Tuesday, March 15, 2011

South American Journey - Valparaiso

On Sunday we landed in Valparaiso, Chile the main port city in Chile.

This marked the end of our fourteen day journey on the Celebrity Infinity that carried us about 3,400 miles from Buenos Aires around the tip of South America to Valparaiso.

Valparaiso is a city built on thirty-four hills. If you are not near the port, you will have to go either up or down hill.

From a mountain overlook we could see for miles. Just beyond the first point you can see twin city of Vina del Mar, Chile's premier beach city and playground for the wealthy.

Everybody in Valparaiso lives on a hill.

Many of the houses are painted in contrasting pastel colors which makes for a dramatic effect.

This part of Chile is also known for its fruit. The peaches are priced at $200 peso per kilo which is about forty-five cents in US dollars. Most of us have purchased Chilean grapes at some point.

Valparaiso is a city of several hundred thousand. It is a major shipping port. There has been significant unemployment in the city. Shipping used to provide a lot of employment. Now with container shipping and automation, not a lot of labor is needed. There are efforts to strengthen the economy in the city.
In scripture, the city often represents a collection of people. During Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, He saw the city and wept, because they did not know what would bring them peace. I wonder how many people in Valparaiso and Vina del Mar do not know what will bring them peace?
"As He approached Jerusalem and saw the city He wept over it." Luke 19:41

Sunday, March 13, 2011

South American Journey - Puerto Mont

On Friday we stopped in Puerto Mont, a city of of about 80,000 in the southern part of Chile. Charlotte and I took a tour up from there into the lake district about twenty-five miles from there.

Our first stop was in the Frutillar which is named for the plentiful strawberries. It is right on the shores of lake Llanquihue, the third largest lake in South America.

A huge snow capped volcano, Osorno overlooks the lake.

The next town was Puerto Varas I found an empanada, which is common in most of South America. This variety of empanada is filled with chopped beef, onions, a boiled egg, a couple of raisins and a sauce. It was wonderful.

I continue to be fascinated with the young people that I see everywhere. It turns out that in Puerto Mont, the high school students go to class until 4 PM Monday through Thursday and on Friday they get out at ome PM. They enjoy hanging out around the square.

As we left Puerto Mont and headed west toward the Pacific the sun was playing hide and seek, creating some awesome views.
"Sing praises to the Lord, you his faithful people;
praise his holy name;
for his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
Weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.
Psalm 30:4-5

Thursday, March 10, 2011

South American Journey - Punta Arenas

Tuesday we stopped in Punta Arenas, Chile a city of about 80,000 located right on the Straight of Magellan. The contrast with Ushuaiah, which is a tourist town, was striking. Punta Arenas is very much a place to work and raise your family.
The central plaza is dominated by this statue of Ferdinand Magellan. The Plaza is surrounded by banks, businesses, the Cape Horn Hotel and some restaurants. It was busy all day.

This little five year old posed for me. We ran into her in a candy shop in a mall just off of the square. She was ready to pose even though her little sister was afraid of me.
There were high school students all over the place. They start school at 8 AM and go to class until 12:15. Then most of them go home for lunch and return to school at 3 PM and go until 6:15. They are now in the second week of the school year that started on February 28. Their school year will run through mid December.
Our main interest in Punta Arenas was to see the town where our parents lived and served for ten years as missionaries. This church was an existing Anglican Church when my parents arrived, but they had not had a pastor in ten years because they did not have someone who could preach in English. The asked my dad to pastor and asked for special permission from the Anglican Bishop to allow him to do that.
Of course their primary purpose for being in Punta Arenas was church planting and they did that all over Patagonia. One church they started was the Playa Norte Baptist Church (North Beach). From all appearances the church has grown and added a significant building in recent years.

To me the legacy my parents left behind after thirty-six years of ministry in South America is churches all over Colombia and Chile. Those churches are filled with people who hear the word preached and souls are being added to the kingdom of God. Most of them have not even heard of Gerald and Virgie Riddell, but they do know the Saviour. The legacy that is important is the souls that are added to the kingdom.
"The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom listens for him and waits for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegrooms voice. That joy is mine and is now complete, He must become greater, I must become less."
John 3: 29-30

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

South American Journey - Usuaiha

On Monday we stopped in Usuaiah, Argentina (pronounced oo-sh-yi-ya) for the day. Located on the Beagle Channel it is located about a hundred miles north of Cape Horn. It is a beautiful town of about 60,000. It boasts of wildlife, glaciers and is near the Tierra del Fuego National Park.

I knew it was going to a good day when I saw the sunrise that morning.

The town is located on the Beagle Channel, nestled between the mountains and the channel. This picture was taken while on a trip via catamaran to some islands in the channel that are home to sea lions cormorants and albatross.

The island is called Sea Wolf Island. It seems that in Spanish they are called Sea Wolfs instead of Sea Lions.

There was another island that was home to hundreds of cormorants.

It was a great day of enjoying the spectacular beauty in this hidden corner at the bottom of the world.

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body what you will wear. Is not life more than food or the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air they do not sow, reap or store away in barns and yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?"
Matthew 6: 25-26

Monday, March 7, 2011

South American Journey - Shipmates

We are traveling these two weeks with some friends that we are very close to.

Van and Sarah have been friends for many years. Van is a physician who served in the IMB home office twenty-five years. Sarah is an accomplished musician. Together they served in India for ten years. Van recently retired from the IMB.

