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. 

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