— this was my 7th time in argentina. i realized on this trip it makes argentina the country i´ve visited 2nd most out of north america (england being first). on this trip, argentina broke the tie with ireland.
— this upcoming year is a really significant year for especialidades juveniles (spanish ys). lucas, our spanish director, has been carrying the load almost by himself (his wife works a ton also — so i should say the two of them have been carrying it together). but the whole thing has grown enough to be too much for him/them. we opened this office in buenos aires this year, and had 2 employees here (plus just added a 3rd). but it still feels like we need a half-dozen more, and we can´t really afford it. but if things start to click this year, and more revenues start to come in, we could add staff, and i think the whole thing would just explode (in a good way!). if any of you love to find things to pray for, and would be willing to add this to your list for the year, it sure would be a sweet thing!
— our new employee. lucas was just about to implode a month ago, and things for this convention were falling through the cracks. an amazing guy named Loli has been a key volunteer for many years, and is an organization and production animal. at ys in san diego, he´d be the organizational parts of tic, combined with the onsite detail stuff that has been sarah stuart and mindi godfrey. anyhow, a month ago, lucas stumbled onto some money (a way to fund a quick cheap solution), and called Loli and asked if he could quit his job and start working for us in two days. loli did it. he saved the event. in addition to producing the argentina convention, he´ll become the spanish product sales manager.
— we also have our first ¨country director¨ in paraguay. there´s a wonderful guy there, named Paulo, who is the youth worker at the largest church in his country. but his real passion is training and encouraging youth workers. he organized bringing 80 youth workers from paraguay to this convention this year. anyhow, lucas has gotten to know him over the years, and really believes he has the same heart and vision that we do. he´s just lacking a ¨brand¨ behind him. lucas offered him the EJ brand, so paulo could say he is the paraguayan director of especialidades juveniles, which paulo was thrilled with. it doesn´t really change anything he was already doing; it just gives him a bit more credibility with the churches and pastors he tries to work with. cool grass-roots expansion!
— a fantastic bottle of argentine wine, which would cost $40 in the states, is about $3 to $7 here. i have not squandered this opportunity.
— my favorite band down here is a christian party band (that´s my best description) called Alternativa. they´re from uraguay, but are moving to guatemala, for better travel around latin america. they are just plain fun. i´ve heard them many times now, and have gotten to know them a bit (even though none of them other than their sound guy speak any english), and have their music on my iPod. so when they took to the stage at this convention, i got right in the middle of the mosh pit and jumped and sang and sweated along with all the 18 year-old youth workers. of course, i´m probably the only youth worker from the mosh pit who ¨felt it¨ in the morning! i´d love to have these guys to our convention in north america, but i´m just not sure north american youth workers would have any patience for a band singing in spanish, no matter how fun it is. but you should see the song involving a guy running around the stage in a penguin suit! ¨penguino, penguino…¨
— i was thinking last night about the fact that the median age at this convention is so much younger than at our conventions in north america. there are still youth workers of every age. but many youth ministry ¨leaders¨ are really teenage student leaders, 16 – 20. and most of the youth groups are 15 – 20-something, so they really are student leaders. thinking about this took my mind to a ministry friend with whom i have a strong disagreement about ¨how to use the opportunity we have to speak into the lives of youth workers¨ (his phrasing). this friend feels ys really squanders our opportunity, at our north american conventions, to be more directive with youth workers about what they should and shouldn´t do, which, for anyone who knows us, is rather against-the-grain with who we are. back when this discussion took place, i was thinking that maybe the reason for his thinking was that the youth workers he encounters are mostly 18 – 22 year olds. maybe he saw the whole enterprise of training youth workers almost as synonymous with youth ministry itself, due to the age of the youth workers his ministry works with. but then i went to soul survivor, and saw the trust they have in teenagers. and then i came here and saw that trusting teenage and young adult youth workers at an event seems to work pretty darn fine. no brilliance here — just my thought process as i lay in bed last night!
— read a couple great books while i was here — i´ll post about them seperately.
— went to my favorite buffet in buenos aires for dinner last night (i have my favorite steak place, my favorite buffet, and my favorite lunch spot — which we´re going to as soon as i post this). it´s about $5, and is the most amazing and fantastic buffet you´ve likely ever seen. it would easily cost $50/person in the states. and i tried something new last night: goat. all i can say is it was so freakin´fantastic, so flavorful, so soft. mmmmmm. we gringos have really been missing out. just hope i don´t start goat-boying on the way home!
— i left my last clean shirt in the closet in my hotel room in mendoza yesterday morning, and didn´t realize it until i went to get dressed this morning. i feel sorry for the person sitting next to me on the plane home.
— speaking of the plane ride home… 10ish hours from buenos aires to washington dulles, two hours there, 5 hours to san diego. whew.