Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Hey guys!  So guess what.  I am catching up!  And I am so excited.  I am so sick of being stressed out from being behind on things.  Emails right now are just taking a long time to reply to, and I REALLY apologize for that.  I am so sorry.  But I plan to do some more catching up in the next few days if it is at all possible.  But yeah.  I will tell you more about my stress in a little bit.  But first, let’s get caught up, shall we?

Oh, and just another little tidbit.  While you read this, pretend it is me speaking to you in an Australian accent…..or British, since I am not so good at the Australian.  And again.  I will explain to you my reasoning for this in a little bit.  But even if you don’t know why, it would still be fun, right?  Right. 

Also, let me warn you.  This post is the longest one yet.  It is filled with some detail of what we have been doing, but a lot of what is inside this post is actually things that I personally have been thinking about and dealing with.  It is my thoughts, and actually, it is a glimpse at my heart.  So, if you don’t feel like reading the whole thing….don’t.  haha.  I am sorry it is so long, but I just felt like I had to say this stuff.  I had to sort through it.  I had to share. 

Ok.  So where did I leave off?  I think that I ended with E coming back that next Friday after he had been gone basically a week on a bunch of random trips.  So that is where I will begin.  That weekend, it was a pretty normal weekend I believe.  I can’t really remember what we did.  I do know that Clay preached that Sunday, so that was cool.  And, we couldn’t find a translator for him, so he had to basically read what he had written in Spanish.  I am so glad that wasn’t me.  Reading in Spanish is hard.  Lol I am not very confident in my pronunciation skills. 

While Clay was preaching, Jeano and I took care of the kids at E’s house.  This is the first time we did it solo.  Usually one of us is with Juanita or Anita.  So that was kind of cool.  I mean, we didn’t do anything spectacular, but now we know that we can keep a Spanish Sunday School class at least a little occupied.  Interacting with kids is SO much easier in a language you actually know.  That has actually been kind of a challenge for me here.  I feel like I have not been able to connect with kids as good as I used to at home.  And to be honest, sometimes it is really hard.  That is something I am usually good at and comes easily to me.  I love kids.  But here, there are always other people with me, and I just can’t seem to connect like I used to be able to.  But, it’s ok.  I am learning a lot about just playing the background in this area.  I don’t have to be the one that the kids jump to hug.  I just have to love and serve, even if that means I don’t always feel loved back.  Does that make any sense?  I didn’t intend for this Sunday school info to go this way, but it seems that my brain has taken it over here.  And I think it is a good lesson.  So often, I find myself loving people and serving people who love me back.  You know?  I love being caring and making people feel special when they do the same to me.  I mean, duh.  Who doesn’t?  It’s easy to love those kinds of people.  But when you aren’t feeling very loved back, I allow myself to just kind of stop loving that person as well.  I mean, I don’t hate them, but I stop being personal and trying with them sort of.  You get me?  Basically, something I am really learning from not being the “fun tia” is that no matter what, I love these kids.  And I need to show them how much I care about them, no matter if they show it back to me.  And that goes for any person, not just kids.  Just something I realized from writing this.  Funny how spilling your thoughts can show you stuff to learn about as well :]

On Tuesday morning, the 5 of us and E left for the island of Tabon.  The purpose of this trip was to help with the church building that they were doing.  Now, this was a new island for us, and we came to find out that this church we were going to was the only Evangelical church on the island.  So it wasn’t a huge island, but bigger than Tenglo where we go quite often.  So we left around 9 or so to catch a bus to Calbuco.  Calbuco is only like an hour from Puerto Montt.  We made it there with no problems, which was really good.  Actually, now that I am remembering, that morning I did not feel very good at all.  And this has seemed to be a theme for our team for the past month or so.  Stomach aches and feeling like throwing up has happened to all of us quite a bit recently.  So while we were catching the next bus, Jeff and Jean just prayed for me and prayed against the attacks of Satan on our bodies.  I truly believe that that is what a lot of this sickness has been.  Every time we get sick, it takes our eyes off of what God is doing around us and puts it on ourselves.  And it has happened so much recently.  So we just all really prayed against it, and I know some of you have also been praying for us.  So thank you so much for that.  In the past week, none of us have been sick at all, and it has been such a blessing.  I felt a lot better after we got off that bus, and I had no more problems the rest of the day or trip. 

So, we got to Calbuco, and we went to visit some friends of E’s there.  It was a really good visit.  They were so hospitable to us.  We stayed there for about 4 hours or so.  We helped with dishes and making lunch.  And I don’t know.  It was just really good.  Andrea, the wife/mother of the house, was just SO friendly.  And she just had so much joy.  Also, while we were there, E, Beth, and Clay went to the store to get food for us in Tabon and for some supplies that the family there wanted us to pick up.  So then, after that, we caught a boat that we rode for about 2 hours and arrived at Tabon around 5 o’clock. 

Now, this trip to Tabon was……just very good for me.  When we first got there, there wasn’t much to do, so we all went out to start working on the church.  So after about 5 minutes of standing there doing nothing, I decided to go inside and see if Alejandra needed any help, and Jeano decided to come too.  And sure enough, she had potatoes for us to peel.  Boy oh boy, are we bad in the kitchen.  Haha.  Neither of us really enjoys being in the kitchen, but just from living here in Chile and not having my mom to make food and stuff, I have realized what a necessity it is that I learn some stuff, even if I don’t enjoy it a ton.  But I am so terrible with a knife.  It is ridiculous and quite pathetic.  But anywho.  After that we just sat and talked with Alejandra.

 It was SO ENCOURAGING!  Seriously.  I was just so happy.  First off, I was the one who took the initiative to go and find something productive to do.  Now, that is not that normal for me, especially on this team.  I am the youngest on our team, and I think a lot of times I let that intimidate me, which is really stupid.  I let that get in the way of taking initiative on a lot of things.  I usually just follow what the others are doing and try not to look stupid while doing new things.  And it’s dumb.  I need to step up and out (thanks Brian, for speaking this to me so often :]  I miss being challenged by you every day).  And I am working on it and learning a lot.  And you know, it feels really good when I actually do.  That may sound kinda dumb to those of you who have no problem with this, but for me, it is quite a challenge at times.  So, just seeing that I have actually have made some progress in this area was good to see. 

And secondly, we got to help her out and learn some stuff ourselves.  And the best part was that when the work was done, we had a really great conversation with her.  Now, it wasn’t like the topic was profound or anything, but I understood everything!  And we actually participated in the conversation.  And I would say that it was not any more awkward than if we were just talking in English and meeting her for the first time.  I was just so encouraged.  But there is one little detail.  Alejandra was used to gringos and their lack of Spanish knowledge.  But still.  It was good to know that we could survive here if for some reason Kevin and Carmal wouldn’t let us back in :]

That night, we had some yummy salmon for supper, and after that, we all just sat around talking.  Well, E talked a lot; we listened :]  Nothing too exciting took place.  Oh, but here is a fun fact.  The outhouse was one of the most outhousey outhouses I have ever been in.  I mean, it wasn’t a squatty potty, and for that I am EXTREMELY thankful.  But it was just very…old and patchy.  Just very crude?  Basically, it was just a rough country outhouse.  Nothing comfortable about it.  And, whenever I was just standing inside of it, my head was against the ceiling.  Haha have I ever mentioned how giant-like I am with short Chilenos?  Well, let’s just say that whenever we see a guy that is more than 2 inches taller than me….aka 5’ 10” ish….we pretty much all stare and make sure everyone else sees the phenomenon :]

