Wednesday, November 30, 2005

the beach in Caldera


Thisis the beach about 8 hours north of La Serena and about 16 hours north of Santiago. Just darn beautiful. The water is so blue. And the weather was perfect. Darn beautiful.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

how much He loves me

I was praying this morning as I was waiting for the bus and I was half way joking when I asked God if tody he could show me how much He loves me. The second I said it though, I realized how much I was serious. So I smiled and thanked Him that today would be an amazing day because I was going to know today how much He loves me. I got on a micro (bus) and sat down in a seat (which a seat in and of itself is a blessing here in the city). I soon heard a friendly voice behind me say goodmorning. I turned around and saw one of the men from California I had had lunch with on sunday. I asked him where he was going and he said that he was going to a men's bible study. We chatted a little and parted at the bus stop. What a great way to start my day, talking with a friendly face. And for lunch i am going to meet up with the woman from Nebraska that I met at Thanksgiving. AND then for dinner I am hanging out with the multi denominational bible study.

a quick little note about the buses in Santiago. They are fairly nice if you catch one at a good time. And basically, there is not schedule so you just go to the bus stop when you want a bus and wait for the next one. It might come in one inute, itmight come in 25 minutes. You just wait. It is fine if you re going at a non rush hour time, but if you happen to need a bus during the 3 hour rushes int he morning and afternoon, you will be met with an already full bus. This doesn't mean that you won't try to get on it. That was my experience yesterday. When i got on the bus to go home after class, I found that not only were all of the seats taken, but the majority of the standing room was gone also. So I was standing near teh front door, holdong onto a little piece of metal that was supposed to support me as the bus swerved throught eh busy streets of Santiago. Not that this was the end of the story either, because at every stop more people got on the bus and soon we were worse than a can of sanrdines. Literally I could feel everyside of me touching someone else. I was holding onto a piece of metal on a chair in front of me. but the guy behind me had to support himself with the bar above his head, so everytime the bus went around a turn, he fell into me, and I inturn fell into the lap of the woman sitting n teh seat in front of me. The amount of people on that bus would just not be legal in the states, but I guess that is why it is in Chile and not up there. Anyways, i waited anxioulsy for my stop and said a huge "gracia!" to the bus driver when finally got off the bus.

Monday, November 28, 2005

just like the good old times

So last night was a wierd night (a felix type of night). I'm not going to go into too many details, but basically I had a moment where life was just too ironic and I needed to talk to a specific friend(Ashlee). So, thanks to the extremely cheap phone card that I found, i called her up and we chatted. It was strange to talk to her and know in my head that I am thousands and thousands of miles away.
The lives we live would be practically impossibel without the technology we have. We couldn't visit other cultures as easily, we couldn't get information we want as easily and in reality we couldn't expereince as much variety of life. All these things make me so grateful for the technology we have, but at the same time I think we are in a sense prisoners to the very thing that seems to free us. How many times do you check your email in a day? In an hour? (Mom, you don't have to answer that, I know that you check it three or four times an hour... hehe) Not that this blog has any power to change the way the world has become dependent on technology, but just something to think about.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Sunday sunday

I am writing from the food court at teh local mall where there are computers you can pay to use. I just finished having lunch with 6 californians. I am not sure why, but it seems like the majority of gringos I meet are from California. A little side note. Do you ever think that you like someone one because it works well to like them, and not because you actually like them. For example, you might choose to like your new boss, because liking your boss would make your life easier. But there is not necessarily anything special about your boss. Sometimes I wonder if I choose to like people more than I actually like them. Like I like the idea of them. Some people who read this will prabably thing I am crazy, but others of you will understand. And then the next question is: If you like someone just becasue you want to, does that make it wrong?

Friday, November 25, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone (a day late, I know)!

I have had a lot of people ask me about Thanksgiving down here. Well, it is a holiday only for the US, but the average Chilean knows about (We can thank the Friends episode for that). I actually went and had a REAL Thanksgivng meal, pumpkin pie and all. My church which is an international church and is made up of mostly Gringos, put on a Thanksgiving potluck. It was amazing.
Of course it was missing a few things that I have come to realize are traditions for me from my childhood. Some of the foods they were missing were Grandmom's augratin potatoes, deviled eggs, and Martinelli's sparkling cider. The church also was not able to provide chairs in front of a tv for all the men to fall asleep on. I think that is one of my favorite memories: walking into our tv room and finding not just my dad, but my granddad, both sleeping in front of the tv.
Overall though, the night was wonderful. I sat at a table with a couple from nebraska who moved here shortly after getting married. We asked the normal questions that everyone in an internatioanl church in Latin Ameria would ask. Where are you from, how long have you been here, what brought you here, and how long are you going to stay? Surprisingly enough, we had the smae answer for the 3rd question. When they asked me, I gave my usual mumbled response that I am not sure why I am here exactly but that I am supposed to be here and I am loving it. The wife, Sonja, smiled and said they knew exactly what I meant. The night was a great reminder of the blessings and traditions that home holds.

