Archive for ‘Buenos Aires, Argentina’

Camp de Caballito

1 Commentby   |  06.25.11  |  Buenos Aires, Argentina

The words delirious—cold—and sweet-awesome come to mind when I think back on camp. 

Delirious—I had the privilege of running a ridiculously high fever the entire time I was there, so my experience was a bit different than it would have been otherwise.  However, looking back I still would have gone even if I knew that the bronchitis was going to get worse.  In the end the good moments made up for the bad.

Cold—This adjective ties into my feverish state more than anything, but in my defense it was pretty cold to everyone else as well.  I spent a good deal of my time standing or sitting by the fire [keeping warm], and I got to know some of the more cold blooded people in church.  Yes, I am looking for the bright side, but nevertheless fire and nice conversation are indeed blessings from God. 

Sweet-Awesome—Now for the fun stuff.  There were plenty of times when my fever subsided for a bit or whatever activity it was captured my attention enough that I didn’t care.  For starters, during every free time period different people would break out their guitars, and form jam sessions/sing-a-longs with everyone.  Percussionists would pop out from everywhere to play along.  I did not always know the songs, but the music made me want to join in anyway. Argentines definitely know how to have a good time.

There were two planned group activities for everyone to be involved in.  The first was a scavenger hunt with four teams.  Lets just say they can be pretty competitive.  There were even two accounts of someone [not a young person—that would be more common] telling everyone that the game was over when it was not.  We actually lost a few teammates during the first mass confusion.  One of the tasks in the scavenger hunt was to get everyone on a bridge and take a silly picture, which is what one of the pics portrays.  In the end team rojo won [with some thanks to their devious ways] and to celebrate their victory they formed an earth shaking mosh pit that roared ”team rojo” continuously [adults too/Osvaldo].  :D  It was a sight to behold. The second activity was just a computer version of wheel of fortune, and yet somehow it reminded me of the Superbowl. 

The camp as a whole brought Brooke and I a lot closer to the church here.  It was a good way to get to know everyone.  There were about three classes per day for everyone.  Brooke and I helped plan [ahead of time] for the childrens classes.  I wish I could tell you more about what was said in the main classes, but I was half out of it so much that I honestly can only tell you that there were deep discussions on being “bold and courageous Christians”.  The relevence of that topic is greatly due to the impact of being a non-Catholic church in a Catholic world.  I got to speak to several people about this, and everyone that I spoke to has been affected by this reality.  Many come up against friends at the Universities or even relatives who are confused by “their” Christianity or simply disagree with it.  The church at Caballito is definitely a minority and they struggle with the majority every day.  

Looking back I find that my favorite part was getting the bus stuck in the mud just 10 feet away from camp. We thought we were home free, but nope.  There is nothing like pushing a bus to bring people together.  So if ever you are planning an ice-breaker get a bus.  :D  

Chau for now!

Interesting fact:  They always served cookies for breakfast [Argentines like their sweets in the morning].

Ooda Lolly-Golly What a Week

2 Commentsby   |  06.17.11  |  Buenos Aires, Argentina

Last week was jam packed from beginning to end.  The Vestal family flew in from Midland Texas to spend a week with the church family, and the Valdezes spent that week showing all of us around Buenos Aires.  We began by going to La Boca, as you know, where every house and shop is a different color.  The next day we went to the rose gardens of Palermo.  It was by far the biggest inner city park we had seen, complete with its own lake.  We also went to the Japanese Garden not too far from there.  Even though it was right in the middle of everything it somehow felt quiet and peaceful.  We also took a short trip to Plaza de Mayo where the famous “Pink house” resides [President’s House].  Lastly we hit up the Zoo [which had everything including a Rain Forest exhibit] and Recoleta where Eva Perón is buried.  That week was non-stop, but of course that week would not have been complete without joining up with the rest of the church family.

All of our tours were from Monday to Thursday, and on Friday it was off to Zarate for a church barbeque on the river!  That Friday was my favorite day here thus far.  It was nice to have a break from the big city, and just relax with friends.  An Argentine barbeque is phenomenal! There was pollo, carne, and chorizo [Argentine sausage].  And of course any meal here is never complete without mate and a whole buffet of postres [desserts].  It was just a day of relaxing, talking, riding bikes, playing soccer, and attempting to play volleyball with a soccer ball [instant bruises anyone?].  I mainly enjoyed the day because I finally got to just hang out with the youth and get to know them a bit more. 

After all of the festivities were over, and everyone had eaten enough for three people, we walked a few blocks into town for a devotional [and more postres] at the Magalú families’ house.  While walking there I had an interesting conversation with one of the Magalú boys, Roberto.  It was not the topic that made it particularly interesting, but rather the fact that I was speaking in my broken Spanish to him, and he was speaking in his English to me.  Our limited vocabulary made the walk a bit humorous at times, to say the least.  Our time in Zarate was fantastic in every way.  The two hour bus ride there and back felt like nothing compared to the time we spent there. 

And the re-telling of that week is not over! That Saturday was filled with a Ladies’ Class, which was led by Cherie Vestal and her daughter [my friend] Caren.  It was yet another opportunity to get to know more people.  One of the ladies that came turned out to be the Mother of a girl I know from ACU! [Debi Beltrán].  It is a small world after all.  After the class those of us who were younger stuck around for the youth meeting, which is held every Saturday night.  The youth [which are ages 17 to 30] have some of the greatest singing voices.  I have gotten into the habit of continuing to mouth the words, without actually singing, so that I can hear them better.  I can’t help it!

