Thursday, June 25, 2009

Buenos Aires

Mondey evening Beth & left on a 13 hour trip to Buenos Aires. Our bus was two stories & first class. The seats laid out into beds, we each had our own TV & we were served delicious food, tea & coffee. I really wonder what is wrong with America for not having this form of transportation.

Arriving in Buenos Aires we were welcomed with freezing cold weather, loads of people & hundreds of picture taking opportunities =P. We first dropped our things off where we would be staying, a 4 story apartment with a church on the bottom floor. The missonaries who own it rent some of the rooms to Christian girls studying at the local universities & also use the place to put up missionaries that come through.

our view:

Beth & I decided to do some exploring & went to catch the subway, which was an experience in itself. The subway cars were so crammed it wasn't necessary to hold on to anything, we couldn't have fallen over even if we wanted. I'm glad I'm not a claustrophobic person. Men were mashed up against me on every side. One guy exclaimed jokingly, "we'll get married at the next stop."

We saw the Casa Rosada, the Pink House, which serves the same purpose as the White House in the States. We visited the Catholic church with San Martín´s grave, saw what looked like a smaller version of the Washington monument & walked on a swing bridge named, "Puente de la Mujer" which means "Woman's Bridge" just because we felt it necessary, we are women =).

After lunch with the missionaries, we went out for more sight seeing & Julieta, a girl who lives in the apartments & studies in Bs As, joined us. We took a bus to a place called La Boca. For Tallahassians reading this, La Boca reminded me of Railroad Square but a much nicer, more interesting & larger version. All the buildings were painted bright colors & artists display their work on stands along the roads. We stopped at a restaurant where we could watch tango dancing & drink coffee. I thought I would only be watching, but an old man in his 80's had a different idea. He unexpectedly walked over to our table, grabbed my arm & asked me to dance. I'm sure my eyes got as big as baseballs. I told him "oh no no, gracias, no." But either he didn't understand Spanish or he just didn't care. He had a death grip on my arm & kept insisting. It was one of those moments in life when you know it's going to end up being a scene either way & you try to pick the less painful option. I'm not too sure me giving in was the less painful option though =P. The poor man could hardly walk but he decided that we were going to "dance" (which was a lot more like walking) for the entire song...which seemed to NEVER end. When it finally did, he insisted that I take a picture with him, but a picture like people take with the actual tango dancers, with the girl's leg up on the man's legs. Ooooh, the horrible thing is, Beth got all of this on camera. I haven't brought myself to watch the video quite yet.

Later that night Beth went back to the apartment to get some work done & Julieta & I went on to do some more sight seeing, shopping & a LOT of walking. Being with Julieta was fun, it had been awhile since I'd done anything with someone my age. It was also very challenging because I had to speak in Spanish the entire time. Wednesday, while Beth was in her missions meetings, Julieta & I spent the entire day together as well. We had a delicious brunch, which only cost me $3.15!! Oh how I love the exchange rate! & we met up with her friend Andrew (who could actually speak English very well) & went to a Zoo.

I loved the city! I love the fast pace & the fact that you could be there for weeks & never run out of things to do or see. I wish it wasn't 13 hours away; I'd love to go back & do more shopping & visit more adorable coffee shops where incredible cups of café con leche are only $1!

~ Michaela Rae

Friday, June 19, 2009


During lunch today Beth exclaimed "Zonda!!" Previously having been told of this phenomenon & ran to the window. Indeed a Zonda was occuring!

A Zonda is a wind that occurs on the eastern slope of the Andes, in Argentina. It is a hot, dry wind produced by the northeastward movement of polar fronts. Beth & Pablo have explained to me that it most often happens during the winter. When it does the weather may go from 30f to 100f within minutes. Although Zondas are hot & dry for us, it means snow on the mountains! People close their houses up tight, drive their cars into the garage & wait for it too pass. When it is over, lots of dust & leaves are left & often very cold weather follows.

