Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Knock, knock...

I have a new found respect for the Mormon missionaries. I never thought that I would say that, but here I am in Chile, saying the Mormons have it rough.
I recently (Jan 2-14th) went on a missions trip. My mind immediately went to knocking on doors and handing out Bibles or rather, Books of Mormon, but what we encountered was much different from my Mormon counterparts. First, I was not wearing the Mormon uniform of black pants, white shirt and tie, but a dirty UofP sweatshirt and jeans. Second, my trip lasted two weeks and not two years (thank goodness). Third, we handed out crumpled calendars (which all Chileans love, the calendar part, not the crumpled part) instead of a Bible. Lastly, when I got back to my house, I was able to access the internet and actually call my family, instead of relying on snail mail to communicate.
Our days started off as such: We would wake up early, which for the girls meant at least an hour of preparation, when mind you, we did not have showers or water, so I’m still confused as to what took so long and why we needed a wake-up call so early. Getting ready was followed by a sugar cereal fest for breakfast (try chocolate cereal and chocolate milk) and then morning prayer, which considering high school kids planned it, sometimes left me wanting, and other times left me ready to start the day. We would walk up hill, down the beach, around the river bend, and through potato fields to random people’s houses where, now this is where we differ from Mormons (at least to my knowledge) we were welcomed into their homes, fed and talked for at least an hour or so. We were even invited back for lunch on some days and on the good days, invited back for dinner. In the afternoons, we had activities for younger children (read giant paint fights) and then a mass for the entire community. After mass we would have activities for the high school kids and finally eat dinner and call it a night. Yet, these fun and games taught me nothing, but the time spent in people’s homes taught me everything.
In those hours of conversation spent with random strangers and a few high school students, I learned that some little girl in the campo was abused and then left for dead. Another lady was traveling back and forth from her home to the larger city of Castro for cancer treatments, leaving her son (17) in charge of the house and at times her daughter (8). Another man lived alone in a two room house, with his horse and two dogs. There was another older lady who lived alone as well, patiently waiting for her son to return from the military. And then there was a family of nine all living in the same house, with the most precious baby (Pia) whom I grew to love. This family was a mix of brothers and sisters, grandparents and grandchildren, yet they all lived together in harmony. They all worked hard in the fisheries and scrapped out a living. I could tell when I walked into their home, they weren’t lacking any of the basic necessities, yet it was not as if they were living in the Plaza Hotel. With that being said, they invited me into their home and fed me, no questions asked. They invited me into their home and treated me like a daughter. They gave what they had and they taught me a valuable lesson, which I also found in Matthew, “Give as freely as you have received.”
When I think of being a volunteer here in Chile, my mind often wanders. I ask myself if I have made the right choice and if what I am doing here actually matters, but what Miriam’s family has taught me, is a lesson that will last a lifetime. Treat people as you would like to be treated, treat people with respect even if they barely speak your language. Be patient, be kind, but most of all, be open to experiencing life and the random people that might walk through your door.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Mailing address...

Hey All.... just a quick update, our mailing address will be changing soon, so I would suggest not sending mail to the address that is both on this website and on my e-mail, when I know the correct address, ya´ll will be the first to know! adios for now!

but, you know you can all call me with Latin American calling cards, I´m usually around in the evenings and it´s super easy to call, just dial from the states like this,
011-56-2-278-5051 --- we all speak English in the house, so don´t worry about Spanish skills when trying to ask for me! :-) adios!

take care! natalie