Sólo Cinco Días Más…

Only five more days…

These last couple of weeks have flown by and been super busy, which is why I haven’t blogged recently. My bad, y’all!

Where to start… First of all, I can’t believe I leave in five days! FIVE DAYS. How has it gone by that fast? Many people asked me, in Spanish and English, if I am ready to leave and honestly, I’m filled with mixed emotions. Two months seems too short but at times, seems enough. There have been a few moments when I wanted to give up and hop on a place back to the States but then, there have been some amazing moments in this wonderful country. 

Here’s what I am gonna miss from Chile and what I could do without, haha.

1. The Weather/Scenery: Okay, I know I have talked about how cold it is and how I have to sleep in like five layers to stay warm, but honestly, I would rather have that than be dripping in sweat and swatting at mosquitos (I’m talking about you, Houston). Even though it’s cold, during the day, it feels amazing and sometimes there is no need for a jacket! Plus, I have loved seeing the Andes Mountains covered in snow everyday. It’s incredible here! But with the cold, comes freezing water. It’s easy to take for granted hot water and I am so incredibly excited to have a hot shower and not have to worry about the water temperature changing on me.

 

Wow!
  
You could say I’m obsessed with the Andes.
  

 

2. The People: Now, I have encountered some really rude people, don’t get me started on my experience at the zoo, but most of the people here I have met are so kind, friendly and thrilled I am in their country. I’m going to miss the kids at Grace College but mostly, the Pizarro family. They truly have become a second family to me and their kids are so dear to me. I know I am going to be a hot mess and have already cried thinking about saying goodbye to them. Seriously. Thanks Julian for getting me all emotional. Plus, all the incredible pastors and missionaries here are so kind and welcoming!

 

Pretty much my adoptive family!
  
My three minions!
  
The zoo with the Herringtons and Pizarros!
 
3. The Food: Some of the food here is super plain and at times, lame with flavor, but I will seriously miss empanadas. Like, oh my goodness are they good. Not good for you, but you know, treat yo’ self! Also, Chileans know how to make pastries, coffee and chocolate. I am bringing back so much chocolate back home and cannot wait to have little tastings with my friends and family. Also, home cooking here is wonderful and cooked with love. When we went to La Cruz, about an hour and a half from Santiago, we had the privelege to stay at a family’s house for a day and a half. They cooked us this amazing lunch with fried fish, called Merluza, and fresh vegetables from a farmer’s market. It was AH-MAZING. Best meal, hands down! But don’t get me wrong, I really miss my sweet tea, Chick-Fil-A, kolaches and my dad’s fajitas. First stop is definitely Chick-Fil-A though!

 

The best waffle place!
  
Fried Merluza! YES.
  
Learning to make homemade empanadas!
  
Getting all emotional… due to onions lol
  
Empanadas Pino!
 

4. The Transportation: I really love the subway system here. It’s so easy and fast and goes all over Santiago. I really wish Houston would invest in one, seriously. Who do I talk to about that? But I really miss my car and being able to drive anywhere. The closest metro station, or subway, is about 15-20 minutes from me, which isn’t horrible but when you’re running late or tired from a long day, it’s frustrating to not have access to quick transportation. Also, I really don’t like the buses here. Yes, they are efficient and cheap, but my heavens, the drivers and crowds. They brake like mad men, don’t fully stop to allow people on or off and they will stuff the buses with as many people as possible, which therefore I get crushed because I am so short. Subway, yes. Bus? I’m good. 

5. Not Being a Foreigner: Traveling is really fun and I love experiencing different foods and cultures but being a foreigner here in Chile is a little overwhelming. People constantly stare at you and at times might want to charge you more for whatever your buying because “you’re American”. I’m super stoked to be able to understand almost everyone I encounter and be able to have full conversations back home. But the plus side of being a foreigner means that you can use your American girl charm if you’re in a sticky situation and once people realize you aren’t fluent in Spanish, they’re super kind and helpful. Being American can be helpful at times!

So like I said, I have mixed emotions about leaving Chile. I could easily stay here for a month or two more but I am excited to be back in familiar surroundings with my family and friends. It’s much needed and plus, I really miss my dog, haha! 

I’m incredibly thankful for this opportunity and already want to come back! I’ve grown so much in myself and I’m really proud of how I was able to be independent around this huge city! Chile, you will always be special to me.!

Here are a few, or a lot, of pictures with everything that has happened.
Not sure if I’ll blog before I leave but I’ll have some sort of closing blog. Thank you for your prayers and love! Soon, I’ll be back in the States and in the greatest state ever! Chao!

 

Painting a house in Valpaíriso!
  
Road trip to La Cruz!
  
Obsessed with this baby!
  
My sweet Pre-Kers!
  
La sillas musicales (musical chairs)
  
Look how precious they are!
  

  

So dang cute!
  
I’m really going to miss being called Miss de Música!
  
Parque Araucano!
 

My little best friend, Sarah!

Sinceramente…

To be honest…

“You make me brave, You call me out beyond the shore into the waves”

It’s been great here but also, rough. I feel like I have shared the happy moments here in Chile but not so much about what I have been going through emotionally. 

