Search This Blog

Monday, February 08, 2010

3rd World Treasures

Jan 4/09

Last nite when I was in church, as I watched the woman on stage speak and share with power and passion, I couldn't help but feel like the spirit of Eva Peron still lingers in the atmosphere here in this country. Though the time period of her power was short lived, her influence stretches far beyond the length of her life and her era. Maybe it was because of her that here in this country, there seems to be such a respect towards women. This is not a country where you will see much of an issue with the subjugation of women or having the idea that women should be in the kitchen. In fact, if you get a chance to visit the Casa Rosada, the presidential palace, you will actually see a room that is dedicated to all the heroines in the history of this country. How can the church or state downplay the role of women when one of the greatest liberators in the history of this country was one? Maybe Eva Peron's legacy is the reason that here in church, women don't just play the role of little house wives. Nor do they stand on stage and say cute little "Jesus prayers". They speak and pray with the passion, conviction, and charisma that politicians have during a campaign.

One of the themes for a blog that I've been wanting to do is how things that have been part of Argentina's history and culture, like tango or Eva Peron influence the modern daily life of Argentineans. In the paragraph above, I've told you my perspective of how the life of Eva Peron still affects modern day Argentina. And it wasn't until the last one or two days that I actually began to see the similarities between dancing tango and daily life here. I will explain this to you. First I will explain the dance. If you've ever watched or danced Argentine tango, you will know that it is a unique dance. It is unique because you never really know what happens next. It is almost like surfing on the waves where the surfers just go moment to moment, caught somewhere between the past and the present. The man leads the steps and the woman has to feel what comes next and although he leads the direction, she is welcome to do what we call "adornments" or give a little improvisation.

Tango symbolizes life in Argentina because in Argentina, you literally have to live moment to moment. And it has taken months of living here to finally see it. Things in Buenos Aires can change in an instant. It's happened before where I took the subway somewhere to visit and then when I go to make my return trip, I find that they have closed it down without notice to clean or repair it. A girl here at the residence recently went to the place where she volunteers. It takes her an hr to go there and back and she found on this particular day that it was closed. Nobody had given her a heads up. So she just decided to come back into town and do something else.

This may sound a little barbaric to some of you reading this who live in a society where schedules and appointments are important. This girl at the residence is actually from Luxumbourg so she has germanic roots. Anyone who is of germanic roots or knows about people from that culture know that being on time is of the upmost importance. I have had several friends here from Austria or Germany who told me that this is how they show respect in those countries. By arriving on time and no minute later. But this girl had such a good spirit about what happened because she knew that this was not Europe and this was very acceptable in this country. I told her that stuff like this would drive people from germanic backgrounds nuts! They would have a very hard time accepting this type of thing happening in this country.

But the idea here in Argentina is that if something doesn't work out, you just find something else to do with your day. This is why if you are making plans with a friend and they tell you that they are going to call or text you and they don't, it is acceptable in this country. Because in the matter of a few hours or even minutes, things can change in this country. Every Argentinean would have a high phone bill if they had to send a text message for every single time that plans were going to change. ANd now looking back, I see this is the reason why I went through a period where alot of chaos was happening personally and financially.

I was born in a 3rd world country and that does give me a good foundation for learning to not want things a certain way or throwing a fuss about having my life my way. But I have grown up most of my life in a prosperous first world nation where people can get very specific about how they want their lives. I've never been one to be fussy about how I want life specifically. But at one point, I did want a little bit of comfortability and stability and to have a nice cushion and a nest egg and to have a LITTLE bit of things my way, But it was like God wouldn't permit it, not even for me to have everything I like the way I like for a little time period. It was like something would happen and I would have to adjust. Looking back, I see now that God was preparing me to live in a 3rd world country where change happens minute by minute.

