Santiago: Saint James

I have to admit that I was at a loss when thinking about what to blog about this week. We have seen and done so much that I struggled to find a coherent theme or message! Thankfully, inspiration hit during bible class on Sunday…well it actually hit a day later thanks to my Spanish processing skills.

Let me explain.

Right now our church is studying the book of James. This turns out to be incredibly appropriate since the name “James” in Spanish is “Santiago” which is the capitol of Chile.

Thanks to our Spanish-English bible (thanks Scotty!) it is relatively easy to follow along in class. Now, when I say follow-along I mean that my current Spanish level allows me to catch certain words/phrases in discussions. I work really hard to not let my face reveal my confusion or my complete joy when I do understand. However, I have quickly learned to never nod or say “si” when you actually are confused because then you often get asked a follow-up question that you cannot answer. J

Basically, I got the general context of bible class, but I left with a resolve to study up on James (or should I say Santiago) in Espanol. I desperately want to be a part of the deeper discussions, especially at church.

While writing this blog I hit a complete roadblock, and I finally put the computer down frustrated. I opened to the book of Santiago to study up and BOOM! There it was.

Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:16-17

Mis queridos hermanos, no se engañen. Toda buena dádiva y todo don perfecto descienden de lo alto, donde está el Padre que creó las lumbreras celestes, y que no cambia como los astros ni se mueve como las sombras. Santiago 1: 16-17

I quickly realized that what I had already written was actually a list of incredible things that show God’s power and ability to work through weak humans… even ones who lie and nod when they really have no clue what was just said.

So here it is. A list of how I am already seeing God’s power and blessings in Chile.

  • I am thankful to report that I am blogging from our new home in Linares! It already seems so much warmer here thanks to an adorable family from church (Ariel, Erica, and their two sons) who rolled up to our house with a truck full of love including a stove, a tank of gas for the stove, a kitchen table and chairs, a bench, an end table, a storage shelf, and to top it all off a carton of fresh eggs! Like many other times already in Chile I wished I had the adequate words in Spanish to thank them. I hope my many “muchas gracias”, hugs, and squeals of joy were okay enough.
My comfortable blogging spot in front of our heater
My comfortable blogging spot in front of our                                                 heater
  • Last Tuesday, a girl we had gotten to know in Spanish school gave me a handwritten letter. It was her last day and I could not believe she took the time to write us a letter, especially since we had only talked/hung out a little bit. Later, when we read the letter, we realized that she had given us some money to “help with our new house in Linares.” Another blessing from above through the hands of a kind person that we barely knew.
  • Last Thursday was a holiday in Chile and we went out to eat at a Peruvian Restaurant with Pastor Tim, his wife, and Patricio. Patricio is a member of the church and actually just returned from studying in England. After lunch we were able to hang out with Patricio for a while. Not only did he help us pick out some simple Chilean books to help us practice our Spanish, but he also let us know how thankful he was that we were here working with the church. Patricio grew up in various churches but was never really content with their teachings. When he stumbled on one of our Lutheran churches he was so happy to find what he calls “a pure focus on the message.” He loved the focus on grace through Jesus and not “other things.” Patricio continued to talk about his passion for others to hear the same message and for Chileans to be confident and proud in taking more leadership in church. Wow.
  • We have discovered that our backyard not only has an avocado tree and a grape vine, but also a plum tree! If the two other mysterious trees turn out to be fruit bearing I just may dub our yard the Chilean Garden of Eden. If doesn’t get any better, and we are oh so grateful.
Today's harvest of avocados
Today’s harvest of avocados
  • On the last day of Spanish school, my conversational Spanish class started to discuss religion. It began with a girl saying how much she hated funerals because they are so sad. That turned out to be the perfect segway because the teacher then turned to me and said, “and you Elise?” I was able to share that I personally really valued funerals especially the funeral for my mom because it was a time of celebration and comfort…that she was in a place of no more sorrow and with her heavenly Father. That opened up a lot more discussion and we continued to dive into faith for the next 25 minutes!
  • One day after school I went to the dog park with a Chilean woman and was able to talk in Spanish the entire time! #smallwins
  • In our small church on Sunday each bench was completely filled!
  • In Bible Class we were asked to read sections of James. We were TERRIFIED but stumbled through it with loving help. It felt so good to already be completely included as a fellow church member.

