Friday, November 11, 2011

What Veterans Day means to me- 11/11/11

My brothers John and Jeff are both career Army, my dad served in the Air Force, and my maternal grandfather served in Korea.  So Veterans Day has always been special to me.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A month and a half later...

It's been about a month and a half since I returned to the States.  In that time, I've been able to process much of what happened during those six weeks in Santiago.

Monday, July 18, 2011

You know you miss Chile when...

I wanted to note some funny things that have happened in the time of culture shock since I returned from Chile.  Yes, these are all things that I've done or things that have happened to me.

SO: you know you miss Chile when...

  • You get nostalgic when you see Nescafe in the grocery store.
  • You get overly excited when you find out the apple you’re eating is from Chile.
  • You suddenly gain an interest in the Copa America.
  • You suddenly gain an interest in soccer, period.
  • You actually walk through the wine section of stores out of sheer curiosity to see if they have Chilean wine and/or Pisco (and no, I didn’t buy any!)
  • You relate most every discussion to Chile, something that happened in Chile, a Chilean friend or one of your teammates.
  • You freak out when you find canned dulce de leche in the grocery store, meaning you can make alfajores!
  • You crave empanadas, sopaipillas, and jugos naturales on a daily basis.
  • You freak out when you think you see the Chilean flag, and then you are disappointed when you realize it’s the Texan flag (they look REALLY similar).
  • Your favorite way to start a sentence is “In Chile…”
  • You (nearly) say things like “esta bien”, “permiso”, and “gracias” to people, despite them talking to you in English.
  • You teach your friends and family the salsa and the cueca.
  • You make a list of reasons you know you miss Chile. ;)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Stories from Santiago, part 1

I wanted to share with you a short story of one of the most awesome things I saw this summer.  I was blessed to have the opportunity to see someone led to Christ this summer, and it was one of the coolest things I've ever seen. (Additionally, I talked about this briefly  before, but not as in depth as here.)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Back in the States...

Hello all,

First off, I want to apologize for not blogging sooner.  Things were super busy, and then we had our project debriefing in El Quisco (south of Valparaiso on the coast) most of this week, and we had no internet access there.  On Saturday, we headed back to Santiago, where we had one last get-together with the Chilean staff, and then we headed back to the airport.  About 15-20 Chilean students showed up at the airport to say goodbye, and we got to spend about two hours with them before we boarded our plane.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

An Interesting Day

Well, today was interesting.

I say that because of the general chaos that was Santiago, Chile today.

There was a march today by students demanding reform in Chilean education, principally in the form of reducing the cost of tuition and fees.  It started in Plaza Italia, where two of our campuses are, and eventually spread across the city.  Since both of our unis in Plaza Italia are en toma (see my post from yesterday if you're confused about this), we decided instead to go to USACH again.  We knew that USACH could be involved in the protests, but we decided it was probably our safest bet.  Plus, we had no work to do at the hostel, and we couldn't just sit around and do nothing!

When we got to USACH, the campus was very quiet.  There were very few people there; I think we saw fewer than 30 people the entire time we were there (about three hours).  Everyone must have been off on the march.  We thought it might pick up in the afternoon. Boy were we right.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Nearing the End :(

This post makes me sad. :(  We have two more days of on-campus ministry left, and only twelve days left in country. :( We fly back to the States on the night of July 2, arriving in Dallas the morning of July 3.  I get back to Phoenix about noon if everything goes according to schedule.  And this post, for the record, is a little more introspective than previous posts.  But please, bear with me. :)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Santiago En Paro

Hello again!

This week has been muy interesante.  I say that because...

We're on strike!  I mentioned earlier that USACH and some of the other unis we work on were on strike or close to it.  This is worse.  Now many private schools are on strike to support the demands of the public unis.  Ergo, almost 200 schools in the Santiago metropolitan region are on strike, including most of the ones we've been working on.  Some high schools, including the one by our hostel, are also on strike.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

(Very) Quick Update and Fun at Cerro Santa Lucia

It's after midnight here in Santiago, but I wanted to update this really quickly and share some exciting news plus an awesome video from one of my teammates.

