Saturday, December 03, 2011

to my pops

I called my dad today, got his voicemail, and sang a hearty HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Now, Im not really satisfied with that, so I decided it would be appropriate to give a full fledged shout out to my dad here on the blog.
One of the things I'd like to do here is to list some of the things I inherited from my dad that Im grateful for, and some of the things I WISH I had inherited from him, but I didn't.

Things I DID get from my dad:
- responsibility with money. Now this is less genetic and more training. From as early as I can remember getting an allowance, my dad had us put 10% toward tithing, 50% into "savings" and 40% was spending. By "savings" I mean the money went right back into his pocket. He gave each of us this little check book, we kept track of our savings and when the time came that we wanted to spend some of our savings on something we had to go to my dad to get the money out of the "bank". I VIVIDLY remember my first big purchase. It was a doll that I got from Toys R Us and I remember it was only supposed to be $19.99. But when we got to the cash register, it was over $20! Hence I learned first hand about how we have to pay taxes on purchases.

- my love for grocery shopping. Maybe youre thinking this is silly, but my love for grocery shopping comes directly from my dad. There aren't many people who LIKE grocery shopping. But I love it! I love walking up and down the aisles with a cart. I find it incredibly relaxing. I remember going with my dad to Costco on Saturday afternoons. We would go into the huge warehouse and go up and down the aisles getting all the samples we could. Then, after we had hit up all the samples (and my dad had got the few items he needed) we would head over to the food court area and get lunch. We could get either a big piece of pizza or a hot dog. My brother and I always got the pizza and my sister usually got the hot dog. She was so funny because she would eat it, not from the side like a normal person, but she would take bites along the top of the hotdog. (Do you remember this Aviva?) Anyways, back to the point. I love grocery shopping.

Something I did NOT get from my dad but I wish I did:
-steadiness. My dad is the most steady man you will ever meet. Like he has more discipline than an army general. He decides to do something and then he just does it. I on the other hand, decide to do something and then fight and often lose the battle to follow through.

Something I did NOT get from my dad and Im grateful:
-Baldness. Yep. and everytime people tell me I look just like my dad, I smile to myself, grateful that while I might look "just like him", I have hair on my head.

So yeah, thats my dad. Happy birthday to the incredible man who has been such a blessing in my life. I LOVE YOU!

Monday, November 07, 2011


Yesterday was a crazy whirlwind of a day. Yesterday, I moved apartments. They say that moving is one of the most stressful situations in life, and while I dont know if it was really one of the MOST stressful, it definitely wasnt a stree-free.
I went to bed at 2am on Saturday night, and woke up at 8am to finish the packing before church. Went to church, had a few of the people who had said they would help me move, then tell me that they couldnt. This included two of the girls I disciple, who I have been trying to encourage in their general service of others... oh well. Another battle for another day. I went home after church with my friend Magda. We grabbed KFC on the way home (and no, that is NOT common for me, but on a day like yesterday, french fries are exactly what the dr ordered!) We finished packing up the last bits and pieces and I tried to get organized. At 4pm, the two conserjes showed up and literally within minutes my stuff was all downstairs ready to be loaded into the cars. Then people showed up to help (just as we finished loading the cars of course!) and we headed over to the new place with the cars while the pick up truck got loaded with the furniture. Overall, it was really fast. It was amazing because some of the people who showed up, who werent even the ones I had thought would come to help, they were the ones moving the fastest. And others seemed to just disappear. But at the end, when all my stuff was in my apt, and all my friends where sitting around in my apt with pizza and soda, I was happy. of course about an hour into the "pizza party" I kicked everyone out so I could start to unpack. It took me about 2 1/2 hours but I got almost everything put away. Or at least as put away as I could since I still need to install a few shelves for my kitchen. But it's getting there, slowly but surely. And although I didnt sleep well last night, I am really excited to be in my new apartment. It's small, but its HOME!!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

a long weekend with veggies

This weekend is a four day weekend. Now, normally I would feel the need to go crazy and do something extravagent for a 4 day weekend. At least a trip to the beach would be in order. But I feel like the last week or so has been a bit stressful. So Im chilling at home. I'm tired and not really sleeping well. So it's going to be a calm weekend here in Santiago. I got some fresh veggies and fruit from the market and am fully prepared to spend the weekend in my little domestic haven.

Here are my special finds from the market. Believe it or not, I spent about $8 on all of this. Crazy, right? I remember how last time I lived here, I ate so many fresh veggies. So I am trying to get creative with different recipes. If anyone has any suggestions they are more than welcome!

Jeremy: in India

and my mom....

Saturday, October 29, 2011

a facelift

Its been quite some time since I changed the blog up. My dear friend Megan commented to me that she gets a migrane looking at the bright red, so I figured, why not switch it up a little. Put a little something tranquila to match the tranquila that I feel in my life at the moment. Im back in CHile, living in the neighborhood I love, with a stable job, and an incredibly sweet church. So yeah, tranquila is the word.
The credit for the photo above goes to my brother, Jeremy Lipkowitz, who is an extremely talented photographer. Maybe I'll post more of his photos just for fun. (Of course I'll do this without telling him, but in good family fashion my mom will gossip it along to him!) Anyways, that's all for now. Just a little change to spice things up.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

la santa cena

"la santa cena" literally translated as "the holy meal". In English we say Communion. It's celebrated all over the world in churches. It's form may look different in various denominations and cultures, but the heart is the same: to somehow repeat something that Jesus told His disciples to do in remembrance of Him. So we do it.
When I was younger, I didn't really understand what the fuss was all about. I loved celebrating Passover with my family, but when it came time for communion, the connection was missing for me. Part of the problem was that my church only celebrated it a few times a year during a special service. It was a sacred event, which I appreciate. But for me (and seemingly for others) the desire to make the event sacred made me miss part of the point. I wanted it to be full of reflection, deep repentence, and almost sorrow as I took the little plastic cup of grape juice. But I could never get somber enough to feel like I really "got it". When I started at the presbyterian church is when I finally started to wrestle with the whole sacrament. Why do we do it? What are we supposed to feel? How should we serve communion in our church? How often should it be served? Grape juice or wine? Matzoh or baguette? So many questions. But at the heart of all my questions was a desire to know Jesus better through this interaction He told us to do.
As the years have gone by, and the number of cultures and churches I've experienced, my love for the whole communion event has grown. This morning my church served communion and I knew going into it that my friend Yessy would be one of the people serving. And I decided that I would stand in the line to be served by her. Not that she holds any special power, but because she is one of those people that we always preach the gospel to each other. How beautiful to recieve communion (the gospel in material form) from someone who consistently gives you the gospel in verbal form. While Im sure we all miss out of part of the meaning of communion, this had to be one of the best ways to receive it. From the hands of my sister, as she gave me the cup and said, This is the blood of Jesus poured out for you. Drink this in remembrance of Him.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

pushing myself

Living cross-culturally is challenging in so many ways. One of my biggest challenges is understanding cultural differences and allowing space for the differences, but not hiding behind them. Some cultural differences are obvious- language, etc. Some of them show you the sin in one of the cultures. Some of them bother you more than others.
I've been here for 9 months now. And while it feels like time as flown by, it also feels like Ive been here for years. One of the things I like about living in another culture is how much it stretches you. It's just plain hard sometimes to live in another culture. There are plenty of people (mostly North Americans) who go live in other countries but stay in bubbles of their own culture. I am not here to do that. I have a few gringo friends, but I am very purposeful in who I spend time with. I know how easy it would be to spend all my time with people who speak English, who understand my culture, who share my worldview. But I want to be here in Chile, to be HERE.
Some cultural differences are mixed with sin. I could write an extremely LONG post on this but for now, I want to share an example from my own life. The gringo culture tends to be very individualistic. One of the ways that this plays out is in hospitality. We tend to think we are hospitable, but it's on OUR terms. We are okay with inviting people over for dinner, but WE invite them over for the time that WE want. And generally, the dinner lasts a few hours and then they leave. But the chilean mindset is much more open to people just dropping by, almost unannounced. And people staying WAY longer than my comfort level. I've already had a few instances where people came over to my place late on a Saturday night and I informed them that at 2am I was going to kick them out to a bar. I just need to know that if I want to go to sleep at 2am, I have that freedom. But I want to be more hospitable. So I am intentionally pushing myself in this area. The culture gives plenty of opportunity to practice hospitality. So this week, Im letting myself feel the push. When I get a call from a friend asking if she can come over in an hour for lunch, I say yes. When my small group leader asks if our group can meet in my apartment this week, I say yes. I want to be hospitable, so I am opening that door.. slowly. So far, God's given me grace to really enjoy the times and not feel the stress that usually accompanies such events.
I know that God wants to use my cross cultural living to make me more like Him. So I trust Him in this whole process. It get's uncomfortable sometimes but it's ok. I have a God that is bigger than all my discomfort. And it's in Him I rest.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

sustained by grace

This morning I am overwhelmed by not only the quantity of grace that is sustaining me at this moment, but the fact that God (again, because of grace) is letting me have a little peep into the reality of my need for grace. Recently I was unconsiderate of a friend. Very unconsiderate. It wasnt on purpose but my actions showed how poorly I loved her. She confronted me on it and I apologized again and again, truly sorry for hurting her, but the uneasy feeling stayed in my gut.
I am actively preaching grace to myself...
There are some aspects of my heart that are so girly, that they often are sinful. One of them is my tendency to wander off in my mind with a guy. I meet a quality (or so says his facebook profile) guy and its not too much an exaggeration to say that within seconds I have our courtship, wedding, and first three kids all planned out and ready to go. Why is it wrong to do this? Well, for one thing it comes from a heart that is not content with what God has for me in this moment. So this weekend, my heart as usual, not content in the Lord. But God has been (because of grace) teaching me to really surrender to Him. And that part of this surrender is honoring Him with my thoughts. And this is NO easy feat! My mind starts to wander, and I suddenly freeze, cry out to God and stop the movie that has started to play out in my mind.
Again, I am actively preaching grace to myself.
So as I lay here in bed on Sunday morning, overwhelmed by my need for grace, I am grateful that grace, by definition, is not something I can deserve or earn and that the grace that is mine, is mine by the blood of Jesus. That His work on the cross is stronger than anything I could ever do. And that it will never run out. My coldheartedness toward my friend, my lack of contentment in Jesus, all of my sin that is much bigger and grosser than I even know. It leads my back to the cross of Jesus. Where His faithfulness paid for my faithlessness. And by it, I have been given the most treasured possession in the world, a restored relationship with my Creator.
What sweet goodness I get to preach to myself this morning!