The next day, we had coffee and bread for breakfast, and then we got started on the day’s activities.  They had 3 projects to try to get done.  1) the work on the church…..the roof I believe.  2) cleaning up the school yard.  And 3) chopping firewood for them.  So, we got to work.  Jeff and E started working on the church, and Jeano was their gopher and helper.  I don’t think I have mentioned before that she hurt her thumb pretty bad while wrestling with Nacho and Diego, so that has been pretty painful for her at times.  It was all bruised and swollen for the first week and a half, but now she can move it better.  It still hurts and is very sore, but she is tough and refuses to get it looked at… anywho.  She couldn’t really do the other work.  So then Clay and Beth went with Antonio to the school and took out all the thorny blackberry bush thingies.  And I stayed in the house with Alejandra and helped prepare lunch.  Man, if you ever want me to feel bad about myself, put me in the kitchen for 2 hours.  Yikes.  I am just so bad!  We went and bought some onions, picked some things from her garden, chopped up the veggies, and made some bread.  I made the bread :]  that was exciting.  I actually want to do it more here so that I can get a feel for how much of the ingredients I need.  The woman here are professionals at bread and can make it without even thinking.  It’s crazy.  But I want to be able to make it when I get home, so that is a little challenge for me.  Honestly though.  I am awful in the kitchen.  It took me SO long to prepare the cucumbers.  CUCUMBERS!  There is nothing to it!  But I just cant seem to work a knife with any skill.  Haha.  God was teaching me patience through that I think.  Or He was trying to.  I think I failed in practicing it. 

So after lunch, which ended up turning out good even with me helping with it, all the boys went back out to work on the church, and Beth, Jean, Timoteo (their 12 year old son) and I went to the school and did some more work there.  As I had mentioned before, Beth and Clay had been cutting and uprooting the prickly blackberry bush thingies.  So we went back to pick up their piles and wheel them over to a big burn pile just outside of the school property.  When we started this, there was nothing else on the burn pile.  Just the stuff that we were dumping there.  So that took a good little chunk of time, because they cut a lot of that stuff out.  And after we were done I was like, “Cool.  That didn’t take too long.  It looks so much better.  Now we can go home.”  Yeah.  I was WAY wrong.  Lol

After we picked up those piles, we headed over to the edge of the school property where there were these big, prickly bush/tree thingies growing.  I’m serious.  These things were massive and nasty.  And Timoteo said that we needed to cut all those down and out.  I’m thinking……WHAT?!  All we had was a wheelbarrow, 5 gloves (not pairs….just 5 gloves), a hatchet, and a scythe.  And I mean, I really wish I had my camera there so I could show you guys what these horrible things looked like.  They were like 6-7 ft tall and like 5 ft in diameter each.  And they HURT.  I mean, this is no little evergreen with a little bendy prickly things.  No, this was short, hard prickles covering the entire thing.  AWESOME.  And it was the kind of bush/tree thingy that doesn’t just have a trunk and branches attached to it.  Its like, all the hundreds of branches are in the ground, making it have like a hundred little trunks.  HORRIBLE. 

So we got started on these horrible monsters, and it was difficult.  Jeano got a little part started, and we just went from there.  Timoteo, Jean and I just took turn whacking at the branches, and then when we got them off, Beth and Ezekiel (their 8 year old son) hauled them over to the burn pile.  By this time, it was like 4 in the afternoon or so.  And it was HOT.  Whacking at things for long periods of time takes energy, and by the time we got the first beast killed, we were sweating and in need for water.  Granted, I was the sweatiest.  What’s new?  I seem to have an abnormal amount of liquid inside of me.  Reminded me of basketball practices.  Bet you missed my slimy arms this year, didn’t you, girls?  Heehee.  Gross.  But anywho.  We kept going.  The first horrible bush thing we attacked was solo.  But the rest of these terrible things were in a huge clump.  And that is when it started.  The war began. 

We paused, made up our minds that victory was ours, and began doing the unthinkable: CHOPPING DOWN THE FOREST OF DEATH WITH A DULL HATCHET.  (cue loud, ominous music).

Ok.  That was me getting my dramaticness out.  Thanks for sticking with me.  But anywho.  We started on this huge clump of them.  They were like…..all growing together.  It was crazy.  And kind of painful actually.  Jean still has some splinters in her fingers….a week later.  Not cool.  We found 3 soccer balls, a tennis ball, and a chair inside of these awful trees of pain.  And it took a LONG time.  We were working on them for a good 2 hours.  It was crazy and hot and just hard.  And it really showed me what a wimp I am.  Haha.  I need to get back into doing pushups.  I have no muscle.  But yeah.  We had like 1.5 of of the beginning 8 left to do and it was almost 7 o’clock; Timoteo said that we should get going back to the house.  This was kinda of depressing and defeating and at the same time exactly what I wanted to hear.  I really wish we could have finished with those stupid things, but I don’t know how much more swinging I could do with that dull blade.  So we just called it a day and returned. 

When we got back, supper was almost ready.  Then after dinner, we started talking and got on the topic of personal testimonies.  Now, we have been waiting for the past 4 months to hear E’s story.  But, he was making us wait until we were halfway through, and now we are just waiting for a good time to do it.  He doesn’t like to share it a lot; he says it is ugly.  So he didn’t share his, but all of us went around and shared our stories.  And it was really good.  Spanish makes things harder, but it was a good challenge.  It felt good to be able to share something personal and have Chilenos understand it, even though it wasn’t perfect grammar and stuff.  And then we got to hear some of Antonio’s story, and that was super interesting.  God is big and powerful and still does miracles today! 

Then the next day, the boys went to a field and built a barbed wire fence, Beth was helping with lunch, and Jeano and I went to pick apples.  Now, there is a story that I have just been so eager to share.  It just makes me laugh because it is so….ironic.  Ok, so we were picking apples, and at one point, Jean climbed the tree a little to grab some of the high ones and throw them down to me.  If you know Jean at all, this is not abnormal at all.  She LOVES climbing trees.  So she gets all of the ones that she can reach and then came down.  But there was one problem.  She was stuck.  Now, when most people say they are stuck in a tree, they mean that they have gone too high and can’t get back down.  This was not the case, and if you know Jean, you know that would NEVER happen to her.  No challenge is too difficult for her.  She is fearless, and I really do love that about her.  It makes me kind of jealous actually.  So anywho.  Jean is stuck in the tree….literally.  One of her feet was on the ground, but her other one was hoisted in the air, wedged in between two branches.  She’s like, “Oh, great,” and began trying to yank it out.  The sight of her awkwardly trying to free her foot was very funny, so I was chuckling to myself and saying something along the lines of, “You would, Jeano.”  So I went back to my apple picking after a little and continued to talk.  I can’t remember what I was saying, but whatever it was didn’t require much answering from her.  She replied with little words or whatever, but I just kept on talking and picking.  When I had gotten some more apples, I finally turned around, and there was Jean, repositioning herself and grunting, still stuck in the tree!  I lost it.  I mean, she had been stuck in there for over a minute at least.  And her attempts to free herself were futile.  And finally, as I stood there laughing, she asked for my assistance.  So I went over there and told her to knock off her yanking.  We shoved her shoe forward and were then able to lift it out pretty easily.  That’s why we are a team.  I do the thinking and analyzing, and she does the acting and doing.  It was just so funny.  2 minutes of being stuck in a tree….on the ground.  Baha.  I love you, Jeano.  I really do.  Thanks for being you, a best friend :]  But, I gotta say.  I really wish I had had a camera to capture the moment :p

So anywho.  After we finished that, we headed back to the house.  There were a few blackberry vine thingies to remove there, so we worked on that for a little.  And pretty soon, it was time for lunch.  By the time we had everything cleaned and packed up, it was about time to say goodbye and head out.  Luckily, we will be going back there again to cut down a tree and chop firewood, so we didn’t have to say goodbye forever.  It had been a really great trip, and they were such a blessing to have as hosts.  It was just a very encouraging trip, and I am very thankful for it. 

