Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Islands and Mountains and Argentina, oh my Part 2

So I said we were going to the mountains and before we left I said that I was ready for an adventure.  Well, I got what I wanted :]  Mom, this would have been the worst vacation for you.  It was…an experience.

On Tuesday morning at 630 am, we all met at E’s house ready to depart.  True to Chilean culture, we didn’t leave until around 7, but we were still in good shape.  We were quite the sight tho.  All 10 of us (E’s whole family and our team) were loaded with stuff.  We had 2 cardboard boxes full of food, 4 tents, 2 bags of clothes to give away, at least 11 backpacks and lots of random other things, like sleeping bags and purses.  Yeah, it was pretty crazy.  So we got on the bus to Puerto Montt and managed to get there with no problems.  And about the time we got to the big bus station, our “micro” rolled up.  We stored all of our stuff underneath, which was really nice, and I got settled in to my seat by the window, plugged in my iPod, and prepared to just chill for the next 4 hours.  Bus rides are seriously some of my favorite times.  It’s my “me” time to just sit, think, and listen.  So anywho, it was really good.  I slept for about 2 hours and then annoyed Nacho and Jeano in the seats in front of me.  We even stopped to get cookies.  Just a good time. 

Soon after (about 4.5 hours after we boarded that bus), we got to the boat landing.  It was….so beautiful.  The whole bus ride was picturesque really.  The mountains surrounding the lake/river…just gorgeous.  So, we unloaded all of our crap and waited for the boat (ferry thing) to take us across the river.  The sun was out and we all ate sandwiches.  And at just the right time, the boat thing pulled up, and we made our way to the other side.  That took about an hour.  We were all chipper and happy to be almost there. 

When we got off the ferry, the interesting things started.  The bus that would get us up the mountain was full and there were about 20 of us with a ton of supplies still waiting.  Luckily, the bus driver was kind enough to say he would come back and get us.  The down side was that it would take 3 hours.  But oh well.  We had applies to eat, a warm sunny day, and a picture perfect view to enjoy.  Jean and Nacho of course started climbing the mountain/rock wall and explored.  E and the boys went to find a spot to fish, and J, Beth, the kiddos, and I all just chilled by the water.

After a little while, I got a little restless and decided that I would probably never again get the opportunity to swim in the mountains of Chile.  So Nacho, Jeano, and I all decided to jump in.  It was…refreshing.  The kind of refreshing that makes your feet hurt and takes your breath away.  Yeah, it was cold.  But it was fun and gave us something to do.  The rest of the time we spent drying and a game of “let’s see who can knock this water bottle off the ledge first by chucking rocks at it” broke out.  Free entertainment.  And then, just like he said, the bus driver came back, and we all piled in for the last leg of our journey…so we thought. 

I don’t really know how long that took.  I fell asleep.  But it was probably around an hour.  And before I knew what was going on, we were hauling all of our stuff over a barbed-wire fence that surrounded a cabin and its property.  E and Jeff stayed on the bus to get the keys to the cabin from his friend.  Now, let me give you some background information on this whole situation. 

You see, E and his family have been coming to the mountains for vacations and evangelizing for a few years now.  And they stay in this cabin each time.  It’s basically a vacation cabin that a friend of theirs owns.  We had been planning to stay there the whole time, but the day before we left we found out that the son of the owner and his girlfriend were staying there.  A bit of a problem.  Now, we brought tents with us, but we were going to use them INSIDE of the cabin.  I guess rats and bugs are a pretty common thing there.  YIPPEE.  But, if a random couple that we don’t know was going to be staying in the cabin, then we had to plan on sleeping outside. 

