Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas This Year

Christmas time!  How crazy is this?!  My first Christmas away from home....This has been a tough thought for me.  For a long time I let this thought get me down.  I was focusing on what I didn’t have, what I was missing, such as my family, friends, snow, Christmas goodies, and just the Christmas spirit in general.  Chile doesn’t commercialize Christmas like at all, which in a way has been super refreshing.  But at the same time, Christmas feels very small here.  I have just been missing Christmas trees, lights, music, getting gifts for people, snow, and festivities.  Like I said, I was just focusing on everything that I didn’t have.  But there is something that I have been realizing.  This might be the only different type of Christmas I will ever have.  It might be the only Christmas I experience out of the US.  Why am I focusing on the things that I will have most of my life, and not trying to sock up as much cultural spirit as possible?  Plus, when I think about it, I HAVE IT SO GOOD!

For instance, today I went to the post office and picked up a package from home!!!!  I AM SUPER STOKED TO OPEN IT!!  My family is the best for sure.  A piece of home is sitting on my bed.  AHHHH!  Seriously, it just makes me so happy.  And yesterday, we went to Petrohue.  Petrohue is a testimony to God’s greatness.  It’s a river rapid-y place that just screams, “God is huge and awesome!!”  Absolutely beautiful.  The water was so clear and the area was just….incredible.  Ahhh.  Actually, why don’t you take a look for yourself?  Haha.  The pictures don’t even capture the magnificence of it, but I will try to show you a glimpse.  Credit for these photos goes to Clay.  I, of course, forgot my camera.  It wasn’t in my purse like I thought it was.  FAILURE.

Incredible, huh?  Well, it definitely was.  And tonight, we are making cookies, watching a movie, and having a team Christmas night.  Gonna be so fun!  And tomorrow, I GET TO VIDEO CHAT MY FAMILY!!  MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ME :D And on Christmas day, I am going to an island.  Yup, an island.  WHAT?!  WHY AM I SAD ABOUT ANYTHING!???!  My life is so, so blessed.  I am so, so blessed.  And I have absolutely nothing to complain about at all.    
That is one of the big things that has been on my mind lately.  Why is it that it takes me so long to realize these things?  And this holiday is all about Jesus anyway!  He has been showing me more of Himself each day.  Why is it that I haven’t been remembering that the whole point of this holiday goes back to Him?  It’s ridiculous really.  His love is CRAZY.  I have so much to learn.  Thank goodness my God never gives up on me. 
Not very much has happened since last time I posted.  Basically, our normal day looks something like this:
-          8:00- 9:00- Breakfast and Group Devotional
-          9:00- 10:00- Spanish class
-          10:00- 12:00ish- Free time to do whatever
-          12:00ish- 1:30ish- Visit people around the community
-          1:30ish- 2:15ish- Lunch
-          2:15ish- 3:30ish- Run random errands or chill
-          3:30ish- whenever- Visit more people and eat bread :]
-          8:00ish or later- Supper

Now, this varies a little, but in general this is what has been happening for most of December.  After supper, we either have a Bible study with some people from the church or we just chill.  This month, as I think I mentioned before, is all about learning the culture and language.  It has been going really good! We are learning more Spanish every day.  I understand a lot more than I am able to speak, but it’s getting better, slowly but surely.  The people here are so hospitable.  Anywhere we go, we are almost always offered bread and coffee.  And they try to talk slower to us too, which definitely helps in the understanding process.  It’s just a very comfortable culture.  I like it a lot. 

Things have been going really well with our coordinator and his family.  This helps a lot with homesickness actually.  They have taken us in, and I feel like I have inherited 3 more siblings.  It’s really fun.  Just yesterday I got in a huge pillow fight with Nacho, and Jean had to come to my rescue.  We both got our butts kicked.  Yes, pathetic.  He did make my ear bleed though.  I think that is cause for disqualification.  :]

ALSO, another fun fact.  We got to watch Sherlock Holmes….in English!  Made me really, REALLY want to see the new one.  But I don’t think seeing it in Spanish the first time would do me much good :] 