John and Susan live in Texas. John, my older brother, retired about a year and a half ago after a career of using higher mathematics to help hotels and other companies predict occupancy rates and thus establish pricing. Susan formerly taught Spanish on the college level, she is also an accomplished musician that plays the organ. She recently retired from the MD Anderson Hospital foundation where she worked in web development.

Sarah and Susan are sisters. But, the connections go deeper. Their parents served in Colombia as missionaries years ago and were very close friends with my parents who also served there. I have known them for many years and of course Susan married my older brother.

Of course Charlotte and I are the third couple on this journey.

Part of the reason for the journey is that Susan, Van and I recently retired and it is somewhat of a celebration of our retirement. The other reason for the journey is to revisit some of the places where John and my parents served as missionaries for many years.

It has been a time of reminiscing about parents, family and telling a lot of good stories. It has also good to see some of the legacy our parents left us and retrace some of our roots. As we begin our trek through Chile that will be a major theme to our journey.

South American Journey - Day 8

On Sunday we sailed to Cape Horn, the southern most land area on the South American continent. At that point we were just 400 miles north of Antarctica. We felt like we were at the end of the world!

By this point the waves were 9 to 10 feet high and put on a good show. Truthfully, it was a beautiful day. One of the crew mentioned that it was the smoothest trip he had ever made around the Horn.

So far the weather on this trip has been spectacular. Even earlier in the day it was cloudy but the clouds would come and go. The shore was rugged.

The albatross is a common bird in the area. Of course to mariners, the albatross is a symbol of bad luck. They often follow ships. They are very efficient gliders and stay at sea for months or even years at a time. We heard that albatrosses would often watch for men that were swept overboard and pick at the man mercilessly.

Cape Horn is an island off of the southern tip of the continent. It is marked by a Chilean flag, a weather station and a monument that is dedicated to the honor of those who died in these waters. In the years before ships had steel hulls and before the Panama canal was built over one thousand ships sank in these waters and 15,000 sailors lost their lives.

My parents, who were missionaries in South America for thirty-six years lived about 200 miles north of here in Punta Arenas, Chile for ten years. I often heard Pop that they were the world's southern most Southern Baptist missionaries. They certainly believed that they were fulfilling literally the great commission:

"Go ye therefore and teach all men whatsoever I have taught you baptizing them in the name of The Father, The Son and the Holy Ghost and lo I will be with you even unto the ends of the earth."
Matthew 28: 18-19

Saturday, March 5, 2011

South American Journey - Day 6

Friday we stopped in Puerto Madryn, Argentina. We then boarded a bus and drove two and a half hours south to Punto Tombo to a nature preserve that is dedicated to the preservation of a breeding ground of Magellan Penguins.

This one was one of Charlotte's favorites because he paid attention to her. I guess you can say they connected! She called him Pancho.

The penguins usually arrive in early September and leave in early March. At the height of the season their will be as many as two million penguins. We arrived at the end of the season and many had left but there were still several thousand penguins.

The Magellan Penguins are different from their cousins the Emperor Penguins found in Antarctica that grow to three feet. Theses grow to an average of eighteen inches. They spend the majority of the year swimming the waters off the coast of South America eating their favorite food, anchovies.
From one observation point we saw hundreds of penguins lined up on the beach with many others frolicking in the water. It reminds me of being on the beach on the 4th of July.

After a long day of traveling to see penguins, we returned to the ship to sail to points South. The sunset that evening was spectacular. Tomorrow we make it to Cape Horn, the southern most tip of South America. Approximately 500 miles from Antarctica. That is pretty close to the bottom of the world!
The earth is the Lord's and everything in it,
The world and all who live in it;
For he founded it upon the seas
And established it upon the waters.
Psalm 25:1-2

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

South American Journey Day 7

Overnight the ship journeyed from Montevideo to Punta del Este (East Point). The name is appropriate since it is located on a point of land that marks the end of the Rio de la Plata and the Atlantic.

Punta del Este is a ocean resort town that has about 10,000 year around residents and as many as 500,000 during the summer months of December through the first of March. The light house above is somewhat of a simple for the town.
Walking around this town we saw this little boy playing outside of his home which is near the lighthouse. His mother was very friendly and gave us permission to take his picture. He is one year old.

The church in the background is very picturesque. Sadly we heard the statistic yesterday that 38% of the residents say that they are atheists. I have heard for years that mission work in this country has been very challenging.
The 'fingers in the sand' are a piece of unusual local artwork. The city has some of the most beautiful beaches I have seen on both the sea side and on the river side of the peninsula.
There is no dock large enough to handle the ship so we 'tendered' on and off the ship, which means we used the life boats to take the 20 minute journey from the ship to the dock in town.

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
And gave him a name that is above every name
that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow
in heaven and on the earth and under the earth
every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2: 10-11

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

South American Journey - Day 6

We traveled overnight from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay. The distance is about 200 kilometers across what is said to be the widest river in the world, the Rio de la Plata. We arrived in Montevideo on Tuesday morning just as the sun was peeking over the horizon.
Our ship is the Celebrity Infinity which is just over 900 feet long and carries 1950 passengers.

We were able to visit the 'Old City' which is an area within walking distance of the dock. The picture is of independence square.

The old town is rather ecclectic with grand old buildings next to new high rise buildings.

Of course for me, the key to any people or culture is the food. For lunch we enjoyed a mixed kabob of tenderloin, chicken and pork (which we shared and still could not finish). Then about an hour later we enjoyed a great cup of coffee...

... with dessert of a crepe with dulce de leche and ice cream on top!
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies,
Thou annointest my head with oil.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
Psalm 23