Thursday, February 7, 2008
I'm also going to try to post some videos, but I'm having problems with it, so it may not work. Here goes.
Ok, it wasn't working...I'll have to come back to that.
I got up and got in line for the shower—the shower!! I was so excited! There was only one, and it was small, with no door and lukewarm water, but I didn’t care. I took a shower!! I was in heaven. We had a leisurely breakfast and then answered some debriefing questions. The first set I answered in Spanish, but that was getting more and more difficult, and I wanted to be able to fully express myself. So for the last two sets I wrote in English. Then we had lunch. This was interesting, because there were about 6 cups to share amongst the 24 of us. So I shared with two other guys from my team. I’m telling you, if you’re a germophobe, or even remotely germ conscious, you need to be prepared if you ever come down here. Granted, it’s not quite as extreme in the city, but it’s still there!
After lunch we had some more meetings and discussions, then started to pack up to go. Earlier that day I had no idea how I was getting home. I was eating breakfast next to Whitney, the American girl I had started the trip with on the bus the first day. She was getting a ride home in the car of one of the guys on her team. There was also another guy from her team going. They randomly asked me if I would like to go as well. I quickly answered yes. This was ideal for me! First of all, it’d be cheaper. Secondly, I wouldn’t have to deal with figuring out the buses. And thirdly, and most importantly to me, I’d be dropped off right at my front door. Had I taken the bus, I would have to take the metro or a taxi home, depending on the hour, which I did not want to do with my large bag. So although we got home in the middle of the night (2:30), I was dropped off at my front door. It was about an 8 hour ride home. Whitney and I started in the backseat and talked and slept while the guys talked up front. Then we stopped to stretch, grab some food, and use the bathroom. The driver wanted to sleep, so he sat in back and I sat in the passenger seat. I talked with the other guy for a little, but he was pretty difficult to understand, and I was getting tired. So I slept some more. Then we stopped again and the guys switched places. So I got a chance to talk with the other guy…also difficult to understand. I slept more. When I finally got home at 2:30, I pretty much jumped straight in bed and slept as late as I wanted. Then I took the longest shower of my life. It was wonderful!
Ok, so that’s my whole trip! I learned so much from the people. They had sooo little, and they didn’t take anything for granted. Yet they had such joy and gladly shared what they did have with us. They were always giving thanks to God for being with them always. It was definitely humbling. Another thing I learned is that I shouldn’t be so concerned with my limitations. I was afraid that I was going to be useless the entire week, and yet there were many things I was able to do. And I learned a lot along the way. I may be limited, but God isn’t. And He is able to work around, over, under, or through our limitations to accomplish things we can’t even imagine. Praise God that He didn’t allow me to be limited like I feared! And you know what? The same is true for all of us, no matter where we are or what we’re doing. Our limitations are merely God’s avenues to revealing His power. I pray that I can remember that the next time I’m afraid of being in over my head!
I hope you enjoyed reading these posts and were able to see how people live in other parts of the world. I hope I was able to convey even just a portion of what I learned. Praise God for His provision in our lives! I definitely have a new appreciation for it!
We got up relatively early, had breakfast, and then piled in the truck for a little excursion. The pastor’s family came with us as well. We drove to a hill where there were a couple of lakes and the border of Argentina. After awhile, the truck couldn’t go any further since the hills were getting steep. So we hopped off and started on foot. I was hot and tired, and not loving it, especially since I had left my hat in the truck and wasn’t about to walk down the hill to get it. I got up to the top of the hill, eventually, and enjoyed the view. Then they all decided to go down to the water. I decided to stay. Eventually I really wanted to go down too, but every time I thought about walking back up the hill, I decided against it. It ended up being a good time for me, I was completely alone for pretty much the first time all week, and was able to spend a good amount of time praying and singing. However, I do wish now that I had gone down to the water, especially since they took a different—and easier—way back to the truck. They also got to the border of Argentina, whereas I only saw the border. This is my one regret of the entire week. At one point two men came by on horses, and I had a nice little chat with them. They asked me where I was from, since it’s pretty clear I’m foreign. :o) I understood most of their questions, but I was still a little nervous.
We got back to the truck, piled in, and the 6 of us in the back got filthy. I mean, just covered in dirt. We got back, cleaned up a little, ate lunch, and then cleaned up some more. That’s how dirty we were! We were supposed to have another time with the kids from the first town where we were living, but since we hadn’t done anything in 4 days there, no one remembered, so no one showed up. We were ok with that though! They spent some time further training the pastor, one of the other objectives of the week. The local pastors don’t really get much training except when people come in from the outside, and although we’re much younger than him, he was still very receptive to learning from us.
