My Flight Left Without Me

qantas jet

Ok, well, it’s like this… I’m still in Australia even though my flight left (without me) over 9 hours ago.

Tell me about it. Talk about crazy stuff! My bags are still packed, I have a Brazilian visa in my passport (that will never get used), and had all of my travel organized, even down to people I’m staying with and everything. And now I’m not going…
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Birthday in Oz

When I turned 40, it was a really big deal. Unfortunately for me, the people around me did not think the same way, and so my 40th birthday came and went without any fanfare at all. I guess when you are in the middle of Peru, surrounded by students and constrained by activities relating to the mission in which I am involved, it is pretty hard to organise something big.

A couple of eggs smashed on my head, which seems to be a customary thing for those with birthdays in Peru, and a card signed by a handful of friends were about the only reminders that this was actually one of the biggest days of my life.

Some of my birthday presents

The age of forty for me was one of the greatest milestones in my life. It brought with it many discoveries both about who I was and where I was going that caused both conflict and serious growth during this time. To have celebrated it in some big way would have helped me pass through this process at the time.

Now it does not matter anymore. Of course it did at the time, but it was one of those things that after a year it was no longer important. Now I am turning 41. This seems hardly significant at all, as most of my struggles relating to this new age are now over.

Turning 40 was like the entry into adulthood, it was the turning of a corner in life that revealed that I could not remain young forever. Perhaps for others this happens at 30 or another age. For me it happened at 40.

So when my birthday comes and goes it is no longer matters greatly to me. Sure, celebrating with good friends or doing something nice on the day is always great, but it is no longer a necessity. I can relate now to my late grandmother who saw every birthday the same as any other day.

Apart from some eats (as seen in the pic) for presents, there was nothing more to identify my birthday this time. No big party, no phone calls outside of family (maybe everyone is too used to me being overseas), no expensive presents, no anything. Yet somehow it seemed right. This time… I liked it like that.

This was the first birthday I have celebrated in Australia for over ten years… and the quietest one too.

More photos after the break…

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The Best Way To Wake Up

Waves

The sweet harmony of crashing waves slowly ease their way through into my consciousness. I spin on the bed, trying to coax another half an hour’s rest from the already stifling hot day. The early sun’s rays have heated the canvas annex to the point of a sauna and beads of sweat are starting to run off my body.

“Just a little more…” I think to myself casting off even the smallest corner of the sheet which had been touching me in the vain hope that it would cool me off.

Ten minutes later, after tossing and turning and trying to force myself back into the bliss of sleep, the war against the ever increasing heat off the sun is lost.

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Working in the Streets

The Soup VanI had been sitting there for a while before Andrew sat down beside me. The flimsy plastic chairs that we had lined against the wall provided welcome relief for Andrew as he shared of the complete exhaustion that now came upon him since he stopped using drugs.

Brought up in a rich home with both parents working in high-level medical fields, Andrew decided to drop out of life after high-school. One of three children, he names himself the black sheep of the family. It has been two years now since his dad dropped him off in this area, destined to live on the streets.

More story after the break…

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New Years at Mooloolaba

Somehow, this part of the beach has earned a reputation for being the party area. As such, every year they celebrate the New Year with lots of fireworks, bands, and activities along the main street which is closed and fenced off.

The evening is divided into two sections, with family friendly events and activities running from early afternoon until the culmination of their day with fireworks at 8pm. Just after this the main events for the evening started to gear up, with concerts, buskers, and roving acts throughout the night until midnight when the largest of the fireworks celebrates the New Year.

My old year ended at about 11pm when I crawled into my bed, and my new year began at 12.01am when everybody on the beach started screaming and shouting “Happy New Year” for the next ten minutes.

So Happy 2009 to all of you. I trust that this year brings you closer to your dreams, nearer to your loved ones, deeper in your convictions, and stronger in your faith. Have a great one!

Rob.

The fireworks at 8pm

The 8pm fireworks for New Year’s Eve. The main crowd can be seen standing on the lit beach to the right of the fireworks, while this was taken from a distance at the entrance to the river harbour.

