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"I know Wales", joked the desk clerk at Mendoza hostel...

...."large mammals that live in water!?!"
For someone attempting a joke in his second language, I thought he did quite well!

Since arriving in Trelew, I've come closer to meeting the real thing - not just Wales (or its long-established expatriate community in Patagonia) but those mammals who live in the sea....

A (very) long day trip took me to Puerto Madryn, on the Atlantic Ocean and on to the Peninsular Valdes with some 400kms of coastline - including an area renowned for spotting the endangered ballena franca austral - southern white whale!
The peninsular is a perfect nursery for baby whales - offering mum and baby safe, warm, shallow water in which to learn to swim, feed and grow...

Blue skies, calm waters and a safe catamaran ensured that myself (and some 30 other passengers) enjoyed nearly two hours amongst these creatures of the deep...
The whale calves were naturally inquisitive, coming close to the (well staffed and experienced) boat and 'mum' appeared happy to play along...
It was as if we didn't have to go hunting whales, they came looking for us, their otherworldly sounds and water-spouting reminding us of their presence even when we couldn't see them...

As you might imagine, it was another of those "lost for words" moments, being privy to the frolicking of a 'rogue' male who was making orchestrations of the romantic kind to a female (with calf in tow) who made it abundantly clear in action and noise that she was just not interested....!?!

I have been so blessed, in different ways and in contrasting places, to witness the wonders of creation close at hand - and also challenged as to what am I doing to care for God's amazing and beautiful world...

“Can you pull in Leviathan with a fishhook or tie down its tongue with a rope?" asks God to
Job 41:1 NIV

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AMEN.

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Sabbatical in summary...

My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.’ 
Oh God, can those words be for me too?
How I long to hear them!
I’m not Moses, but I’m also on a journey – trying to follow Jesus.Some days, life seems like an unmarked wilderness,
and I’m not sure which way to go.
‘My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.’
Yes, I hear you Lord. Help me to trust.Other days, I’m so busy that I don’t stop to listen.
I’m stressed and distracted and frazzled.
‘My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.’
Yes, I hear you Lord. Help me to pause and take time for you.Then there are the days when I do remember.
I walk restfully in your presence.
How different those days are.‘My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.’
Yes, I believe you Lord. Those words are for me. 
Your presence does go with me and give me rest.
Thank you Lord!Amen
Richard England