I have officially spent an entire month here in Santiago, Chile and on the positive side, I couldn’t be more proud of myself for learning how to naviagate this city. For those that know, I have never traveled internationally. I mean, I went to Saltillo, Mexico for a mission trip but that’s like literally across the border and I didn’t need a passport… I don’t really count it. So for my first international trip, it’s been rough and amazing at the same time. Coming here Julian told me to be flexible because I won’t have a set schedule, there will be some days where I won’t know my schedule until maybe that day… Seriously. That kind of stuff typically drives me crazy. I’m used to knowing what my day will consist of and to be without a plan is weird for me. Luckily though, I have given up my expectations which has allowed me to be flexible and relaxed, PTL (praise the Lord). 

In the beginning of June, I was excited to explore the city and learn all of its’ nooks and crannies but it proved to be a little difficult. I was here alone without a missionary partner and felt isolated. I am such a social butterfly that whenever I was FaceTiming my friends, I felt like I was such a chatter box because I could actually have a conversation with someone in English (sorry to those friends). So it was rough, then I started to get the hang of the metro, or subway, and was able to figure out by myself how to navigate the city. Once it was getting better, then I dealt with some difficulties. I switched host families which came with some obstacles, such as, getting locked out of the house for over two hours, I have keys now, thankfully, and later injuring my lower back on the stairs. I was so done. Done with Chile, done with being away from my friends and family and done with the Lord trying to teach me a lesson. For the first time last week, I wanted to go home. I wanted MY bed in MY city and be surrounded by MY native language. I was over it. There were so many emotions going through my head. I was emotional about past experiences, what my future plans were going to contain, how much pain I was in from my injury and just missing a familiar surrounding. But praise the Lord for friends who can empathize but tell it to you straight. Andy Ramirez, Maddie Rarick and Zasmyne Robinson are gems as friends, just to name a few of the wonderful people I have in my life. They allowed me to cry over FaceTime, vent and then prayed for me and gave me sound advice. They reminded me that first of all, it’s okay to be home sick and to be worried about my future plans. It’s okay to want to give up but to remember why I am here in Chile. I am here for the Lord’s Kingdom to share with people about the love of Christ. So with that I picked myself up and was determined to make the best of my time here. 

Immediately after my little cry fest, the Lord placed sweet friends from the States in my life. Oh, is He good. I needed, I mean NEEDED, friends, badly. I celebrated Fourth of July with American missionaries and there saw my sweet friend, Kathryn Smith, from UMHB, and her missionary partner, Abby, from Georgia. 

Happy 4th of July from Chile!

They are doing mission work in Vina del Mar, about an hour and a half away and it was so nice to have friends from the States and the same age as me. We had a chance to go sight seeing around Santiago, since they were visiting for the weekend, which was so wonderful. I had been dying to go see the city and finally had a chance! We explored and watched the championiship of Copa America between Chile and Argentina. Ultimately, Chile won and the city celebrated until morning! Seriously. On my way to the metro that morning, I saw two guys walking home with a tattered Chile flag that looked like it had been in a battle. Chileans know how to celebrate here! Then Sunday was filled with church downtown and more sight seeing.

La Plaza de Armas!
  
La Moneda!
 

Kathryn and Abby asked me if I wanted to come visit Viña tomorrow since it was their day off and I immediately said yes! So the next day, I traveled by charter bus to Vina and got to see the Pacific Ocean, eat Peruvian food for the first time (OMG it’s delicious) and do some shopping (YES!). Monday was so delightful and needed. I am so thankful that after some rough weeks, the Lord placed Kathryn and Abby in my life here in Chile. The Lord knew I needed that fellowship and after my time with them, I felt refreshed and ready to conquer this next month. 

 

I made it to Viña del Mar!
  
    


The rest of the week, I taught at the school, which I am now gaining more confidence in teaching music and it’s actually inspired me to want to get ESL certified and possibly teach English in a Spanish speaking country, but we shall see 🙂 I taught and then was on winter break for two weeks, YAY! Also, what is wonderful is my friend, April. April just arrived here a few days ago and she is also from Champion Forest Baptist back home. I finally have a friend who I can explore with and I am so happy! We’ve already done some exploring and practicing our Spanish with each other. These next two weeks are going to be so great. There are plans to do different things around the city with April and the Pizarros, and we might even get to go skiing in the Andes and visit Argentina! Insert squealing here. Also, we have some plans to go into the town of Los Andes to assist a church on the weekends and work with a group of girls who have been domestically abused. I’m nervous since I don’t have any experience with girls who have been abused but I know that the Lord will give me the words to communicate with them about how loved they are by their Father. 

April and I loveeeee coffee shops!

 
 

A staple here: hotdogs or completos

The amount of excitement I have for this month is above and beyond and I’m so thankful that I went through some rough patches in June. April was talking to me about how in the book of James, he went through some trials and tribulations but persevered. As she was talking to me about that, I realized that the book of James in Spanish is Santiago. Oh God, I see what You did there! Things like that are what make this trip what it is. It was rough and I was over it, but then the Lord sends me old and new friends which just fills my heart with joy. This month is going to fly by so quickly and I cannot wait to see what the Lord will teach me in these next couple of weeks. Until then, chao, mis amigos! 