We packed our bags, I took a nap, and then we had our last once at the house with the family. We took a lot of pictures and took our time saying goodbye to everyone. It was kind of sad to leave them, and those people who could understand them and had made closer connections found it harder to say goodbye than I did. Although I did have some time with Keila, and we joked about my blue eyes. Oh, and the other thing I forgot to tell you. Two days earlier I had put my name tag on her shirt, and for the next two days she wore it, switching it to whatever shirt she put on. So I started calling her “Tia Kelly” (which literally means Aunt Kelly, but kids call non-related adults tia and tio all the time…even just to get their attention. I got used to answering to it very quickly.) So every time I called her that she would say, “No, my name is Keila. You’re Tia Kelly.” And I would respond with, “But your name tag says that you’re Tia Kelly.” And that would go back and forth for awhile until I attacked her with tickles and our conversation just turned to giggling.
We packed the truck, fitting an amazing amount of stuff in the back. I’m still astounded at how they were able to do it. Then the 8 of us got in the cab. Six people sat in the back seat (four on the bottom and two of the smallest girls on their laps), Victor driving, and me in the front seat with the laptop, and all bookbags/purses on my lap or at my feet. It was quite cozy! It was about a 2 hour drive to the town where we were meeting the other two teams. We stopped at a gas station along the way and were able to stretch a little…and use our cell phones for the first time in a week! We all enjoyed that. We spent the two hours in the truck going around, each of us telling what we appreciated about everyone on the team. Many of them said that it was easy to get to know me (remember that they had all been together a week before I showed up), and that I was very laidback with plans and hitches in the plans. They said they’ve known some gringos and they’re not always so flexible. Haha. One guy also said that he was impressed at how I was able to adapt to things that were probably way outside my realm of experience—like the bathroom situation. Haha. We all had a good laugh over that one. :o)
We met up with the other teams, and that was a bit difficult for me, since I only knew 3 other people, and not even very well. For everyone else it was like a big reunion. One problem was, many of them remembered me (I do stand out), and I had no clue who they were!! After awhile, we all sat in a circle to share about the week. There was a lot of talking, laughing, and crying. Then we spent some time in prayer. Eventually we split up to go to bed. We were staying in a school, and there were bunk beds…but no mattresses. So most of us slept on the floor. This is the one and only time I used my sleeping bag all night. And I slept miserably. I went to bed late anyway, there were about 15 girls in one room—I’m sure you can imagine what that was like. Then a light was left on, so I couldn’t sleep. The floor was hard, and the room was getting colder by the hour, and my throat was getting sore again. Needless to say, I did not sleep much. HOWEVER (and this is a big however), part of my dream (when I was sleeping) was in Spanish…this is a HUGE thing. You know you’re doing well with learning a new language when it enters into your dreams. Now, I didn’t dream much in Spanish, but it was there, so I was pretty excited. Eventually I woke up, and that takes us to the last day.
Friday was our last full day with the Mapuche people since we were leaving the following evening. I woke up feeling better. Praise God! I was afraid it was going to get worse. We had our usual morning routine, then piled into the truck to go to the third pueblito, the one by the lake. We set up some the church and made signs and invitations, and then headed out to invite people. For some reason a stray dog followed our group the whole time—a stray dog with one red eye. It was very creepy looking. We headed back for lunch, and we were all tired so we were pretty goofy. We decided to take some pictures of our hands, going from palest to darkest. I was really the only one who was easy to figure out where to be in the order, since many of the rest of them were so close in color!
We had our last time with the kids. There weren’t as many, but it still went well. Afterwards we showed the video again, and we were pretty tired. And since we’d seen it so many times, we all started dozing off. Cote, our leader, got pictures of almost all of us sleeping. It was quite entertaining. Before we headed home for the end of the day, we walked over to the lake. Some people had brought their swimsuits, but it was pretty cold so I didn’t even bother. We sat on the beach eating and watching the few brave people who went in. Well, needless to say, things went downhill fast. The two guys in the lake came back to shore and started picking up the girls and throwing them in the water. All of us (except for one girl they had mercy on since she wasn’t feeling well) ended up wet to some degree. Since I had money in my pocket, I didn’t get more than my legs wet. Thankfully. It was soooo cold! At one point a random horse ran down the beach. Weird! We packed up and headed home.
We had dinner, a full meal since our lunch had been small, and although we were tired, spent a lot of time talking and laughing. It was our last night together, just the 8 of us. We’d started calling ourselves a family, with the two leaders being the mom and dad…which was interesting since two of us were older than the dad! We named ourselves the Duran Dias, which means the Last Days. But it came from a combination of two people’s last names—Duran and Diaz. They all thought it was pretty funny. I didn’t quite get it, but was more than willing to play along. :o)
After being beaten badly in a game of “Manitos Calientes” (a hand slapping game, basically), I headed to bed.
