Carlos Anacondia in Puerto Madryn

Carlos Anacondia came to Puerto Madryn to run an evangelistic campaign in the city. It was amazing to see the number of people turning up each night at the location which was quite a long way out of the centre.

Each night he preached on the love of Jesus and each night thousands of people came forward to commit their lives to following Christ.

Poster for the campaign
The poster for the campaign – Jesus loves you

The stage, crowded with people
The stage, crowded with people wanting to commit their lives to Christ

People pack the stadium to hear Carlos Anacondia
People come from all over the region to hear Carlos Anacondia speak about Jesus’ love for them

Waving banners during worship
During worship the people waved banners with the music

Oh The Wind

Oh the wind. Today is a very windy day with strong gusts lifting up everything that is not tied down. My big bottle of Coke is wobbling precariously on the table beside me as I stare out at the impenetrable clouds of sand and dust moving along with the gusts. It is a good thing that I am on the protected side of our main building.

Dust
The dust thrown up on a still day

It is days like today that I realise clearly that I am living in the middle of a desert. A patagonia desert, but one with lots of dust and sand and very little green.

One day when I was travelling in a bus northward, I remember waking up to trees and grass and being astounded at how pretty it was, staring out the window for hours. There is very little green and hardly any grass here where I am living.

But life is not bad. It was just today. When the wind pushed dirt under the door jams and through window gaps. When walking outside meant being covered in dust and dirt whipped up by the wind. It was just today that had me wondering why I was here, in the middle of the desert, on a little YWAM base.

Now the wondering did not remain too long, and another gulp of Coke and some delicious food that was generously placed in front of me soon helped me to forget all of this pondering. Then another gust of wind came. Dust lands in my food. Crunch. Ow. Nasty.

I get up and wander back inside. Here is everyone else, all of us locked inside, as though it was a fierce storm outside. Here is lots of action, people chatting, cooking, laughing, and enjoying life. Here I forget about the wind, forget about my ponderings, and enjoy my food.

I am not here for the weather, nor for the pretty-ness of the place. Each time the wind picks up it helps me to remember. I am here because I believe that this is where God has called me to be.

Cindy in Brazil

A good friend of mine from my days in New Zealand, Cindy Ruakere, has brought out her third CD and is now at the beginning of a one year world tour. It starts in Brazil, and involves living in a slum and ministring to the people here.

Cindy Ministering in Brazil
Cindy Ministering in Brazil

Here is a small extract from her email that covers the part about life in the “favela” slum:

Heliopolis Sao Paulo, the place where the druglords are the ministry protection because the police will shoot you rather than look at you. Where we wear bright green vests to show that we belong to Iris ministries which is looked upon kindly as caring for the children of Brazil, so we are afforded relative safety in the incredibly unsafe streets of this the largest slum in the world. Heliopolis with 3 million residents .

Heliopolis, where we have to turn our lights off and flash them once to the druglord guards that are stationed at the entrance and along the streets of the favela (slum), where the Holy Given school is situated.

Heliopolis, where my bedroom window has to be closed at night in case there are intruders who easily climb over the roof and just as easily shoot you in your bed. Where gunshots and machine gun fire is a common enough noise.

This is the Brazil we have entered and where Jesus is walking among us. This the first stop on our world tour. What a privilege and honour to be among these people. In the city of Sao Paulo where 18 million reside and life is cheap, Jesus lives.

More information can be found on her website.

Wedge and Shirley Alman

Our second week in Buenos Aires was a week of teaching by the two people who founded YWAM in Latin America. Wedge and Shirley Alman are a couple who came to Latin America and told them that they could be involved in missions during a time when all of the traditional mission agencies were saying that they never would be.

At almost 80 years of age, this couple had many stories to share with us, but the most important thing that they shared was something called the Open View of God. More information on this can be found in the book by Gregory A. Boyd called “God of the Possible.” This challenges the traditional view of many churches that God controls all evil and uses it for His purposes.

The week was run as is any other normal week on a YWAM base, with our students involved in the daily running and maintenance of the grounds, cooking of meals and the rest. The weather was very hot and muggy with gadzillions of mosquitoes out to suck our blood at night. Sleeping was very difficult during this week especially.

During the week I had the privilege of driving down the largest avenue in the world, the Avenida 9 de Julio in the middle of Buenos Aires, where the Obelisk is located. The best part of this however was the motorway interchange that brought me down onto this avenue. The motorway is elevated from the ground and the interchange brought us commanding views over the entire city and avenue. It was worth returning for a second view. Of course the heavy traffic that is typical of such a mega-city was ever present during our time there too.

