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.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mi pais

I don't start work for another week or so... so I walk. I walk all around my favorite parts of Santiago. I took the subway quite a bit away and then walked home from there. It was about 2 hours of walking, and I loved it. I love the architecture here. I love the buildings, and the streets, and of course, the castles. Yep. There actually aren't many, but there is one just a block away from my current apartment. It's called Santa Lucia and its a beautiful yellow castle with gardens all around it. It is quite possibly my favorite place in the world. Anyways, I'll share more later, but for now just a quick note to say, I like living here. I like living in Chile, in Santiago, in el centro. I like the life here. There are parts of it that I just am not there yet. Like the way they take long long vacations... but I'll get there. I'm determined to get there. Slowly but surely, this is mi pais.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Hello Chile

I arrived safe and sound on Wednesday. I got into the airport at about 6:30am and made it to the apartment by 8am. I am renting a room from a couple who lives in a decent sized apartment near my favorite neighborhood.

I spent my first two days walking around, buying things I need, and enjoying the city.
I put together a little list of the things about Chile that I love. This list is in no way exhaustive, but to give you a little taste of my life here.

Most condiments come in little bags. Jam, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise. At first this was awkward to me. My little bag of jam would spill out in the fridge and I was left with a gooey raspberry mess to clean up. But I learned to appreciate the little bags. I especially appreciate the fact that I can be very lazy and only use one knife to spread all my condiments without worry of double dipping.
I love the bread here. It’s fresh. You buy it from these big wood basins and you pick out whatever pieces you want, put them in a bag, and pay less than 10 cents per roll.
Families spend a lot of time together here. With all the intense heat, the streets are filled with people trying to get some relief by sitting in the shade. The streets here are truly a public hang out place.
My last point leads me to think about all the benches in the streets. There were almost no benches in Seoul. Sure, a park might have one or two, but here the streets are lined with them, and they are covered with people. Everyone from young families playing with their children, to grandmas and grandpas eating ice cream, to my favorite, the unmarried couples who still live with their parents and hence use the public benches to make out.
I love the eye contact everyone makes here. I love how much I get to look people in the eyes and smile at them. Sounds silly, but it’s true.

goodbye San Francisco

I guess waking up too early and not being able to fall back asleep is a good time for posting on my blog. I am finally back in Chile. It feels strange, I don't feel as "excited" as maybe I expected to feel. But I do feel completely at ease and at home. Four years hasn't done much to diminish my love for this place. But before I get into all that, I want to take a minute and say a few words about San Francisco. I've barely lived in San Francisco, especially as an adult. But it is in many ways "home" to this wandering girl. I like the art that happens there, the communities that form there, and of course above all, I love the weather. Cold in the morning which warms up to a nice pleasant afternoon and then cool in the evenings. And except for some small rainy seasons, that is basically it all year long.

Before I left, I borrowed my dad's car just before sunrise and took some photos of some of my favorite spots in the city. Here are a few I took of the Castro District. (As you can probably tell, I have a thing for photos in sepia)