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Mission in the World

ELCIC Mission in the World logo

For more information,

Kelvin Krieger,
Program Coordinator,
Mission in the World
Phone 204.984.9164
Toll free:
1.888.786.6707 Ext 164
Fax 204.984.9185
E-mail vim@elcic.ca
Evangelical Lutheran
Church in Canada,
302-393 Portage Ave,
Winnipeg MB R3B 3H6

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Gifts Over and Above 2001

Argentina: New Mission Vehicle

In 2001, $40,000 was raised to purchase a mission vehicle in Argentina.

Thank you to all who worked to raise this money.

Your gifts have made a real and immediate difference to mission in Argentina.

The new Terrano four-wheel drive leaves the Nissan dealership in Esquel to enable pastoral visitation in Argentina's Patagonia region.

In 2002 (After the purchase)

Leah, Adam and Sarah Kiel "test ride" the new Terrano four-wheel drive at the Nissan dealership in Esquel where their parents, Greg and Marla Kiel, serve in a joint missionary placement by the ELCIC and IELU (United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Argentina).

Leah, Adam and Sarah Kiel try out the new upholstery.

The new vehicle will enable pastoral visitation in remote congregatrions in Argentina's Patagonia mission field and provide emergency and medical transportation for these communities.

In 2001 (Before the purchase)

On the road to Cushamen

By Rev. Greg Kiel, ELCIC Missionary in Esquel, Argentina

Lately, something always seems to happen when we go to Cushamen. Large stones are everywhere on the rocky road. The Champion (road grader) blade passes but then again, so does the wind.

Once on the way home we saw that the back bumper was hanging quite low. I didn't have anything to tie it up with so we continued on hoping that it would not get worse. It was several miles before we met some big rocks sticking up in the middle of the road. I tried to straddle them the best I could. We didn't hit the transfer case or the differential housing but there was still that back bumper hanging down. I suppose you won't be surprised to find those rocks tore one side of the bumper off. By the time I stopped, another rock grabbed the bumper and it all just fell off. I got out of the truck, picked up the rubble and continued on.

I was worried as I passed the police check stop because if everything is not in order with both your vehicle and your papers they will stop you and make you walk. Sometimes they give a fine. I seem to have talked my way out of a couple fines so far.

Adventures on the road to Cushamen

Our last near miss was caused by the headlight. The rough road to Cushamen knocked the front left headlight loose so that it was hanging by the wires. If I didn't stop, it would be smashed. I got out of the truck and went to disconnect it. Of course nothing is ever easy - the connector block was fused onto the headlight! Apparently it had shorted out and melted the plastic harness. As a last resort, I took out my pocketknife and cut the wires. I put the parts in the back of the truck and continued on.

When we got to the police check it was dark. I had just read a story in the newspaper about a group who were stopped for a bad headlight. Somehow a fight broke out and they ended up beaten, sore, and in jail. Of course, as the police saw my burnt out headlight, the guard's hand went out and signaled me to stop. He informed me that my light was not working. Then he announced that it is not permitted to drive at night with only one headlight.

I explained to him that it had just fallen out on our trip; that I had tried to fix it at the previous town but they didn't have parts and that I would fix it tomorrow. He explained to me (probably hinting for a bribe) that there was a fine for this sort of thing. I re-explained the situation. Finally, he let me go after I promised that I would be fixing it the next day. True to my word, I fixed the headlight with some Ford parts for my Chevy because no one in town had the right parts. I couldn't adjust the light correctly but at least it was fixed.

More headlight adventures!

The next time I went to Cushamen I went confident that the lights were working. But when I came up to the police check, up went the guard's hand. I wondered what was going to happen now. He walked up to the window and explained to me that my front headlight wasn't working, reminding me that I had been warned once but now he was going to give me a ticket. I didn't believe him that my headlight didn't work! So I got out of the truck to see for myself. Sure enough! It wasn't working again! Popping open the hood to see what was going on, I was lucky enough to see that the wire had just fallen off. I put the wire back on. The police were now happy and I was allowed to proceed. I breathed a sigh of relief, gently closed the hood, got in, and drove away.

Looks good on the outside, but…

Generally my truck looks good from the outside. From the inside, it's a different story. The seats in our truck badly need repair. The sponges are all worn out from 200,000 km's of rough roads and by the time we get home from Cushamen we are all sore and tired and can hardly hear. Our three children are growing as well and have less and less room all the time.

The seats in our truck badly need repair.

The last time we went we had 4 extra passengers along so the ride home from church got to be quite uncomfortable. Monday was a welcome day of rest.

Whenever someone new rides in the truck they are never quite convinced if the doors are closed or not. You can generally see daylight through the door trim and the Patagonia winds wreak havoc inside with our ears. I finally bought ear plugs. The children laugh at me because I am quite a sight with my collar on: black cowboy-type hat with these bright yellow earplugs and a yellow connecting cord between them! The kids always remind me to remove them before I fill with gas so as not be the laughing stock of the town.

Just today I was checking on the church before leaving on holidays. It was raining heavily. As I pulled up to the church there was someone there to make a delivery. I rolled down my window to talk to the man and as I rolled down my window it crashed to the bottom of the door. I drove back home in the rain with my window down, unable to roll it up again.

Lots of oil keeps it rolling and a log keeps it parked!

I am shocked by the price of oil here. Most of the time a liter of oil sells for $6.50 US. The Patagonia has lots of oil and gas but somehow the price remains high. I am always searching for a bargain because the engine of the truck has almost 200,000 kilometers on it and uses a liter of oil each 1000 kms. The compression is down a little and I can't park on an angle without using the emergency brake. That was all fine until the other day when I pulled on the emergency brake and the handle almost came right out in my hand. One of the cables had snapped underneath. Now I park on the level and use a log of wood to park in our driveway while I wait for the parts.

Gasoline price wars, Argentine style

Another issue here is that the Patagonia has a subsidy on gasoline. Here we pay $0.65 but in Buenos Aires they pay $1.00 per liter. There was almost a war down here when they threatened to lift the subsidy. The people here are poor as it is, and can hardly afford the fuel at its current price. The government agreed to not lift it this year but it looks like we will lose the gasoline subsidy next year and prices will go up 40%.

If we replace the truck with one that has a diesel engine our fuel costs would drop sharply. Diesel is only $0.45 a litre without the subsidy. We travel a lot too. We frequently go to Cushamen which is a two or three hour drive. The last time I drove Pastor Angel Furlan, the President of IELU, around here we traveled 1,685 kilometers and we didn't make it everywhere because we didn't have time.

Rough, Tough, Dependable

When you are out in the Patagonia only God knows what is going to happen. Needless to say we need a reliable, tough vehicle that is dependable. We often have to cross rivers and get caught in rain or snow storms as well so a 4-wheel drive would be extra insurance that we will make it home. I hope you will help to make this possible through your contribution to the Directed Gifts program of the ELCIC over and above your regular, benevolence giving.


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