Transitioning…

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.

Speaking about the Muslim world

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!

Poster designed by our wonderful friends Dano and Paz!

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!

Transitioning mode….

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…

Neil playing padel with Nico (a cross between tennis and squash!)
Wonderful meet-up and bible studies with Paz 

ASADO!

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. 💙

Of course looking forward to these types of goodies…. here the teabags were NOT 1.75!!

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!! 💙✝️

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Easter and Exciting news

Hello everyone!!

A belated Happy Easter to you all! CHRIST IS RISEN 🙌 We hope that you were able to remember what Jesus did for us and celebrate with others.

While you guys in the UK are getting (slightly) warmer weather, after a very hot summer here in Chile, it’s starting to get a little cooler… needing a jumper or even a scarf in the evenings😲! It’s a nice change for us, although we will probably regret saying that once we are back in Belfast 😆.

Our time since being back in Santiago, Chile has gone very quickly with lots happening and God continuing to teach us, guide us and protect us. With only 2 months left (más o menos) it’s really started to feel like a time of transition and reflection. Reflecting on how much we have learnt, how much we have changed and how much God is guiding us in our next steps.

I’ll start by filling you in on what we have been up to the last couple of months!

We have continued with the conversation club (english classes), and even after a year, we are having new people come along and people being curious about the church and why we are doing it. We also have people who have been coming since the very start. Some neighbours are coming along and feeling open to share what they are struggling with. Others are inviting us for lunch and family gatherings. Neil was even asked to lead a short service for a funeral of a relative of one of our neighbours. It has been a pleasure to get to know people and share in their lives.

One of the most special things we have learnt is that the most important part of mission and ministry is spending time with people. Just being, listening and being open with them.

The street café is variable as to how many people pass every Tuesday evening. But it doesn’t matter the quantity. Some evenings we have few people but much deeper conversations, and people asking questions about the church and what we believe. This is what it is all about. People just love to see the table there every Tuesday evening.

Our hopes and prayers for our last two months is that members of our church would start to take on the street cafe for themselves.That we can take a step back, and that people in the community can have real relationships with people from the church. We also pray that the conversation club can continue when we’re gone. It is a lot of work to run and I suppose pretty specific to our skills set but even running something with the same idea would be wonderful for this community! We would appreciate your prayers for this too.

As we have explained before, a majority of the church members are students or young people under the age of 30. It has been so wonderful to focus more on discipling and spending time with them. I hope to start a one-on-one bible study with a girl I have become very close with. And Neil continues to meet up and encourage some of the young men in the church. We see so much potential in the young people and believe that there are future leaders there. We want to encourage them and hope that many will get involved in mission, particularly with Latin Link 😉!! Please pray that God will raise up leaders and missionaries in the church, that He will call them and that they will follow.

For the Easter weekend we spent some special moments with the church. On Good Friday we had a day out with the church, sharing in a service, including worship and a yummy barbecue. Neil was asked to lead one section of this (as well as being asked to preach once a month now in the regular church services on a Sunday). On Easter Sunday we celebrated as a church family with a 7am service and Neil was asked to lead the service. It was also very special because one of our neighbours committed to coming for the first time to a service at the church.

Two weeks ago we went on a trip to Temuco, another city 8 hours south of Santiago on the bus. We had a wonderful long weekend, spending time with Ruth and Benja, our short-term coordinators who live there as well as spending time with and seeing the current Latin Link Step team in action. Here’s a video we made of what the step team is up to and what the impact of mission is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_oLmp6n8NM&feature=youtu.be  a look!

We also got to visit our fellow Strider Karyn who is here for at least 8 months as well as the sister of our mentor, her husband and little boy. Overall, the trip was a nice but busy break for us, as well as eye-opening and encouraging to see what else our fellow LatinLinkers are up to.

So what’s this exciting news?!

After a lot of prayer and confirmation from God, I have been offered and accepted the job of Latin Link Ireland Coordinator🎉🎉!!

With all that we have learnt here and how much my passion has grown for mission and Latin America, I am so excited to take on this important role of sharing God’s work through Latin Link more in Ireland and helping others go out on mission!

I wanted to express that part of the role requires some personal support, the same way we have needed support here in Chile. It has been such an encouragement and so special for us to have so many of you supporting us financially these past two years. God has used your money to help us survive here in Chile and make us available for the people here.

It would be extremely appreciated if you also felt that you would like to continue with me in the next step God is taking us, both financially and through prayer. Ireland coordinator is a key role in preparing people to go on mission and I know God would use your money in special ways. I wanted to mention this as something to think and pray about in these next couple of months.

Plans for last two months

In these last couple of months we are very conscious of having to leave so many special relationships behind.

One of our ideas for helping transfer some of our relationships with the community to people in the church is encouraging the church to run a ‘Christianity explored’ course. We feel that many people are open to hearing more about God and would really appreciate an informal group with church members to share questions and doubts and pray together. Your prayer for plans and relationships for this course would be really great.

We also want to have some special events with the community and the church such as a Venezuelan night (there are many Venezuelan migrants in our area who we want to make feel welcome and part of a community) as well as a celebration evening at the end of conversation club. We pray that God helps build close relationships between the church and the community, that God is at the centre of all these events.

Of course we also just want to spend as much time with people as possible before we go!

