By Hillary Bender, New Jerusalem, Hellertown
Argentina! So many new and exciting things to write!
The trip was what I expected — and much more. Along with the lessons I
learned, I became very attached to the people; both those with whom I traveled
and those that I met in Argentina.
Sandals in winter were definitely a good way to start our trip — it was
hot down there. We arrived at about noon in the afternoon heat. After a much
needed change of clothes, we met and began to get to know the Argentinean kids.
The advisors had planned an afternoon of games and activities geared toward all
of us getting acquainted. This was nice but still proved difficult. In the end,
all it took for us to get close was a game of cards. A simple card game got all
of us communicating, the kids from the United States using what Spanish we knew
or learning some, and the kids from Argentina using their English, which proved
to be very good. After the night of cards, each of us learning games from the
others’ country, the week was much easier.
I had a very personal experience in Argentina, one that I pray I will never forget.
I was blessed to spend my sixteenth birthday in the middle of the trip, on December
28. I thought I might get a little something from my American friends, but what
I got was an excellent jelly cake made by the woman who served our food, a card
signed by all (in Spanish and English), and happy birthday sung in two different
languages! Although I missed my friends, family, and boyfriend on this special
day, it was definitely a special birthday celebrated in a special way that I
will never forget.
Argentina was very different from what I thought it would be. I pictured a more
run-down and poor area than what it turned out to be. Yes, there were some shabby
homes and buildings, but for the most part it was a very nice place.
We never had an actual church service in Argentina, but I got a taste of what
it might be like. Every morning and night all of us gathered in the sanctuary
to sing songs and hear a short lesson in English and Spanish. After the morning
gathering, we worked on the church for a few hours.
We traveled to a few places both in La Plata where we stayed and in the city
of Buenos Aires. Every night we came back for dinner, said a short prayer, and
went to bed or had free time.
Except for the first few nights, the free times were spent dancing to different
Argentine CDs and learning new dances. For me, the nights and dancing were the
most fun. There was no pressure of schedules, just friends hanging out. The language
became less of a barrier and the relaxing feeling of letting loose took over.
Relationships were formed more strongly in this time than any other.
New Years Eve was a night to remember! I was lucky enough to spend it with Magalie,
a girl I had gotten very close to throughout the week, at her grandparents’ house.
It was a bit difficult because Magalie and her family didn’t know much
English, but it all worked out and I had a great night with her. We counted down
to midnight in Spanish, then counted down in English because the U.S. is two
hours behind Argentina.
The week I spent in Argentina, meeting new people, helping others, and sharing
God’s Word, was an amazing one and I will never forget it! If you have
the opportunity to go on a trip such as this one, go for it and do all you can
to expand your mind and faith.
A few of us are planning to go back in a few years for an Argentina reunion.
Hopefully our dream to go back will come true so we can reunite with the people
we met because God chose us.
Two months later, we still communicate with our friends in Argentina through e-mail and Instant Messenger.
Who knows where our futures will take us and when we will see each other again?
My hope is that their experience has changed and affected them as much as our
experience changed and affected us. Our being there altered their perception
of Americans and hopefully opened lines of communication and caring in our generation.