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Snakes, beavers and penguins...

Ushuaia boasts some vast areas of unspoilt national park and, having taken the ( very touristy!) "Fin del Mundo / End of the World" railway into the park, I began to explore the small section of the 630 square kilometre park open to the public....
Scenic hikes along the bays and rivers enables one to glimpse something of the prolific birdlife - condors, cormorants, gulls, terns, kelp geese, grebes and oystercatchers...
( I remembered our dear bird-watcher and past Church Warden, Dilwyn, as I peered out on the range of feathered creatures. He would have loved the display!)
Our guide spoke of the fact that Tierra del Fuego, being an island, has no snakes - there weren't any in this part of Argentina and they were never introduced!
Tramping through the course mix of shrubs and fallen logs, I can't say that I was disappointed to discover that I couldn't be bitten by any poisonous reptiles.....!

The guide later spoke of some of the earlier settlers ( remember this country was an enormous landmass with a very small population!) and how one previpus governor had introduced the Canadian beaver and another rabbits.
Despite both being very cute animals, the devastation to plants, rivers and the native ecology has been tremendous, wrecking great havoc on the parkland...
There were vast swathes of ground were tress had died off, preventing the storage of ground water and nutrients, changing the natural surroundings for ever...!

Another part of the park is only easily accessible by sea, so the following day I sailed the silvery grey waters of the Beagle Channel, the sea which acts as a border between Chile and Argentina. As well as viewing the lighthouse aimed at lessening the vast number of ships wrecked over the centuries I also visited Estancia Harberton Ranch founded in 1886 by Anglican Missionary  Thomas Bridges - one of the first SAMs missions to be established.
In recognition of his sensitive relationships with the local indigenous people, the state offered Bridges some land and he chose this portion of the Tierra del Fuego park. ( The estancia - now largely steering tourists rather than cattle and sheep- is still in the ownership of the same family!)
As well as the attraction of visiting this remote estate, and pioneer amongst missionary organisations, toourists ( like me!) also come to gain access to the island which is part of the Harberton Estate that has become 'home' to some 200 pairs of Melangell penguins - plus one or two King penguins who have strayed from Antractica....
This was yet another occasion where I simply delighted in watching nature in all its splendour - these knee high creatures were waddling down to the sea or burrowing down from the icy winds onto their nests of two or three eggs - apparantly oblivipus of the 14 or so strangers busily taking photos!
It's amazing that these penguins seem to have suddenly decided to make this place "home"...!

No snakes - thank the Ĺord!
Beavers causing damage  - Lord, help those trying to find a way forward!
And delightful penguins - praise be!

All this got me reflecting on the "place" we (wrongfully!) call "church" [because we know church is its people!] ...

Snakes - the "island mentality" - keep those sort (of people, ideas, worship styles, etc. etc.) OUTSIDE our church so they don't cause hurt or upset....

Beavers - "things introduced" - I'm sure that such new ideas were executed in "good faith" without thinking about the long term consequences!
Is this a warning that RADICAL INTRODUCTION OF CHANGE needs much thought and prayer and ( as far as possible) needs to be able to be 'reversed' without causing too many problems...

Much to pray about as we consider the best use of our resources ( people and buildings) in Ruthin and our wider Missipn Area....

And the penguins?
They arrived, uninvited, unexpected and unplanned - reminding us that God's mysterious Holy Spirit can work like that, too!


  1. Thanks Stuart - a good read and lots to think about as usual! Judi.


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