Friday, October 14, 2011

beach date

It's Friday, por fin. Last night I got messages from my students that they wouldnt be able to make it to class today... and I thought to myself.. hmm... ESCAPE! I rescheduled my discipleship time with Maka (who definitely will have a blog dedicated to her soon) and I packed a backpack full of goodies- journal, bible, other nerdy books, sunblock, you get the picture. I woke up nice and early to get on an early bus and by 11am I was planted on the beach with a latte in hand. On the agenda for the day: NOTHING. Nope. Today is just a day to chill with the Lord. Enjoy one of my favorites of His creation, the Pacific Ocean. And just breathe deeply.
I was praying on the bus ride here and I was thinking about how I wanted to view this day as a day with Jesus. It reminded me of one of my guy friends who said it was ridiculous for girls to talk like that. And I have to say, of course it's not the same as a real date. But Jesus calls Himself the bridegroom of Israel. He wants us to relate to Him as a loving husband who laid down His life so that we might have a relationship with Him. So while I realize all the lines of corniness are being crossed here, I will stick with my gut and say that yes, I AM on a date with Jesus. He is the lover of my soul, the One who protects me, cares for me, loves me. These are all the things I hope to experience some day in a husband, but ultimately they come from Jesus. So bring on the beach date! This girly heart craves His love!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

dogs and prostitutes

So as many of you know, I live in a somewhat sketchy building. Its 11 floors, with about 6-8 apartments on each floor. There are a couple offices on the lower floors, a gyno office on floor 2 and the bottom is a peruvian restaurant. Half of the apartments are empty and the majority of the occupied ones are used by prostitutes. They dont actually live here, they just work here. I've noticed that "business" hours tend to be 5-11pm. There are some downsides to living in this building. Sometimes the men arent sure where to go to find a prostitute so they just wander the halls and knock on doors until they find one. So I just dont answer my door if there is only one knock on it. Also, the elevator is really small. Like it only fits 3 people and that's with a lot of personal space invasion. Sometimes I get the awkward situation of riding up in the elevator with one of my neighbor girls and their client. awkward. Then there are the few guys who approach me outside my building (or at the elevator) to ask for my price... again, awkward. But really, for the most part, it doesnt bother me living here. That is, until I have to deal with the dogs. There are some stray dogs that live in my building, and the pee and poo they leave in the hall, sometimes right in front of my door, is just NOT COOL. The lady who lives on the floor above me is older, probably in her 70s and she has taken it upon her to adopt all the old stray dogs she finds. She currently has 6 or 7 dogs. dirty dirty dogs. They bark. They pee. They really smell. And again, small elevator. So when she uses the elevator, all her dogs filling the small space, the smell is overwhelming.
The point is, I've realized that I have MUCH MORE patience for the prostitutes than the dogs. Funny, eh.

two thieves of the gospel

This week I get to participate in an incredible conference called "Transformacion de la Cruz" or "Cross Transformation". It is coming out of John Piper's ministry Desiring God and it focuses on why the cross has to be central to every area of our ministries and lives.
Last night the key speaker, Pastor Glenn, gave an excellent talk about the two thieves of the gospel- religion and irreligion. He described the irreligious as the person who tries to lower God's standard to justify himself. And the religious as the person who tries to raise his own justification to get closer to God's standard. Both descriptions stung. Depending on the situation, I will choose which of these two thieves of the gospel serves me best. It is so hard to accept my absolute failure and God's absolute perfection... and the only way I can deal with these two unavoidable realities is to cling to the cross. For it is there that these two realities are reconciled.
I know this may sound like lofty theology, but it has become the very truth that I cling to in moments of despair. It isn't natural to think about the cross. But I've found that this is an area where discipline has really served a sweet purpose. Good theology is only good as long as it makes its way into your heart. I can speak about grace and the cross but if I am not living it, it's useless. Thank God that even the act of remembering and practicing grace is an act of grace in and of itself. He is good, He is good indeed.

Monday, October 10, 2011

How big is your Jesus?

When people ask me what I do here, I am always a little dumbfounded as to how to answer. I teach English here, but I am here because I want to live here. I want to serve the church here. I want this neighborhood, Bellas Artes, to know Jesus. So I serve the church here. One of the ways God has me serving is in discipling some of the girls in my church. I have 3 girls that I meet with individually for a few hours each week for discipleship. It is such a blessing to meet with them, preach Jesus to them, and walk with them through the mess that we call our relationship with the Lord. One of the big topics among all the girls is idolatry. I've talked enough about this topic on this blog that I shouldnt need to say that I am not referring to little golden idols, but to our hearts' unrelentless search for satisfaction in things outside of Jesus. Really, it's pathetic. I've found myself asking the girls (and myself!) "how big is your Jesus?" Is He small so you can control Him (or so you think)? Is He small so you doubt that He can truly satisfy you? Do other things seem to be bigger and more satisfying than Him? Or is He creator of the universe, your Lord, the One who knows and loves you and has purchased you with His blood? How powerful is your Jesus? How good is your Jesus? How big is your Jesus?

back on the horse...

Im not really sure where to start. Too much time has passed and too much life has passed. It’s been about 3 months since I last posted. A few of you have asked why I stopped blogging. I started blogging 6 years ago when I first moved to Chile. This blog has seen me through quite a few stages in life, even through quite a few countries. I blog for others (my family, my friends) but I also blog for myself. But recently, life has been a bit full. In the last three months, my work load has increased a bit, my commitments with my church have increased (the amount of activities, the sentiment has always been 100%) and some key players in my life have come and gone. One of the bigger moments recently was when my boss, who has been an incredible support for me in my life here, died. Very unexpectedly. She was young, in her mid 30s, and for all we knew vivacious. I don’t want to get into the dirty details here but I will say that the cause of death is still not sure. She left behind her husband and 3 year old daughter. While it didn’t effect my everyday life, it has definitely changed my role in my job. I am helping the widower (my new boss) with logistics in the institute. And the future of our institute is a bit unclear at the moment. Again, no need for details. But its been a bit crazy.
Another part of my absence has been the rollercoaster I’ve been on with the Lord. Don’t get me wrong, His faithfulness never fails. But mine is ridiculously inconsistent. Since May I’ve shed quite a few tears in my struggle to believe that the Lord is both good AND all powerful. He’s been exposing my heart to the ugliness that lies beneath my façade of godliness. I say that I trust Him, but when push comes to shove, I panic at the thought that He might have plans for my life that don’t match up with what I have dreamed of. I have wrestled with Him, knowing (and even desiring) that He will win. But the angst in my heart grew strong and spilled out into tears. People kept asking how they could pray for me, and my answer was to pray that I would find my JOY in Him, and Him alone. I was so tired of my heart’s pursuit of idols. I just wanted to enjoy Jesus. But my heart was stubbornly clinging to these idols that I knew would never truly satisfy me. The last two weeks have been much better. Prayers have been answered and I feel a million times more tranquila. I find myself literally skipping down the street in joy after our church leadership meetings, singing praise songs as I clean my apartment, and laughing a LOT with my girlfriends. The Lord has been filling my life with joy. He has been reminding me that gratitutde is not an action but a general attitude in life. So I am choosing gratitude. Choosing joy. Choosing to believe that Jesus is infinitely more satisfying than anything else.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Chosing Joy

Like I mentioned in my last post, I've been wrestling with joy. I have all this theology in my head, but living it out, enjoying the fruit of it, is another thing. I am fighting to live out of the reality of who I am in Jesus. I've noticed with some of my friends, as we've gotten older the pressure of the world becomes both more stale and heavy. It's this constant voice that tells us that we don't have enough. Not enough money. Not enough security. Not enough love. It's the world of marketing at its best. We NEED more. So while the world around me tells me that I need something more, I am fighting to see my everything in Jesus. He is enough for me. He is. I am fighting to believe it. It's not always hard to live it. There are moments of grace when I see and feel His goodness in such a tangible way. There are moments when I realize how wonderful He is, how great His love is, how unbelievable it is that He has loved me despite my rebellious heart. Moments when the good news of the forgiveness of my sins and the restoration of my relationship with my creator is so sweet that it fills my heart with joy. Those moments are precious gifts from the Lord. So I will treasure them, and store them up in my heart for the times when I can't feel the reality that I know to be true.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Making Jesus ultimate