So here we are, standing outside of the cabin, all of our stuff in a heap on the ground, and E and Jeff are off figuring out stuff and getting the keys.  Now what?  That was the main question on my mind.  We just chilled for awhile.  Pretty much all of us were just ready to settle in, eat and sleep.  Almost all of us.  Nacho thought it was hilarious to annoy us, so we had to beat him up a couple of times :]

Finally, we got so sick of doing nothing and waiting that we checked all the windows to see if we could get in.  And wouldn’t you know.  On the second floor and window was cracked just a little bit.  Of course Jeano offered to scamper up the rickety ladder we found, and she tumbled into the hosue with a THUD.  Then, she opened the door and said, “Uhhhhh.  Guys, the door wasn’t even locked.  Look.”  And promptly, she shut the door to show us.  …..it was locked.  Brilliant.  So, once again, she scrambled up the ladder, this time with much more finesse than the last time, and kept the door open long enough for us all to get in.  Thanks Jeano.  I love you :]

So, we began making dinner and finding dishes to eat with and putting up the tents while it was still light outside.  By this time, about 2 hours had passed since we first got there and we still didn’t know where E and Jeff were.  So we decided to just sit down and eat.  When we were basically done, a truck pulled up and Jeff and E hopped out.  I was thinking, “Oh good.  Finally we can relax and go to sleep.”  Nope.  They came flying over to us to tell us that we weren’t, in fact, allowed to stay there, and we needed to leave right away.  That was crazy.  All of the sudden we were running around, tearing down tents, washing dishes, and throwing all of our stuff into the pickup.  No one really talked.  We just did stuff very fast. 

Then, as we were all squished in this pickup, heading to another house, it hit me.  We just broke into a house, made a fire, and ate dinner.  WHAT?!  I mean, how would you react if you came home to a heated stove and a pot of spaghetti?  I think I would be freaking out a little.  But luckily, everything turned out ok.  No one was mad, and the couple enjoyed the leftover spaghetti :]

So we got to this other house like 10 minutes away, and by this time it was pretty much dark.  So we reassembled all of our tents as fast as we could in the pasture area of the yard and then of course went inside to have some mate with the family.  At this time, I was pretty wiped out and ready to just crash, so we all squeezed into our cozy tents, and before too long I was out. 

The next morning, we ate bread and coffee and talked a little about the craziness of the day before.  Some poor decisions were made and we all kind of just decided to start fresh and learn from those mistakes.  The rest of the day was open for visiting families that E and J knew.  Really, that was the purpose for us being there.  We visited 3 houses that day.  The interesting part was that we walked to every house, and since we were in the mountains, the houses are pretty spread out.  The farthest house was about 2 hours away (because we did have a 4 and 7 year old with us).  So that was a pretty good chunk of time out of our day.  That first day was really hot and dusty.  When we finally made it to the house, we all guzzled down some water. 

Now, the house that was 2 hours away was the house where Diego (the kid who stays with E and J during the school year) lives.  The house is in the middle of the mountains for sure.  It’s a good little hike to get there, but luckily, there were all sorts of fruity trees and berries to eat along the way.  So we had our fill of natural apples.  Delicious.  But anywho.  So when we finally got to their house, we were greeted by his mother and his 8-year-old sister, Luz.  She was such a sweetie.  Stole my heart right away.  You see, she has Down’s syndrome, and…..I don’t know.  I just have a passion for kids with disabilities.  That’s definitely something I can see myself pursuing in the future.  Who knows where God is going to lead me, but I would love to somehow help kids with disabilities.  So anywho.  She took a pretty fast interest in me because of my blonde hair, something she has probably only seen a handful of times.  So she pretty much had my attention from the beginning.  So much love!  True to most Down’s syndrome diagnosis, she was strong physically, and therefore she loved very strongly.  My head was squeezed far too tightly at least 17 times.  But she was a gem.  I loved being with her so much.  I’m so glad that we had the opportunity to meet her.  I would LOVE to see her again. 

While we were at the house, it began to sprinkle.  Not too bad though.  We knew that we would be returning to that house again the next day, so our stay wasn’t too long.  When we left, the sprinkling continued in spurts.  It felt really good actually.  The day was pretty hot, and since we were walking so much, the little precipitation felt really good. 

