News from René and Marina Pereira in Northern Argentina

René and Marina PereiraDear brothers and sisters,

With these lines I want to send you some news regarding the work of the Anglican Church in Northern Argentina…
 
This year we have had a lot of rain in this region and unfortunately, as has happened in the past, it caused the rivers Pilcomayo and Bermejo to flood. As a result of this, various communities suffered from flooding, some even having to leave their homes so as to move to other places. The communities that were flooded in the Province of Formosa are: el Quebracho, Pescado Negro, Las Lagunitas, Pocitos and Pozo Yacaré (in the Bermejo region); our brethren in El Churcal are isolated, they can only be reached by canoe (this is in the Pilcomayo area). While in the Province of Salta the affected communities were Bajo Grande, Las Vertientes, Las Juntas, Pozo Mulato, Alto de la Sierra and Pozo las Chivas (in the Pilcomayo area).

Pilcomayo RiverIn these last months the rains have not stopped; even last night it rained all night and it’s still raining this morning; this has made the situation even worse as those who left their villages are living very precariously and the roads have become unusable so that it’s almost impossible to reach them. We ask for your prayers for these brethren who are in great need; thanks be to God that the government has been helping them (by air) with food and some shelter. But as has happened previously, I think that when the waters recede and the people establish themselves in their new places they are most likely going to need a new church and they will certainly ask for help from the Diocese for this.

Because of all I’ve mentioned above, we had to cancel the youth meeting which was due to take place during Holy Week in Juarez, as it was impossible for many to travel out from their villages. We also had to postpone a zonal conference in Sauzalito (Chaco Province) for the same reason; this was due to take place on April 5th and 6th but has been postponed till August.
 
As regards ministry in the criollo (“white”) church, in February we had a Young People’s camp in La Caldera (Salta), with about 70 young people taking part, including 35 from Juarez, Laguna Yema and Chiriguanos [towns in the Chaco]. There we had workshops to learn about theatre, music, puppets, clowns and plastic arts, in order to offer the young folk tools to use in evangelism. The young people returned home from the camp both challenged and encouraged, to such a point that in Juarez we organised an open-air event in the little town square where they put into practice what they had learned. This happened on Good Friday: there was a massive crowd, whole families came to the place, lots of children along with their parents; it was a really great opportunity to present the Gospel; as a result of this the numbers coming to the church meetings have grown, especially in the Youth Group and the Sunday School. We ask for your prayers for the central criollo church in Juarez and especially for the two young pastors who lead it: one is Narciso Sanchez (unmarried) and the other is Juan Maldonado (married with 7 children).

In July the youth of the Criollo church in Juarez want to organise their First Youth Camp; after taking part in the Camp at La Caldera they came home with that expectation. It will be a great blessing for them to be able to carry it out; there would be participants from the nearby towns and including some from the capital city of Salta. We don’t have the infrastructure required to do this, but in faith we believe it’s possible. Please pray
for this too.

Also in July, as is our custom we shall have our Youth Camp in Misión Chaqueña which will embrace all the youth from the rural ministry; usually there are about 100-120 young people from different congregations in the region. We are counting on your prayers for this.
 
As for family news, we give thanks to God for Marina’s recovery although it is not yet complete; she is still physically quite poorly, she has to take care not to get a cold or flu, and she still has to continue the treatment to improve her natural immunity. She is still very susceptible to anything which concerns the respiratory system or the lungs. Many thanks for your prayers; we are sure that you are still supporting us in prayer for Marina. On the other hand, Marcos and Sarai have begun their school year really well. Sarai who is 13 is in the 3rd year of secondary while Marcos (only 11) is doing 7th grade (last year of primary school). They are both very healthy and growing taller than their parents, I think very soon they will be looking down on us!
  
Well, that’s all the news that I have to tell you for now, hoping and praying that our Almighty God will continue to bless you richly, both physically as well as spiritually.

Your brother in Christ,

Rene Pereira.

Economic Problems in Argentina

Cecilia sent us this email about the economic problems developing in Argentina.

Cecllia

The intention of this email is to share with you the present situation here in Argentina. I’m convinced that together united in prayer, our Lord will deliver us and guide the government to find a solution to the current crisis.

I came back from Ireland almost four weeks ago; I had left a country which was trying hard to improve its economical and social problems. Since 2001, because of the crisis, the whole population has had to learn to live differently to what we were used to, it took some time but after a while the changes became more manageable.

