Volunteering and traveling in Argentina to proclaim God's great love, and hopefully not getting sick along the way.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


One of my last days in 30 de Agosto (name of the town, it's not a date), I am sitting with Cristian, and our friends Marcela and her husband. We are drinking mate of course, early in the morning, right after finishing my last broadcast on the local radio (story to come).

"Remember when we were younger," says Marcela's husband. "If we were bored over the summer, we were knocking on doors and asking if we could cut their lawn."

"We would collect cardboard," says Cristian.

He nods and says, "Yes, we would do whatever we could to make just a little bit of money for an ice cream or what have you."

Most likely the latest country project "Progress" is on their minds. While we contemplate, we observe several teenagers on their rollerblades managing over the broken roads. It's a project that says anyone between 18 and 24 years old who didn't finish high school and who doesn't have a job will receive 600AP a month in order to '"work" towards those things (e.g. finishing school, going to university, finding a job).

Go to the ant, you sluggard;
consider its ways and be wise!
It has no commander,
no overseer or ruler,
yet it stores its provisions in summer
and gathers its food at harvest.

The idea is good, in a sense. She sees that there are a lot who need jobs, so she's trying something. However 2 weeks ago, the value of the dollar went from 1:6 to 1:8 in a matter of two days. Since then there has been a "lío" (read, ridonkulous chaos) in all the supermarkets as well as anything related to gasoline. All prices going up, up, up.

Before said chaos, there was tremendous controversy over the head director of taxation (I'm not so great with titles) spending lots of money for a vacation where he met up with some suspect folk. He denied, denied, denied.

And maybe you remember the police strike in 19 out of 23 provinces where all of the police demanded higher pay?

To clarify, I'm all for police making money; I most definitely appreciate their protection*. I'm a little suspect for the other issues. What I'm attempting to express is that I think this country has been leaning toward the side of lazy much more than toward the side of hard work.

How long will you lie there, you sluggard?
When will you get up from your sleep?
A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest--
and poverty will come on you like a thief
and scarcity like an armed man.

One student argued that you couldn't even rent an apartment for 600AP. And now, with the rising prices of.. everything.. we doubt you could do much else. Others say that this group of young "adults" will probably just find a way to take the money and run. They will get the proper signatures, do the bare minimum, but stay at home with their parents and their "earnings."

"No one goes around cutting grass anymore," the man said. 

"And it's a struggle to convince my brother to work," says Cristian.

Marcela adds, "And don't forget how much they pay you to have kids."

She is referring to how the government will pay teenage mothers for their "troubles."

I sip my mate and think. I'm not from here, so I mostly observe and internally reflect. While I have never cut grass in my life, I think I can say that I have worked. From refereeing/coaching, tutoring, selling theater tickets, typing while one dictates a book, watching over children (please don't ask me to do this), youth ministering, stocking boxes, selling books, selling bracelets, teaching English, etc. etc. I have done, and still do my share of time.

If you want work, you make it happen.

If you want to be poor, keep sitting. But here, it doesn't seem to be all that true.

I am so impressed by Cristian because of his willingness to work. He has been saving for several months now for the very expensive plane ticket to get him to the States. He makes me proud, even when he accidentally decides to work on our 6 month-iversary. (He later cancelled)

Where has this willingness to work fled? I listen to so many sermons about how important it is to give our children responsibility starting at a young age. However, the complaining generation who wants "something better" for their offspring would rather do all the cooking, cleaning, and so on, for them. And while the first 4 children of my future in-laws had to do their own dishes and make their beds each day (minimum requirement), the youngest boy was left to the father's whims. The boy would stay in his bed, drinking his milk from the bottle till.. well.. I'd rather not say. For his sake.

Yesterday I went to the local bookstore and noticed the lío inside. He had just come back from vacation so all of his orders were all over the place, leaving little space for clientele to even come inside. I asked the owner if he would like help putting things in order, since I have 4 years of experience in that sort of thing. 

"I'm serious," I tell him. "I'll come back tomorrow."

Today I found the same mess, and he found a willing worker. He can't pay me, so I said let's make a deal. "You let me make all the photo copies I want--without taking advantage of course--and we will turn this place around." 

He accepted. I smiled, because I am preparing all the visa paperwork for Cristian so I will greatly value this service!!

But then something else happened. The owner was so astonished by the efficiency of the work, that he thought out loud about hiring me. Obviously I could use the money to prepare for life's next major transition, but I will just take the photo copies for now. I dunno, I could change my mind.

"I will not let you go until you bless me," Jacob replied.

We might be shy, but if it's broke, you gotta fix it. You gotta be willing to work. love and chau!

*as long as that protection is not corrupt...

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