I've been struggling over the last few weeks with some big truths that have made themselves into my head but aren't settling in my heart. For example: Jesus is my joy. Yep, I believe this with my brain. I know this is true, but I don't feel it is true. I feel like I get a lot more joy from other things. I know I should get joy from knowing Jesus but really, when I am honest, I spend a good deal of time and energy trying to find sources of joy outside of Jesus. This isn't to say that we shouldn't ever find any joy in any place other than Jesus. But as I was explaining recently to a friend, I need to be very jealous of my relationship with God and if I see that something is distracting me from Him, or stealing my affection from Him, I need to "alejarme" (to move away from) that thing.
Or let's talk in terms of idols. No, not little wooden statues that people bow down to, but things both abstract and concrete that we put our hope or value in. Things that make or break us. Success, money, our homes, comfort, friends, husbands. Usually the things we make into idols aren't bad in and of themselves. It's what we do with them. Things like a good job, a good home, a loving family... these things are good! But when we take these good things and make them ultimate things, that's when the trouble starts.
I've been seeing this play out in the area of love. Of course I want to be loved and to love, to get married... but when I feel like I can't experience FULL joy now because I dont have that, I am making it an ultimate thing. When the truth is that I am fully loved now. I am not lacking anything. I know that in my head and now I am praying that God would make that truth real in my heart.


Last night at ISA I got a LOVELY surprise from my dear friends Beth and Derek Brown- a huge bunch of BEAUTIFUL roses!!! That's right. And not just any roses, but probably my favorite kind of rose. They are multi-colored (yellow and orange) and they have crinkely tops.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

happy birthday to me...

Hello all!
I know it's been quite a while since I posted here. To be honest, I've had a rough few weeks. Why? you ask. Well, basically through the course of a few events, and a few people, the Lord showed me just how little I trust Him. So we had a bit of a wrestling match over the past few weeks and I bet you can guess who won.
But this past week has been much calmer. I still feel like my trust is much more "head" trust than "heart" trust, but it's okay because I have seen the Lord's faithfulness in this time and I know He won't let me go.
So tonight is my last night as a 27 year old. I had an asado (bbq) last week for my birthday. Honestly, I don't really like to celebrate my birthday. It has nothing to do with getting older. Actually, in some weird way I like the fact that I am getting older. I don't feel like Im as mature as I should be at this age, but I like to think that with age comes wisdom and I really want that. So bring on the years!
No, I don't like to celebrate my birthday because I am uncomfortable with all the attention on me. I know most of you don't believe me since I am generally a very social person, but it's true. And actually, I am not as socially driven as I used to be. I find that I really need a lot more alone time these days. Tonight I'm home alone. My friends invited me to go out and I was just too tired to make it happen. No, my perfect Saturday night was staying home, in my pjs, and listening to music on youtube. (And no, Im not depressed, I'm honestly very happy, I just want to spend more time alone!)
Tomorrow is Sunday, my birthday. My friends are planning a lunch for me. Which is really sweet, and totally unexpected. In fact, it is slightly unwanted. I dont like the attention and the thought of a group of people all singing happy birthday to me makes me blush even now! But I realize that this isn't even really about me. My friends want to do this, and I need to get over myself and let them. I need to let them love me in this way. So I'll spend the morning alone and then head over to my friend Mauro's house where the festivities will be held.
Maybe it hasn't hit me yet, but it doesn't quite feel like a birthday. I'm not sad or excited for tomorrow. Weird eh? Well, in any case, I'll be 28 tomorrow (or in 15 minutes at midnight!!!) So wish me happy birthday, send me cards, and watch me get wiser by the day!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

10 Reasons I love living in "downtown"

10. the noise
9. the constant movement
8. awesome access to public transit
7. better shopping opportunites
6. working close to where you live
5. having neighbors from all over the world
4. having the police close by pretty consistently (although, its sucks needing the police to be close by consistently
3. sitting at my windowsill and watching my neighborhood in action
2. you can't avoid the reality of life (the homeless, prostitutes, general breakdown of society)
1. God loves the city!!!

One reason I DON'T like the city:
having to deal with my completely rational fear of pigeons!!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

speaking of children....

An awesome post from Justin Taylor that I just had to repost. Of course, he is quoting Kevin DeYoung... so this is a re-repost!


Parent-Child Conversations on the Gospel
Kevin DeYoung gives a fairly typical example of what gospel-centered attempts at parenting can look like in action:

Me: What’s the matter son?
Child: I want that toy and he won’t give it to me!
Me: Why do you want the toy?
Child: I don’t know.
Me: What’s going on in your heart when you desire that toy?
Child: I don’t know.
Me: Think about it son. Use your brain. Don’t you know something?
Child: I guess I just want the toy.
Me: Obviously. But why?
Child: I don’t know.
Me: Fine. [Mental note: abandon "why" questions and skip straight to leading questions.] Do you think he is having fun playing with the toy right now?
Child: No.
Me: Really?! He’s not having fun? Then why does he want that toy in the first place?
Child: Because he’s mean.
Me: Have you ever considered that maybe you are being mean by trying to rip the toy from his quivering little hands?
Child: I don’t know.
Me: What do you know?
Child: I don’t know!
Me: Nevermind. [I wonder how my brilliant child can know absolutely nothing at this moment.] Well, I think taking the toy from him will make your brother sad. Do you like to make him sad?
Child: I don’t know.
Me: [Audible sigh.]
Child: He makes me sad all the time!
Me: Well, I’m getting sad right now with your attitude! [Pause, think, what would Paul Tripp do? Thinking . . . thinking . . . Man, I can't stop thinking of that mustache. This isn't working. Let's just go right to the Jesus part.] You know, Jesus wants us to love each other.
Child: I don’t know.
Me: I didn’t ask you a question!
Child: [Pause.] Can I have some fruit snacks?
Me: No, you can’t have fruit snacks. We are talking about the gospel. Jesus loves us and died for us. He wants you to love your brother too.
Child: So?
Me: So give him the toy back!

Then I lunge for the toy and the child runs away. I tell him to come back here this instant and threaten to throw the toy in the trash. I recommit myself to turning down speaking engagements on parenting.


This blog is dedicated to Ale and Pao for going against their own culture to serve their families. You are inspirational to me!

In light of this week's celebration of mothers, I want to share some thoughts I've been working through while living here. You see, being a mom is a HUGE dream of mine. And when I say huge, I mean gigantic. I have wanted to be a mom since I was 3 and my brother and sister were born. I think tends to be a somewhat natural desire among women across cultures. But how motherhood looks, what is expected of mothers is quite different from one culture to another.

One of the benefits of living in another culture is being able to judge more clearly your own. One of the big differences between chilean and gringo culture is the role of the family. Here, families spend a lot of time together. I mean, seriously, even my adult students will spend all day saturday at their parents house. Just hanging out. No particular purpose. I think this is great. I love that families know how to relate to each other and that they like to just spend time together.

Recently though, I've been noticing that women in chile really value working. I assume this is strongly related to their desire for financial independence which is a fairly new concept here. So women study hard in university, and work hard in their jobs to get ahead. Now, in the states, we do to. But there is a growing trend, or at least I think there is, among both religious and non religious women to value their place at home. Now, before you go and call me antiquated and sexist, let me explain. There is a growing trend among women to find satisfaction in doing things that deal with the home. I have girlfriends (and some guy friends for that matter!) who like to knit. A lot of my girlfriends are interested in making their home a lovely welcoming place, cooking healthy and delicious meals, and when the time comes that they have kids, a lot of my friends are choosing to stay at home. Having the "freedom to stay home with your kids" is becoming a value in our society.

So where does Chile stand on this matter? Well, today in one of my classes I mentioned staying home with kids and the two women in my class literally cringed. One even declared "that's insane". In their opinion it is absolutely ridiculous to want to stay home and focus on keeping your house and raising your kids. I think the two women (one is actually already a mother) in my class are fairly representative of chilean women's feelings toward being a "homemaker". Why clean your house if you can hire a maid? Why cook if you can hire a peruvian maid who can cook even better than you can! Why stay home and care for your child all day when you can hire a peruvian maid who takes care of children. It is very common here to have this situation. I have a one bedroom +livingroom apartment and I have students all the time telling me to get a maid.

But I value being a woman who can "keep house". I want to be a good wife and mom someday and to me that means I want to know how to keep my house clean, how to cook well, how to fix things in my house, and how to give up some of my independence for the sake of my family. I am wary of judging cultures as good or bad. But I do think we can see cultures that fit more or less what the bible teaches. In this case, I refuse to adapt to chilean culture. I refuse to find my value in how independent I can be. It's strange since at this point in life, I am SO independent. I think it will be a challenge to give this up, especially when the culture around me is telling me that it's foolish to give up your job for your family.
But I want this. I want to honor God as a wife. Honor Him as a mom. So I will fight for it. And its encouraging along the way to see that there are some, although very few, women here who are also fighting for this "freedom". Our church is very blessed that the two moms in our church have both given up their jobs to stay at home with their kids. Ale and Pao, you are such an encouragement and model to all of us. Thank you for your service not just to your family, but to the whole church.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Feliz Dia de la Madre!

