Something about Argentina is its abundant feriados, or holidays. Cristina has added loads of holidays, and sometimes changes them to meet her needs (like last year when she switched Kids' Day for election purposes).
Any way, because there are so many of them, I just don't even think about them any more (well except for Friendship Day, because it is taken very seriously here). A weird response, but a true one all the same. So when people were out of the house today due to yet another holiday, I just used the silence to prepare for the prayer meeting I was in charge of tonight.
After all, the holiday also meant I couldn't go swimming because the pool was closed.
Or then I went to make a photocopy, and my favorite local librería was closed. I dropped by Samuel's house to see if they could print for me, but the family had gone to Villa Giardino for the day. Right.
I went to the girls' institute, and thankfully Gladys and Eve were there. We had a good time of chatting over mate while the two actually worked on the bracelets. It's kind of an unusual thing for these two gals in particular, so I gave thanks to God on my ride home.
Enter the few hours of silence before making my way to el Refugio. And I suppose this is where it actually gets weird.
First of all, there's the fact that neither Laura nor Sol would be coming to el Refugio. The irony is that they are the ones who teach--I'm just there for crowd control. Let's add the fact that I didn't know that both of them would not show up. I called Laura who tells me, "Oops, I forgot.." and had talked to Sol the night before who said she was coming, she would just be late.
But I suppose this isn't that strange. I have noticed this a lot with the culture. The smallest excuse is enough to cancel the biggest responsibility. As I look back to last year and the multiple times we had cancelled events or visits due to rain, holidays (that were beautiful days spent doing nothing as a result), bus schedules, others not feeling like it, etc. etc. It's a struggle for me when sometimes the first thing out of one's mouth is, "Let's just postpone it", when one person mentions a tiny excuse. "Orrr.." I begin, "we figure something out!"
It's a battle for consistency!
Moving on.. I head out and the first thing I see is a stranger. This stranger greets me in a way as though he has known me his whole life. I sort of recognize him from the neighborhood, and I recognize that he has some sort of disability, so I continue. He puts his arm in mine and begins to talk with me.
"I'm almost as tall as you," he tells me.
Looking down to meet his gaze, I laugh a little and say, "Sorry buddy, I think I've got you on this one."
He changes the subject to my flip flops, and then asks how long I have lived here.
Like I said, strange. We part ways soon after and on my walk toward el Refugio I am praying for wisdom in what to do with the very possible reality of being alone. I wait at the gate and Santi and Julian arrive first. Then two other girls. The craft is a porcelain bear attached to a can. It's kind of cute; it's a multi-week task which most of this group had already practically finished.
"I honestly don't know what to do," I tell them.
Then they do the craziest thing for kids their age and from their background--they behave well and find things to do. They even clean up after themselves after all is said and done. I didn't have to do anything except be there. Show up. Ta.
What was also interesting is the five of us begin a conversation about death. These are 8, 9 and 10 year olds asking me about where I was during September 11, and if I have ever had to deal with death. I suppose the fact that my grandpa just died a couple of weeks ago is a good reminder that death is at everyone's door. They share their experiences, and I am able to ask them about the purpose of life. Again, remember their ages. A conversation I could have missed out on had I just given up when I hear that Laura isn't coming.
My Monday ritual of going to the Rodriguez house was also fascinating. It's normal for us to watch Floricienta, the most popular Argentine soap opera for teens, but I have never watched it in the girls' room (a room shared between Nieves and Mariela) alone. It was all so very strange. No small talk. I didn't even see Sol. No criollos!!
I walked home ready for the prayer meeting. There was a small gathering of OM folk in the kitchen, but none of them knew there was a meeting today (we have one EVERY Monday). I asked them to join me any way, and the 6 of us went in with low expectations. Or at least I did.
The next thing you know, a few of us are crying. I end the time in prayer, and everyone is fervently adding their "Amen"s and "Sí Señor"s. God's people transformed by an unexpected moment of reflecting on the country, our sin, and the needs around the world.
We end the day with some small talk, and I come here to write about it. All I hear is the ticking of the clock telling me it's time to go to bed. That, and the fact that the battery of my computer is almost up.