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Overdue Chile Update

In my last blog, I ended it with, “stay tuned for an update about my month in Chile.” I may have lost you by now, but if you’re still tuned, have I got a follow-through for you.

Week 1: Arrive in Chile

After flights from Atlanta via Boston and Houston, we arrived in Santiago, Chile, and I said ‘see ya later’ to the squad and left the airport with my first team of the month, Divine Roots

The pastor who met us at the airport took us to his church in an area of Santiago called La Florida, where the team would be staying for the month, and I would be staying for the next week. We lived in some Sunday school classrooms in the fellowship hall of the church and walked outside to a view of the snow-capped Andes Mountains.

During my time with them, I gave my testimony in Spanish in front of the church. Sometimes, it’s hard to be sure if people understand what you’re saying when you’re speaking in English. I wasn’t even fully understanding what I was saying, but there was a guy in the back nodding reassuringly, which was quite helpful. I’m usually the person staring blankly or even appearing to be glaring a little bit if I’m really listening and thinking about what people are saying, but I made a mental note to be that person for people at times.

We visited homes of members of the church and tried to encourage them, and the team shared testimonies and worship songs in English.

I also got to meet a sheep that wore a diaper.

The Lord was speaking to me during that time, not for the first time, about plans and how plans can give us the illusion of structure and control and comfort when it’s not really that at all because our plans don’t mean that much.

Why do we equate waiting for his plan to be no plans when his plans are the only real plans, the ultimate plans?

I also ate a lot of bread and drank a lot of juice.

Week 2: Move to Los Andes

The second week of Month 1, I got to reunite with my co-leader, Hana Beth, to travel to visit Agua Viva, another all-women’s team, together. When we arrived, the girls had prepared a little closet space for us to blow up our sleeping pads.

With each team we visit, we try to spend time with the leader of that team to encourage them and get an understanding of what we should focus on with the team, and we also spend time one-on-one with each of the members of the team, as much as possible.

In Los Andes, we had a backyard view of the sunsetting over the Andes Mountains. Not too shabby.

The team in Los Andes was helping to teach English in some schools, and I got the opportunity to go and mostly observe them doing that one of the days we were there with them. The class was chaotic, with first graders wandering in and out of the classroom and dancing in the aisles, which was a rough environment for me, but I got to see the cool ways our team was showing up in that community and supporting the teachers there. I also got to meet Cristobal, a sweet little boy who came up to let me know that he had broken he had ripped his paper and broken his crayon, but didn’t cry. He was very proud, and the teacher informed me that it was a real achievement for him. Good for you, kid. Take those victories where you find them.

We also went to a celebration in the central park in honor of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, where our team sang amidst some very talented musicians, such as folky guy, girl who sang ‘Oceans’ in Spanish, and Chilean hipster “Hillsong.” (The quotations are because they were in no way associated with Hillsong.)

While we were at the park, a woman spoke a prophecy from the Lord over me about how the Lord sees me and some things he has planned for the future, if I can be patient. To which I wanted to ask, “Wait, what have I been doing?” or “Did you see a calendar in that vision somewhere?”

On Day 14, the sleeping pad I had borrowed for squad-leading stopped holding air, which was frustrating, especially considering that it was Day 14 and it’s only job is to hold air. Luckily, I was able to order a new one online and have it sent to our coaches, who were coming out for debrief a couple weeks later. (The new one is working out pretty well so far. Here’s to many more air-filled nights to come.)

I also ate a lot of bread and drank a lot of juice.

Week 3: Back to Santiago

On our second day back in Santiago, my purse was stolen while we were working on some emails at a Starbucks. I don’t want to blame Starbucks, but I was very comfortable and not on guard. It really felt like being home, drinking coffee, using the efficient internet. I lost my debit and credit cards, my license, some cash, and you know, the things that are in a wallet. But it definitely could have been much worse. I still have my phone and all of our team’s money and card.

A couple members of team 7tens met me at the train station and off we went to La Pintana, another area in Santiago. It was very refreshing to spend time with them, and not just because they had a bottom bunk ready for me (and my deflated sleeping pad).
I went to a special-needs school with them for a day where they were helping and encouraging the teachers. I spent a lot of time playing with globos (balloons) with one of the kids in the younger class, walking around the courtyard, hitting the balloons in the air and saying “globo” repeatedly. It was time well-spent.

On my first morning with the team, I got up to shower early, before I thought anyone would be up. Even though I followed the instructions about taking the mat off the bottom of the tub (for the sake of my life), I didn’t remove it fully from the shower. I only laid it over the side of the tub. Well, it slipped back in and attacked me, and I fell out of the shower, taking the whole curtain and rod down with me, narrowly escaping hitting vital parts of my body on the toilet and taking out the trash can. I found myself, wet, lying on the floor, wrapped in a shower curtain, surrounded by the used toilet paper that had erupted from the trash can. And I was just thinking: 1) Ouch. & 2) After all this, I could have gone out like that.

I also ate a lot of bread and drank a lot of juice.

Week 4: Debrief

At the end of Month 1, the whole squad (48 people/7 teams) gets back together for a few days of debriefing the first month and resting for what is to come.

Hana Beth and I arrived early in Vina del Mar with one of the girls from the logistics team in order to make sure everything was set up well and try to get some rest from the month. The former went well, the latter…ehh. But it was fun to see everyone get back together and talk about the month each team had.

Our leadership team did team debrief sessions with each team, talking about what was working and what wasn’t, how they had fun, and how they saw the Lord work during their first month on the World Race. We also had night sessions with worship and talks from Jeremy and Jay, the mentor and one of the coaches.

The last half of debrief was spent doing ‘one-on-ones’ with members of the squad who were interested in speaking further with us about something they were walking through or how the Lord was working in their lives. (I revisited a Starbucks for that, but all of my things were safe.)

We had a lip-sync competition, where each of the teams prepared a performance for the rest of the squad. Nothing brings people together like dancing and fake singing to N*SYNC.

During debrief, the Lord was speaking to me a lot about letting go of thinking about what I’m supposed to do five months from now when this is over. It’s easy for me to follow the Lord’s plan and change my plans to meet his, but it’s a lot easier when I know what it is, like, right now. That’s something I’m sure I’m going to have to let go of more than one time…

I got to stare at the ocean (which is definitely top 5 things to do) and watch seals and eat seafood. What a life.

I really cut down on the bread and juice when I was buying my own food.

Then, it was off to Mendoza, Argentina on a 7-hour bus ride with the squad for a month with all 50 of us on the same ministry base!