Each year, on Mother's Day I post a note about my mom. Often I am far far across the world and can't wish her happy mother's day to her face, so the blog has to suffice. This year, we are even further away. She and my brother are travelling around India for a month. I know, adventurism runs in the family. (Mom, don't fight me on the word "adventurism", I'm an English teacher!) Anyways, here is a photo of my mom in India:

Isn't she absolutely beautiful? Happy Mother's Day mom. I love you mucho and I'm so proud of you for all that you have accomplished!

A note about my grandma:

I can't celebrate Mother's Day without a special shout out to my wonderful grandma. She is truly one of my favorite people in the whole world and I am so blessed to have her in my life. What other grandmas buy and learn how to use computers, video cameras, and skype so they can stay in touch with their grandaughters? My grandma Phyllis is a gem! Love you grandma!!!

Thursday, May 05, 2011

adventures when living in a sketchy building

Warning: grandma (and all other Jewish mothers), please be forwarned that this post is very honest about my life and you may or may not want to read it.

So as I have mentioned before, I live in a building that is generally occupied by prostitutes. Most of the apartments are used as places of "business" for my neighbors. This means that certain awkward situations arise at times. Like when a guy goes through the building knocking on random doors waiting for one to open with a girl ready to go. When these guys knock on my door, usually they knock once, realize I'm not a prostitute and then move on. But last week, this guy kept knocking at my door. Don't worry, I don't EVER open my door for a stranger, but this one took a firm declaration to LEAVE MY DOOR! And he did. Now, usually my awkward moments are more like riding in the tiny elevator that only fits 3 people, with a neighbor and her client. Awkward, but okay. But this morning my building sank to a new all low. The elevator wasn't working so I took the stairs. On my way down the stairs I passed by a, what? what's that? oh yeah, it's a used condom. Yep. Goodness gracious. All new low, even for my building. But you know what, I wouldn't trade it for anything. This honestly is kinda a dream come true. Not the condom part, but the getting to do ministry in the middle of the broken and downtrodden. (And grandma, to make you feel better, at least I'm not trying to minister to the prostitutes in southeast asia! It's MUCH safer for me to be here in Chile.)

time for a change... but not yet!

I have a friend here, I'll all her Mary. She's going through an interesting phase in her life, getting ready for marriage, learning through some interesting trials what God wants to teach her. And as she is sharing with me all that the Lord is teaching her, I feel the Lord preparing me for a change. I started reading "I kissed dating goodbye" by Joshua Harris. And before you go and get all worked up about how you don't like the book, let me just say that I don't agree with everything, but I sure do agree with a lot. It's making me feel even more resolute in a lot of my convictions concerning dating.
Here in Chile, it's really common to have a palolo (boyfriend). It's NOT common to be single for a purpose. It's really common to make out in public. Seriously, ask anyone who has lived here and we have plenty of stories of couples rubbing up against us as they make out on the bus. Gross, right? And before you go thinking that this kind of behavior is just non-christians, oh no, physical boundaries aren't so strict even among christians. Now, this will be fun once I'm married. The whole getting to sit on a bench in a park and just kiss your heart out. But for now, it's just a challenge to navigate the life I want to live here.
And yet it has also strengthened my faith that God will bring the right guy at the right time. The odds seem against me that a guy who loves Jesus and wants to live a life for Him would end up in my life here. But as my friend Derek reminded me last night, the more against the odds my situation seems, the more it forces me to trust Jesus.
And I feel like this change is around the corner. That might mean in a few weeks, or a few years. But it feels like it's coming. In any case it's so nice to be here, in this country where I want to be, living a life that is more awesome that I could ever have imagined. So when that time comes, I'll gladly take it. But for now... it's all good.

What a season!

Life is moving pretty fast these days. I find the days moving pretty quickly and the weeks are just flying. The time between each weekend seems so long when I am facing Monday morning, but come tonight, a Thursday night, I can't believe I'm only one day away from Saturday! Part of the reason the time flies is that there is just so much to do! I have my "real" job, teaching English at the Central Depository of the Stock Exchange (or at least that's how I translate it). And I like my job. I like most of my students, I have a pretty good schedule, and they pay decently. But this isn't my life or at least not all of it.
When I think about my life, I think about my church, my sweet community that I have there and all the work there is to do in our tiny church plant. There are these three girls that I have started to teach how to read the Bible. They are all fairly new to their christian walks and its so exciting to get to study the Bible with them!One of them who I feel particularly close to has asked me to disciple her and I am just amazed each week at how the Lord is being so faithful to teach her more about Him.
THen I have my building. As many of you know, I live in a building full of prostitutes. Most of the apartments in my building are used by prostitutes for their... "business". This has been such a HUGE blessing. I know, you're thinking I'm crazy. But I've always had this desire to be one of those missionaries like Amy Carmichael who work with prostitutes in south east asia. And now, check it out! I'm in my country, Chile, AND I get this chance to live with and hopefully minister to these ladies!

Sunday, May 01, 2011

My Michelle and her Ernest

Today is the day! My dear friend Michelle and her beloved Ernest tie the knot. I met Michelle at Westminster, in fact we met on the first day and it didn't take us long to realize we were gonna be lifers. Over the course of our friendship, now almost 4 years, we have seen each other through soooo much. Especially in terms of relationships. Both of us have had our heart broken, have loved foolish men who didn't know how to treat a daughter of the King, and have longed for a man who would love us for who we were. Michelle met Ernest through our friend Julie. Because Ernest lived in D.C and Michelle in Philly, they didn't actually meet face to face until they had already talked quite a bit through email and phone. They spent their first day together in New York (which in my opinion is just a magical place!) and from there decided to pursue the relationship even though the distance would be challenging.

Then, last year, Michelle moved to Chicago where Ernest had been relocated. It's been a steady road for them and I have been sooo blessed to be their biggest cheerleader along the way. Michelle is one of those women who have too much passion for her own good. She dreams big and fights hard. As she enters into marriage with Ernest, I am praying with great expectation that the Lord is going to use their marriage for great and wonderful things. Michelle and Ernest- have a wonderful wedding, full of joy, and expect a visit from me soon!

Sarah and Glyn

The last few months have been FULL of weddings: Sam and Peggy, JungMi and Will, Stacy and Chris, Liz and Daniel, and of course The Royal Wedding. But this weekend in particular, two of my dearest girl friends are getting hitched. First, let me tell you about my dear friend Sarah.

Sarah works at Jews for Jesus, where my dad works and where I worked for a few months in 2007. In those few months, Sarah and I met, started hanging out and quickly developed a deep friendship. She is one of those people who I know I was supposed to be lifetime friends with and it was just a matter of meeting. After those 3 months, I left town, in fact I left the country. But that didnt stop our friendship. Over the last four years we've kept a long distance friendship and I've been so blessed to share life with her. When we met, we were both single. Four years has seen us both through a few relationships and we talked through each one, encouraging, counseling, rejoicing, and when they ended, crying. But last night, that season of Sarah's life ended. Last night, Sarah and Glyn married. I remember when Sarah met Glyn. He had made some comment about unabashedly liking romantic movies, and he had confidently pursued her. I remember that she wasn't sure where this was going, but she liked what she had heard thusfar.

Way to go Glyn! Sarah is one of those women who truly needs to be a wife. She is so creative and thoughtful. She loves to bake and is often volunteering to serve people who may or may not thank her. She is seriously one of the most lovely women I have ever met in my life. She is steady in her faith and kind. Oh, and did I mention she is just plain out beautiful? Glyn, you've scored big in winning over Sarah's heart. I am so happy for you guys and am praying for you.

Saturday, April 30, 2011


It’S been a few weeks since I last posted. Nothing dramatic happened, but life in general has been pretty full of… just life. Last weekend was our church retreat. I took on the awesome challenge of preparing the Passover seder for my church. In the past, when I’ve held Passover Seders I’ve gotten stressed from all the prep work that goes into it. Last year, I really worked hard to put together a haggadah that I could use for years to come. I imagined my children growing up with this haggadah and my children’s children. I know, it’s way sentimental, but that’s me. So when it hit me this year, that I wouldn’t be able to use that haggadah but I would need one in Spanish, I felt a bit overwhelmed. After some research, I found a messianic haggadah in Spanish. Between Spanish haggadah, using google translate with my own haggadah, and a TON of hours I was able to produce my own Spanish version. It wasn’t perfect, but time ran out and I used what I had. Then came the challenge of finding all the materials needed for the Passover. Things like Matzah and a lamb’s bone are not so common down here. I found Matzah and bought 4 big boxes of it. I ran all over town trying to find a lamb’s bone, but eventually settled for a cow’s bone. I boiled it for about 6 hours, scrubbing off all the meat as I went along. I got the rest of the materials ready: candles, a white linen, horseradish (also a challenge to find), the charoset, parsley, and all the bowls and plates to go with a seder for 30 people. People kept asking me beforehand what I was doing. Was it a dinner? Kinda. Was it a church service? Kinda. What was it? I always struggle to answer these questions.
But the whole thing went really well. I even had kids present this year so we could have a real hunt for the afikomen! One of the coolest parts was that I found out that one of the guys in my church has a Jewish grandmother. Hence, in some way he is Jewish. He doesn’t really have much of a Jewish identity, but still we got to share a bit about Jewish heritage. (And by the way, it was his son that found the afkomen!) While I’m sure that I butchered some of the Hebrew and a lot of the Spanish, I was really excited to share this part of my cultural heritage with those who can claim this as part of their spiritual heritage. The whole night in general went really well and afterward people told me that they were really moved by the whole thing. They all seemed really touched by the ceremony of it all.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