I guess I don’t have very much to write about this time.  SHOCKING, I know.  But I do want to update everyone as much as possible.  I think after the holidays pass, I will have processed more and will have some stories to tell from our adventures.  Thanks again for taking the time to read this though!  You guys are amazing.  And, I have a Christmas present for all of you!  Listen to this song of the post and be blessed :]  It’s called Christmas This Year by Tobymac.  It just my favorite Christmas song to listen to right now.  Happy and upbeat. Enjoy!  God bless!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Can't Get Over You

First of all, I just wanna start out by saying, thank you guys so so much.  I normally end my posts in this way, but I feel that it is very appropriate to start this time.  I have felt so much support throughout this whole experience, but especially this week, you all have been SOOO GREAT in encouraging me.  Seriously, I got so much positive feedback, and it was so good.  I’ve been struggling with homesickness for a little bit now ( which I have been told over and over again is a good thing) and your comments have been so helpful.  To know people care enough to want to know what’s been going on and then to have you guys share how it’s been impacting you personally and your personal struggles.  I just can’t tell you how much it means.  THANK YOU. 

Also, in saying this, if you wish to reach me or just want to catch up and talk, I would LOVE to.  I really enjoy listening I have realized.  Throughout this whole REACH process, it has become more evident to me how much I like to listen to other people and hear about life.  So if you would like prayer for anything or just need to talk, I’d be more than willing to try and help.  Prayer is an area I would really like to grow in during this time too.  I feel like prayer has always been like a list of my problems to God.  And it’s not supposed to be like that.  So I’ve really been trying to grow in this area and stop focusing on how it sounds and just talk to Jesus, my best friend and hero.  ANYWHO.  All of that to say, if you would like to reach me, feel free to email me.  My address is my first and last name at  So if you know that information, feel free to email.  If you don’t know that information, you probably don’t want to email me.  I would prefer email over facebook messages because I am not going to be getting on Facebook nearly as often.  My internet time is limited and facebook is distracting, so I would rather spend most of my time talking to people, and emailing allows me to do that  most efficiently.  So yeah.  Email please.  Also, it may take me a bit to reply to you, but know that I enjoy hearing for you guys and am thinking of you even in the moments of waiting for response.

Also, I am very happy to report that you guys can now comment on my blogs.  Before, this was not possible, so this message is really for those who tried before and were unable.  Thank goodness a computer wiz, aka Beth Hale, taught me some stuff! :]  So yeah.  Feel free to comment!

And now, the song of the post.  I don’t really know why I have a song of the post, but I kinda like it.  Actually, I really like it.  Just a strange, semi-unique thing about my blog.  But anyway.  The song of the post is Can’t Get Over You by Anthem Lights.  Great song and my thoughts exactly recently.  I just can’t get over my big, big God who loves unconditionally.

Since my last post, my homesickness has grown I would say.  But.  It’s good.  I have come to the conclusion that the first month was going to be hard regardless.  New culture, away from home for the longest time of my life, adapting to newness.  Just a tough thing.  But missing Christmas with family has definitely intensified this “loneliness”.  It’s a lot harder than I anticipated.  But at the same time, I know it’s good.  I am being stretched and growing from it.  And along with this, I know that I appreciate my family a whole lot more now.  Although it will be hard throughout the whole stay here, I think it will be a lot easier after December passes. 

Even in my homesickness though, I have found so many things to be thankful for.  For one, TECHNOLOGY IS INCREDIBLE!  I mean.  Emails.  They take seconds to arrive at their destination.  CRAZY!  Secondly, (typing secondly made me think of Mr. Bean and for those of you who understand that, I miss you greatly :]) we have access to the internet pretty much whenever we want.  What a blessing!  And not only these things, but I have received a lot of videos from home.  I am EXTREMELY grateful for these.  It’s so so good to SEE things.  I mean really.  And if anything can top a video, its seeing the other side of the world live through a screen.  I have gotten to video chat twice back home, and it is truly…..I don’t even know.  Its just a blessing. 

So even though I am missing things like Christmas goodies and programs and such, I know that this is a time for me to cling to Jesus because He is really all I need.  And He has blessed me with the ability to communicate back home so easily.  What right do I have to complain about anything?