We didn’t have to get up quite as early this day, which is good because I woke up with a very sore throat. We had an extra long devotional time, which was made longer by the fact that the morning sun was actually warm that day! And I was facing it. After I awhile I tried to shield my face with my Bible. Then the girl next to me used her folder. After awhile one of the guys across from us raised his sweatshirt above his head to block the sun from my face! :o) All week they were all concerned about my pale skin not getting burned. Haha.
It took forever to get going that morning; I don’t know why. Although since I was starting to feel worse, I didn’t really mind. We eventually got to the church and didn’t have anything to do! We played around with the instruments a little, sang some worship songs, talked a lot, prayed some more, and then eventually headed off to do some visiting with the people in the pueblito. I decided to stay at the church with two other people, since I can’t really “visit” with people, and also because I really wanted to sleep. I stretched out on a pew and slept until my arm fell asleep, which ironically woke me up.
We had another afternoon with the kids, which was a bit tough since I didn’t feel well, but it wasn’t too bad. We showed the movie again. I went outside to get some fresh air, and every time I did so I was attacked by ants. They were all over the place! Gross. I did not love that. Then we had another once with the pastor, and I was a bit more subdued this time. Luckily this time we were able to drive home, and the family had an once prepared for us there too! Most of the team sat down to eat, but I thought this would be a good chance for me to go and get to bed early. So that’s exactly what I did.
The woman at the first house we went to invited us in to chat. We had enough time to visit for a little while. She had a small loom-type thing up in her living room, and she showed us some of the things she has made on it. They were pretty cool. Then she offered us mate (pronounced MAH-tay). I should stop here and explain this, because it’s a common tradition to down there to offer it to guests or to share it after the evening meal while you chat. I have had it in Santiago, so I knew what I was trying, but it’s much more common down south I noticed. Mate is best compared to tea, but it’s not at all tea. You take a cup/mug (or if you have one, a special mate cup) and fill it with an herb. I have no idea what it is (it’s not a narcotic, for those of you whose minds went the same direction my mother’s did) but it looks like cilantro, twigs, and grass cut up into very tiny pieces. It’s not what it is, but that’s what it looks like. You fill the cup with this stuff, almost to the top after putting in the special mate straw (it’s a metal straw, and the bottom is closed and smashed flatter so it’s in an oval shape. The oval has tiny holes in it that lets the water through but not the herbs). Then you put a scoop of sugar on top and then pour hot water on until the cup really is full. Then you serve it to the first guest. As the water seeps down, it takes on the flavor of the sugar and herbs. At first it’s kind of strong and a little bitter, but the more the herbs are used, the sweeter it gets from all the sugar. Once you’ve finished, you hand it back to the host who repeats the sugar/hot water process and hands it to the next guest in the circle. If you’re lucky, the host has wiped the straw off with a dish towel, but this doesn’t always happen. The process is repeated, going around the circle until everyone says they’ve had enough. It’s quite interesting, and not be tried by a germaphobe. :o)
So after walking a lot and inviting many people, we headed back to where we started to have lunch. We were on our way back when we were accosted by a small herd of goats. After playing with them a little, we all headed home to eat and then back to the church to set up for the afternoon activities. It was very laid back, and we had some time to relax and recoup. At this time Victor left with his truck to help transport another team to their second village much farther away. We had no idea when he’d be back, but was hoping it would be in time to take us home that evening.
We had our time with the kids, as usual, and then showed the Jesus movie. At this point I’m starting to have some parts memorized—in Spanish! After cleaning up we had an once at the pastor’s house and we had a discussion about the differences between English and Spanish. At one point, one guy said that I don’t sound much like a gringa! And when he looked to the others for agreement, one girl said that I didn’t have much of an accent! Yay! That was the best compliment I could’ve gotten. Then I told them that I could speak with a gringo accent, if I wanted to. So I had to demonstrate it, and they all thought that was hysterical. After awhile we decided it was time to head back home, even though Victor hadn’t gotten back yet. So at 9:30 we headed off. We walked down the middle of the dirt road since not many cars drove by. We walked by the light of the insanely bright moon that I told you about. Three of the girls walked up front, singing and talking very loudly. I walked behind with Lissette and Pato, the two people who spoke English the best (besides the Cote, who is fluent). The whole time we walked we asked each other questions about the other language, and I learned a LOT. I was definitely starting to feel like I understood more. Although still nowhere close to everything!