We have now seen at least a dozen people either come to know Christ or rededicate their lives to him.  I think it might be closer to 15, but I don't remember the exact count.  We're now starting followup with said students, and hopefully we can reach more in the weeks to come!  God is doing amazing things here in Santiago!  (side note: the public universities are still on strike, but there are enough people around to still work there)

On another note, today we had a prayer event at Cerro Santa Lucia (Santa Lucia Hill), which is a prominent landmark in the city.  Afterwards, we hung out there with some of our Chilean friends for a couple hours and played games and goofed off... sooooooo much fun.  Seriously, they're a blast to hang out with.  There's never a dull moment.  As an example, I wanted to share this video Billy, one of my teammates, took this afternoon of what was eventually dubbed "Horsebee".

So yeah, Chileans are a riot.  That's all. :)

Monday, June 6, 2011


I totally forgot to mention this before, but I've been uploading pictures of our trip on Facebook.  You can see the photos here: Enjoy!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

More observations about Chilean life, prayer requests, and exciting news!

Hello again!

Since posting a few days ago about observations of Chilean life,  I've remembered a few more that I want to share with you.  Also, I thought I could update you on our first full week here, including a big prayer request and some big praises too.

So to start, here are a couple more quirks of Chilean culture that outsiders (read: Americans) tend to notice.
  • First off, hardly anyone drinks brewed coffee.  Almost everyone drinks Nescafé (instant coffee) or tea.  They LOVE their Nescafé.  I'm not a coffee drinker, so it's not a huge deal to me, but my coffee-loving teammates have... shall we say... questioned this practice often.  If you want brewed coffee at a coffee shop, you have to order "café café" to get it (as opposed to Nescafé, which you order simply as "café").  Also, I think I've drank more tea in the week that I've been here than I had in the entire last year.  I've been drinking it at least once a day, sometimes twice. 
  • There are also a lot of people with mullets and dreadlocks.  Apparently, mullets and dreadlocks don't have the same associated ideas here as in the US. ick.
  • Many places don't have hot water, and the places that do often take FOREVER to get hot water.  I'm not saying this to complain, but rather to realize how blessed we are in the States by something we so often take for granted. 
  • Chileans wear scarves all the time, especially in the winter. There are few people we encounter during the day that are not wearing scarves (yes, it is the fall/winter here now-the seasons are reversed from the Northern Hemisphere).  There are tons of people selling scarves and gloves in the markets and on the streets. 
  • The weather, at least in Santiago, is a lot like Arizona- cool and dry in the winter and summer with little seasonality.
  • Chile is an area of high seismic activity.  Right now, there's a volcano erupting about 1,000 kilometers south of Santiago, and there were a couple small earthquakes in the ocean a few hundred kilometers west of Santiago.  Don't worry, none of them caused any damage, and Chile is probably the safest place to be in an earthquake because they're so used to them.
  • Also, there's this drink that's really popular in Chile called mote con huesillos.  It's basically their national drink.  It's basically a whole dried peach, cooked in sugar, cinnamon, and water, which is then cooled and mixed with fresh husked cooked wheat (the wheat is cooked in water until tender).  I haven't actually tried it, but I have heard from several people that it's really good.  I'm so going to try it one of these days.
Anyways, those are all the observations I had for now. On to current events:

On Tuesday, we learned that at USACH (Universidad de Santiago de Chile), one of the main college campuses in Chile and one that I personally work on two days a week, that there would be a strike/protest on Wednesday.  By Friday, we learned that the strike/protest would be nationwide and would last at the very least until Tuesday.  See, from what I understand, the government is trying to privatize the student loans industry, which would cause many grants and student loans to dry up.  Almost all students need grants or loans to pay for school, so the lack of loans/grants would cause enrollment to drop.  Additionally, the university staff (I don't think the faculty, though) thinks that they're not paid enough, so they're going on strike.  Between the students protesting and the staff going on strike, the universities are shut down.  There are some private universities that are still running, but a lot of the universities around Santiago are closed.

If the universities will be shut down for the rest of the semester (i.e. if the Ministry of Education and the students/staff can't come to an agreement), we will have to find another way to minster to the Chileans.  At first, we were a little concerned, but then remembered that nothing happens outside of God's plan- he knew this strike would happen even before anyone started planning this trip, and we're going to reach the people he wants us to reach- they just might not be the people we originally thought we would reach.

