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Buenos Aires

For the past week I have been in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I have had a wonderful time here, even with a jet-lagged brain. My first impression of Buenos Aires was that I felt like I was back in New York City. Even on the cab ride in from the airport I was amazed how familiar it felt. Buenos Aires is a very metropolitan city, a major port, and home to people of all different cultural backgrounds. The major difference, of course, is that the language here is Spanish. I tried to use what little I know, but my brain kept overriding Spanish with Dutch (which I learned while living in Belgium). I could say about three words in a sentence in Spanish, then I could only think of how to finish it in Dutch. A couple nights I was even dreaming in this strange Spanish/Dutch combo!

Orchestra on the street

I stayed with a fantastic family – Dennis, Maribel, and Benjamin Smith (they also have another son, Lucas, who was away while I was visiting). Dennis is the PC(USA) regional liaison for Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay. He is a long time PC(USA) mission co-worker, but fairly new to this position. He served for over 30 years in Guatemala before moving with his family to Buenos Aires about a year and a half ago. Maribel is Guatemalan and such a joy. I had so much fun with her this week, just chatting in their apartment or walking around the city together.

Dennis and Maribel

I had the opportunity to attend the board meeting of the Agencia Lationamericana y Caribeña de Comunicación, which is “an independent ecumenical news agency that focuses on Latin America’s churches and civil society (Dennis Smith).” At this meeting the board was approving their new strategic plan that emphasizes advocacy, investigative journalism, and the right to communicate. There were many important church leaders from Latin America there and I was glad to have a chance to meet them and sit in on their meeting.

The ALC board meeting

During my time here I also met with Katie Griffin, a PC(USA) co-worker who is a church history professor at ISEDET, a theological university/seminary. She has been teaching in Buenos Aires since 1998. We spent a great afternoon together which included a tour of ISEDET, a wonderful Italian style cappuccino at a nearby café, and conversation. We were able to share how God has lead both of us to where we are today. I was very encouraged by my time with Katie.

Katie in the library at ISEDET

On Saturday we attended a worship service at ISEDET in celebration of Reformation Day. It was a very ecumenical service with folks from many reformed traditions worshipping together. It was a sweet time to celebrate our heritage together.

Maribel reading Scripture at the Reformation Day worship

Sunday morning we attended an Anglican church, where the Smith family usually worships. I had also been attending an Anglican church in Zambia, so I was able to follow along with the liturgy. Also, they sang many worship songs that were familiar to me so I could understand what we were singing. After church we went out for lunch at a great Peruvian restaurant.

Communion at the Anglican church

I also had time to explore Buenos Aires with Dennis and Maribel. We spent two afternoons strolling through craft markets in different parks. We got around by bus, subway, and on foot. We passed by Starbucks and McDonalds, as well as street vendors and sidewalk markets. I enjoyed my time here and it made me more excited to return to NYC and explore my new neighborhood.

An afternoon at the market

Mates - cups and straws used for drinking the local tea - for sale

Sunday night we had a big thunderstorm and awoke on Monday morning to find that parts of the city of Buenos Aires had been seriously affected by flooding. In some places flash floods had piled cars on top of each others and some parts of the city were still underwater. Later that night, hurricane Sandy hit the east coast of the United States, including New York City. I hope that you are all safe and pray that you will be granted patience and wisdom as you wait for the storm and its effects to clear. 

Posted October 30, 2012


Another visit with more of my favorite people. We have known Dennis for many, many years.

Sue on October 30, 2012

It's good to hear something about what churches are up to in South America, as a change from Southeast Asia. I look forward to your further reports. And to think you'll be back in NY in a bit more than a month!

Kathy Hoffman on October 30, 2012

try to grab a tango lesson or show before you leave. :)

allison m on October 31, 2012

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