When we finally got back to the house we were staying at, it was time to start making dinner.  While Juanita was preparing that, the rest of us had a little Bible study in the property owner’s house.  It was good.  Jeff and Beth each shared a little something, and E of course finished it off with a great message.  I love studying the Word with him and just hearing all of his wisdom.  It is so thought provoking and inspiring. 

That night after we finished dinner, we all were pretty ready for bed.  So we all headed for our designated places of sleep.  When we got into our tent and took off of our boots that had been on our feet all day, it was one of the worst smells of all time.  Ok, maybe not of all time, but it was GROSS.  Knowing that I was putting my nasty feet inside of my sleeping bag also made me want to gag a little, but, we all survived the air pollution and found a way to fall asleep. 

During the night, it started to rain.  That wasn’t a good sign.  When we woke up the next morning, the edges of our tent were pretty wet and so was the stuff that was against them, but otherwise, we were all pretty much dry.  Despite this blessing, I woke up with a TERRIBLE attitude.  It was not good.  I was so caught up in the things that were not ideal, that I failed to see the blessings that were right in front of me.  All I could think about was the fact that I was tired, smelly, and my things were a little wet.  WHO CARES!  You are in the mountains of Chile, experiencing life with a WONDERFUL family and spreading the Word of the Creator of the entire universe!  What does it matter that this wouldn’t be my first choice of fun things?  But, I couldn’t see that at the time.  I am learning now though.  So that is pretty annoying for me to think about the time I wasted complaining. 

But God was speaking to me through all of this.  You see, one of my goals here are to learn a verse each week and seriously remember them.  Like, truly hide them in my heart.  And although it hasn’t been every week, I have been memorizing chunks of verses throughout my time here, and the one I was memorizing while we were there was Philippians 2:1-16.  SO GOOD!  And I said it to everyone about 6 times.  Heehee.  But anyways.  It says, “Do everything without COMPLAINING or arguing…..”  WITHOUT COMPLAINING KIRSTEN!  Jeesh.  I am such a brat.  But, God is speaking to me and teaching me throughout this whole process.  And that is definitely something that stuck out to me.  Too bad it took me so long to realize it. 

But anywho.  So that morning I started off with a bad attitude, but I got a bit better in my outlook as the day went on.  Why?  I have no idea because the day really just got worse from then on.  But I have some very great people around me who keep me accountable for my attitude.  God really speaks to me through my teammates, and I am so thankful for them!  You guys are the best.  So yeah.  Through the verse and the influence and words of some teammates, I realized all I had to be thankful for, and I started to enjoy what was going on around me a lot more.  Just rolled with the punches better, ya know? 

After we had breakfast, we headed out to Diego’s house for a second time.  As we were walking, there was a steady mist coming down.  We were pretty damp when we finally got there.  But along the way, Jeano found a stick and her and Nacho took turns playing baseball with it.  That was fun to watch and made the trip go a little faster in my head.  When we got there, we just spent a lot of time talking while Norma made lunch for us.  That day, Beth really hit it off with Luz, and it was SO COOL to see their interactions together.  Beth has had a lot of experience with people with Down’s syndrome in the past, so she knew a lot of good tactics in interacting with her in a really positive way.  They sang the same song together a billion times, but the super awesome part was that Luz started picking up on the words!  It was so cool.  Then, after lunch, we had another little Bible study at their house.  The rest of the day was kind of just more of the same.  Interacting and trying to speak Spanish and just engaging in culture.  It was good.  I really enjoyed being at that house. 