counting my blessings

I have nothing special to say at the moment except that I feel extremely blessed. Tonight, walking home from church I was overwhelmed with how much God has blessed me. Beyond all the obvious (a relationship with Him, grace for my ridiculous self, etc.) He has placed me here in this season to live a pretty sweet life. Here are the blessings I see in my life: 1. I am living in the country I love. There are definite moments when I get frustrated, but ever since I first came to Chile, I have considered this country my own. I waited for 4 years for God to open the door to return here and now I get to live here for a loooooooooong time! 2. I have an awesome apartment. Really, my apartment is so comfortable. I've lived in so many places and the last few years I've begun to feel the need to "nest" and here I have it! I have a beautiful apartment and I love spending time in it. 3. I have a wonderful church! We are by no means perfect- and we know it! But we are striving to live out the gospel, to live a life worthy of the gospel, to serve one another. I am so blessed by the conversations that go on in our bible studies. 3a. I have an awesome pastor. My pastor Cristobal is really a gift from God for me. From him, I learn not only about the bible, but this guy has some serious gifts in leading groups of people. There are NUMEROUS times in our small group that someone says something that makes me think, "oh my goodness, how would I respond to that question/comment?" and I have learned so much from him in how to lead people. SO much. 4. I have a good job that offers a great schedule and the work isn't too bad. It's not what I LOVE doing (which is theology in both the academic and practical sense) but it's not too bad teaching English. I work for a quality institute and in a fun environment so I have no complaints. 5. I have always been drawn to various very diverse ministries. Orphans, women stuck in the sex industry, the gay/artist community, university students. And here I find that I have the opportunity to work in so many ways. In my church, I'm going to start teaching two of the younger girls (well, same age as me but younger in their faith) how to study the bible. This honestly is a dream come true. I moved into a building that is full of prostitutes. Little did I know that God was going to give me such an awesome place to minister. I live in this building with them. I take the elevator with them, deal with the same street noise, and when the elevator is broken we climb the stairs together. The the next building over, there are tons of peruvian immigrants. They are like the bottom of society. They come here, often illegally, to take the lowest jobs, for the lowest pay. And I get to live with them! I get to live here and be a part of these peoples' worlds. This is the kind of stuff that I dream about when I hear about people serving in different parts of asia or Africa. And I have it! Here! In Santiago. 6. I can see the Lord changing me each and every day, making me more and more like His son Jesus. I can feel Him ripping away my idols, one by one (and Lord knows I have a lot!) He is so faithful to me and He hasn't abandoned me at all. He has brought me here and is teaching me that "to live is Christ" means that I am alive to serve. My time, my money, everything in my life is for His purposes. What grand thoughts. And while I still spend a good amount of my life being self centered and selfish, I know that He is working in me His good and perfect will. AMEN! So yeah, these are the reasons I feel so very blessed right now.

visas and life here

Yesterday was my 3 month mark. I didn't even realize it until this morning when I was thinking about the great and awesomeness that was yesterday- I GOT MY RESIDENCY VISA! That's right, for the next year, I will stay here on my temporary residency visa and then I can apply for my permanent residency visa. It feels great to have this stamp in my passport. POR FIN! To be honest though, it doesn't feel like it's been three months here. Three months is such a short time. I feel like I have been here for much much longer. It feels very much like home to me and even though there are still a lot of parts of the culture that I don't like, or appreciate, it nevertheless feels like it's where I am supposed to be. I've had to learn to extend grace to myself over these past few months. When living overseas, everyone has this idea of what their life will look like or should look like. And the failure of that vision is unavoidable. We won't ever adjust as much as we think we should, and our lives tend to be much more boring than we think an overseas life should be. But extending grace, allowing ourselves to take the waves as they come, this is the key to not just surviving, but living well.

Monday, April 11, 2011

more cabbage soup?

Yes folks, that's right. I finished my cabbage soup diet, made myself a beautiful pancake topped with lots of syrup, had a candy bar, and decided that for dinner, I wanted more soup. Crazy. But this weekend, I was talking about food to my friend and we came upon the topic of korean food. She asked me if they really eat kimchi at every meal there. As I was explaining the importance of kimchi in Korean culture, I realized that my cabbage soup is quite like kimchi chigae (kimchi soup). Granted, the cabbage in my soup isn't fermented, but I make it in a red (tomato juice) sauce and I make sure it is nice and spicy. So in a lot of ways, a bowl of hot spicy cabbage soup is similar to one of my favorite Korean dishes. No wonder I've enjoyed it so much!

a good sign

I live near a long thin park called Parque Forestal. It's really quite a nice park and it has a long stretch of a lane for riding bikes or jogging. And since I have a fear of riding bikes in this city, I jog. It's really pleasent. I usually listen to radioDisney on my mp3 player and jog along to Jonas Brothers, Beyonce, or Julieta Venegas. Great stuff. Yesterday on my jog I noticed that the trees were beginning to change. Fall has finally arrived and I am glad for the change. But as I was jogging through the falling leaves, I began to think about how much I like fall. And I had this special moment when I realized that I want to be here in Santiago, jogging through this park for many falls to come. After the past few weeks of cultural adjustment being a little more painful than normal, this was a nice thought to have.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Detox- Day 7 The finish line

So I made it! I cheated a little. Yesterday I fried up two eggs for dinner, and I had a handful of peanuts the other day. But overall, it wasn't so bad. I think I might try to make the cabbage soup a more permanent part of my diet. Not that I want to spend days eating ONLY cabbage soup. But I think its a good way to get some extra veggies in my diet. I am definitly looking forward to eating sushi and chocolate. But during this week, I started going on runs. I looked into buying an eliptical machine for my apartment. And in general, I want to be smarter about what I eat. I love sugar. And Im not planning on giving it up permanently. But it was good to see that I could go a week without it. I've been reading a book called The Weigh Down Diet. The basic idea is that people who are overweight, are so because they eat more than their body needs. That they eat even when they aren't hungry, when their bodies don't need more food. I know I do it all the time. I eat when I'm bored mostly. But this book is all about figuring out when you are actually hungry, and only eating what your body needs. I like the book so far. The author is a dietician and she takes time to describe the digestion process. She's a christian and her book is based off the idea that our souls hunger for God which we understand as physical hunger and we overeat to compensate our lack of connection with God. Her hermaneutic is off. She uses verses to back up some of her claims that have nothing to do with the topic at hand. But in general, I like what she says. More than anything, I like the fact that it's forcing me to deal with my "boredom" eating. So for now, I'm going to enjoy life, some more soup, some chocolate, and maybe get myself an eliptical machine.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Detox- day 3

It's still going well. I think adding the option for a hard boiled egg a day and some almonds made the whole thing much more doable. I still find myself hungry often, but I have also found that most of my issue is psychological. I want other food, but I'm actually fine. I eat my cabbage soup at least twice a day and I'm trying to limit the fruit I have each day to only 2 or 3. Today in class was a challenge. Not only was I hungry, but all of my students decided that they wanted to talk about food. I always ask my students how their weekends were. I ask them about what they did, etc. Well, today, as they shared about their weekends, they described the food the ate. Seriously, they all wanted to talk about the food they ate. In all 5 of my classes, this was the topic of the day. And I found myself craving BB when they talked about BBQ, wanting sushi when they shared about their favorite sushi spot in town, and just in general, wanting food! Oh well. I might have to take more control over the conversation next time.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Detox- day 2

Well, I think it's too early to tell how it's going but I feel ok. I went to bed hungry but not willing to eat any more soup (that's what I get for eating 3 bowls in one afternoon!) I woke up and had an apple and an egg. I still couldn't bring myself to eat any soup. It's a beautiful sunny day here so I went for a walk. It turned out to be a two hour walk and by the time I got home, I was really hungry. Soup sounded just right! I added some Peruvian yellow aji (pepper) paste to the soup which made it a delightful spicy soup. I do have a headache, which might be from the detox, or possibly from the seasonal allergies that a lot of people have now. I went to my friend Mauro's house last night. I thought a bunch of us were going, but there was some confusion and people decided not to go. But I went. I had been nervous about going to a party with this detox thing going on. It's really socially unacceptable to not eat or drink at a party. And don't try to explain what you're doing because the concept of healthy eating here is non existent. They have diets, and tons of women go on diets weekly. But the diets tend to be more abusive than healthy. Like thinking that an appropriate diet is to just drink diet coke until dinnertime. Not helpful. So it was nice that it was just Mauro and me so I could avoid the mass group interrogation of why I was only drinking water. Another gringa friend Natalie, an Aussie who is doing missionary volunteer work, came by and the three of us spent the night playing card games and drinking water. Let's just say, this was quite a bit different than a normal chilean party. So overall I am doing ok. I'm hungry, but ok. The real challenge will come when I go to work and I have to be in class all morning. There's no microwave at work, nor really a space for eating food. So let the challenge begin!