Things have been slow for me this week. A Corazones Abiertos conference has been being held here at the house every night since last Saturday. Tonight is the last night. I typically hang around & talk with people until they split into small groups, then I retreat to my room to study, read or maybe watch a movie. I've also been sick this week so I haven't gotten out & done as much as I would have liked. But next week should be really fun. Monday-Thursday Beth & I are taking a 12 hour trip by bus to Buenas Aires. I'm sure I'll have more pictures & stories when I return. It's hard to believe my 3rd week here is almost coming to a close.

~Michaela Rae

Monday, June 15, 2009

Despacito, POR FAVOR!

This past weekend I spent the majority of my time attending a youth conference held at a hotel here in Mendoza. It was certainly the most challenging thing I have participated in so far. I went only having become aquainted with a couple of the people there & still struggling to hold a basic conversation. I left, however, knowing the majority of the people & able to hold indepth conversations with many. I feel like pounding my chest & yelling for victory! My favorite line this weekend was, without a doubt, "despacito, por favor!" basically meaning, "speak more slowly, please!" As my comprehension & speaking improved many people would forget to speak slowly & clearly to me. Towards the end of the weekend, my phrase become a joke & many people would exclaim, "I only speak quick spanish, sorry!" As if it were hopeless.

Two of the girls I spent a lot of time with were 15 & 17 years old & utterly boy crazy. I enjoyed following them around, learning about their crushes, taking pictures with them & translating the titles & lyrics of American songs they listen to on a regular basis. At the dinner table one night they asked what the song title, "Ass Like That," meant. They had absolutely no understanding concerning the song title or its lyrics but loved it all the same. I also found it amusing when a guy wearing a Quik Silver hoodie asked me what "Quik Silver" meant. I'm sure in both cases they found it equally amusing to listen to me trying to explain something that is nearly impossible to explain in broken Spanish.

Sunday night all of us at the conference packed into busses & went to a local park with the purpose of witnessing. On the weekends the park is packed with people either lying on the grass, playing sports or music or selling random products. The tactics used to draw crowds were word games & drawings done on a large easel. The games & drawings related to the love of Jesus & his sacrifice. During the games/drawings they would preach. Afterwards any one who was interested was given a track & spoken to one on one about accepting Christ. Because of the language barrier, participating was difficult for me, but I enjoyed watching & learning. Although I've never completely agreed with the "touch-&-go" witnessing tactic as I like to put it, the Christians here are extremely sincere. It was very encouraging to watch people as young as 15 preach the gospel from their hearts.

Michaela Rae

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Corazones Abiertos

One of the first things I noticed on arriving to Argentina was the negative attitude of women concerning marriage or relationships with men in general. Often when it was mentioned that I have a boyfriend comments such as, "oh, be careful," "you may change your mind," or "take it from me, men in marriage are different than you think" were made. When asking Beth about this, I began to learn a lot more about the ministry of Corazones Abiertos (Open Hearts).

Corazones Abiertos is one of the ministries I'm working with on my stay here. Prior to coming, I wasn't sure what it was. But over the past 1.5 weeks Beth & Pablo have been filling me in.

Here in Argentina ~95% of women have been abused in some way over the course of their lives. Many men have experienced abuse as well. The ministry of Corazones Abiertos was started in order to help address the damage that abuse has caused in these people's lives. In small groups of 5 or 6, people lay out their life stories of abuse & learn what steps are necessary to take in order to be freed from the pain, low selfworth & self-esteem, unforgiveness, & so on, that they experience as a result. They learn who God says they are & what that means for their lives.

Beth & Pablo were quick to give me loads of reading material, ranging from a small pamphlet titled, "The Church: A Safe Place for the Wounded" to a book titled, The Wounded Heart, hope for adult victims of childhood sexual abuse. They have made to be very good but intense reads so far. In July I will get the opportunity to participate in a group. Pray I will be able to gain a lot of ground with Spanish prior to it. I would love to be able to follow everything & to contribute as well.