When we started heading back, the mist turned a little more forceful and a steady drizzle was coming down.  We were WET.  My pants were so soaked that there was a distinct color difference between the front and a tiny section of dry on the back of my legs.  They just looked like different pants.  We spent the rest of the night drying around the fire.  Since it was now raining and our tents were soaked, we decided to all sleep inside.  So, Beth and Clay slept in the beds at the other house, and the rest of us all slept on the floor around the little stove.  It was very “Little House on the Prairie”.  I was very amused and grateful to be sleeping inside this night.  It was quite cozy.  :] 

The next morning we woke up a little earlier and ate breakfast.  Then it was time to clean everything up, try to pack the damp clothes as neatly as possible, and tear down the soaked tents in the rain.  Then we ended up waiting for the bus for about a half an hour.  And finally, we were on our way home. 

As you might have noticed, throughout this VERY detailed story (sorry about that, I tend to be long winded in my writing), not once have I mentioned showering.  That was not an accident.  It is because since Tuesday night, I had not been able to shower.  So after traveling for about 8 hours on Friday and 4 days later, Kirsten and shampoo had a glorious reuniting.  Soap, conditioner, and razor all showed up too, and it was probably one of the happiest reunions I’ve had all trip :]

All in all, the mountains were an interesting experience for me.  I do believe we are having the opportunity to go back, and I’m actually really excited.  I plan to learn from my past mistakes and really try to focus on seeing the positive in the situations and just learning from The Lion King.  Hakuna Matata.  No worries.  Just go with the flow.  And I think it will be a lot better for me. 

As I said before, this got REALLY long and I am sorry.  I just tend to type as my thoughts come.  And this trip was filled with so much detail in my mind.  So I hope you enjoyed.  I really appreciate you all checking in and taking the time to read this.  You all are so great.  Thanks for all the support.

Currently, I am sitting in a quaint little hostile in Argentina, as I finish up this post.  Stay tuned for next week and the recounting of this trip.  We have already seen God work in some really great and obvious ways today.  Its been awesome, and we are all safe and now full of good pizza :]  So yeah.  More to come next week.  Much love and God bless! 

OH!  Song of the post.  I almost forgot!  It is well, Kutless style.  I LOVE it.  Here is the link.  It is the same great song with a little different, beautiful style.  So sweet.  Enjoy!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntklZwAzEEo

Monday, February 13, 2012

Islands and Mountains and Argentina, OH MY! ….part 1

Wow.  It has been a long time since I have told you all what we have been doing.  Sorry about that.  I feel bad that my video didn’t work to upload.  I feel like my blogging has gotten a little strained lately, and it makes me sad.  I like blogging a lot.  So I will try to do better.  Time is just a funny thing, you know?  Here is a little snippet of our past 2 weeks ish. 

About a week ago, our team, along with E and 4 youth group kids, went to Chiloe, a large island about 6 hours from where we are staying in Puerto Montt.  We were going to help out a little Baptist church there in any way they needed.  Basically, it was a mini missions trip. 

While we were there, our group was split up.  Jean, Clay, and Camila went to a different town to minister to the people there.  Then the rest of us were assigned different sleeping arrangements.  I had the opportunity to stay in the house of the pastor and his wife, Juan and Marta.  It was a very good experience.  I really enjoyed my time there with them, and I learned a lot.  I was very blessed to be able to stay there with them. 

Let me give you a little background on them.  Both of them have lived in Chiloe their entire lives.  They are in their early 60’s and have had lots of missionaries stay with them in the past.  Such a cute, funny couple.  I had many laughs while staying there.  Just your classic couple.  Marta was extremely nice and hospitable.  She took the reins a lot of the time.  The lady keeps herself busy.  But she was so sweet.  Juan was a lot more quiet, unless he was telling a story of course.  He was very patient and followed Marta’s cute commands.  Ahhhhh.  I wish I could have gotten a video of one of their typical interactions.  Just so funny and like your stereotypical cute, hospitable, elderly couple. 