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Time for a detox- Day 1

My dad is the most self disciplined man I know. Seriously, I defy any of you to surpass him in self discipline. And he makes it look so easy! But sadly I did NOT get the self discipline gene. No, I'm quite the opposite and I've been pretty convicted by the Lord recently on my lack of self control. I can see it in various areas of my life, but it became most evident in my addiction to sugar. I just can't say no! I've been thinking about how I want to do a makeover on my general diet. But I knew that I wouldn't be able to just moderate the sugar in my diet. First, I would need a detox. I know someone who does this cabbage diet every once in a while. So I looked into it and decided it just might be the best way to detox from sugar. I read all the different recipes out there, found one that I could make here (things like V8 juice and lipton soup don't exist here!). I added some brown rice to the soup and I think I might allow some hard boiled eggs into the diet. To be honest, I'm pretty nervous. I crave sugar. I love sugar. But I also realize that I don't want to be controlled by food. Last night I made a huge pot of cabbage stew. It's chalk full of veggies: cabbage (obviously!), green onions, greenish orangish peppers, carrots, zucchini, and tomatoes. Mix in a few spices and I'm ready to go! I hosted a pancake breakfast for some gringa friends this morning. It was a preplanned unavoidable (and delicious!) event. But besides my two pancakes, I've kept to the soup. It's gone ok today. It took me a while to fill up on the soup, but after 3 bowls of it, I met my limit and went for an hour walk to help digest the mountain of veggies. Each day will probably be a challenge. I'll want my sugar fix. But it's only a week and then I can move into a well rounded healthy diet. So... vamos!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"You're sick? You need..."

Yep, that's right. I'm sick again. I basically will get anything that goes around so when a few of my friends got a virus, I knew it was only a matter of time. Friday evening it happened upon me. I pulled my blanket over to the couch and made myself comfortable. Sleeping on the couch is one of my FAVORITE things. I recently mentioned my love for napping on the couch. But I reserve overnight sleeping on the couch for when I am sick. I turn the tv on and let it keep me company as I doze through the night. I spent all of Saturday and Sunday on my couch. The truth was that I couldnt do anything else. The virus wasn't too bad, I felt feverish but had no temperature. I had the aches and pains of a fever, but not the chills. Really, the worst part of the virus was that it completely wiped me of any energy. Even making it the 5 steps to my kitchen area to refill my tea was exhausting. Monday night I made it to work and though it was beyond tiring, I was able to rest a bit before our leadership training meeting for church Monday night. At the meeting one of my friends told me that I should be drinking coke if I am sick. He was dead serious. The rest of the chileans laughed about it, but it seemed like they didn't really disagree. Now, this is coming from a culture where they literally put coke in their infants' bottles. I am not joking. I tried to explain that the sugar in coke isn't good for you when you are trying to fight off a virus. They jokingly answered that diet coke would solve that problem. But that's not all. I went to work today and was sharing with one of my students that I am sick. He also offered his counsel on what would help. Beer. Yep. He said that I should drink beer with lemon. I asked him how it would possibly help me to drink beer and he answered that it would put me to sleep. Yeah, I'm exhausted as it is, I don't need any help in that deptartment. So I think I'll stick with my tea. At least for now.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Highlights and lowlights

In case you were wondering, no, Im not going to talk about getting my hair done.
No today's post is more of a catch up post. Stuff that's happened this week. Kinda boring, but I guess boring is better than some other options.

The bigger random non-personal things:
  • There were a few earthquakes this week. The biggest one was 5.7 and I felt it comfortably from my apartment. I'm weird I know, but I kinda like earthquakes. As long as they aren't damaging, they are kinda fun.
  • There was a bomb scare in the building across the street from my apartment this week. I came from work and found the street blocked off. Evidently there was an annonymous call about a bomb being planted in the building and the precautionary measures were taken.
  • This morning I was surprised to hear a bunch of racket outside. I looked out the window and saw what looked like something between a parade and a protest. I enjoyed watching them walk by but couldn't hear well enough to understand anything they were saying. I later saw on the news that it was a protest against the arrival of Obama this week. Yep, the whole Obama family is coming to Chile this week (yay Michelle!!!) and a few chileans were upset about it.

Some more personal things:
  • I was kinda sick this week. I felt weak on Tuesday and luckily my evening classes cancelled and I could just go home and sleep. The rest of the week I took it easy and tried to stay home and rest as much as possible.
  • Which brings me to a fun thing to share. Totally random, but one of my FAVORITE things in life is taking naps in the sun on comfy couches. Now that the drama with my couch has died down, I can enjoy the blessings of the Lord, namely, my wonderful sofa. It's right next to the window, so when I nap, I have the "fresh" air (air is far from fresh here in Santiago!) and the sunshine right on my face. I've had the chance to come home a few afternoons in time for a nap. Yum.

And even more personal:
God has been using culture shock to deal with some issues in my heart. My desire for the approval of others, my fear of being alone and helpless, my fierce and stubborn pride. These things are only exasperated by being here. It's weird because I don't really remember hitting this kind of culture shock in other countries. I think the knowledge that I was in a country short term, and the presence of more gringos in my life made the reality of living in another culture less threatening.
Don't get me wrong, I don't want to come home (sorry Grandma!) I don't really miss life in the states. I know that life there is great for some people, but I don't feel at home in the culture there. In fact, because I am indeed gringa, when I am in the states, and I feel uncomfortable, I feel guilty. I feel like I should be comfortable there. It ends up being a vicious cycle of discomfort and guilt. Not a good way to live. Here, at least when I feel discomfort, I don't feel guilt. I have a lot more grace for myself.
So all that is to say, I know I'm here and I'm supposed to be here. But it doesn't lessen the process of dealing with being in a different culture.
One of the biggest changes I have noticed is that I am quite introverted. I'm not saying I'm shy. Just introverted. I crave alone time much more than I crave people time. Maybe it's a permanent change since the depression. Maybe this is an actual chemical change in me. Or maybe it's the fact that I'm living in a country that doesn't recognize a need for alone time. So most people think its odd to spend the day alone. I think it's a combination of both factors. And maybe a few more. Either way, I'm very very grateful for my apartment.

So that's the update. I'm going to try to be more faithful to update this blog. But for now, goodnight friends.

Monday, March 07, 2011

frustration, sofas, and the desires that arise

Today was one of those days when I wish I had a husband. No, it's not Valentines Day. Nope, today was the day my sofa finally arrived. Well, it arrived to the lobby below, where the delivery guy politely informed me that it wouldn't fit in the elevator, so they wouldn't be bringing it to my apartment. Now, before I get ahead of myself, let me start from the beginning.

I bought the sofa a month ago. They told me it would arrive on the 19th of Feb. I waited all day Feb 19th for the sofa to arrive. Nothing. A few days later I recieved a string of phone calls. None of them helpful, but all of them saying that someone else would call me to set up an appointment to have my sofa delivered. So I finally went back to the store and had them call the delivery company. They said it would come the following Saturday.

So I waited in my apartment. Finally I had to leave because I had a commitment to attend to, so I left my keys with the consierge. I got a phone call a while later from the delivery company. They were at my building, but the elevator wasn't working so they weren't going to bring up my sofa. Someone will call me later to make a new appointment. At this point imagine me very angry trying to explain to the guy on the phone that I will NOT wait another day for my sofa. Too bad, so sad, I had no other choice.

They called, and said it would come that Monday. Then they called again, no it won't. It will come on Saturday. I told them it better come before 12pm because I would NOT be waiting in my apartment all day, just waiting for them to come. Oh but I was. Yep, I waiting from 9am to 9pm. So come Monday, today, when I got off work, I went over to the store, AGAIN, and asked to speak to the manager. She apologized and after 20 mins of being on the phone with the delivery company, they finally got it arranged for them to come tonight, sometime after 9pm.

And now, you've all been brought up to speed on the situation. Hence, I'm sitting in my apartment, on the verge of tears from just general exhaustion and not feeling well, And I'm waiting for the two consierges to bring up my sofa.

