Friday, June 29, 2007

Today I sprained my ankle

Today I sprained my ankle and it hurts real bad. This is a close second to the virus that struck in Santiago. A bunch of us went out away from town to a park by a river and while we were playing soccer with the guys, i rolled it on the uneven ground. It was really rocky grass and had little ditches all through it. It wasn't bad until we sat down for a couple hours for dinner and when we got home from the ride back, I could barely walk. So now I'm stuck in this chair with a throbbing ankle. Luckily, the father of the family that is with us is a neurosurgeon...not joking. He checked it out and said it's a sprain, but still doesn't change the fact that it's a huge pain in the butt. Ok, that's all. Here's a couple pics from today. Did I mention that Lima is in a desert? Oh, and we ate at a restaurant where they had these Incan dancers and live music. It was a dive into the rich culture. Tonight we're just chillin and tryin to get a hold of Mario, who runs the orphanage. Peace.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A Bit of Encouragement

Hey friends. We've been in Lima about 5 days and are enjoying it very much. On Sunday we attended church where we were warmly welcomed by all of the congregation. On Monday we went to help move things from the church building because they've made the decision to split into 3 cell groups that will now meet in homes. Tuesday was great because we finally got a chance to catch up on rest and sleep in a little bit. We got to talk with the missionary a little bit about the upcoming week. Reid got to go to a small group meeting on Tuesday night and came back encouraged because he got to participate in the group. We're slightly limited on transportation space, so I am going to one tonight to get that experience.

We are still awaiting some time with Paul (the missionary) to get us connected with the man that runs the orphanages and some other children's homes, so yesterday Reid and I went downtown to see some of the historical sites. It was again a beautiful site to see such architecture and breath in the busy culture down there. I think this is so cool...inside the old Catholic church we toured, we saw the remains of Francisco Pizzaro. We studied him in my Civ class last semester and he was a Spanish Conquistador that established Lima in the 1500's. So Cool! I finally have some pictures of Lima and can't wait to give you some more of the people that we'll be growing close to this summer. We've been aching to eat some local Peruvian food and found a popular restaurant downtown called Don Juan's. I got Lomito Saltado (grilled steak, onions, peppers, tomatoes, fries with rice...all stir fried together). It was amazing and I can't wait to eat more here.

So last night is the best part though. A small group of the youth group meets in the apartment each Wednesday night and we went to it. There were about 8 or 9 teens that showed up to spend time playing games, talking, singing, and spending time in devotion together. It was a huge encouragement to be a part of that time and get to know Alan, Miguel, Gladys and the others. They have great hearts and it's a blessing to witness their new flare to shine in the world. I can't wait for more times like this. It's still difficult to learn Spanish and I get a little frustrated because I want to know it so fast, but I need to realize that it'll take time and I won''t be a pro overnight. Ok, I will get back soon with more updates and stuff like that. Love you guys. Pray for us....peace.
This is why we don't ride the buses in Lima
The Catholic church downtown

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Flashback to Concepcion

As I sit here in Lima, thoughts of our time in Chile run through my head. Last week Reid and I got the chance to take the train a few hours south to Concepcion. This city is situated on the coast and nestled just into tree-filled hills of southern Chile. If the city itself isn't enough for you, the ride through the hills along the Andes will rock your world. It's comparable to the Northeastern United States and if you didn't know it, you'd think you were in Oregon. The city is made up of about 1-1.5 million people with a centralized downtown and surrounding areas where people live. We stayed in local hotel and spent most of our time scouting out downtown and the University of Concepcion. There seems to be a great need for a revival among young people in this city. I wish I could have seen more of the city, but simply getting to stay there for a couple days and eat some good food will have to suffice.

I wanted to leave you with a few pictures of our time there. Like I said, it's gorgeous. I love that it's city with millions of people, but also that you can so easily get away and be in midst of God's creation.

