Friday, November 9, 2012

Singing in La serana: I am so thankful for the opportunity I had to sing at another missions conference up north with a local church here in Santiago!

Picture the desert on one side of the bus window, and rippling ocean tide on the other. That was almost my entire 6 hour bus ride view. Absolutely breathtaking.

When we got there it appeared to be a rather cloudy and chilly climate, to which I initially thought, would be a real bummer and different way than someone used to Carolina and Va beaches in the summer, to experience the sand and water. However, at about midday, every day, the sun would fight its way through the grey clouds and close the afternoon and evening in a warm glow that made it the perfect temperature. Whether we were sitting in the nice sized church sanctuary, or strolling through little shops in the city square, it was a very surreal place, and again I was struck with how vastly different and diverse depending on where you are, the country of Chile is.
The Church body of San Ramon
 La Serana actually stands for Serene, and it truly was that. I made the comment that, even though all the little houses have barred windows, doors, and yards, because that is a normality here in Santiago as well, it felt a lot more safe. You almost could look at the bars and find yourself thinking, " Huh, ya know the white kinda brings out the color of the house walls in a nice way!" haha ( As I did say driving through the town). I never thought I would get to the place where houses with cars and gates covering every inch, would become normal looking, and even appealing to me! When in all honesty, that has always been something on houses and in different areas, that has been rather ominous to me, and a sign that it was the last place on earth I would want to live.
Just a random thought after my time there was how sensitized we become to different norms depending on where we live, and how quickly, if we allow the Lord to, our hearts and minds can slowly be desensitised in a good way, to things that really are not all that important in the long run any way. Like....A big yard with green grass, owning a car, big (different) meals every time you sit down to eat dinner. It was a weekend that again opened my eyes to how much we in America have, that those in other not--but are just as content without. I will call them...Luxaries.
Luxury #1. Central Heat and Air conditioning. The host home we stayed in was owned by a kind, extremely hospitable, woman in her late 30s-ish. Upon arriving to her house at around 10 pm the first evening, I was asked by a fellow missionary couple who are short term teachers at the school, if the lady had any heat ( for it was in the low 40s). Well having been here for 9 months, I knew immediately that she didnt, solely because if she had,  it would of been turned ( for us gringos).I told the couple I didnt feel comfortable asking because I knew she did not, and asking would of only made her feel terrible, so I just said " Looks like your going to learn how to sleep in your winter coat and shoes." :)
 Luxarie # 2. Vehicles. Our first morning after exiting the house. It didnt take long for us to figure out how we would be making our way to the church, when our first morning there we were told (upon exit tinghe house) to start waving our arms as we proceeded to walk down the street. It hit me all over again that this lady who had a good job, made better money then most, still did not have the money to buy a car or chose to not have one and invest her money elsewhere. Her means of transportation to work, church and anywhere else, every single day, was by taxi and walking ( and this city is not compact, it is very spread out).They have something here in Chile called Radio Taxis that you can call, and they will come pick you up at your house, and I had driven in a few before from church, so it was not a surprise that was how she rode.
 ( I do however recognize there are many people in the States who do not have vehicles, but I absolutely can say that more people do than in any other country in the world.)
Luxury #3. Big meals. People here work hard, and make very little money. I have a friend who is studying in the Santiago to get her Masters, and told me that even WITH a Master degree, working in a very good profession, she would not have enough money to afford her apartment rent, which was $800.
I was reminded of that Luxury when I realized that our breakfast at the church where the conference was held, was bread, thin slices of meat, and 1 small bag of cheese ( and that was after asking people if they could pitch in to help out). We had the same meal that night for dinner at our sweet hosts house, and the next morning for breakfast. That is just reality here. The missionaries who stayed with me had never stayed at a Chileans house, or even eaten in a Chilean home, so naturally their faces initially spoke the surprise the 3rd meal straight that was the same thing. It turned out to be a good opportunity for them to witness  Chilean Culture in the rawest most real atmosphere and form. At the end of the 3rd meal of bread and cheese, the elderly man spoke up and said " You know what, I just didnt know people ate like this, I reckon I should be thankful for it and stop complaining." I mean for us, Bread is something we indulge in at restraunts or in our homes...before the main meal. Here, it often is the main meal. On a side note, our host also had a very good job and made more money than the average person does.
Waiting at the bus stop with some of the young people I got to know! Im going to try to squeeze in going to their church on Sunday nights to maintain the new relationships that were made over the weekend!
 By the last morning, she made us eggs, and we even persuaded her to try ketchup on hers! :) And of course she loved it. Very neat experience of two vastly different cultures...colliding.

