Spring EFT: El Chaltén and El Calafate

This post is for all you illiterate people out there. We went to El Chaltén and El Calafate in southern Patagonia (Argentina) for our last Educational Field Trip and had a blast. Here’s what we did:

 

Hiked 9 hours to that thing and back.

Kacie and me at that thing (Mt. Fitz Roy)

4x4 off-roading up this mountain.

The group above Lago Argentino.

The only glacier in the world that is not receding...Perito Moreno in El Calafate, Argentina.

Foreman, Big Baby Davie, Luce, and Whitey.

...then we hiked it.

...and ate 400-year old ice.

...in free whiskey.

The best group in the world in front of Perito Moreno.

And finally, we played with these sheep/watched them get sheared.

I really appreciate how our EFTs are in a natural museum. We’re not looking at man-made monuments or anything like that…we’re looking at nature. We’re hiking all over the place and appreciating things that are untouched. Thank God for Patagonia. Thank God for our group. Thank God for such an amazing opportunity.

 

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Story Time

I’ve traveled to the end of South America and climbed my way up to Machu Picchu. I’ve met people from all over the world and held conversations in several different languages. I’ve climbed volcanoes, hung out with monkeys in the Amazon, and spent hours fighting for my life in a blizzard. But NONE of those experiences compare to what I’ve learned and experienced in these last five days. You think you’ve seen it all until God completely rocks your world. When He enters the picture, all circumstances are magnified to glorify Him and only Him. When everything is stripped away and we see how temporary the things of this world are, only He remains. Living in Adulam these past five days have taught me so much about life, people, and the grace of God. These are the stories of the people that have rocked my world and have given me a new scope on life.

Jonatan, 10

My bunkmate for five days, Joni is the kind of kid that stands off to the side and quietly observes. He doesn’t scream for attention or even ask many questions. He is humble, considerate, and gentle. Before coming to Adulam with two of his younger sisters, Mariela (7) and Guliana (6), Joni’s mother would leave the kids at home and not return for days. With no money or any idea where his mom was, Joni would take it upon himself to clean the house and cook for him and his little sisters…all at 8 years old. In the four nights I spent with him, we would read his Spanish Bible together, his favorite book. Two years ago, he couldn’t read at all, and now he takes pride in his Bible and knowing the books and stories inside it. He doesn’t have much knowledge and reads incredibly slow, but it doesn’t take much to know that God loves you and is trying to teach you through His Word, and Joni knows that. He’s such a smart kid…

Nicole with Guliana and Mariela

Axel, 5

Before arriving to Adulam, Axel and his two older sisters, Rocio (7) and Luciana (5), lived in one of the poorest parts of Buenos Aires. Firsthand, they witnessed the prostitution of their mother as men came and left. Now, they sleep comfortably at night and are able to spend the days getting dirty and playing with each other. Knowing their story, you really understand why they ask for so much attention. Axel is always holding your hand, climbing up and down your body, and asking you to look at what he’s doing. Rocio finds every opportunity to cuddle and hugs you with the grip of a bear, never letting go. Luciana stands back and lets other kids hug you out. And when there’s a free moment, she runs over to be picked up and hugs the breath out of you. With such difficult beginnings, love and affection mean the world to them. They’re so darn cute that you never would have thought they had to see what they saw. Love heals.

Morgan with Rocio and Axel

Daiana, 11 months

Though she won’t remember any of her difficult beginnings, she arrived at Adulam as a malnutritioned baby girl. Her mother, at 19 years old, spent the first months of her daughter’s life trying to sell her on the streets. Clearly not wanting Daiana, she brought her to the hospital and Daiana was sent to Adulam. Three weeks later as a little princesa gordita, Daiana is all smiles. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a baby girl smile as much as her. If a wife and job showed up at my door tomorrow morning, I would adopt the little nena. God’s grace will raise her to be a beloved angel.

Princesa Daiana

Milagros, 9

Milagros means “miracle”. Mili arrived at Adulam just one day before I got there. She seemed out of the loop and disoriented. Just weeks earlier, Mili was on the streets begging for money. Whenever she didn’t bring back enough money, her mother beat her and beat her and beat her. Knowing her story and looking at her again, her eyes were blackened and she was just hesitant to trust anyone. In the next few days, she would slowly warm up to her new family and the idea of going to church and having people to love her. At this point after experiencing so much, we can only pray that the love of God would overwhelm her and restore her.

