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Homeward Bound!

Oct 27, 2016   //   by admin   //   Rodney's Blog  //  2 Comments

Colegio Alfredo2

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My days here in Santiago del Estero have come to an end for this current visit as I leave for Buenos Aires this evening. And it has concluded with quite an active weekend.

On Friday evening I was invited along with several others to participate in a broadcast on the Radio Station 105.5 which earlier this year was inaugurated at the main Evangelical Church here in Calle Salta 433. In my presentation I was questioned about “The Esperanza Trust (Argentina)” and its work which gave me a good opportunity to spread the news of the help provided by our Trust in so many different ways from assistance to children in their education via scholarships to financially supporting the building of multipurpose halls, classrooms and a variety of other projects all within the objectives of the Trust. Later in the night I joined some very dear friends for a time of fellowship over a good meal at the Hotel Coventry and where we happened to stumble upon other friends also dining in the restaurant so a good “ol´chat” was spread across several tables during this ocasion.

Saturday midday Jorge and I were invited to lunch with a family whose young son is a pupil at the “Colegio Alfredo Furniss” and who receives a scholarship from Esperanza to enable him to continue his studies at the school. Later in the afternoon I was transported to the Barrio Ejercito Argentino to attend the activities of the “Portal de Belen”, where children of the area go each week to to paintings and crafts which is then followed by a brief talk from the Bible and some eats before they go back to their homes.  They also enjoyed the “gomita” sweets which I take with me each year.

Sunday morning I was at the Communion service in Calle Salta then had lunch with dear friends from the days of my youth and in the afternoon, along with Edgardo, Emmanuel, his wife and their littel boy we went to the Canal San Martin where a children´s group meet for their weekly games and other activities.  Later we moved to the Zanjon area for a similar get together of children from its local vicinity. which was follosed by a Communion service with people from that locality.  More children at this venue enjoyed the “gomita” sweets.  It was then a quick drive back from these meetings to the centre of Santiago for me to change to another car to then be taken to a church on the periphery of the Capital called, Ampliación Borges as they had invited me to do a presentation about Alfredo Furniss and the work of The Esperanza Trust (Argentina). Sadly, although present at the meeting, I was unable to do the presentation as I had lost my voice but I met a whole new bunch of people who were so kind and warm in their welcome and many looked aghast when they were told who I was!! El “nieto de Alfredo Furniss!!!!”  That man Alfredo still is revered in this province where in 1907 he arrived as a pioneer missionary and later married Maria, a Canadian lass who was working in an orphanage in the hills of Cordoba from which my own dear mother Irene later came on the scene.

It is now Monday morning and I have started packing my belongings which will be completed later prior to my departure for the 12-hour overnight journey to Buenos Aires.  In the Capital City I shall remain for two days meeting folk I know and sharing a dinner with some of them on my last night in Argentina.  My plane departs for London at 1.15 p.m. local time on Thursday 27th October.

This has been, for a variety of reasons, a shorter visit than those previously made and many have been asking me to come back soon again and for a longer time!!!!  I will have to give this request serious consideration!!!!  It has been a positive and a very encouraging trip that has initiated, in some ways, the potential for more action in this province for the benefit of those whose lives often lack the basic elements for daily living, a help we often do in collaboration with local churches throughout the province as well as in the capital itself.

I am therefore closing this latest version of Blogs hoping that those who have taken the time to read my contributions will have found something interesting to be items for continued prayer and support.  This dear province has yet a long way to go to see people not only helped physically but also spiritually and as a Christian organisation I strongly believe we have a very important part to play.