This week was a more normal week for us.  No trips, just hanging out in our base town.  It’s been really good.  December is the month for us to just really adapt to the culture and observe mainly.  Take everything in and learn the language as much as possible.  And although at sometimes it feels like we aren’t doing much, I keep reminding myself that we are only 2 weeks in and that God is still working.  It’s also a good time to relax for a bit.  In this not so busy time, I have had lots of time to think and process stuff.  This brings me to a new favorite pastime: READING. 

In the past two weeks I have read two books.  Both have been so good.  Really, really good.  And I have realized just how much I love reading.  During high school, I hardly read at all.  It made more sense to me to work ahead in my schoolwork and then I just fell out of the habit and felt I didn’t have time to sit down and read.  But I love it!  And I have found some great truths from reading good books.  The first book, which I think I might have mentioned in another post but I’m not sure, is called The Real Me by Natalie Grant.  So much to learn from it.  It’s about learning to see yourself as God does and the importance of it.  In the book, Natalie shares her own story and struggle with bulimia, but the book talks about a bunch of different struggles that girls especially face.  Self image and confidence is a difficult thing and something I struggle with, so the book was just so good for relating to and learning. 

The book I just finished is called Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.  Thank you so much Liz S for suggesting this book to me.  LOVED IT.  Couldn’t put it down.  Wow.  And this is the topic that I have been hit with this week.  God’s huge, vast, redeeming love and how I have an obligation and a need to offer this to other people.  Seriously, the book is very…hardcore.  The love that is demonstrated in this book is incredible.  But, I know that this love exists because I have seen it in action.  The love I am talking about is 
selfless and actually appears absurd at times.  It thinks of the other person completely and finds great joy in this.  At the hardest times, when the world would say to drop the person and move on, this love holds on and does the unthinkable.  It provides, cares for, comforts, and pursues.  PURSUES.
In life, when people hurt me and push me away, the last thing I want to do is pursue them and be kind to them.  I mean really, its their problem, right?  And what if they maliciously and intentionally do things to hurt me?  Why would I ever even think of showing love to these people?  It’s pretty simple really.  Jesus would. 

I have seen selfless love demonstrated my entire life.  My parents are a great example of this, and a lot of other adults that I really look up to do a fantastic job of displaying this as well.  Generosity is huge in showing love and compassion on the hurting is key.  But its different when the person is trying to make your life horrible, right?  Wrong.  The love is the same.  Do I show it?  Not a chance.  Do I need to?  DEFINITELY. 

I have seen this type of love in action though.  The person who has been demonstrating it to me probably has no idea she has.  But she is loving someone who honestly, but the world’s standards, doesn’t deserve love at all.  But she loves Jesus and continues to be a light to those around her by the way she lives her life and loves.  It’s truly incredible and supernatural. 

I have been very inspired by this demonstration and this book.  Love has been on my mind lately, and I desire to love in the best way possible.  1 Corinthians 13 sums it up.  So in my endeavor to grasp this love thing, I have decided to memorize this passage.  I want those words to be in my heart forever.  But it doesn’t stop with knowing the words.  I want to GIVE this love.  And it’s going to be a huge challenge, but it’s something that I’m willing and ready to fight for, because in the end, the greatest thing is LOVE. 
These are just a few of my thoughts recently.  Not much else to talk about.  We are getting used to life here.  Eating so much bread and drinking coffee and tea.  Listening to Christmas music on the beach while my skin burns.  Very different from home, but different isn’t necessarily bad.  Just….different :]

Here’s an interesting and totally awesome fact.  All around our little neighborhood, there are these little shops (mercados).  Seriously, like every road has at least one.  Very convenient.  And inside these littler mercados you can find all sorts of goodies.  A really popular thing around here is ice cream bars/popsicles.  You can find them everywhere.  And you can buy them from anywhere between 100-1,000 pesos, depending on the type.  The exchange rate for pesos is roughly 500 to $1.  So 100 pesos is like 20 cents.  STEAL OF A DEAL!  I can get a popsicle and 2 candy bars for a dollar.  And, like I said before, these mercados are everywhere which means easy access and you can go to a different one every time and avoid looking like a pig.  SCORE!  Heehee.  Needless to say, we have been to quite a few mercados :]

Yes, life here is different.  But I am enjoying it and learning so much each day.  So grateful to be here.  Thanks again for your prayers.  Love you guys and God bless!  