When we left, we waited on the beach for a boat for about an hour.  And around 5 o’clock, it came and picked us up.  The trip was again, pretty uneventful.  Although, after we got to Calbuco, we had to climb a GINORMOUS hill to find a bus.  This slope was intense.  I mean, it was VERY steep.   I would hate to walk up and down that sidewalk every day.  But other than that, there is nothing else really worth mentioning about the trip. 

The next morning, we got to sleep in :]  Yay for sleep!  Then the boys went to someone’s house to work on their house, Beth…..was doing something that I can’t remember, and Jean and I went with Juanita and the kids to visit Anita.  Nothing too exciting.  But, what is yet to come in this story is VERY exciting :]  So stick with me.

So, while we were in Bariloche for vacation about a month ago, we met some very cool people at our hostile.  One girl we met was Rebekah from Australia.  She is 19 and tall, pretty, adventurous, sweet, and has the best accent ever :]  We talked to her a lot in our down time there, and by the time we left, we had exchanged facebook information and even thoughts of her coming to stay with us on her way back up Chile.  You see, Rebekah is backpacking around South America.  She started off at the end of November and had been traveling with her older sister, but then her sister went back home, and Rebekah has been traveling solo ever since.  She had been making her way down, and once she reached the end of Chile, was going to come back up and stop in and see us maybe.  That’s cool, I thought to myself.  But I never really thought anything would come of it. 

Well, long story short, through communicating with Jean through facebook, she actually planned to meet us in Puerto Montt that night.  So, after our visit, we headed to town and met our friend.  Now, God was totally in all of this.  There were complications in dates and trips and just a bunch of details, but Jean really felt like this was supposed to work.  So between her and Rebekah, they made a plan, and it finally pulled through.  You see, when we met Rebekah in Bariloche, she had told us she had gone to a Protestant church in Australia, but that now she didn’t know what she believed.  At this point, we hadn’t heard very much of her story, but we knew she was confused and searching for truth. 

In all of this, I didn’t have the best attitude.  I mean, I liked Rebekah, but I just felt like we were forcing this to happen too much.  Oh, man.  I was way off base, and I realize that now.  Thank you, Jean, for loving me even in all my faults and wrong comments, and thank You, Jesus, for forgiving my horrible attitude and having mercy on me. 

So, we got to town and found Rebekah waiting there, just like they had planned.  It was good to see her again.  We had a few errands to do in town, so we just did some catching up while we walked around.  Also, it was Nacho’s birthday.  Nacho is like my little brother.  I love the kid.  We always pick on each other and fight, but its fun.  He really is like the younger brother I will never have.  So we were going to have a special dinner for him that night and whatever.  The kid doesn’t like cake (which makes no sense to me at all), so we were roasting chicken on the pit out back.  We had to get some vegetables for salads, and try to find something to get him for his birthday. 

Well, Rebekah came prepared.  She made some desert, an herby bread, and even bought Nacho some really good chocolate for his birthday.  She is just so sweet and thoughtful.  And the girl can cook.  She loves it, and so do we :]  She made a meal for us on Bariloche once as well. 

So anywho.  She hung out with us and was going to spend the night at our house and leave sometime the next morning.  As we hung out with her more and talked, it was obvious how hungry she was for truth and answers.  And again, long story short, she is still here with us today.  It has been a crazy change of plans, but God is WORKING.  It has been amazing to see the ways He has orchestrated everything.  I am blown away.  And yeah.  Let me give you a few details and random facts on everything. 

The first two nights she was here, Jeano and I shared my twin sized bed.  This is the 3rd time we have slept in a bed made for one person.  And on my bed, it is even more of a challenge.  It is just a quirky one.  But since then, we have got a mattress from E and J for her to use. 

Since she has been here, she has been cooking most of our meals.  The girl is GOOD.  She makes delicious, new, interesting things that are usually pretty healthy.  And, the cool thing about it is that a lot of times, she selflessly makes things that she herself cannot eat.  She can’t eat anything with glutton in it.  But she has only had this problem for a few months as she has been traveling.  The reasoning for this is somewhat complicated, but basically, she loves all normal food, but she just cant have it without her stomach being seriously messed up.  But, despite all of this, she makes DELICIOUS food for us to eat.  And its new and different things!  Its been quite a blessing to have her here. 

She is so sweet.  Constantly, she is doing things to help out.  After church on Sunday, she had a talk with E, and basically she is going to stay with us for as long as she needs.  She is searching.  She has a lot of hurt in her past and so many questions.  Good, but hard questions.  And she is basically at the place of needing to chose to surrender her life to Christ, or give up on Him and try new things.  I mean, she has been trying new things along the way, but none of them are giving her the satisfaction she is looking for.  And she is so hungry and curious.  It has been just so……awesome. 

It’s really hard to explain the whole situation.  Hopefully next post I will have a better understanding of everything as well.  And I will keep you guys updated.  I am just very excited and expectant at this point.  Nothing definite has happened yet since she has been here, but she is teaching me so much!  It has been awesome.  I will just share a little bit on this. 

Basically, I have been forced to figure out what it is that I believe and share it in a way that another person can understand.  And in my sheltered life, this is like the first time I have done this.  There was one time when it was just Rebekah and I, and we had such a good talk!  I just realized how much more I need to step out and faith and talk to people like this.  I cannot keep quiet.  And I need to be able to effectively share my experiences with the Lover of my soul.  You know?  I have just been made very aware of this.  And it has been so good. 

Also, I have just really been shown how important it is for me to be living a life that is in line with what I say I believe.  This is a critical point in Rebekah’s life.  She is searching, but she has been with Christians before.  She knows what Christianity is about, but she has not been given a picture of what it looks like to live it out.  She has been let down, hurt, and just broken by people who say they love Jesus.  And it has really struck me how important it is for me to live out what I say I am all about.  I am sorry.  I cant seem to find the words I am looking for in describing this.  But, the point is, I am learning lots of stuff about myself in having her stay with us.  And it has been really good for me.  God has worked all of this out, and I am just blown away by the perfectness of our Creator.  He is AWESOME. 

So, as this journey continues, I would really appreciate if you guys could keep my team and Rebekah in your prayers.  God is working, and Satan is mad.  He wants to turn her away.  Please pray that we can give a genuine, accurate picture of what following Jesus is all about, and for open and tender hearts and ears to hear and feel when the Spirit is stirring. 

Now, I apologize.  I know this post is SUPER long already.  I am on page 9 of a Word document.  Yea……CRAZY LONG!  And I am sorry….I think.  Actually.  I don’t think I am.  You have a choice.  You don’t need to read this, and you can quit whenever you want to.  But, it is about to get a little longer.  This is where it gets really personal.  This is my heart.  And I just….I need to sort through it and share.  So, proceed with caution if you dare. 

