Today is another holiday here in Chile, which means no school! And since tomorrow is Friday, and I don't have many classes, I took tomorrow off as well. Long weekend! Don't be too jealous, though. I still have a LOT of work to do. :o)
All Saint's Day (the name of the holiday) is basically a day where you remember loved ones who have passed away. I'm sure there's more to it, and it probably comes from their Catholic background, but I don't actually know. The way most people celebrate it is to go to the cemeteries throughout the city, visit the tombs of their family members, and decorate them with flowers and other meaningful things. All along the streets outside the cemetery and on the paths inside are vendor selling everything from flowers to ice cream to hats to makeshift vases to jewelry. It seemed a little disrespectful to me to sell jewelry and shoes inside a cemetery, but it was happening!
A group of us from the church went to a large cemetery around 11am and passed out a few thousand tracts with the church's information stamped on it. Please pray with us that people will read it, think about it, and that the Lord will lead them to follow up. I'm sure many of those people are ready to hear what God has to say to them, and I hope they listen! It was a great day, and it was a way that I could be involved despite my limited Spanish. You don't need to be bilingual to pass out tracts!!
Just a note about the cemetery. It was all above ground and was a mix of large family tombs and small, individual "boxes" in a wall (much like you would see in a morgue, but in stone and closer together). The tombs were mostly large and ornate, and there were fountains and pathways and well kept grass all throughout the cemetery. It was quite a sight!
On another note, I'd like to mention what I did last weekend. It was a good time for me to make some new friends, get to know some I already had, and see some more of Chile. On Saturday I went with a group of people to Vina del Mar (which means Ocean's Vineyard), a town on the coast not quite two hours away. We took a bus, got there around 11:30, and immediately took off. The group split, and I went with two people that I'm friends with (Mike and Heather). We didn't really have a plan for the day, but decided to just do things as they came to us! So we walked, and walked, and walked. If we saw something, we stopped. Along the way, we stopped at artisan shops, paintings for sale on the streets, a clock of flowers, a castle or two, the beach (of course), a park to rest and relax, the "boardwalk," and a church or two. We walked through most of the tourist section of town, and a little that wasn't a tourist section.
It was so much fun! I seemed to be having a bit of a clumsy day. I dropped some chocolate ice cream on a white shirt, got a mysterious stain on my back, and was attacked by the ocean. That is not an exaggeration! :o) The water was cold, but we wanted to put our feet in. I stood past the point where the waves were coming in, then stepped forward when the water came up. This successfully worked several times. Then I noticed a rather large wave coming, thought it might come farther up the beach, and considered the fact that I should probably move. By the time I had thought all this, the water was upon me, drenching my pant legs, and I turned and ran up the beach, all the while splashing more water on me! It was highly entertaining for Mike and Heather! :o)
Several other funny things happened that day. At the ice cream place, Mike had his highlight of the day. Now, he's about 6'7" and looks every bit of it. There was a little old lady (and I mean LITTLE, and old!) and she started talking to him, asking for money. He doesn't understand Spanish, so she switched to very broken English and started harassing him! When he walked by her out the door, she smacked him on the butt! That was very entertaining for Heather and me! :o)
We laughed and joked all day, and it was so great to have that camaraderie that I've missed so much since coming down here. It was a beautiful day, and I'm so thankful God blessed me with it! I'm including a link to some of the pictures from that weekend. The first few are from and ice cream place that serves monster helpings (if you order it, of course) that I went to with Mike, Heather, the Crosses (another missionary couple here), and a few Chileans. You can see that we piled into the car--5 in the backseat. This is not uncommon here! The rest are from Vina. Enjoy!