It's moments like this that I wish I had a husband. I wish I had someone else to take care of all of this. Not even that he would have to do all of it, or do it always, but I wish I just had someone to share the burden with me. Someday, hopefully, maybe.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Some culture shock reflections

I think Im in a bit of culture shock. There are supposed to be two waves of culture shock (or so said my prof in uni). The first is that initial one, usually the first few months in a country, where everything is new and you don't understand much of what goes on around you. The second one is a bit more subtle, it happens a year or two into your stay in a foreign culture and it has less to do with not understanding what is happening, and m,ore to do with understanding but not feeling comfortable in what is happening. I am there. I understand fairly well chilean culture. And Im not so much homesick for another culture, because I still love it here. But I am definitely aware of how different I am. I am much more comfortable with being alone. Anyways, this week, some of those differences came out and I took some time to write down some reflections:

Tonight (Friday night) was a night of reflection. I learned some new lessons tonight, saw some realities about my life here as a foreigner, and realized how much I have changed over the past few years. It all began last night when I was coming home from work and ran into my friend Mauro and some of his friends. It was 9:30pm and they were just starting their night. Yes, just starting. A Thursday night. And yes, they DID have to work the next day. I gave them every excuse in the book about why I couldn’t go out. I said no over and over. But evidently that campaign that “no means no” never made it over here. They whined and pleaded for 30 minutes while we sat in a café, begging me to come out with them to the bar down the street. Finally, with them literally pulling my arms, I agreed to come in a for a little. I told them that I was leaving them at 11pm to go to bed. Of course that didn’t happen. At 12am, I finally left and headed home. But before I left, we planned that we would hang out at Mauro’s apartment tonight, since it was Friday night. I told them I would invite the rest of our friends. This morning, I followed through with the plans. I invited all our friends over. To be honest, I didn’t really want to go out. I wanted to be home, trying out a recipe I found for carrot bread. So when no one seemed able to go, and the very person who had peer pressured me into this whole thing pulled out, I sighed a breath of relief and headed to the supermarket to get my much desired ingredients.
At home, I mixed and poured all the ingredients, set the dish in the oven and pulled The Mission of God by CJ Wright off my shelf. I settled in bed with my book and waited for the bread to bake. I began to think about how much I had changed. Maybe it’s because I am here in Chile where they loath being alone. Maybe it’s because this is my second year living alone. Maybe it’s just the fact that I have the most awesome apartment and why would I ever want to leave it. But I realized tonight, I would SO rather be at home baking and reading than be out. I had Taylor Swift playing in the background (don’t just me!) and I was singing along and dancing as I baked and cleaned. It was truly a perfect evening.
Just when I though the evening was about over, my phone rang. It was midnight. I know, you’re thinking, who would call at midnight? Well, here, midnight is just the beginning of a Friday night. It was my friend Mauro and his friends. They were outside my apartment building and they wanted me to go out with them. No. I laughed when the pleading began. I knew that I wasn’t going out tonight. I was already in my pajamas and I was just waiting for my bread to finish and then it was off to sleep for me. They told me they were gonna come up and say hi and that they would then convince me to go out with them. I gave them permission to come up but warned them that I would not being leaving with them. They were up in a few minutes, just in time for some fresh from the oven carrot bread, and the pleading continued. I explained to them that I was not going out. That I am a gringa, and I need more sleep than them. After an hour, they left.
I love my life here. I feel very comfortable here. I know I am where I am supposed to be, but it’s nights like tonight that remind me that I am certainly not chilena. I may think I want to be chilena, but it is an undeniable reality that I am not.
I was explaining this to my grandma. I was telling her that I was nervous about hosting things at my house since people tend to stay very late. She asked about making it clear that people have to leave at a certain hour. I explained that here it was rude to do so. She then pointed out that in the states it is rude to stay so late at someone’s house. It is not often that there is such an obvious difference in cultures, but here is a prime example. There it is rude to overstay your welcome. Here it is rude to kick people out. Come 4 or 5am, maybe you can start to hint. I will just have to be wise about how often I host these gatherings in my house.

Baking with Becka

I was randomly craving some carrot muffins, so I looked up a recipe online, it seemed easy enough, and I went at it.

Mixing all the ingredients together

Trying to keep the kitchen clean

Waiting with anticipation..... and....


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thoughts on grace and community

I’ve been listening to a bunch of sermons on unity in the church and they have been reminding me of a topic that Ashlee and I discussed recently. We were talking about the need to be in community in order to experience grace. If you’re a Christian, you believe that you have received the grace of God. You believe that His grace has some power in your life, and maybe you even feel at peace in your soul. This is good, and I need to be careful not to diminish the true experience of the grace of God.
But I am not writing this blog post to just affirm our supernatural experience of grace. I am writing to call us to live courageously in community. It is in the community of the Church, among those who have received the eternal grace of Jesus Christ, that you can experience grace here on earth.
There is a movement of people my age that believe that they can be Christ followers on their own. While I will agree that it is possible, I also argue that it is not normative. It is not how God wants His people to live. He has called us into a very chaotic mess that we call the Church. I know, the Church is messy and more often than not, she’s just plain ugly. And yet somehow, we are supposed to live in this body of believers that God has constructed on the chief cornerstone of Jesus Christ (Eph 2:20-22).
Our natural tendency is self protection, self preservation. But if have been hidden in Christ, if we have been crucified and it is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us, we have freedom to love deeply and self sacrificially (Gal 2:20). We read in Ephesians 4 that we are supposed to grow up in Him, putting on our new selves, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of truth. And this whole process of growing up isn’t just so we can benefit alone. The verses that immediately follow the command to grow up in Christ, tell us how to live in community. We are supposed to be little christs to each other. We are supposed to speak the truth in love. To forsake bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander (vs.31). In other words, to extend grace to each other. We have been forgiven much, so we can forgive. Remember the story of the servants who had been forgiven by the king? And one of them, who had been forgiven a huge debt, then went and demanded a small debt from his fellow servant. When the fellow servant couldn’t pay it, he was thrown into jail. When the king found out, he took the greedy servant and condemned him. We have received mercy for much, so we should extend mercy.
You might say, ok, sure, I can extend mercy. But what I have learned over the past year is that while we often think we are ready to extend mercy and grace to each other, we rarely put ourselves in situations that demand this of us. We might have one or two relationships that are close enough that demand grace on a regular basis. Family, spouses, maybe a best friend. But we keep this to a limited number so our need to exercise the spiritual disciple of grace extending is rare.
But back to the Church. Jesus calls us into community. A really messy community filled with sinners. Heck, I’m one of the worst. And you know what happens in a community of sinners? People sin against each other. A lot. When we think of sin, we usually think of “big” ones like murder and adultery. But the closer you get to someone, the more you realize that those “little” sins can really hurt too. When people cheat, lie, or steal. Sure, we know that kind of stuff can hurt. But I don’t do those really obvious sins too often (or do I?) What about selfishness and pride? Philippians 2:3-5 says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves. Do not merely look out for your own personal interest, but also for the interests of others. Have this same attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus”. We don’t realize how big these “little” sins are until they are being done against us.
Last year, at my church in Seoul, our community was really tight. We were a few dozen people, living life together. And we sinned against each other a lot. I can’t even tell you how many times I put myself before others, how many times I considered myself better than others. And they did it to me too. We put our own needs before the needs of others. We were unloving, unkind, and self centered. But one of the beautiful outcomes of this situation was that we were constantly needing to extend grace to each other. Sometimes it was easier than others. But extending grace to someone who has sinned against you is usually just hard. It forces you to look back at the gospel, to the cross, to see the display of God’s grace to you. It’s only then that you can truly and freely give grace to your brother.
And so there is deep blessing in community. It’s there, in a cross centered community, that you actually experience grace here on earth. Not some abstract grace that you know is there, but you can’t see. The grace that comes from living in community is a tangible and poignant grace. It hits you like a wave. It’s hard to give, and incredible to receive. But this is the Gospel. By the blood of Jesus on the cross, we get to taste the reality of heaven now. Things like forgiveness and restoration aren’t just for some distant future. They are part of our lives today. They aren’t easy to get, living in community is hard work. It can be frustrating and discouraging. But we live in the reality that we are hidden in Jesus and that in Him we have all things.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

a Valentines Day adventure

Short version:
Yesterday was Valentines Day. I took a trip out to a little surfer beach town and spent the day wandering around by myself. I ended up spending some time with a random guy who was hoping to make me his valentine. I wasnt interested, and was grateful that God gave me the grace and wisdom not to be foolish. In the end, I found myself breathing a prayer of gratitude, thanking God that He really is enough for me. Of course a valentine would have been nice, but I don't need to make anything happen. I have all I need in Jesus, and in His timing, a valentine will come.

Long version:
Yesterday was Valentines Day. The holiday is really annoying when I live in the States, there is all this pressure to have a date, to do something with someone, or if all else fails, to have an anti Valentines Day party. In Korea, it was so outrageous that I was able to almost just laugh off the holiday (they extend the madness into three holidays stretching over 2 months!)

It's actually not that bad here in Chile. Granted, since most people live with their parents, a lot of yougn couples go to the public parks to make out and do what they can't quite do at home. This is uncomfortable, but that's year long. When it comes to V-day, there are a few more stands with red roses, and heart shaped candy boxes, but it is far from the madness that goes on in the states.

So yesterday I decided that I would venture out of Santiago. I didn't have any responsibilities and I knew that if I didn't I would just sit around my house lazily doing nothing. So I got up early and headed toward the bus terminal. I knew of a town called Pichilemu and figured that yesterday was as good as any day to head over there and check it out. Pichilemu is known for being a small hippie surfing town. It's not too far on a map from Santiago, so I figured it would be about a 3 hour bus ride. Which is would be, if the bus went directly there. But as we went along and stopped at every little town, I soon realized that it would be more like 5-6 hours on the bus. So I arrived at 2:30pm. I was thinking that I would go in the morning, spend the day there and then come back on the last bus. When I arrived, I went directly to the ticket counter to find out when the last bus would leave. Sadly, there were no more tickets left for the day. Ok.... So change of plans. I bought a ticket for 5:30am the next morning and set out to find a place to spend the night. Everything was too expensive. I knew that it was Valentines Day, and I had kinda thought to myself that maybe this was a little retreat with God... a little date. But as I walked around this town I knew nothing about, I felt anxious about my situation. What would I do if I couldn't find a reasonable place to stay? Try to find a bar that stayed open till 4am and then head over to the bus terminal? I had to force myself to chill and trust that God was going to provide. After all, this was a date.

