I have now been in Argentina for six weeks. Many things have happened and as much as I’ve wanted to share everything with you all on this little corner of the internet, I’ve kinda been a little busy living my life away from the internet, but I’m doing what I can to make time to write.
Currently, it’s Sunday, October 19th, and this two sundays ago we returned from the southern part of Argentina called Patagonia. A week before that, we twenty-one PBB students as well as one of our directors and his wife embarked on a twenty hour bus ride to Word of Life’s hotel Pichi Traful in San Martin de los Andes in Patagonia, Argentina, which just so happens to be in the heart of the Andes mountains. Bum deal, right? Oh, contrare, contrare.
Guys, I’m just saying, those mountains were incredible.
But anyway, we were the first people besides one missionary to be at the hotel since its being closed all winter. So now, at the beginning of Spring (southern hemisphere, people), we went to work to get it ready for the upcoming season of use. So after we traveled a few hours on the bus. (I mean no big deal only 20), we arrived at the hotel and had a wonderful snack with homemade bread and coffee and tea. That was around five o’clock in the evening and after we were done with that, we had a little break and started on dinner. We started eating our pasta with freshly made sauce and grated cheese around 9:15, which is a pretty normal time to eat dinner in Argentina.
As the week progressed we cleaned all of the hotel including rooms and dining rooms and did other various projects, and we also had some free time to have worship and fellowship, as well as play soccer with a view unlike any other.
On Friday of that week, we took a little hike to a waterfall and got to take in even more of God’s creation, which was one of my favorite parts of the week.
It was such a wonderful week of being away from campus and being in nature and not having school and was really refreshing. We returned back to campus on Sunday and started classes up again on Tuesday.
I have been given the opportunity to start taking some classes at the bible institute itself in Spanish, instead of just the PBB classes, so on Tuesday I had our PBB class first which happened to be about missions, and then chapel and then I went to the first year classroom for that class.
And then came my biggest challenge since being here so far.
You see, I understand spanish. And I have grown a ton already in just being here for a month and living with Latinas and eating with Latinos and speaking Spanish everyday and hearing it. But different people have different accents, just like in English. Some are easier to understand than others and the Argentine accent is so much different than hearing the Mexican accent I learned from, and so every case is different. Well, in this specific class, the prof is Argentine and he mumbles, barely even articulating his words half the time as well as telling jokes that most people not from Argentina understand. With that being said, this Tuesday was my first time going to this specific class and I hadn’t heard this prof speak before. I sat pretty close to the front, in order read his lips better and be more engaged, of course, like any good student would. And as class started and progressed I pretty much got nothing. Like, it was so super hard to understand. And the prof had a microphone and started walking around in a little radius around his podium, and I thought nothing of it. That is, of course, until I felt someone touch my shoulder. At this point, I had been distracted with reading the Bible passage we were in and had not noticed the prof walking toward me. And I looked up into his eyes and saw his white eyebrows and I just smiled awkwardly. In that moment of staring into the eyes of this old Argentine guy, my mind went blank. Even if he spoke English to me, I would have had no idea what he said. It was that kind of moment. And then I heard some people start to laugh and even heard one guy say “No entiende” which means “she doesn’t understand.” And then he walked away and the moment was over for everyone.
I sat in that desk and everything inside me crumpled. I wanted to cry and run out crying and ‘accidentally’ kick that guy on the way who said I didn’t understand. Well guess what bucko I understood what you said in Spanish so calm it down! At least that’s what I thought. But I just sat there. And sat in my failure and pitied myself for my misfortune. And as I sat there, I thought everyone was still thinking about me and laughing about me inside their heads and I thought about me and my failure and me and me and me.
And then I remembered what I had learned about in chapel just a few minutes earlier, Job. We had learned that in the midst of Job’s many trials and destruction, he cries out in Chapter 10 and says that he loathes his life and wishes had died. In those moments, Job completely forgot that God was his creator, that God was sovereign, and that God still had plans for his future. He was only thinking on his life and his misfortunes, and forgot that God was still God. But at the end of the book of Job, when he had been brought out of his trials, he refers to “things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” Job saw when he got to the end of his life that God had always been faithful, and had plans far beyond Job could ever have dreamed, yet when he focused on himself and his losses, it seemed as though he had nothing.
Although my trial in that moment was soooo so so much less than Job’s pretty much destruction of his life, it was really hard for me and was a struggle. Yet when I felt like I had no hope nor any friends, I looked to God, and I remembered his great love and constant provision. (And of course, that I had friends, I was just wallowing in self-pity). And the next day came and I literally had to psych myself up to go back to that classroom, but I knew I could never have the confidence on my own, and Psalm 42:11 really encouraged me to look to God and hope only in Him, the only one that we really can hope in. This little dilemma in my life also showed me how bad things look when we look at ourselves, yet oh, how things change when we look to God and others.
But thankfully I have come a long way in my Spanish understanding since arriving here, and I am really enjoying being here. I love living with people who speak Spanish and constantly being around Latinos as well as I am enjoying getting to know people from the United States that came here with me in this program. And so through these funny embarrassing moments, God is humbling me and teaching me and through being immersed in the Bible and Spanish everyday, I am learning and growing closer to God.
I miss carpet. And my family. And friends. But the constant is and always has been God, and he always will be. And I will always have my peeps from the states, but God has provided such lovely human beings here for me to share life with, and I am so thankful for that as well as the people I know I have back home.
Thanks for all your encouragement and messages, I love hearing from all of you! Also, sorry for the lack of posts I’ve written, maybe I’ll write more frequently….
– Anna, from San Miguel de Monte, Argentina, South America 🙂