We love being here in Chile and we are finding it very strange to think about leaving. We are aware that we are in a transition process and want to leave well as well as prepare ourselves for coming back to the Belfast, for my new role and for what God has in sort for us there.

Again, we thank you for all your love and prayers and for reading this blog. We also hope to release another blog soon about the projects we visited in Central America and how you can support them.

Please keep in touch with us and tell us how you are too!! 😃

Hablamos pronto and sending lots of love from Chile!

 

Adapting, Growing and Learning (feat. Discovering Central America)

Hello Friends and Fam!! We miss youuu!

Sorry it’s been a while since our last blog post… This one might be a little longer telling you all that we have been getting up! Hopefully you’ll soon understand why it’s taken a while hehe, it’s been a busy few months!

Firstly we want to say a very belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all! 🎉What was different this year for us was we had Neil’s parents and sister visiting us! (Neil’s Parents flew in from Belfast, Jennifer from Australia! Such an international family!) This was really nice to have a part of home here with us and have some time to share with them what we have been doing here and what life has been like for us. They came along to events we had with neighbours as well as a worship evening at church (well done to Neil doing a fantastic job of translation!) We also had some time to show them just some of the beautiful places in Chile and eat lots of food! We were very grateful for them coming all the way to Chile to see us 🙂

I explained last time that the process of coming back to Chile after being in the UK for 2 and a half months has been different to when we arrived the first time. I guess you could call it, ‘Reverse Reverse Culture Shock‘ or something along those lines! We needed the first month or so to adapt again to speaking in Spanish, plug in again with everyone here in church and in the community and get back into life here in Chile. In saying this, it’s hard to put into words how it has felt. Though through all of this, God is so good and is protecting us and moulding us through all the changes and all the work he wants us to do here.

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This involved jumping back into the life of IBI (Iglesia Bíblica Independiente) again, going to the church services and prayer meetings as well as events they had planned such as their mission conference and a special baptism day. Neil has also already preached a few times since we have been back and the pastor has asked him to continue preaching regularly, around once a month, in the church services.

With all the different activities we ran for the community before we left, we decided to reevaluate which ones are worth continuing and which ones we could leave aside for now to make more time for other things. We want to have more of our time available to have one-to-one, pastoral meet ups with people from the community as well as from church. With this in mind, we decided to try our Conversation club again, teaching english as it was a really great way to meet and get to know our neighbours.

We decided to put together a 5 week programme running up to Christmas, with a fun Christmas theme.🎄 We had the same format – teaching people in small groups of different abilities, and teaching in a fun and relaxed way, trying to practise as much as possible through speaking and in turn, getting to know and love people. What we also added for a Christmas twist was learning the song ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas‘ which our neighbours absolutely loved. They love singing here so it was a great way to connect with people in a fun way!

On the first week we asked all our students to think of topics and words they associate with Christmas. These included things like family, food, presents etc. So we decided to take a different general topic out of these each week, with the final week sharing the true meaning of Christmas – the story of Jesus’ birth.

The Conversation Club has been a great way to spend time with people, and connect with them. This time round, we have seen some returning faces from when we started last April as well as new faces and people who were really excited to learn english for free and in a different fun way. In the last week it was a privilege to share the Gospel through the Christmas story and it has lead to more honest conversations of where they are in their faith with God as well as invitations to eat with them in their houses. We plan to pick up this club again in this month, now the summer holidays are over and will continue these relationships.

As well as the conversation club, we decided to continue putting a table out with tea, coffee, biscuits every Tuesday night for our ‘Street Cafe‘. To help get the church more behind the ministry, we put together a rota with different people from the church coming along to help set up the table and most importantly, chat and get to know people from the community. This has worked really well in connection with the conversation club as we have been able to either invite people along to club as well, or it has been a great way to continue the relationships when we see our students from the club walking home from work or when they’re heading to the shop.

On our last Tuesday before Christmas, with the help of extra volunteers who are gifted in this area, alongside the coffee table, we had a crafts table. It worked really well has it attracted more children but also adults (particularly the women!) wanted to make christmasy crafts as well. It was a great way to bring people together and meet new faces.

It’s amazing that through the simplest act of God’s love through free tea/coffee, people are really starting to see that there is something different in what we’re doing. Our continuous prayer is that through these actions and acts of kindness towards people and genuinely caring for them, that God’s light will be so evident and we will have more opportunities to share the reason why we do all of it; to share the Gospel and show them that God loves them like no-one else ever will.

Christmas, as you can imagine, was a really busy time with Christmasy events! We were involved in two Christmas events for the community.

One was an event that as a church, we wanted to plan and put it together as an outreach event for the community. This involved putting teams together and planning the set-up for the event. It took place in the park where the kids ministry happens and we had stands for health checks, prayer, crafts and face-painting! There was an open time at the beginning of the evening, followed by some songs together and a short Gospel message and then we had tables ready for everyone to share ‘Once‘ (Chilean supper) together. We expected around 30/40 people to come but we ended up with around 70 or 80 people and we had some fantastic time of sharing and getting to know other families from the community.img_5868

We were also invited to a street party with our neighbours in Pergolessi! It was great to be able to work as Neighbours and Church to put together the event. Again we had tables set up to share ‘Once‘ meanwhile sharing songs, poems and speeches. It was so great to see many of our church members come along too and support this event – the first time with so many of us mixed together. We had planned for 20, but 70 showed up again! This is what we need to pray more for and pray that the church develops these relationships with the community even when we’re gone.

