Apr 19 2011

Walk2gether continues in the wilderness, trusts in Godís loving care

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Bob Hentzen recently wrote to the CFCA headquarters from the road in Chile. You can see the full update on his Facebook page.

Heartfelt greetings from the Atacama Desert of northern Chile.

In most of the countries on Walk2gether, we have been able to find a ìsafe havenî for the nightóor better said, for a few hours of the night, before beginning anew at 2-3 a.m.

Looking back over the last year and three months on the road, I can say that the wilderness would have been more restful than many of the places we have stayed.

Itís true that cities generally have what we need in terms of supplies, water, fuel, access to telephone and Internet. Yet, on the down side, many times their noise level and feel are like something out of Mad Max.

If by the grace of God we could well channel the nightly partying energy of the youth of Latin America, we would have an enormous force for good in our world.

Much like they were in the deserts of Peru, impressive are the distances in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. At times, the road is so narrow and the tandem semis so wide and fast that we have to go “all terrain.”

Whenever we can, we opt to pitch our tents where the coastal road has led us. Last evening, after we had our camp organized within meters of the ocean and supper underway, walkers began a search among huge boulders for scraps of firewood.

We discovered that we were camping near an open burial ground. Carabineros (Chilean police) say that there are many osamentos (bones) along these Pacific coasts – most probably remains of people fallen in battles between Chile, Bolivia and Peru-Guerra del Pacifico (1879-1884). May they rest in peace.

We are delighted to have Paul Pearce with us. Paul is CFCAís director of global strategy. He is a great walker, and he also gives Israel a break in driving the camper.

In the grupo corazon (core group), on this two-week rotation in the desert, we have the loving care and company of two Chileans, Irma and Georgia.

As we enter La Semana Santa (Holy Week), we pray in gratitude for each of you.

Bob (April 14, 2011)

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Apr 15 2011

At lunch, Walk2gether makes new friends in Atacama Desert

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Bob Hentzen recently wrote to the CFCA headquarters from the road in Chile. You can see the full update on his Facebook page.

Even in the apparent harshness of the Atacama Desert of northern Chile, we find tenderness and signs of hope.

After trekking 30 kilometers (about 19 miles) today, April 11, we stopped for lunch at a fruit stand along the highway. This humble little business turned out to be an oasis in the desert, which welcomed us weary pilgrims with delicious melons, real human connections and the surprise of a snow-white baby llama.

The owners are hard-working campesinos who grow their own fruit and then market it to passing motorists and passengers on tour buses. They kindly offered us a rough-hewn table in the shade, space shared with a baby snow-white llama named Sogui.

When the young woman attending clients, Wara, saw our Walk2gether logo, she excitedly told us that her two younger brothers (Guaman, 9, and Raymi, 16) are sponsored through CFCA in Oruro, Bolivia, and that they had walked with me not too long ago in their own country.

We felt an immediate bond with this young indigenous woman and invited Wara to have lunch with us. She explained that she had come to Chile to find work in order to help her family.

There are six children. The father died four years ago. The mother is quite young, but has serious health issues.

And I think, ìHow wonderful our calling: to strive for a more human and compassionate world.î

In all of this, we carry you in our hearts. You are here, and we thank you.

Bob

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Apr 8 2011

Walk2gether finds refreshment in the Atacama Desert

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Bob Hentzen recently wrote to the CFCA headquarters from the road in Chile. You can see the full update on his Facebook page.

It is a joy to be in touch with you and to share with you the stark beauty of this unique part of Godís creation.

With your solidarity, prayers and love, we are making good steady progress through the Atacama Desert, driest place on our planet Earth.

We do what I call 4/40 rotations. This means that we do four consecutive days of 40 kilometers (about 25 miles), followed by a very welcome off-the-road day.

On a non-walking day, we do a variety of tasks: wash clothes, give presentations about CFCA and Walk2gether to groups who invite us, check, repair, clean support vehicles, stock up on supplies and water, catch up on emails and blogs, take a nap and meet the local press.

These days pass oh too quickly, and are sometimes full of activities.

On April 2, I was invited to speak to students and teachers at Instituto Politecnico de Arica, a state-run secondary technical school with eight specialties.

The teachers and students have completely redone our mobile bathroom ñ from the axle and wheel-span up. We paid only for materials.

It is now bigger, with solar biodigestor for solids, urinal for men, wash basin with running water…all designed for a very eco-friendly trip into the desert.

The best part for me is to see a whole class of teenagers ñ so far totally unrelated to CFCA except in heart ñ dig into this practical symbol of our care of walkers and the earth.

Thank you for walking with us. We carry you in our hearts.

Bob from the Atacama Desert, Chile

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Apr 1 2011

Walk2gether enjoys natural beauty in Chileís extreme north

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Bob Hentzen recently wrote to the CFCA headquarters from the road in Chile. You can see the full update on his Facebook page.

A heartfelt greeting and abrazos from the extreme north of Chile.

It is extremely beautiful as we walk the foothills of snow-packed volcanoes and listen to the call of gentle ducks on clear Andean lakes.

It is also extremely challenging as we do our daily marathon at 14,990 feet, all so very natural under Chakana (Aymara for Southern Cross), as we greet the wild vicuna and a pair of swift desert foxes at first light.

With all the affection and tears of our CFCA Bolivian families and coworkers, it was hard to say farewell.

They slept little in order to accompany us to the Chilean border at Tambo Quemado/Chungara.

But what a CFCA team awaited us in Chile. They are prepared, generous and flat-out fun. To serve the CFCA families in Valparaiso and surrounding areas, our Chilean admin team rotates a few staff members into the walk every 15 days.

In addition to the Chilenos, we have our Grupo Corazon (Core Group) of Israel, Ricardo, Cristina and me.

