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Showing posts from October, 2017

Seen in passing.May you sense God's...

...this Sunday and always!

Snakes, beavers and penguins...

Ushuaia boasts some vast areas of unspoilt national park and, having taken the ( very touristy!) "Fin del Mundo / End of the World" railway into the park, I began to explore the small section of the 630 square kilometre park open to the public....
Scenic hikes along the bays and rivers enables one to glimpse something of the prolific birdlife - condors, cormorants, gulls, terns, kelp geese, grebes and oystercatchers...
( I remembered our dear bird-watcher and past Church Warden, Dilwyn, as I peered out on the range of feathered creatures. He would have loved the display!)
Our guide spoke of the fact that Tierra del Fuego, being an island, has no snakes - there weren't any in this part of Argentina and they were never introduced!
Tramping through the course mix of shrubs and fallen logs, I can't say that I was disappointed to discover that I couldn't be bitten by any poisonous reptiles.....!The guide later spoke of some of the earlier settlers ( remember this cou…

John 17: 6-19

Kept safe
You are a love gift from the Father to the Son. You were chosen by the Father and belonged to him, and he gave you to his Son (vs 2,6,9). And the Father himself will protect you and keep you safe (vs 11,15).Why would we need to be kept safe? Because we no longer belong to the world (vs 6,14,16). We still live in the world God made of trees and islands and badgers. But we no longer belong to the world of people who have rejected Jesus as King. We are as different from this world as Jesus is (vs 14,16). And so people who hate Jesus will also hate us (John 15:18 – 16:4).Similarly sent
And yet, Jesus sends us into this world. He sends us in the same way he was sent by the Father (v 18). That means we will draw close to people and identify with them, as Jesus did when he took on flesh. It means we will live distinctive holy lives, as Jesus did in perfectly loving and obeying his Father. It means we will die to our own needs and put others first. And so on.And as we do, we have th…

"End of the world, beginning of everything..."

That, apparantly is the motto for the city of Ushuaia!The word Ushuaia comes from the Yaghan language ( the original Indian inhabitants) were the words: 'ush' and 'waia' mean "bay" and "cove" reflecting the  "deep bay" enjoyed by this capital of Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost province of Argentina.
Commonly regarded as the southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia is located in a vast expanse of sea on the southern coast of the half Chilean, half Argentinian island of Tierra del Fuego.
In Ushuaia the snow capped mountains of the Martial Glacier flow tall and sleek to the Beagle Channel, linking the Pacific and Atlantic oceans in the grey, foreboding waters of the Bay of Ushuaia....It is a place of vast grey, foreboding sky reflected in the austere charcoal,waters of this notoriously dangerous seas...
It is the place of pioneers, prospectors searching for the end of the world...
It is the city where a young Charles Darwin sailed on the B…

If God was a glacier...

Would I recognise within the purity of the whiteness, the whole spectrum of mercy and love hidden in that white light....?
Would I stand in awe of the power veiled in the beauty...?
Would I be open to this transforming force - shaping and re-shaping, removing all that stands in the way of changing, slowly and subtly taking all the 'boulders' of my 'baggage' and depositing them far away from my concerns...?
Would I be prepared to pause,
to stop
and to listen out for the sounds of the secret symphony within,
God promising hope that, even in the cold, painful moments, all will be ultimately well...?If God was a glacier, would I dare to visit,
would I want to visit, knowing that,
when we meet God, things will never quite be the same again...

Seen in passing...

An exhibition of dolls!
We've done it with foot wear, so why not try it in Ruthin...!?

Seen in passing...

At the Tierra Del Fuego railway station, Ushuaia, the southernmost part of the Americas...

Psalm 25 verse 2: "As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people both now and forevermore."

Travelling I've been conscious of God's gracious love towards me - but also for the need to be 'safe'.....Security is a big issue today. If you phone your bank, there will be lots of security questions to answer before your enquiry can be answered. There is much talk of national security, security cameras, security codes, etc. People want and need security – it is a desire deep within us. The question is, where can this security be found?God knows that the desire for security is there in believers also, and has been from ancient times. So he gives to Israel, and to us, a great assurance that they and we are totally secure. He says that he surrounds his people just as the mountains surrounded Jerusalem (v 2). This is the protection the Lord gives his people – the Creator God himself always keeps his people! He wants us to revel in this secure love, which is everlasting.We want to believe this is true, but how do we feel when so often life seems hard and evil appears to …

Insufficient words....

