"Before you can search for truth, you must be interested in finding it." -Miroslav Volf

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Finished, sort of.

I'm home.

I'm working on a research summary paper, and will hopefully finish that within the week. If you are interested in reading this, email me and let me know and I will send you a copy.

Thanks for following along!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Santiago, Chile

Maybe not the best photo to represent my Chilean experience...but I thought it was a gem. That is actually the backside of the President's house in the background...but the best image from downtown Santiago was not the architecture, but five dogs taking a nap in one of the main plazas. I suppose there's a metaphor in there somewhere for how I feel at this stage of my trip. :)

My time here in Santiago has been special...it's felt like a sort of "epilogue" stage to my trip, and has been a good time of application, in ways...have had some fabulous conversations with people where I've found myself not merely sharing my learnings from the previous weeks, but challenged to articulate my calling and vision as a (future) pastor, my beliefs and understanding of the Christian story, the reasons I'm drawn to the Christian faith versus other faiths or ways of understanding Truth, life, and humankind's purpose.
Also interesting to observe, once again, the subtle shifts taking place in faith and culture...and to see how, despite a religious atmosphere that one might find troublesome, I feel a sense of momentum and hope for change that reflects new movements of God here and all over the portions of Latin America I've experienced.

$10 for whoever provides the best explanation for what's going through my head in this shot...not sure what my facial expression here is saying. Here I am with Miriam and Paulo, my host "parents." I've been at the house of Ornella, a girl who was a high-school classmate and exchange student in my hometown of Woodland. She was not here, sadly (at Oxford now), but her family was incredibly warm and hospitable to me. One of the highlights, perhaps on this whole trip, has been the opportunity to meet much of their extended family, through multiple all-afternoon lunch gatherings, involving, once again, indulging myself in a bit of over-eating (and maybe over-drinking).

This is Felipe and his mother Rosella...relatives of the family I'm with. Felipe has been a special connection...we've hung out quite a bit, much of our time spent discussing matters of spirituality. Being fairly relativistic and agnostic, as well as humble, gracious, intelligent, and curious, he has made a great conversation partner. We've discussed a variety of topics (he's fluent in English), from the knowability of Truth to the validity of the Biblical testimony of Jesus to how our spirituality informs our views on sex...you could almost make a book out of our discussions--two postmodern twenty-something intellectuals, one Christian and one not, discussing faith and life. (I think a guy named Jim Henderson already did something similar). Though not a Christian, Felipe is a good model of the kind of humility, warmth, open-mindedness, desire to understand another, and ability to respectfully challenge another's views, that I think should accompany the confidence and commitment Christians possess when in such dialogue with others.

A good shot, though poorly lit, of one of our family gatherings.

A shot of some protesters in one of the downtown plazas...as in Bolivia and Argentina, I've seen discontent with the government expressed in such public displays. This was, however, far less violent and much more theatrical...as maybe you can see by the facepaint and the guy (can you spot him?) dressed as Spiderman.

Interesting scene here...on one hand, a fabulous and beautiful glimpse of Santiago and its surroundings at sunset, with the Andes in the background, the moon above, the city below...on the other hand, though it may not be obvious here online, the smog is bad, which most Chileans will admit to, acknowledging the city's poor reputation for pollution.

So there it is...another stage of my trip filled with wonderful new relationships and some fabulous learning experiences. I've been so spoiled by this trip...and am grateful for all of it.

I'm wrapping up a full week here in Chile, and am heading up to Lima tomorrow morning (Monday) on a two-day bus trip, and will fly home late Thursday night.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Argentina: Buenos Aires & Rio Cuarto

Just wrapped up my time in Argentina last night. Eight wonderful days...four in Buenos Aires, four in Rio Cuarto...two very different experiences.

I'll let the pictures guide the story...
This picture provides a good example of the city, with a mix of modern and more historical architecture. Buenos Aires is a fascinating city--huge, diverse, chaotic, beautiful. Very fast-paced, a variety of quaint neighborhoods to visit and unending skyscrapers.

Not necessarily a great picture, but captures an interesting event. While in my hotel, I heard gunshots and people yelling...I walked out to my balcony (maybe I should have hid) to find hoards of people on the street below, running by, causing destruction as they went. Argentina is in a bit of a political crisis right now, with many furious with the government for a variety of economic-related reasons, which I can elaborate on later (it's actually fairly righteous anger considering the circumstances...though I don't quite agree with the violent reactions). But such riots are common, I guess. Anyway, a police barricade chased these people out of the main streets. But seriously...chaos...these protestors had everything from slingshots to nunchucks to molotov cocktails to sticks being used as swords (thought of you, Ian). Fascinating to watch.

This is Dr. Pablo Deiros, a seminary professor I met with. Seems to be very connected to what is going on here and in the Church...also seems to be a very "important" man, if I can use that description. I'm talking, like, Paris Hilton or Jose Canseco or Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen important. Okay, those probably aren't great examples of legitimately important people. But...he's important.

Wonderful interview, maybe one of the most important of my trip. Our time sort of felt like a climax or summary or maybe confirmation of all I'd been seeing and learning these past weeks. And Pablo is filled with such warmth and wisdom and understanding...the kind of man I'd want to follow around and say "teach me, form me." Hopefully this is a relationship that will continue, as both of us seem willing to stay in touch.