Always busy in Santiago del Estero

Oct 20, 2016   //   by admin   //   Rodney's Blog  //  2 Comments

This is Tuesday morning around 9.00 a.m., it is a dull drizzly day and a little cooler than what it has been of late. People on the street are going around with jumpers and the like and here am I in my short sleeves. While passing the temperature sign at the Plaza Libertad I noticed it registered 17.5 degrees Celsius so really not that cold!!! Walking some 800 plus metres from the plaza to Jorge´s Agency without a raincoat (I didn´t bring one with me!) meant that my clothes became rather damp but no doubt they will soon dry out!!! While on my journey to the office here I passed two women at the doors of a shop and heard one of them say to the other, “está lloviendo y helando” (it is raining and freezing!!!!). I never knew that 17.5 degrees Celsius could be considered as a freezing temperature but then when the folk here are used to temperatures of nearly 50 degrees Celsius during the Summer the comments of that woman, I think, can be justified!! While coming from Fini on my way to the office this morning I called in at the local market “Armonía” and it brought back many memories from the days we lived here and where along with my brother we used to take turns in going there early in morning at our mother´s request/orders to queue to buy ice, not little cubes as one gets from their home fridges but a big block some 1 foot cubed to cool our then non-electric fridge as electric ones were few and far between and generally found in the homes of people with better financial incomes! The market is a wonderful place to tour to see the vast range of fruit and vegetables, meats, pastries and a variety of cooked foods. There is also a section devoted to caged birds happily singing away and also a wide variety of small and large fish for indoor tanks and upstairs there are many stalls selling lots of craft products as well as a vast variety of powdered spices. Really worth a visit if you ever happen to come to Santiago del Estero!!!!


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Well, what has been happening since my first Blog about a week ago!!! It has been quite a busy one and yet there have been one or two moments throughout the week when left on my own due to friends and others having commitments that I did really feel the loneliness at such a distance from home. Anyway, let´s not talk negatively but positively as there is plenty to do here.

I cannot recall if in my earlier Blog I mentioned my invitation to attend a meeting of a group of elders from a number of the churches. It went well and the chap who lead the meeting referred to times past when there was a number of live and active evangelical outreach centres scattered in certain areas of the province and which today are either dormant or have closed completely. He emphasised the need to see that these zones were revitalised by people taking a keen interest in spreading God´s Word and also to new areas within the province. Obviously, during the presentation and discussion the name of Alfred Furniss often came up and so I was able to make some comments which I believe went down positively. We will have to wait and see what developments do take place.

During the past week I also attended a Concert at the Forum venue where a Puerto Rican born Tenor gave an absolutely wonderful presentation of songs from classical as well as Christian music. I am told he ranks in the top four leading tenors in the world and is also an Ambassador for the United Nations. A fine Christian man whose name is Carlos Seise and if interested you can look up a little more about him in YouTube. He will be in London next June and he has agreed to keep in touch with me, so who knows we might be able to recruit him for an event if he has an evening to spare.

I have also been around some of the places where The Esperanza Trust (Argentina) has had, to a great extent, an input and a few more are on my agenda before my visit here comes to an end. Also throughtout the week I have met with people from different churches and groups to talk about their interests and plans for future projects and the like. This evening I have been asked to give a presentation on Esperanza/Alfred Furniss to a group who meet on a weekly basis at a centre here in the provincial Capital.

Yesterday evening I had time off visiting the family in La Banda and enjoying a good time around a table full of eats and especially with those fast growing grandchildren. David, my son, told me that their youngest, Daniel, had asked him one day if his grandfather was still alive when he was born!!! What do you think about that????? Daniel was present at the table when this was related to me and of course as well as a hilarious laugh the poor little lad was deeply embarrassed!!!

Well I´m in my last full week here in Santiago before moving south to Buenos Aires but I hope to be able to submit a final Blog before I leave here.

Thank you all for taking time to read my Blog and I hope you will have found it interesting so as to continue to pray for the people here and the work of Esperanza in its efforts to making a change for the good to the needy of this lovely province.

Back in Santiago del Estero

Oct 11, 2016   //   by admin   //   Rodney's Blog  //  1 Comment

This day, Tuesday, last week I set off from the UK on my long-hall travel to Argentina via Buenos Aires, reaching my final destination, Santiago del Estero on Thursday morning at around 9.30 a.m. where my son, David and Esperanza´s local Representative, Jorge Salum were waiting for my arrival at the Bus Terminal to give me a warm welcome back to the place of my birth. Yes, a long and tiring journey but nevertheless, a good one and was completed without any mishaps along the way!