... that's what I felt like when, having moved on to the (equally beautiful and 'touristy') town of El Calafate, I ventured to see one of its main 'draws' - the Perito Moreno Glacier....Some fifty photographs (from the water facing it and from the organised viewpoints above it)  cannot capture its magnitude, all shades of white and blue shimmering in the sunshine...It is as large as the whole surface area of Buenos Aires and is "in equilibrium" (ie the amount of ice breaking off at its end - and I witnessed that several times - is equal to the amount of snow replenishing it day by day.)
It travels some 2 meters every day and, as often happens, has "cut off" one side of the vast Lago Argentina lake so that the water level one side is some 3 meters higher than the other. In time the natural forces will find a way to redress this inbalance and the sheer force of water will eventually cause the glacier to "rupture" - with great force and t…

Bariloche - imagine Switzerland transported to Argentina....

1,375km from Mendoza, my coach trip brought me to Bariloche, the scenic North of Patagonia, close to the Chilean border.Bariloche is the first place that I've felt that I was a 'tourist' visiting a foreign place.
If you imagine somewhere like Geneva (or, to a lesser extent, Bala) you might get the idea - stunningly azure lake shimmering in the Spring sunshine (after Mendoza this was a chilly 8° - the first time I've shivered since arriving in South America!)
Magnificent, snowcapped Andean mountains interweave into the farthest distance your eyes can see and, along the lake shore (and its parallel Main Street) are tourist shops galore selling all kinds of souvenirs, as well as cafes and bars offering all kinds of refreshment...Close your eyes and, surrounded by so much alpine architecture, you might be in the middle of Switzerland (or Snowdonia?) and just to add to the Swiss parallels (and to prove just how great God is) there is even CHOCOLATE!!!
Chocolate shops galor…

19 hours in "First Class"....

..."First Class" on the interstate coach from Mendoza to Bariloche that is!
Here are some memorable milestones along the journey:
Realising that the names given me by the check in clerk ("Comodoro Rivadivia") were not the names of driver and steward but the final destination ( beyond Bariloche!) to which the bus was heading...
Snuggling under my blanket (as the air-conditioning plummetted temperatures to 17°) after a tasty supper of pasta....
Waking up at 1am and 2.30am at deserted town coach stations and feeling sorry for those who had to catch a bus at that time...
Feeling equally sorry for the other eight passengers in "Primero Classe" who have to endure my extremely LOUD SNORING......!
Watching a mother consoling her deeply distressed three year old who had had to say "Goodbye" to nain and taid.(And thanking God for the gift of my family....)
Being woken up by one of my own snores ( yes, it IS that bad!) and watching the sun rise on the Pata…

Seen in passing...

(Outside the National Parks office in El Calafate)
and reminding me of home...
("Hiraeth" maybe...)

24 hours in Mendoza....

Thanks to Argentinian Airlines, rather than two and a half days, I got a day to spend in Mendoza, so here, in summary, is what I did:
SATURDAY 14th
19.00 landed at airport and got taxi to Youth Hostel (convenient location and nice prices for a single room - couldn't inflict my snoring on others!!!)
20.00 unpacked and ready to "hit the city" (smaller than Cordoba, in the "desert" but extremely well irrigated so you wouldn't notice!)
20.15 browsing a nightly craft fair of local artisans ( including several stalls selling intricately carved cases for kives) - stumbled accross the city theatre
21.00 sitting watching classical and modern dance on the theme of "swans" ( including costumes very reminiscent of Mathew Bourne's all male version of 'Swan Lake'!)
I think it was an end of year "showcase" for the local state conservertoire and the young performers were superb! (Anyone who makes such elaborate, athletic moves look easy gets…

Refugees

That was also the Holy Family...!(Part of a series in an exhibition in Cordoba viewed on Weds 10th)I hadn't appreciated just how many different nationalities have made their home here...

Seen in passing....

At a Saturday night market in Mendoza.
(14th October!)
Could be an interesting fund raising project for the knitters in our midst - designer knitted "cup cakes" for all those special occasions....!

Thank God...