My lesson did not go so well yesterday. I was asked to teach using a method that we learned the day before and that none of us were very comfortable with, but I am up for a challenge. I felt like the class went horribly, but my peers and trainer disagreed. While they admitted that it had some strong down sides, they still thought overall the class went well. The amazing thing is, that even though I felt like I bombed that class, I still really want to teach. i never knew that it would become a passion. I thought I was just doing this so i could get a job, but I have found that teaching is something that comes semi naturally and that I love to do. I am teaching again today, but this time I can choose my method, so it will be fun.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

my pastor

Every wednesday morning, the pastor of my church and a few elders and anyone else who wants to come, meet at a coffee and bagel shop to pray for the church. It happens to be at the same bagel shop that I go to everymorning, so I get to join them. Today though, no one showed up but the pastor and I. So we ate breakfast and talked. Can i just say that I appreciate the fact that God places the most amazing people in my life? This man is a prebyterian missionary and had like 4 degrees from different universities, including Fuller and Westminster. BUT he is not caught up in all of it. What do I mean? Well, we were talking about the situation with pastors here and it was so interesting to hear the issues that are coming up with the training and selection of national pastors here in Chile. He and I discussed everything under the sun and I was glad. Sometimes I think that people assume that just because I am a blonde girl from California that I am not up for an intellectual conversation about different theological subjects. The conversation almost felt like stretching my legs after hours of sitting on a bus. It took me a second to get back into the groove after months of no intellectually stimulating conversation, but once I was in it, I loved it. We prayed for the church and for Chile in general, and went our seperate ways. I just feel so blessed that this man is someone I can respect and learn from. No one could ever replace what Brian and Garret were to me, but it is good to know that the teaching won't end.

Also, I received the most amazing phone call from a dear friend, KALLIE, who I adore and I am missing horribly out here (she should be out here with me, by the way). It was good to pick up the phone and hear the excitement in her voice as she said, "Becka!?!". Out of everyone I know, she understands how ridiculously attractive MTW boys (who like to quote the Westminster Catechism) are, unfortunatly. I love you and I miss you Kals!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

a difficult morning

I can feel God breaking me. I was so desperate for His grace this morning. So desperate for His grace. I sat at breakfast and listened to the amazing worship cd that Ashlee sent me and read some of His amazing promises. It was a difficult morning but through all of it, He stayed by my side and showing me in the details of the morning how much He loves me.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Two of my favorite people in the world

One- my GRANDMA!!! I absolutly love my grandma, and I feel so blessed that especially the past five years or so, I have really gotten to know her. I just received an email from my grandma who has for the first time in her life set up an email account! So welcome grandma to my blog. I hope this gives you a little insight to my life here in Chile, and I promise you it is SO SAFE!

Two- ASHLEEEEEE!!!!!! Okay, out of all the people in the world, the person I love to travel with teh most and in all honesty have travelled with the most outside of my family is my buddy Ashlee. A few summers ago when i was having a hard time in teh heats of Wisconsin I photocopied my journal adn mailed them to her. She commented on them and mailed them back. So we have decided to continue the tradition and a month ago I sent her my journal. Today, I received in the mail not only my jounral returned with comments from her, but TONS of goodies, including: reeses peanut butter cups, candy necklaces, cds that I requested, HER journal, tons of other candy, cookies, and most importantly a book called "Irresistable You- Attracting and Capturing an Outstanding Man". Thanks Ash! All the students in my class were so jealous of me! I have only started to read you journal, but I can tell you now that reading it is making me miss you so much.

Note: if there is anyone else who would like to send a care package...hehehe

Becka Lipkowitz (yes mom, you HAVE to write Becka and not Shira)
TEFL program
Bridge Linguatec
Los Leones 439
Provedencia Santiago CHILE

And a special request has been made for any candy bars that include peanut butter. For example: butterfinger, reeses anything, etc.

