random thoughts and bits as i leave argentina

— 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.

11 thoughts on “random thoughts and bits as i leave argentina”

  1. Mark-
    I was thinking about your line…”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!”
    I have always wondered why their weren’t a lot of 20 something presenters and speakers at YS. I stopped Yac once and asked him why not have a wet behind the ears, know it all, young youth worker lead one of the seminars. Of course it was self-promotion and he totally blew me off and gave me this awesome face (I would have done the exact same thing)
    Truthfully, I think it would be great to have some younger guys who aren’t the most experienced and who don’t have booming youth ministries lead. Pick some youth workers who have been “fired for the glory of retardation” to share their journeys in the ministry this far. Who knows, maybe more of a directed conversation (like at emergent) than a seminar.
    When I first came to the YS convention I was 19 and I remember not really relating to Doug Fields or some of the guys who were presenting. I don’t think I related because I felt like the balding guys with hawaian shirts looked and sounded like a dad rather than someone who was in the same place in their journey. Also, I didn’t read a lot back then, because well when you know everything, why would you need to read? Plus I was in college and it felt like school. :O) I have always appreciated YS for taking risks and maybe this is the next leap? Glad your trip went well.


  2. Marko —

    A yin and yang comment:

    Yin: Kudos on the international investment. YS and the Church as a whole is healthier because of it. I think Lucas is the man to be God’s lead passenger… way to go.

    Yang: “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.” No… this isn’t about to become a slam on drinking. But I do have a question… for guys like me who don’t drink (and have been known on occasion to promote among adult leaders the concept of abstaining from freedoms that could trip up teens), do you feel I’m/we’re “missing out” by not indulging in the fermented side of grapes?

  3. tony, do you feel i’m missing out if i don’t use yin and yang? :o)

    really, i have friends who are vegetarians, either for moral reasons, or because meat just grosses them out. argentine beef is some of the best in the world, and they have a cut called bife de chorizo that’s kind of like a sirloin, but four times as flavorful. i can hardly find words for how amazing this hunk o’ argentine beef is. i had bife de chorizo about 6 or 7 times on my 6 day trip. because i enjoy it so much, there’s a part of me that wishes my veggie friends could share in this enjoyment. but i completely respect the choice they’ve made, and would never try to talk them out of it.

  4. No prob on the yin and the yang…

    Let’s say ying and yan…

    Anyway – great analogy. I get that one, especially since I had a good steak dinner last night (for free, I might add, which makes an unemployed chump like me rather thankful for each bite)

    That said, though, I guess the steak analogy may not be quite like the scenario I described. In this case, it’s a freedom I’m encouraging others to give up due to the issues of alcohol among teens. While a steak works well on the taste side of the analogy, I’ve yet to see a couple of kids at a football game looking for a quiet place to gnaw on some prime rib.

    So could you take one more step this way… do you wish more people weren’t missing out or do you see this kind of thinking (as I’m describing) as a true “whatever, dude” kind of deal?

  5. brian — i’m going to look into it when i get back in the office; but i’m pretty sure it’s been a value of ours for years and years to have a couple newbie (and unknown) youth workers present seminars at every convention.

  6. tony, i see it as a discernment issue; neither of the options you suggested. i didn’t drink any alcohol for years as a youth pastor, and when i began, i was very cautious. much of it is cultural — if it’s a big deal in your church, it would be stupid to make it one. but in a church where having a glass of wine is a non-issue, and students wouldn’t think anything of it, it seems less an issue.

    the beef issue isn’t parallel for you because you don’t see it as a moral issue. but for people for whom eating beef is a moral issue, they are very parallel!

    oh, for the record, there are pretty much no christians in argentina who would hesitate about wine at all. even the conservatives drink wine there. the wine thing is a truly american conservative cultural thing.

  7. Marko,

    It is great to see that YS is branching out into central and south america. These people are amazing. I work in a Hispanic Barrio in innercity Houston and often challenge myself to look deep into the culture of the youth and families that I work with to learn more about them and myself. I will be praying this movement for ys…..You guys are truely an avenue of Christ. Best wishes. La Paz – Sam

  8. Marko –

    I just attended the Core in PDX with Brock Morgan (props to him – great day) but it struck me when y’all were giving information on the extended adolesence in western culture that perhaps, even here in America, we have youth ministering to youth? I wonder how long adolesence is in latin america?
    For some of us who are near the end of this extended adolesence we can look at the new youth leaders coming out of school and they definitely look young and fresh and young…did I say young?

    I wonder…does God use youth to lead youth on purpose?

    I just am thinking that maybe the situation in latin america parallels youth ministry here in USAmerica, it just looks different because the definition of what a youth is different…

  9. Hey!
    You are the first person I’ve heard of who knows who Alternativa is!
    I went on a missions trip to Ecuador and saw their first concert there.
    Then the group I was with got to meet them the next day…
    Alternativa ROCKS!!!

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