Discovering Central America

Later on in January we left for Guatemala. Our first few days there we went to visit our wonderful friend and fellow Strider, Rose who recently started her placement in October last year. We flew into Guatemala city then spent one night in the old city Antigua. The next day we headed on the 4-6 hour bumpy bus journey to San Pedro La Laguna, on Lake Atitlán. We soon saw the cultural changes and also how incredibly beautiful this part of the world is! It was wonderful to see where Rose is, visit her church and meet her project leader, as well as have some time together to catch up.

From there we headed together back to Guatemala city, a few days before the Latin Link International Assembly to visit an education project called ‘Educando para La Vida‘ (‘Educating for life’) along with other Latin Linkers who had arrived early. This project was a fantastic established project working with the local community as an after school program as well as focusing on other needs such as free medical help and purification of water.

N.B. Through out our month of being in Central America we visited and came to know 13 specific projects and missions that Latin Link is involved with as well hear the stories of a HUGE number of other wonderful missionaries in other parts of the world. I won’t share all the details of each one in this post as there is so much to say!! So we will write certain focuses over the next little while to introduce you a little more in depth; for you to get to know them, be able to prayer for them and if you feel called, potentially partner with them financially!

That night we stayed with the Latin Link coordinator for Guatemala then the next two days we visited another number of projects.

Fuerza de los Fragiles‘ – a ministry with young adults with disabilities

Centro Esdras‘ (Ezra Centre) – a biblical teaching ministry, focusing on applying the bible to our lives

and SETECA – Central American Theological Seminary

Casa del Alferero‘ (Potter’s House) – works with people in extreme poverty in the city living in rubbish dump.

Puerta de Esperanza‘ – a ministry working with people in extreme poverty living in the large market place in the city

Oasis‘ – a home for girls who have suffered abuse.

I will be really excited to share more information and resources about some of these specific projects later, and how you can support them.

During these days we went to the conference centre where the International Assembly (IA) was going to be held. Over the conference it was such a busy and jam-packed program by such a fantastic experience. The IA only happens every 4 years and its a gathering of as many members and support workers of Latin Link all coming together to worship, share, learn and explore important issues and topics in Missions today. In total we were around 150 people from all over Latin America as well as Europe, Canada and the UK so it was a wonder multi-lingual experience with translators included. The main language was Spanish but we also had English, Portuguese, German, French and Dutch featured!

Another part that was extremely special for me was being part of the worship. I pushed myself to ask while the group were practising if they could use another singer (as you were meant to sign up months before online) and it was the best decision I could have made. The group was led by a Columbian member of Latin Link who is a famous singer in Latin America, Santiago Benavides (find him on Spotify ;)). He was a fantastic leader, extremely talented, God-focused, with great ideas and also a really lovely guy!img_7147

I realised again just how much I love leading worship and it gave me so much confidence again being able to lead specific songs – introducing and praying in Spanish. It’s amazing to see how much God has helped us in our language skills. It was also a wonderful group of people who I got to sing with, especially the other two ladies Liz and Bridget 🙂

Some of the social activities involved in the program was a talent show, where my new friend Liz and I did a duet, as well as ‘La Copa Mundial de Latin Link’ (the LL World Cup). Neil was successful in forming an ‘Irish/Scottish’ team and we ending up getting to the final then drawing with our fellow ‘Chile/Argentina’ team and sharing the Cup. It was great fun! (As most of you who know me… you can probably guess I didn’t help the play all that much, I was just able to enjoy all the winning! haha).

Some of the topics discussed during the sessions and devotionals were mobilising mission, new approaches to mission, mission and migration, as well as workshops on topics such as, ‘Are you called to Stay?’, Leading others (mentoring/coaching etc), Leading in Conflict situations, Integrated personal development (self care), the use of social media to tell our stories and working with millennials. So much of these opened up our eyes to missions and how it’s changing Also the importance of self care and how to look after yourself through cultural shock and in your spiritual life. If you want to hear the worship and the talks go to the Latin Link Guatemala facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/LatinLinkGuatemala/

But the most valuable thing from the conference for us, was all the encouraging conversations we had with other missionaries and the friendships that we have made that we will continue in years to come. Through forming more contacts and hearing other peoples stories, it helped us to feel part of the bigger picture of God’s mission, of God’s work here in Latin America. God was also speaking to us about our future a little more and helped us to feel excited about what is to come. We feel more and more passionate to teach people about mission and share the stories of those we came across. It was also really great to see how other LL teams work, coming from our much smaller team in Chile. The Guatemala team did a fantastic job planning the whole conference and it was wonderful to get to know them and see how they function as a team. Thanks guys!! 🙂

After the conference, as you can imagine, we needed some time to process and have some time with other (didn’t really see other much during the conference!!). We headed off to Nicaragua where we first went to a lovely town called León for two nights, followed by a wonderful 4 nights by the beach in Las Peñitas.