An amazing weekend that is following me into the week

This weekend was amazing. After my BK night on friday I decided to venture out for Saturday. I had heard that there was some prayer meeting for the city of Santiago so I droppped by the church to see if anyone would be there to give me directions. Well, it turned out that two of the organizers were there and I helped them prepare and set up. the meeting was on a hill, more like a mountain that overlooked all of Santiago. Since O got there early with the organizers I was able to meet some people before the whole of it started. I met one girl in particular who spoke perfect English. As we were talking I asked her what she wanted to do after she graduated and she asked me if i had ever heard of Campus Crusade for Christ. Ummm... Yeah! She wants to go on staff with them once she is done so we got to talking about ministry and all the amazing stuff going on right now inthe world. People slowly trickled in and by the time worship started, about 150 people had arrived and the sun had set. We sang worship songs at the top of our lungs as we looked over the city. There were about 8 churches represented there that night. Catholic, Evangelical, Presbyterian, so many names all under the name of Christ. We prayed in groups of three or four for Chile and for the Holy Spirit to use us in this beautiful country. And as I listened to the prayers of the people around me I prayed that God would give me a heart for Santiago. For some reason, I feel like this is where I will end up. The night ended with some extremely fun worship songs (in Chile it is really popular to choreograph dances, so many of the songs had dances that basically all 150 people knew!). I got home by about midnight.
The next morning I went to church adn LOVED it! While the sermon was not anything like Brians sermons, there was still just pure wonderful Bible in it. And the whole chruch felt like such a family. of course it helped that it was all in English so I could really understand every word instead of the gist of every sentence in the sermon. That guy I wrote about earlier, Matt, played the guitar for worship, taught the kids lesson, and introduced the pastor. His parents were in town so after the service he introduced me to them. We, meaning the whole church, went out to lunch afterward. It was great! Not quite as hippy as I am used to with Trinity but it feels so much more like a home than the other churches I have been to. After most of the lunch party had left it was just the pastor and his wife, Matt and his parents and I. Yeah... Okay moving on.
Today, one the guys in my class who I know is a Christian had a headache so at lunch he wanted to go to the local drugstore for some aspirin. He asked me to go with him and as we walked we talked. I am really glad we talked. We got on the same page and in some wierd sense he is holding me accountable. THEN, just now as I was sitting down to use the computer I got in a conversationa bout religion with one of the other guys in my class who is self proclaimed Catholic but doesn{t really believe. As we were talking another girl in my class joined the conversation and pretty much straightfoward informed me that if someone believed that you have to believe a certain doctrine to go to heaven, she wants nothing to do with them. Not even if they have the best intentions, not even if they NEVER bring it up to her. Just the fact that they have that belief, she wants nothing to do with them. My heart sunk when I heard this. i was really hoping that we could be friends, but she has to know by now that I am a christian. Not that I have shoved anything down anyones throats, but Christ is such a big part of my life, that if you know me, you have to know that part of me. So am not sure where this is going to go from here, but at least the conversation has been started. And I am not alone. I have prayed for boldness to live what I believe and to live it in love and so here I go.
Please pray that I would truly love the people in my life, and that my love would be compassionate, but truthful.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Burger King

So last night was my first friday night in the huge metropolitian universe of Santiago. And where was I? I went to Burger King. That´s right. Well, the other students met to go out to a friends house to drink and hang out, but after starting each day this week at 7 am and not getting home until closer to 8pm, I was exhausted! So I declined the invitation, yes even though it involved Pisco, and I headed out to the Starbucks I had found earlier this week. I guess coffee houses serve different purposes here because at 9:30 Starbucks was already closed! Well, Santiago is not really the safest town to wander around in late at night, so I knew I needed to find a spot soon. I walked back to the bus stop and noticed that the burger king there was open, and they would remain open until midnight. So that is where I went. Instead of a latte, I had a large diet coke. I sat in the burnt orange booth, under the harsh neon light, and I studied grammar. After an hour or sho of grammar I moved on to working on my lesson plan. On Monday I will be teaching an hour long class on short answers with auxilaries (I do. She does. You don´t. etc.) So while I am sure this whole planning a lesson thing gets easier, for now it is fairly hard. Welcome to my weekend.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

an update from the classroom

I taught my first practice class for my trainers and peers today and loved it. I had such a great time because the technique we use to teach is like a puzzle game. When the time came for feedback the major comment from the group, including my trainer was that I use my voice and speech very well, One guy even commented that I am like a kindergarten teacher, but in a good way... hehehe, I guess that is not the first time I have heard that. Tomorrow is my first REAL practice teaching with real language students. I am excited.
At lunch I got into a great discussion with two of the guys in my group about globalization and other interesting world topics. It was nice to have an intellectual conversation and disagree, and yet be okay with that. Alot of the people in my group with me are very open to talking about life and philosophy and God. It is an interesting group and I am stoked to spend a month with them.
Chao for now...