I was only some two hours at my destination when I had to pay a visit to the Colegio Alfredo Furniss to give a talk about my grandfather Alfred Furniss to the pupils of the morning secondary section of the school. I spoke for some 20 minutes and from reports subsequently received it appears to have gone down reasonably well! Later that day I was taken by car to see the progress made on a new church being built in an area of the provincial Capital and for which our Esperanza Trust has been able to provide some financial support. A substantial progress has been made since my last visit a year ago but as material and labour costs have risen considerably the actual development has slowed somewhat however, the leaders are still hopeful that by the end of the year the congregation might be able to move in even if there is still a considerable way to go on this project.

Yesterday, Monday was a Public Holiday here and hence the vast majority of shops and commercial businesses were closed but I´m pleased to say that my favourite coffee venue, “Fini” was open and I was able to pay my regular visit as I do before coming to use the computer here at Jorge Salum´s Agency. Also yesterday it was a great pleasure for me to be an invitee at the 21st Anniversary Celebrations of the current church premises in Don Bosco and what better way to celebrate this event than with a fantastic ASADO (BBQ for the uninitiated!!). It was a great time and well attended by many church members of all ages as well as folk from other local churches. I cannot remember how many times I declined offers of more juicy tender meat and tasty salads which was then followed by a dessert of lemon flavoured ice-cream. After that event I did not need any more food for the rest of the day!!! Over the first few days of my current visit I have visited friends and have been entertained as only it can be done here, but I am doing my best to keep the diet under control otherwise, it will not be my suitcase that will be overwieght on my homeward journey!!!!!

So far no photos worth publishing with this first Blog but I´m hopeful that some might be included in later issues. Santiago del Estero is a place where friendships develop and where visitors are greatly and warmly welcomed, so much so, that you will always receive a fantastic greeting with hugs and kisses, which includes the men as well!!

I am on my penultimate day here in Santiago del Estero..

Oct 13, 2015   //   by admin   //   Rodney's Blog  //  2 Comments

… as tomorrow at 19.15 hrs local time I set off on stage 1 of my homeward journey, heading to Buenos Aires where I shall remain until Saturday, 17th October before boarding my flight home at 13.15 hours.


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Looking back over the past 23 days since setting foot here in SdE I am grateful to God for all His Goodness to me by bringing me here safely and providing me with good health. This visit has been quite a surprising and good one, firstly because I was able to attend the JUnTOS campaign to see God at work in many lives.  Those, young and not so young, who belong to Him were really active over the 3 days through being involved in so many practical ways, plus the preaching of God’s Word touched many hearts of people who then responded to the given invitations.  One can only hope and pray that each one in responding will have been genuine and will so grow in the knowledge of God and become effective witnesses too.

I have had the privilege and pleasure to visit several rural areas such as Cuyoj, Beltrán, Clodomira and Arraga plus a number of visits here in the provincial Capital.  I’ve had good reports back from my visit to the State School “Juan Domingo Perón” and excellent feedback from parents of the children.  I’ve also received news that a number of the pupils, boys and girls, whom I spoke to have decided to progress into their secondary studies at the Escuela Industrial that I attended in the years 1950-57.

I was also invited to speak to a class of teenagers at the “Big Ben” Anglo-Argentine School of English.  I communicated to them in English and any questions they had were to be spoken in English as well!!  It was quite entertaining!!  I also had the pleasure of telling any students who arrived late to the class to say to them, “You are late!”.  This was quite hilarious because those already present couldn’t stop giggling at my orders!

This past Saturday it was a joy for me to attend a relatively new project, “Portal de Belén” (Hallway to Bethlehem) in a very poor area of the provincial Capital.  Numbers attending unfortunately were low, some 8 present, because of political meetings taking place in the run up to the forthcoming presidential elections.  Parents insisted in taking their kids to these prearranged meetings in order to get financial aid and sometimes food!  It seems to be the only way politicians can get reasonable audiences by offering gratuities to people if they attend.

There have been interesting talks and discussions some with positive outcomes and others with potential developments.  I have also talked with people who in the very near future are to visit London either as tourists or students and were seeking advice. Two who will be making the visit are teachers of English and another two, sisters, plan to spend 3 months in London studying English.