The list goes on and on.

So many blessings to share from Chile that are certainly from above. I am so happy to confidently know that “the spirit helps us in our weakness.” (Romans 8:26) It is incredible to see how God uses people to show His power and distribute his blessings.

Amen! (a universal word in Spanish and English)

Santiago: And now, in honor of Santiago (the city) here are some pictures from our time there.


On some days, following Spanish class, we were able to play tourist in Santiago. On the clearer days we hiked up Cerro Santa Lucia and Cerro San Cristobal to get some incredible views of the city and the Andes, or the Cordillera as the Chileans call them.




The church on top of Cerro San Cristibal
Inside of the church on Cerro San Cristibal

Thanks to Arie we did a lot of walking throughout Santiago. We were able to visit several parks and the Plaza de Armas. Most Hispanic cities have a plaza at their center thanks to the settlements of the Spanish. Basically, the plaza was the main area where the army, the governor, and the main church were housed. Today plazas are cultural tourist attractions; although, the locals use the plaza to celebrate various things like the New Year or winning Copa America like Chile did several weeks ago. (See blog Viva Chile)



On another walk we explored a hipster area of Santiago called Bellavista. If you stay off of one street were all the local university kids go to party, it is quite a cute area with tons of little shops and restaurants. Jon and I especially loved the street art or graffiti that covered a lot of the buildings.





Chilean Randoms

  • Chileans kiss hello and goodbye on the cheek. Not only that but they kiss every single person in the room… even if it is a room of 30 people or more! As an American, this at first felt a little too personal, but it actually is quite a special practice! It forces you to meet everyone in the room and it forces you to have a special goodbye with each person as well. To be clear though, the kissing is only girl-girl or girl-boy. Gentlemen please don’t come to Chile and try to kiss other men! A handshake or hug will do.
  • Right now in Linares the day doesn’t seem to really start until at least 11:00. Now I’m sure that jobs and school begin earlier (much to my dismay) but the city/stores do not wake up until pretty late. This is probably because it is dark and cold for so long in the morning. A normal lunchtime starts around 2 and a normal dinnertime starts around 8 at the earliest. Jon and I were shocked one of our first nights here when we when out to get dinner at around 6:30 and not a single restaurant was remotely open. We are still trying to adjust our stomachs to get hungry later.
  • Chile not only is the bread capitol of the world but also the holiday capitol! Whoot whoot says this teacher as I think of days of without school. The funny thing is that many people do not even know what some holidays are for! This last Thursday we celebrated a holiday that some people told me were for a virgin. After some investigation it turns out that the holiday was for the Virgin Carmen who actually is a form of Mother Mary. I am already looking forward to Independence Day because I hear we actually get a whole week off for it!
  • Many of you have asked what the food is like here. Well, apart from the aforementioned abundance of bread, there are a lot of potatoes, chicken, and soups. Most meals have a cold salad of veggies to start, supplemented with chicken or steak, mashed potatoes or fries, and jello for desert. There are also tons of empanadas and small stands with sweets and snack food. So far one of my favorite meals has been Pollo a lo Pobre which is chicken, onions, and French fries with two eggs sunny side up on top of the fries. Mmmmmmm.

3 thoughts on “Santiago: Saint James

  1. Joy Lyn Rehm

    So much to see and do in this world! So difficult to motivate teens to move during the summer! Prayers for your continued blessings and more to share soon!


  2. Grandma Bitter

    Your blogs have been so interesting. What a great experience and opportunity to share the gospel. Sounds like you are doing well with the language. God’s blessings!


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