On that note, we've seen some awesome things happen this week.  We calculated our numbers yesterday, and we saw two people come to Christ (one that I saw happen) and two others rededicate their lives to Christ!  

I was working with Kelly, one of the directors of this project, and we were having a conversation with these three girls.  One had said that she didn't believe in God because her family had been burned by the church, and the other two believed in God but, as near as I could tell, hadn't accepted Christ.  Anyways, we talked to them a little bit (well, Kelly talked to them and I tried to understand what they were saying, which I was actually able to do with a fair bit of success), went through the 4 Spiritual Laws with them, and this girl (heaven help me, I forgot her name) said she wanted to put Jesus on the throne of her life!  Kelly made sure she knew what the decision meant and that it wasn't to be taken lightly, but she reaffirmed that she wanted to make the decision.  So we prayed with her and got her information to follow up with her!  It was amazing and I'm getting chills just sitting here writing about it!

That's mostly all the news I have for now. Please be praying for our new sisters and brother in Christ!  Please also be praying for the strike/protest and that God's will will be done, whatever happens.  Finally, if you could pray for the health of our team and the local staff, that would be great.  Some of us have been feeling a little under the weather lately, which means we're not 100 percent.

More to come soon from Chile! :)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Observations of Chilean Life

I've been in Chile for four whole days now. :)  I absolutely love it here.  Sure, things are a little different than home, and I am homesick, but my team is awesome, and so are the friends we're making here.

I wanted to talk a little bit about the differences between Chilean life and life in the United States and other fun facts I noticed.  This is by no means a comprehensive list, but these are some things that I've noticed and wanted to pass along.

Firstly, in public restrooms, there is no toilet paper in the stalls.  You have to grab toilet paper from a big dispenser by the sinks before you use the bathroom or... well, you get the idea.  It's just weird for an American.

Secondly, men and women greet each other by kissing each other's cheek (well, actually, the air next to each other's cheek/ear).  Men don't kiss each other on the cheek, for the record.  It was really weird at first, but I don't even think about it that much anymore.  It's sort of become habit!  But I think I would creep people out if I continued that habit in the United States! haha.

Thirdly, at restaurants, they offer free bread, but not free water.  Chileans love their pan.  Ooh, and water always (ALWAYS) comes in a bottle, and when you order it, they ask if you want agua sin gas or agua con gas, the difference being carbonation (the former does not have it, the latter does).  Unlike in the US, most people in Chile like carbonated water (which, I've been told, tastes like really flat Sprite).

Fourthly, lunch is usually a huge meal, while dinner and breakfast are smaller.  Ooh, and every morning at the hostel, we eat the Chilean form of Cocoa Puffs (which aren't puffs at all, but rather chocolate flakes), bread with butter and/or jam, and tea/coffee.  That's it.  Lunch is highly variable for us, but dinner is almost always small.

Fifthly, there is no sales tax.  When you see the price on the menu, that's the price you'll pay.  It's pretty sweet, actually, and it makes an already cheap lunch even cheaper. :)

Sixthly, (and this doesn't really count as a cultural difference, but it's something I found amusing) our Chilean friends LOVE Ultimate Frisbee, which an American Summer Project Team introduced to them a few years ago.  They're super intense about it, and it's hilariously fun to watch.

Seventhly, they LOVE gringos (and no, that's not an offensive term here).  Our team has often been stared at (albeit not in a threatening way) by many, many Chilenos, and hollered at by some more.  They're not threatening at all, but they definitely are curious about people who are noticeably outsiders.  Also, they love our movies and TV shows and music- it's actually really funny when they tell you their favorite bands and movies and TV shows because so few of them are Chilean.

Eighthly, there are stray dogs everywhere.  And I mean everywhere.

Ninthly, they use all sorts of slang that even fellow Spanish speakers from other countries don't understand.  They also speak way faster than other Spanish speakers, slur their words, and drop sounds entirely.  When asked, they say "We don't speak Spanish, we speak Chilean!"

Tenthly, and finally, Chile runs on a... different time system.  No one is in a real hurry to get anywhere on time.  We joke about Chilean Time, which is 10-15 minutes late.  Sometimes even half an hour late.  Sometimes even an hour late.  They're just not in a hurry to get anywhere.