Overall the week was great, and we were thankful to have remained for this extra time in Buenos Aires, even though it meant we were away from our home in Puerto Madryn for one month.

The Time Between

Well, it has been a while since I updated this blog. What has been happening since Corrientes?

Carolina
The first and most important thing that has been happening is that I have met a beautiful girl from Colombia. Carolina was a student on the outreach in Peru that I was leading and since returning from Corrientes we have started to spend a lot of time together. More news on that shortly.

CR.jpg
Introducing Brodie to Carol via MSN Messenger

Building a House
That’s right, I have started to build a house. No plans, no permissions, simply find a corner and start digging the foundations. The only complication is that I have no idea how to build a house over here. The advice I have received so far is somewhat conflicting and I am still struggling with the basics of the foundations but there is progress happening.

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Digging the foundation trenches for the one roomed home

Teaching in Trelew
A couple of weekends ago I was part of a team that went to our neighbouring city of Trelew (1 hour away) to work and teach in a church there. We worked solidly for two days with the children and youth, also teaching adults in the evening services. Many of the children were impacted by the stories that we told them about our different nations (Latvia, Australia, Colombia and Argentina) and enjoyed our interactive teachings.

Translating Quickly
In YWAM we have a Discipleship Training School which is bilingual. There are two of us that translate the teachers, which normally is from Spanish into English. Most teachers pause while we are translating, which helps a lot, but some get so excited in what they are teaching that they completely forget. So in cases like this, we are both learning how to simultaneously translate so that the English students do not miss out on important parts of the message. It has been a challenge but also very enjoyable too.

So that is life down here in Patagonia Argentina. The weather is warming up now, and during the day we can normally take our coats off. Soon the beach will be filled with people as this sleepy town starts to bulge with tourists during the summer season.

Instantly Healed

Although I believe that God can heal, it is very rare when I am praying for somebody that they are healed right then on the spot. You see, my mum was healed of the fast acting strand of multiple-sclerosis over twenty years ago, and my shoulder was instantly restored to normal, from being virtually pulled from the socket and stretching the ligaments beyond repair, after my mum and her “prayer team” prayed for me.

I have heard of many instant healings and even miracles during my life, but only for two or three have I been present to witness. They were unmistakeable however.

One was for a friend with extremely sore eyes that were very blood-shot after sleeping with his contacts in all night in front of a fan. When I prayed for him, the pain and soreness disappeared and the redness was reduced dramatically. He was amazed at the difference, and went away happy. Later in the day he mentioned to me that some discomfort had returned again, although it was not as bad as before. I do not know why this happened.

Another time I prayed for a weakened hand which was instantly restored to strength.

Both of these times I felt very strongly that I should pray for these people. The next time I did not happen this way. Recently, while in Peru, I was asked to pray for a woman with an excruciating headache. She was instantly healed.

Not knowing about her pain, I was passing through their house where we were staying when her husband called me and asked me if I could pray for her. Just by looking at her I could tell that she was in a lot of pain. Her eyes were bloodshot and filled with tears from the aching.

So I gently placed my hands on her head and prayed. I felt nothing while praying, just a slight warmth on my hands. When I had finished, I asked her how she was feeling. With a smile coming from a relaxed face she said that the headache had gone. Then she grabbed her throat and said that the pain that she had experienced there was also completely gone too.

The pain from her face had left, and her eyes no longer watered. She smiled and said thanks, and then I moved on. Why this happened to her and not to any of the countless others for whom I have prayed for, I do not know. Why my friend’s eyes started to cause discomfort again in the afternoon when they were perfect after I had prayed for him in the morning I do not know either.

The only thing that I know, is that I have seen with my eyes that people are healed when you pray for them. Not all of the time, but sometimes. And for me, that is enough to encourage me to keep praying for people.

Maybe the next person I pray for will also be instantly healed.

Peru – Almost Robbed

Well, after two years in South America, a land riddled with stories of people being robbed and attacked and various other fear inducing things, I guess it was likely to happen to me at some point.

The Situation
It was Saturday night, walking with two of the girls in my team to the local church, when we crossed through a park on a path that we had often taken during the last week. This time there was a man in his late twenties following us.