After this we headed to meet the lovely Barbara and Lukas Minder who have served full-time in a town called Granada for 9 years. Their main role is Short-term coordinators for Nicaragua, receiving Step teams and Striders, organising their placements and having continued relationships with the project managers and host families. They also disciple and teach pastors as well as serve in their local church. With them we visited two other projects:

-A project working where two Striders were working with a school to help they become more eco-friendly, planting a nursery with many different trees and plants for students, teachers and parents to care for.

-An educational project started up by a lady from Nicaragua only a few years, to help educate and provide a meal for children whose families live and work on the rubbish dump.

Again, such an amazing experience and so wonderful to see what God is doing in these places and get to know more what God is doing through Barbara and Lukas and hear about there experiences.

After this we headed to Costa Rica on the bus which took around 9 hours. The time passed rather quickly apart from a far bit of waiting at the border! Once we got to San José, we spent our first night with our wonderful new friend Kayla, the short term coordinator of Latin Link in Costa Rica. Then headed to a beautiful part of Costa Rica called Manuel Antonio for a little more time to ourselves to reflect on Nicaragua and also have some holiday time. We did some kayaking, a visit to the national park and its beautiful animals and beaches, followed by a zip-line safari. We had lots of fun and it was such a blessing!

During our last few days we were able to spend some time with people we know in San José. For the first two nights we stayed with a wonderful couple called Johana and Esteban. We had recently met Johana in Chile (where she is originally from) in December while she was visiting her family who are back in Mexico now serving as missionaries. It was so wonderful to get to know them and see all the work they are doing planting a church in the city, using some new and wonderful teaching methods and creating a wonderful place with a sense of family. They have around 30 attending at the moment and we will continue to pray for them as they grow.

We also met with on of the wonderful young people from our church la IBI in Chile who is currently serving in Costa Rica. It was great to see how he’s doing and have a catch up!

We then went to spend the last few days with Kayla and it was wonderful to talk with her, share our thoughts and what we’ve learnt through our time in Chile as well as think about our future and hear her story. We also got to visit her church, got to know the city and understand more about Costa Rican culture. Even though we only met Kayla a few weeks ago, we discovered we are extremely alike and get on really well so we will continue to stay in touch and encourage one another.

We got back to Chile just a few days ago and are still adapting again to a more regular routine and not living out of a suitcase! This week will involve a leader’s meeting of all the ministries of the church. Your prayer would be appreciated as the church plans more a focused direction for the coming year, maintaining unity and focusing their eyes on God. We would also love to see more of the church members getting passionate and taking part in ministries for the community, getting to know them and showing the love of God. As for the ministries for the community we will plan to start up another program for the Conversation Club (teaching english to adults) as well as our ‘Street Cafe‘. We also have a meeting with the pastor to plan continuing the Marriage course we started last year. And will also begin to meet regularly with as many of the young people in the church as possible, listening to them and mentoring them as much as we can. We would also like to meet pastorally with some of our neighbours, and through all these things… loving people and seeing people come to know God in a real way in their lives.

Going to Guatemala, Nicaragua and Costa Rica was so great to experience other Latin American countries and an amazing time for us to reflect and grow our heart for mission. As we are coming back to the UK in July, we also know that in the future, overseas mission could still be on the cards and we want to be open to opportunities. Though in all of this, we feel really excited to plug in again into Northern Ireland in July and look forward to updating you all with more information in the months to come of how God is using us in our last few months in Chile🇨🇱 .

Sorry this has been a long one…. thanks for reading to the end!! 😄

We always appreciate you getting in contact with us and of course your prayers.💜

Dios te Bendiga

Speak soon!!!!

Belfast and back again

Hi Everyone! Sorry it has been rather a long time since our last blog post. It’s been a crazy few months. We added up recently the number of flights we have taken in the last three and a half months… 11 flights. Crazy when you think about how little we both like flying! We arrived in Santiago to a wonderful welcome on Wednesday 18th from two friends and members of IBI, Juan and Bastian. I hope I can fill you in on the key moments that have led to this point and catch you up a little on what’s been happening and what God has been doing.

Back in July while things were winding down in IBI (Iglesia Biblica Independiente) for the winter holidays, we went to Salta, Argentina to have a Southern Cone team meeting with other Latinlink members from both Chile and Argentina. This was a great chance to meet some other missionaries who have been serving overseas an awful lot longer than us, one couple in particular who have been serving in the south of Argentina for 40 years – they were leading our sessions and bible studies. It was really great to talk about the practicalities and our different experiences and how God has always provided for them. Also another family who have been in Salta for 25 years.


It was also great to have some time either side of the conference just the two of us. A great time to reflect and relax after a busy few months, and to celebrate our 4 year wedding anniversary! P.S. the food in Argentina is huge and delicious 😋

 

We only had around a week back in Santiago before we got back up and ready to head back to the UK! We had some wonderful goodbyes, including a goodbye barbeque planned by some of our friends and neighbours in the community, as well as the chance for Neil to preach on the last Sunday we were there. We also used this opportunity to invite a number of the neighbours along to the service as a way to say goodbye and to deepen relationships. This was really special as around 10 neighbours came along. There was a time during the service where the pastor asked us to come to the front and he then asked if anyone in the congregation wanted to say a testimony about us. At least a dozen people spoke about us; how the work had made an impact to them and they showed so much love and thanks towards us. This included 2 or 3 wonderful members of the community who spoke – even though it was their first time in the church! Neil and I were extremely touched and emotional (perhaps I showed the emotion more than Neil did haha!). We also thanked God for giving us such a special way to leave IBI and la Villa de las Musicas (the area we’re in) for a little while.

