Gayle Stevenson update – Feb 08

Cati (Gayle) is back in Salta and along with her return comes the next edition of ‘The Argentine News’.

I’ve spent the last month helping at and attending summer camps both here in Salta and Jujuy another of Argentina’s northern provinces. After saying our final goodbyes to Cecilia and Pamela we got into a remis (taxi) and headed for the bus terminal and onto Jujuy for our first taste of summer camp Argentina style. The camp Lozano in Jujuy is run by an American missionary couple and is up in the mountains meaning it was a lot colder and a lot greener (I almost thought I was home again). Anyways for the first camp we were campers, it rained and was freezing for the whole week (not good when you end up having to wear the same clothes everyday for a week as you desperately try to keep warm ha ha).Now I’m going to be honest with you all here so you better appreciate it…I absolutely hated the first few days there…because I was scared (don’t tell anyone), to find myself in a new place, not knowing a single person there never mind not speaking the same language ( at least not confident in it) it was absolutely terrifying. So basically I arrived, took a major panic attack and then started to think like someone who actually believed in God and handed the situation over to Him…the week ended up being absolutely brilliant! The guys in my group were amazing and through all the activities i.e drama sketches, writing and performing a song, sports, quizzes, a cross country race thing, worship and sermons I learnt so much. So after a week of very little sleep and a lot of fun on we went to the next camp.

Lapen was a camp for kids and it was back in Salta at the orphanage/soup kitchen where I normally work. Here we were “helpers” and I was one of the cooks. The week was busy but pretty quiet and a real blessing too, as I wasn’t a leader I was able to be a friend to the kids there and not have to tell them off or keep them under control and the time we had playing, messing about and talking about silly things was something I will never forget.

The last camp was back in Jujuy for teenagers and again we were working in the kitchen. Over the course of the week we made some great friends, learnt a lot and for me one of the highlights was the worship, the songs were amazing, praising God in another language is just unreal.
We returned to Salta absolutely exhausted and spent the next few days running here there and everywhere as Hannah (from Richill) said her goodbyes before returning to sunny Northern Ireland last week. Since then I have been trying to catch up on a lot of missed sleep, tidying up the house and starting back to work with the church.

That’s pretty much me for the month of February so if you have a free minute send me an email and let me know how everything is going at home (I feel very out of touch)and stick a prayer list at the bottom. So for now I will love you and leave you with some prayer requests…? ?For “El Redentor” my church, for unity and growth.?For my safety and the safety of the house as I live alone until Cecilia’s return from Northern Ireland.
That God will use me to do His work in my last 3 months here.?That I will learn to seek God more and hear His voice more clearly.?For Cecilia and Pamela’s work in Ireland.?For Hannah as she returns home and for missionary opportunities when she goes to Australia.? ?Thanks so much for your support, you’re all in my prayers.?Dios te bendigo
Gayle/Cati/Caterine

e-mail me at: [email protected]

Carly Mills’s reflections on Argentina

Carly Mills

Carly Mills spent three months in Argentina. Here are her reflections.

When I decided to take a gap year, I knew I wanted to spend at least part of it working within a mission setting. I was seriously considering South America as it was such a vast and unknown country, so when an opportunity to go away with SAMS appeared, I felt God was calling me to go. I was to be placed in the city of Salta, Argentina, along with a guy my own age form Lurgan, and we would be living with one of the SAMS workers, Cecilia Valdiviezo.

This all sounded lovely on paper, but I had no idea what to expect from the experience itself. I left in September 07, for a short term mission of just three months, and after two planes and a very long bus journey, we arrived in Salta.

The country itself is so…indescribable! Diverse, sunny, busy, poor, everything just seemed so DIFFERENT!!! It took us a while to get our bearings, but thanks to Cecilia we soon got used to our surroundings.

My activities in Salta were varied. On Mondays I was working in a Christian bookshop, Tuesdays and Thursdays saw me teaching English to kids in a school. At first I found this hard going but I soon discovered that kids are the best to learn Spanish from. If you didn’t catch it the first time, they say it ten times faster the second, just to make sure you’re completely lost! On Wednesdays I was looking after babies in a crèche, I loved them because they didn’t care what language I spoke! On Saturdays I worked with kids in a poor area of the city, sharing with them Bible stories and playing games. Perhaps my favourite activity however was Church on Sunday, which is odd as I rarely understood much of it! I was based in the local Church which was great as it was in easy walking distance. From my first Sunday there, everybody in the Church embraced me like I was family. The people there just seemed to radiate God’s love, they all worked together to make the Church an amazing place to worship. The young people in the Church welcomed me into their group, looking after me from day one and ever patient with my struggling Spanish, and I found wonderful friends in all of them.

