BUENOS AIRES — Six-year-old
Claire is a cute little blonde-headed girl who likes Barbie dolls and using the
reclining chair at home to practice gymnastic moves. She is bashful at first,
but it doesn’t take long before she is singing “First grade, first grade,” a
song her kindergarten teacher wrote to the tune of “New York, New York” in
honor of Claire’s class graduating and moving on to first grade.
Big sister Olivia, 8, is a
whiz at Wii games and her Spanish keeps improving. About a week ago Olivia was
baptized in a swimming pool in her home during a service with members of the
house church her parents started.
Until two and a half years
ago Claire and Olivia Hobson’s grandparents would never have dreamed of missing
milestones such as baptism and kindergarten graduation. They saw their
grandchildren all the time. That was when the Hobson family lived in Pine
For Mark Hobson, telling his
wife Melissa’s parents that the family was moving from the only place Melissa
had ever known to Buenos Aires, Argentina, was one of the hardest things about
transitioning into career missionaries with the International Mission Board.
Yet, “it was exciting enough to me that we picked the family up and came down
here,” Mark said.
The Hobsons are adjusting
from a small town of 55,000 to a city of nearly 14 million. They learned bus
routes and subway routes, and how to drive in a city of one-way streets where
three left turns equal a right.
Mark and Melissa sold most
of their belongings and in Argentina had to make a new house feel like a home.
They attended language school for a year in Costa Rica before moving to Buenos
Aires and from time to time still struggle with the language.
Only about four percent of
Buenos Aires people are believers in Jesus Christ, even though it is “a city
full of religion.”
“They respect the Bible,” Mark said, “but they know little
While most Argentines say
they are Christian, they really mean they are Catholic, which translates into widespread
worship of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Argentina is also home to the largest
mosque and Jewish population in South America.
A few years ago Mark would
not have picked his family to be living in another country as career
missionaries. Mark worked as an industrial electrician, Melissa as a nurse.
Mark was a deacon and Sunday School teacher.
In 1999, at Melissa’s
insistence, they went on a mission trip to Romania. The next year they went to
Brazil and before long Melissa started coordinating mission trips for their
church and association.
In the beginning Mark’s
contribution to the trips consisted of being an extra pair of hands to haul
supplies. Yet, the Lord began to burden his heart for the nations and Mark
began understanding the need for missions and how his family fit into the
global missions picture.
The Hobsons work in an area
of Buenos Aires that includes about one million people. Instead of focusing on
the enormity of that figure, the Hobsons break that number down into smaller
units. Argentina is divided into 23 provinces, Buenos Aires Province being the
Within the Buenos Aires
Province are partidos, such as Vincente Lopez and San Isidro, where the Hobsons
live. Both partidos include various suburbs, or neighborhoods, and the Hobsons
are working to start a Bible study in each neighborhood.
They already have a church
of about 17 meeting in their home in Martinez. The goal is to raise up national
believers to lead Bible studies in various locations. From there, house
churches across the area will form and eventually these house churches will
meet together once a month.
The Hobsons have made
contact with interested Argentines in at least four other neighborhoods and
Bible studies are underway. In these Bible studies Mark shares the gospel and
he shares what the Bible has to say about life issues, from dealing with guilt
and shame to family problems.
In just 18 months Argentina
has become home. The Hobsons may be just as excited as the nationals over the
World Cup. They can now say they know why Argentina is known for its beef, and
instead of pointing through the glass at it in the supermarket Mark knows how
to order exactly what he wants.
Eighteen months ago the
Hobsons were ordering furniture off Craig’s List and working on household repairs.
Now they are building relationships and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Now
they are watching as the Lord uses a family from rural Arkansas to proclaim His
name among those who have never heard before.