It was to be the most important moment of my project here. An invitation to speak candidly to the parents and students of St Ethnea College about my passion for Mercy, the efforts of the St Aloysius College and to highlight the work in music that I have been doing for the past two months at St Ethnea College.
Instruments were laid out for all to see. The newly-formed orchestra sat patiently through the parent/student assembly to celebrate Independence Day. They waited with complete fear to play their one and only song for this outing, ‘Hot Cross Buns’ (No.16 in the training program booklet).
The talk went well. Modesty prevents me from saying more. Ego compels me to add that tears were-a-plentiful.
Mercy was not only talked about, it was before their eyes. The middle class community college was being asked to do more for the poor children next door.
Australia was talking but was Argentina listening?
I was harsh and did not shy away from the call to do more. My theme was ‘Only in Action does Mercy have a voice’. Tangible evidence of the spirit of Mercy was there before them in the form of unopened packages sent from a country on the other side of the world. St Aloysius College was asked to do something for the children of South America and they responded.
I stood before the St Ethnea community and told them that it was their example that had inspired me to action when visiting last September. But here I stood before them and said they needed to do more. The problem of poverty in Argentina requires this community and this country to do more.
It was a big gamble to speak so openly.
I thanked the Principals, Mariana and Celina, for believing in me enough to seek the school and parents’ support in this project. On August 11th we are going to celebrate ‘Coin Day for the Barrios’ at St Ethnea. Coin days are a very successful SAC fundraising tradition.
The orchestra intends to extend its repertoire for that big day. With luck we might be ready to play ‘Jingle Bells’ albeit a little early. I hope St Ethnea’s school community joins hands with SAC who continue to work hard to improve the lives of the poor children of the barrios – students who live next door to St Ethnea.
After ten weeks of working in the community of St Ethnea College I needed a break. I needed a holiday. The music program and the pastoral program had taken its toll and I was tired.
My new Argentine friends came to the rescue. We took a 9 day road trip to Misiones. Iguazu Falls was the the halfway point of the trip and the climax.
I am not going to say more than just list some of our experiences. I am not even going to list all that we did because it would not do justice to the incredible experience that these two families gave Josh and me.
What they gave us were the ruins of the Jesuit Missions and a farmhouse retreat alongside the Rio Parana. We saw Iguazu Falls and experienced motorized jet-rafting through the falls as well as an Uruguayan thermal spring water adventure park and historical sites along our journey.
Add food, wine, music and incredible hospitality and friendship and you will understand the great time Josh and I had.
This trip was about friendship……. survival…. we visited Iguazu during a very scary, electrical storm. I will never forget little 5 year old Julieta’s sad, tearful mantra, “Are we going to die?” The smiles on our faces in the photos are of pure relief. We had survived the metal walkways and blizzard force winds.
There are so many incredible memories of this holiday. Visiting the Guarani Indian reservation, performing the Plastic Cup Dance and handing out lollipops was an amazing privilege. Visiting Jesuit ruins and seeing how the Jesuits were trying to protect the Guarani from the brutal slave traders. Relaxing in the hot spring swimming pool with Rodney the touring Kangaroo trying to steal the focus.
Stops at roadside cafes and my travel partners playing matchmaker with the attending waitress. “Kiss her Craig, kiss her” Great friends hey!!!!! How embarrassing!!!!
Josh and I enjoyed this holiday with our friends. Josh learnt so many new Spanish words in the back seat of the car. Words that will be difficult to use in polite conversations. Joshua proved to be a very good teacher of expressive Australian slang. I was such a proud father hearing the excellent English swear words on little Julieta’s lips. Well done Josh!!!! (I guess it was a long time in a car)
All in all, we had an amazing time on this road trip through Argentina. I thank these wonderful Argentine families for their incredible generosity and for their sincere and genuine friendship. Josh and I have received a wonderful gift from our friends here in Argentina.
We saw a different Argentina than the normal tourists usually get to experience.
I am again renewed. I again have the energy and determination to work hard for the remainder of our time here. So many things to do and so little time to do them. But I have a lot of friends helping me both here and at St Aloysius.
te mando un beso,
P.S. If Julieta ever comes to Australia, watch out, she is well-armed to verbally handle herself. She even has one or two well known hand signals. Well done Josh…an important cultural exchange.