Anyways, I hope this has given you an idea of what Chile is like!  Stay tuned for more updates!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Hola from Santiago!

First post from Santiago!  We got here last night about 9 local time.  I am so excited to be here!

Anyways, we actually were supposed to arrive yesterday morning, but our flight was delayed because the plane was hit by hail.  So the airport gave us hotel vouchers and breakfast vouchers and we came back in the morning and spent all day in the plane.  But in a way, I think that was good because we didn't sleep the whole way there! (the original flight was supposed to be from about 9pm CST to 8am EST, but the new one was about 10am CST (supposed to be 8am) to 9pm EST).  For clarification, Santiago is in EST, aka the same time as NYC, Boston, Detroit, etc.  Three hours ahead of Arizona right now.

Anyways, like I was saying before I interrupted myself, we didn't sleep the whole way and could actually see things out our windows!  We saw the Gulf of Mexico, the Yucatán Peninsula (as an archaeology major, I kept an eye out for Maya ruins, though I didn't see any), northern South America (we think it was Peru- and again, as an archaeologist, I wanted to see Machu Picchu, even though I knew it was unlikely), and the Andes!

We were cruising at 30,000 feet.  That gives you an idea of how tall the Andes are!
Time got away from me there!  I meant to write a more detailed blog post about our first day here, but I got distracted talking to my roommates (which, I suppose, is a good distraction).  Anyways, now at half past midnight, I suppose I should turn in too and brief y'all on our briefings sometime soon when my roommates aren't trying to sleep. :) 

We appreciate your prayers!  Adiós from Santiago for now!

EDIT: Additionally, if you want more frequent updates on our trip (plus videos!), you can go here and read posts from Nathan and Kelly, our project directors. Enjoy!

Monday, February 28, 2011


I am literally so excited for this summer!  I applied within the last two weeks to a summer project in Santiago, Chile, and today, I got an acceptance call!

Okay, I'm going to back up a little bit and tell the whole story (for more background, see my October 21 post "Sometimes, God's as subtle as a hand grenade").  I knew the deadline for Summer Projects was looming, and I hadn't applied anywhere.  Well, technically I "started" an application for Chile earthquake relief... all I had done was click the "apply now" button.  But I wasn't sure if I wanted to do that or if I wanted to spend two weeks in southern France with the Jesus film project. Something, perhaps my natural reluctance, kept me from applying (well, beyond simply clicking the "apply now" button).

Due to my "application" to the Chile earthquake relief project, I got an email telling me that it had been canceled.  It just so happened that the person emailing me to tell me that it was canceled was in charge of the Santiago trip and he put in a personal plug for the trip.  Honestly, at the time, I was too sad that earthquake relief was canceled to really consider Santiago.  So the Jesus film project was my top choice, but I still didn't apply.

Do you ever have those moments where you sense God talking to you and you know exactly what you have to do, even though it's completely different than you had planned?  That's what happened to me a couple weeks ago (and, ironically, looking back, it was Valentine's Day when this happened).  For discipleship, we've been reading through Crazy Love by Francis Chan.  Amazing book- I highly recommend it- it's literally life-changing.  You see, in chapter four, he discusses the profile of the lukewarm.  With some of these points, it was like he was talking about me. Three in particular stood out.
Lukewarm people are moved by stories about people who do radical things for Christ, yet they do not act...
Lukewarm people say they love Jesus and he is, indeed a part of their lives. But only a part... He isn't allowed to control their lives.
 Lukewarm people will serve God and others, but there are limits to how far they will go or how much time, money, and energy they are willing to give. (pages 70-74).
 I realized at that moment that I didn't want to have those lukewarm spots in my life anymore.  So I decided, right then and there, that I would apply for the Santiago project.  Honestly, I made an on-the-spot decision, and that's where I ended up.  And I've felt so at peace with that decision.  Before that morning, I had various objections to the trip: like the length (5 weeks overseas), the fact that I don't speak Spanish, etc.  Things that now seem trivial.  So I did it.  I finished the application, got three references, and waited patiently for a little while. :)

Anyways, coming back to today, I got the call that I was accepted.  I'm so excited, and I know now that I'm in the right place!