...for all those who 'mother' us!
It's Dia del Madre in Argentina today!
(Written Sunday 5th but internet keeps refusing to publish!)

Fruitful....

Thank you, Father, that I am chosen, 
And that you want me to enjoy my friendship with Jesus 
just as he basks in the joy of being the utmost object of your love.Like Jesus, let me not take you for granted;
Help me to remain in your love by obeying your commands.Help me to remain in Jesus by fostering the intimacy he seeks with me
Help me to walk closely with you, God, in step with your Spirit. Lord, make me fruitful on the vine, dependent on you,
not withering on the ground from striving in my own weakness.May everything I do be for your glory:
My prayers and praise to you,
My loving care for others,
My hope and joy in your incomparable worth.Lord, I submit to your pruning of my life and character,
Knowing that it demonstrates your love for me,
Knowing that it is to make me more fruitful for you.I choose to delight in you in all things – 
It is an honour to live in your love
To know your love in my life,
To love others with your love.Amen.
Phil Andrews

YWAM Mendoza

Sadly, Argentine Airlines cancelled Friday's flight(!!!) and so I am unable to visit and see for myself the way YWAM Mendoza ( Youth with a mission - a young people's missionary model originating in the USA) and reliant upon their website which speaks of various engagement strands including:Counselling Ministry¨Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.  It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.¨   Revelation 22:1-2Our vision is to form, equip and train leaders and counselors in the healing and restoration of people, families, communities and areas of society.  We make known God´s heart for counseling through giving from what we have received and experienced through Him.Areas of society that we aim to affect are:  hospitals, prisons, …

More thoughts on 'words'.... (Hosea 14:1-9)

‘May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.’ (Psalm 19:14)I know the sayings, ‘Actions speak louder than words’ and ‘After all is said and done, there’s a lot more said than done’. Yet today I want to say something in praise of words. For today’s reading exhorts the people to ‘take words’ with them as they return to the Lord (v 2). Of course, we want to avoid empty words and idle talk – but words matter, or I would not be writing and you would not be reading. Words shape our thinking and our doing. Indeed, speaking is a form of doing. Without words, it is difficult, perhaps impossible, to express our thoughts, hopes or regrets, our sorrows, dreams or cares. Words are essential to expression and may be necessary even for thought.In evangelical circles, we tend to prioritise spontaneity and extemporary expression, but this passage favours the careful use of words. ‘Take words’, says Hosea. Then he specifies what …

CORDOBA - clever, cultured and cold....!

Travelling from the lush tropical rainforest of Iguazu to Argentina's second city, Cordoba, came as something of a shock!
Firstly, there were all the usual trappings of a city - traffic, buildings, people, hustle and bustle.
(The very comfortable but "simple" hotel was also a bit of a come down! Indeed, intermittent wifi has made sending blogs a challenge but, here we are...!)Although a travel cliche, Cordoba really is a fascinating mix of old and new...
17th century ecclesiastical buildings stand next to the latest shopping centres.CLEVER:
Indeed, this city boasts a long established academic foundation: Manzana Jesuitica, Argentina's first university (so it claims!).
The next door academic establishment, Colegio Nacional de Montserrat, with its baroque exterior walls, may be as old - it all depends on whether you consider the date building began or charters were established!
Visiting the university's oldest library and being shown a 17th century bible written …

"I'm blessed...."

That's how the taxi driver who transported me accross the border from Brazil to Argentina described his life.
That precious word " blessed" really hit me!
How many other conversations would you expect people to use such an adjective to describe their circumstances?
But in the place he lived, the people who shared his life and for the way life was for him, this man recognised just how blessed he was.
It was a sharp reminder to me as to just how truly blessed I feel and I simply thank God for each day....
What about you?
Feeling blessed....?
(Matthew 5:3-12)

James 4:7

This morning was THE day for turning my back on the devil....
The Gargantua del Diablo ( Devil's throat) is a deafening cascade plunging the depths to produce vast smoke like plumes of water at its base...
The boat I was on ventured into this seething torrent and I screamed with exhilaration along with everyone else on board...Believe me, there wasn't a dry eye (or any other part of my anatomy!) by the time we disembarked...
(See photo)

Taking Presidence

An unexpected visit by the President of Argentina resulted in the sudden, unexpected closure of the National Park to all visitors....
(It would appear that I'm in very good - if unexpected - company!)