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Big God

Glory to God.  He is so big.  My God is awesome.  And if you saw what I saw in the past two days, you would be crazy not to agree with me.  Let me back up just a little bit.  But first.  Song of the post is Beautiful Things by Gungor.  So great.  And so true.  Please listen.

But anywho.  On Wednesday afternoon, we (my team and our coordinator) piled into a little van thingy with a friend and his daughter.  So.  8 of us, in a little van made for 5.  2 seats in the front, a mattress in the middle, and a seat for 3 in the back.  And we were all going to a marriage conference that E (our coordinator) was going to speak at.  The conference was 8 hours away.  So as you can imagine, the ride was very interesting.  :]  It’s a time we won’t be forgetting very soon, that’s for sure.  I basically jammed to my Ipod for most of the ride.

We finally got to Concepcion (the town where the conference was) at around 1 in the morning.  Then we of course had bread and coffee with our hosts.  I probably crawled into bed at 210.  Then we had to be up and ready to go by 730.  Not much sleep :]  But, esta bien. 

Then we got to the church, and I expected to see a lot of married couples.  Nope.  Hardly any couples were there actually.  Mostly just young single people.  I was confused at this and so we asked why this was.  Most people who get married here are really young, and the church just wanted to help prepare those interested in getting married before the time came, which I think is very cool.  The only thing is, I couldn’t really understand anything.  Haha.  But, like I said.  I know E, and he is a very wise man.  And a lot of affirmations were coming from the people who did understand.  So whatever the message was, I’m sure it was good. 

Although I didn’t get much from the actual message part of the conference, I had a pretty big God encounter afterwards.  Everyone took away the chairs, and we all stood and prayed.  Some people were going around praying for others, and the pastor was praying the entire time up front.  At this point, I was kind of like, “Ok, God.  What are you trying to say to me?  I don’t know why I am at this marriage conference (especially with how ironic it is, seeing as to how no dating is firmly stressed while in REACH :]), but I know I can learn something from it.”  So as we all started praying, I just felt overwhelmed with God’s love for me.  I mean, I am in Chile.  I am safe.  I have a great family who loves me.  I have support all around.  I am so BLESSED!  And my whole life I have always known that I don’t need anyone else’s love other than God’s.  I mean duh.  But it wasn’t until that afternoon, praying amongst 20 other people who didn’t speak my language that I finally BELIEVED it.  You know?  Like, I finally understand and can buy that.  And its so true!  I don’t know why it has taken me this long. 

Basically, I have finally realized that it’s not about me being with someone who loves me.  It’s about me being someone who loves others.   It’s not about me finding someone who looks out for me and cares for me.  It’s about me finding others who need looked out for and cared for and doing that for them.  I don’t have to look for love any other place!  I have it all.  One of my favorite lyrics of all time is from the song Love is Here by Tenth Avenue North.  It says….Come to the Lover you who want, and you’ll want no more…  So very true!  I don’t know.  It just hit me so hard, and I finally just gave over my plans and desires to Him.  He is in control.

Also, the thing that had been holding me back from coming to REACH in the beginning was my future plans.  I have a little bit of scholarship money that only lasts for 2 years.  But the fact that it carries over is what actually spurred me on to do REACH first.  Otherwise, I highly doubt I would have applied for REACH.  In my head, that wouldn’t have made too much sense.  But with everything I have learned through REACH, I now realize how God doesn’t always make sense to me, but he ALWAYS know better than I do.  ALWAYS.  I am gonna go wherever and to whatever He calls me.  I declared that while praying in that same situation on that Thursday afternoon.  I’m ready to face the future with Jesus, in whatever He calls me to pursue. 

Now, with the fear of a crazy, weird future out of me, a new struggle has occurred.  It was really hard saying goodbye to my family for these 9 months.  And it hasn’t been the easiest on them either.  I don’t like having to miss their lives and not being able to experience things with them.  But I also know that this is where I am supposed to be, and God has been doing amazing things in me during this time.  And I had been thinking that it would only be for 9 months.  Then I would go to college.  That only made sense right?  Wrong.  What if God calls me to leave again next year?  What if He calls me to a place that takes me away from home again?  Yes, I am very willing to face that adventure and challenge with the One who will never leave me.  But now the struggle of missing family looms ahead.  At this point, I have absolutely no idea what the future holds for me.  I’ve been praying about it a LOT, but I think this is where God wants me right now.  Trusting Him to provide me with what I need, when I need it. 