For the last two months the government has faced some difficult situations with the farmers, the government wants to increase some taxes and the farmers are refusing to pay the new amount. After some attempts to solve the dilemma and without any positive response, the farmers decided to start a strike and as part of their strategy they blocked the motorways and many of the main roads. Because of this the people who deliver goods all around the country couldn’t do their job and for almost three weeks they were living in their lorries waiting for a solution.

As a result the whole country suffered a sad consequence; little by little we started running out of food. Every time you went to the supermarket you were allow to take only a certain amount of things, in the hope that by introducing rationing there would be enough food for everyone and to make this unfortunate situation worse many business´ took advantage of the crisis by pushing the prices up on almost all of their merchandise .
Meanwhile the government chose not to reconsider the situation so the people who were affected most by the strike started supporting the farmers and asking the government to do something about it. After some meetings they decided to stop the strike for 40 days and after which they will meet the President again to see if a definite solution can be agreed upon.

The meeting will take place this week, if they don’t come to an agreement the problems of a few weeks ago will recommence, and once again we are going to suffer the cost.
On the other hand, the banks don’t trust the new government (It has been said they are afraid that there will be another crisis like the one in 2001) so they have changed some of their policies, instead of working with the people they are working against them. For example the maximum amount that can be withdrawn per transaction is equal to about 45 pounds sterling and as each transaction costs 1 pound this quickly adds up.

As you can imagine, this change also affects the church because everything we planned to spend this year for the new building as well as the soup kitchen has to be reconsidered due price increases.

In less than two months the entire economy has changed dramatically and returning home has been a real shock for me. There are some families in the church who are struggling with this reality as they are in great economical need. It breaks my heart to see them working so hard and not even being able to get a house of their own, to see them crying out for help because they feel completely lost and tired, very tired. But something that has astonished me is their way of praying, always thanking God for what they have (one family couldn’t even put food on their table for a week).

So this is the present situation in my lovely Argentina, we are all waiting to see what the government decide to do with this.

My prayer to God is that He will give wisdom to our President so she can help her people who trust her.

My friends, I just want to thank you for reading this and for praying for my people and also for me. May God be with us.

Love, Cecilia

SAMS Prayer line

The SAMS GB prayer line for this week:

Let’s begin by giving thanks to God for answers to matters raised on the Prayer Line in recent weeks.

In late March we asked prayer for Marcus Throup’s colleague, Revd Souza, in João Pessoa, Brazil, who was facing surgery for cancer. Marcus tells us the operation was successful and the cancer was entirely removed
also in Brazil we asked prayer for a weekend away for the young people of Espirito Santo church in Recife. Josias de Souza reports that many of the 60 who attended were introduced to the Christian faith for the first time.

So praise God, thank you for praying, and please continue to remember Revd Souza in recovery and the young people in discovery.

Bishop Bill & Judith Godfrey return to Peru on Thursday (24th) after some months’ convalescence for Bill in the UK. Remember them as they take up diocesan responsibilities again, especially for Bill’s health.

Another person with health needs is Latin Partner Danny Morrison, who is in the middle of a month’s sick leave from his ministry at Gómez Carreño in Chile. Please keep Danny & his wife Ary in your prayers.

Paraguay Elections

Paraguay mapToday sees the biggest change in the political landscape in Paraguay for 61 years. The current government was led by the Colorado Party. They had been in power since 1947, the longest-serving party in continuous rule in the world. Today the opposition, a centre-left coalition, led by Former Roman Catholic bishop Fernando Lugo has won Paraguay’s presidential election. He campaigned on being a government for the poor and seeks to bring real change to one of South America’s poorest nations.

Please pray for the nation of Paraguay at this time of change, and for the SAMS mission partners who work there, particularly in St. Andrew’s School. As Penny and Murray Metcalfe say in a recent e-mail,

“The need for a leadership that can move away from the corruption that is such a part of every public sector is essential.”

More information on the Paraguay elections is available from the BBC.

SAMS Prayer line

Today Bishop Greg Venables travels to the Diocese of Northern Argentina for meetings of the Diocesan Council tomorrow and the AGM of the diocesan legal body on Friday. Pray that the proceedings will run smoothly, that the Lord will inspire, unity will prevail and the right people end up with the right responsibilities.

This Sunday a presidential election is held.in neighbouring Paraguay, with current president Duarte Frutos barred by the Constitution from running for re-election. The candidates include the current Minister of Education, a former Roman Catholic priest and a former disgraced army general. Please pray for this nation in its desperate need for a just and trustworthy government which strives for the welfare of the people and against corruption.