Tejas Contra Chile

Texas versus Chile.

My friend Lucy and I at Cerro Cristóbal!

First off, I have been living here for almost an entire month… Like what? Living here definitely has its ups and downs but overall, I am loving this city and finding my way through it. I’ve had moments, like last night for instance, where I just wanted to be in my own room back in Texas but I had to remind myself, thanks to my dear friend, Andy, that I am here for the Lord’s Kingdom and that’s my purpose right now. It’s hard being away from family and friends, but I am learning to brace the diversity here and push forward. 

Before I get into the differences and similiarities, I just have to say how lucky I am to have the Pizarro family. Julian is the one who asked me to come spend my summer down here and him and his family have truly become a second family to me. They encourage me, pick on me (that’s an understatement!) and have hard talks with me when I don’t want to face reality. I am so thankful that the Lord gave me such an amazing, Christ-like family to support me as I’m here. Plus, Jessica, Julian’s wife, is like an older sister I’ve never had and their seven year old triplets, Sarah, Julian and Jonathan, feel like my own kids, lol. I adore the Pizarros and thinking about saying bye to them in a month already makes me teary eyed. 

How cute is Sarah?!

Now the comparison of two places that have a special place in my heart; Texas and Chile.

1. The People

I am such a proud Texas, it’s kind of ridiculous. I will argue with anyone about why Texas is the best state and miss it more and more each day and I happen to be listening to Brad Paisley’s Southern Comfort Zone right now. Texas’ culture is so diverse. There are so many different ethnicities, just like Chile! Seriously. Don’t bother trying to assume if you think someone “looks like they speak English” because there’s seriously every ethnicity here. But back in the good ol’ Lonestar State, people are warm, friendly, helpful and generous. You really can’t beat southern hospitality! Here in Santiago, it’s a big city of 5 million, where Houston is 2 million and Texas has a whopping 27 million, so being in a big city, people aren’t as friendly, just like if you were to go to New York or Boston. Now, don’t get me wrong, the people I have met here at the church and school have been so welcoming and warm, but it’s not like that everywhere.

For example, Jessica and her three kids were in the grocery store the other day and Sarah, her daughter, was carrying Starbucks to bring to Julian. A woman with her shopping cart zoomed in between Jessica’s cart and another cart to get passed them as if she was on the freeway. This woman nearly ran over Sarah by bumping into her which made Sarah spill the coffee everywhere. The woman didn’t say, “Permiso“, aka “Excuse me”, and didn’t apologize to Sarah or Jessica. Jessica said something to the woman about how if she would’ve said excuse me, they would’ve moved, which would have prevented the whole incident. The woman told her she shouldn’t have allowed a little girl to carry coffee in the first place… That was her response! Back home, people would’ve immediately apologized and most likely offered to buy a new coffee! Eventually, this woman gave an ungenuine apology and left. Now, this type of incident hasn’t happened just once to Jessica, this type of thing has happened numerous times and honestly, that’s just how people are here. Like I said, people I have met have been super kind and friendly but that doesn’t describe everyone, unlike in Texas where I would say most people have southern manners.

2. Greetings

Here in Santiago, and really any Latin American country, you greet everyone with a “kiss” on the cheek. Now when I mean kiss, it’s really your cheek touching their cheek and you make a kissing sound. At first, this greeting was incredibly personal to me and for the first week I was awkwardly putting my hand out for a handshake to then be met with a kiss on the cheek. Side note, sometimes they will actually kiss you on the cheek, which threw me off for sure. I initially thought this greeting was bizarre and super personal but now, I actually prefer it! In Texas, there are like a thousand ways to greet someone. There are handshakes, hugs, kisses, bro-hugs, high fives,  awkward hellos and so much more. Sometimes it’s really awkward meeting someone new because one person might be a hugger (aka me) while the other might be into handshakes. Here everyone greets you with a “kiss”… I mean, everyone! If you enter church, you “kiss” everyone you make eye contact with. It’s super intimate but I really love it and apologize in advice if I accidently “kiss” you when I see you!

3. Transportation 

I really miss driving. I never thought I would but I miss being able to get to Target (good Lord, do I miss Target) or Chick-Fil-A (OMG WHAT I WOULD DO FOR NUGGETS) in like five minutes or anywhere in less than 30 minutes. In Santiago, there are cars but you know, I don’t have a Chilean license or anything so my transportation includes walking, the subway, bus or taxi. As much as I miss driving, I really enjoy my other means of transportation, except I haven’t used a taxi yet. Walking allows me to slow down and experience the city and walk off all that bread and empanadas I’ve been eating and I love the metro, or subway. It’s so convenient, easy to use and let’s be real, makes me feel like a cool city girl. The bus is well, interesting. Bus drivers here drive like maniacs and if you don’t hold onto something, you will fall and eat it. The bus system is a tad frightening just because there are so many routes that I get nervous I’ll be on the wrong bus or get off on the wrong stop. Future goal: to be confident in traveling on bus. Overall, I actually prefer the transportation here minus the crazy drivers and always feel accomplished whenever I take the subway somewhere by myself. Self five! 