I also don’t want to be praying selfishly.  I want the will of God to be done with my life.  I really do.  I just don’t know how to pray that when I really don’t wanna miss my sister’s senior year or anymore of Scamp’s bball games.  At the same time, there is no way I wanna do anything that God does not have planned.  I KNOW that the rewards are way greater when you follow God’s call.  I BELIEVE that with all my heart.  Honestly.  I guess I just really want to know what God’s plan is for me so I can prepare myself for whatever is coming my way.  But.  That isn’t happening. 

So yeah.  These are some of the thoughts I have been dealing with.  And now, how do I find satisfaction in all of this?  I mean, how can I be content in this?  I know God has my back.  I know He only wants what is best for me.  And I want what He wants.  I guess this is where TRUST comes into play.  FAITH that He will guide me and show me the path when He sees fit. 

Sorry.  This is kind of an all over the place post.  And a lot has just been moved from my brain onto this page.  Scary thought I know.  Just kinda spitting out my thoughts.  I’ve really appreciated the feedback so far, and if anyone has any thoughts on any of this, feel free to share :]  Also, continued prayer for courage, team unity, and the hearts of the people we are building relationships would be GREAT!  Very much appreciated. 

ANYWHO.  After the conference, we went back to our host’s house for a barbeque.  SO MUCH GOOD FOOD.  The meat was AMAZING.  Mmmmmm.  So delicious.  While we ate, we watched the Universidad de Chile and Ecuador’s Liga Team soccer game.  E is a very big fan of Universidad de Chile.  And me, being the stubborn, stupid kid I am who has been to Ecuador once, decided to cheer for Liga in this game, just to get on E’s nerves.  Brilliant, I know.  Well then, E decided to make it a bit more interesting and asked if I wanted to bet on the game.  If my team won, he would jump into the ocean with all of his clothes on, but if his team won, I would jump.  And guess what.  I accepted this pointless bet.  And guess what else.  Liga lost.  Sigh.  So, in the next week, I will be jumping into the ocean.  I’m sure pictures will be following as well. 

On Friday morning, we left to return to Alerce.  Unfortunately, my stomach decided to act up, and I felt pretty crummy.  But fortunately, we stopped to do something at the bank which took close to 2 hours.  I stayed in the van with Beth, and the others explored the city.  There was a free bathroom (rare here) in the parking garage, and it was very close to our parked tiny van thingy.  And God worked out the timing for me to get through the locked doors with other bathroom goers at just the right times.  It turns out that I threw up finally, which made me feel a lot better.  At that time, I really really missed my mom.  All I wanted was my bed and her, and I got a crammed vehicle and a public bathroom.  But.  I did definitely see ways in which God was providing for me during that time, and I am so thankful.  He has the best timing. 

Also, on this trip we stopped at two very awesome locations.  First, we went to the beach on Thursday night.  It was…GORGEOUS.  Really.  Unfortunately I didn’t have my hat or my camera (at either of the locations), but my teammates had the camera part covered.  There were mountains all around the coast of the ocean.  So beautiful.  We climbed up part of a rock formation, and the view was just incredible.  Honestly.  It’s hard for me to understand how you can’t believe in God when you see stuff like that.  Just totally incredible. 

Then, on the way back on Friday, we stopped at a waterfall.  It was incredible, too.  So powerful and captivating at the same time.  Beauty in a very intense form.  Pictures will also be coming from that I believe. 

When we finally got home after another 8 hours in the van, we ate dinner and then slept for a very long time.  It was wonderful.  :] 

OH!  And how could I forget.  Like I had mentioned before, us girls have our own apartment.  This means that we must build our own fire in our house which has proven to be very difficult because our house is kinda of damp and our wood is also.  AND we only have matches to work with right now.  Basically, we fight to get a fire started for about an hour and a half every time before it starts running good.  And then, we go to bed or leave and by the time we get back, its out again.  Sigh.  Endless struggle at this point.  By the time I come home, I will be a PRO at fires.  This I will make sure of.  Which reminds me.  Dad, we need to get a firepit :]  Anywho.  I helped in starting our very first fire in the house!  I was pretty dang excited.  My first fire ever actually.  How exciting I now. 