But ok.  Wow.  Today has been INTENSE in my mind.  Really.  This is crazy.  And I just have to spill all of my thoughts to sort them out.  So here we go. 

This morning I woke up at 6 to do my quiet time.  And I always start with picking a picture on my wall and praying for the people in it.  So I was doing that, and then I just kept going.  My plan had been to read some more of Psalms and then journal some thoughts maybe, but once I brought up my future plans and started asking Him which college He was leading me to, I just got nailed with a thought and then began battling with God.  The thought was, “Since when did I lead you to college?”  It’s a simple thought really, but man, it is rocking my world. 

You know, this whole time I have been saying, “Lord, I will go wherever You lead me.  I mean it.  Just point me in the direction You would have me go.”  But really, in my mind I have been thinking, “Just tell me which college it is that You want me to go to, and I will do it.”  I mean, I knew that there might be other options for things He would want me to do, but I have been rationalizing in my head and basically been trying to reason my way out of it subconsciously. 

I think things like, “God wouldn’t have given me the ability to receive scholarships and then just let them go to waste.”  Or “I really have a desire to learn, and God will use that.”  How arrogant!  I mean seriously, Kirsten.  You are acting like you know how God thinks and can predict what He wants! 

This whole time I have felt clueless as to where God wanted me to go.  I had it in my mind that God wanted me to go to college, because I want to go to college.  I kept saying, “Say the word, God, and I will go to whichever one.”  And you know what?  I have felt no persuasion towards either.  And honestly, I would really enjoy either.  They are very different, but I think that is why I would like both of them a lot.  And so I have been asking God to point me to His choice and I will follow.  I’ve felt nothing. 

So all of this has been happening over the last few months.  And this whole time I have thought that I have until May 1st to decide on a college.  Then I thought I only had until April 1st.  But now I think it is back to May 1st.  And I was like…..freaking out here for about 5 days. 

So here I am, sitting in my bed, arguing with God.  He stumps me with His question.  Let me remind you.  “Since when did I lead you to college?”  So I remind Him of the ability He gave me and my desire to learn.  And then, He reminds me that there are many places and ways to learn things and lots of things to learn.  Why would I need a college?  Then I was back with, “Well, what about scholarships?!”  “And what about them?” He said. 

Now, let me interject something here.  Throughout this whole process, I have known that God doesn’t really care about finance situations.  He is WAY above them.  His ways and thoughts are far above ours.  I know this!  And I believe it.  I really do.  But, I have been so selfish and na├»ve in my thinking.  I may not have meant to, but I put God into a box.  And now, I am realizing that He just can’t fit.  He is far too big and brilliant for me. 

He basically just stripped me right down to the real motivations of my heart.  All along, I thought I was really seeking the will of God.  I honestly thought I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be.  But He showed me that what I was really doing was pursuing my desires and asking Him to bless them.  I have been planning my future and then asking God where He wants me to go between my options.  And the root of this problem is a lack of surrendering.  …….eeeeek. 

Yep.  That was a slap in the face.  He is asking for my everything, and I have been holding on.  Sure, I have given Him some things.  And shoot.  I thought I had given Him my future.  But I was WAY wrong.  I gave Him the easy part of my future, but I have been holding on very tightly to my selfish desires.  And, as of this morning, He made it very clear that unless I hand it all over to Him, I cannot expect to get an answer in direction from Him. 

Now, I know that being in the center of His will is the best place to be.  My head KNOWS that.  It even believes that.  But, my heart doesn’t want to let go.  I am scared, and I am scared to admit that I am scared.  I know what I want my next year to look like.  And the thought of not having those wants met is scary to me.  But, I don’t want to voice these things because I don’t want Him to take them away.  But He knows me better than I know myself!  He made me!  Stop being dumb, Kirsten.  He knows exactly what you want.  He knows you want to be close to home.  He knows you want to be involved in your family life again.  He knows you don’t want to miss Kaley’s senior year or Kloe’s basketball games anymore.  He knows you want to help kids.  He even knows you want to get involved in outreach opportunities close to home.   And that is all fine and dandy.  But, its not what my life is about. 

The Bible clearly says that as disciples of God, we are not promised the luxury of home.  It also says that anyone who loves his father or mother more than Him is not worthy of Him.  …..Wow. 

“What do you have to say to that, Kirsten?”  He is asking me.  “What are you going to decide?”

And so here I am.  I know the truth.  I know that free falling into the arms of my Savior and giving Him EVERYTHING is the best choice.  And I also know that it is the scariest.  I also know that this whole experience, this WHOLE Reach experience, has had a theme of faith for me.  That is the reason I applied in the first place.  I wanted to increase my faith and strengthen my foundation.  And now, here is my opportunity.  The ultimate test of faith.  GIVE.  IT.  UP. 

And as I sit here typing this, I just yet another slap to the face.  I have my iPod turned to Tenth Avenue North.  I love their sound.  They are soothing and genuine and real and powerful in their lyrics.  And as I typed the previous paragraph, I listened to the words of the song playing in my ear, and I am moved to tears.  God, you win. 

The song is Let It Go by Tenth Avenue North.  PLEASE listen to it.  Or just read the lyrics at least.  I am amazed by my Creator.  He is speaking to me in the clearest way I have ever heard in my entire life.  Today, March 27, 2012, has been a very monumental day in my life.  And I mean this very seriously.  This is….this is God.  And He is personal and unique and perfect.  He is all knowing, and I just can’t help but stand in awe of His Majesty.  Here is the link for the song.  And here is the link for the lyrics.
And it doesn’t stop there.  After I had this battle with God, I was talking with Jean and Rebekah about it all.  And then I began to read my book.  Now, this book has been on my mind for the past week or two.  I LOVE it, and I have been suggesting it to lots of people.  And I am not even finished with it yet!  It is just so full of Truth and Power.  Its called The Bravehearted Gospel by Eric Ludy.  READ IT.  I am not kidding.  It will put passion in your bones.  I am usually not very into books like it.  Most of the time, the writers just go over my head, and I cant follow what they are saying.  But this book……it is speaking to me.  So after I tried to explain what was happening in my head to Jean and Rebekah, I picked up this book and started reading.  And not one minute after I started, this is what I read: We don’t want to face the facts that the Christian life isn’t about me, about my wants, about meeting my desires, or about stroking my flesh.  It’s about Jesus Christ and a radical abandon to His wants, His desires, and adoring the love and power found only in His name. 


So that is where I am at.  I have just spent this time in brokenness at His feet.  And I did it.  I gave it up.  It is not worth me holding onto.  HE is EVERYTHING I need.  He said let it go.  And I finally did.  So whether it seems stupid to the world, whether I end up in Bulgaria next year, whether I work at Der Dutchman the rest of my life, I am going where He wants.  Not my desires, but His.  HE MUST BECOME GREATER; I MUST BECOME LESS!  This is my favorite verse, and I feel as though I finally understand what it truly means.  John 3:30. 

Also, in all of this, I realize He never actually said to me that college was outside of His will.  He was just questioning my loyalty and surrender.  I have NO idea if college is where He wants me or not.  It could be….it could not me.  All I know is that He is asking me to wait on Him and His timing and abandon all of my selfish desires for the sake of following Him, and I’m in. 

