It’s hard to believe how quickly time passes – it’s been 2 years since I was last in Santiago, and 3 since Mum visited. After months of preparing, buying special requests to take out to family and friends, and 2 days of washing and packing clothes, the day for the Griffith Girls’ Argentine adventure had arrived.
Following a bus journey and 2 flights we arrived a little sleep-deprived in Buenos Aires for some sightseeing. We gained a whole new perspective of the city – cold, wet and damp, just like Northern Ireland! In fact, we had to wait a whole week to see any blue sky or sunshine!
We then took ‘the traditional route’ on the 12 hour overnight bus from Retiro bus station to Santiago del Estero. While some might imagine this to be an unpleasant experience, we were quite comfortable in our ‘cama’ seats (which recline back 140 degrees and have ample leg room) – in fact we were both asleep within 10 minutes of leaving the terminal!
Since arriving in SdE we have enjoyed a happy reunion with the Bennett family, had coffee at Fini’s, one of Rodney’s favourite coffee spots, and reaquainted ourselves with the Santiaguenen way of life. We received a warm and friendly welcome at both Calle Salta and Calle San Lorenzo churches. It was wonderful to witness the baptism of 8 believers at the latter, the highlight being when the local bomberos (firemen) arrived with their hose to fill the baptismal tank!
On Monday we took the local bus to visit the ‘Jardin de Infantes Bethel’, a kindergarten started by the local church. It was interesting to learn that when it rains, hardly anyone comes to school – imagine if that happened in the UK – I would never have any pupils! In the afternoon we took a 2 hour bus ride to visit the CCRE school in Brea Pozo. It was great to visit the children in their classes, answer their questions about life in the UK, and play games with them during lunchtime and after school. The children are very keen to help Mum with her Spanish, and made her day today when they thought she was my friend and not my Mum! Having just finished my first year of teaching it is frustrating to see the lack of appropriate classroom equipment and learning and teaching resources. However, we were really delighted to see the new ‘tinclado’ roof that has been built over the playground to protect the children from the severe heat and sunshine.
We left Brea Pozo school on Wednesday afternoon and headed to the town of Frías. It was wonderful to be reunited with our friend Wanda and spend time with her and her parents. In the early evening we visited William C Morris school, an evangelical Christian school where The Esperanza Trust provides scholarship support for pupils. After meeting the principal, Mum had the opportunity to give a powerpoint presentation about our family connection to Argentina, and the ongoing work of TET to the pupils in 4th and 5th year (16 and 17 year olds). Thankfully Wanda was on hand to translate for her!
The following morning we were at the school at 7.45am to be a part of the end of the end of term celebration in the Primary department. Mum had the privilege of sharing a devotional thought with the 250 pupils present. We both took part in one of Wanda’s English lessons, and then were shown round the Kindergarten by Ricardo, the school’s representative.
We really value your continued prayerful support as we have a full diary of visits and events next week.
Claire and Laura