Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Guatemala Medical Missions Trip Update #1

I've been out of the country in Guatemala the past 2 weeks and thought I'd provide here some updates that I've already emailed back to our church staff and then posted on Facebook as well.  I realize that there are some folks who read my blog who don't have access to either of those 2 venues, so I wanted to pass along this information here as well.  I plan to share here over the next 4 days or so the updates I sent home from Guatemala and then will probably backtrack and share a bit as well about the pastoral leadership training conferences that took place the prior week.  Here's update #1 from last Wednesday morning.

We had a busy, but very rewarding day today, seeing a total of 78 patients between Jason (my oldest son who is a physician) and Connie (Jason's mother-in-law).  The group working with the kids (Janis, Caleb, Lilly, Kelsey, and Andrew) was especially busy in the morning as they did activities with the kids at the school where we were holding the medical clinics.  They all pitched in and helped with multiple activities.

David and Susan Holman (pharmacists from FBC Farmington) did an outstanding job of getting the pharmacy up and running and medications distributed to all of those who were seen who needed them.

Trish and Thorvald took care of fitting lots of folks with reading glasses.

Jen and I worked as well with the clinic with her performing nursing duties while I took medical histories and recorded complaints and/or symptoms.

We were told to expect even more folks tomorrow so we're going to try and get an earlier start.

Sunday, July 14, 2013


After leaving Mendoza on Monday morning, we headed to Bariloche via Buenos Aires.  While both Mendoza and Bariloche are on the western edge of Argentina, there weren't any direct flights to Bariloche so this necessitated traveling through Buenos Aires to get there.  We arrived in Bariloche about 11:00 p.m. and were pleasantly surprised by a welcoming party--Gustavo Videla, his wife Graciela, their three children and a friend.  Gustavo was the pianist for our church in Guaymallen, Mendoza during the years I pastored there and I also was honored to officiate at their wedding.  Despite the late hour of our arrival, we lingered for 45 minutes or so at the airport visiting and decided to try and reconnect again while we were there.  They were there on vacation, taking advantage of the winter school break.  

A light snow was falling as we were driven to the hostel where we were staying in Bariloche and the temperatures were around 33.  The next day was still quite cool with a light rain falling on and off throughout the day.  We decided to hang around the downtown area and do some sightseeing and shopping there.  We had an enjoyable day, finishing up by eating fondue together at one of the local restaurants.  We booked a tour as well for the following day of what is called the "Circuito Chico" (small circle) that stops at several tourist and scenic stops in the area and scheduled a boat ride on Lake Nahuel Huapi that featured 2 stops--one at the national park where the arrayanes trees are located (found only in Argentina) and the site of the cabin where Walt Disney reportedly was inspired to write Bambi.  The other stop was on the island of Victoria where we saw multiple species of trees and plants including some giant sequoias.  The highlight of the day was probably taking the aerosilla lift up to the top of Cerro Campanario.  The view from the mountaintop is absolutely breathtaking.  Snow-covered mountains, forests, and multiple lakes are all visible from the top.  We were told that National Geographic magazine proclaimed the view one of the 7 most beautiful scenic vistas in the world.

When we got back from the tour, we called Gustavo and arranged to meet with his family for dinner at a place that the hostel owner had recommended to us.  It's called La Fonda del Tio.  It has a long history, dating back to serving the European workers who originally went there to help with the construction projects and has some outstanding (and very abundant) food at quite affordable prices.  We had a wonderful time reminiscing with Gustavo and Graciela about the church, family camps, their wedding, etc.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Visiting Barrio Infanta

We had a very enjoyable visit this morning at the Iglesia Evangelica Bautista de Barrio Infanta.  This was a church that we helped plant in our first term of missionary service when we were living in Mendoza.  They weren´t a lot of the old-timers present from those years (more than 20 years ago now), but we did reconnect with several.  The pastor introduced us at the start of the service and then asked me to share a few words of greeting.  I also was asked to pray a prayer of blessing over the church at the conclusion of the service.

They built a school about a year ago that meets on the church property and have about 250 students enrolled, many of whom aren´t Christians so it´s a great outreach opportunity.  They`ve also begun construction of a sanctuary that we had planned to build many years ago and were frustrated by some major hold-ups in getting approval from the city and then by a period of hyper-inflation that saw building materials rise almost 800% in costs in a one year period.  

The biggest blessing of the morning was seeing and visiting with Nancy Sanchez.  She was instrumental in working with the children and youth back in those early days.  Her mother, Doña Ramona and Laura de Rebollo, the widow of the former pastor, were the key prayer warriors who helped initiate home Bible studies that gave birth to the church.  We were thrilled to see her and to be able to spend a few minutes at the end of the service visiting with her.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Renewing acquaintances in Argentina

My wife and I traveled last Friday to Argentina to spend a couple of weeks here visiting familiar sites and seeing old friends again.  It's been 12 years since we left here after having served as missionaries here for some 13 years.  This past Sunday morning was a really special time as we worshiped with the Liniers Baptist Church, a congregation that we attended for some 9 years here and where we made lots of dear friends.  We were warmly greeted with hugs and kisses by many who still remembered our time of ministry among them.  The pastor mentioned a special memory that I had forgotten--praying for them in a public service as they celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary.  We also had a wonderful time recalling an outdoor Christmas cantata that the church presented of a work that my wife and I translated (John Peterson's The Night the Angels Sang).

Following the church service, we traveled to the north zone of Buenos Aires and saw the last home that we lived in here in the country before leaving for Mexico.  We also visited BAICA (Buenos Aires International Christian Academy) where the younger boys attended and where Annetta Marie taught.  We stopped by as well to see the International Baptist (now International Bible) Church where BAICA began and where some missionary colleagues served as pastor of this English-speaking congregation.

We've traveled down to the south zone a couple of times to where Jonathan is studying Spanish at the Universidad Nacional de Lanus.  We're getting our exercise as we're doing a lot of walking and lots of steps (mainly up and down stairs to the various subway lines).  We'll be heading out to Mendoza on Saturday where we spent our first term as missionaries and fell in love with the city and the people.

I'll try to periodically post some additional updates about our travels here in Argentina.