All in all last week was utterly fantastic!  This week has been just been ‘ok’, simply because I have been under “house arrest” due to bronchitis.  But I have still been able to help prepare for Camp, which begins tonight! We will be jumping on a bus at about 7:00 PM and I will not be back until Monday evening next week.  I hope to have some good stories once I get back. Until then!

Chau

Scottish Accents etc…

24 Commentsby   |  06.09.11  |  Buenos Aires, Argentina

This past week consisted of tons of food, new faces, much Spanish, and Subway Surfing [riding without hanging on to anything]. Even so, the church’s outreach of Let’s Start Talking took up the majority of our time—in more ways than one.  I had no idea how much the church does around this program!  It is essentially free English classes that focus around the Bible, and the fact that it is a free way to learn attracts a ton of people.

Brooke and I will be helping more directly with this program in the near future, but right now we are just helping Laura Valdez with her advanced speakers class.  It’s interesting to hear others, who are new to English, talk about it.  Let’s just say English [particularly American English] is more than just a little confusing.  Phrases like “get up” “get giong” and “get that” are particularly difficult. Think about it.

The LST group that was here [they left Sunday :(  was from Oklahoma, and we had a blast hanging with them.  They had already been here for about 3 weeks when we showed up, so we actually did a bit of site seeing with them [as well as Ashley Musick who cam 10 months ago to work with the church].  Just an hour from Buenos Aires [by train] is the city of Tigre.  We all went there for an afternoon.  It was a beautiful, relaxing location away from the bustling capital.  But if you ever go be careful as to what salad dressing you get.  Brooke ordered a salad with what was supposedly a balsamic vinegarette, but it literally tasted like the smell of a county fair or a rodeo.  I cannot explain beyond that, but I had no idea that that smell could be captured in a dressing. :P

We have now christened it “Rodeo Salad”.

On Saturday the LST group hosted a bilingual picnic at the building, and it was awesome [other than the fact that they played country music for some cultural pizazz].  :D  Quite a few people showed up who had not been before, which was copado [you remember].  We played a wicked-sweet game of spoons, in which I was one of the two left alive at the end [my knees are still bruised up].  But the most memorable thing for everyone, it seems, is the English Accent Activity.  Jonathan [who is the youth leader] had Katelynn [who has a heavy Oklahoman accent], Ashley Musick [who gave her best English accent] and Me ]with my Scottish accent] stand up in front of everyone.  We repeated whatever he said with our own vocab and accent for the crowd [mostly Argentine] to practice.  I am still called the “Scottish Lass” by some.  :D 

Oh, and we ventured out to La Boca on Monday.  It rained, it poured and we tangoed.

Ode to New Places & Mate

4 Commentsby   |  06.09.11  |  Buenos Aires, Argentina

At this very moment I am sitting on my bed, drinking mate and listening to Reik [a Mexican band].  I have already begun my search for South American music [randomly found a Japanese band that I like a lot] As for the mate — we made an immediate connection, that will last through the ages, when I arrived last Tuesday morning [mate mi amor!].  

Upon our arrival [after a blissful night full of the absense of sleep] we were given the opportunity to wait in a ridiculously long line for customs.  Once I got through I walked a bit into the “money changing” corridor which was about 50 feet before the swinging doors that opened up into the awaiting crowd.  While I was waiting on Brooke a couple of people walked through the doors and each time I could see Osvaldo standing in the very front with a sign. What was hilarious is that each time the doors swung open enough for us to see each other he would yell my name across the entire room [I laughed equally as loud]. 

It was a great reunion with all of the Valdezes once we got to their awesome apartment [see pics], but meeting other people from the church was muy copado [very cool].  For those of you who do not know—it is customary throughout South America to kiss people on one cheek when leaving or greeting.  Suffice it to say, people are very welcoming [particularly this church family].  I’m not much of a “kisser” but I have managed to hide that fact from everyone. :D

Stuff I have learned thus far:  dogs wander around on the sidewalks [watch out poo!], the Spanish double L—“ll” sounds like “sh” here, crossing streets or driving are extreme sports [so much fun!], Spanish in Argentina is called Castellano, the layout of their subway system, and how to make empinadas. 

Buenos Aires is a huge city with tons of people [14 million], and we are loving every second of it! Stay excellent!!

¡Muchos Gracias!

4 Commentsby   |  05.29.11  |  Buenos Aires, Argentina

It is a lovely humid Sunday in Houston, Texas—my bags are packed, my tickets are bought and I am ”patiently” waiting to fly out on Monday.  However, if I were not blessed with such SmArVeLoUs friends, and family I would probably be putting on my dirtiest, most rattiest clothes to go out on my last desperate attempt of begging next to the nearest Walmart for the needed funds.  :D 

So thank you all for blessing me above and beyond what I had hoped for!  Your love and generosity towards me and this mission have even made me wonder whether you love me more than I love myself!  Let’s just say, I have been blown away by all the support you have given and it shall not be forgotten.  

This entire process has made me see the church as a huge family more clearly than I ever have before.  The bonds created between people who are followers of Christ is a fantastical phenomenon.  We are all connected through the Spirit and that is a wonderous thing. You all have given me the assurance that even though I do not know them personally, I have family all over the world—which of course includes Buenos Aires. 

For all that you have done —Gracias!

Got ot Fly! [soon]

Han

P.S – My primary blog [which will include more of everything] is:

viva-la-sweet-nectarina.tumblr.com      [check it out!]