Whilst May this year has been much warmer than last year, we have recently seen in the last couple of weeks the start of Santiago’s winter with even a day of rain recently ☔️ … the first since we arrived back in October last year! Crazy!
With only just over 4 weeks until we are back in sunny Northern Ireland, May has been a month full of reflection and thinking about what are the important things we would like to do here in Chile before we leave.
….What can we do in order to end things well with the church?…. How can we pass the project and relationships to them?… How can we encourage them?… How can we finish relationships well with our church family? Friends? The neighbours?… And what will help Neil and I to transition well as a couple and individually?
We know all of this is pretty normal in the ‘transtioning’ process…. keeping a balance between giving ourselves fully to what we want to do to end things well in Chile but also being prepared for going back to Northern Ireland with practical things such as jobs, house, paperwork and also thinking about what places/people we want to visit in Chile one last time! It’s like constantly having to manage your time well with a foot in each place…
I’ll start by telling you what we have been up to here in Chile…
So what activities have we been doing?
It has been a month full of meet ups, meetings and workshops. One of the main things we wanted to do before leaving included holding a night for the church to talk about Missions…”Un Taller de Misiones” (a Missions Workshop). What is missions? What is a missionary? What are the trends in missions and Christianity today? And to share a little about opportunities in missions, including talking about LatinLink! (Great practise for my new job!). This took a lot of preparation and research, with a lot of help from what we learnt at the Latinlink International Assembly in Guatemala in February. It was all really worth it. Iglesia bíblica independiente has a lot of passion for missions, but we felt this night was a good start to opening their eyes a little more to world missions, how missions and evangelism methods are changing and to encourage members to really consider whether they might be called to be missionaries in other parts of the world. It was a night with lots of information and interesting discussions.
Off the back of this night, we also wanted to have a more informal night for those who might feel called to missions in the future, so the following weekend we had a training night, “¿llamado a ser un misionero?” (Called to be a missionary?). We talked about how do we know we are being called? How can you prepare? and what are the realities of being a missionary. We had much more people come along than we expected with around 20 people from the church and some great times of sharing.
All the way through this month we have continued the conversation club, teaching english to a regular group of adults from the community. It has been fantastic to see so many people regularly coming along and really enjoying being there. This week we had our last ever night of conversation club with games, sharing and food to celebrate with our friends from the community.
A big challenge we have faced, particularly this semester of running the club, has been a lack of teachers from the church helping us and some nights Neil and I have taught 3 different groups between the two of us! Unfortunately there is still a lack of interest or ownership from church members in some activities that we initiated. This is something we have continued to pray for and know that you guys back in the uk having been praying for too. We have started to see a little more interest and a few more thoughts of church members about ‘what is going to happen when Neil and Jenny leave?’. We have also learnt that the difference in cultures has been some of the reason for this. While we in the UK have a much more ‘team work’ approach and more used to offering to help in things, the chileans are more cultured to having one person in charge who asks them to do things. We are having ongoing conversations of how the church can take over their local missional work.
While it is really sad to say goodbye to some of the neighbours and to see an end to the conversation club, with the winter holidays coming soon, generally activities at this time of year are slowing down so the timing worked out pretty well.
The most important part of running the converastion club has of course been forming these relationships. With a lack of members of the church involved, getting to know the neighbours on a personal level and the neighbours not having any relation with the church when we leave, was one of our worries. But praise God, we had lots of support from our friends in the church for the last night of the club and it won’t be the last time we see a good number of these neighbours because of another idea God gave us…
Explorando la fe
We will be starting a course this Sunday 10th June called ‘Explorando la Fe‘ (Exploring faith) that will last for 8 weeks every Sunday and is based on the ideas of courses like ‘Christianity Explored’ or the ‘Alpha’ course if anyone has heard of them!
Neil and I thought this would be a great way for the church to connect with neighbours we have come to know and love,by discussing the big questions of life in small groups together, in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. This is something pretty different and new for the church but we are really excited to see the involvement of a team of around 10 people from the church wanting to get involved, lead the discussions and get to know the neighbours.
