Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year, New Thoughts

It is currently 12:40 my time as I write this….10:40 Ohio time.  You guys are so last year!  Heehee.  I just had to.  But wow.  So much has happened since the last time I posted and so much is going on in my head right now.  I don’t really know where to start. 

Well, this will make it a little easier.  Song of the post. Long Time Travlerer by The Wailing Jennys.  So so good.  Great harmony.  Makes me miss my girls, Rachel and Carrie.  Love you guys.  Listen and enjoy.

I guess I will go back and recap Christmas.  Man.  That feels like so long ago.  Be prepared for a long post this time, guys.  You might need to grab a cup of coffee and a nice comfy cushion to sit on if you plan to read through this whole thing :]

So Christmas.  Let’s just put it this way.  On Christmas Eve, it felt more like the day before St. Patrick’s Day.  Yes, I stole that little analogy from Beth, but it really did!  It was just another day in Alerce.  No one really seemed to notice that the next day was Christmas.  Very different from the states.  And, I must admit.  This helped a lot.  The fact that it was so different from normal Christmas for me was a blessing.  This way, I wasn’t comparing it to my normal Christmas experience, and it just made it a lot easier.  So yeah.  Christmas just isn’t that big of a deal here.  A lot of the kids get little presents and stuff, but at least from what I could see with the people we interacted with, it was more of a laid back thing.  Kids that I was with weren’t going through lots of magazines picking out things they wanted.  It wasn’t like that at all.  And it was refreshing!  Commercialism is crazy back at home.  I’ve always known that, but to experience Christmas without all of it made a drastic difference in how I was perceiving the whole holiday. 

On Christmas, we went with E and his family and some people from the church to the island of Tenglo.  It was….so beautiful.  I can’t even describe it to you in a way that would do it justice.  It reminded me of a movie scene.  One where a family lives out in a very peaceful place, with hardly any other people around.  Where life is simple and you can just enjoy the little things in life.  That’s what it was. Just a beautiful place filled with God’s simple pleasures. 

But before I get ahead of myself, let me explain to you the process of getting there.  That morning, we had breakfast with E and his family and 4 other people.  This meant that there were 14 of us all together.  When it was time to go, a little van thingy, probably made to fit about 12 people comfortably, came to the house.  Inside was a driver and one other passenger.  So, 16 people and all our food and other needs for the day were packed in this little van.  Not the most comfortable, but definitely doable.  We rode in this for about 45 minutes to the dock.  Then we took a little motorized boat across the bay for about 4 minutes and arrived on the island of Tenglo.  After this, we walked for another 15 minutes to the other side of the island and came to the house where the day’s activities would take place.  A nice little trek. 

Like I mentioned before, the area is beautiful.  The ocean is the front yard of the house.  The land we were using is a mission’s base on the island where a family will be/is living right now.  There are two houses on the property.  The one nearest the ocean is less finished and is going to be used for more ministry type things.  Currently, some kids ministry things go on there, and people sometimes use the land as a campground.  The plan for the future is for the property to be used as a retreat base for people
to come for a few days.  Sort of a safe haven for refreshment and healing.  Very cool idea and the perfect location. 

When we first got there, we had some down time.  The tide was out really far, so I walked down to the water and just walked along the shore for a little while.  The weather was perfect and the view is incredible. The ocean was right in front of me.  Behind me was beautiful, green scenery of the mountain.  And to the left is the city of Puerto Montt with the two snow-capped mountains sitting there.  Absolutely gorgeous.  Such a refreshing time for me.  I just walked and prayed and sang songs to the Creator of the universe.  It was just a great “me and God” time. 

Then it was time to eat.  Another missionary family joined us.  M is what I will call him.  He and his wife are kind of the overseers of the property we were using.  Great family that has lived in Chile for 20 years.  It was a good time of fellowship.  After the meal, a game of soccer started.  I didn’t play for most of it, but I was persuaded to near the end.  Before the game started, the deal was made that the losing team had to swim in the ocean.  Guess whose team lost……yup.  Mine.  Now keep in mind.  This is summer here and the day was really warm, but the water really wasn’t that swell.  But, we went for a swim, and if you kept moving enough, you got used to it.  And by the end, everyone was in the water anyway. 

So, it was Christmas, and I was in Chile, on an island, swimming in the ocean, looking at snow-capped mountains, and getting fried to a crisp.  Yup.  I got a major sunburn on Christmas.  CRAZY!  It was definitely a Christmas like none other for me.  But, I am very grateful for this.  Kept my mind off of home and actually made me forget that it even was Christmas.  It was just a really good day. 