some interesting people

So my class went well. It is going to be alot of hard work, but it went okay for a first day. I started off yesterday with breakfast at New York Bagels where a prayer group from the church that I want to go to was meeting. I joined them and met the three men who were with the group. I dont understand why these things are always men and never women. Anyways, the pastor was there who I am excited to banter with over theoligcal issues, one of the elders, and the guy who is in charge of the youth. Now let me just discuss for a moment, Matt the youth leader. He is a gringo from North Carolina and probably in his mid to late 20s. he is on missionary staff with MTW, yeah. He uses the Westminster Catechism for evangelism, yeah. And he loves arguing with Jehovahs witnesses, yeah. SO when i found all this I thought to myself, I think I need to call Kallie. Kallie, because she will appreciate more than any other person my attraction to these qualities. Yeah. Okay, done with the discussion.
I went to class and learned just how much I am going to need to study this next month. There are 8 of us who are studying for our TEFL credential and we are all gringos between the ages of 22 and 25. 4 guys, 4 girls. And in general everyone is extremely nice. There is a girl from Berkeley there and when a politicl converstaion was started at the lunch table, we were the only nonpatriots. IF that is what you want to call us. Anyways, more to come later, I have a lesson to pratice teach today for my trainers so I need to go prepare. Chao!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Santiago is growing on me

SO I have to admit it, the city that I dreaded coming to is growing on me. i am not sure HOW MUCH, but at least for now, it is livable. It helps that I had my first real espresso, actually from Starbucks, in three months. ahhhh.... And also, I have been eating breakfast at this New York Bagel shop, so my tummy is very happy! IS that sad that I am here in this beautiful country and the only food I want is the comida gringa?
I have decided that basically anyone´s first day in Santiago is going to be a trying one, unless you are on a tour or something. The transportation system here is kinda like the people, very unorganized and messy but it works perfectly once you get the hang of it. The family asked that I be home for dinner at 8pm every night (8pm is actually early for Chileans to eat dinner). So at about 6pm, I decided to take a short adventure on one of the micros (the local buses). Unfortunatly I forgot to bring my map, so I ended up in some random part of the city with no clue how to get back. I could tell that dusk was coming and I was trying to find out what micro would bring me at least back to the part of Santiago I live in (keep in mind Santiago is a city of 6 million people- it is HUGE!). So I finally found my way home and after that experience for some reason, I feel so much more confident with the system here. It is a crazy system, but I think I will grow to like it.
The city just purchased these new really nice buses and is trying to reform the system and give it some order. Of course the people are all up in arms about it. The bus system right now is one where there is no set schedule, you just wait for the next bus and it usually comes within a few minutes. THe buses don´t necesarily stop at the bus stops, but with any way of your arm you can catch a micro from any spot on the street. That´s right, and you can get off at any spot too, just ask the driver to stop. Of course they never quite STOP, they just slow down enough for people to get in and out. You think I am joking but I am not. Also, the micros go so fast that I have literally fallen into peoples laps becasue I couldn´t hold on tight enough. And of course they smiled as I apologized in my broken spanish.
The new bus system has a schedule, the buses cannot go past 30 mph, and they cannot just pick you up or drop you off anywhere, only at designated stops. In a city this size, it is necessary, BUT the people hate it. It is kinda funny. It ia almost like Chileans don´t understand how to be metropolitan. I like it.
Tomorrow I start classes. I will be in class from 10am to 7pm with an hour for almuerzo (lunch). Long day. Gotta go.

Monday, November 14, 2005

I am a obsessive, crazed fan!