My heart was torn when three months later I had to say goodbye. I had grown so accustomed to the heat of the summer sun, the food, the relaxed lifestyle, how could I return to Northern Ireland? The hardest of all was of course to say goodbye to my lovely friends, they had given me so much support while I was there, I couldn’t imagine not seeing them everyday.
I learnt so much from my time in Salta. The people there have so little so they depend on God for everything. I learnt the value of prayer, for others and indeed for myself when things were tough. I learnt to appreciate what I have, and that while language is important, actions speak a lot louder than words. I know that no one can understand my experiences just by reading about them, but for the numerous SAMS supporters who pray and give please be assured that I experienced something very significant during my time in Argentina. Be encouraged, be really encouraged.

Thank you
Carly

News from the SAMS Prayer line

Please continue to uphold the Venables family: Bishop Greg arrives on Friday to join Sylvia and mourners at the funeral of her mother that day. Greg and Sylvia will then spend most of March in the UK on a pre-planned visit.

This Friday the Pastoral Committee of the Diocese of Northern Argentina holds an important meeting in La Caldera, near Salta. They seek the way forward to break the stagnation in the diocese in recent years. Pray that God will direct the pastors and lay leaders and renew their vision and motivation.

Archdeacon Hugo Vergara will lead this meeting. Pray for him and his wife Techy who have been suffering cardiovascular problems caused by stress.

Also on Friday the team from the FEISA Teacher Training College make their second training visit to Yatnata in the Paraguayan Chaco helping mothers set up a nursery for the youngest children. Pray for their travel and for the impact of this two-day visit.

Finally, a reminder that the BBC2 programme ‘Tropic of Capricorn’ this Sunday at 8pm includes a visit to the Argentine Chaco with a short feature on the Wichi people and deforestation.

New Term in Paraguay

The new academic year begins in Paraguay.

St. Andrew's SchoolToday in Asunción, Paraguay, Patrick Butler will speak at the opening service of St. Andrew’s School; please pray for Patrick and the challenge and encouragement of his message for students and staff as they embark on this new journey.

FEISA, the Early Years Teacher Training College in Asunción, is also back in action and this weekend a team will make the first 2008 visit to the indigenous community of Yatnata to start a training programme with the mothers to enable them to set up their own nursery for the youngest children. Please pray for the FEISA team as they prepare the training and for the right mothers to attend and be committed to the programme.

Also in the Paraguayan Chaco this weekend a youth conference is being held under the leadership of Pastor Elvio. A group of 30 young people accompanied by 10 adults will share with other young people and leaders in El Estribo community. Called “Sowing well for good results”, the conference will challenge young people to develop daily Bible reading habits.

Jo Hamilton reflects

Jo HamiltonJo Hamilton a 22 year old from Lurgan has just returned from working for a three month period as a volunteer with the Red Box Project.

Argentina has impacted me in a way that I pray I never forget. I only hope that I can pass on the lessons and blessings that I have received. I came from Northern Ireland to serve through the Red Box Project and in return I was served by others in ways which went beyond my imagination.

Salta in the North of Argentina is beautiful and it’s rich with Gods amazing creation. The weather is changeable during the winter, one day you have multiple layers of clothes due to the cold, to wearing a light top the next day. The food is delicious, especially Dulce de Leche and Milanesa. But the thing I found most beautiful was the openness of the people. They are amazing and as westerners we have a lot to learn. The hearts of the people in the church are hearts of kindness, generosity, love, devotion and complete trust in God. I want to share a few experiences I have had here to demonstrate how special my friends are here.

From my first day in the church I was warmly welcomed with a loudly sang Bienvenido (welcome) alongside hugs and kisses. The warmness of everyone was amazing and the time when the youth just came up and wanted to give hugs was in abundance and it was a pleasure to return these embraces. On a couple of occasions when I mentioned that I liked something that they had they immediately wanted to give it to me as a gift. These gifts will remain special – special gifts of love and unselfishness.

I have certainly learnt so much here about materialism. In this country money may be a struggle for people but when I see my friends here they are rich in ways that I want in my life. God is at the centre of everything here and most importantly in the centre of the hearts of the people. Everything is completely surrounded in prayer and Gods provision has been evident. Life is not about striving to be in the best career, with the best clothes or the best house etc.

In Salta and through working with the Red Box Project I have learnt the meaning of life. It is about unity and support for one another in hard times. It is about showing love and generosity to the unloved. It is about serving others even if you are not being served. It is about having a passion at all times to follow the will of God even if it may not be what you desire. But most of all it is placing your life in the hands of God with a heart of dependency, dedication, trust, faith and love. We have a lot to learn from the people here in Salta and if you come to work with the Red Box Project you will have your eyes opened to another way of being.

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