Anybody recognize these ladies? This is Valerie and Natalia. No, I didn't PAY them to hang out with me. Sheesh...give me some credit! It's a small world...for those who saw my pictures from my Europe trip last year, these are the two Argentinians with whom I shared a tiny hostel room in Prague. We had exchanged contact info last summer, so we were able to coordinate some time to hang out a bit, and Natalia (right) was helpful in getting me acquainted with the city.

The "La Boca" neighborhood...beautiful, artsy, quirky, historically radical neighborhood...also the origin of Argentinian tango, I believe.

This is a group of twenty-something Christians (several more not in the picture) with whom I spent one afternoon. We are making ravioli here. This was a great experience of Christian community...in ways, this is a perfect example of the kind of young Christian groups I was hoping to discover in Latin America...a very warm, welcoming, kind, joyful, intimate group, in which all seem connected and participating and contributing, all very much valued by one another. Very special time with these people.

I'll stop there for Buenos Aires, and just offer a couple pictures from Rio Cuarto. I spent several days on a farm, mostly relaxing and reflecting. An older couple, Humberto and Graciela, friends of a friend from Woodland, hosted me, and spoiled me with their hospitality. I spent my time reading and writing, eating a lot, hiking in some beautiful country, learning a bit more about the political situation of the country from Graciela (very politically active woman) and taking on a sort of unoffical mentor-relationship with her teenage grandson Juan for a couple days.

Here are a couple pics...one of me, um, parting the waters I guess...and one of me with Graciela, my host.

Great time in Argentina, though brief. I just arrived today (Monday) in Santiago, Chile, my last stop on this journey before heading back to Lima and flying home (in 11 days). I'm staying with the family of Ornella, an exchange student with whom I went to high school (though she's in England). Continuing to have a wonderful time, though all the friends and family I miss have made me about ready to come home.

Friday, July 11, 2008


No time to post much, but for the sake of keeping my whereabouts current...I spent a few days earlier in the week in Buenos Aires, a huge and fascinating and diverse city...and had some great moments, including one of the most important interviews I´ve had on this journey, a neat experience of Christian community with some twenty-somethings, and a special reunion with a couple friends.

And now, I´m staying on a farm near Rio Cuarto, the complete opposite of Buenos Aires, mostly resting, eating way too much, and catching up on some of my notes and processing of this trip.

All for now...more elaboration and some pics in a few days. Adios.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Santa Cruz, mi amigos y familia

Okay, blog is working again. Figured out and fixed the problem.

So the past week spent in Santa Cruz was marvelous. The city itself did not necessarily blow me away as far as the touristy-stuff, but out of all the cities I've visited, here, more than anywhere else in South America, I have formed the most meaningful relationships and had the most fruitful conversations.

The people, the friendships I've made here, the way I've got to experience Latin American "life" better here than anywhere else...this has made my time here incredibly special. The pictures below are of many of the people who've made my time here what it is.

This was a blast. One of the pastors I talked to, Jorge, runs a care center for children, most of whom have rough family situations. I had the chance to spend some time here, playing with the kids and offering encouragement to them in different ways. So much fun...it's amazing how welcoming and warm they are, how enthused they are to have someone like me join them. This was after our an "intense" soccer game.

This is Sergio, the night his family and I went out for dinner. He is the dean of a grad school here, a huge help and a great friend to me in my time in Santa Cruz. Very insightful and compassionate man.

Here I am with Felix and Joel...Felix (left) is a pastor, director at the local Christian university, and wears a number of other hats and is very connected to the Christian Church here. Joel (right) was a stud. He volunteered for me all week (save the occasional meal and coffee I provided him) doing translation work. He did a superb job, was very available, and also offered a good perspective from the youth side of things here. We developed a good friendship over the week.

Here I am with another wonderful person, Maria. She is a worship leader and youth worker at one of the churches I visited. Here we are enjoying some ice cream downtown. Very kind and caring person, seems to be the "big sister" as Joel put it, of their group of friends. Also laughs a lot, at the most random things. Gosh...now I know how obnoxious yet endearing it is for my friends when I do that.

My wonderful family. They were so good to me. David especially (center, in blue), the father of the family, was amazing. First of all, they did not really speak any English, so my Spanish improved greatly during the week...we really had little trouble communicating. But David, a pastor and director of several different ministries in Santa Cruz, was so supportive of me, frequently adjusting his schedule so he could be with me, or help me find my way around to my various interviews. A great godly man...patient, generous, selfless. I can't say enough great things about him.

And some traditional Bolivian dancing. This was at a YWAM send-off for David's daughter, Ani, before she left on a mission trip to China.

So...now I am in Argentina, currently in Buenos Aires for a few days before I head west toward another part of the country. Whole different world here, for sure. Been strange and interesting so far in a day and a half, but positive. More explanation on that in a few days.

Saturday, July 5, 2008


Blogspot is not working right...can't get pictures up.

And that's important. I don't want to say much, but have many pictures of wonderful people to share.

So...bummer. The itinerary update is that I am leaving Santa Cruz tomorrow (with mixed emotions) and flying to Buenos Aires to begin the Argentina phase of my trip.

Will post pics as soon as I figure out the problem.