If you've managed to keep on top of all the updates you are doing very well, in fact better than me - I'm a week behind. So here I am letting you know I am still alive and what's been going on....
Firstly for those of you who noticed in my last update I said Sally Swan had been sick for 8 to 9 weeks. Well that is an awful long time to be sick, but it is also fortunately wrong. So when I said 'weeks' I really meant 'days' (thanks Bryan).
Anyhow, I've been really enjoying my time here in Santiago. My first week was spent doing little jobs for CEP and the other missionaries here and the week just been was spent partaking in the CEP Mission Week with the other students. In between those things was a visit to Viña del Mar on the coast.
When we left to visit Viña del Mar on Saturday (29th Sept) it was a warm Sunday day in Santiago, so we were looking forward to more of the same on the coast. But the sunny weather ended as we crossed through the mountains (yes, 'through' - there were tunnels). Viña was cold and cloudy. But despite that it was really good. We listened to Peter Coombe on the way down (oh the memories! toffee apple nice and juicy, one for julie one for nicky...). We got a little lost and had to ask people for directions. We went and visited Pato and Dagmar for morning tea (who studied at Moore College in Australia) and another missionary family, Daniel and Ellelein Kirk, for lunch (with SAMS UK). I'm really glad we went before the Australia vs England quarter final in the rugby, because I had talked up Australia beating England.
After lunch we went to the beach, but with the cloudy sky and the freezing breeze it really wasn't quite the experience we had hoped for. But the Tim, Lachlan and Annabelle still had fun playing in the sand and playing chicken with the water. I, like Edward, decided sleep would be a good choice. On the way back we stopped via McDonalds for ice cream. I got a Quarter Pounder meal (I was famished alright...) - I can say now with more certainty that McDonalds really tastes the same everywhere.
Sunday was a good break from the busy Saturday. It was also good hearing Tim preach in church and actually understanding nearly a whole sermon preached in Spanish. I was also invited to go and stay with a church members relatives down in Conception, which would be great, but I think I'm going to run out of time.
The next week, from Monday to Sunday, was consumed by the CEP mission week. One group went down to the city Temuco, and the other to Iglesia de La Florida, right here in Santiago. In fact La Florida is the area where the Swans live, and the church was once the Swans church, and the Sheads (other CMS missionaries with the CEP) are currently attending there (guess which team I was on).
The week was spent doing walk up evangelism in the malls, puerta a puerta (door to door) and running various activities at the church. Some of the highlights of the mission week were:
- Getting to know some of the CEP students so much better.
- Seeing a church members get excited about doing mission in their neighbourhood. It was great sitting around after doing door to door around the church a seeing the excitement of each person as they recounted their experience and the enthralled looks of those listening. I've also never seen so many people turn up to a night to be trained (proportionally to the size of the church).
- Being with Tim as he shared the gospel to 8 youths who all said yes when he asked them if they wanted to 'pray the prayer [to become Christians]'. Not sure how serious they were, 'cause I don't remember seeing any of them at the later events.
- Encountering a culture that is so open to talking about Christianity and so willing to hear the gospel of Jesus.
- Latino promptness: the official starting time was 12pm for lunch. Which usually started at 12:30pm when we got access to the church. But everything ran late and things changed all the time.
- Singing so many songs that we sing back in church at home. I have now sung in Spanish 'Wondrous Cross', 'Lord I Life Your Name On High', 'Shout to the Lord' and 'One Way' amongst others.
- Experiencing a Chileano barbecue. Australians are really quite unsophisticated in our approach. We put meat on. It cooks. We eat. Usually with condiments (which here are done so much better too). Aussie males who care to go that one step further are few and far between. Here barbecues are over coals, and the usually exists one guy in the group capable of turning ordinary meat into something extraordinary.
Other than that the last few days have been fairly low key, with the exception of a handful of birthdays amongst the CEP students and their children. Birthdays, if it's a bloke, will usually involve the Chileano equivalent to punches - having a group of friends hold the arms and legs and toss them up in the for the number of years they turned. Which for Gerardo today was more than the guys throwing him could endure.
The other interesting thing here, is that despite the much higher cost of living, the food and drinks are still really cheap. A 500mL bottle of coke costs about US$1. Oh and Coke comes in so many more sizes too. You can get 250mL, 375mL (can), 500mL, 1L, 2L, 2.5L, 3L. Coronas are also insanely cheap. A six pack costs about US$7.
My final 10 days in Chile consist of trying to cram in all the proper tourist bits, doing some final tasks for the CEP and going to the Congreso Nacional de Jóvenes this weekend (Nacional Youth Conference, run by the Anglican church, much like KYC). Much of the teaching here will be done by the CEP students (Felipe will be giving the 3 main talks!) and it will be a great opportunity to catch up with the La Florida youth and spend more time with the youth of the Providencia church.
Otherwise the Swan family are still being a great blessing. I am enjoying my time here a lot and it has been great spending time with the children. Unfortunately Annabelle has gotten sick again and has been kept awake for much of the last few nights with a cough (and her parents too).
Thanks once again for your support and prayers and for the many emails from you. This is my penultimate email prior to my return, of which I am looking forward to. Dios te bendiga.