Sunday, November 30, 2008
I couldn't resist

You know it's time to look for a new marketing firm when...

When we saw this in the freezer section of one of our neighborhood mini-marts, I couldn't resist the temptation to buy it simply for the photo op and blogging potential. But since we both grew up in waste-not-want-not families, we didn't feel right about throwing away perfectly good food. After eating one of the patties, however; we decided it was, in fact, perfectly aweful food and therefore a good thing to throw away :-)

Salta de Alegria?

Saturday's intensive course lasted 7-hours but in classic youth ministry style we tried to keep it fun and varied.

One of the highlights was Flavio & Andrea Calvo's presentation about Salta de Alegria, an incredibly creative program they founded that has helped hundreds of kids and spawned a growing church, the Gospel according to the Simpsons, a public school sex and sexuality series and a grassroots guerrilla marketing campaign.

Andrea & Flavio (left side)

We had invited them to talk about Youth and Culture because they are masters at using the language of popular culture to communicate the gospel and other eternal truths. Flavio and Andrea's part was even better than we expected because their stories - besides being inspiring - reinforced the principals we'd been teaching earlier in the day.

After 40 years of seeing God coordinate things like that it continues to amazes me.

Sunday, November 23, 2008
Now THAT's Different

"What is Buenos Aires like?"

That was the question, but I didn't have a good answer. So now I'm trying to see life here through that lens and it's fun. Here are a few of the different things I've noticed (in no particular order):
  • Jacaranda trees (in photo with purple flowers) are all over the city
  • sidewalks are dog poop and loose sidewalk tile mine fields (it's dangerous to look up)
  • women wear more skirts and dresses (but only a bit more)
  • more beards and long hair on men and lots of loafer shoes
  • only kids and tourists wear baseball caps
  • there is nearly always a breeze; at times it carries the smell of flowers
  • orange and tangerine trees line the streets in parts of the city
  • tons of sidewalk cafés with people reading or chatting (like Paris in the movies)
  • delivery guys are sometimes on rollerblades (usually on scooters or bikes)
  • something is often dripping on you...certain trees "cry" a light rain, A/C units drip onto the sidewalks, pigeons drop
  • men, women and children who recycle trash as a job pull large carts thru the streets
  • it's common to see dog-walkers with 10+ dogs walking down the street (see slideshow)
If you'd like to see a short slideshow (14 photos and a 24 second video) that show some of the things mentioned above... just click here or the image above.

Friday, November 14, 2008

LAGrAm. is one of the reasons Buenos Aires is a good place for a youth ministry institute. Still true to its name over 25 years after it was founded, this “Group of friends and Leaders of Adolescents” (acronym) organizes interdenominational camps and activites throughout the year for all ages from pre-teens to young adults.

The three other members of the staff on the EJ Institute launch team grew up in LAGrAm and still volunteer there, several of our faculty members have roots in LAGrAm, and I’m sure many of our students will come from the LAGrAm community as well.

Although we’ve been friends with the directors for years, we’d never participated in one of their events until last weekend when we given five hours to work with the fifty leaders who had brought their jr. high kids to PLAF.

Click here for a quick slideshow and 24 second video that'll give you a feel for the event. What you cannot see however is that the temperature was in the 90s, the humidity index in the 70s and the only thing to cool us all down was one fan and the gracious donation of ice cream bars for everyone.

Saturday, November 01, 2008
French designers, curdled milk, and chronic ignorance

A French landscape architect named Carlos Thays helped design the parks and walkways of Buenos Aires. His botanical gardens as well as the 61 acre series of parks called "Palermo Woods" are within walking distance from the apartment we've been loaned. As you can see we're thoroughly enjoying Spring down here.

We didn't want to have a fridge sucking electricity while we were gone for weeks, but now that it's warm enough to curdle our long-shelf life milk, we broke down and got one. It's tiny but has enough room for leftovers and bags of milk. (One of the disciplines of urban living is letting the grocery stores -- there are at least seven in a two block radius -- store our food until we need it.)

Our nephew Logan was home sick one morning we decided to Skype. Here Annette is helping him do some math: if there are twenty students in your class and only fifteen of them came to school because the rest were sick, how many students were sick?

Now that all the members of the youth workers institute team are actually in the country at the same time, things are moving forward. If you're interested in a vignette about this week's lesson to remember, click here. We also learned that the baked goods from our favorite french bakery aren't called "bread" because here "bread" is what you use for sandwiches or toast. Maybe someday we won't feel chronically ignorant...maybe :-)

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