  

4. Weather

I love, love, love that I am missing Texas’ hot and humid, mosquito filled summer. Unfortunately, I’ll still experience some of it since I am coming back in August but I love the weather here in Santiago. Right now, it’s considered winter with the highs in the 60’s and lows in the 20/30’s. During the day, it feels incredible with the sun shining with a small breeze and at night, it can feel great if you are properly bundled up! The houses have no insulation so I sleep in a long sleeve tshirt, sweatpants, fuzzy socks and sometimes a jacket, with about five layers of covers on my bed. Once I am perfectly wrapped and have shut out all possibilties of the cold, I’m good but getting up in the morning can really be a downer since it’s between 28 to 35 degrees. A down side to Santiago’s weather is unfortunately the smog here.

  
You can see that there is literally a whole layer above the city of just brown, gray smog. It hasn’t rained once since I have been here and there’s hope for some rain next week. I really hope that the smog goes away before I leave. It hasn’t affected my breathing but if it gets worse, it might since I do have a small case asthma. Plus, if it rains, that means there will be snow on the Andes that surround the city. Gosh, I hope it rains!

 

Santiago with little smog!
 
5. Education

Us Texans really need to appreciate our school systems. Schools here are interesting and whenever I am in a class, I am immediattely thankful for the education I had. First off, discipline here is partially applied in classrooms. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen the teachers lose majority of their time for teaching because they are constantly telling kids to stop talking, sit down or raise their hands. It drives me crazy. The reason why teachers aren’t more firm with their students is because at this school, it’s a private school where most of the kids come from wealthy families. Unfortunately, teachers are looked at as workers for these families so due to that, they aren’t respected as authority figures. It’s sad and frustrating for me to see these children be so disrespectful. Second, when it comes to higher levels of education, like universities, teachers again can lose their authority. Students here at public universities can protest against their teachers, classes or the university as a whole. With that, protesting can lead to students not attending classes for a month or more! How crazy is that? Just because students might not like something, they can simply choose not to go to class and therefore mess up their academic schedule and can extend school into breaks. There is just little respect for teachers and professor and it’s unfortunate for educators. 

  
  
6. Food

Food here is delicious, fresh and pretty simple. There are not a lot of spices, which is ironic since I’m in Chile, but I am not complaining since I have a pallate of a gringa! There are so many different types of food here, which I absolutely love. I’ve had Chinese, which was great, and Mediterranean, along with Chilean food. Seriously, there is Thai, Japanese, Italian, Mexican, Peruvian, German and much more! Hot dogs, or completos, are a big deal here and a staple in Chilean food. They eat a lot of bread, avocado,mayonnaise (why???), french fries, beef, seafood, sandwiches and empanadas, which I could eat for every meal, no joke.  My goal is to eat a gourmet hot dog, congrio, a white fish only found down here, Peruvian food and every empanada I can find. Also, they eat a lot of McDonald’s, like, I have eaten at McDonald’s more here than ever back home. Weirdly, I am pretty sure it tastes better here. It just doesn’t seem as processed but who knows, I could just be oblivious! Pretty much, if you want a certain type of food, except for real fried chicken, you’ll be able to find it here! But for real, I miss southern food. My first meal back home will consist of Chick-Fil-A and sweet tea and I have no shame about it!

 

My yummy pasta salad & iced coffee today!
 
  

7. Religion

Ha, I just realized that religion is number seven on my list, oh the irony! Anywho, religion here is interesting. Many people here consider themselves to be Catholic, but they aren’t really involved with an actual church. About 11% here is evangelical, which consists of Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist etc, which is different back home. Houston is ranked 9th on the list of the most religious cities in America, which isn’t surprising since there are many large churches like Lakewood, Second Baptist, First Baptist etc. Overall, people here are concerned about living their lives to their rules and Santiago is definitely a lost city. Thankfully, we have people like the Pizarro family who are planting churches and sharing the love of Christ! 

I hope that you now have a little more insight into this city and my experiences here. I have a little over a month left and looking forward to spending July being a little more touristy and adventuring into Santiago! Ciao for now!

Chile, Me Gusta Mucho Que

Chile, I really like you.

I am about to finish up on my third week here in Santiago, and wowowowow. I can’t believe how fast time has flown. How the heck do I only have five weeks left? Insane. 