Of course I must not forget the excellent social aspects of my visit where almost every night I was either at someone’s home for dinner or at local restaurants.  My efforts in trying to balance my food intake meant that lunchtime meals were often fruit or soup and on the odd day I went without a midday meal!!!

Weatherwise, it has been mixed, two to three days the temperature reached the middle 30’s Centigrade but on the whole, it has been cloudy/overcast and quite cool sometimes.  Very strange for this part of the world even though it is Springtime here!!!

There is much more I could add but will stop now and make plans to get my luggage ready before having to say my farewells to these lovely people of Santiago del Estero.  I can truly say it has been a memorable visit and look forward to my next trip!!! Until my next visit this is the end of my Blogs for the time being!!

I cannot believe how time passes so quickly..

Oct 8, 2015   //   by admin   //   Rodney's Blog  //  1 Comment I’ve just entered my 3rd week here in Santiago del Estero! It must be due my being continually on demand from many sources that I don’t seem to find a few minutes to loiter about and relax. But I’m happy at what is taking place in a number of areas which could impact on the aims and work of The Esperanza Trust (Argentina).

The weekend on which the JUnTOS Campaign was held was in so many different ways a great success and top of the list was that some 300, if not more people, of different ages committed their lives to God which means that there is now a high priority for churches from all areas of the province who were represented at this event have the very important follow-up task of seeking to help and encourage these new Christians in their faith. In addition to the preaching and teaching over that weekend there were many practical outreaches and this is where The Esperanza Trust could play a very important part. For example, there have been talks about carrying out additional optical tests on folk in rural areas and providing, where needed, spectacles. One of the Specialists Opticians from Buenos Aires who was involved in the ophthalmological consultancy is happy to make a return visit to Santiago del Estero to carry out further tests on people. Watch this space!!!!

In other news, I had the great pleasure of extensive talks about Christian outreaches through charities operating in the province of Cordoba and elsewhere in the country and as a result I might be able to act as a go-between at one such interest looking to establish a Christian outreach in Cuba.

This past week I had the privilege of visiting the state school, “Juan Domingo Peron” invited by María Matos who is a Senior Licensed Teacher in that school as well as having many administrative duties. The school has morning and afternoon sessions with different children and I attended the latter and apart from being given a warm welcome when all children were gathered before classes began I was able to talk and encourage the 11 to 13 year old pupils in María’s class. I then spoke to each one individually to enquire what they would like to become on completing their education whatever that level may be and was utterly surprised with the responses they gave me. The vast majority of those attending this school are from poor backgrounds and yet there were those who wanted to be lawyers, nurses, architects, chiropodists, mechanics, to name a few careers and so I then gave them another short talk to congratulate them all on their dreams and to encourgae them to work at their studies because it is so important for their individual developments.

During my time here so far I have made visits to the childrens’ work at the “Canal San Martin” project where our charity already has an input in helping to finance a multi-purpose hall and dining centre. Meetings currently take place in the open air irrespective of the weather conditions. This is an area of great poverty and there are many children living here although the attendance was just over 20 the day I visited. Obviously, it is also hoped that an outreach work will be extended in due time to people of all ages. I have also made a couple of visits to the Colegio Alfredo Furniss, here in the Capital, where we sponsor some 32 children in their education and to the childrens’ outreach in Zanjon. Yesterday Sunday, I went to Cuyoj in the morning, in the afternoon to Zanjon and at night to the evening service in the main church here in the Capital.

My diary is fast filling up with invites to other projects or potential ones as well as invitations to homes for dinner. People here are very generous irrespective of their economic situations and if I don’t take care I will return home weighing more than what I was when I left on 20th September!! I have always stated that, in my eyes and heart Santiago del Estero, though it may have some lovely and interesting places, what really makes this place so special is the welcoming and friendly nature of its people!! I wish I had some video footage or photos of how I am made to feel here, you would be amazed to see the contents with huge hugs and kisses both from males as well as females and their welcoming words are always special and so moving!!!! I’m also truly grateful to Jorge Salum, our official representative here who really looks after me, provides me with a place to sleep, is a good cook, plus an excellent person to have collaborating with the Trust, based here in Santiago del Estero where our work is centred.

