January 29, 2009
We're back!! There are so many things to tell you, but I'll hit camp today, and our travel adventures in a later post. The country of Argentina is quite spectacular, so I can't wait to tell you about what we saw in the city, what the current trends are among the youth there, and what the culture in general is like.
Our first couple days were spent re-learning Spanish. They speak the same language there, but everytime normal Spanish-speakers make the "y" sound (when using the letter Y or LL) the Argentinians say "sh" instead. For example, "I" is "yo" in Spanish, pronounced just like it seems. In Argentina, they say "show." And "ella" (she) which would normally be "ay-yah" here, is "ay-shah" there. It got to be a sort of game for us to remember to use it when speaking, but it was pretty close to impossible to understand anything they said for a couple days, at least. MANY words have that sound in Spanish, so it impacted basically every sentence in every conversation. Yeesh! As fast as they speak, it just sounded like a lot of "sh sh sh sh"!!
Camp started Thursday night, and yes, the schedule was just as promised. One night, we didn't have dinner until almost 1 AM. We North Americans were STARVING!! They take great pride in their beef, so it was worth the wait! We enjoyed some of the best grilled beef ever!!
There were more than 120 campers (much more than expected), so we packed four or five girls each into tiny little dorm rooms. Yours truly had a great little spot on the floor under the window, which brought me a wonderful breeze each night. The girls in my room just chattered away with me all the time, and I didn't have the heart to keep asking them to repeat themselves over and over. So I tried to laugh when they laughed and look concerned when they were serious, and I prayed that if there was an important piece of information being shared, that God would give me enough understanding to be able to translate it. He must have listened, because we had several conversations about spiritual questions they had, and general life concerns.
One night, we had service "a fuera" (outside) because of the heat inside the buildings. Dan preached, there was a terrific breeze, the clouds blocked the sun's glare, and it was a perfect night, with youth responding in the altar, pouring out their hearts and recommitting their lives.
We were divided into small groups--Here's a picture of mine, Las Vencedores (The Conquerors). We had devotions together a few times each day, with time for sharing personal prayer requests and testimonies of what God was doing for them. We also participated in games together and presented a choreography/skit at the end of camp.
Ken and I taught a class entitled "Led by the Holy Spirit". We had been given the theme in advance. The camp director wanted us to share how a married couple could work together in ministry. This was a little of a challenge, since most of the youth were NOT married, nor did they have a "special friend" yet. We took the opportunity to focus on what each could do NOW to prepare for being a spiritual team with their future spouse. Several asked questions during and after the class, so at least we knew they could understand our Spanish! Many said it was the first time they'd heard Biblical teaching about relationships.
Dan continued that theme by passing out a survey on sexual thoughts and experiences, then using the survey to teach a class about the Bible's view on the subject. This was a definite "first," we soon found out. The survey results were so sad, though, and the class was really needed. Many of the youth answered that they experiment with or are involved in things they shouldn't be. The leaders met together and expressed to us that they felt ill-equipped as to how to handle teaching about purity and relationships, and have never opened that can of worms with their youth groups. They asked if we could return and do a leadership training weekend. How exciting! So not only did the youth get the door opened for further discussion about this taboo topic (that's what THEY called it), but the leaders understood the need for spiritual guidance in this area and are willing to accept training on how to teach it. And based on the answers to the survey, it's sorely needed.
We made a million new friends, were refreshed in the Lord, and learned to speak a new version of Spanish. But there's more to come... check back tomorrow!