After almost 2 hours of walking, we made it home. I was exhausted! In fact, I was so tired, that as I was getting ready for bed, I said something to myself in English. When one of the girls nearby said “What?” I repeated myself…in English! Haha. Needless to say, I slept very well that night.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Then we went back to where we were staying and decided we had enough time to "bathe." So we put on our swim suits and headed down to the river, our "bath." The water was REALLY cold, so it was a bit torturous...but also very entertaining! It felt wonderful to be clean though!
Then we headed over to the church and showed the Chronicles of Narnia. It's a pretty long movie, and the kids were getting restless by the end, so we decided that we would only show the other video for the rest of the week. We had a simplified version of a Jesus movie that had been dubbed in Spanish, and we stuck with that for the remainder of our time.
Our day ended about the same, cleaning up the church, eating dinner, and talking. I was pretty tired by the end of the day though!
Oh, the other thing to note about being down there is that I saw the brightest moon I've ever seen in my entire life. I mean, it was REALLY bright! I could see perfectly fine walking around at night (and for those of you who know me really well, you know how I hate to walk on uneven ground in the dark). I could see trees on the other sides of fields, and I even had a shadow! It was crazy!!
Here's a few thoughts I wrote down that day:
I can't even begin to tell you how hard this has been. And slow/long! It's only Tuesday ad I feel like it's been weeks! BUT, I also can't even begin to tell you how much I've learned. Both in Spanish and in other ways. Like in other lifestyles--both Chilean, and the poverty of this part of the country. Like in other ways of worship--remember that the church was pentecostal--not things that I always agree with or am comfortable with. But I have learned a lot, and I'm glad I came. The trip is half way over and I'm interested to see how much more I'll learn!
Ok, I think this is a good place to stop. I need a break from typing! I'll try to post a few more days tomorrow, as well as a video and some pictures.
Then we went out and did more inviting, and I was walking around with Victor. He actually made me do some of the talking! I was a bit terrified about this (ok, well, nervous). I would practice what to say as we walked around, but then when I got to the people, it would leave my head. My grammar turned awful, my pronunciation grew more and more gringo, and the words wouldn't come. Ugh. It did get slightly better, but I was always relieved when he took over again. The main problem, was then people thought they could talk to me. And I had a really hard time understanding. Case in point--one guy, when he found out I'm American, asked me if I like Bush. I thought he asked me if I liked the bus. Needless to say I was a bit confused about the conversation for awhile until I realized what he really said! Haha.
Then we had another afternoon of meetings, and there were a lot more kids this time (25 as opposed to 7 the day before). They were really into it, and it was pretty fun! Some of the kids loved that I spoke English. I definitely had the feeling that at least one person was staring at me at all times. :o)
Then we cleaned up, ate dinner, and then headed back to the church. The next day we were going to be showing the Chronicles of Narnia as a witnessing opportunity. So we set up the projector and tested it out by watching a movie ourselves. We watched Ice Age, in Spanish, and didn't start it until 10 or 10:30, so I was already pretty tired. Needless to say, I didn't understand much! I finally got to bed around 12:30 and fell right asleep!
Ok, I'm going to share a couple of random thoughts, things that happened throughout the week.
First, there were wild animals everywhere. And they ranged from horses to chickens to pigs to sheep to goats to cows! I could hardly keep myself from laughing one morning during team devotions when a small herd of cows sauntered past in single file! A couple of times the animals
were blocking our way in the roads and we had to try to scare them off. It was definitely entertaining!
The other thing I'd like to share at this time is what our eating situation was like. Chileans tend to have their big meal for lunch, and most days that's what we did as well. (There were a few days that we didn't go back home for lunch, so we just packed a lunch of sandwiches, fruit, and yoghurt.) Our breakfast consisted of tea/coffee and freshly baked bread with an assortment of toppings--jam, avocado, manjar (dulce de leche, basically), and sometimes eggs. That's it. Then lunch would be a HUGE helping of a carb--pasta, potatoes, or rice--a little bit of some kind of meat and maybe an egg, and a variety of salads. Their salads here tend to be one veggie at a time. So there was a bowl of lettuce, a bowl of tomatoes, and a bowl of cucumbers, usually. And they all had a similar, typical Chilean dressing--a combination of oil, lemon, salt, and cilantro. Then we'd have "dinner", which they call "once" (pronounced OHN-say). This literally means eleven, but they also use it to refer to a small, light meal. In the city it can consist of sandwiches, cookies, snacks, and coffee/tea. On the trip, the term referred to a meal that was identical to our breakfast, just with the addition of tomatoes. Needless to say, there was a lot of bread that week. I think I ate more bread that week than I did the entire year of 2007. I mean, I can't say for sure, but it certainly did seem that way!