Again, this is pretty long.  And I’m sorry.  But the more I do this, the more I realize that I am just long winded and process better after throwing my thoughts out in front of me.  So this is probably how it’s going to be for the most part.  Just thought I should warn you.  Thanks so much for your feedback and prayers though.  Fuels me to keep posting and updating and really to just keep striving to learn.  I love you all.  And just so you know, I am mourning here in Chile over the loss that our Buckeyes took yesterday.  You are not alone!  :]  But I am.  My team does not share the same views on teams as me unfortunately.  Just thought I would throw that in here.  ANYWHO.  Thanks for supporting!  Much love.  Always.  God bless.

Monday, December 5, 2011

New Beginnings

Hemos llegado!  We have arrived.  Wow.  It has all gone so fast.  It’s really hard to believe that we have been here for 6 days, and at the same time in some ways it feels like it has been a lot longer that we have been here.  But before I get too far along, the song of the post is This is Your Life by Switchfoot.  It’s actually the perfect song for what I have been learning.  God is really speaking this into my life right now.  Hopefully it can speak to you too. 
We left for the airport at 230 on Tuesday afternoon.  The whole process of saying goodbye is sucky to begin with, and by the time Tuesday rolled around, it felt like that is all I had been doing for the past 3 days.  NOT. A. FAN.  It was especially hard to make the transition from saying goodbye to my family and being quite depressed from that and then being all cheery and talkative with my friends from the RIC 2 seconds later.  But the support and love I had felt over those past 3 days (and really the whole week of being home) was overwhelmingly wonderful.  I really don’t know how to thank you all enough for showing interest in my life and just not forgetting that I still exist on this earth.  It means more than my words can say to just hear from you people from back home.  Your letters, notes, facebook messages, and wall posts are so special to me.  I just really appreciate it.  Thanks so much.  ANYWHO.  With all this love I was feeling, it made it even more hard to say goodbye.  But, I know that this is where I am supposed to be, and I am just so blessed to have people like you guys in my life.  I’m sorry if I didn’t have much time to get to talk with you all or even see some of you.  My schedule was kind of hectic, but I really do love you all.  Thanks for loving me.  All of this rambling to say, goodbyes were really hard.  I am just now finding time to process through them all.  I feel like I am finally finding a healthy place of emotion through it all.  I had a moment to myself today while we were stuck in traffic on a bus, and it was just so good for me.  So although it may not have appeared to be that hard for me to leave, just know that it was and that I am very grateful for your friendship.  Tears say a lot….especially for me. 
Moving on.  So, our flight left at 530 from Columbus, and we got to Miami around 830 I believe.  Everything went very smoothly which was a definite answer to prayer.  Praise the Lord.  We had some Chinese, laughs, and fun while waiting for our next flight that left at around midnight.  Also, I got to see a bit of the OSU vs. Duke bball game so that was awesome :]  Then we boarded and were on that plane for about 11 hours.  Quite a long time but I was able to get a little sleep while sitting between Beth and Jean.  We arrived in Santiago, Chile on Wednesday morning and had a slight layover.  The timing for all our flights was perfect.  Jesus was definitely carrying us through our travels.  At about 230 on Wednesday we arrived in Puerto Montt, Chile.  DESTINATION REACHED! 
Through all of this, I was very excited to be on the way to what I had been waiting for for so long, but it didn’t actually hit me that I was beginning this adventure until about a day and a half of already being here.  It was all a bit like a dream and didn’t seem real for a little while.  ANYWHO.  We arrived, and E and two of his friends were there to meet us and drive us back to his house in Alerce.  The landscape of Chile is beautiful in a very countrified way.  For you guys at home, just to give you a little feel of how it is where I am, it is very hilly and mountainous.  Not jungle-like, but more of a farming feel.  It rains a lot, but not really in the stormy sense.  Just lots of rain.  Pretty breezy, but not too cold.  The mountains and volcanoes surrounding our area are beautiful.  I will hopefully be able to upload pictures soonish. 