So, as I have just unloaded my heart here, I am feeling a couple of things. 
1.       Joy.  I honestly feel so full of just complete joy right now.  I have absolutely no idea what the future is going to be for me.  None.  Not a clue.  But, I know that my life is in the hands of the Creator of the Universe, and that is where it is supposed to be.
2.       Peace.  Like I am finally where I am supposed to be….inside of His will.  And it feels good.  SO GOOD. 
3.       Ready.  I know that I have just waged a massive war on my soul.  The devil is going to be doing everything he can to get me to grab on again.  But I don’t want to.  No way. 

Woah.  This has been a crazy post!  I am awestruck.  I really am.  But I just ask right now that you keep me in your prayers right now.  Pray that God would give me the strength and courage to rest in His arms.  Faith.  I need to actively practice faith.  In each and every moment of every day.  And I just ask that you pray that I would know how to approach the future.  Now that I have truly dedicated myself to go to wherever He calls, I know that I have to be watching and listening for His voice.  But I am not sure I know how to do this without mixing my selfishness with His path.  And I need to practice patience in waiting for His leading, but I also need to be thinking about the next couple of months, as decisions do have to be made on colleges and work, whether I say yes or no. 

So yeah.  I just want to thank you all profusely for sticking with me, if you are still reading this.  This was a hard thing to do, but at the same time, I don’t think I could have sorted it all without doing this.  I guess I wouldn’t have to post it in a blog, but I think that it is my duty sort of.  If God can at all use what I have just experienced to touch the life of someone reading this, then that is all that matters.  So thank you all for your support, encouragement and prayers.  I will be keeping you all updated on everything going on over here.  Hopefully by my next post I will have more information on the Roberto situation, Hopey’s puppies, Rebekah, and even my position in the world.  But, if not, then I know God’s timing is best.  I love you all so much.  Thank you and GOD BLESS!!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Catching up

She did it!  Our Hopey did it!  She finally popped :]  we now have 2 minis in our cardboard box.  But, its not all good news.  You see, we don’t know exactly how many she had, but we do know that there are 2 in her stomach that will never be coming out as puppies.   …..she ate them.  It was…awful.  But, I guess that is what happens to stillborns?  Let’s go back to being excited tho.  The first one she had we decided to name Patrick, since it was born on St. Patrick’s Day.  I also thought that Douglas would be a good name for him.  Distinguished and all, ya know?  So Patrick Douglas….PD for short, which sounds like Petey :D  the second one is white and looks like a little rat pig.  So Piglet :]  Now, we haven’t actually discussed these names officially, and we also don’t know what gender they are, so the names are very likely to change.  But for now in my brain they are Hopey, Petey, and Piglet, the happy little family.  I am not sure how the little guys are going to last the winter, but I really hope they make it.  And don’t worry.  I’ll keep you all updated on our pet situation each week :]

Now, for some more pointless information, today we bought a ping pong table.  They LOVE ping pong.  And I have to say.  They are VERY good.  Nacho and E are like ping pong ninjas.  E looks like a boxer when he plays, jumping around and grunting every now and then.  So hopefully I get better while I am here.  Look out, Skylar.  I am finally gonna beat you :]

But ok.  Now for some real business.  I am having a hard time remembering what the last thing I posted about is.  And its been a little while.  The past 2 weeks have been….very different.  And its going to be kinda hard to explain, so get ready. 

Ok.  So last weekend we went to Chiloe, but the Thursday before that, E left to go diving for some work.  He got back on Friday night, and we left early Saturday morning for Chiloe.  It was our whole team minus Beth, and 12 other people.  Yeah.  Big group.  Beth stayed back to keep an eye on Nacho, Diego, and Johan who weren’t going for a lack of room.  So we took 2 vehicles to get there.  Fernando, his wife Cati, and his daughter Jasmine (8), plus Anais (12 year old daughter of Roberto) and our whole team rode in the infamous truck/van thingy.  The back had a bench seat and a mattress on the ground for us to sit on.  Jeff drove, and it was actually not that uncomfortable.  Nothing compared to our Concepcion trip.  In the other car, a 4 door Mazda, was E, J, Elizabet, Josue, Mirian (3), Roberto, his wife Anita, and Maria.  The trunk was PACKED with our luggage and sleeping bags.  Their ride was definitely worse than ours.

But anywho.  The trip takes like 5.5 hours driving, but on the way there, we made quite a few stops, attempting to visit people.  First, we stopped in Castro, the middle of Chiloe, and basically stretched our legs, snapped some pics, and used some bathrooms.  At this point, we asked # if we should buy food for lunch, but he told us that we would get food in a different city.  No biggie.  So we drive some more and end up going to another missionary family’s house.  That was a good visit.  They could speak English :]  and yeah.  It was just a very encouraging visit.  Then we drove some more and went to visit E’s dad.  He wasn’t home, so we went to a stadium place thing.  E and Roberto went inside for awhile and talked with him.  We were all chilling in the cars and by this time, I was VERY hungry, restless, and in desperate need of a bathroom.  It was about 3:30 and all I had eaten was cereal at 7am and a few cookies and crackers.  So after that, we went to try and find E’s brother.  He also wasn’t home, so we gave up and decided to keep going.  Now, this was the city that we were supposed to get lunch form.  But since the visits took longer than anticipated, we were just going to wait til we got to our final destination to eat.  Great.  Luckily tho, we did stop to use the bathroom.

So we finally get to this house at like 6.  It was Fernando’s brother’s house, and it was NICE.  The outside didn’t look like much, but the inside was great.  The nicest house we have been in so far.  And they had hot water!  When we first got there, the family was not there.  But we settled ourselves right in and started making dinner.  A little over an hour later, we were eating a delicious rice and meat mixture.  So good.  Granted, a plastic bottle would have prolly tasted pretty good at this point (ok nto quite…I just like to be dramatic), but really, it was delicious.  Then, around 8 or so, E, Jeff, Roberto, Fernando, his brother (who did end up arriving with his wife and little son), Cati, and I left to visit a house of a man with terminal cancer.  I was VERY intimated by this.  What do you say to someone with a terminal illness?  And, at this point, we didn’t think he was a Christian.  But, we went, and it ended up being a very good visit.  E did most of the talking and the guy knows just what to say.  Also, we are pretty sure the guy was a Christian.  He was just filled with questions which is quite understandable.  But yeah.  It was very good.  We left around 10:30 and by the time we got back to the house, I was pretty tired.

So by about midnight, 8 girls were sleeping in 1 room.  Yes.  8.  There were Jean, Anais, Jasmine, and I on the floor, Mirian, Anita, and Cati on the bed, and Maria, squished on the floor between the bed and dresser.  Haha.  It was pretty great.  We were jolted awake twice by the sound of Mirian screaming for no real reason, and since I was sleeping right by the door to the room, I had about 3 times of being hit as someone got up to go to the bathroom.  That was fun.  But all in all, I did actually sleep pretty good. 

The next morning, we got up and had some bread and coffee for breakfast.  Then we basically just sat around and were getting ready to put on a little church service at the terminal cancer guy’s house.  That sounds awful, but I honestly cant remember his name.  So we went back there and ended up having a really great mini service in their living room.  Cati and Jeff played for worship and E gave the message.  It was nice to be able to see them again.  We actually want to go back to them again before we leave if we have time.  I really hope we do.  They said over and over how encouraged they were to have us there, and it was just a really great visit.  I enjoyed it a lot. 