The past couple days have been busy. I spent the majority of today at Beth's friends house Mirian. I got an Argentine cooking lesson & ate food & drank Mate until I about exploded. Mirian & her sister happen to be 2 of the most difficult people to understand. They speak very quickly & don't pronounce their words very clearly. It can be frustrating but today it was just hilarious when Mirian's sister decided to simply resort to communicating through hand motions only. We all got a good laugh out of it.

Prayer Request: Here in Mendoza there are narrow but deep ditches called acequias which channel water coming down from the mountains to water the city. Yesterday Pablo mis-stepped & fell into one. He cut his leg right below his knee & had to get 7 stitches. Now he has become very sick. Today he had a 104 fever. Pray he recovers quickly!! & that if what he has is contageous it does not spread to any one else.

Love you all!
~ Michaela Rae

Note to self: when you're missing home, eat a bowl of fuit loops.

Monday, June 8, 2009

the Andes

Today has topped all the rest so far! We spent the entire day up in the Andes mountains. It was perfect whether, beautiful scenery, good company & a nice break from the pace of things here in the city. I took hundreds of photos. I put a lot on facebook but here are a few of my favorites. Click to view them larger.

I love knowing that there are thousands of places around the world equally or more beautiful than the ones I have seen today. I am in awe of God's creation, it makes me want to travel 100x more. I am so thankful for this opportunity.

I think I'm finally becoming familiar with the layout of the city. I'm also becoming more comfortable in trying to speak with people. I'm accepting the fact that I am "that foreign person" who can't speak correctly & may say or do stupid things sometimes. It's a strange feeling to be in that position. It's amazing how much effort you can put into do everything right, but when it comes down too it, it's not realistic. So, perfection is being thrown out of the window. It's the only way I can make real progress without driving myself loco.

~Michaela Rae

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Buenas Tardes!
Woke up bright & early this morning. Pablo (Paul) & I drove to a near by city to be on a Christian radio talk show, Nueva Vida FM 94.3. when Pablo asked if I wanted to join he warned that they may make me talk. I told him I wasn't sure I wanted my spanish broadcast to the world quite yet. So he asked them to not have me talk, but it turned out I had to do a little talking anyway. One word, AWKWARD! But it was fun despite having to talk & the fact that it stretched on for 2 hours. My spanish comprehension is improving, I'm slowly getting back in the groove. I was able to follow the majority of the broadcast. =)

The mountains were beautiful this morning. I love that when you walk out of the Wright's house to the left you see the looming Andes but to the right, nothing. I still need to get out & take more pictures. But here are some that I took this morning.

This is one of the many shrines seen on the sides of the freeway. this one to, Gauchito Gil, who was some what of a Robin Hood type figure.

~ Michaela Rae

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Day 3

This morning I got a lesson on using a Lampaso. Which is an outside mop used on sidewalks here. You can see men & women all down the street each morning using them. I'll post a picture later.

I then ran arrends with Paul which turned in to a long vocabulary lesson. At every store front we would stop on the side walk & he would ask, ¿Qué se vende aquí? (what is sold here?). Some were easy give aways but others not so much. Partly because stores here sell the oddest product combinations. For instance, one store sold mattresses & sheet-rock. A locksmith was also a store selling odd car parts, such as, side mirrors.

After la siesta (during which i spent very little time sleeping & a lot more time skyping with Kurt) I got some work done & helped Beth make dinner. I love the amount of cooking that is done here. No microwavable meals or fastfood resturants on every corner.

From 9-11 tonight I attended a class Paul teaches at the Bible Institute. There were about 20 students ages 20's-50's. I had some of my first conversations, some went very well while others were pretty difficult. I was able to understand the majority of the class teaching & discussion though.

For the first time today I noticed all the shrines to Mary around town. Argentina is obviously largely Catholic & Mary is the major figure. At almost every neighborhood entrance is a shrine & often you can see personal shrines in people's yards.

