Monday, August 19, 2013

More Pictures Than Words...

Eric driving with argentina ma-te
Hi!  Oh how we’ve wanted to post an update over the past several days.  Late nights, no Wi-Fi, and busy days have prevented it.  We’ve covered 1,900 km thus far.  Until you drive in the Patagonia (and we’re not even half way into it), you really don’t understand just how vast it is!

Tero bird in Bahia Blanca
We left Buenos Aires and drove all day (still in the province of B.A.) arriving late that night into the city of Bahia Blanca.  This is one of the cities we have been counseled to consider as we pray about where to move.  We only stayed one night but explored the city a little.  The next morning, we left and drove all the way to Puerto Madryn (province of Chubut).  The most interesting thing was being stopped at each police check-point and asked if all these kids were indeed ours.  At one check-point, they made us give them all the kid’s documents so they could verify that they were ours.

Rest-Stop at Rio Colorado

Once arriving into Puerto Madryn and checking into the hostel where we’d be staying, we met all the pastors at the church for the pastor’s retreat.  We were very well received.  It was very emotional to hear the pastors talk about Kristi’s parents and the work they did many years ago as well as the work Grady and Claire have continued.
Rio Colorado rest-stop

The kids and I didn’t stay for all the meetings.  We spent some time at the beach, collecting sea shells and enduring the wind.  We also did some driving around exploring the area.  Eric had a great time listening to the work that God is doing in the different cities and regions.  It seems that the recurring themes and statements were the common problems each church is facing, that the Patagonia is a forgotten area in terms of ministry, and that the distances are so vast.  There was a sense community, all united by these common threads.  Eric was asked to bring the devotional Saturday morning (by ‘devotional,’ they really mean message).  We were also able to give out the little gifts we had made for all the pastors.
A common sight: virgin Mary and saint shrines on the side of the road

Loooooonnnnnngg Trips of the Patagonia

Saturday (after finding a little place that could repair my phone after it fell into the mud), during the long break, we were able to make the ‘trek’ to Playa Doradillo to see the whales.  It was amazing to see them so close!  That night, we went to the special service of ordination for one of the pastors.  The kids endured the 3 hour service without losing it (thank you, Lord!) and we enjoyed a meal with all the brethren of roasted leg of cow served in sort of a pita type bread.  It was delicious.  Our kids tried to make several friends using their Spanish.  They really are learning more and more.  We are so proud of them.

Sunday, we went to Trelew (province of Chubut) to have lunch with our teammates, Grady and 
Grady and Claire Milstead - our teammates!

Claire Milstead.  It was like going home.  They let us use their washer and dryer and served us a delicious ‘asado’ (Argentine grill).  We had a great time of fellowhip and listened to all the advice and wisdom they shared with us.  One of the first things Grady did when we got there was to take the kids to the back yard and show them the fossils my mom (Kristi’s mom – Karen De Leon) had found years ago when they first moved to the Patagonia.  Our time meeting with the Milsteads was so profitable that we decided to stay in the area another day so we could meet again.

Monday, we used the day to do a little sight-seeing.  We drove to the “Peninsula Valdez” to see the seals and sea lions (the sea lions were not there yet).  It was a beautiful drive!  We also went to an Ecocenter to learn more about the Southern Right Whale, the Orca, and other aquatic mammals of the region.  The kids were able to use their money to buy some little souvenirs and we ended the day enjoying some delicious “Pizza a la Piedra.” 

Today, we are heading back to Trelew to meet with Grady and Claire.  We have more questions for them.  We also have more dirty clothes!  We will go with them to a Dinosaur Museum and then share leftovers with them at their house.

So far, our plan is to leave tomorrow and drive north-west to Cipolletti (Rio Negro) to meet with a brother who was here at the pastor’s retreat.  We were very well received by the pastors and their families.  Many of them spoke so highly of Richard and Karen and the work they did many years ago.  Several of them invited us to come visit them and see the work.  In talking with Grady and Claire and listening to their insights and experience, it seemed good to go to Cipolletti to meet with this brother and talk with him about the work and seek his wisdom and advice.  He asked us to stay until Sunday and wants to take us around to the different “obras” (works) that are going on in the area.

Emilia is happy to be out of her carseat

At the Puerto Madryn beach




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