A lot of the people who have come along to conversation club, came with a perception of the church that they felt they would just be preached to… or they feel they aren’t ‘good enough’ to come to a church service. Many neighbours are really excited to take part in the course as it’s a step before being thrown into an intense church service. We currently have 10 neighbours signed up to do the course! We pray that people will feel comfortable in the group on Sundays, that they will make strong relationships and that ultimately the Holy Spirit would stir their hearts towards Jesus, to having a relationship with Him. Your prayers in this would be really appreciated.
While we have initiated the course and helped with all the planning before it starts, Neil and I plan to take a back seat… as I’m sure you have noticed the course will last for 8 weeks so we obviously won’t be here for most of it. We plan to be there for the first few weeks to break some of the ice, introduce some people but then to leave to our lovely friends in la IBI to take the lead!
We will be excited to let you know how it is going in our next blog post!
Like I said at the start, we are in transtioning mode, with our mind in so many things and with so many circumstances changing around us!
Here’s a few things we are we going to miss here in Chile:
– the ice cream is amazing here! 😋 (Probably because of more sugar content!!)
– the sun!!! ☀️ (even though there seems to be something strange happening in NI at the moment!)
– the market – full of fresh and cheap fruit and vegetables every week 🍅🍌🥦
– speaking Spanish – while it has been a huge challenge to learn it has been such an achievement for us… we can have good intentions when we go back to NI to keep practising but it will never be the same as sharing and joking with our friends and family here in Santiago!
– the Andes 🌄 are so incredible to see every day (well most days depending on the smog over the city!). With snow on top after the rain this week 😍 amazing!!!
– the city of Santiago – it has everything and wonderful areas that we have been able to escape to, to relax and enjoy the city on our free days. (It has everything apart from amazing dairymilk chocolate and percy pigs!)
– the closeness of all the amazing nature here in Chile – amazing volcanos 🌋, lakes, mountains, desert 🌵 (if you get the chance to visit Chile you should… there is still time to come while we are here!!! 😜)
– the laidback culture and friendliness of people here – the focus on family and sitting around the table in your house chatting after dinner is something we want to bring back with us to NI. (beware…!!😝)
– Like I said in the last blog, we have learnt the great importance of relationships 💜 and of course the people we have come to know and love are going to be the hardest things to leave!!! Especially in the last few months we had amazing meet ups, pastoral conversations and seen friendships really blossom with young people from the church…
We have realised how drastic it can be moving countries, cultures and lifestyle. In Chile we have lived simply and devoted and invested all our time to making relationships with people here, through adapting to the language, culture, customs and climate, with of course a subculture of how our church does things. For all of this to suddenly change within in a day is going to be a huge shock for us.
Even though we know Northern Ireland and have lived there the majority of our lives, Chile has changed us. Our priorities and visions have changed. Our thoughts of money, material things and relationships have been flipped on their heads…
Before when I asked the question “What can we do in order to end things well..?”, revising this, we have learnt and God is continuing the teach us, that it is not in our own strength that we do things, only through His strength. When we step out, God catches us. When we trust Him, He takes us with Him. We can put our hope in Him and He protects us and provides for us… it is all for His Glory!
“…but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”Isaiah 40:31 🦅✝️
With moving back to Northern Ireland, the big things we need are jobs and somewhere to live. With me receiving my role as Ireland Coordinator and this week also receiving news of a house that we can rent in Belfast, God has already provided so much more than we could have imagined at this stage. Neil is currently applying to a few different jobs this week but through all of this we have so much trust that God has something for Him to do when we are back. In the middle of all the emotions here, we are also so excited for what God has for us in Belfast. 💙
We hope when you read this post it can be an encouragement in whatever you might be going through at the minute, that only through God’s strength and when we look to Him can we see more of the joy of the life that He has given us and the plans that He has for us. That we can have LIFE and live it to the FULL!!!🙌🏼
We really appreciate all you prayers and support and really look forward to sharing with you in person when we get back to the UK. (Don’t worry Nottingham folks, we will be over to visit you guys at some point too!😃)
Huge abrazos 🤗 and Dios les Bendiga!! 💙✝️