Since I last blogged, nothing too too crazy happened but definitely some eventful moments! I am really starting to get a hang of my schedule between the University and Grace College, which is a school btdubbs. Last week, I travelled all the way to Grace College ALL BY MYSELF. I know, I know, that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but I mean, it kinda was. I had to leave my house at 6am to take two subways and a bus to get to Recoleta by 8am. I did it all by myself and only had one mishap. Unfortunately, on the bus I had absolutely no idea what stop to get off. Julian drew me a map and gave me a landmark (lol) but it was dark outside since the sun doesn’t rise until 8:30am. Luckily, this woman asked me in Spanish where I was going and then a guy with an English accent chimed in and helped me. I’m assuming they could tell I was lost by the sheer fear of terror on my face. I’ve never been really good about hiding my emotions. Also, I own a cheetah print peacoat. I never really thought I would stand out but when everyone else is muted colors, you definitely stick out and people stare. That week I successfully taught music to 3-6 year olds and instantly fell in love with the kids. 

   

My precious kindergarteners!
 

The rest of the week was good, minus getting a small cold on Wednesday. The weather here is cold, y’all. I mean like in the thirties at night and because there is no insulation in the houses it’s even colder inside. I pretty much sleep in a bunch of layers with about 7 blankets. Luckily, I kind of enjoy the cold. I think I have some of my dad’s Colorado blood in me! 

On Friday, we went to the stadium again to hand out coffee and pamphlets. There was another protest but it was maintained by the police, praise the Lord! Afterwards, we then went to John’s friend’s house to watch Chile vs Boliva. Ultimately, Chile won 5-0 and continued into the quarter finals and actually, last night beat Uruguay 1-0 and is going to the semi-finals! I never thought I was actually get into soccer here… After the game, we decided to go to Plaza Italia downtown. Plaza Italia is where people go to celebrate, chant, sing and well, party. We definitely went just to experience it but it was interesting. We only stayed for about thirty minutes and then headed out, which we had good timing since five minutes later, fighting and looting started happening.    

 
  

Weekend went well and I actually got a new host family. My first host family could only have me for two weeks since their daguther was coming back so I am now in a new one that;s actually a few blocks from Julian and his family (yay!). Plus, the window in my room leads to the roof where I can see the Andes Mountains!  

 
The only thing is, I don’t have a key to get in and out of the house. Chileans can be very weary of giving their house keys out so my host wants me to call her when I get back… To say the least, as someone who is independent, it’s a tad frustrating to have to rely on someone else. Plus, sometimes you get locked out of your house but can’t escape the garden. Oh, get this story. 
On Tuesday afternoon, Julian and his family dropped me off at my house after school. Now, this is my first day at this house so i don’t have a key, nor do I think I will get one. I was let in by their family friend, went to charge my phone and went downstairs into the front yard to play with their dogs, because, well I really miss my dogs! The thing is, doors here tend to lock automatically after being shut, so I went outside and then as I tried to head in, the door was locked. So I thought, okay, I’ll just leave and walk to Julian’s since it’s a few blocks away and we’ll call my host family. Well, houses here have gates in front of their front yard and you have to have a key to open it… Yeah, I was stuck in the front yard. I had no way out! The only options I had were to wait it out until someone got home or climb their really pointy fence. Numerous times I tried to climb the fence, but once I got to the top and was about to jump, I chickened out. I was stuck in their front garden for over two hours… You could say, I was mad, frustrated and I may have cried, shocker. Sometimes, I truly believe I have the worst luck, but in the end, I just laugh at myself, because this stuff kind of happens to me a lot. 

The rest of my week has gone well, thankfully, and tomorrow, I get to see one of my dear friends from Texas, Lucy! She has family here in Chile so it will be so nice to have a friend here for a day!

Prayers are always appreciated as I continue to stumble through learning Spanish, especially now that my host family speaks Castilian Spanish. Help! I am starting to pick up more but I continue to struggle with communcating.

I’ve really enjoyed blogging and hope y’all are enjpying it too! Next blog post will be about the differences between Texas and Chile! There are many differences, some good and some bad, but it’s made me appreciate home more! Until then, ciao! 

  

Subidas y Bajadas

Ups & downs…

Wow. Where do I start? My first week here in Chile has been one for the books! I’ll try to break down all that I did.

Monday and Thursdays are my days where I go to University of Desarollo with John, sort of my missionary partner, who lives here and is bilingual (praises!). John is in charge of Cru, pretty much a Christian organization on campus and they meet and talk about their faith. Monday morning I met two girls, one a new Christian and the other who has been one for awhile. They asked me to share about myself and I easily felt like I was back at Welcoming Week introducing myself. I shared with them about how I grew up in the church, have a Christian family, went to a Christian university and have mostly Christians as friends. They both gave me a huge smile and told me how awesome that is. I never really realized how awesome it truly was. I suddenly had an ephiphany of how blessed I truly am, and not #blessed, but really and deeply blessed by the Lord. All day I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I had and had never really felt thankful for it. The girls started discussing evangelism and asked me my take on it and to be honest, I knew what it was but never really had done it. It made me sad to think how less passionate I was to share my faith to strangers, where they and John are always wanting to talk about Jesus. Growing up in a Christian enviroment is a blessing but sometimes, we truly lose sight in our purpose for our existence on Earth. I truly hope and pray that after this trip, I will desire to share my faith more. I’m super thankful for my upbringing but I also want to live more for Jesus, instead of myself. 