So I am in Snatiago now and I am living with the family that the school set me up with. They are nice and the apartment we live in is in the best part of Santiago, fairly safe, etc. So, a little background- I have become obsessed with one of the telenovelas (a Chilean version of a sitcom or soap opera). It is called Gatas y Tuercas and I LOVE IT. I have learned alot of spanish from it too, so really I just watch it for educational purposes. In reality, it is Chilean and takes place in Santiago and I really have learned SO mcuh about the culture from it. So after I settled into my room last night, I decided to take a walk around the neighborhood. As I was walking down the street, I saw her. The actriz who plays my favorite character on the programa was walking her dog down the street. Okay, being from California, everyone asks me if I know famous people. And I have to explain to people that it is not THAT common to run into famous people in the streets in little San Luis Obispo Ca. But this moment, this was big! I wanted to talk to her, but I knew that I was too excited to speak Spanish and I doubted she wanted some crazed gringa talking to her in English. So for now, I will just watch her walk her dog down my street, sounds kinda like a stalker, huh?
My host family is really impressed with my spanish and keep commenting on how wel I speak it. It looks like it will be a really good month because this family is not only nice and muy simpatico como la mayoria de chilenos, pero comen muy bueno. They eat alot of veggies and fruit and not much meat. It is still more meat than I am used to, but for Chileans, they eat practically no meat. So I am excited.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

"Faces of the earthquakes"

I am watching a program on CNN which is now my connection to the world. There is a program on right now about the families in Pakistan who are facing not only the absolute horror of dealing with the thousands upon thousands dead, but also the cold winter ahead that could easily kill them if they do not get better housing then the thin tents they now live in. I feel so helpless. What can I do here? I want to do something, but I don´t know how. I don´t know what. and these darn photojournalists show the eyes of the people, so sad, so hopeless. Please tell me what I can do, because I dn´t want to live this life like this. I hate the fact that I can live in total denial of the suffering that others are in. I hate that. I hate that the situation seems so big and I feel so small. These families in Pakistan are facing more harship than I could ever imagine. Mothers who have lost their young children. Nothing could be worse. I need to do something, but I don´t understand how. I makes me want to move back to the States and get a job that makes alot of money so I could help... but that is not where I am. And I know I am supposed to be here in Chile. I have a feeling that I am going to need to go. I don´t know what that means, or when I would go, or even where I would go, but I am going to go. There is too much pain in this world and too much ability to love in my heart for me to not go. O am sorry mom. I know this is something you don´t want to read. But here is my heart.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Gone home to Chile

I thought alot about Argentina while I was there and spent a good two hours sitting at one of the sidewalk cafes watching the people and observing the culture. I noticed a few differences between Chile and Argentina. (Disclaimer: the majority of my observations of Chile are made from a six week stay in La Serena and the observations of Argentina are made completely from a two day stay in a small but urban city called Mendoza. My observations may not be accurate of the culture as a whole, but they are my observations.)
Argentina´s good and services are considerably less expensive than Chile (about 1/2 the price in most cirsumstances)
The women of chile are much more protective adn possessive of their men.
There is a ridiculously higher level of Public display of Affection (PDA) in Chile. Anywhere you go you can find couples kissing, but in Argentina it is much more conservative.
The people look physically more diverse in Argentina. i could not describe for you what an Argentinian looks like. There was so much diversity in physical appearance, but in Chile this is not the case. While there is a little amount of diversity in Chile, there is a very distinct Chilean look, especially for the women.
Argentinians were also much more diverse in style. I am sure in Santiago that there is more diversity than there is in La Serena, but in general, Chileans dress alike.
In Chile you can find groups of two or three school girls (anywhere from 14 to 18 years old) still in their school uniforms wandering around the town, giggling at the boys and enjoying some helado (ice cream). I saw nothing even close to this in Argentina.
Argentinians in general are MUCH better at speaking Engliah. Chileans try, but can´t seem to master the language.
These are just some examples of differences I found. In general, Argentina is VERY European, with a very strong Italian influence. Chile on the other hand, espeically in the north seems to be closer to its indigenous roots. Most of the extanjeros I have met down here prefer Argentina to Chile. It seems to be a higher class of society. But I thought about all of this and realized that this is one of those circumstances when persoanl preferences come into play. There is no right or wrong answer here. Every person must choose which culture fits THEM. And after realizing this adn journaling for quite some time, I realized that I choose Chile. I like the fact that they don´t speak proper Spanish. I like the oldfashioned slow moving society that I have found in the north. And I like the ridiculously overdone national pride (especially for their football teams who are horible (not a spelling mistake, but a spanish word, mom).
So when vacation time comes and I am in the mood for a fast paced, materistic, beautifully diverse city, I will take the 8 hour bus over to Mndoza Argentina. But I think I will so my best to plant my feet, for now at least, in this beautiful old land called Chile.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

¡Vive Argentina!

