March 29, 2012

Day 3: Cancha Huinganco

  So, as I was saying about that pastor's conference we attended... [Day 1, Day 2]

Day 3, of the four we spent in Chos Malal, was a particularly blessed day. Sunday morning service lasted at least three hours... worship and prayer just went on and on and on... a sweet time. Hearts softened, cleansed, healed, renewed, strengthened for things ahead.

camping out in the van

Then... chivo patagonico was on the menu. Free-roaming goat cooked over burning embers for lunch, the big meal of the day.

The dead goat sat out on a table all weekend, under a sheet (notice fly). One just begins to shrug at some point on the relaxed food preservation thing. Ya have to.

Cost of food for the weekend?

US$12 per person, for two days. At least something is cheap here, the food was at least this weekend. (It certainly isn't in the city.)

We had to all pitch in with preparing what we ate. No catering here. Here is Tony acting like he always helps out in the kitchen.

"Oh yeah, I do this all the time...!"
suuure ya do
After lunch and saying goodbyes to old friends and new contacts, everyone left. But we headed back to the to church in Cancha with the local missionaries who have worked here for 10 years - they have discovered a place in the hills where you can find fossils. Tons of fossils.


"You're the one that likes rocks, right?" they had asked me earlier. I don't admit my passion for rocks often because it's just, well, weird. But they soon discovered that yes, indeed, I do love me some good rocks. So off we set, across a field of boulders and up a ridge in search of fossils - a motley crew of adults and children.

looking back down the field of boulders towards the church (in the upper right grove of trees)

looking up towards the ridge
No one had water but us. We soon discovered there is no need to carry water. Just drink from the mountain-fed streams. (Um, they did. I didn't. Too chicken. No upset tummies though, so I guess it's fine.)
Tony sucking up some water
I enjoyed sharing my geologic observations as we hiked up the foothills, explaining the possible causes of the field of boulders, gullies, ridges, streams, and various striations in the rocks along the way. Everyone seemed interested as we talked about the layers of sedimentary rocks, the fossils we soon found imbedded within, and Noah's Flood versus millions of years. Fascinating stuff.

searching in a fossiliferous gully

We had hiked several miles, up, up, up. Then we headed down, down, down with pocketsful of fossils.

I was so thankful for this fun little reprieve for the kids. They, too, have sacrificed everything to come here. We try, when we can, to make living here fun for them. They loved fossil hunting so much that we decided to make it a tradition every time we come back to this place. 

We then stopped back in at the rural church for a potty break. There is no running water, so you have to dump a bucketful of water down the toilet to flush. The bucket fills up slowly outside under the trickle of water that drips from the spigot. The water supply is low at this time of year, having dried up considerably after a long, hot summer in the dry mountains. We set up the projector and showed a few more movies to our tired gang, had a snack, then went to visit the neighbors: Dona Luisa and her man (that's supposed to be an n with a little squiggly over it, but my computer acts funny sometimes here in Argentina and won't let me do it).

Dona Luisa was born and raised in this remote place. 77 years she lived in a primitive little house with the outhouse located a few steps further down towards the river. Her chickens and geese and dogs and horse and cows all share her yard. Two years ago the government built her a new house. She now "lives well". She has two bare bulbs and no other bills to pay but the electricity, which is about five dollars a month. I envy her life - so simple, so healthy, so quiet. Visiting her was one of the highlights of the whole weekend for me. As we sat in her little kitchen, her man smelling of horse and earth and well, dirty feet... I thought, "This is it. This is what we came here to do. I love this." It helped that I left the kids with Tony and went with the missionary's wife... just the ladies, a real treat. Wish it could have lasted longer. We emerged from Luisa's little house, the stars stretching as far as the eye could see, and walked contented back to the church in the cool air, a night as black as I've ever seen.

March 27, 2012

projector and first showings!

We finally started officially using our projector!The first time was at the recent conference in the mountains - after that, things just began to take off.