 

Greeted outside our house on our way to the airport!

We felt a little apprehensive about going back to the UK as we felt ourselves changed a lot in the past year in Santiago. We adapted a lot to the Chilean culture, as well as living a missionary lifestyle being a huge change- how we think about money, how our thoughts are changing about the future and what God might have for us. We knew this was going to be a challenge in the transition between two completely different cultures. And perhaps we would experience some reverse culture shock.

We had these apprehensions but also a lot of excitement to see our friends and family and lots of special occasions to look forward to.

We arrived in London on 3rd August where we met my cousin and her son at the airport.  It was a very strange experience when we first walked off the plane and into the airport – seeing signs in English and hearing people speak in English, as well as, what people wore and seeing the chocolate bars in the shops and we had missed all year!😮 From there, we later saw my auntie and uncle and were reunited with my mum, dad and sister at the hotel we were staying at! It was so lovely to be reunited again after such a long time! During the weekend we enjoyed my cousin’s wedding and spent lots of time with family. Even though the jet-lag was heavy after a long journey, it was a lovely start to our time at home.


On the Sunday we flew straight from London (after leaving a couple of extra bags with my parents, to take back to Belfast with them…) to Mallorca to meet Neil’s family. We were looking forward to a bit of sun after being in Chile’s winter as well as another family reunion! There we were reunited with Neil’s parents as well as got to spend time with his auntie and uncle and cousins. While we were still pretty jet-lagged, and having lots of reverse culture shock, it was a great way to spend some quality time with Neil’s family. And we got to speak some Spanish to the hotel staff – which surprised a few people! Hablamos español! Que loco! 

In the middle of August, coming back from Mallorca, it was our first time back in Belfast. The following week we enjoyed my friend Emma’s wedding where me and Kar-Li (all friends from uni) sang during the service. It was a lovely day spending time with good friends and enjoying some yummy food!

We were in Belfast for another couple of weeks where we spoke at Stormont Presbyterian Church, which was Neil and I’s church growing up and who have been huge supporters of us while we have been away. It was so wonderful to share with so many old friends and feel a lot of encouragement about all the work we’ve been doing in Chile.
We also visited my Auntie’s church in Rostrevor, a small Anglican church, who have also been strong supporters in prayer, even without meeting us. It was so special to meet them and speak during the service.

At the start of September we went to our other home – Nottingham! As we only had 12 days there, we had so many meetings, visits and reunions to fit into our time. This included an information night in St Peter’s Church, where we got to share food, stories, information and photos. It was so encouraging for us to see 40+ people there to hear and support. It was from this point that more people decided to support us financially and commit to receiving our prayer letter every month – such a blessing to partner with you all! We wanted people to know that it isn’t just us doing the work in Chile but that only through your support and prayer as a team, we can do the work together.


We also got to share in Ruddington baptist church the first and Neil preached in St. Peter’s Church the following Sunday. As well as this, we had some wonderful dinners and lunches and coffees with some of our wonderful friends.

When we got back from Nottingham, half way through September, we wanted to start thinking about when we could book flights again to come out to Chile. Our plan was to be back in October as we didn’t want to leave for too long. God was already showing us His plans for us to go again, as we were already sitting on around 50/60% of our budget, with a number of people saying they still wanted to give. Even though things felt a little unknown, we trusted God in His timing and plans for us.

Back in Belfast, we got to spend lots more time with family and friends, including barbeques, coffees, desserts, chocolate and boardgames (You can see a running theme of food through this post… and can imagine why we gained a few pounds the last couple of months! ha!). One of these times included a fun weekend away at the North Coast, with walks by the sea and… more food! We also had Seren, our wonderful friend who spent our first year in Chile with us, and her fiance over to visit us from Scotland.


At the end of September we also had another Info night for all our supporters in Norn Iron. This was in Stormont Presbyterian, and again we had around 45-50 people. This was another incredible encouragement for us. I think people enjoyed our feeble attempt at Sopaipillas and pebre! (Though, I think our Chilean family would have been proud!).


Very shortly after this evening, our financial support kept coming in and we got to around the 80% mark which seemed like a great time to get the date in the diary and book our flights! The prices of flights fluctuated a lot in a short space of time so it was a little tricky to find flights with a good route and in our budget, but praise God.. we got booked to leave for 17th October.

With all the visits, spending enough time with people and organising talks, we decided it would be a good idea to have a couple of days away just the two of us and relax, so we got a fantastic deal and went to fermanagh for a couple of days.

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While the time in the UK went extremely fast with being really busy, we also felt a lot clearer of things for the future and what God might have planned for us. We had many conversations with people about mission and ministry and love how God has spoken to us in such a short transition period. We look forward to sharing with you all more about what’s after Chile but for now, we are really excited to share what is happening and will be happening in San Joaquin now that we’re back here for the next 9 months!

We left the uk after having another few family gatherings to say goodbye then left from Belfast city airport on 17th.