Hopefully, I will add another few lines prior to me leaving here in some 10 days time. With my prayerful good wishes to everyone who takes the time and trouble to read this Blog report.

I am back in Argentina……

Sep 26, 2015   //   by admin   //   Rodney's Blog  //  4 Comments

I am back in Argentina and more precisely in, Santiago del Estero having arrived here this past Tuesday, 22nd of September. Apart from spending time recovering from the long air flight to this country and the coach journey northwards from Buenos Aires I have been making a few visits here and there. This morning I briefly visited the Colegio Alfredo Furniss and of course got a “royal welcome” as always, many of whom were surprised to see me back here again!!!

The big thing that is taking place in Santiago this week is the “JUnTOS event” (Together eve) as churches have joined together to be active in so many ways and also in spreading the Gospel. There are street walkers distributing leaflets, others interviewing passers-by, visits are being made to prisons, schools, hospitals and homes for the elderly. There are sport activities, ophthalmological tests, activities for women, displays in parks and plazas as well as singing groups and all these activities are creating much interest to the folk of this province.

Tonight, Friday, 25th at 9.30 p.m. there is a special gathering in the Forum Centre (former railway station but now a huge exhibition centre for public events) and having visited the place this morning I discovered that the hall where the meeting will take place is arranged with a capacity for 1300 in attendance and with provision to increase the seating should the need arise. So, as far as I’m concerned it is going to be a great surprise to see the place filled to capacity!!! There are people coming from different parts of the nation so it plans to be a great occasion and I’m looking forward to it.

The outdoor activities continue throughout tomorrow and will be followed by another meeting in the Forum and also one Sunday morning and night.

Weatherwise, it looks like I may have brought it from home because I landed in Buenos Aires last Monday with an overcast sky which eventually turned into a constant drizzle while I remained there until catching my coach to head northwards. I arrived in Santiago del Estero with a similar weather outlook of dark skies and drizzle but also chilly! But then again, it is only the beginning of Spring here and one can only hope the weather will improve and get a little warmer before its time for me to travel home!!!

Well, that is also for now but I hope to send some more detailed BLOGS about my time here, the place where I was born a few years ago!!!!

I have arrived at my last weekend of this current visit to Santiago del Estero

Mar 7, 2015   //   by admin   //   Rodney's Blog  //  2 Comments

And as I look back on the month during which I have been here I thank God for the good times spent with my many friends and the varied opportunities that I have had in meeting new people who now I list them amongst my friends. But the visit has also presented great opportunities to revisit places where The Esperanza Trust (Argentina) has played a key role of help and encouragement to those finding themselves in needy situations and whose efforts continue to help such people, irrespective of age, what ever their need may be. But also looking at the needs for providing venues as well as buildings for the purposes of helping poor people physically, socially and spiritually

Last Saturday, 21st February I attended a meeting in San Fernando where I was invited to tell those gathered something about the history with which I have been linked to, within this province and also how Esperanza came about and its objectives and work. A similar situation arose the following evening in the rural area of Maquito at their Sunday services.
During the past week, together with Edgardo Mulki, the son of a dear friend from the days of our youth, we had discussions with the Pastor of a church on the outskirts of the provincial Capital who also has initiated meetings for children and adults in the rural area called Canal San Martin because such a canal runs along that area. The interesting aspect about this Pastor life is that he has never received any education yet he learnt to read the Bible and in reading it became a Christian and we are now seeking ways in which we may be able to help him in developing this work to which he is truly committed.

Also this week I met with a married couple and the sister of the wife to talk and to advise them on how to proceed from the very word go to a project they wish to develop in a very poor area of this provincial Capital where many children suffer from hunger and the basic necessities of life.