I forgot a chunk of information back there.  Before we left for the TC guy’s house, we found out that Maria and Roberto’s 30 year old sister who has been battling cancer for the past 10 years just made a turn for the worse.  She lives in Santiago, which is like 12 hours from Puerto Montt, so when we finished the service at the house, we ate lunch as fast as possible, and then headed out.  We left at 4 o’clock and got back around 9.  It was a pretty uneventful trip back.  We did have some laughs in our vehicle, teaching Fernando how to say fart since he wanted to know.  Haha.  The guy is just funny.  But other than that, nothing too interesting happened.

When we got back to Alerce, the goodbyes were pretty fast.  Roberto, Maria, and E were going to head out for Santiago that night, so they quickly got ready to leave.  But when they got to the bus station, they realized that it was like 10 dollars cheaper per person to wait until 8 the next morning.  So that is what they decided to do.  We found out that next day, a Monday, that Roberto’s sister did end up dying, and that they were too late to see her. 

Now, you see.  This whole situation just looks kinda impossible to our human brains.  Their sister was still young herself.  And she has two little kids, between the ages of 2 and 4.  Her husband apparently has something mentally wrong with him, so he can not take care of the kids.  And her parents just don’t know if they can handle it either.  We still do not know exactly what is happening with the whole situation.  All I know is that God’s ways are higher than anything we can imagine and greater than what we could ever orchestrate.  Trust and unwavering faith in this truth is all that we can do.  God always keeps His promises, and we know that He works everything out for the good of those who love Him.  And Roberto’s sister did in fact love Jesus.  And she is now in a MUCH better place than here on Earth.  So yeah.  Anita and all of their kids ended up going to Santiago Tuesday morning.  It has just been a very hard time here.  So if you all could please just keep that family in your prayers, that would be AWESOME.  I have no doubt that God is going to do something beautiful through this situation.   We just need to have faith, patience and confidence in our All-Powerful Savior. 

So this is getting a little confusing a realize.  The problem is that all of this happened about 2 weeks ago.  The limited computer time makes blogging difficult sometimes, but I will be getting caught up on everything in the next week.  So expect another post in the next week as well.  My apologies though.  I am trying to wrap this one up so that I can start fresh with my new thoughts and news on what we have been doing recently.  I feel like my head is so full and jumbled with too many thoughts right now.  So I just need a fresh start. 

Basically, the next few days while E was still gone, we just did some more visiting and little projects around the house.  He usually runs the show and makes the plan for our team.  So life with him gone was a little more difficult.  There were a lot more opportunities for us to just study the Word and look for outreach opportunities on our own.  We picked up trash around the area 2 days and thought of some people that we could visit, but nothing too exciting happened during this time.  E had been gone from home for like a week straight basically, except for a few hours of him sleeping and packing to leave the next day.  So when he got back on Friday, he just took some time to rest which was very good.  The guy is a machine.  I admire him so much.  Nothing gets in the way of him ministering to others.  He is a real, passionate Jesus follower that I have learned so much from.  I am so thankful that we can have him as our coordinator.  It is quite the privilege. 

Some more pointless information would include that I got my first Chilean hair salon experience that week.  I went in just to get it trimmed and cleaned up.  I mean, who doesn’t love a hair cut?  They really are very therapeutic for me.  I just love em.  So I went in, but its kind of hard to explain what you want when you don’t speak the same language, and I basically just ended up telling her that I still wanted it long and the “points” cut.  Well, she did what she wanted with it, and it isn’t terrible, although I don’t really think I would call it a “trim”.  Haha.  I got some pretty extreme layers going on right now.  So I guess you could still say it is “long”, but by the time you get to the shortest layer, it is quite short.  O well.  It’s Chile, it was cheap, and it was an experience. 

Also, I have officially lost my first fingernail.  The week before we were moving firewood, and Clay was pushing the wheelbarrow.  There is about a 2 inch jump from dirt to sidewalk at E’s house, so I was grabbing the front of the wheelbarrow to help pull it up which was successful the 2 other times we did it, but this time, Clay accidentally went forward instead of up with his end, and my finger got jammed in between the metal bar and concrete slab.  It didn’t hang on for too long.  There was a lot of air under my nail, so finally, while we were in Chiloe, I decided to just speed up the inevitable.  And now, I have a hotdog looking nub for one of my fingers :]  It is really unattractive.  I have come to the conclusion that with all of my nicks and scars on my hands, that an arm amputee would have a better shot at being a hand model than me.  But o well.  At least my hands still work :]

And now for one more bit of exciting news.  Mail day happened last week.  Mail day here is quite interesting.  I think that it is about every 3 weeks that a mail man comes around and delivers mail here in Alerce.  Now big packages, you have to pick up from the post office.  But letters and small packages get delivered to the door.  It is quite a mystery when that will happen though.  But I guess that is just how life is without mail boxes.  So anywho, mail day happened, and I would just like to give a quick shout out to my friends Rachel, Carrie, Liz, Brittany, Nut, and Janelle.  You guys are pretty much the greatest ever.  And I am being sincere.  Thank you all so much for blessing me and showing me how much you care.  I was quite emotional as I was looking at all my goodies and reading your notes.  Made me miss you all SO MUCH.  And I am just so blessed to have you all in my life.  I love you guys.  Also, thank you Aunt Mae for your card.  It was just such a huge blessing to get all of that encouragement and news from home.  Cant wait to have one of your delicious butterfinger milkshakes when I return :]

Guys, can you believe that I have less than 2 months left here??  It is crazy!  We just got our schedule this morning for the rest of our time here, and it is going to FLY by.  With all the trips that we still have to take, I am realizing just how precious our time here in Alerce really is.  I am so excited to see what God has in store for the last month and 3 weeks here, but it is scary at the same time.  I need to make the most of every single opportunity here and soak up as much culture and Truth as I can while I still have the time here.  Also, I know it is just going to be so hard to leave all the amigos we have made.  I really cant spend too long thinking about it without getting quite depressed.  And with this realization of how few our days left here are, I have been made aware of just how quickly my approaching decisions need to be made.  So here comes the part of this post for specific things I would love prayer for:
-        -  God’s eyes and heart for the ways that I personally can reach out here and take initiative with on my own
-        -  Guidance on what the future holds for me.  I have some pretty big decisions to be making about what college God has planned for me to attend, or even if that is His will.  I want to do exactly what He has purposed for my life, and I don’t want my own thoughts and preferences to get in the way of where He is trying to lead me.  So prayer for ridding myself of my own preferences and really seeking His will would be great. 
-        -  Roberto and his family.  God is so much bigger than any problem we are facing.  Pray for comfort and peace in the situation and that God would use this to bring more people to Himself. 
-         -  My upcoming sermon.  I will be preaching on the 15th of April.  Just pray that I allow God to guide my words and have Him speak through me.  And that I use my time wisely here in planning for it, seeing as to how we have some trips in between now and then and my history with procrastination :]
-        -  A continued increase of stepping out in faith.  I am learning so much during this time, and faith is a huge part of that.  in my next post, I will be talking more about some things that have been on my heart recently and the things that I have been learning. 
-        -  Also, I would love continued prayers for our team.  Just more unity and a united vision for what God has for us here.  Patience and love are huge. 
Thank you all so much for all of your support and love throughout this whole experience.  You guys are incredible, and I pray that God would bless you for the huge blessing you have been in my life.  Thank you all for showing me in practical ways that you care.  It means more than you will ever know.  I love you guys. 