Now, Tuesday consisted of me learning how to use the Metro, or subway, and the Micro, the bus. Pretty much, I learned to always hold onto something or you might eat it. Julian, John and I arrived to Grace College, where I will be teaching music, assisting in English and Christian Culture. I have to say, I was expecting to observe the classes and learn my schedule but I was pretty much thrown in on the first day and expected to teach. With the help of John, he was able to translate to the students and teachers my directions but Wednesday was a totally different story. 

 

I was pretty excited to ride the subway, but this man’s face was priceless!
 
Wednesday, I arrived to Grace College with Julian, Jessica and their three adorable kids but things went awry. The ages I was told I was teaching to were 2-3 year olds, pre-k and kindergarten, oh and for 45 minutes… My first class was playgroup, aka the 2-3 year olds. When I walked in I didn’t know I was to be teaching since it was my first time and this time, I didn’t have John to help translate my instructions, plus the teachers didn’t speak English. Now, this hurts my pride, but I blanked on what to do and stumbled through teaching a few songs. After the class, I left feeling like a failure and totally unprepared. I ran into Julian and immedaitely lost it and started crying. I knew that I was there to help but didn’t know I was there to be THE music teacher for the younger kids. Julian reassured me and him and Jessica told me that the school is honestly just happy that I am here and that I am putting more pressure on myself than anyone else. The rest of the day I stuck to Jessica’s side and observed her teaching English. I did teach to kindergarteners, which actually went surprisingly well and I didn’t have a lesson plan prepared. You could say that I was quite drained emotionally and took a hard beating that day. Thankfully, I was reminded that the Lord will continually have my back. 

“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10

Wednesday ended with a wonderful Bible study at Julian’s and Jessica’s and I felt ready for the next day. Thursday looked pretty similar to Monday, where I went to the University with John, ate some empanadas, which I could eat for every meal, and then went over some evangelism tools. 

Empanada horno: beef, onions, hard boiled egg and vegetables.

We then went to the stadium where Chile vs. Ecuador was about to play at Copa America. Copa America is a soccer tournament between countries in Latin America and Chile is hosting it, so it’s a big deal around here! We went to hand out free coffee and pamphlets that have the brackets for the games on them and a small section on the Gospel. Being down there, I was extremely nervous. There were tons and tons of people, people trying to sell you stuff and everyone talking to me in Spanish. I already had some anxiety but then a protest starts happening a block from us. Now, as someone naive to protests, I did some research before I came down here. Protests here can get crazy with the police using tear gas, water and arresting people. Suddenly, the protest was being pushed right towards us by the police. The protest was getting rowdier and rowdier and police were forming a barrier against them , while wearing their protective gear. I was freaking out! Luckily, John told me that he’s looking out for me but if anything happens, just run. Thankfully, the protest was broken up and the rest of the night was smooth sailing. 

   

Friday through Sunday, I mostly rested and even had a chance to go for a run. I wanted to run in a park and found one but it took me about 20-30 minutes to get to the park but this view was totally worth it!  

  

My first week had definitely its’ ups and downs but I learned a lot. I learned about being thankful for what I have, desiring to share my faith more and relying on the Lord’s strength when I am weak. The Lord is good and I am loving learning how to navigate a new city. At this moment, I am sitting in a cafe, blogging, and sipping on my latte. One thing I have learned here in Chile is how to relax and enjoy your suroundings. I could definitely get used to my afternoons looking like this!

I have no idea what dessert this is but it’s flippin’ amazing!

This upcoming week will be filled with new adventures and I look forward to sharing my experiences with y’all!

Ciao! 

Me Haces Valiente…

You make me brave…

This has kind of been the theme for these past three days. It’s crazy that I have only been here for three days but I have fallen in love with this city and the people I have met so far. Let me start from the beginning.

 

Julian and me at desayuno, or breakfast!
 
I have to be quite honest, I was an emotional wreck on the plane. I tried to be brave and all adventurous but once I started boarding the plane, my stomach started turning. I immediately texted some of my closest friends and they gave me some encouraging words and prayed for me over text. I don’t know why I got so emotional as we were taking off. I think I was just nervous about everything that was going to happen and the unknown. I immediately put on “You Make Me Brave” by Bethel, which only made me cry more, haha, but was also calming. My flight was fine and I got maybe three hours of sleep which was rough. Friday morning, I landed, went through customs and Julian and John picked me up. The temperature was about 38 degrees, which I thought felt amazing, while Julian and John were in coats. I think I might have some of my dad’s Colorado blood in me, haha. We went to breakfast and talked about life here in Santiago. Then I met my host family, Lillian and Francisco, who live in Las Condes, a neighborhood outside of Santiago, like how Cypress is to Houston. They were immediately welcoming and showed me my room and own bathroom (wow!). I slept for about five hours due to my three hours of sleep before and then had once with my host famiy. Once is similiar to tea time in England. We had hot tea and completos. Here’s a picture:

A real beef hot dog with palta, or avocado, tomatoes and mayonnaise

 I know, I know. It sounds disgusting. Now, I hate hate hate tomatoes and mayonnaise, but I was not about to offend my family and I wanted to eat like a Chileano. It was actually pretty dang good! After once, Julian and his family picked me up and we went to the mall and ate dinner in the food court. I had McDonald’s because well, I had no idea what else to eat. I was dropped off and went to bed.