This past week I also met with Oscar D’Alesandro, Head of the Boarding School in the village of Brea Pozo, to discuss their needs of air conditioning/heaters for both the boys and the girls dormitories. It would be ideal to obtain brand new double action units for each of these rooms but current costs may actually prevent this and hence the only option would be good reconditioned units however, these may either provide air cooling facilities or actual heating itself and not the dual effect which would likely be more efficient. We left it that Oscar would further investigate what may be available and at what price plus I also informed Jorge of this rather important issue and await the outcome.

Last evening whilst dining with some friends I heard about the further developments and improvements that are seriously being considered at the Colegio Alfredo Furniss here in the Capital of Santiago del Estero which started as a Mothers & Toddlers Group more than 30 years ago and has become a prime private school providing Kindergarten, Primary and Secondary education to around 1400 pupils. The Esperanza Trust has had quite a historical involvement so far with this development. They also would like to develop some time in the future, in a rural zone not too distant from the Capital itself, a sort of educational retreat centre for around 100 children also as an educational establishment but these at the moment are simply dreams which need considerably much more thought.

This past Thursday with David, my son, and his family we visited the home of Jay and Jan Cook missionaries from Florida, USA who have been working throughout this province for some 11 years. Two of their children are back in the States at university and the remaining two travel there this coming June also to further their studies in their home country. Jay as well as preaching and teaching has been actively involved in seeking to find potable water in many areas of the province as much of the available water below ground is filthy and contains arsenic which is very dangerous if consumed. The Cooks are a wonderful and loving family and I greatly appreciate their friendship and fellowship.

It is Saturday, 28th February and tonight I shall be attending the service in Avenida Moreno and tomorrow will be at the Calle Salta service in the morning and later in the day go to the town of Beltran with Jorge Salum, our legal representative in this country, to an evening service and also meet with a good number of people in that area.

This coming Monday I hope to attend the official opening event of the new School Year 2015 at the Colegio Alfredo Furniss at 8.30a.m. and then at siesta time, 2.30p.m., a similar event at a State School, called the Juan Domingo Peron School. These are local times!

On Tuesday, 3rd March at 19.15 hours local time I start Stage 1 of my homeward journey, a 12-hour overnight journey to Buenos Aires by coach, will then stay there for one day/night before catching the British Airways flight home on Thursday, 5th March and arriving early morning the next day at Heathrow

It has been, as I said at the beginning of this final Blog, an interesting, productive and good visit but in the end it will be good to be home again to the life to which I am more accustomed!!

I’m sorry this final Blog lacks pictures, and is because I have written it using my iPad as the computer which I had been using got infected by a virus and wiped out a great deal of information held not only by me but also belonging to our Rep. Jorge and currently, that computer is with an electronics doctor!!

I close thanking everyone who has taken the trouble to read my weekly contributions and rantings and hope you may have found something interesting in what has been “penned.” There is so much more that I could have written but refrained from doing so to avoid the boredom syndrome on my readers!!!! Chau and Best Wishes.

What have I been doing in this my third week in Santiago del Estero?? 

Feb 28, 2015   //   by admin   //   Rodney's Blog  //  2 Comments

Well, quite a simple answer!  Some days I’ve been kept pretty busy and on others not so much but equally enjoyable as I meet with many friends that I have in this part of the world.

Last Sunday I was taken to the rural village of Arraga for the evening service and as we travelled I spent a lot of time during that 40 minute journey in prayer as our driver was going at full speed, some 110 kilometres per hour in a rather oldish noisy banger.  Not only that, but I was in the front passenger seat and the windscreen on my side was totally cracked!!!  So I put my glasses on just in case the screen would cave in under the speed at which we were going.  We arrived and later got back again to the provincial capital safely but on its outskirts the car ran out of fuel and so Edgardo and I had to walk the last mile or two to our final destination.  What an exciting life I lead!!!