Time for sleep!
~Michaela Rae

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Day 2

Yesterday on the car ride home from the airport, Paul & Beth were telling me that often tremors are felt in Argentina. They described how they feel & different stories of when they've occured. To me this is fascinating seeing as I've never experienced one. Waking up this morning they asked me if I had been woken up by a big tremor around 1am. I can't believe I missed it! There is an article on Los Andes about it.

Beth & I went to visit one of her Argentine friends, Midian, after breakfast. She offered us a lot of Mate so I got to exercise my new Mate skills. The visit made me realize, as far as Spanish is concerned, this trip is going to be extremely challenging. I barely understood a word she said. Thankfully understanding Beth is a lot easier. Adjusting to the Argentine accent will take some time. When we came home I hit the dictionary!

We also went to Wal-mart. Which, believe it or not, was a culture lesson. The food selection is very different & packaging of various things is almost humorous. For example, yogurt sold in bags!

After dinner, Paul gave me more orientation on the culture & also what I'll be doing during my stay. They're going to set me up for independent meetings with people to work on my spanish. The phrase he used to describe it was, "pushing me off the deep end so I'm forced to learn how to swim"...sounds fun huh!? I'm nervous, especially after my first encounter this morning, but I know in the long run this will be really good for me. I'm going to do my best to keep a positive perspective & not get frustrated when I have a difficult time comprehending/ communicating. & in the mean time I will be doing a lot of Spanish reading/studying.

Mucho amor, hasta luego!
~Michaela Rae

Monday, June 1, 2009

Day 1

I have arrived! I flew from Kansas City to Atlanta, from Atlanta to Santiago, Chile, from Santiago to the small Mendoza airport. I nearly missed my connection in Atlanta. It was already a tight squeeze, seeing as Atl airport is huge, but for some added excitement, the gate on my ticket had been misprinted. Thankfully I made it to the right gate & was the last person to board! The flight was an all-nighter. I slept quite a bit & woke up just in time to watch an incredible sunrise over mountains. The most amazing site so far, however, has been the Andes Mountains which we flew over from Santiago to Mendoza.

On my arrival I immediently felt the distance from home. Part of me felt like finding a corner somewhere & crying. I think a lot of that had to do with being exhausted. Now, following a 4 hour nap, I feel a lot better & ready for some more adventure.

We (Mr. Paul & Mrs. Beth Wright, my supervisors & the people I will be living with, & I) went down town to exchange some money after leaving the airport. One of my first observation was that here people & cars mix. They get up close & personal. Needless to say, I'll be putting my death stare into practice in order to cross the street alive. Secondly, Mendoza is not as clean as the U.S. This wasn't much of a surprise, but it made me feel as though I was back in Mexico. Although, it is certainly not as bad. In the neighborhood that I am staying, trash pickup is 6 times a week. You'd think Mendoza would be spick & span if this were the case throughout, but I think it is unique to the neighborhood. Also, outside trash cans don't exist, instead something more like a trash basket on stilts is used or the bags are simply put up in a tree. This is done in order to keep trash away from dogs. It seems as if dogs are everywhere; there is continual barking. But if you live here long enough they say you'll block it out.

I had my first experience with Argentine Mate. Delicious! Which is good, because apparently it is what I will be served at every house I visit. The Wrights taught me the appropraite way of accepting mate, how to hold, pass it & when to say & not to say thank you. I also had my first meal which, like i expected, included beef. =)

It is cold here & the houses are drafty. I'm wearing jeans, socks & shoes, 2 shirts & 2 hoodies, have a blanket over my legs & a space heater pointed directly at me, & I'm just now FINALLY warm. haha!

I can see I'm going to have more independence here than I origionally thought. They have already given me a house key, a couple maps of the neighborhood/city & said they will buy me a bus pass. The idea is a bit overwhelming right now but I think once I get adjusted a little more it'll be great.

Well, this is all for now. I'll post photos & vidoes when I can.
I love you all! Oh & please add me on skype!

~Michaela Rae