Having just had fresh insite into peoples lives and how vastly different it is for us in the States, coming home to the election bombarding my facebook newsfeed, left me a bit...well, saddened. Take it from someone living in a different country...It is STILL better in America than anywhere else, we are extremely blessed, and Americas WORST days have looked better than most other countries BEST days ever will. Im loosing my health insurance when I come home, I do not trust who we have elected, im not proud of the overall moral and mental state of my country...but my goodness...I will not
let my dislike for the current president cause me to disregard the blessings and priviledges I DO have as an American. I still love my country, I am still proud to be an American, and I still will get goosebumps everytime I hear the national anthem. Its not because of the President it never has been! Its because of the history, the pride and the priviledge.I wont let anyone steal that from me, no matter how hard they may or may not try. I suggest one thing, visit a different country for a couple months, and dont stay in a 5 star hotel while there, stay with a native of that country, and ask about their Government and laws. You might change your mind about how "bad" you have it in the States. Just an idea:) The Lord has blessed The united states greatly.

Haitian or Jamaican!?

Funny Story. I went to a concert that was being held down town by the Harlem Gosspel Choir, who were from....Harlem, NYC. I was so excited to hear GOSPEL music and ENGLISH music, it was a highlight of my week! Well once we got there I noticed 3 black men in nice suites standing with cameras all aiming at them, along with a line of people. "Hey they are part of the group!" Was that A wrong assumption to make?!?! haha So of course, we lined up and once our time came, I proudly announced " Hey we are from the states to". I only heard one respond and it was with a thick island accent, and he didnt seem to excited about meeting a fellow American. But I assumed...well hey, Jamaicans can live in Harlem and maybe hes simply not as enthused as someone would be whos been apart from americans for almost 10 months!?
The Island of Haiti was where the accent was from.
Halfway through the concert we both came to the realization that the 3 men in suites with the different accent were nowhere to be seen on that stage. We both just looked at each other and started laughing. I said " Do not put that picture on facebook!" Who were they!?
 The next day I was telling my assistant about the mysterious celebrities and she picked up her phone and started laughing as she said " Ive got to show you someone". Turns out, we got our picture with some reggae-ton artist who are from Haiti (  hence the lack of ENTHUSIASM I felt I recieved) and who are kinda a big deal here in Santiago. They did also have nothing to do with gospel, Harlem, or the States. hahaha.....thats my life folks..thats my life!!

Free pants?!
I have some of the sweetest parents this semester. They are super involved, and I have never felt so appreciate and respected by parents as I have with them. Its about once to twice a week that I receive a Indonesian tea from one of my asian mothers, (that are the hot commodity here). The tea will be in a bag hanging on my classroom door, sitting on my desk, or handed to me from the pick up gate. A different mother of my little chinese student, works at a clothing store, and just today she asked me if I wanted to go to her store after school next week to get a pair of free shorts. When I told her I didnt usually wear shorts but thank you so much anyway, she exclaimed " We have pants, You need to come and buy some pants, whatever you like.!" I was shocked. Such undeserved kindess, they are truly a sweet people. If only all parents could strive to trust their teachers, choose to not focus on the teachers flaws and imperfections ( that we By the way are fully aware of) and treat their teachers with kindness and respect, I think teachers in the States would love their job a whole lot more, as I know I sure do. :)

I will end by asking all my cooks and moms...How do I made a chocolate chip, pancake cake!!? Any ideas? Ive volunteered to make a cake for my friend and apparently pancake cakes are what you HAVE TO HAVE. Hmm....ill have an update on how THAT turns out...on my next blog :)

Everyone needs to listen to Soverign Grace-All I Have is Christ. Awesome lyrics.
I have started listening to Christmas Music...and Michael Buble is a favorite. 

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