As far as other things go, we're in Lima and getting adjusted to living here. We're in an area of town called Las Molinas. It seems to a nice little upper-middle class zone with all the comforts of home, such as Starbucks, a movie theatre, a mall, KFC, and Pizza Hutt. There are also some smaller, local establishments that Reid and I like to frequent. This morning, and by morning I mean around noon, we went to a local cafe that had WiFi, got some good coffee and had a sandwich. It's nice to meet locals and have little conversations with them in the taxi's or at the restaurants. I have to admit, it's quite nice to have the Starbucks so close, but it's also kind of a distraction because it's so comfortable and reliable. I really want to get into the local culture and look forward to find ways to do so. I also need to learn Spanish really bad. Being around others who are slightly better at it doesn't help because you can fall back on them so easily for help. I want to learn more, now!

Hopefully today we'll find out a little more that we'll be doing throughout our time here. I have so many questions and hopes. Will we be with a small group? Which of the three cell churches will we be meeting with? Will we get to spend time with the orphanage we heard about? Etc...But keep praying that God guides us through the rest of the summer and that we are used for His purposes in the best ways possible. I'll get back soon with more pictures of Lima. Peace.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Finally in Peru!!

After a 3 hour flight that was supposed to begin at 10:30 but was delayed an 2 hours, we finally arrived at the Lima airport at about 3am this morning. We flew on a Brazilian airline that offered some cheap tickets with a side of turbulence for almost the entire duration of the flight. It wouldn't be the worst thing if we never flew with them again. Anyway, the missionary and the guys we are staying with were there waiting for us (thankfully) and we made it across town to get a few hours sleep before church this morning. It was a huge encouragement to go worship with the congregation. There seems to be a large group of young people that is very strong. We don't really have any idea what we'll be doing here yet, but we're supposed to get all of that worked out tomorrow morning with Paul and the other people that are working with us this summer. Apparently the church's last meeting as a whole was today, and they are splitting into three congregations because of distance and rent issues. The congregation was so welcoming. Everyone was great at learning your name and starting conversations with us. I can already tell that they're going to be great. I'm excited to find out the direction of the summer!

After church today we went to eat at a wonderful restaurant called San Antonio's that seems to be in the gringo part of town, like much of what we did in Santiago. I got some kind of terriaki sandwich and we went to Starbucks after that was next door. After that we went to the supermarket to get groceries. I FOUND DR PEPPER!!! You should have been there to see how happy I was.

I should explain who we're working with this summer. In May, a group of 6 students from the Sunset Bible Institute in Lubbock arrived with a commitment of spending 2 years in Lima with this church as part of their missions training. The 3 girls and 3 guys have two apartments here (where Reid and I are staying) and it looks as though we will be working closely with them. Their Spanish is basically as rough as mine and we all have much to learn together. Anyway, I will hopefully be posting some pictures soon. We don't have internet access at our apartment, but here at the missionary's home we do, and apparently the group spends quite a bit of time in cafes (and Starbucks) using wifi. I can't wait to get back soon with more news about our time here. Peace!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

this can't be good...

Hola mis amigos. Things in Chile are going well with the exception of a one minor issue. For the past week, I've had no problems whatsoever with any food or drink here. But this afternoon at lunch that all changed. To make a long story short, I think I've caught this stomach virus thing that Kelley gave to Reid and Reid gave to me. I slept most of the afternoon and I'm still having trouble keeping water down. I really hope it gets better soon so I can truly make the most of my time here.

Other than that, things are going quite well here. I have loved doing things with the AFCer's here each day. We've spent each day at schools with children teaching English through games, conversation, and interaction. It's been a blessing to see these children and get to know them. We used this time to make contacts with local youth to come in the afternoons to play more games and get acquainted with the church. The evenings usually consist of hanging out with the Jovenes and youth group at the church building. On Thursday night we went to a para-church (made up of an interdenominational campus ministry out of Georgia) They had a really raw worship time, a meal, and time to just kick it with local university students. Very cool outreach.