This past Friday morning I was sitting on a bench in the Plaza Libertad around 8.0 a.m. just watching the world go by when a lady approached me saying “Hola Don Roney, me conoces?”  I looked at her and said that her face was familiar but could not place her.  She told me her name which did not help so I asked her from where she came and on telling me I then realised who she was!  She sat down by my side to tell me that she had lost her cleaning job because of having been accused of stealing items from the property where she worked.  She told me, may God immediately blind me as I swear that I never took one item from that home, Later she said, God can punish me with total paralysis and again swore about her innocency.  She was crying as she continued her story and no matter how much I tried to calm her it just did no seem to work.  This went on for some 10 minutes so I then put my hand on her shoulder and several times told her that if she had a clear conscience of being totally innocent then she should not fear because though it was painful to be accused in such a way and to lose her job she should make every effort to put it behind her, trusting in God to give her peace in her heart.  This calmed her down and after a few more words of comfort from my part she gave me a kiss and went on her way, telling me how nice it was to meet me again.  After that episode, I thought I’d better move on before someone else approached me as I did not consider myself to be a “confessional box!”

The other important observation which I noted whilst sitting there, as I did last year, was the obesity of many people in this part of the world.  Not only was it increasing in numbers but also in sizes!!  We know there are many, both young and old, suffering from hunger but on the other hand, many have extremely bad eating habits.  Unless some form of action about improving diets is brought about lives are going to be taken at ever younger ages plus hospitals will not be able to cope with those needing medical attention.

I have had two very interesting discussions with people this past week about needs and am trying to follow these up before heading for home again.

A practice that I will certainly have to curb especially with home travel in mind is the usual greeting common among men kissing each other when they meet.  It is so common that you almost feel it is something that should be practised everywhere!!  Just imagine me turning up at my local church in Richmond and greeting men not only with a hand-shake but also with a kiss! They will think I’ve gone bonkers!!!

With still plenty of invites out for meals I have tried to keep to a fruit diet for lunch-times but not always successful however, today among the variety of fruits to eat I ate 3 tunas.  Not fish but the fruit, tuna, of the cactus plant which is a very healthy fruit, even better than the kiwi and is about twice the size of a kiwi.

Here is the weather report! Last Wednesday we had one of the worst storms I have ever experienced.  During the morning it was sunny and very hot but by 2.00 p.m. a massive wind turned up like a cyclone or tornado and the whole sky turned to a dirty brown colour.  This went on for about an hour and then the rains came and certainly did not take their time to fall.  It absolutely pelted down leaving lots flooded roads and some areas of the province had large heavy hailstones as well.  In the province of Cordoba there were enormous floods and 7 people lost their lives.  So when storms come here they can sometimes give you the creeps!!!

Finally, I leave a few photos taken during this week for interest especially ones like the ants nest found in large numbers in Zanjon as well as the tarantula spider which I managed to photograph in the dark by guess work holding the camera quite high up as I did not want to scare it away before I got its photo!!  It was then killed by beating it hard with a broom!!

Well, I’m coming up to the end of my second week here in Santiago del Estero and what are my reactions so far?

Feb 14, 2015   //   by admin   //   Rodney's Blog  //  1 Comment

Shall I talk about the weather? or is that a subject only for the Brits?? I cannot write about my stay here without saying a few words about what it has been like weatherwise!! In the past 2 weeks it has rained three times and when it does, it really comes down!! The action usually starts with great flashes of lightning and mighty roars of thunder, then strong winds follow and finally very heavy rain. However, after all this fuss not many hours later the sun is shining again in a clear blue sky and then what happens? Quite simply, you feel your clothes beginning to stick to you due, as you walk the streets or even remain in rooms without air conditioning, to the high humidity which has arisen!!!! Otherwise, in the mornings around 8.00 a.m. the temperature is generally around the 31 degrees which gradually creeps up to the 40 degree level by around midday. Nevertheless, as one walks about the heat becomes overpowering due to it being reflected from buildings and roads. The best thing to do is to look for shaded areas as one walks the streets of this city or simply call in at one of local restaurants for a really chilled cerveza!!! But I’m pleased to say that I am surviving the heat and somewhat getting used to it!!! I must also add that the mosquitoes like the taste of my blood!!!!

Let me change the subject from weather to eating habits!!! It is very hard to decline the many invitations I receive either to lunch or dinner. But in accepting I always ask for a light meal however, it seems the good folk here don’t know what that means!!! You get offered a wide variety of dishes and even though each time I request a small portion, what is actually passed to me is generally a large plate piled to its edges. For this reason many of my lunch time meals take place with Jorge at his apartment where we can eat light and healthier foods. For example, my lunch yesterday consisted of half a water melon, 2 peaches and 1 large juicy plum. Ain’t I good, even though I say it!!!!