And sure enough, God provided. I found a little hostal that would give me a bed for fairly cheap. I went upstairs in the hostal to see the room. And as I was in the hallway, I saw a guy go into another room. He paused when he saw me, and I could tell he was interested. I, on the other hand, was not interested. He was cute and all, but I was looking forward to spending the day alone on the beach. Well, with God.

So I just ignored the interested look and went on my merry way. I went to the beach for a while, laid out on my towel and enjoyed the scene of hundreds of families crowded on a small black sand beach. After an hour or so, I got up and walked along the beach to the other end of town (it's a small town) and wandered through the feria artensial. Very hippie.

I headed back to the hostal, took a quick nap, and decided to get a little more adventure. I took a bus to a surfers point a few miles down the road and watched little kids get surfing lessons. THe sun was gonna set soon, so I headed back to town, got some pollo y papas fritas, and sat on the grass to watch the sunset. I pulled out my bible and settled in for a nice time of devotion. After a while though, I noticed that everyone that walked by was staring. Maybe it was because I read sitting on the grass alone. Maybe it was because I was reading my bible. Maybe it was because my shoes were off and chileans are funny about bare feet. Probably it was a combination of all of the above.

So I packed up the rest of my chicken and french fries, which was still a lot of food, and headed back toward my hostal. I saw a homeless man and offered him my leftovers. He was really confused and started offering me money for it (granted it was like 40cents he was offering). I stopped him and explained it was a gift. That I just wanted to share it with him. He finally understood.

I headed over to the hostal, tired, but unwilling to call it a night. It was getting really cold, and I realized how glad I was that I had thought to bring my sweatshirt. I walked around the town, watched part of a concert in the plaza, and finally around 11pm, headed back for the hostal. I planned on waking up at 4ish to wash up and walk over to the bus terminal by 5ish.

I got ready and went downstairs to the lobby to wait till it was time to walk over. I felt really dirty (given been at the beach and walking around all day without a change of clothes, nor a toothbrush!) and I was ready to just be on a bus on my way home. Who then should come back to the hostal at this time, but Mr. interested.

He decided, along with the owner of the hostal, that it wasn't right for me to walk alone to the bus terminal. He asked if he could accompany me. I shrugged my shoulders. Of course it would be nice to have some company, especially guy company since it was still dark outside and who knows what kind of shenanagins are going on outside. But, I didn't want to give this guy the wrong impression. I would not be making out with him on the way over to the bus terminal. So I shrugged my shoulders. He took that as enough affirmation and we left to head to the bus terminal. Being about 5am, there were quite a few people on the street, heading home from their parties. It was nice to have a guy there just in case anyone thought it would be fun to bother me. But then, there was the problem of the guy himself. I knew he was interested in me, and while he was generally good looking, and seemingly nice, I was sure that I wasn't interested. I know that if I ever end up with a guy, it will be the Lord's doing. Not some guy that has nothing to do with the Lord. So when we arrived at the bus terminal, and he made it clear that he was gonna stay with me until my bus left, I tried to very politely but clearly let him know that I was not interested. He continued in his pursuits. At one point he told me I had beautiful eyes. Now remember that I have not had any makeup on for 2 days, I haven't showered or brushed my teeth, and it is 5am. I straight out told him no. I told him that I didnt want him to say that. Another 20 minutes of pursuit and my bus was ready to board. We hugged goodbye and I got on my bus, grateful to move on.
Once on board, I breathed a sigh of relief. I found myself gratefully thanking God that He is enough for me. That I dont have to be desperate for a man, because my soul is satisfied in Him. I felt so blessed in that moment. The past few years there have been some difficult vdays. I haven't always been grateful that the Lord is enough. So it was a nice relief to find that God has been growing me in His grace, teaching me to find my satisfaction in Him.
And that folks, is the loooong story.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valpo con las chicas (y mi hermano, que suerte!)

La Magda y yo

The group as we waited for our bus to return to Santiago

hermano mio

My brother came for the weekend. He's been travelling around South America for a month or so and decided to come pay his sister a visit. We spent Friday in Santiago and headed out to Vina and Valpo for the weekend. Here are a few photos to share with you...

La casa de Pablo Neruda.

I love Valpo, especially the colors and street art.

My brother, the photographer

We found an awesome place for some Peruvian food, which was the winner for both of us in the cuisine category.

Friday, February 04, 2011

27 going on 14

Some of you may know, that for all the maturity in my life, I have some definite moments of little girl-ness. Take my taste in music. I have some major teeny bopper music on my ipod. Also, in terms of tv, shows like One Tree Hill and Vampire Diaries are at the top of my list. And this week a new girliness has popped up. There is this cafe that I love and it was definitly part of my daydream while I was planning my return to Chile. So I have begun to come here quite a bit (I am in fact sitting at this very cafe as I write). In my multi-weekly visit to this cafe, I have become recognizable face to the waiters. I think they sense my gringaness and they haven't tried to really talk to me yet. Except one. Here is where I become a 14 year old girl. There is one waiter who I one of the most attractive guys I've ever seen. Just pure ol' eye candy. And to make matters worse, he is really nice and always smiles at me. One time, he tried to talk to me, asking me if I liked the lemonade that I was drinking. I fumbled over my words and stuttered something incoherent about liking the drink and then in pure embarrassment, I just looked down and let him walk away. I have a pretty good idea that he is gay (most of the waiters at this cafe are) but I still hold out hope. Hope that he's not. Hope that he will come back and try to talk to me again. Hope that I can rise above the girlishness and be the mature woman that I am. Ha, yeah right.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

same, same, but different

It's 3:30am and I just got home. I went to a house party with some friends from the new church plant I've joined. I don't have much to share except some ramblings about how this experience here is quite different from my time here before. I am still mentally working through a lot of what I am experiencing here. It is much slower and sweeter than my life has been over the last while. Life here has more to do with "buena onda" (having a good time) and less to do with making a big deal out of all the little things that press around is.
One of the ways I experienced the difference tonight was in the culture I live in. Not the greater culture of Chile, but the subculture that I live in here. Before most of my friends lived with their parents and were still in full time studies. But now, the people I am hanging out with are older. In fact, I tend to be the youngest in our group. Which is a really nice change. I am moving into my own apartment on Tuesday, and I need to buy a lot before it's really ready to be home. First on the list: bed and fridge. But I'm so excited to have this apartment and to get to host stuff at my apartment. My church is just around the corner and my prayer is that God would use this apartment to bless people and to do His work in our neighborhood. And that I might be able to really love the church, to serve them, and to do life with them. Buena onda... buena onda.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

the cursed blessing

This week has been a prime example of the stressful freedom that comes with singleness. I remember the first few years after college, my girlfriends and I used to lament that we wished we had husbands who could help direct our lives. There were too many open doors, too many possibilities, too many options in life. How were we supposed to choose? If we had husbands, surely our lives (or actually, just decision making) would be substantially much easier.

Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthians, "The one who is not married is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he can please the Lord."(1 Cor 7:32)

I have seen over this past year the incredible blessing of being unmarried. I got to serve in a way that was in many ways unhindered. My schedule was infinitely more flexible. I didn't have to worry about making two schedules fit into one. I didn't have to worry about a lot of things, really. I felt the reality of this counsel from Paul and I appreciated it.
But there is a slightly ugly side to this freedom. It was expressed in our post graduation desires for husbands. Sometimes, making decisions for your life is hard. These past two weeks have been filled with apartment hunting. And before you think, "oh how fun" let me assure you, it is one of the more frustrating processes I have to go through in this transition.
First of all, I don't really qualify to rent an apartment here since it is standard to show proof of (chilean) income from the last 6 months. So.... that leaves me trying to bribe the landlords with deals of paying half the year's rent up front.
Second, apartments here are more diverse and random than anything I have experienced before. There are so many factors to take into consideration. Factors that dont even exist in Chile, so I wont bother going into detail. But for example, some of the apartments use gas to heat water. Which is fine when it is a central line that brings gas into your apartment. But some apartments dont have that line, and you have to get this big tank that is full of gas (I guess) and when it runs out, you have to go exchange it. This also means you have to manually turn on and light the water heater each time you want to have hot water. The apartment I am staying in now uses this system. I don't really want to have this system (mainly because I am too lazy to flip 3 switches and light a match each time I want to take a shower!)
I found an apartment last night that I adore! And I spent the day fighting for it. Seriously, I took a 30 minute bus ride to the rental office and demanded that they deal with me and not blow me off. And it worked, I think they will offer me the apartment tomorrow. And I want it. I think. There are parts of it that Im not crazy about. The building for example, is dirty at best. The elevator is sketchy beyond measure. And Im not crazy about the street it's on. But the apartment itself is one of the most beautiful apartments that I've seen in this country. And it's a good price. All these pros and cons. And I wish I had someone making this decision with me. But then again, as stressful as it may feel, it is freedom. I am choosing this apartment because it's big enough to host small groups at my house. It's a few blocks from the church plant that I am a part of here. And I think it would be an awesome asset for our church. So... thanks Paul for the encouragement. Being single and making decisions is more stressful than it looks, but perhaps it's also less complicated too.
Being single is a cursed blessing. Indeed.

PS- If you want to see pics of the apartment, try this website.