Wow, I found a reason to stay in Argentina. I fell in love with this town within the first minutes being here. It has a spirit that reminds me alot of New York City, but is much cheaper. In fact, it is SO cheap here that Chilean come here to shop. For example, a sweater that would be $40 in the States, and the same in Chile, is only about 8 dollars here. Or breakfast this morning, which was amazing, was only $1.25! So I am going to go shopping, yeah. Teh streets are lined with small boutiques and sidewalk cafes (with real espresso!) And the people here are dressed like NYC. So fashionable and chic. The streets are fairly clean and the trees that line the raods offer shade as you amble your way down the busy sidewalk.
At the hostel I am at, there are a bunch of women. One woman from California is there with her 8 year old daughter. They are learning Spanish. They first went to Chile, but didn´t like it and decided to come to Argentina. They say the people here are more content and happy with life than Chileans. They have been here in South America for 2 weeks. Another woman is from Israel, but she now owns hostels in Chile and Argentina, and she says that Chileans have bigger hearts and are much nicer than Argentinians. In her opinion, Argentinians are too obsessed with money. It is interesting that the two opinions are SO opposite. A funny note: the Isreali claims that Argentina and Chile are more dangerous than Israel because in most of Israel (anything outside of Tel Aviv or Jerusalem) the streets are generally safe, and here while there are no car bombs and suicide bombers, there is street crime.
Another woman in the hostel is from souther Chile adn last night she just started talking to me. She is here for some liposuction, a tummy tuck, and a boob job. Yes, even the boob jobs are cheaper here! Anyways, she invited me to go out with her tonight since we are both sola. So I guess we will go see the night life tonight. All of this is just so wierd to me. But I am loving it.

The only bad part of all of this is that my body is SO SORE from the horsebackriding and mountain climbing that I can´t walk very well. I think I will take advantage of the cheap economy and find a place where I can get a massage!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Travel plans

I told a few of you that I would be heading to a small surf town called Pichilemu, but I have changed plans. I am actually going to go to Argentina instead. I need to renew my tourist card so I can either pay $100 at an office in Santiago, or I can just cross the border again. Yeah. In all honesty I am not in the mood for a HUGE adventure, so this probably be low key, but I am planning on returning to Viña for a few days to visit Marcela and Flo again before I have to be in Santiago. This is on purpose because Flo is having her first communion on Sunday. I just love that kid!
I just got back from a horseback ride that lasted about 4 hours and was just beautiful, but I forgot how much four hours on a horse kills your butt! My horse was named Frutilla (Strawberry) and was the sweetest thing ever. The tour consisted of another gringo from Florida who is just spending a week vacation here and spoke NO spanish, and my guide who is a 15 year old local who spoke very little english. So I translated. I loved it and I realized that somehow my spanish has again improved. I am not sure how since I didnt speak it for the last week or so. ¡Pero estoy bien! The ride was beautiful and when we reached a certain spot the guide showed us the begining of a trail and stayed with the horses as we gringos hiked. The first part was down the hill. I could hear the waterfall, so I had motivation, pero there were times when it felt more like mountain climbing than hiking. The trail was so steep and literall at points I was just hanging on to a root above me as I tried to find a place to stand. It was crazy. But the waterfall was beatiful and I will be posting pictures soon. it reminded me of the waterfall in Hawaii that my mom and I went to. The hike up, I serioulsy thought I might throw up. For a few reasons, I thought this. But I was embarrassed to do that in front of older gringo, so I fought against it. It was like climbing a wall! B ut it was great, and both of the guys on the tour were great! I am sore, but happy. And now me voy a dormir en un bus por Santiago y despues a Argentina. 17 hours mas o menos en total. Que loca!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Pucôn

Pucôn is a small town in southern Chile (about 10 hours from Santiago) that sits upon the eastern end of one of the many lakes in this region. It is in my opinion Chile´s repsonse to Lake Tahoe. It is smaller and there is only one casino, but the log cabins that line the water look like they belong on a postcard. The downtown consists of the main road filled with boutiques, cafes, and most importantly the tourist agencies. There are over twenty tourist agencies here and it seems impossibel to know which one to go with. The volcano that looms in the distance is actually active and is climbed everyday by many tourists who want to see the boiling lava quietly spurting from the whole. I, who am not as adventurous as I would like to think, will not be climbing up the 5 hour hike in the snow to the volcano peak. I am going to take a horsebackriding tour to a waterfall instead. But for those who read this adn want some adventure, there is plenty in this town to be had. Today, I chose to hike up to the monastary that overlooks the town. It was beautiful and empty. I basically had this wonderful courtyard to myself with not another person in sight. So I put a worship cd in my walkman and worshiped at the top of my lungs. A beautiful city.


