Over the years when we have discussed the possibility of moving back to South America as missionaries, Tony has always said he would go to where the poor are. That has always been his conviction. Now, not all of South America is poor. There is a wealthy, thriving, upper class in every country that, like our middle class in the U.S., seem to have no apparent need for much of anything.
Bariloche, an area we are looking at, if you don't know, is sometimes called the Switzerland of South America. For its mountains, for its skiing, for its posh Hotel Llao Llao (you've probably even seen it in a movie at some point). My flesh loves to be comfortable, just like the next person. Who wouldn't love to just camp out at Hotel Llao Llao and enjoy life? I would. Pick me! Pick me!
But outside of this small, wealthy, inner-circle of elite vacationers, there are people that make $500, $300, $50 a month on which to live. Or less. There are also at least one or two slums in Bariloche that I am aware of. What's more, the northern three provinces of Patagonia are home to hundreds of small, indigenous communities of Mapuche Indians. There is so much more to life than skiing there.
kids from one of the less than fortunate areas of Bariloche
house in Bariloche
We just watched a YouTube video the other night about a small, 25-family community of Mapuche that used to travel "only" 20 km round trip to the next town. Four years ago their bridge, and only link to civilization, was washed out in a storm. It is now a 200 km commute. They have no access to schools, medical attention, running water, or electricity. They said that no one will help them, and the government has forgotten about them.
We could spend years driving around Patagonia, from village to village, and never meet everyone or run out of things to do.
entering Mapuche land
rural school kids
In the end, we all need salvation. We all need forgiveness. We all need to hear about Christ: the rich, the poor, the Mapuche, the American, the Argentinian, everyone. We all deserve the opportunity to accept or deny God's free gift in Christ. I am so thankful someone had the courage to put themselves aside and tell me about Him. Why wouldn't I want to do the same?