Around 7:30, we all got packed up and started our trek back home.  This was a slightly more interesting trip.  When we got back on the main land, we waited for 30-45 minutes for our little van thingy to come pick us back up.  But, we had a new twist.  This time, there were 18 of us riding back.  And when the van finally came, it came with 3 people in it already!  So, there we were, 21 of us jammed into a 12ish passenger van.  Let’s just say, I legitimately could not move my toes by the time we got home.  I had no feeling in my leg.  It was an experience that I will remember for quite some time :]

So that was Christmas for me this year.  So very different from the norm, but good at the same time.  And, when I got to check my email and facebook after about a week (because we went back to Tenglo for the next 4 days which I will tell you more about), I was so blessed with people encouraging me and wishing me a merry Christmas.  Seriously.  It was so special to me.  I got 3 new videos from different people back home to watch.  I was honestly pretty emotional.  I watched the videos today and read some emails yesterday.  You guys, you have blessed me SO SO MUCH.  Words really can not describe how blessed and loved I feel.  The support I feel from you all is something that I truly cherish. I could not do this without it.  I feel more loved right now, thousands of miles away from you all, than some people feel in their whole life, right next to people they know.  And I don’t know why I get to be this privileged.  It really isn’t fair at all.  All I know is that because I am this blessed, I need to be a blessing to those around me.  So thank you all so much for all the encouragement and love you have sent me.  It honestly brings tears to my eyes sometimes. 

It’s hard to explain how all of it makes me feel.  But, the best way I can describe it right now is to say that it sorta feels like I am living in two different worlds.  If any of you have ever read the books Black, Red, White and Green by Ted Dekker, you will understand a little easier what I am trying to say.  Currently, I am reading the first book in that series, Black I believe, and basically, the book takes place in two different worlds.  And that is kinda how I feel when I hear from people who truly care back home.  When I hear from you all, I feel like I am still back at home….like I could go back right now and fit back in just fine.  Like nothing has changed and people still care.  You know?  It is kind of surreal.  But I just feel so loved, and I can picture myself being back in “normal life”.  But then there is the other part of me that is completely immersed in the Chilean culture and way of life that makes me feel like Ohio is so very far from the norm now.  I walk down the street to a little tienda, and I think, “This feels so normal, how will I ever get used to Ohio again?”  Like life here is now the norm.  And I’m stuck in between these two really wonderful worlds.  That probably doesn’t make any sense to you all, but that is how I feel.  And its not a bad thing.  It’s just how I feel, and its really hard to grasp/explain. 

So anywho.  Just want to say THANK YOU again to all of you.  You are truly a blessing in my life.  I don’t know what I would do without you guys.  And I mean that sincerely.  And I would just like to say that I will try to get back to you all as quickly as I can.  Just keep in mind that my computer time is limited so my responses might take a little longer than I would like.  Just know that you are in my heart, and that I really do love hearing from you. 

Oh, and one more shout out.  Thank you so much to my lovely friend, Luceeta, who thought of me and sent me a rain cover for my backpack and a handy dandy washcloth  :D  Seriously, you are so awesome, Luceeta.  And I love you so much.  Thanks for caring about me and being so thoughtful.  Wish I could give you a hug right now, but I guess a virtual hug will just have to do :]

But ok.  Sorry about that little tangent of feelings.  But it was really late at night when I started doing this.  Fortunately, I stopped and went to bed before I finished the whole thing.  So hopefully clear thoughts will follow. 

After Christmas, we had our free day.  Our free day is every Monday.  So, Beth decided to make this her day off and stay behind while the rest of us went into Puerto Montt for a day of….whatever.  Haha.  We just go there to do random shopping and really to just get out of Alerce for a little.  Not that we don’t like Alerce.  It’s just little.  ANYWHO.  So we went into Puerto Montt and walked around, stopped at a few stores and then decided to check out the mall.  ITS HUGE!  For only being in one building, the place is gigantic.  And, aside from Lider which is owned by Walmart and operates just like one, this was the most “American” place we had been yet.  It was just very large.  One of the floors was almost totally a food court.  Yeah.  It had 4 floors.  Just really big.  So we walked around there for a little while, and then…..WE GOT PIZZA HUT!  I can’t even tell you how good it tasted.  Just know that it was really, REALLY good.  Mmmmmmmm, we can’t wait to go again :]

Tuesday morning we left for Tenglo again.  But this time we would be doing manual labor and we would stay there until Friday.  We were all pretty excited to go back to the beautiful place.  And basically, M had a list of things that he needed to get done at some point, and we just basically went to work on the list to minimize it.  It was a nice change.  All of us like to work hard, and we really haven’t had anything laborish to do so it turned out to be a really satisfying week.  For the week, I mowed with the little push mower who could.  I’m telling you, this thing took a beating, but he came out puttering away still.  I mowed for probably 4 hours totally and he went through some serious grass/thorny plant things.  It was a good time though….I love mowing.  While I did that, other people were digging a trench from the house to the edge of the property and two small septic tank pits.  A lot of random sweeping and cleaning went on too.  The rest of the week is kind of a blur, so I am just going to lump everything together.  Jeff, Jean and I scythed a whole plot of land….with a scythe.  It was like we were in the 1800’s or something.  Really hard work, but with our rotation going, we got the job down and felt pretty accomplished.  It was definitely and good work out though.  That took us probably 3 hours.  And the rest of the day we weeded the garden, greenhouse, and flowerbeds for about 5 hours.  It was a lot of deplanting things that day.  But like I said, we felt accomplished.  Also, we began painting the outside of the house.  By the end of the week, we were on our 3 coat for the house.  It was a lot of paint.  And, we painted the tin roof blue.  Well, Jean and Clay did most of that.  I only helped a little.  But, if you know Jeano, you know how the story ends.  The girl got blue paint EVERYWHERE.  And, because it was not water-based paint, she is still sporting the lovely blue color all over her legs, 4 days later :]  Quite comical, she is our very large smurf.  We did more cleaning throughout the week and just random other small jobs that the property needed.  It was such a satisfying week.  A nice little break from the norm and just a refreshing time, at least for me. 