Hugo, 50-something

Many times, Hugo seemed overwhelmed and helpless. He’s a small man of about 5’5″ and 115 pounds and he puts up with living with and providing for 15 kids, 11 of them orphans and 4 of them his own. With weak bones, Hugo rides his bike around the local neighborhood selling fruits and vegetables to provide for his family. But his true strength comes out when he’s playing worship and leading weekly services at Adulam. With a plastic spoon as a guitar pick and a guitar as old as he is, he sings his heart away to God and seems at peace while sharing the Word. One of the smallest men I have ever seen, but one of the hardest working and biggest hearts. May God continue to bless him.

Hugo is the little man in the white t-shirt.

Agustin, 19

A leader and true lover of God and those around him. He doesn’t have a crazy story…only those shared by his parents, who were drug addicts and ex-druglords. The oldest of four, Agustin never fails to love everyone around him. The entire community looks to him as the future and the glue. With so much potential, he gives all the thanks and glory to God. His heart beats for the peace and love of the community. With him, the future of Adulam is bright.

Pensamientos, 5 days

So many new thoughts have surfaced within me after seeing how these people live every day. I’ve barely scratched the surface of the stories of Adulam. There are so many more mothers and children who have been redeemed by God. They make up the community of about 60. They are the poorest people I’ve ever lived with supporting an entire community of once-lost souls, and yet it’s the place that I’ve experienced the most love. They have nothing, yet they have everything. At first, I was angry. I was angry at American churches that spend millions of dollars on new sanctuaries, and here we have Christian communities that need a couple thousand dollars to replace their Ford truck from the 1980s to transport 30 people to church. I was angry at myself for spending $10 on a nice meal when that could buy enough food to feed a family of 17 for two days. But our God is full of grace and hope and love. Because of that, I know that His children will find a way out of their suffering and that His love will overwhelm them to love others despite their circumstances. I know that He gives me the strength to be a source of hope or light to those who are less fortunate. And with that, I know He calls me to help. So that’s what I’m gonna do. I will go.

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Febrero

Finally…a post with pictures and videos. Here’s just a general update about what us BA-ers have been up to.

February has been quite an eventful month. Knowing how big Valentine’s Day is in America…we decided to go all out for the Day of Love in a country that doesn’t care about it at all. So…we had a formal at the Casa. For the big day, we prepped ourselves with a little competition…who could ask their date in the most creative way. People made scavenger hunts, spontaneously broke out into song, prepared love-filled desserts, and found any creative way to spell out “formal?”. Here’s what I did to ask MY date…Micah.

Rockin the Photobooth at the formal.

Party-planning committee.

The event was definitely my favorite event at the Casa in the entire year so far. Hilarious games led by Molly and Hayley including the Dating Game and the Newlywed Game, huge participation by everyone, great food by Wurdeman, Kacie, Melissa, and Ben, and awesome entertainment by Sharon, Cody, Kace, and Kubota. I know…lots of names, but that’s only a fraction of the people who were involved in this thing. It was…so…cool.

...and we got DOWN at the end.

Then it was my birthday. Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes. I’m never really big on birthdays…but let’s just say the attention would have been way too much for me handle for more than a day. And thanks for the Facebook album, Cristina.

Yummy.

Then came Adulam Round 2. To remind you…Adulam is a small community outside of Buenos Aires that Pepperdine has helped establish and continuously volunteers there. We have many opportunities to go to Adulam to help with construction projects, gardening, and playing with many of the orphaned children who live there. If you forgot…here’s a video from last semester to remind you:

Flashback to last semester.

So we went to Adulam again this past Saturday and loved them.

Strong men moving heavy metal.

Pablito.

