The Annaghmore visit to Argentina is a good example of an evolving story. The local parish had been supporting SAMS for generations, but the relationship had become more personal with 2 Argentineans’ being placed in the parish as part of the SAMS FUSION programme. When the local church in Argentina requested help to build a church it was the perfect opportunity for a group of skilled men from Annaghmore to rise to the challenge.

Before the team travelled to South America, I was quietly confident, as I knew the skill base was extremely high. I wasn’t disappointed as the 12 lads as they definitely produced the goods on the building site as their work rate was exceptional. But projects are much more than laying blocks and sometimes teams with a focused task can miss out on the relational side.

Thankfully the Annaghmore team embraced the relational side of the project just as much as they grasped the practical side. It was an encouragement and privilege to share with them as they interacted with the local people with big hearts. They worked in challenging situations, ate their fair share of dry bread, stood under numerous showers that didn’t work, kipped in some suspect beds, and never once did they complain.

The team worked within different building methods, yet even though they had an extensive skill level compared with many of the local church members who worked alongside them from the host country, they never pointed the finger and told local people how to do things. They showed respect to the community and valued everyone who worked alongside them.

I probably don’t need to tell you that the lads didn’t let me down when it came to eating everything that was placed in front of them! I could say so much, but maybe the local pastor summed up the imprint the team made as he shared with me that for generations the story of the Annaghmore team would be passed on as one of the best gifts that God had given them.

This team was worth its weight in gold and every team member was genuine in all they did, and excellent ambassadors for their local parish and community.

The ‘Beyond the Norm’ programme aims to give participants the opportunity to encounter South America within a supportive environment. It creates new experiences, new opportunities and new challenges. It provides the setting in which volunteers experience mission and cultural diversity at first-hand.

Geoff Hamilton
Team Leader