Saturday, I slept for almost TWELVE hours! I was exhausted. Luckily, Lillian told me I could sleep in the night before because we were going to lunch at 1:30pm, which is weirdly a normal time for them. They took me to this lovely restaurant at like a country club, sort of. The meal was pretty simple and nothing crazy but the best part was dessert! I had a torta de merengue lúcuma  

Pretty much a traditional cake with layers of a crumbly shortbread, whip cream and a fruit called, lúcuma, a native fruit that tastes like maple and caramel. So good! Unfortunately, the coffee they serve does not come with milk so I forced myself to drink it because I didn’t want to be a nuissance and ask for milk. Overall, lunch was great and conversation with my host family is pretty light while practically playing Charades because they don’t speak English and I speak little Spanish. It’s quite entertaining! The rest of the day, I watched Netflix, rested and FaceTimed about nine people, haha. If you want to FaceTime, I am always up for it, just let me know! 

Today was so great! I went to their Baptist church and was introduced to a family from Oregon, who are missionaries. I have to say I nearly cried from excitement that I could have a full conversation in English. Don’t get me wrong, I am enjoying the challenge of learning Spanish but it’s so nice to hear English. I attended an English Bible study class and then attended worship with Jessica, Julian’s wife, Julian and their three kids, whom I absolutely adore! This church has about 200 members, which is very different from my home church of about 5000 members but I have never felt so welcomed and loved on by the people there. After a few songs and a welcome by Julian, we starting singing some more and I had to hold my tears back from feeling so emotional by the congregation. I don’t know why it makes me so emotional but everyone was so kind and full of hugs and kisses, and I could feel the Holy Spirit in the room. Plus, hearing 200 people singing to the Lord in Spanish was a moment I will never forget. After church, my host family and I drove into the Andes mountains to visit her daughter and her family for lunch. For lunch, we had an asado, which is like a barbeque, and oh my goodness. Just look.  

  

Me and JoJo, Lillian’s grandson

This food was so amazing. And what’s crazy is they only use sea salt to cook it with! Texas could definitely learn in their footsteps!  We took a few pictures and enjoyed each other’s company with essert, torta de tres leches. 
 
My host family, Lillian and Francisco
  

  

Franscesca, Lillian’s grandaughter, who spoke English (praises!)
  

I was so thankful for Franscesca since she spoke English and helped communicate to her family for me. Overall, these past few days have been filled with some ups and downs but today, was amazing. I still get tears in my eyes when I think about how loving my host family has been and all the people who have been so welcoming. The Lord has provided me with two amazing second families, the Pizarros and Lillian and Francisco, and moments to speak in English when I was feeling overwhelmed. It’s only been three days and Chile already has a part of my heart. These next 50 something days are going to be filled with many emotions but ultimately, filled with the Holy Spirit. Thank you for your prayers and the number one prayer would have to be my Spanish skills, haha! 

Buenos Noches! 

  

Siguiente parada, Santiago!

 

Next stop, Santiago!

I am sitting here in my terminal about to board my plane in roughly thirty minutes and OMG. There are about five thousand emotions running through me right now. I am so excited but nervous and scared. I just cannot wait to see what the Lord has in store for these next two months. 

Right now, this verse is really giving me comfort right now. 

{Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all.} 2 Thessalonians 3:16

^^^Shout out to Zasmyne for sharing that with me 🙂

Last night, my dad and I FaceTimed Julian and his wife from Santiago to fill me in on what I will be doing. I will be at a Christian school that has kids from kindergarten to twelfth grade, two to three times a week. I can assist with any grade I want and will even have the opportunity to help teach English! I also will be hopefully helping with worship at the church in Santiago, which I am so so excited for! I have really missed leading worship and it’s going to be super cool to do it in Spanish. Hopefully by week two, I’ll learn how to navigate the city on their metro and will at least know where a coffee shop is, haha. I really hope to blog every week or even twice a week! Oh, I will also be going to a University to get to know college students and assist with a Christian organization, Campus Crusades. I’ll attend a class on Chilean culture, SO COOL, and will get to know students and hopefully build relationships. Not gonna lie, I’m nervous about the college age kids. I know I am 23 but I just connect so easily to children so reaching out to people my age, makes me nervous and I ask for prayer as I experience something out of my comfort zone. 
Right now, I feel a little ridiculous sitting in Houston’s international airport in a tshirt, leggings and boots, but, when I arrive it’ll be around 45 degrees, so I brought jeans and a sweater, haha. Once I land, Julian said we’ll go to breakfast (YES) and then I’ll settle into my host home. I really hope I am not jetlagged, even though it’s only two hours ahead but with a ten and a half hour flight, so I can experience the neighborhood I am in, Las Condes. Ahhhhh! I just have so much excitement to learn a new city and be independent.