Work engagements via Esperanza have been varied and mostly informal so far because schools are still on holiday and a number of local people with whom I normally mix as well as having discussions with them are away from the area on their holidays. But I have had some preliminary useful discussions about school scholarships with those who have the responsibilty at these establishments and have visited various places in and around the province. For example last Saturday night I was invited to the 15th Birthday celebrations of one of the daughters of a very good friend which supposedly was to start at 10.30 p.m. but did not get off the ground until 12.30 a.m., a common practice here however, Jorge and I had to leave the occasion at 2.30 a.m. as we had an early start on the Sunday to travel to Cuyoj for their 9.30 a.m. morning service. Later that day, we were at Zanjon for their afternoon Communion service and following that we went to the Calle Salta Church for the evening service.

During the past week I also joined David, Mariel and family to celebrate Rebekah’s, my grandaughter, 16th Birthday at a restaurant here in the centre of the city and then we walked around the corner to another venue where we enjoyed a delightful postre (dessert) of ice cream. By the way, this latter venue was the original site where Alfred Furniss, my grandfather, established his first evangelical church in this province in the year 1907.

There is much more I could add but will leave this to another occasion so in conclusion, I attach a selection of photos taken during past days of my stay here. The photos show a group of friends with whom I dined, two pics of the Calle Salta Church and Colegio Alfredo Furniss, at the 15th Birthday celebrations and finally a group at the Zanjon meeting.

Rodney is back in Argentina!

Feb 4, 2015   //   by admin   //   Rodney's Blog  //  3 Comments

After a gap of some 14 months I’m back in Argentina, more specifically in Santiago del Estero where the work of Esperanza is carried out. I have come from temperatures of 2 degrees in the UK to 40 degrees and more here, at my final destination!!! At 8.00 a.m. the daily temperature is already in the upper 20’s!!

I left London Heathrow on Thursday, 29th January one hour late but much of that lateness was recuperated durnig the flight across the Atlantic and we arrived in Ezeiza, Buenos Aires just 30 minutes late, not too bad for a journey of more than 7,000 miles! The journey itself was spectacular and most comfortable not least because of travelling in Club World class on the aircraft, thanks my very dear friend, “sobrina” Elaine who was also on board with her fiancee travelling to Buenos Aires.

In Buenos Aires we walked around a large area of the city in great weather conditions, stopped and enjoyed cool drinks when necessary whilst watching the world go by. Then I had to say goodbye to them as my usual taxi arrived, chauffered by Angie Doukatas, to take me to Retiro, the Bus Station where I boarded a TransferLine coach to take me on the 12-hour overnight journey to Santiago del Estero. Another very good non-stop journey with great comfort and services on board arriving on Saturday morning at 9.30 a.m. local time at my final destination. Waiting to welcome me on arrival were David, my eldest son, Jorge Salum, our local Esperanza representative and Roberto and Maria Groppa volunteer workers.

I am now on my 5th day here and life has been rather busy, not to mention the wide number of invites I have already received to dine with friends either at their homes or in local restaurants. Discussions about needy projects have also been mentioned to me but more details of these will emerge in my understandings when I can meet privately with such individuals to listen to what they have in mind about such possible requests.

I have also had great delight in savouring, for those already familiar with the well known local cafeteria Fini, “cortados” (delicious coffee) served with medialunas saladas (croissants) prior to starting my morning activities!!!!

Well, this is all for now and hopefully before long I will give more detailed Blogs, with possible pictures of what is going on here throughout my stay in this province where I was born many years ago and more importantly where Alfred Furniss, my maternal grandfather, was the first missionary to bring the Christian Gospel to this area of Argentina in 1907. The work of The Esperanza Trust (Argentina) will continue to serve the needy of this province. We must therefore make every effort possible to bring this about to see the lives of both the young as well as adult people being transformed.


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