Sunday, January 13, 2013

Happy New Year 2013!!

The New Year has started off with several new experiences, people and many opportunities to see His hand at work...

We celebrated New Year’s Eve in a small town in the Tres Rios (Three Rivers) delta area of Argentina with Jorge and Irma Julca and their family as well as Cindy and Dany.  All are missionary friends here. The Julcas and Dany are from Peru (Jorge is the seminary president here) and Cindy Downy is from the US. 

We set out Sunday morning with Jorge and Cindy driving 2 cars to the town of GualeguaychĂș (say GWAL-eh-gwy-CHEW), about 2.5 hours northeast of Pilar, through the river delta area.  The fields reminded us of Illinois – corn and soybeans – except for the standing water in many of them.  On the far side of this cute river town was Termas de GualeguaychĂș , a popular resort with a small hotel, a camping area, and quite a few “bungalows” (slept 6) and other small houses (for 4 people).  It also had several swimming pools and, under roofs, their heated pools!  The Julcas were very resourceful, bringing some food in a cooler (like Dany’s homemade chicken salad and homemade pocket bread), buying some food to cook there, and eating out for some meals! 

We swam in the pools, relaxed in the heated ones, played board games under the shade trees, and found the Southern Cross constellation in the night sky (via an app on Dan´s phone)!  We also enjoyed a grilled dinner at a parilla (grill restaurant, say “pah-REE-shuh”), prayer for the new year at midnight, and fireworks from a distance on New Year's Eve.

Too soon, it was time to start for home, but not before a walk near the river and a little time at a park with a playground, AND a stop at an ice cream store. Argentine ice cream is just not to be missed!
With the Fernandezes on vacation in the States, a lovely Peruvian lady named Seyda is in charge of the camps and retreats on the Regional Office grounds. She has lots of practice doing this at the Seminary and we been asked to assist her, since we have the use of a vehicle.  We got to take Seyda shopping for tons of potatoes and lettuce and other vegetables that were needed!  I was fortunate to have time to get out my shopping list and get a few things for us too!  Another day, Seyda had a list of things she needed to buy at the hardware store and the pool store, so we had fun taking her to those places as well! When we returned, Alejandro, the head cook, had some flan ready for the evening’s dessert – and had enough to share with us!  What a treat! 

A Work and Witness team from College Church in Olathe arrived on Saturday, ready to help Carlos & Robin Radi with a building project in Moreno. They brought a couple security cameras to install here that Dan had purchased and had sent to one of the group.  Dan worked on the installation and, since it was a hot day, we were able to use the pool too. 

Argentine Gouchos
We saw little of the Work and Witness team during the next week but, on Thursday, there was a combined day of fun for the missionary staff and the WW team.  We got to spend the day at Estancia Santa Susana, a gaucho (Argentine cowboy) ranch! 
We were greeted with hot empanadas de carne (meat pockets) and, almost immediately, got in line for a short horse ride (mine was named Elena).The day also included their museum, a gift shop, asado (a HUGE grilled meal, 5 courses of just the meat!) with a vocal and dance show, ending with a gaucho show outside, showing off lots of tricks on horseback!  What a great day! We enjoyed connecting with part of the team, discovering that one guy, Scott Crenshaw, had served at our local church in St Louis quite a few years ago!  On Friday, the team went back to work and we were privileged to have some workshops and meals with Dr Christian Sarmiento (our Regional Director) and Dr David Graves (one of our Nazarene General Superintendents).  

In the meantime, a new missionary has come on special assignment for the next 2 years, Liliana Reza from Oklahoma and Kansas City area! It's fun to show her around and get her acquainted with stores, church, office, the town, and the buses. She grew up speaking Spanish and English, so she'll do great here!  

Cindy suggested a Saturday outing that was SO fun for us and Liliana! She drove us to a nearby town called San Antonio de Areco and, in addition to a small local museum, we got to visit a chocolate factory! The smell alone could "make your day!" We had to buy some to take home and enjoyed a rich cup of cold chocolate milk before we headed home. 

God provides all we need and a whole lot more, including work to do, fellowship with wonderful people, and fun experiences!

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