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Since arriving back in Santiago a week and a bit ago, we have already been welcomed and reunited with so many of our Chilean friends. Now that we’re back again, like Neil mentioned in this month’s prayer letter, we really have experienced that our time has been “full of goodbyes”, and when we only see people for a short period you spend a lot of time sharing. So emotionally, it has been tiring, and at times overwhelming to be plugging into lots of relationships here again. Your prayers would be really appreciated in this time of transition. But in saying all of that, we are excited to be part of what is to come in this next season of our time in IBI and la Villa de las Musicas here in Santiago. We’ve had such a lovely welcome.

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Acts 20:24 says “…I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” While to a lot of the world, what we have done seems completely crazy – quitting good jobs, selling our car, leaving our house, our families and friends, but really to us this verse sums this up. We know that life isn’t suppose to be comfortable and easy, our only aim to complete the tasks we know God has for us and we know that God wants us here in Chile. The more we obey God, the more we grow closer to Him and the more He reveals His next steps. We have such a heart for the people here in Santiago and are really excited to see what happens next.

God bless all of you for reading this, for encouraging us, for supporting us and for praying for us. We love hearing from you while we’re hear and continue to think and pray for you all!

Ciao for now!

10 months and counting…

It’s safe to say that we now feel very at home here in Santiago and have very much enjoyed our time here, not only with being in a new culture and a new language (which have also had their challenges), it’s been so fantastic to get to know and love so many people here.IMG_2906IMG_3009IMG_2789

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The gorgeous little Sofia and her dad (one of our mentors) Nico!

 

The month of June was a busy one. We continued the projects here in the church with conversation club, the homework club and the street cafe. Especially through the conversation club and street cafe, God constantly brings new people along and we have continued to strengthen the relationships we have made with the community.

Last week we decided to have a celebration evening for conversation club, to round off the semester and then take a break in the month of July. We asked everyone to bring a dessert of some kind or a snack that they then needed to present in english what it was. People made such an effort, bringing wonderful cakes and desserts and did such a fantastic job in presenting them in english! We also played some games and then had a time of conversation and food at the end. One of our wonderful neighbours (who before had been a little cold towards the church), got up and sang for us, even changing the words of the last verse to be about Neil and I, asking us to come back to Chile (you can watch this in the update video which we have sent to our supporting churches back in the UK!). It’s times like this that helps you to reflect on how much relationship and helping people has an impact and how much God has guided us in the projects we have been doing here.

We decided to make some changes to the homework club and make our time with the children and their parents more personal by arranging tutoring sessions at different times in the week. This has been a great way to get to know the children and their families better and hopefully strengthen our relationships that we have with them.

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In the month of June, along with the pastor, we also lead a marriage course for the church and also invited our new friends from the community to come along and invest in their marriages. We held the meetings every Saturday evening and set tables up like a date night for the couples, having food at the beginning of every session. We followed ‘The Marriage Course’ written by Nicky and Sila Lee, using the books and the videos (in Spanish of course!). The couples responded really well and it was a really useful and practical course. There are more sessions left to do which we will hopefully pick up when we come back later in the year.

Saturdays have been busy days has we have also been continuing to support the kid’s club and bible club for teenagers doing the day.

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The last week in May we got the opportunity to run a workshop on dating for the teenagers. Another church also came along so we had a full house of around 30 people with a great atmosphere and young people who were eager to listen.

We also ran a practical outreach, along with the help of the leaders from the bible club, to go to the community and help with practical needs in the houses of people in the community. This was a great way to begin some more relationships and show the love of God in a practical way. We look forward to repeating this outreach and reach more people when we come back to Chile in a few months time.

Something which we continue to love doing is meeting up and having times together with different families and young people from the church. It has been so great to invest and get to know people on a deeper level now that that our Spanish is at a level where these types of conversations are a little easier.

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Alongside all the work we’ve been doing, we’ve had some time to relax too. One day a couple of weeks ago we got invited to a friend of the pastor’s in a town an hour away from Santiago in the middle of the week, during one of our busiest months. This was just what we needed and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect.

We have also tried to do a little exercise throughout the week as well as enjoy meeting up with our lovely friend Seren, who has also been here on a LatinLink placement. We have realised the importance of planning in times to relax in a schedule which can very easily become very full and we know that we can only do our best when we also plan times to unwind during the week.

The month of July, Chile sees it’s winter holidays which as been a good time to take a break from Conversation club for a month. We very much hope to hand over starting the club again in August to our wonderful teachers from the church who have been helping us. Hopefully the relationships can continue to grow while we’re back home. For these reason we have been able to take a trip up to the north of Chile with Seren and her boyfriend as a well earned break after some busy times. The Atacama desert is such a beautiful place and we had a fantastic time 🙂

We can’t believe how close it is now that we will be back in the UK after being in Chile for 11 months. While we are very much looking forward to seeing all our special people back home, we need prayer in the process of transition between two different cultures again. All this time we feel that Chile has changed us and we have become accustomed to a different way of living. We pray that God will help us through this process. Also with our time being extended here, we have more money to raise to be able to continue God’s work here in Chile. Please let us know if you feel called to support us in this way and as always, we can’t say thank you enough for all of you who have supported us financially and through prayer.

Anyway, we very much look forward to speaking to you all back home in person very soon and as always thank you for your support by reading this and in so many other ways.

Dios les bendiga 🙂

Relationships, development and future plans…

Since our last blog post we have had a very busy and full month and a bit! It’s incredible to think that we have been here in Chile for over 8 months and it seems now like time is going so fast.