Now you might be thinking, “Wait, David…February isn’t over yet. What could you possibly be doing for the rest of the month? Especially since it’s been so exciting already.” Good question, my friend. We have a long weekend that actually begins tomorrow…5 free days to do whatever we want. Being all traveled out, with no more money, nowhere else to travel to, and a desire to do something bigger than myself…I’m going back to Adulam to help them and get to know the people and kids there for five days. I’m sure it will be a magical time…learning of people’s histories as ex-druglords and alcoholics to their salvation through a Christian community like Adulam. I’m excited to play with and love the kids there. And I’m ready to eat almost no food and just help them with whatever projects they have going on. Not gonna lie…I was very hesitant about committing five days to stay in a community like this and not knowing much about what I’ll be doing, but I’ve forced myself to do it and I’m relying on God to really open up opportunities for me to be a light to others. And, of course (as all community service events end up), I’ll probably get more out of the experience than the people I’ll be helping. It’s weird how that works out…

Lakers, baby.

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Immersion

Today, I went to a yoga class. In the middle of the class, in one of the most awkward positions I’ve been in and struggling to hold it, I realized that the instructor was telling me to raise my leg and turn my body…in Spanish. The entire class was in Spanish. And I understood it all. When Pepperdine talks about a cultural immersion, this is what they mean. Immersion is simply transferring your everyday life into a completely different culture and getting used to it.

I compared this experience with the very first day I took off from the United States. On the plane to South America, I struggled to tell the flight attendant that I needed more space in the overhead compartment for my bag. Now, here I am taking yoga classes in Spanish and having conversations with the Chinese people who do my laundry every week…in Spanish. I know which buses will take me where and can tell you which restaurants or bars are fun to go to. I cross the street even though there’s a red hand telling me not to, I’m drinking mate in class on a regular basis, and have even adopted the Argentine mullet. Walking to class everyday, I have people along the streets that I can wave and say hello to and I can easily talk to my homestay family over some milanesa and apple juice. If you would have asked me 5 months ago how I would immerse myself in this culture, I probably would have come up with something like “wearing an Argentina soccer jersey every other day.” Immersion…just…happened.

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God Should Be Everywhere

…especially in South America. To give a brief update before REALLY getting into what this blog post is about…I’ve been back in Buenos Aires for about 4 days now. It has been so relieving to finally settle back down into my homestay. I feel so much more comfortable in this city, with my homestay family, and with our group. It’s a weird comfort that I’ve never felt until now, and I’m not planning on ever letting it go.

I think the main reason why I feel so comfortable now is that God has been refining me for this semester. I’m coming into it way differently, and I’ve been convicted over and over again to truly live for Him. My prayer over the break was that God would reveal Himself to me in an international way…that I would experience Him in a way that is beyond the American religiosity that I found myself so comfortable in. What ended up happening was that I found myself in the most uncomfortable circumstances I’d ever been in. But at the same time, I turned to the same thing that always brought me the most peace and comfort…and that was the Gospel. My heart broke every time I saw homeless kids on the street, every person I met gave me the thought of how God could possibly be real in their lives, and I saw exactly how much this continent needs help. The shadow proves the sunshine.

The truth is this. We, as Christians, are so blessed to have such a stable grasp of the Gospel. Most of us grew up with God spoon-fed to us. We have the opportunities and the knowledge to proclaim Jesus as Lord and not have any doubt about it. We know that the Holy Spirit is alive in us. So why don’t we go out to all of our friends and family and confidently say that? Moreover, why don’t we confidently live it out? As my brother Brian told me…God is not something that we have to persuade others of. We speak of Him as fact, because He is. It’s just as if we were telling someone that Kobe Bryant is on the Lakers. We state it as fact (because it is), and if they choose to believe it or not is up to them. We know God is real, so we state it as fact. Ultimately what I’m coming to realize is that the Holy Spirit lives in us, and we are placed in different settings, different groups, and different countries so that God is present everywhere. God should be everywhere we are.

With all of this and all of the divine renewal among our group here in Buenos Aires, I just know that God has something huge in store for us. It’s as if a burden has been set in most people’s hearts to completely live for the Lord. And I can’t do anything about it but smile and continue praying. Pray for the 60+ people in our group. That no matter what challenges we face, we would look back at God and remember exactly what His Word is telling us. And then in turn, pray that God would move us outside of our immediate group and into the city of Buenos Aires. That is the ultimate goal.

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Last Video Log Ever

I know most of you have stopped caring…but I just had to post this FINAL video to just put an end to the video madness. So…here’s our last video log of our 7-week break.

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Video Logs Finally Posted!

So here are quite a few video logs that I wasn’t able to post until now because of bad internet. I love my laptop.

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