years earlier here than in the UK.
Fortunately school isn’t the only place where people learn things, as Joni vividly demonstrated by getting to grips with the strimmer and determinedly cutting back the jungle in the front garden on Saturday morning. As far as I’m concerned, that’s true heroism.
Martin’s in Peru this week on a Latin Link leadership workshop, so I’m holding the domestic fort. Either or both of us may need therapy by the end of the week, but at the moment it’s going quite calmly, at this end anyway, I haven’t heard his story yet.
Meanwhile Joni is enjoying picking the first crop of peaches off the little tree which we planted last year. Verdict, a bit insecty but quite tasty. We may need to figure out how to improve the bug situation for next year.
We spent the weekend on camping with some of the older scouts in Monte Redondo, a bit of woodland about 12 kms cycle ride away. There’s a bunch more photos up on facebook. The Scout page is at Daniel Ñañez, or on my page.
Remembering that the Scout movement grew out twenty boys on a camp led by an old soldier with a chronic smoking addiction, this guy could go far;
At church last night I was preaching on being members of the body of Christ. Something similar to what I said will be up under the sermons tab when I get round to putting it there.
Danny was in trouble at school today;
- Me “That wasn’t very good, getting sent to the head”
- He “But I didn’t want to come in from the patio”
Truly fantastic weekend despite non-stop rain, on an outing with Scout leaders team to visit the campsite where we’ll be taking the kids for summer camp. The site is great, the scenery fantastic, and the guy who manages it was really helpful too, well set up with information, and he didn’t even charge us for the overnight stay.
We did a couple of walks exploring the area, had a good barbecue in the evening, and some great spontaneous team-building discussion, which was like refreshing rain to my soul, and probably the most important thing that happened even though it wasn’t the bit that we had planned.
This week I have been twice to the town council chasing the letters and folders that we have been repeatedly submitting in order to try and secure a grant for our fencing. Yesterday we had the interesting experience of being told that there is no record of us ever having handed anything in, despite the fact that we have a heap of bits of paper with the official date-stamps on, which is what they return to you when you present something at the front desk. So now we’re trying a three-pronged approach, submit another copy at the front desk, go in through a side door through another contact we have managed to make, and also try and find out if there is any known reason why our stuff might be being “lost”. Politics here is complicated and I am reminded that I don’t understand it.
Yesterday I got a parking ticket for the first time. A couple of years ago they set up a metred parking scheme in the town centre. We normally avoid it by going by bike, or parking a couple of blocks away, but yesterday I parked in the wrong zone for half an hour and got myself a ticket. It was a fair cop, so I went to pay it without complaint like a good upright citizen. It cost me eight pesos. To put this into context, a kilo of bread costs 15, our monthly electricity bill around 300, and a packet of chewing gum six. The real punishment was having to stand in the predictably long line in order to pay the thing; especially since the electricity went down and the computers went off when I was two people from the front. I’m not advocating a major price hike in this land of much inflation, but maybe enough to pay the utility bills would at least keep the queue moving.