I had noticed him earlier, but was not too concerned because he had not been following for too long. He was also whistling which put me further at ease, thinking that a thief would want to be less conspicuous. I was wrong.
Continue reading “Peru – Almost Robbed”

Identifying and Obeying Our Values

A doctor seated beside me told me of how he and his Catholic priest would head over to his place for a number of beers. Sometimes they would get so caught up in their conversations that they would drink until they had become drunk. His question was, "what harm is there in two guys getting slightly drunk at home?"

The implication however, was that getting drunk was perfectly fine because if the priest did it with me it must be ok. Talking to him further revealed that he had a number of children who were now teenagers. This doctor mentioned that he would never drink in front of them. This directly contradicted with the man’s first statement.

We started discussing this point, arguing that if he was not willing to drink in front of his children, then it was obvious that he held a value that drinking was wrong. If it was not wrong then there would be no problem in drinking in front of them. It may also be, for arguments sake, that the value was about it being wrong to get drunk. In either case, this value was being violated when the doctor would drink to excess with his priest.

Not only this, but each time he drank with his priest, he was fooling himself into thinking that everything was alright because his priest was also part of the act, dissipating part of his guilt. Perhaps he was reasoning with himself that it was ok to drink because he felt that he could control himself, or for some other weak concession that he was making for himself. In reality, he was trampling all over this value of his which so clearly showed itself when his children were around.

After violating a value for a sufficient amount of time, our conscience does not remind us so loudly of our error and we start to sear it as with a hot iron, becoming less and less sensitive to it. Soon we do not even hear it, but it does not change the fact that we are still acting against it.

Being true to ourselves is identifying those values that we hold and starting to live true to them, obeying our conscience no matter how weak its voice may have become. It is through doing this that we will experience true peace, both with ourselves and with others.

YWAM Tarija – An Early Childhood Centre

Here I am in Tarija, staying at the YWAM base here. This base is not like many of the bases of YWAM in that it does not run courses or training. What it does however is something very important for the community. Run by one woman who is occasionally assisted by temporary helpers, this base provides a free educational service for poor families in the neighborhoods.

teaching in a group
Stephanie teaches the days of the week through a dance.

on the blackboard
Young girl working on the blackboard with chalk.

Many of the children that come to this centre have terrible stories about their family life. Others have lived in poverty and never been given the opportunity to experience the learning opportunities of the rich. Most families do not have electricity in their houses, few have water, and some eat from the garbage dump to survive. These are families in massive risk. A great number of them are “mistresses,” women on their own with one or more children to try and keep alive.

The goal of this centre is to provide these children with both the educational and relational experiences they need to be able to succeed in life. And it is doing a remarkable job too.

Mercedes working with the children
Mercedes works with the children both together and individually.

Stephanie working with a girl
Working one-on-one with the children.

Here are some photos of the children as they work away in the centre, learning and discovering things that they had never had the opportunity to do before. If you would like to help them out, then I am certain that Mercedes would be very pleased to have you along. Obviously, being in a Spanish country means that being able to speak Spanish would be an advantage, but is not essential. Contact me and I will pass on your request (translated if in English). I have had a lot of fun working with the children during my time here and I am sure you will find your time here rewarding.

young girl cannot speak
An older child that still cannot speak more than a few words.

Girl playing with plasticine
Young girl building hand skills in plasticine.

alphabet puzzle
A young boy works on getting his alphabet letters in the right place.

girl painting
A young girl working at the painting table.

Church in the Plaza – Cochabamba

It was only one day that I was able to spend at the orphanage, and by the evening of that day I had returned to the church where I would stay the night before leaving early the next day for La Paz.

Christ statue on hill
Although not all, many of the cities in South America have their own statue of the Christ up on top of a nearby hill.

That night was the last night of an Easter campaign in the plaza, run by this large church. As a guest, I was invited to join them in this large event. When I got there, it turned out to be church in the plaza with lots of dance and drama for the people that came by. People also moved through the crowd passing out tracts about Christ.

the church
The building that houses the large church that looks after the orphanage.

After the event and returning all of the gear that had been used during it, I returned to my small room in the front corner of the church. The church had fed me and looked after me during my short stay here, and had even purchased my ticket to La Paz. Now I was in a guest room inside the church building, yet more evidence of their generousity. Sleep came quickly at 1am in the morning. Tomorrow would be an early start.

the plaza
The Plaza of the Flags, where the church service was held, on the main street of Cochabamba.

looking at event over flowers
The plaza was surrounded by rich beds of flowers everywhere.

girls dancing
Some girls dance before the crowd to a Christian song.

preacher preaching
Preaching to the crowd that has gathered, as seen from the other side of the main