I don’t even know what I should call this post.  I feel like it is all over the place and very scattered.  But like I said, next week I will be posting again and catching up.  Being behind and trying to recall past events is hard, especially when I feel like the things on my mind have changed and grown from then.  So yeah.  Stay tuned for a hopefully better look inside my brain and life here. 

And before I go, I will leave you with one more thing.  The song of the post this week is Always by Switchfoot.  Just a great song that I have loved for a long time and that I listened too again recently on a bus ride.  Soothing and filled with truth. Enjoy and God bless!  

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Islands and Mountains and Argentina....oh my! part 3

Hey guys!  So, I am officially halfway through with outreach.  I have been for a few weeks I think actually.  But isn’t that crazy!  It has been FLYING by.  I can not believe I only have 2.5 months left here!  As you guys know, we took a vacation to Argentina for 6 days last week.  It was so good to just relax and get some things done that have been piling up on my personal to do list.  And it was just a great time to refocus and prepare for the last leg of this great adventure.   So I will fill you all in a little bit :]

On Tuesday morning, we all met at E’s house for prayer for our little trip.  Then we headed out and caught the bus to Puerto Montt at around 7.15.  Let me add just a little detail here.  When I came to Chile, I had one suitcase and a backpack.  That is it!  I was actually pretty proud of myself.  Granted, these two things were very full, but I knew that I would be leaving some stuff here and then I would have room for the souvenirs I would be buying.  So anywho.  Since I only brought  those two clothes carrying items with me, I only had those to use for Argentina.  And I decided that I was not even going to try to pack ultra light in my backpack for a 6 day vacation.  Just wasn’t going to happen.  So I ended up taking the same amount of stuff for 6 days as I did for 6 months.  It felt a little bit ridiculous, but it all worked out in the end.  The bus into Puerto Montt was a bit crazy with all my crap everywhere and people trying to find room to sit around me, but we managed.

We got to the bus station a little before 8, and our bus didn’t depart until 8.30.  So this gave us plenty of time to chill and watch the other travelers around us.  Most of us did this inconspicuously, but some of us (cough Jean cough) like to be a little more adventurous and stand on chairs to watch others.  This was a little bit funny.  I am pretty sure everyone saw the crazy gringa who was watching for a pickpocketer to steal so she could save the day.  Heehee. 

So anyway.  We got all situated on the bus and started the voyage to Bariloche, Argentina.   After a few hours, we reached the Chilean border and had to get out and formally leave the country.  This was a nice little break, seeing as to how we had been sitting for quite some time.  I enjoy bus rides tho, and spent my time sleeping and listening to music.  Then, we got back in the bus and drove for a little before having to do it all over again, only this time we were formally entering Argentina.  Luckily, our bus went directly from Puerto Montt to Bariloche, so we didn’t have to go through the hassle of unloading all of our luggage and finding another bus.  So we then spent another 2 hours or so on our way to Bariloche.   Thankfully we made it there without any incidents.  When we left the bus for the last time in Bariloche, it was about 5.30. 

As we were waiting for the bus that would take us to our hostile about 10 minutes outside of downtown, a woman asked us where we were from….IN ENGLISH!  She was from Canada and her name was Darcy, and she had just been traveling South America for the past few months.  And as we talked to her for a few minutes, we found out that she was heading to the same hostile as we were!  Looking back, this was truly a miracle.  And I’ll tell you why.  Bariloche is a VERY touristy city.  Just a quaint, pretty city with lots of shops and hotels and hostiles EVERYWHERE.  So the fact that she was going to the same one as us was just crazy!  And, there is another reason that it was a miracle.  We had directions for which bus we needed to take to get us to the stop that we needed.  So we get to that point.  And we started walking down this road that the hostile is on….or so we thought.  At this point, it was drizzling and we had all of our luggage and we had no idea where this hostile was, and it was just starting to look a bit ridiculous.  But thankfully, Darcy had a pamphlet with specific instructions with how to get there, and after taking a few more side roads, we managed to find our hostile.  Honestly, we would have been screwed without her as a guide.  I don’t know what we would have done. 

So then we get to our cute little hostile.  It was…perfect!  We had our own room of 6 beds, so we didn’t have to be split up.  It was warm in the hostile and very clean.  There were over a hundred movies that we could watch whenever.  Wifi was free and there were 2 desktops available to use.  The kitchen was very spacious and equipped with quite a lot of stuff to use for dishes.  We had HOT SHOWERS!!!! (I have now had 7 hot showers since being in Chile :]) And, the owner of the hostile spoke really good English!  It was such a blessing!  He helped us so much, and it was so good to be able to understand him perfectly.  Actually, while we were in Bariloche, we spoke SO MUCH English.  It was great!  There were so many tourists and we met some really cool people at our hostile, and it was just good to give our brains a little break and communicate without thinking so much of how to say what we wanted. 

Basically, Beth is AWESOME and did a FANTASTIC job at planning our vacation.  It was such a relaxing time.  That first night, we went to a pizza place like 5 minutes from our hostile.  It was really good!  We picked some random pizzas, and although they weren’t your typical “American” pizzas, they were still really good.  Mom, you should be proud of me.  I ate whole slices of tomatoes on the pizza, and it wasn’t even awful.  As I have mentioned before, this experience has been stretching me so much in practically every area of my life, and food is no exception.  I have learned to eat just about anything, and although I don’t prefer some things, they aren’t really as bad as they used to be for me.  There’s the random tidbit in this story. 
So yeah.  Vacation was just so good for relaxing and getting things done that have been on our to do lists.  I know for me personally, my to do list was getting pretty long and kinda stressing me out.  But for the week, we had no internet limitations.  The only rule was that you could only be on the computer for an hour at a time and then you had to switch with someone else that wanted to use it.  So it was wonderful for getting stuff done.  As you guys know, I love getting emails from home, but with a limited amount of time to reply back, it takes a little while for me to send replies.  And for this I am really sorry.  It is just a fact of life though.  I still do really appreciate it, and I read them and think of you all a lot.  So anywho.  I got caught up on some emails….not all….but a lot.  And checked out some scholarship options and things and skyped some people.  It was just so good.  I felt so relaxed and refreshed.  I also had a lot of time to read.  I love reading and Kindles make it so easy.  It is definitely one of my best investments.  And we watched a few movies.  Just very good.

Most of the week was just very chill.  We didn’t do very much while we were there except rest and just chill.  For me, this was great.  Others got a little restless after so many days.  But I think we all enjoyed our time.  And we did do something pretty exciting.  On our third day there, we all got to go paragliding!  It was so fun!  Beth and Jean went first while the rest of us waited in this little yard for them to land.  Their flight was a lot shorter than the rest of ours.  I feel bad about that.  The wind just wasn’t very good at that point of the day.  But they still had fun they said.  Then Clay and I went next.  We drove to the top of a mountain and then walked for a few minutes up to this area for take offs.  Clay went first, and it was interesting to see how it was done.  Then a few minutes later, my guide person was telling me to run and before I knew it, we were in the air.  So cool.  Basically, I was sitting in a chair ish thingy with a big wing above me and Ernesto was behind me.  He was very cool.  I talked to him pretty much the entire time we were in the air.  He had been flying for 19 years….my entire lifetime!  So it was as easy as breathing for him to fly and know all the wind changes.  It was pretty interesting, the things he was telling me about paragliding.  From the take off point, we couldn’t even see the area that we would be landing on.  Instead of landing in the yard place, we would be landing on the beach.  SO COOL!  So we spent about 10 minutes just circling the mountain and riding the wind currents.  And then we started descending a bit, making our way to the beach.  The view was beautiful.  So much fun.  And at one point, he let me steer!  I was like….of course!  So that was really cool.  I was flying a huge kite in the sky….with me attached!  Haha.  Also, he asked if I was feeling sick and I said no.  So he started doing really tight, fast circles.  It was so fun.  Like those swing rides you can go on at the fair, but like 23948 times better.  Then after about 25 minutes, we landed on the beach.  I think I was the luckiest one of us, I gotta say.  And I feel a little bad.  But, nothing could be done about it. 