It’s been interesting to see the change in seasons and how much the temperatures change here in Chile. You could say that the seasons here seem to be very distinct, with feeling like one day was summer with temperatures in the twenties, then overnight having RAIN :O and temperatures around 15 degrees for the autumn. We have also noticed the amazing cultural difference through this and how people here react to the changes in weather! Read on to find out what I mean….

Since getting into a full flow of our projects for the community, it has been amazing to see the impact things are already making on the people in the community but also on the church. I’ll just give a little overview now of how each activity is going and and each ones developments.

Our mums and babies group has been a little slow to start with. We have a handful of mums spread out over the weeks with a number of weeks with none, but we have realised that the culture differences have affected this. We have discovered firstly, that many mums in this area work during the week so Tuesday mornings are difficult. Also, what I mentioned about the changing weather, the mornings now are a lot colder and there is no central heating here, only electric heaters so 10am in the morning seems to be the time for trying to heat the house up a little, making you not want to leave once its finally a little warmer! Bedtime and daily routines for babies also seem less rigid so they may only be waking up at this time in the morning.

For all these reasons and thoughts, we will be trying to run the group on a Saturday morning at 11am to see if this makes a difference for the mums here and whether it’s something that can support them.

 

The homework club on both Tuesdays (for kids under 12) and Thursdays (for kids between 12-18), has gathered a handful of children from the community. On a Tuesday we have a list of around 10 kids. It seems that levels of education are lower than what we expected so being able to help here has been great. We have also been able to make connections with the parents and help support them with their kids.

For the older kids, we have had 3 from the community and a couple from the church congregation as well. This is something we have wanted to enable interaction between them. It’s been more one on one with the older ones, helping them out with maths and English. We have discovered a couple of fantastic 16-year-olds with nearly perfect english who just want to practise with some of us crazy Northern Irish native speakers 😝

Conversation club has been a real hit here in San Joaquin, with nearly 25 people coming almost regularly every week. It’s very quickly turning into a mini English school here in the church. We have 4 groups of different levels, with two/three other people from the church who have great english that are teaching for us too.

What’s special about this little school is that we aren’t only teaching them english, but genuinely wanting to get to know these people on a personal basis. Having small groups and time for tea and coffee afterwards has really helped to build these relationships and already, we are getting invited to neighbours of food and cups of coffee!!

Calle Cafetería is our street café that we run every Tuesday evening in the street outside the church. This has been a great success too with many people who are just passing by on there way to work, stopping for a nice warm cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate and we have also had a go at some ‘Sopaipillas’ which are a chilean-type of bread for frying. They are delicious (although extremely unhealthy) and are a great hit when people get to eat them for free on their way home after a busy day!

We have had some fantastic conversations with some regular neighbours who come for a cuppa, and they ask us why we’re doing this and tell us what an impact all the work we are doing, is having on the community.

As well as running the community projects we have been helping with kids clubs on a Saturday, one for the community in the plaza near the church and another bible group for teenagers. We have helped the leaders when they have needed extra support as well as run a short training session every week to help them with things such as team work and communication skills. They have done some fantastic work here with the kids and its great to be a part of it.


The church also has a group for 20 and 30-year-olds which at the moment meets every other Friday night to have some fellowship and study the bible a little together. We are extremely excited to start mentoring some of the young people here as well as plan a bible study which we will run, dividing the large group into small groups. These groups will start in June and we will be studying the book of Luke.


The idea of the groups is to share more openly with each other and discuss what God is doing in each others lives, sharing struggles and joys and time to pray together. We will also be meeting one on one with as many as possible to support them and get to know the young people better.

Two weeks ago, our LatinLink colleague, Jeremy, who is in charge of communications, came over to visit us from London! It was a busy week but a great chance to show someone all that’s been going on here. We got some great photos, videos and interviews of us in action, alongside showing him around Chile and the area we live :).

For the future….

Whilst much has been done here so far, there is a lot still to do and we especially want to cement the changes that we have brought about through these activities for the community. In order to do this we have decided to stay in Chile for another year!


This has been an exciting decision for us, after having lots of conversations with our pastor and mentors here in the church who are very keen for us to stay, as well as speaking to lots of our wonderful supporters and mentors back home for their thoughts and advice. The pastor here is very excited and wants us to be more involved in discipleship roles here in the church. We will be starting a marriage course alongside the pastor in June, as well as a Pre-marriage course in July. We have also had big visions of how things can more forward with and from the activities we are already running, and how we can make sure the relationship between the church and the community can continue once we leave in a year’s time!

Because we plan to stay for another year, we are coming home for a visit in August and September and are very excited about it! We can’t wait to see all our family and wonderful friends.😃

While all of this is extremely exciting, it’s also still a challenge to ensure we have sufficient funds to be able to come back in October as well as having enough prayer support behind us too! We can’t thank all our wonderful supporters enough and have really felt the support of your prayers. We hope that you can continue to support us prayerfully and/or financially in the months and years to come! Even that you read our blogs and prayer letters helps us to feel loved and supported… so thank you for reading this far!! ☺️

I look forward to writing next month’s blog to update you on how things are going and how God is working through us here in Ibi and the community!!✝️

 

The Beginnings of Something Good

So it’s been an extremely busy month for us!! Including many meetings, planning, buying materials, promoting to the church and the community, making breakfasts in church to raise some money for resources, going to church events and trying to make time for us somewhere in there too 😆


It began with a great meeting with our mentors and the pastor on the 1st March. After this meeting, we had a clear idea of what we needed to do. For the following week we designed and put together all the ideas we had had in our heads for the last few months, including clear aims and descriptions of each ministry that we hoped to begin.