Now for a little overview of Chiloe.  Like I said before, it is a large island just off the coast of Chile.  Unlike Tenglo, the other island we go to often, this one can not be walked from one side to the other in 25 minutes.  Its like a state kinda.  So yeah.  Most of the people who live there have lots of pigs, cows, and chickens that provide them with food.  Also, the water there is not fit to drink unless you chlorox it and boil it or something.  I am not really sure of the process, but you need to go through the process or you can get sick.  So that makes showering interesting.  It was quite chilly there as well.  I felt like it was just a lot more breezy there then here in Puerto Montt.  But the scenery is beautiful!  Everything is natural and green.  It really is a very pretty place.  But I think it would be a hard adjustment for me to move there.  Just a lot more rural then I am used to. 

So now for some things we did there and the things I learned.  A lot of our time there was spent visiting people.  But, these visits were different than the ones we do here in Alerce with our neighbors.  I didn’t enjoy these nearly as much as our normal ones.  The reason for this was the way they were done.  The approach we took here was a lot more confrontational than I think is right.  Basically, to reach people and bring them to a relationship with Jesus, I think there needs to be a sense of respect in the conversation.  You know?  I think that the goal of going to a house to talk to people should be to build relationships and get to know them.  Then, when they have opened up to you and have opened their hearts, you can open up the Bible and tell them about the AWESOMENESS of our Father.  But that is not how it went in this situation.  We were led to just go straight to the Bible and preach at the people without their consent really.  It was just….strange.  I just feel like the approach was off a little bit.  At least in the one group I was with one day.  It was not like this the whole time, but for a portion, I did not enjoy it really. 

But, there are some things I learned from this.  Obviously, I was shown a way of how not to go about witnessing to people.  And it really made me stop and think of how I need to do a lot more of friendship evangelism when I get back home.  You know?  Its important.  I cant be satisfied just chilling in my own little comfort bubble when I return to the states.  I want to continue to reach out to people around me and make new friendships and really love like Jesus did.  I want to be a friend to those who need a friend.  I need to not allow my heart to go back to being calloused.  I want my heart to break for what breaks the Father’s heart. 

Also, just keep in mind that not all of our visits went like this.  We had some really great moments in visits as well.  2 people actually came to know Jesus in one of them.  God is so good!  And a lot of really cool prayer things went on during these times as well.  Also, the visits showed me just how much I have and need to be thankful for.   Some of the people there had very little, but they were very content.  They found joy in life and the little things.  And I have so much, and so often I am hung up on the things that I don’t have.  Its ridiculous, really.  And my eyes were really opened to this while we were there. 

One thing that really showed me how much I have to be thankful for was the water situation.  Here, I find myself longing for a hot shower pretty often.  I mean, the water is FREEZING!  And when you wake up to a rainy, cold morning, sometimes the thought of showering in the cold is enough to make me want to sleep the day away.  But there, in Chiloe, not only do they not have hot water, but they don’t even have running water that they can just use!  I did not drink water one time while I was there….not once!  They always have coffee or tea or juice.  Part of that is just the culture there, but part of it is because you have to clean the water before you drink it.  The showering situation there is a process as well.  You have to take bucket showers…..in the tub.  They just don’t have running water to use.  And I realized how ungrateful I have been here with the water that we do have.  I have NO reason to complain at all.   We have been so blessed here.  We have a house, gas for the stove, running water, and a supply of wood to keep warm.  So blessed, and I have been focusing on the unnecessary things that I want and don’t have.  God really spoke to me there on the area of thankfulness. 

On Sunday while we were there, we saw 3 people get baptized as well!  It was really cool.  God is working and the light is growing.  Its so exciting!  Then we had a big meal at the church.  So much food was prepared!  It was quite the process, too.  Never before have I seen a piece of raw meat being hacked away by a saw and knife-with-hammer.  It was kinda crazy, but it worked :]

Also, while we were there, we made a few friends with the kids in the area.  And, I personally feel like I got to know the youth group kids that we went with a lot better.  I am gonna miss them so much when we leave here.  They are mis amigos.  We hang out, joke, and play basketball together.  It’s a lot of fun.  And I’m really excited and thankful for them.  I see God growing in each of their lives, and I feel like they are a big reason for why we are here.  Friendships are huge, and I am stoked to have them as friends. 