We got a great deal of rain here this week, which equals mountain snow. On Friday morning, we awoke to a breathtaking view of the mountains that surround the city. You can't see them through the smog unless the rain pushes it away. This clear morning was a great encouragement for me. I will post some pics. Anyway, I hope to go skiing with the Aggies on Monday or Friday and also spend this week serving the local people alongside them. I will get back soon! Peace.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Aggies are here

Long story short about the Aggie retreat...they had major travel issues in Buenos Aires, thus delaying their arrival to Santiago by about 24 hours due to horrendous fog and a radar outage. So this sent us (the Grants, Hatchers, Emorys, Reid and I) back to Santiago from the retreat center, canceling the retreat. They finally arrived last night at 10 and we spent the day with them as they had an orientation and devotionals, etc. I will tell you that I've only spent about 10 hours with them and I'm already feeling as very good friends to many of the group. There's 18 of them and I already knew Sam and another guy from ACU with the group named Alex Castro. It's funny that there's also another guy on the trip that transfered to A&M last Spring from ACU that lived right below me in the fall and went to Southern Hills and I had never met him. Funny that you sometimes have to travel to South America to meet people from the same town as you in the states. Anyway, just wanted to let you know that I am greatly enjoying my time here surrounded by these sick people (the Aggies) that possess something strangely addicting....transfer, eh?

As far as other things go, we spent the evening having dinner and conversing with the Jovenes (college aged students). It has been a huge blessing to spend time with them, hear their stories, share my story and also help each other learn one another's languages. I sat and talked with Paloma about her going to law school and participating in a major political uprising as a high school student last year. I also got to hang out with Mauricio who is very active at the church here, and he's been an incredible helper for me to learn Spanish because he's so good at English. I love it here and I'm having a wonderful time. I can't wait to see what else happens.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

No entiendo!

I love it here already. It's been only 3 days and I think I could live here. We've spent the past 4 days or so getting acquainted with the city. This has given us the chance to ride the Metro (subway) and take Transantiago (the bus) all around to various parts of the city like downtown and other shopping places. The coolest part of the city is that there's people everywhere. No matter where you are, there's people walking the streets getting wherever it is they're going. I can't wait to tell you more, but I wanted to first update you with some picture of some sites. Today we went to church and it was an incredible experience. It's a blast here, but also really amazing. I can't wait to learn more Spanish so I can carry on conversations with people without looking incompetent. Anyways, here's some pics and I'll get back soon. We're headed out to a retreat with the Aggies in a few minutes and I have to get going. We'll be back on Tuesday or Wednesday. Peace to you all.

Above: Plaza de Armas in downtown Santiago.
Right: The Catholic church at Plaza de Armas.
Left: Plaza with statue of
Simone Bolivar, who liberated

Left: inside the church at the Plaza

Thursday, June 07, 2007

I'm here...or there!!!

I'm finally on South American soil. After an overnight flight of 9.5 hours, I arrived in Santiago. Reid and Kelley were there to pick me up after I walked awkwardly through a crowd of taxi drivers who desperately wanted my business. I had an interesting encounter with one who followed me around asking if I was with the Disney on Ice group...which of course I was not. Anyway, our plane was only half full, which gave me my own row on the window side. I probably slept a total of 2 hours off and on, and am now still awake after about 48 hours of no sleep, so I'm a little delirious. I can't describe the view coming into the city. Flying south over the Pacific Ocean, I saw the sunrise over the tall Andes Mountains to the East. It was a glorious view until we got low enough to enter the smog that filled the valley that the city sits in. I'll post pictures soon!

In the city, we drove around seeing different parts and running errands. We spent the morning at the church building watching the Office, then went to lunch at a Peruvian restaurant (how appropriate), then went to the mall to get some soccer (Football) shoes because I don't have any (nor do I have any soccer skills, but will hopefully fix that soon too). The mall here is ridiculous. It's got stores that I'ver never heard of and alot of upscale ones...Apple, Nike, Penguin, etc. There is definitely alot of diversity though. Driving back from the airport I noticed tiny houses and apartments that are far beyond decay in anything I've seen in the U.S.

My time here is going to be great. We'll be staying with Kelley and Julie and getting familiar with the city, meeting people, learning lots of Spanish, and hanging with the Aggies. Please keep praying for God to teach us new things each day, for my diligence in learning Spanish, and more importantly, for me to get outside my comfort zone. I've realized that lots of missionary work revolves around simply being yourself and not being afraid of what people think of you- and doing it with passion. We'll see what God does this summer! Peace.