Now on a wierd but personal note. Some recent incidences here (all in Chile and not having to do with anyone in California) has brought some bitterness in my heart toward men. I know I am not supposed to be bitter, and the I should not hold anger in my heart, but it is becoming more and more clear that I will not be able to trust most men here. maybe this is te culture shock that I didn´t think I was experiencing, but in anycase, I am trying to not judge all men. I think part of the problem is that most of the men I have met here are not Christians, and I am used to a certain level of decent behavior, and a certain way of showing intentions. It doesn´t exist here. the few Christians I have met, have been a bit better than the others, so I need to reember that before I judge. Okay, the venting time is done. Just whoever reads this, if you can keep my heart in prayer.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

the life of a missionary family

I spent the last four days with a missionary family in Temuco who have served in Chile with SIM for 20 years or so. They first worked with Wycliffe working with the natives (like Native Americans) of the land. The native people of this area are called the Mapuche and they live lives that look very similar to the North American native americans. They are generally poor, living on reservations, and unfortunatly their culture and language is dying out. This family has really invested their whole lives to helping these people and sharing the Gospel with them. Their daughter is in the country for a few months and is my age so we spent a good amount of time talking and hanging out. She brought me to her college age group at her church and it was so similar to what I went to when I was at Poly that it didn{t matter that it was in Spanish, I loved it. At one point the MCs called up all the visiters and first timers. I pretended like I didn{t understand and lowered my head. Unfortunatly, I am a social person and I had already met so many of the people, that they all started cahnting for the Gringa to go up. So finally I gave in and made my way for the front. They handed all of the visitors a paper with a different part hylighted and we were supposed to read through this paper each taking our own turn, for the whole group. Now, in general I am not shy about speaking in public, but reading in another language!?! But it turned out I only had to read a few words so I went ahead adn when it came my turn to read, everyone cheered for me. It was a comical moment indeed. Everyone came up to me afterward and gave me a kiss on my cheek. It was such a blessing to be in fellowship.

I also met another woman who has committed for a few years with her family to work in missions here in Chile and she invited me over to have lunch with her family. I cannot even tell you how much this woman reminds me of myself. The more we talked the more we realized that we had very similar backgrounds and when we found out that the other person loved books and theological conversations, the fun began. I wish I was living down here so I could be discipled by her, but I am thankful just for the few hours I got to spend with her.

I am now in a town called Pucon. It is the Chilean Lake Tahoe. There are little log cabins lining the beatiful lake and an actually live volcano rising above the little town. I have not decided if I want to break down and do a touristy thing while I am here. We shall see, we shall see.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

a walk through Viña with an unexpected lunch

I took a walk through Viña Del Mar today since I have noticed that what I enjoy more about cities is just walking through them and watching the people as they live their lives. I am not much of a tourist, am I? anyways, I have been thinking recently about how much i used to pray and I happened to have my cell phone from California in my purse because I am going to try to get a plan for it down here. So I pulled it out and opened it as if it had been ringing and began to pray. I did this in California, but there EVERYONE is talking on their cell phones as they wak along the streets or as they shop. And as I walked i noticed that not a single other person in sight was on their cell phone. So I talked to God for a few minutes and then "hung up". h well, it was at least nice for a few minutes, even if I was being the stereotypical gringa.
Well, I walked and enjoyed the slighty overcast day here in Viña and took note of all the stores and the people and just the culture that this city holds. There are expensive boutiques settled right next to dollar stores and merchants on the sides of the roads selling blackmarket movies. Groups of stray dogs raom the streets ignoring the humans and scavenging the garbages. Little kids hold their mothers hands as they cross the busy street and school girls still in their uniform giggle as they pass a group of boys. This town has it´s own pace and it´s own life.
It was about time for lunch but I was dreading the thought of eatng the oh so famous completo (hot dog with avocado, mayo, and tomato that everyone seems to eat everyday, it is the national food of Chile). I turned off of the main street onto a smaller calle, and saw something that brought a huge smile to my face. There was a Shwarma Shop. That´s right, it is probably the only one in all of chile, but there was a little shop selling shwarma, falafel, hummus and other Mediterranean delights. So I bought a shwarma pollo (chicken) and relived the wonderful memories I will cherish forever of my bible study going to Jaffa Cafe every wednesday for lunch. Jaffa Cafe (the best place in San Luis Obispo for Shwarma, if not the only) was the second home for my bible study this last year. The owner Adnan was our adopted dad, who taught us about his culture and made sure we had a good time. We went religously on wednesday afternoons and stayed for hours enjoying the food and fellowship. I think anytime I eat shwarma or falafel, i will remember those days, and I will remember Adnan.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