Ian & Siméa Meldrum in Olinda, Brazil, have said how important our prayers are against the violence, drug dealers and the dangers of the area; so please keep in your prayers these issues, as well as the staff and 11 boys aged 6-14 being cared for at My Father’s House (safe house). Among these are two drug addicts put there temporarily for their own safety by the court as they are being hunted by gangs. They are causing disruption in the house and affecting the other boys who have recently come off drugs and glue-sniffing and had been making good progress. So please pray.

Prayer Line

News from the SAMS GB prayer line:

This weekend the Diocese of Argentina holds its Synod in Buenos Aires, with visitors from its link Diocese of Sheffield. Pray for Bishop Greg Venables in the chair and for the worship, Bible study and discussions on future planning in the light of a severe shortage of clergy.

Far to the north in the midst of the Argentine Chaco Pastor Tuqui Ayala will baptise on Saturday seven new believers among the settlers of the small town of Laguna Yema. Pray God will bless this event and encourage them in their new life with Christ.

Over this weekend the young people of Espirito Santo church in Recife, Brazil, are going away to pray and study the Bible together. Pray for them and for their pastor, SAMS Latin Partner Josias de Souza and his wife Danielle.

From Monday to Thursday (14th-17th) the ‘Gospel in Spain’ conference is held at the SEUT seminary in El Escorial to highlight the vital work of its staff, in particular SAMS mission partners Jonathan & Hilary Rowe. Pray for this event and for its coordinator Tim Greenhalgh.

On Tuesday (15th) Tim Curtis returns to Paraguay after his UK ministry. Pray for his travel, his reunion with the Enxet Bible translation team and the continuing project.

Finally, Tuesday also sees the long-awaited conference on revival held in Santiago, Chile. Alf Cooper hopes for a turnout of 5000 pastors and leaders. Pray for this gathering.

News from Gayle Stevenson in Salta

Gayle StevensonOk I’m sorry I’m a few days late but Cecilia has only just got back and so everything has been quite busy. Where to start – the last month has been mostly filled with travelling, I’ve seen some absolutely breathtaking views and as well as that I’ve been becoming a bit of a Tour Guide in my spare time. So as most of you know I have to leave the country every 3 months/90 days to renew my Argentine Visa so off I went with Guada, Cecilia´s wee sis, to Puerto Iguazu on the borders of Brazil and Paraguay. Mode of transport – Bus (3 of them). Total Travelling Time – 30 hrs. There are three main things you notice when you arrive in Puerto Iguazu – heat,humidity and bright red soil! As if that wasn’t exciting enough Puerto Iguazu is also home to one of Argentina’s most impressive sites, a set of waterfalls which separate Argentina and Brazil. We spent a whole day walking around the trail which was set up to show off these massive waterfalls, in awe of their beauty and size. If that wasn’t enough we went on a boat up the river and were so close to the Falls that you couldn’t breathe never mind keep your eyes open as the force was so great. We crossed the border of Brazil and Paraguay and spent a day just walking about their border cities to get the passport all stamped up ready for my last 3 months in Argentina. As we were only there for a short period of time I can’t tell you a whole lot about the places other than Brazil was much more built up with a few sky scrapers and I even spied a Pizza Hut – couldn´t believe it. Paraguay was really like Bolivia only bigger with a lot more buildings. On our last day in Puerto Iguazu we went on a big boat trip up the river that separates the 3 countries as the sun was setting. Meanwhile a few men performed folklore music on the boat to accompany the beautiful views and even got Guada and I up to dance in front of everyone. Ha, let’s just say I was fairly confident I would never see any of them again! I really loved my time there as it was great to be surrounded by so much water. I’ve really missed the sea as its a couple of days drive from Salta and so most of the people I know have never seen it. The next day we were back on the bus and on our way home exhausted, looking forward to Mum and Dad arriving a few days later. Unfortunately Mum and Dad missed their connecting flight from Buenos Aires to Salta and so we had to wait in suspense for yet another day. Anyways Mum and Dad arrived safe and sound-ish (you can ask them about that) and the next day we were up early to go for a day trip up into the Andes along the path of the Train to the Clouds, if anyone has heard about that. On the way we visited some villages, the Argentine Salt Flats and the Mountain of 7 colours. I somehow got roped into translating the whole thing for both Mum, Dad and an English couple who were also on the tour that day and so we all arrived home absolutely wrecked!! The following day was spent seeing the sites and sounds of my second home Salta City. We went up one of the “cerros”(we would call it a mountain but here it’s a hill) by cable car, dandered around the city and went to the famous Sunday markets. Up early again the next day and off to Buenos Aires only to be amazed yet again, only this time not by another one of God’s beautiful creations but by the size of the hotel room I was staying in. I suppose mentally I’ve down sized a bit and so to find my room was bigger than the house I’ve been living in for the past 7 months came as a bit of a surprise! The following few days were filled with delicious food ( Argentine Steaks and fish which I haven’t had seen I left home), site seeing and a tango show, after which we parted ways again as we flew home- Mum and Dad to Ireland and I to Salta. Some days later Cecilia arrived home from Ireland and so now the real work begins again. I can’t believe I’ll be home soon and so I’m determined to really make the most of my time left.