So all in all, it was a really good trip.  I have some really great memories from there.  I was encouraged to know that I could survive staying with a host family by myself.  I learned lots and have so much to be thankful for.  I have new friends.  I got my butt kicked in ping pong (the people here are pretty legit at ping pong…..for real.  It gets intense).  I got to ride a horse for the first time in my life I believe.  And I got to experience life on Chiloe for 6 days.  It was a good time.  And I am so thankful for it.  I realize that that overview was rather short and sporadic and kind of all over the place.  Sorry for that.  I just right what I think and that is what I got. 

After Chiloe, we picked up life here in Alerce again.  It was really good to be home again.  So this past week has been really good, just to sort of charge our batteries again.  I missed seeing the family everyday here and sleeping in my room and clean clothes.  We have been visiting families and helping get a house ready to move in on Tenglo.  Just living life here at “home”.  It really does feel like home now.  I mean, my home will always be in Ohio, and I have no doubt that I will be a Buckeye til the death of me, but right now, Alerce is home for me too.  So it has been nice to be back. 

But, the week is now over and tomorrow we will be leaving once again.  February is turning out to be the month for trips for us.  It’s crazy and exciting and I enjoy it a lot.  But tomorrow, our team and the entire family will be heading to the cordiera aka the mountains.  We will be traveling for about 7 hours again, so prayers would really be appreciated.  While there, we will be visiting some more people and just spending time there.  We have heard that it is BEAUTIFUL there, so I am excited to take some pictures and see some really cool sites.  Its going to be a good time to just chill with the family as well.  I love them so much.  We have been so blessed to have them to help us and get things going for us.  Such a God centered, fun, loving family.  I guess that while we are there (for 4 days), we will be staying in tents inside of a house.  The reason for the tents is to keep out the bugs and rats, or at least try to.  Yes.  Bugs and rats.  I am slightly paranoid about this fact, but I know it will be an adventure and I have a feeling that lots of funny stories will come from it, so I am getting pumped.  But like I said before, prayers are appreciated :]

So that was a very scattered, quick overview of some things that have been going on here.  As you all know, I love hearing about home and how you all are doing.  Thanks for all of your prayers and encouragement.   It has been such a blessing.  As our schedule here gets kind of crazy sometimes, it is sort of hard to find time to sit down and right about life here.  But, know that I love hearing from you all and will reply as quickly as I can.  You guys are so awesome.  I really could not ask for better support, so thank you all so much. 

As the title says, this is part one of the post.  I will be writing more about the mountains when we return from them.  Also, a couple days after we get back from the mountains, our team will be leaving for….ARGENTINA!  We have 6 vacation days that we have chosen to combine and use in Argentina, since we need to renew our visas there anyway.  It is looking like it is going to be a fantastic time there.  Cant wait to fill you all in on what goes on there.  We also have started praying already that while we are there, we focus on any ministry opportunities that pop up for us.  I am really excited to see how God works and what doors He opens for us there.  So yeah.  Lots more stories and thoughts to come from our experiences here.  Stay tuned.  Love you all so much. 

Prayer requests:
-         - That we as a team could continue to grow closer together and become one in unity
-        -  Safety as we travel a lot
-        -  That we could stand up against any attacks from Satan that he is trying to bring us down with
-         - Health and protection from sickness
-         - And for me, to continue to grow in love here and that I could stay focused on what God is doing here and finding ways to join Him in that

The song of the post is going to be All I Need by JJ Heller.  So beautiful and chill, one of my favorite genres.  Just so good.  She is one of my favorite artists actually.  All of her stuff is really good.  Here is the link       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whRhU_Lgk2E       Thanks, enjoy, and God bless!