a quote from my diary

For those of you who don´t know me too well, I have kept a diary since I was about 13 years old. I go through about a notebook every other month or so. If anyone thought I wrote alot on my blogs, you should see my journals. So today, I was writing not because I really knew what to write, but I felt like maybe I needed to write. Some interesting truths about how I am feeling right now came out while I was writing. Here is a piece of my entry:

I just wish I knew what I was doing. Right now I am so sick of waiting. I do really like the idea of working with the AIDS project... Jesus, I am happiest when I am serving You. And I haven´t really been doing that here. If anything, this two month period has taught me how I am absolutly misreble without serving You. It is like James in the Bible says, "faith without works is dead". And it is true. I have faith and I have had faith, I have studied Your Word, and I have kept my mind learning about You. But I have not loved. My faith is worthless without the acts of love. And I see it more clearly here than ever before. My faith has become a withered flower. And at the thought of serving You God, I feel a swelling deep in my spirit promising revival.

So I wrote that today and realized that I need to stopignoring the call deep in my heart. There is a project with SIMS which focuses it´s attention on reaching and loving and serving the AIDS community. At Cal Poly, my friend Ashlee and I were determined to change the misperception on our campus that Christians hated the GLBU (Gay Lesbian Bisexual Union). We went to a few of their events and made friends. One of them, Conrad, I will remember forever since he helped me through a very hard time in my life. I don´t know too much about this project but when I go to Temuco tomorrow night, I will be staying with the missionaries who are trying to build this project. They have asked me to look at their proposal and I am excited to see it. I don´t know if this is where I am supposed to be, but I would be willing to live in Santiago if I was serving the Lord in that way.

Halloween

For some reason I have a hard time understanding just how far away I am in this world from those I love. I think the fact that I talk to my mom a few times each week on the phone and the fact that I generaly feel connected, although not enough, with my friends, leads to my misunderstanding of how far away I am. This thought keeps coming into my head that I should go home for Christmas. I have to keep reminding myself that it is not plausible. Because it is about to be summer time here, the airline tickets are ridiculously expensive here. So yeah, not possible.
Last night was Halloween, and Marcela and I were laughing because I was practically back in the states. Halloween is not a HUGE holiday here but there is a good number of families who celebrate it. Marcela is definitly one of them. She decorated the house and put orange and black balloons outside the door. We made a costme for her daughter Flo, who decided to be Miss 17 (kinda like Miss teen). As the kids came to the door we, being Marcela because for the last few years I have been scared to hand out candy at Halloween, passed out candy. She ordered a pizza from Dominos (yep, they have dominos here) and we had pizza and coke for dinner. The only non-gringo thing about the night was the corn on the pizza. That´s right, here in Chile, corn is actually a popular topping on pizzas. Crazy huh?
I ended the night watching CNN and realzing that alot is going on in the States and in the world in general and I am very far away. Chile just feels removed from the world.
There was one moment yesterday when I was helping Flo get ready for the night whenI realized that the whole town was honking its car horns. It sounded like madness. My friend lives up on a hill that is generally seperated from the rest of the town, but I could hear the horns honking in total madness down in the town. A thought crossed my mind: what if there is a politicla revolution while I am here? But I don´t think so, not now at least. We are about to have the presidential elections and althogh the people are a little strange out their politics, I highly doubt there will be a BIG political revolution here. We are a democracy. Oh, and it turns out that all the honking, which lasted for a good twenty minutes, was because some sports player, I think tennis, won some game or match. Yeah, not quite something to worry about.

At the request of my mom, and I think it is a good idea, the name of the hostel in Valparaiso is Luna Sonrisa. It means Moon smile and you can look at the website at lunasonrisa.cl, the white door that you see in the picture is actually the bedroom I stayed in. Very nice.
Okay, I´m off. ¡Chao!