Seen in passing...

....at Iguazu Bird Park.

Shades of Elijah.... ( See 1Kings 19:11-13)

It has been interesting these last few days in Iguazu reflecting on where and when I've sensed God....The evening of the day of my arrival (Friday 6th) I took full advantage of staying within the National Park (in a beautiful Portugese style Parador) and ventured to see the waterfalls before sunset.
Much to my amazement, I had the vast water complex to myself, witnessing the tonnes of water crashing down the sheer drop with great gusto, the volume of water booming and resonating throughout the rainforest....But God wasn't initially evident to me in the mighty waters of the Iguazu....Journeying back the mile and a half walk to the hotel, a tropical storm began to build up at the end of a very hot, steamy day.
By the time I got to the hotel's balcony I could sit and watch this 'brewing' cacophany of thunder and lightening: vivid forks of electric flashes turning pitch black night to daylight and sudden, singular claps of thunder making me shudder to the core...But,…

Mighty waters...

That's what the indigenous people call this place - IGUACU.
Since a teenager, watching on of those travel shows, I've always wanted to visit this amazing natural phenomenon - a jaw dropping, visceral experience of hundreds of waterfalls some 3 kilometres in extent which form the border between Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina.
Here I will cross the border and continue to journey (with great thanksgiving) trusting in God"s great provision...

Metropolitan Cathedral, Brasilia

Wednesday was a sharp contrast to the natural beauty of Amazonia - the capital city of Brasilia.
This city replaced Rio de Janeiro as Brazil's centre of government in the 1960s (and it shows - sometimes in a good way!)
Under the visionary leadership of President Juscelino Kubitschek ( stayed in a hotel named after him) the city was designed to bring together the diverse talents and skills of the newly independent Brazil. Established in the desert area of central Brazil, the city is a superb example of the work of architect Oscar Niemeyer, urban planner Lucio Costa and landscape architect Burle Marx ( see picture in previous blog). Their futuristic dream of a perfectly modelled 'city state' is evidenced in the many (literally!) ground-breaking buildings - some now sadly showing their age...I was able to join the 80 or so midday worshippers of all ages, gathered to celebrate the Eucharist and, for me, this was also an opportunity ( in contrast to the Amazon) to thank God for…

Theatre visit...

Imagine a 19th century Opera House, full of the richest and finest European theatrical furniture imaginable, on the fringes of the Brazilian Amazon, and you have it in "Theatro Amazonias"...
One ex Drama student was in his element...

Sunset on the River Negoro, Brazilian Amazon...

From the rising of the sun to its setting, may the Lord's name be praised..
(Ps 113:3)

"Welcome to my home..."

That's how one guide, originally from one of the outlying indigenous communities, greeted us for our jungle hike.
(Picture me with sunhat, long trousers, my "birthday" boots PLUS shin guards to protect from snake attacks stressing as to what lay ahead!)Born and brought up in the rainforest, Lorrono our guide spoke of learning the "rhythmn" and "life" of the jungle rather than human beings trying to "dominate"  and "overcome" it. "That way lies danger and death!" he warned.
As he spoke with us on our expedition I sensed that there was great humility and respect for a force greater than himself, plus a sense that he recognised that his life was totally dependant upon this awesome power beyond....
He was not to simply sit back, do nothing and let this power "be" but, over time, to learn the ways to live well, to be fruitful according to this power beyond...
This, he confessed had taken much time, patience, pain and…

Amazon - interesting facts....

I hadn't expected wifi in the Amazon  (there was!) so had left my "technology" back in the big city. This, therefore, will be a mix of refelctions on a time which I feel truly blessed to have experienced....
The Amazon Rainforest is the largest equatorial forest in the planet, occupying 6.5 million square kilometres - one guide suggested that you could fill the whole european landmass ( pre Brexxit!) into the same area and still have space left over....!The river Amazon only truly begins (with that name) after the city of Manaus, where I landed. Before that, the river enters Brazil (from the Peruvian Andes) as the Solimoes River and joins with the River Negro (on which I based my stay) beyond Manaus - this is known as the "meeting of the waters." (Google that phrase and you should see fascinating pitures of two distinct, differently coloured rivers flowing side by side before converging to form the mighty Amazon.)Why did I choose to stay on the river Negro? BUG…