This experience has been wonderful but to make it happen, there needed to be an extensive amount of preparation. God needed for me to get to a point where not only was I familiarized with another language but I needed to be tough as nails and ready for hard knocks. If I had gotten the cushioned life I wanted, there is no way I could have done what I just did. Throwing myself into a culture that doesn't speak english in a 3rd world country where you literally don't know what your day will look like at times. Schedules and plans are good. People in this country plan as best as they can but if something were to change (which is highly likely), they are number one for on the spot creative problem solving.

One of the greatest examples of this that stick out in my mind was the night that my church was going to hold "La Dia de Liberacion" on Oct 31 to pray for Argentina and to pray for freedoms and rights of the protestant church in this country. It was suppose to be an outdoor event held at the Plaza de Congreso. The rain was terrible that night, an absolute downpour. But a couple of hrs before the event, I got a text message that it would be held at the main church out in the province of Buenos Aires. The church was so well organized that night. They were prepare for change and were able to reorganize things in a heartbeat. Impressive!

The people here blow me away on a regular basis. A couple of days ago, I was with a friend and we were visiting her neighbour upstairs. I had a lovely chat with her and we talked a little bit about the economy in Argentina. She told me the story of the Argentine economic crisis of 2001. If any of you have time, do read about it. You do need a little bit of an understanding of economy and politics and the terminology to get what exactly happened. I don't have that background but after reading a few websites, I think have somewhat of an idea of what went wrong. But long story short, Argentina might have been headed towards being a rich consummeristic nation like many of the 1st world nations. But the 2001 economic crisis took any chance of that away. In a sense, it actually was a blessing in disguise because the country wouldn't be the same great place it is today if it had continued to head in that direction.

But what really got to me is that she knew all about North American culture, capitalism, and consummerism. Her pastor travels several times a year to speak at churches in North America and comes back and reports to them. And what I still can't get over is that she and all the people here aren't really jealous of people from wealthier first world nations. Oh, I'm sure there are some in this country that would feel envy or resentment but as a whole, they don't. And that's huge for me because tourist come every day because of the great exchange rate. Their dollar goes so far and they can buy things at eat in restaurants that locals can't. It's funny because many of my friends friends from 1st world nations were envious of me going to a 3rd world nation and what it would be like to live there. But none of my friends here envy what life is like over there when they here about it.In the first world, sometimes we get jealous of each other when someone buys a house or a stereo or a phone that is bigger or nicer. I cannot wrap my head around people who have so little and can hear about people who have so much and yet it has no effect on them. They are sometimes curious but that's about where it ends.

And this country is beginning to influence me in ways I never could imagine. The last few days, I've actually started to think less and less about money and i feel really free. There is no way to describe it but the dollar sign that seems to be constantly ruling the thoughts that are in my mind and attempting to govern everything I do is fast disappearing! It's like now I can go about my life and make decisions without money, wealth, power, or possessions being a factor. These things were never a big factor but i feel that for me, it was always something that was trying to get a hold of me. And before i would go to online banking and stare at my account and be constantly checking those numbers or thinking about those numbers and whether they've increased or decreased, now that is non existent.

I can now live my life free and just knowing God is going to take care of me. If there is something that I'm supposed to have in this life, he's already got a plan on how to get it to me. The few months I've been here, everything I've ever needed I've gotton and many times I didn't ask. I didn't ask or beg or pray for someone to spend Christmas with. But I got given that. And if that wasn't enough, I get someone else to spend New Years with! Everyday is rich with surprise! This trip has opened my eyes to the fact that you can be rich no matter whether you live in the 1st world or the 3rd world. I see myself going alot back and forth between Buenos Aires and North America and somehow having an ongoing relationship between the two countries. This is the vision that I have for my life. Mentally I'm already praying and preparing for my 2nd trip here. Coming from a country that is prosperous and full of resources, I hope to find ways to help the church and the people down here with my connections to North America. As well, also look forward to seeing many of you getting the chance to enrich your lives all my 3rd world treasures :)

Amorous Alpacas

Amorous Alpacas