Taking the Right Step

Today was a stair day. The team went down to the local steps that climb from one neighbourhood to the next, with over 300 steps in all, to clean them up. I ended up welding a broken step in the base that had cracked, using a borrowed welder and a lot of luck. It has been a long time since I last welded and getting it right was not as easy as I first hoped. In the end, with a few practices we ended up with a workable and not-too-shabby solution.

Welding the stairs

Welding the broken step.

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Getting Higher on Internet

To get internet out where we are, we needed to set up a wifi connection between us and town that allowed us to access a broadband internet connection there. This was first done with a 6m pole that we mounted at both ends of the connection. Although this worked well at first, the connection at our end was not working as well as it could, so it was time to make some changes.


Looking down towards the city (shimmering glow in distance) from our YWAM Base, 6km out of town.

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Connections in the Bush

Well, to be honest it is not really the bush out here. In fact, it could never really be the bush out here, considering that we live in the middle of a desert. But the idea is the same. The bush means far from anything like a city. We are far from anything like a city.

A long way from town

Looking towards the city from halfway down the road.

The city of Puerto Madryn lies 6kms from us. The nearest point of the town, before everything melts into desert-scape is somewhere between three and four kilometres away. This is our nearest possibility for internet, as where we are, there is nothing. But that has all been explained before.

The point of writing this post is to tell you not of our problems, but our solutions. How we now have internet where there was none. How we connected everything up and worked it all out. The technical, and not so technical bits about it all.

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A Week in Buenos Aires

Before leaving Argentina I headed to Buenos Aires for a week. There was still one YWAM base in Argentina that did not have a website yet. My goal was to give them one by the end of the week. It worked.

Through a lot of hard work and some very late nights, it was possible to piece together a website for YWAM Capital Base by the end of the week. This was not without its problems, but with a lot of work and the effortless work of Silvana by my side, we finally did it (now replaced by a newer version done by another).

Working on the website with Silvana

More after the jump…

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Life in the Aires

Buenos Aires and the Obelisk, one of the icons of the city
Buenos Aires and the Obelisk, one of the icons of the city

Today I was supposed to be on a bus heading back to Puerto Madryn. But today I remain here in Buenos Aires. My visit of 10 days has just been extended for another week. The reason? Too much to do in just 10 days.

The purpose of my visit here to Buenos Aires is that of helping out one of the YWAM bases here in the city. There are three bases in Buenos Aires: the Ituzaingo base, the first and largest base in Buenos Aires where most training schools are run; the Prayer Center, which focuses on working with the government, media, and educational institutions throughout Argentina; and the Counselling Center with counselling and counselling schools, social and youth assistance, and inner-city based ministries.

My work is with the Counselling Center. Ironically all of the staff here are women, yet this place suffers from the greatest need for construction and other heavy physical work. The girls here have not sat back and waited for others to rescue them, but have indeed got in and built, plastered, cleaned, painted, and done anything and everything that they can. Some things however are still beyond them. Plumbing, electrical wiring, building brick walls, adding mezzanine floors, and partitioning rooms all fall in that category. Fortunately there are people who are helping them out in these areas. I am one of them.

Inesse and Rocio preparing the front doors to be sanded
Inesse and Rocio preparing the front doors to be sanded

Somewhere along the way somebody got the idea in their head that I was a good builder. So they called me to help out in May to build some mezzanine floors for them. Now I am back again to partition the huge rooms and make them smaller to provide more room for the students that are about to arrive for the September schools. We started with just two basic partitions, and things have grown from there. A hallway to isolate one room from another, dividing one room into two which led to dividing another room in two, which has led to putting another mezzanine floor and stairs in, and some brickwork and the strengthening of brick walls, plus plastering the walls already built, adding extra lights to the divided rooms, and cabling everything. There was just not enough time in 10 days.

As a result the verdict was that I should stay until the work is finished. From what I can see that will be another week at least or perhaps more, although only two weeks remain before I fly to El Salvador for my friends’ wedding.

But for now, it is back to work. 🙂

Silvana sanding back the walls in preparation to paint
Silvana sanding back the walls in preparation to paint
The first division behind me, and the beginning of the hallway
The first division behind me, and the beginning of the hallway
The third division now completed
The third division now completed

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.

Volcano Next Door and Other Activities

I imagine that You are probably already informed of the volcano in
Chaiten, Chile that is currently in eruption. Well this smoking
mountain is only a few hundred kilometres from me on the other side of
the Andes Mountains. We have been fine in Bariloche, escaping the
ashes until today.

A Xinhua Photo

Today they have arrived. Instead of snow, ashes are floating down over
the city and environs, covering everything in sight. This ash affects
everything it touches, destroying some things, polluting others, and
clogging up the rest. It affects breathing, hinders road transport (my
current concern), stops flights, and closes down the city.

Right now I’m in Buenos Aires, with the hope that I’ll be able to
return Sunday night. Buses to our neighbouring city of Esquel were
cancelled while the ashes were falling. The situation is very
changeable so it will be the day before when this becomes clear.

Not only is it the ashes that may cause travel hiccups but for the
next 9 days farmers are blocking the mayor traffic routes around the
country. They are striking against government control over what they
can grow and export, and also to ask for higher meat prices.

Paro de Productores Cortan Rutas

During their talks with the government, when communication breaks
down, they take to the main routes and block traffic. Their main
target is the trucks, but as a result there can be large delays,
exceeding 6 hours.

So for now I continue working on fixing up this old house. My work
involves covering doorways with plaster board, building a mezzanine
floor with stairs and handrail, and helping calculate the materials
needed to finish the work here.

The work is extensive, with rendering, painting, repairs, and many
ceilings yet to be done. With only one week here, my work will be
focused on the most urgent things, that need to be done before people
can occupy this place. Already the bathrooms and kitchen are mostly
finished and usable, with hot and cold water. The rest of the work
will be finished once they are living here.

That’s my lot. Take care and have a great day.