We have officially been in Chile for one week and what a crazy rollercoaster of a week it has been!
• Monday – Tuesday: Traveling to Santiago
• Tuesday Afternoon: Getting our dog through customs thanks to the help of Pastor Erickson, his wife Ellen, and countless Chileans who kept ensuring us that the next building was the place that we needed to be. It turns out that they were all right! We just had to visit countless buildings, some twice, in order to register Arie.
• Tuesday Evening – Wednesday: Touring Santiago with Pastor and learning about the culture, transportation, and the current mission in the city.
• Thursday-Sunday: Drove four hours south to Linares (our future home) with Pastor and his wife. Spent a lot of time getting to know the city, finding and preparing our house, meeting church members, and celebrating Copa America!
• Sunday Night: Drove back to Santiago in order to be ready for Spanish Immersion classes on Monday.
Our training with Kingdom Workers and conversations with Pastor have emphasized the importance of soaking up the culture of Chile. If our overall mission here is to support current church members and to introduce others to Jesus, then how important it is to become immersed in the culture so that Chileans view us as more permanent fixtures in the community and are then more open to building relationships with us and hopefully with Christ.
So here it is. Everything we have soaked up in the last week in 4 Words. Enjoy viewing Chile through our gringo eyes!
It was the end of creation week and there God stood with the leftovers in His almighty hands: shimmering blue glaciers, hot springs, snow-capped volcanoes, rainforests, deserts, grasslands, tasty fruits, endless sandy beaches, and a vast chain of mountains. He glanced over at his angels and asked, “What should I do with these remaining pieces?” Together the angels pointed to a long strip of land on the west coast of South America. There God placed the leftovers of his creation and gave the land the name Chile. Or so the myth goes… ☺
Chile is beautiful! In just this past week we have had incredible views. The highway that connects Santiago and Linares runs between the Andes mountain range and a coastal mountain range that seems at times just as tall as the Andes. Along the way are roadside vendors whose stands show what their specific regions are known for (stonework, reed weaving, etc.). The majority of the ride is through vineyards or fruit farms. We are finding it quite easy to just stare at the mountains whenever the cloud cover lifts.
Writing in all honesty though, we are currently seeing Chile at its worst. It is winter here and there has been a dry spell that has caused insane pollution in Santiago, Chile’s capitol city of 5 million people. The same is true in Linares except the air there is full of smoke from the wood fires that people use to heat their homes. The city smells like a campground and sits in thick smog, especially at night. That being said, we have had a couple of clearer days and rain is on its way this weekend that should clear out a lot of the pollution. The grass is still green and if the vineyards already look pretty, they must be incredible in full bloom!
It is also pretty cold here. I(Elise) could share with you a picture of the pile of tissues that I am currently sitting next to but will spare you. We were warned that it would be cold, but for some reason it seems much colder that the 0 degrees Celsius that the thermometer sometimes reads. The air has a fierce bite. The cold is also challenging because it is consistent. Chilean houses do not have central heating so the people live in their winter garb 24/7 during the winter months. One of our first big purchases was a space heater that many people use to heat specific rooms of their houses. Thank goodness winter only lasts about 3 months!
On July 4th, Pastor and Chelsea (a fellow volunteer through kingdom workers) invited church members and students from Chelsea’s English classes to celebrate the North American holiday. Around 30 Chileans came to eat hamburgers and to sing our traditional Independence Day songs in English!
It was especially humbling to sing God Bless America with the Chileans. People from Latin America take offense that people from the United States call themselves Americans. Latinos will often point out “I am American too!” Because of these feelings singing God Bless America had a special meaning for all of us, connecting us as Americans and as Christians.
CHI-CHI-CHI LE-LE-LE VIVA CHILE!
This chant has been echoing throughout the streets of Chile for the last week. We happened to arrive in Chile at the perfect time since Copa America, a huge international soccer tournament, was held in Chile this year. All week long everyone was talking about the games and tons of Chilean gear and noise makers were being sold in the streets. Chile just so happened to play in the championship on Saturday and they also just so happened to win in a cutthroat match that ended in two rounds of sudden death and finally a shoot out! We headed to the Plaza de Armas in Linares to celebrate along with it seemed like every other person in town. Check out the pictures below – they do the excitement justice.
Chileans are extremely resourceful and willing to help others out. When walking through our house for the first time in Linares, we realized that we would need a lot of things. (I guess when Chileans move they take everything with them…all appliances, light fixtures, and even the bathroom mirrors!)
We began with getting a plumber to come over to hook up our hot water. While getting us hot water, the plumber also quickly discovered that our gas was leaking and fixed it. He also fixed our running toilet and even left extra parts for us to use if needed in the future. All this he did for a very reasonable price! I know who is going to get more of our business in the future.
Next, we went out in search of a bed. How humbling it was to have to choose between only two types of double beds! (and how embarrassing when thinking back to when we bought our bed in the states…hours of debating and countless options) We arrived at the store right as the owner was closing. He reopened to help us. He even gave us the tool that we would need to put the bed together (the only one he had in the entire store) on the promise that we would return it.
We are still in search of good deals on a variety of appliances but the church members are looking out for us. One kind lady has a fridge that we can use. Others know someone who fixes used washing machines and can get us one on discount. Other members are on the look out for tables, chairs, etc.
Chilean kindness stretches into the streets as well. Not a single person has turned us down as we have asked for directions in our gringo Spanglish. As I am typing this, the lady that we are living with for the next two weeks in Santiago is currently walking our dog (something she begged to do). She is also putting up with my shamefully massive pile of tissues and sneezing. Still another man and his wife struck up a conversation with us over our dog. “How pretty! Her ears are so big!” Once the couple found out why we were in Chile and that we had recently moved they immediately offered help and gave us their contact information. Overall, there are many economic classes in Chile but so far experiences have unveiled a kind and sharing culture.
There are countless more “randoms” to share including 1. Hearing Frozen’s Let it Go playing in English at Lider (the Chilean Walmart) 2. The permanent metal garbage bins that are put up several feet off the ground so that the stray dogs cannot dig into them or knock them over 3. The amount of bread here! I guess Chileans are one of the biggest consumers of bread in the world – bad news for someone with a gluten allergy. 4. Order juice here and you get actual juice! I’m talking juice straight from the fruit. It is almost like a smoothie. No oceanspray style here.
What a joy it has been diving into what seems like anther world with so many similarities and yet so many differences than what we are used to. It is a small insight to what experiencing heaven will be like someday with so many others from various cultures.
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. Revelation 7:9
Después de esto miré, y apareció una multitud tomada de todas las naciones, tribus, pueblos y lenguas; era tan grande que nadie podía contarla. Apocalipsis 7:9