The ninety-minute drive from where we were staying to Máximo Paz (Maximum Peace) was made on of a variety of roads. Modern freeways, toll roads, beautiful boulevards, cobblestones and finally dirt roads. Driving in Buenos Aires is very good for your prayer life and that is not in any way a comment on Catherine – our most excellent driver.
It has to do with how they drive here in BA. Here is what I have learned:
- Lanes – merely suggestions.
- Horns are to be used liberally (although not near to the extent of Lima).
- Right of way? Not so much – Most smaller intersections here, do not have lights or stop signs. So, when you have two cars approaching from opposite directions, the general rule is that the car to the right has the right-of-way. However, what is actually the case is that whatever way traffic is flowing has the right of way, and the other person has to wait for their chance to dart across.
- Stop signs are really just yield signs.
- Red lights usually mean stop. Late at night, people tend to run red lights. Catherine explained that this is a security precaution as people do not want to be held-up while stopped alone at a dark intersection.
- Pedestrians DO NOT have the right of way.
- To drive downtown you are certain to encounter traffic and protests. They love to protest down here and a favorite tactic of the protestors is to block lanes of traffic to make their point. The police will never disperse them either. They simply wait for them to leave on their own.
Máximo Paz has a population of 3500 and is located in a largely agricultural area. It is a city that has struggled with poverty as well as high arsenic levels in the water supply. Cancer is one of the risks associated with chronic consumption of high arsenic contained drinking water.
We travelled here to see another community center initiative by Fortelecer. It has been started with a church and the pastor explained to us, “There are two doors. One to the church, the other to the community center and they are joined by a passage. They are joined so those in the church can go to the community center and those in the community center can go to the church.”
As you enter the town, the church greets you at the corner in a prominent location. Their pastor shared with Bob how their greatest job as a church is to show God’s love to those who are frustrated and not doing very well. They opened a community center to focus on the actually needs of those in the community utilizing professionals in different fields to do training and family work.
The night we visited there was a class training young adults to become electricians. The center offers dozens of classes and programs for children to adults on vocational training, health and physical education. Everyone knows it is associated with the church.
Getting out of the Office
One of my observations from Máximo Paz was caught in a short interchange with the pastor in his office.
His office was very sparse. A desk and chair, an old desktop computer still using 3 ¼ inch discs, and a few books on a shelf three of which were Bibles. As he saw me looking around the office he said, “I don’t spend much time in here. My office is out there,” motioning outside the window at the community.
As he looked out the window he was smiling with a smile that said, “These are my people and I love them.”
When we look out our office window, what do we see? Does it make us smile?
Maybe we need to get out more.