On February 16th as my husband and kids dropped me off at the airport, i swiftly gave hugs and pecks on the cheeks and i was out the door on my adventure. I was so ready for my time to be my only care taker, and to have some one on one time with me, myself, and I. I was so excited and in a hurry i had left behind my cell phone which would not have worked down there but could have used in case of emergencies.
We had a relatively smooth trip into the country. The last flight was so bumpy with turbulence that a few people headed to the front of the plane and lost their lunch. We were not able to land after 3 failed attempts and headed north for an emergency landing in conception. This would mean we now needed to take a 5 hour bus ride to our destination in temuco, and then off to Nueve Imperial where our beds were.
We were greeted with open arms and a huge table of food! We were loved upon and then sent to our warm beds and different host homes to be ready for the morning.
The next days that followed were wonderful hard working days and days of translation and answering questions about ourselves and where we live. We were along way off on the translation part but at the end of the day we had a bond with everyone and had lots of laughs and fun. Sure enough our hearts grew bigger and bigger with our loving co-workers and friends. Even though their burdens were heavy, and most of the time they didn't understand us and we them, we were very cared for.
Over the course of the 2 weeks, we accomplished tasks that improved their school. We were very grateful to be able to lend a hand and man power to repair, rebuild, and do upkeep on a school compound that housed many children from very poverish homes for a week at a time. We were invited into their homes and churches. Oh so many things that we take for granted and can live without. In their broken window churches with no air conditioning or rest rooms, and sometimes share a space with a dog or two, their joyful celebration to GOD is something that i will always treasure. Theirs is a passion that i wish we sometimes had more of. Their love and kindness to strangers and giving everything they have is how i want my heart to resemble.
Someone down their had brought the subject up of why people just don't send the money for the mission trips and forgo the hassle of the trip. And he explained that one of the important pieces to this puzzle is interaction and relationships. I get that now. I have left behind people that i have been so touched by their giving and kindness. People that have imprinted my heart and make me feel alive more and more with everyone that i open my heart to and love. I have a family down there. I have sisters that i never had with my blood relatives, as well as brothers, fathers, mothers and friends. I feel complete, and whole once again.
The earthquake was in fact a terrible thing, but it didn't take away from my experience at all. If anything, it made it stronger. We shared a frightening experience with them and gave our best to provide love, prayers, and distraction during this time. But i think in the end they were the ones consoling us! We heard horrible stories of people losing their lives, homes crashing down, buildings that had amazing history suddenly erased from time, and a silent and deadly tsunami that stole away people, homes, and villages in the darkness before the sun rose as if they had never existed. We saw cracks in roads and highways, landslides, and buildings falling apart. We saw people going down to the rivers to collect water in jugs, buckets, and pop bottles to bring back to their homes.
I am now home again after 5 days of no sleep and 3 days of traveling. I have a peace inside me that i can't quite explain and a contentment that opens my eyes in a new ways. I will forever love the country of chile and its people. For them and God i will always be thankful!
to be continued due to too many pictures!