But, because I just deleted all of our cell pictures from our computer by accident, you'll just have to imagine how cool it was/looked [at the conference, anyway]. You can sort of see the screen pulled up in this picture I took with our regular camera. ---->

We showed several of the Torchlighter series: Richard Wurmbrand, Amy Carmichael, and one other I can't remember. There were few dry eyes in the hall.

Showing the Jesus film and other movies is my dream, my baby. I birthed it. At least, I feel like prayed it into this world, from nothing but a dream. {I didn't do much more than that, though - God and others took care of the rest. It's a group thing. }

So, naturally, I wouldn't get to do it. 

Right at set-up and showing time I had to take a cranky child off to bed. I am glad, though, that everything doesn't depend on me because, as we can see with the cell phone photos, that can be a dangerous thing. I am very happy that Tony is showing movies, otherwise it wouldn't always happen.

We met Alejandra at the conference.

Alejandra is a teacher in Chos Malal. After watching the movies, she asked us how we could get some for her to show to her students at the school where she teaches. So we are planning, as doors continue to open, to take the projector and some movies back to her school, if indeed they allow that. This is the first open door with a school so far. It seems people may be more open outside of the city in rural places, because here in the city talking of God in school is prohibited.

Day 3 of the conference we also showed some movies to our bedraggled group of adults and kids that stayed on in the mountains to hike the foothills and visit the rural church after the conference was over, when everyone else had hit the road for home. But you'll have to imagine that, too, since all our camera batteries and cells were dead by then, and trying to find a place to charge 120V batteries in a country that uses 220V, althewhile out in the boonies, was a bit too much.

This past Saturday, Tony showed some movies at an evangelistic event and youth concert put on by some local churches in a square here in town. The pastor that organized the event wanted to rent our projector, but Tony offered instead to bring the projector and screen, set-up and operate it, showing whatever movies they wanted to use for free. {How could we charge for that? It never even crossed our mind until he mentioned it. But I guess if we are ever starving... it's good to have options..}. It went well for our first public event.

Today Tony visited a school in the slums to see if they would be open to visitors with a projector and some movies. But the answer was no. They respect all religions, but don't allow it to be taught in the schools. Right as he was entering the school, two of the moms who had picked up their kids got into a cat fight, hitting each other, yelling, and pulling hair, right in front of the kids. A little girl was crying hysterically. Sometimes the need for Christ is more evident in the harder places. That's part of the reason we go there.

March 26, 2012

my stellar IT abilities and my poor deprived children

I just deleted ALL our cell phone pictures from our computer. The dangers of the digital age. And of leaving Chris in charge of all our IT issues. I never said I was qualified for this. Fortunately, we take most of our pictures with the regular camera. Like this one, which I like just because.

Chasing a flock of wild turkeys in the remote Patagonian wild. Because somebody's got to do it.

March 24, 2012

Day 2: Somewhere, Patagonia

"There are no safe paths in this part of the world.
Remember you are over the Edge of the Wild now,
and in for all sorts of fun wherever you go." 
-The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

After meeting up with everyone who was attending the conference, we left Chos Malal in caravan for the place where the conference actually was - 70 more kilometers up in the mountains. 20 on paved roads...

...then 50km more on gravel.
We turned off the paved road onto the gravel, kicking up a trail of dirt.

We continued across the valley...

and when we lost the caravan , we just followed the trail of dust.
  crossing rickety bridges...
(respecting the plethora of traffic signs and lights and lines painted down the middle of the road, of course - that's a joke.)

We turned at the sanitation post in downtown Cancha Huinganco...
my kind of downtown :) lol

more downtown

saw some parakeets...
 (they are very noisy and social and make all sorts of racket flying around in their little noisy social groups)

stopped to rest at the church...

then continued on down a hill towards the river...

and a into grove of poplars to a rural school.

A little place not on the map, but which the locals call Cajon de Curileuvu. That's Mapuche for something. One day I will know what.

