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Monday, February 08, 2010

Rock & Vida

Dec 6/09

Fue la mejor!!! That is spanish for "It was the best!!!!" What am I referring to? I am referring to "Rock & Vida" the rock and roll concert that my church arranged for last night right in the Plaza del Congreso. I left the residence around 5:30. The square is only a 15 min walk from the residence across the highway. As I got there, I could see a huge stage had been set up with lights and everything. Already a crowd of people had gathered and there were portable toilets and food vendors all over the place. And in that moment, I thought to myself "My church actually arranged all of this......COOL!" It was quite clear that the church was quite determined to put on a good event and no detail got left out. Just so all of you know, that Plaza del Congreso is right in public, it is like saying we're going to have a rock concert in front of the legislature building.

I began the search for my friends from my thursday night church group. There were so many people and I kept circling the square but couldn't see someone. After awhile, I took a break and had a hotdog before resuming my mission to find my friends. Finally we were reunited in the square and after some customary kisses to greet each other, we chatted and caught up on how things have been. My group leaders name is Marisa. She doesn't speak a word of english but it is quite obvious that she has gotten very attached to me in the past few months. She is so caring and nurturing and always after our thursday nite group, she asks me if I understood what was said. At first I was very reserved towards her because in my life, it seems like many times I've gotton more attached to people than they are to me. But she's kept being so sweet and affectionate that I finally caved and started to open up and be loving and affectionate back as of this last thursday. There was no way that I could keep resisting after so many months of her hard work of being so loving towards me!

Another thing I found out about her last nite is that she LOVES rock and roll. And not just Christian rock, ALL rock and roll she told me. She loves "Guns & Roses" and AC/DC and U2 and anything that is true rock and roll music! Another girl I had a chat with last thursday loves rock and roll. Her name is Norma and she comes from a Christian family but has not been practicing for a long time. In the last 2 months she has decided she wants to take up the faith again and she is having a difficult time because sometimes the culture of church and Christianity is so difficult. So I sat and just talked with her and got to know her abit. And she loves old school rock and roll. Norma is a big fan of the Beatles, U2, Guns & Roses etc.

I told Marisa about my conversation with Norma and how it's a little bit of a struggle for her. And also said that the next time I talk with her, I'm going to tell Norma not to worry about what she doesn't understand or that people in church have a different opinions on things than what her other friends think. I am going to tell Norma just to be who she is. Whatever she is meant to learn, she will learn in her own time and in her own way and in a way that is natural for her. The reason why so many people (including myself) drop their faith totally is because they feel pressure from other people to be like everyone else in the Christian community. I know I almost did so I can sympathize. I chose to stay and stick it out even though I had been hurt by things in the culture of Christianity that is more or less man made. Once you've been hurt by people who share the same faith as you, it is REALLY hard to stay. Everything within me wanted to quit right there and it was so tough to stick it out. I never want Norma to have that experience and Marisa agreed that the journey has to be natural for Norma. Whatever she is meant to learn as she comes back to the faith, the lessons will come to her. This is another reason why I love this church. Here I am standing in the middle of a square in an event my church has arranged to make people aware about AIDS. I am talking to a group leader who loves rock and roll. And she also agrees that pressure shouldn't be put on people to be a certain way or conform to man made standards. I think my religiousity detector is sitting on a shelf collecting dust tonite!!!!!

The event then started and the first of 3 rock bands got on stage. And I would like to say here that although these bands are Christian, here in Argentina....rock is ROCK! It is not some watered down Jesus music that calls itself rock and roll. It is quite obvious to see that the musicians are in every way professional and polished in their craft and in true rock style it was LOUD! And the crowd was loving it! Another thing the crowd was loving was food. There is nothing like an open air concert that makes one hungry so to keep the crowd happy and well fed, Marisa grabbed a tray of sandwiches and walked through the crowd to see if anyone would like one for $2. Here in Argentina, at an event like this you will see people walking through the crowd with trays of sandwiches or soft drinks or other snacks to keep people well fed as the nite goes on. She handed out the sandwiches to the people who are bought one while I took care of the money.

At 8:30, the sandwich tray was almost all empty so we handed in the tray and the money and she gave me a kiss good bye and had to leave. But she left me with another lady from our church named Paula. I stood there in the crowd with Paula as the night went on and at one point between bands, our pastor got on stage and talked about making a difference and that we can be the ones to change history. It was so cool to see our whole church out there in public, wanting to make a difference and being so blatantly obvious about it. Paula was so sweet, at one point she left for a moment and when she came back, she had bought a sandwich for both of us. I was only a little bit hungry so I ate abit of it.

Paula then had to leave but I stayed until the end of the event. As I started to walk back to the residence, there were alot of street people that had come out and set all their stuff out so they would have a place to sleep for tonite. All nite long, I had been thinking about that half eaten sandwich that i had put in my bag. I kept thinking that I should give it to someone on the street. As I passed by one the buildings, there was a middle aged man there and for a moment, he looked into my eyes and I looked into his. And I could see that there was an absence of hope. In that moment, a gentle voice spoke to me that said "Give him the sandwich" So I fished the other half of my sandwich out of my bag and handed it to him. He thanked me and I went on my way.

I guess all these past few weeks and months of hearing sermons about touching society and reaching out to the people of Argentina are finally getting to me. It may only have been a small act but if I can't do something small for someone in the moment when I feel I am meant to do it, how will I ever be able to do something big? Everything begins with something small. For example, I have been doing Big Brothers and Big Sisters for about 5 years now and every week, I took out a girl that was assigned to me and we did activities and games. It also taught me alot about listening and being sensitive to other people. Looking back, this volunteer work really changed me and shaped alot of who I am. It was something small and not alot of people knew.

But one day as I was reflecting on my life, I realized that what I learned from Big Brothers and Big Sisters equipped me for what I am doing now with Gladys in our lessons. In our lessons, I have to plan what we are doing at the same time be sensitive to the person's want or needs. I have to prepare lessons if she wants structure but also be prepared if she wants the lesson time to be more open and less structure. I have to watch the other person's progression and look for moments while we are together were I can teach them or use an example from life to help them understand what I am trying to say. My point is that a large part of my success right now comes from all those hours of volunteering with Big Brothers and Big Sisters. All the skills that I needed for the activities with the little girl are the exact same skills that I am using right now in my classes with Gladys.

You never know in life what the littlest thing that you do, where it's going to take you. In all my wildest imaginings, I never would have thought that everything I was learning through involvement with Big Brothers and Big Sisters would impact my ability to be a great teacher of English. So who knows where the simple act of giving a sandwich to a guy on the street is going to take me?

Amorous Alpacas

Amorous Alpacas