Prayer points
For my time left that God will make the most of it and I will be open to him doing so. For a girl from my church who has been kicked out of her house by her family for being a Christian, she has no job as she is studying and is now staying with a family who already have a full house and little money as it is.?For the team coming out in July. For all next years volunteers. Thanks again for all your support and sorry that this email has arrived a bit late.

Hasta Luego y Dios Te Bendiga. Tu Hermana En Cristo. Cati ( Gayle Stevenson)

La Caldera, Salta Team Trip 2008

La Caldera 2008In July this year twelve young people from Down and Dromore Diocese will travel to La Caldera in Salta, Argentina for a three week Beyond the Norm trip. For some it will be their first mission experience, for everyone it will be an adventure.

Aims of the trip

  • To work in fellowship with Christians from the Diocese of Northern Argentina and experience the Kingdom of God at work in another culture.
  • To assist in the modernisation of La Caldera retreat centre – helping the Diocese become more financially independent. Read more in a recent post.
  • To deepen the links between the Church of Ireland and the Diocese of Northern Argentina – to share your faith, work hard, and be an ambassador for Christ and the Church in Ireland.

La Caldera TeamBackground to the Project
The retreat centre takes its name from the La Caldera village, where it is located. In early colonial times the area was a stop-over place for mule-caravans that travelled the trail connecting Buenos Aires with Lima, Peru. On the site of the village once operated a lead melting-plant that featured a enormous pot with clear water, hence the name ‘La Caldera’, Spanish for ‘boiler’ or ‘cooking-pot’. The documented use of the name ‘La Caldera’ can be traced back to late sixteenth century title-deeds.

The property that is now the retreat-centre was purchased by the Anglican diocese of Northern Argentina in the 1970s. Since then, the centre has served local Anglican parishes mainly through youth-retreats and children’s camps. These activities have always been co-ordinated by the diocesan department of Clergy and Lay Training and over the years, hundreds of young people have been reached through this ministry. Much of today’s leadership and membership are the fruit of these camps and retreats. Currently the centre can offer accommodation to around 70 people, has hot and cold running water and the majority of sleeping facilities are bunk-beds in dorms.

In June 2007 the diocese saw a change of authority and Archbishop Greg Venables became diocesan Bishop in Northern Argentina. The new Bishop and his staff quickly perceived the need for optimising the use of the La Caldera centre and the project for modernisation was conceived. One of the priorities of the diocese is to become less dependent on donations from abroad and to increase the percentage of ministry-budgets they can finance themselves. Modernising the La Caldera retreat centre is part of this priority.

Phase A:

  • Construction of low front-wall with columns in style, closed with welded iron fence; hinged double gates for main entrance and hinged single gate for delivery entrance;
  • Fencing off the grounds with wire mesh and concrete posts ?(50% of circumference, + 400 meters);
  • Remodelling of two dorms and the construction of new bathrooms;
  • Repairs to existing bathrooms, roofs, floors and walls;
  • Painting the main building.
  • For more details of the project read the project description, and the team blog.

    Short term mission trips 2008

    During the coming months several SAMS Ireland teams are heading to South America. Each of them will be doing a variety of work to server the Anglican church in their outreach and ministries. The teams are:

    • Lisburn Cathederal – Salta; Red Box Project, from 28th June to 19th July. Team leader – Jonny Best.
    • Down & DromoreLa Caldera 2008, Northern Argentina; from 4th July to 25th July. Team leader – Stephen Trew.
    • Dungannon / Fivemiletown – Salta; Red Box Project, from 24th July to 15th August. Team Leader Jo Hamilton
    • Love For Life – Paraguay; From 1st August to 17th August. Team Leader Hannah Collins. Following up the Love for Life Paraguay 2007 trip (report).
    • Eglinton / AhoghillMission Paraguay 2008; From 1st August to 23rd August. Team Leader David Orritt.
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