Ok, that's it for day four! Thanks for sticking with me!
So the third day, Sunday, started in an interesting way. As I was walking to the place where we met every morning for team devotions, I saw the grandfather of the family roping in a goat, and I thought, "Hm, that doesn't quite look innocent. I wonder if that's going to be our lunch." An hour later as we walked back to the house for breakfast, I saw the goat hanging from a stick, and he was dressing it. My suspicions were pretty much confirmed.
At breakfast we realized that the bag of all of our ministry supplies for the kids (papers, scissors, colored pencils, drawings, everything) was missing. We figured it must've ended up with another team. So after breakfast, Victor, the guy who had spent the previous day driving by himself with our food supplies, left to track down the bag. The closest team was about an hour and a half away. Luckily he found it there, so he didn't have to go visit the other team as well!
This is the day that I discovered the wind tended to be VERY strong, which made life interesting in the outhouse. Needless to say, we spent much of the week very dusty, since it's a relatively dry place and there was so much wind. When we were outside long, our faces would be coated in dust, our clothes would take on a brown tinge, and our noses were full of dirt. At least mine was. I spent a good amount of time fighting the urge to pick my nose. :o)
We walked around the neighboring village and handed out invitations we had made that morning. On our way back, we stopped at the last house, and the man was so grateful. His wife was in labor, and he didn't want to have to leave her alone as he drove a few miles away to radio for an ambulance!! A couple of the girls went in to help, and I really wanted to, but I didn't think she's appreciate a crowd.
We went back for lunch, and I was right. Goat was on the menu. It was actually pretty good. Then came church; their service is at 2pm. It's a pentecostal church, so that was interesting. And it was very small. There were only 23 people including the 7 of us. At one point the pastor introduced our team and mentioned that there was one member from the US. And then he said that I was going to be singing a worship song for them in English. I immediately felt a few hands on my shoulders as my teammates asked me if I understood what he had just said. I had. I had a feeling this was coming, since the day before he was telling me how last year a girl had sung in English, and he had absolutely loved it. One of the girls on my team offered to sing with me, one of the only worship songs she knew in English, but I said I could do it myself. I was a little nervous, but pretty happy about it, too. You see, just an hour or so before church I was praying that God would give me something that I could do. I was feeling very limited with my language barrier, and was hoping I wouldn't just be tagging along all week. So this was the first answer to prayer.
Then we had a time where half our team went with the adults for a time of discipleship, and the rest of us put on a kid's program. This involved a varying combination of games, singing, drawing, snacks, and a lesson. A few of the songs I was familiar with in English, so it was easier to pick them up. Some of the songs were a bit harder for me, but I managed. And one of the songs I was able to contribute myself. Do you know the song, "Allelu, Praise ye the Lord"? I happened to know it in Spanish and figured it would be good since it's easy and involves a lot of sitting down and jumping up. The team loved it once I taught it to them and we did it all week. (The only problem with this is that many of the benches were very short for me, so I spent much of the week with sore legs!) As the week progressed, I was able to do more and more with the kids, and I definitely didn't feel like I was just tagging along. Praise God!
That evening was relaxed as we ate dinner, I took a nap, we sang some worship songs, and just fellowshipped with the pastor.
This was the day that their 6 yr old daughter, Keila (pronounced Kayla), came up to me and said "You have blue eyes!" Which she proceeded to say to me at least once a day for the rest of the week. I started teasing her and saying things like, "Really? Are you sure they're not green? Or yellow? Or purple?" I was definitely entertaining to her!
That's a summary of what happened that day. Here's a couple paragraphs that I jotted down that day:
There are times I'm so happy to be here, and there are other times when I feel like time is passing so slowly and I can't wait to go home. Those are usually the times when I'm tired of Spanish. It's an awful feeling to be trapped inside your own head and to never be quite sure what's going on. But I'm learning a lot, and getting a little used to it.
It's very interesting. I'm so glad that I did this after living in Chile for almost 6 months, because I understand some Chilean culture, things that are even more magnified here. Like the lack of germ consciousness. At meals, people use the same knife for all sorts of condiments...they'll take a second helping with their already-used fork...they'll share lollipops and half-eaten cookies. Luckily I'm not a germophobe or I'd never make it!
Oh, and one other note. This is how rustic things are--the kids showed us some weed-looking things that we could pick off the ground and eat. They had a lemony taste to them.
And that's day 3! I know these posts are long, but a lot happened, and I really hope that you can make it through them!