More photos after the break…

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Christmas by the Beach

Only one week after arriving in Australia I have been living at the beach in a caravan with my family. Time here goes both slowly and quickly at the same time. Each day is filled with nothing, and nothing is one of the best things you can do. A sleep here or there, reading the paper or a book, watching the waves roll in to the shore or the people on the beach, diving into the water to cool off and ride a wave, catching up with some emails, and wandering around the shops.

It is a life of nothing, a very relaxing few weeks set aside amongst a busy schedule to help remind me that it really is possible to live this way… at least for a little while.

Taking up the van Waves

Towing the van up to the coast… A wave rolling in toward the shore.

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Travels and More Travels

This year has been an unsettled year, with one journey following another. Since the beginning of this year the time I have spent in my home base between travels has been less than 8 weeks, and it does not look like slowing down for the rest of the year.

Mobile Hands in Buenos Aires
What have all of these travels been about? Each one seems to have a different reason and focus. Ushuaia was to renew my visa and get in touch with Rix, the man in charge of raising up the new YWAM base down there. Now in a few days I will be heading to Buenos Aires once again to help build some walls and fit some doors for the YWAM Counselling ministry in preparation for their soon-to-start school. This is a part of the (unofficial) Mobile Hands ministry.

Wedding in El Salvador
Upon returning from Buenos Aires I will have two weeks in the base before heading to Chile to take a flight through to El Salvador. Two very good friends that work in our YWAM base in Puerto Madryn are getting married; Paul is from Peru, and Maricruz is from El Salvador. It was one of my desires to be able to be present during their wedding, as Paul is probably my best friend on the base, and I am very excited to be able to be there, made possible only because I had accumulated sufficient air-points from my travels before reaching Argentina in 2004.

Miami, The States, and Computers
An unexpected bonus from this flight is a 3 day stopover in Miami. It has been almost two years now since I felt God ask me to give my laptop computer away. During these two years the work that I have been doing on computers has actually increased until during this year alone I have built over 8 websites for different YWAM bases and ministries here in Argentina. Working without a computer has been difficult, often involving using anything available at the time with a portable USB drive that has all of the programs I use installed on it, and paying for time on internet and computers where a local computer is not available. The prices of computers in the USA are much lower than South America, so my stopover will allow me to once again get another laptop.

Meeting Friends in Chile
Returning to Chile at the beginning of October after the wedding in El Salvador, I will be catching up with someone I met in China who happens to be flying in to Santiago on the same day, before heading back to Puerto Madryn for my longest stay this year. If no other travels arise during this time I am looking forward to enjoying almost two full months back in Puerto Madryn.

Land by the Beach (well, 5kms near)
This extended time will actually be very useful too. Some other amazing news is that I have just placed a deposit down on a 1 hectare (100m x 104m) block of land just outside the city of Puerto Madryn. This is something that seems almost too much to believe, and if you had asked me only one month ago if I thought it was possible that I would be the owner of some land here in Argentina I would have simply laughed and walked away. Of course, there are still ongoing monthly payments before I actually own the land outright, but there it is in my name. An amazing event that still has me reeling.

So the two months that I hope to spend back in Madryn will be helpful to begin the process of clearing, fencing, and starting to build on this new land. Naturally all of this takes money, and right now I have no idea where this will come from but the one thing that I do know is that what only a month ago seemed impossible is now a reality today. One of the most exciting things about this for me is that I have always wanted to be able to bring people that I have found on the streets home to offer them a place to stay while they need it. Having my own land and home will give me this opportunity, and I am very excited about it too.

Visiting Australia
Finally, for those of you living in Australia and nearby, I am heading back there early December and will be in that area of the world for three months, traveling a little to visit you guys.

And thus ends a year full of travels.
Regards, Rob.

Earlier Travels
PS: The travels during the early part of the year?

Well, there was 2 months in Peru with the project, “With Peru in the Heart” where we were working with different churches all over the two northern cities of Chiclayo and Trujillo.

Then 3 months were spent in Bariloche helping to translate for their first Discipleship Training School and build and improve the house where they were living. During this time was also one week in Buenos Aires building mezzanine floors for the YWAM Counselling ministry.

Then the two weeks down in Ushuaia.