For those that might have not seen my status on Facebook, my church, Champion Forest, donated $700 to my mission trip and what a blessing that was! I was so incredibly nervous about fundraising but of course, the Lord always provides. I’ve been in awe lately of how much the Lord has provided for this trip and I cannot wait to grow more in Him and share the Gospel. 

Well, we are about to board, so thank you for all who have supported me through this journey and continually show me love as I embark this adventure! I love y’all and will blog as soon as possible!

Buenos Noches!

Sólo Diez Días Más…

Santiago-de-Chile

Only ten more days…

I cannot fully believe that I, Alyssa Martinez, a girl who has never left the country, never been on a plane by herself, and isn’t very adventurous, is about to live in a foreign country for two, WHOLE, months. I have to be completely honest, I am most definitely terrified… but yet, so excited to see how the Lord is going to use me in Chile.

Now for those who do not know why I am going to Chile, here’s  how I chose Chile, or well, how Chile really chose me.

About a year ago, Julian Pizarro, told me he was planting a church down in Santiago through our home church, Champion Forest Baptist. He knew how badly I wanted to learn Spanish and quickly invited me to spend a summer down there. Unfortunately, last summer didn’t work due to summer school, but now, here I am. I will be assisting Julian and his wife, Jessica, through singing worship and hopefully, doing children’s ministry. Now, since the church is new, I will have to be flexible and at the moment, do not know what my daily schedule will be like as I’m down there. I have been sort of imagining that I’ll be sitting in a coffee shop, sipping on a latte and blogging, but that might not be the case. I am going to try really hard to maintain this and share all that I am encountering!

Now, for some fears of mine…

1. The language barrier. People always ask about how much Spanish I know, and well, let’s just say, I can pretty much have a decent conversation with a child, haha. But, that’s one of the biggest reasons why I am going. One of my biggest dreams in life is to become fluent in Spanish. Now, being 75% Hispanic and with the last name Martinez, I feel a little obligated to know a good amount but I really want to be fluent for myself. So, you will definitely be hearing about my struggles communicating but I know that the Lord will provide the words that I will need.

2. I will be kind of on my own. Now, I will be living with a host family, and probably will be seeing the pastor of the church, Julian, and his family, often, but I am not going to Chile with a team. I am flying on a plane for 10 1/2 hours by myself and most likely learning the city on my own. Now, that’s terrifying to me, but I get this sense of excitement about experiencing independence and learning more about what I am capable of, so bring it on!

3. This one kind of goes in hand with number two but I am most definitely worried about feeling lonely. Since I won’t be with a team, there will be many moments where it’s just me. Now, that’s okay, trust me, I enjoy alone time but I love, love, love to be with people. One of my favorite things to do is to sit in a coffee shop with a friend and just talk about life. It truly brings me joy and I really hope I will get the opportunity to experience that in Santiago. But for my friends and family out there, expect some FaceTime calls because man, I will definitely need to see some familiar faces!

So that’s the gist of most of my fears. Weirdly, writing them all down kinda makes it more real and scary but here’s what I am excited for!

1. The food! Y’all, I don’t think y’all understand how much of a foodie/cultural nerd I am. I constantly Google articles about food and customs down there. I am so excited to just roam around the city and eat completos, empanadas, and sopapaillas. Once, I have actually tried them, I’ll definitely be posting about them and probably will not stop talking about how great everything is!

2. Learning how to navigate in a city by myself. Now, I am from Houston and take pride in knowing how to use a map without Siri telling me where to go, but to be somewhere completely foreign without data for Siri, is frightening but exciting. I am so excited to see how much more independent I will become and to finally learn how to be a traveler.

3. Since a big reason why I am going to Chile is to learn Spanish, I am obviously super excited to see how much I will learn. I hope to be somewhat fluent and to be able to have a full conversation with not only children, but adults. Ha! We shall see but I know that it can only go up from here!

4. Growing more in my faith. This last semester of college was a huge test in my faith. I went through some hardships and experienced a lot of emotions regarding change and moving forward in life. Through some difficult moments, the Lord really pursued me and gave me comfort and peace that everything would work out. I still have moments where I get in a rut but He’s always there with encouragement that He has it all figured out for me. Since March, my faith really has been challenged and I have grown more and more each month in it. So I am looking forward to giving my talents to the Lord and allowing them to be used for His Glory and being challenged in my faith. It’s insane what opportunities the Lord presents us with when we choose to open our eyes to His plans!

So as I conclude my first ever blog, I want to encourage others to be open to what the Lord has planned for you. I’m not one who is adventurous or spontaneous, but I know the Lord will push me to my limits in Chile and I could not be more excited to see how He plans on shaping me. This blog will hopefully be written in often and full of pictures of my new adventure in Chile. Prayers are always, always appreciated and I ask that you pray for not only me, as I embark this trip, but for the people I encounter, that they truly see the love of Christ, through language barriers and all!

Also, I am still fundraising through my GoFundMe page if you feel led to donate!

http://www.gofundme.com/ojki7c

I hope y’all enjoy these blog posts!