No Internet. No cell phone signal. No TV. No land line. Remote is the perfect word. People communicate by radio if they need a doctor, the police, or the fire department. Or they get on their horse and ride.

Fortunately we did have electricity, running water, flushing toilets, and showers where we stayed. I kept thinking the entire weekend of the Christian conferences back in the States, with their comfy climate-controlled hotels, fun engaging activities, high tech light and sound and video technology, and readily available food and convenience stores to meet your every need. Ah, now that's a retreat!, I thought. This was not like that. If you didn't bring it in, you didn't have it. Even if you did bring it in, it might still be useless. It was about being with those who are doing hard work in hard places, seeking God together, worshipping, learning from His Word, and being reminded that the gospel is about sacrifice, not comfort. I was reminded of that the entire time, then we all were when we lost electricity right at dusk. The testimonies and preaching just kept going, though, even though we could barely see each other. (It did come back on a few hours later.)

The sign says: "Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them." ~Psalm 126:6

March 23, 2012

back in the slums

Since we've been back from our weekend way away, I've been playing catch up: washing mountians of clothes, homeschooling, cleaning for our Wednesday Bible study, and begging Tony to pleeeeease not invite anyone over for a while or accept any invitations. I'm feeling oversocialized (is that a word?) and overwhelmed, and need to catch up and catch my breath. Moving and living here is a lot to process sometimes.

We no sooner got home, than Tony went back to the slums.

The first day he went to visit Marcela and Ceferino, he found the kids alone and the parents unavailable. So he sat down with our little friends in the dirt, glanced over, and saw one of the tracts we had given them a while back in the trash. He picked it up, dusted it off, and then began to read it, walking them through a kids' version of the gospel. He's so good that way, always so naturally sharing the gospel. He does it all the time... so easily talks about God. Even when we were leaving the Observatory, he witnessed to one of the people walking out with us about how amazing God is, and isn't it incredible that he created all these stars and planets, and Do you believe in God?

When he was done explaining to the kids about God and how we can know him, Camila looked up and said, "I would like a Bible. I don't have a Bible to read and I would like to read it."

Bibles are expensive and hard to come by here, but God always sends a few our way at just the right time.

{Photos: a house in the slums, rebuilding after the fire}

March 22, 2012

Chos Malal

We just came back from a Pastors/Leaders/Missionaries Conference in the little town of Chos Malal, population 11,000. It was great, and hard, all at the same time. The four-day trip was chocked full of so many different things that I'll have to post about it in several different enstallments.

Day 1 was taken up in travel: six hours across the desert and up along the Andean foothills. The rest of the day was taken up in delays: a flat tire, a run-in with the police, some confusion over our paperwork, and almost getting the car impounded. Much prayer as we waited for Tony to emerge from the road-side check point - thirty minutes later he did. It all worked out in the end, and we traveled on.

Sweet geologic formations along the way. Patagonia is a geologist's dream.

A church in the middle of nowhere.

Approaching the Precordillera, or Andean foothills

arriving in Chos Malal

It was hot. Hot. Hot. Hot. So much for needing the winter jackets. I packed way wrong, and the kids sweltered in their winter pajamas in a room that was at least 85 degrees at 11pm. We are learning by our mistakes. To visit the Andes in the summer means taking clothing for all four seasons, because you just never know.

Driving in Patagonia is not like road-tripping in the States. There is no shoulder whatsoever. You have to pay attention at all times. People pass you going 80-100mph, trucks come at you doing the same, the wind can whip pretty hard, and in several places there is no nice white line marking the shoulder (which doesn't exist anyway), nor yellow line marking the middle of the road, and often no guard rails with nice little drop-offs. Makes for a relaxing, good time.

But we made it, there and back again, safe and sound. And the sunsets here, no matter where, never disappoint.

Sunset over Chos Malal

We returned refreshed spiritually, tired but content, and looking forward to being able to return to do evangelism there in May.
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