One of the nights Jeff started playing guitar, and we just sang songs together.  Nothing beautiful or fancy, just singing together and going wherever the Spirit led.  It was so powerful!  And one line really stuck out to me.  In “In Christ Alone”, there is a line that says- Jesus commands my destiny.  And it just hit me.  Future plans for my life have been on my heart for the past month especially and not knowing is hard.  But that line was a slap in the face and a peace for my soul at the same time.  Jesus knows what is going to happen in my life.  He knows exactly what lies ahead for me.  I really don’t have to worry, SHOULDN’T be worrying.  He is commanding everything.  And He loves me.  All I need to do is trust Him and follow His lead.  Because JESUS COMMANDS MY DESTINY!  Think about that line and really let it sink in.  And trust in the power that that line entails. 

Also, since we have been back home here in Alerce, we have started our devotionals going through Matthew.  Each of us takes a turn “leading” one each morning and basically we all share what stuck out to us from the chapter or questions that we had from the passage.  Matthew 1 is quite interesting.  It starts out with the lineage of Jesus and I think it is quite cool who gets mentioned in that recounting.  Some pretty “insignificant” people get recognized in the LINE OF JESUS!  That is pretty huge.  And then it mentions how there are 14 generations between all these different people and important stages of Israel.  That brought a lot of questions from among our group.  We still have yet to find the significance in that.  And then we get to the beginning of the story of all time.  The Christmas story.  And as we were reading this, something I had never really thought of before jumped out at me.  And that was the character of Joseph.  I feel like a lot of times, Joseph gets overlooked in all of this.  Yup, he’s the guy that married Mary, but he really didn’t have much to do with the rest of the story.  FALSE.  I mean, sort of true, but now I see a new light in all of this. 

Joseph was in an arranged marriage with Mary.  He really probably didn’t even know Mary…like at all.  And then he finds out that Mary is pregnant….WHAT?!  I mean cmon.  Divorce the girl, she is a lying cheater.  But no, Joseph was a REALLY sweet guy.  Although he thought she had cheated on him, he had the decency to not want to embarrass her and just divorce her quietly.  THE GUY BARELY KNEW THIS GIRL!  There was no reason for this tender action of love for her.  NONE!  But he was a good guy.  And then, he has this CRAZY dream that says that Mary did not in fact cheat on him but was having the Son of God.  I don’t know about you guys, but I have had some pretty crazy dreams in my life, and most of the time, they are pretty ridiculous.  They usually do not correlate with normal life at all.  But God was speaking to him, and he listened!  I don’t know.  I was just really blown away by him this time reading through.  And I have decided that if I ever get married, I am gonna marry me a Joseph.  Also.  Another little side note, could our dreams be used by God, but we just aren’t paying attention?  I don’t know….I am just wondering. 

Anyway, that pretty much brings me to New Year’s Eve.  And wow.  New Year’s Eve is quite the big deal here.  It is definitely a lot bigger than Christmas, which is really sad to me.  I mean, I know us Americans blow Christmas up to be a lot more about getting things than what the actual purpose of Christmas is, but it is still sad to think that the New Year is a bigger deal to people here than Jesus’ birth.  We went to the store to pick up a few things, and the place was PACKED!  It was like the day before Christmas, everyone flying around, trying to get in their last minute purchases, which was mostly alcohol.  And I mean a lot of alcohol.  And the closer it got to midnight, the more music we could hear blaring from the surrounding houses.  I don’t know how I feel about the whole thing yet.  But, it was a good time.  We had dinner with E and his family and some friends.  We had A LOT of food.  Mmmmmmm.  So delicious.  Then we rang in the New Year with the finest Pap you can buy.  Yeah….its a local pop.  Pretty soon after, we headed back to our house for some much needed sleep for Jeano, and I started writing you all this blog.  :]  Love you Jeanie Poo. 

Basically, that is a recap of the past week and a half for me.  I still feel like I have left out a lot of little things that I have been thinking about, but I think that 5 pages of a Word document is enough for this time.  Thanks once more for all the support and prayers you guys have been giving us.  It means more than a 458 pounds of salmon to a penguin.  Yeah.  That much.  Please continue praying for team dynamics here and for our relationships with the nationals here.  Love you all and God bless. 

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