E and his family are wonderful.  They are so hospitable and considerate.  And it is so evident that they love the Lord.  They have a lot of wisdom.  Although they speak very little English, we have been able to get by quite well in understanding each other.  As they help us with our Spanish, we are able to help them with English.  I like it a lot.  The kids are awesome.  Just a really great family.  It hasn’t even been a week, and I already feel like we are very accepted a part of a group with them.  They are just so sacrificial and loving.  Their house is not very big, but they still found a way to give us all a bed to sleep on while we (the girls) wait for our apartment.  Today we will move into that which makes me feel better.  Less intrusive and better for all the kids to be able to have some space.  I am super grateful for them though.  I cant wait to see what God has to teach us and me personally through them. 
Thursday we went into town and got some money exchanged and just did some necessary errands.  It was good to be able to see the area.  That night, some people from the church came over and welcomed us.  It was a lot of fun.  I love the culture here.  Everyone is so friendly, and they make you feel valuable even when you have just met.  As most of you know, I am not too fond of hugging and unnecessary touchiness between people.  It just isn’t my thing.  But, I have gotten SO much better with hugging after coming out of DTS.  Hugs are still not my favorite thing in the world, but I do appreciate them a lot more.  In saying this, it wont come as a shock to you to know that the whole “greeting each other with a kiss thingy” isn’t exactly my thing either.  But I will say, I really do love the intentional welcoming of everyone you meet.  It’s very refreshing and enlightening.
On Friday morning, Eduardo led the way for our team to travel to Chiloe and some smaller islands surrounding it.  And here is where the real ….experience…..begins. 
Before we even left, we were told that we would not be taking showers while we were there for the weekend.  Not a big deal, but this fact definitely plays into the rest of the weekend.  So anywho, we caught a bus around 10 that morning and headed towards Puerto Montt.  Then we walked to the local bus station and waited to board a much bigger bus.  2 decks!  That was fun.  And it was very comfortable.  We watched Just Go With It in Spanish (very funny to see Adam Sandler with a Spanish voice btw :]).  We were on that bus for about 4 hours.  Then we caught another bus that we rode for about an hour.  Finally we were dropped off and we walked for about 20 minutes on a gravel road to a small church in the mountains.  We only stayed there for a little bit and then left for a different house where we would be sleeping for the night.  To get to this house, we walked for about 30 minutes through the woods on a small trail.  It was a good little trek with all of our luggage and jackets on. 
The house we stayed at was small but homey.  We just chilled that night.  The next morning was when the fun began. 
The whole time we were preparing to come to Chile, we had heard that it rains a lot in this area of Chile.  But up until this point in our stay, we hadn’t experienced any rain.  That changed.  On Saturday morning, we had a delicious meal of chicken, potatoes and rice.  So good.  Then we got ready to leave for the other island.  During this time, it had been raining on and off…basically just a steady drizzle with random fits of actual rain.  So we began to walk.  We hiked for a bit through a small trail in the woods and then found the road that led to the dock.  This took us a little over an hour.  The whole time it was drizzling/raining, so very early on we all gave up on staying dry.  When we finally got to the dock, we were pretty wet.  Looking pretty good if I do say so myself.  Just kidding. 
At this point in my story, I feel the need to admit my wrong thinking to my father.  You were right, Dad.  You see, before I left, my dad was trying to get me to buy a covering for my backpack to protect it from rain.  Me, begin my stubborn self, very adamantly told him that I wouldn’t need it.  I was wrong.  My stuff was wet.  I should have never doubted you, Dad.  :] 
Anywho.  We finally got on to a small boat and rode it for about an hour to the small island we were going to stay at.  The funny thing is that the boat probably smelled better than me at this point.  Not a good thing.  Then we walked to a small Baptist church.  The whole point of this trip was to attend an all-night service of worship, preaching, and prayer.  They fed us, and while we waited for the service to start, we visited some friends of Eduardo and walked along the beach.  Also, I learned how to skip rocks on the water!  I’m terrible at it, but I know how and did it a couple of times :]  Thanks Jeano. 
The service was supposed to start at midnight and go until 6 in the morning, but instead, it started a little after 9.  There was lots of singing and prayer going on, but we couldn’t really understand any of it.  This fact also played into how the night went.  It was really cool to see the people get into the whole experience with loud singing, Amens, and clapping, but after about 2 hours, I was ready for bed.  Let me give you a quick recap of the situation:

1.       Traveling a lot the past 2 days….tired

2.       No shower…..very smelly

3.       Rain…..wet

4.       Everything in Spanish….hard to pay attention

Basically, we were greasy, gross and grimy…..all in one!  And not only did we look pretty gross, we didn’t smell good either.  Looking nasty is one thing.  Smelling nasty is not good for anyone, including the strangers around you.  And by the time 12 o’clock rolled around, I was just ready to go to bed.  There’s something about being tired for me that I just really have a hard time dealing with.  And then to throw in the fact that I couldn’t understand anything anyways, it felt pretty pointless for me to be awake at that point.  All I could think about was my desire to sleep.  I felt gross, and that isn’t fun to begin with.  Then throw in a lack of sleep, sore backs from hiking in the rain with a full backpack, and feeling like I am once again being disrespectful to the people around me, and you get a very grouchy girl.  Needless to say, I was dozing off by the end.  I tried to stay awake, but with my terrible attitude, there was no way I was going to be able to.  THEN, right after the service ended, we left to travel all the way back home.  I just had a terrible outlook on it.  3 days without showering, smelly, tired, cold, and grouchy.  Not a good combination. 

 I now realize how terrible of an attitude I had, and I really regret it.  You see, the day before all of this happened, I was writing in my journal and praying, and the thing that kept coming to my mind was just being content in every circumstance.  I just really prayed for that….just really desired it.  And you know what?  God gave me the opportunity to grab onto it and really take it to heart, and I failed.  While we were walking in the rain, I thought of it as a fun little challenge.  I felt “tough” and adventuresome.  Then we got to the boat, and it was cold and smelly, but still, I felt like it was an adventure and kinda exciting.  But as time went on and more things kept happening, my attitude got worse and worse.  My focus came off of serving Jesus and onto myself and my comfort.  And as I processed through some things on the bus, I realized how I had been given the perfect opportunity to be content in every circumstance and how I had wasted it.  Lessons in the process of being learned.  I feel so foolish now when I think back over it.  I mean, Paul, a true man of God, was beaten, imprisoned, and just facing every hardship you can think of, and he still praised God through it all.  And there I was, in a church service, feeling sorry for myself.  HOW PATHETIC!   

But thankfully, I serve a God of grace.  He never turns me away, no matter how bratty I am.  He works on us, and He redeems.  He brings challenges to grow us.  And for this, I am very blessed and grateful.  I continue to learn and have my eyes opened.  And my prayer is to change.  Not just act different, but BE different.  To be transformed from the inside out.  And I’m very excited to see how He chooses to bring about these changes.  I know its going to be challenging and difficult, but I want….NEED….the changes.  No more gunk.  I want to be clean and effective. 

This was a really long post, I realize.  And I’m sorry for all the detail. But you know, I found it wholesale in bulk at a really good price, so I figured why not? (thanks Clay for this input) But seriously, I just kept typing as my thoughts came.  Thanks again for all the support and love you guys have given.  And thank you so much for the prayers.  I can say with certainty that they are felt and work.  If you think about it, you can continue to pray for our time here.  The people here are wonderful.  Pray for open hearts and minds, team unity, and good attitudes through it all.  God is working.   

Also, if any of you wish to reach me personally, I would be more than happy to “talk”.  You can message me through facebook to get my email address.  Also, I know our address now so you can message me or EMAIL me if you want it.  I would love to keep up with all of you, and I will do my best, but it’s also good to hear from you guys to remind me.  I love hearing about home. 

And one more random thought.  THEY HAVE OREOS HERE!!!!  Seriously, I was so excited to find this out.  They taste a wee bit different and are a little bit smaller than Ohio Oreos, but they are Oreos just the same.  Makes me very happy.  A little taste of home…..literally.  :] 

Much love and God bless.