So that was our little adventure while in Argentina.  Very cool.  I think that those are the only two adjectives that I know….cool and fun.  Sorry about that.  But that’s what it was! 

Also, Bariloche is very touristy, as I told you all before.  But, another thing that Argentina is known for is its chocolate.  I guess the Swiss were the first people to inhabit the area, so the chocolate is DELIGHTFUL.  So good.  So there are tons of chocolate shops everywhere.  And the coolest part is that all of them have free samples!  So, we just shop hopped and got a bunch of free pieces of chocolate!  I did buy a few pieces to eat as we walked around, but I never did bring back any with me.  Such a stupid mistake.  I don’t even know why I didn’t!  And at the very least, I could have brought some back for our friends!  I really don’t even know what I was thinking.  Obviously, I wasn’t.  But anywho.  Chocolate was a delicious addition to our trip.
But now on a bit more of a serious note.  While we were relaxing and catching up on things, I was thinking back on our time here in Chile.  The highlights, lowlights, our ministry in general.  Just replaying my time here and reminiscing.  As I thought back, I realized that towards the end of these past 3 months, I have been not been pouring out like I could be.  I have become so accustomed to life here and how things work and have sort of lost sight of our purpose.  I mean, I love it here and doing stuff, but I have not been soaking up and taking advantage of our opportunities like I can be.  I need to be digging into the Word and hiding it away in my heart.  I need to be diligently praying for people we are ministering to here and at home.  I need to be spending my free time enhancing the lives of others as well.  I just need to take my eyes back off myself and onto the face of Jesus again.  I need to be seeking Him with all I have.  So this was a wake up call for me, and I am very grateful for it.  It is not wrong to spend some time reading and shooting hoops occasionally.  Not at all.  That is not what I am trying to say.  But I know that I personally have not been taking advantage of life here in Chile like I could be.  So since we have been back, this has been on my mind.  It’s a challenge for myself.  I want to be consciously striving to go deeper.  Deeper in my relationships with the locals here, deeper with my teammates, and deeper with the Lover of my soul.  HE is the reason I am here.  HE is the one who has saved me.  And HE is the one I want to glorify with my life.  I need to cut more pride and selfishness out of my life, and I am really striving for more of that over the next 2.5 months we have here. 

On that note, I think I will share the song of the post.  This week it is On My Cross by FFH.  Such a BEAUTIFUL song.  I love it so much.  And the words really make you think.  My punishment was taken from me and served by the Creator of the Universe!  He suffered….for me.  Just take that in for a moment.  Listen and really reflect on the words.  Very powerful and just beautiful.

So that was a little peak into our vacation time and some of the thoughts I had while we were there.  And here are a few pictures.  They may not make much sense or really give a very good overview of things, but at least something I can show you guys to give you a little feel. 

So on Monday, we got on the bus at 12 and started back for Puerto Montt.  The ride was pretty much uneventful.  We got back to E’s house around 8 o’clock.  Vacation was really good, but we were all very glad to be back in Alerce with our family.  We missed them a lot, and it was good to chill all night in their house and just talk with them. 

Ok.  So moving on.  So the next day, I don’t really know what we did.  I mean, I just cant remember anymore.  But, that night, we, meaning us 3 girls, started working on our snack for E’s birthday party the next night.  He was born on leap day!  Yay!  Finally 9 years old.  So anywho.  We were going to make those peanut butter cracker thingys covered in chocolate.  You know, the kind you normally find around Christmas time.  So we started the endeavor by melting what we thought was chocolate.  When we first bought this stuff, which happened to be quite a long time ago, I had specifically asked Jean, “Now you are sure that is chocolate, right?”  And she replied, “Yes, my mom uses this stuff!”  So I didn’t question it any longer.  So as we are melting this stuff, Beth keeps saying, “Chile chocolate is weird.  This looks nothing like chocolate.  Why is it so scratchy?”  We agreed and thought it might be old or wet or Chilean.  We just decided to keep going and see how it tasted when it was all the way melted. 

During this whole melting process, Jeano was working on making a fire and I was in the middle of peanut buttering lots of crackers.  After a little while, Beth finally decided to give it a try.  “This is NOT chocolate,” she said.  So Jeano went over to investigate.  After her taste, she said, “You guys.  What would you think if I told you that what we bought was molasses?”  Yes.  Molasses.  Actually.  We now think it was brown sugar in a hardened cube.  The stores here don’t have brown sugar and from what we can tell from asking, it sounds like a chunk of hardened brown sugar.  So at this point, I am racking my brain for things we can do for his birthday, since now our snack is useless.  And Jeano is just losing it.  She can not stop laughing.  Not because she didn’t care, but because that is just what Jeano does sometimes.  So she is all upset with herself and just cracking up and I am standing by a table full of useless peanut buttered crackers.  I was not in the best of moods at this point since it was getting late, and I thought I just wasted a lot of time.  So I just went to take a shower.  Meantime, Beth and Jean decide to try to make use of this strange melted liquid and crushed up a bunch of the peanut butter crackers in a bowl and added some molasses stuff.  I came out of the bathroom to see them chowing on this mush with a fork and some MnM’s mixed in.  And actually, it wasn’t bad!  So we decided to make little round cookie things of this substance, and Jeano ran to one of the little tiendas and bought some Chilean equivalent MnM’s to put on top.  And wouldn’t you know.  Most of the people at the party the next day really enjoyed them.  We actually had one of our friends stuff two in her pockets to save for later, which was QUITE hilarious since she was all sneaky about it.  I guess its like Beth said.  When life gives you molasses, make fake monster cookies.  (the cookies kinda looked like monster cookies)

The rest of the week was pretty much normal in the work we did, but with an added little twist.  On Friday, all three of us girls felt pretty sick.  Our stomachs just hurt.  At first, we thought it was because we had fasted the day before.  But now, we know it was not that.  You see, we actually had to take a trip to the hositally clinic place this weekend for Beth.  She got REAL sick.  Her fever was super high and she couldn’t eat anything.  It just wasn’t good.  And we all were suffering from diarrhea and just not being able to eat things without our stomachs feeling like they were shriveling and cranking over.  That description probably doesn’t make much sense to you all, but for us, it was exactly how it felt.  So anywho.  Basically, up to this point, we have been pretty sick.  You can continue to pray for Beth and the rest of us here.  We are slowly but surely getting better.  Jeano and I are fine now.  But Beth is still recovering with her prescriptions and rest, and Clay and E are now not feeling well.  Seems to be a pretty nasty little virus that we might have picked up from some sketchy looking lettuce.  We aren’t sure.  So if you all could just pray for the health of our team, that would be great! 

All this recounting details has gotten kinda long and again, I am sorry.  But I am happy to report the end of this post has arrived.  Thanks for the support and prayers.  We appreciate them so much!  You guys are truly the best.  Love you all and God bless!