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.
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! :)