We look forward to the proximate arrival of Paul Pearce, CFCA director of global strategy.

A special welcome to each of you walking with us in fact and spirit. Know that we carry you in our hearts.

I am deeply grateful for the thoughtful and encouraging messages received on the occasion of my birthday.

Bob

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Mar 23 2011

Update from Bob about Walk2gether in Brazil

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Bob has crossed into Chile, the 12th and final country that Walk2gether will visit. Here’s a reflection from his Facebook page after visiting CFCA’s sponsored members and their families in Brazil.

It is an honor to share the ideals and excitement of Walk2gether with the sponsored members and their families in Brazil.

Itís the rainy season, and we splashed our way through many a knee-deep puddle on the country roads.

The heat and mosquitoes are challenging too, but again our families give us excellent insights into acclimatization and ecology.

It takes a while to get out to this rural area in Cipauba, Piaui (a state in Brazil), but I find very little trash along the roads.

These are a deeply religious people, who hold frequent Bible services on their own and look forward to the monthly visit of a priest.

Within the loving confines of a small rural school, I discover confident and brilliant students, who have obviously received a lot of personal attention since their very first day in preschool.

In Mineiros, the children and families have been preparing for a good long time Ö and it shows. Festival dances are lively and very well done. Some of the regional dances resemble traditional U.S. square dances.

Typical foods prepared by the mothers are really delicious. I find it very inspiring to spend time with these families, sometimes in their own simple homes.

Enthusiastic and creative mothers are showing the world how to live with dynamism and hope in the midst of great challenges. In true CFCA spirit, there is an openness and tenderness between staff and children.

We really enjoyed an hourís interview in Portuguese and Spanish on Radio El Dorado in Mineiros.

It was facilitated by Dom Elias, host, with translation help from young Benedictine priest Dom Rodrigo (a fine linguist and friend of CFCA); Eutimia, Mineiros project coordinator; Cristina; and myself.

I ask for your prayers as we begin Walk2gether in the north of Chile. Please know of our love.

Bob

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Oct 14 2010

Minersí rescue brings joy to CFCA staff in Chile

Chile is celebrating the rescue of the 33 trapped miners from the San JosÈ mine, and CFCA is rejoicing with them! We received the following report from Luis Olivares, who works for CFCA in Valparaiso, Chile.

ìWith respect to the rescue of the miners, the truth is that we are first of all sleepy because last night we slept fitfully some three hours because we were watching the wonder of the birth of the miners from the womb of Mother Earth.

Valparaiso, Chile

Valparaiso, Chile, home of CFCAís Chile project.

ìWe have been very anxious in these past two months, learning about this tragedy that has struck our brother miners.

ìIn Chile, tragedy is something regular because of the earthquake and the tsunami (in the south of the country) this year, which still have consequences in that part of the country. There is still much rebuilding that remains, especially for those who experienced severe damage.

ìLater came the hunger strike by the Mapuche Indians in the south, which affected us very much. That ended, but they still have not seen the results they negotiated with the government.

ìLater came the collapse of the San Jose mine (in the north), with 33 miners trapped, and their rescue.

ìThis year has been a hard one for us as a CFCA project because we lost one of our offices (in the earthquake), the location that housed the meal program for aging members.

ìWe are crowded together with our computers and our printers in bad shape because they were damaged in the earthquake.

ìIn any case, we believe, wish for and know that we can move on as a country and as the CFCA project in Valparaiso.

ìIn spite of everything, we never stopped working with our sponsored members and their families and we will continue working with them, more united than ever.

ìIn Chilean: ìEstamos m·s aperrados que nunca,î or ìWe are more determined than ever!î

ìWe wish to be loyal to the legacy of the miners for their sacrifice and heroism, which we want to adopt and reflect in our daily work to benefit the sponsored members and their families.î

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Sep 29 2010

Chilean staff report on trapped miners

Since the collapse of Chileís San JosÈ mine that trapped 33 miners, many in the CFCA community have been keeping the miners and their families in our prayers. No sponsored members were directly affected; however, one father of a sponsored member was scheduled to work in the mine on the day that it collapsed.

A recent Yahoo news report said that the rescue efforts have made some outstanding progress.

Luis Olivares, who works for CFCA in Chile, sent this report.

“Many thanks for your concern about what is happening to our 33 countrymen who are trapped 700 meters (0.43 miles) deep in the ground. This occurrence has all of us dismayed since our country is like a big family, even though there have always been social and political differences.

“All of us Chileans are praying for the miners every day, that they may have the strength and the courage to survive, that they may not be daunted by the difficulties or setbacks during the process of their rescue.

“There are no fathers of sponsored children trapped in the mine. There was a father of one of the sponsored members who worked in that mine, but on that day he decided to change his schedule at the request of a friend. Therefore, he was saved from being trapped in the mine. This father said how terribly at fault he felt because of this.

“Some fathers of sponsored members work in other mines, especially in other small mining companies without any security at all, with lit dynamite in hand and running, with shovels and picks in subhuman conditions. Those parents only work sporadically at this job since most of them are looking for other alternatives to making money. At present the price of copper is good and the companies are using contract workers because the price of copper makes it convenient. This will change when the price of copper goes down and these workers turn to agriculture or construction.

“…I must add that the miner is a tough person, accustomed to the roughness of the job, a man who can survive in extreme conditions, accustomed to the solitude of the desert and to living in permanent risky conditions. They are very proud of this.

“For example, years ago many coal miners in the south of Chile refused to reconvert to labor as construction workers because, in their estimation, being in construction was a job for ‘delicate young ladies.’

“We pray daily that the miners may not become depressed and that they may keep up the fight. May God help them.

“Yours,

Luis Olivares”

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