Our main role here for the church is to essentially to act as ‘Community workers’. I’d like to just give you a bit of information now as to what this entails…. 😃

Mission statement: ‘To open the church out to the community’.

Vision statement: ‘That IBI  is seen as a vital part of the community, and a hub for support, growth and social activities.’

The following activities are what we will be doing in order to try and meet these aims, to reach out to people in the community and doing this by making strong relationships with people who come.

1. Homework club
General description: A drop-in style class where children of the community can receive academic support, with an emphasis on teaching english. The first 45 minutes would be structured work and support for their homework. The second part would be an interactive session to learn english. One day with primary children and the other for secondary children.


2. Conversation club
General description: An informal meet-up style session for students and adults, where those with a little english skills can come for practise in conversation.

3. Mums and babies
General description: An informal support and playgroup for mums and their babies up to the age of 2. This will involve providing a safe and secure environment for mums and to facilitate open conversations with the volunteers. There will be a bible story, and time for play with toys provided in the church hall.


4. Website and social media
General description: We will work with members of the congregation to form a website for the church. We will also maintain the facebook page with photos and information of events.

5. Calle Cafetería
General description: An informal time where refreshments are provided in the street beside the church to facilitate conversation and relationships.

6. Football Fridays
General description: Providing a regular space for teenagers to come for football and community on a Friday night. The group will be used for building relationships and gentle evangelism with a view to starting up other evangelistic activities in the future.

7. “Samson Group”
General description: a service provided by a group from the church to support the community with practical needs, such as gardening, DIY etc. We will start doing this once a month but will react to the need or interest provided.

8. Ministries:
We will also support leaders of the already standing ministries in the church such as Kid’s club and Bible club for teenagers that both happen on a Saturday. We plan to also work with the pastor in the events planned for a Marriage course . We would seek to add a course for premarriage training as well.

We are also continuing to take part in church services through singing and Neil is preaching for the first time in the main Sunday service this Sunday 9th April! This will be a little different as the sermons usually last around 45minutes to an hours! In Spanish 😜… But we know he’s going to do a great job and God will be with him every step of the way.

This week has been our first week of all the new ministries and its been an amazing start. Here are some pictures…

 

A neighbours meeting that happened in the church grounds was a great opportunity for us to advertise the activities!!

Materials for the homework club! We didn’t have any kids come to the first session apart from one mum and her daughter came to speak to us half an hour before the end to explain that they will come next week! Please pray that through word of mouth, interest will spread!Street cafe! We had at least 10-12 people who passed by and had a cuppa!!

And the conversation club was a real hit!! We were amazed at how many were interested and came along! Lots of people also said they want to come next week because they couldn’t make it for the first week!

We know that numbers and success in a visual sense isn’t the whole picture. We hope to be a light to the community through our willingness and love for the community. Even if we just have one person, that one person will benefit in whatever service we provide!!

As always, we love hearing from you and your prayers continue to be a huge blessing. Sorry this blog is a little later than usual, that’s how busy and tired we’ve been! But we have loved it all and are excited for what God is going to do here through these activities in San Joaquin!

So much love from us!

Dios les bendiga!

Chiloéeee we go!

So it continues to be a hot Summer here in Santiago, with temperatures staying at around 30ºC. img_0674
As some of you may have seen on the news and through the prayer email we sent, there were some very bad wildfires in Chile, with many homes and lives being destroyed. (In my weather app above, you can see it’s grey from lots of smoke at that time in January). Thanks to God, they are now under control and things are starting to get better. Thank you for your prayers and thoughts on this.


The last month has been pretty quiet for us. February in particular is the month when most people leave the city to go on holiday, so there hasn’t been too many people around church. We have tried to use our time to work from home; studying Spanish (Duolingo has been pretty useful!) and spending more time studying the bible. We have also tried to invite a few different people from church, for once (a ‘tea’ type meal in the evening with bread, ham, tomato etc which is extremely common in Chile). This has been great to get to know people a little better and spend some quality time with them. 

It’s also great practice for our Spanish now that we don’t have language school every day, as well as all the practise we used to get with our lovely ex-roommates. This is Neil below with the wonderful Elizabeth.


This photo was taken on one of our best experiences so far here in Chile. This was our trip we just recently came back from, to an island in the south, called Chiloé (pronounced ‘chil-ow-ay‘).

This is a beautiful place, very similar in a lot of ways to good ol’ Ireland, with its green fields, trees and plenty of rain!!


Of course, with lots of big differences too.. such as the culture, architecture and food.


We knew very little about the trip before we went. Only that we were meeting some missionaries who live there to support them in what they do in their community. We went with a team of 12 from our church in Santiago and left on a Monday evening on an overnight bus (and of course, partly on boat!) journey. We arrived on the Island in the capital, Castro, the next morning… 17 hours later. As you can imagine, pretty tired!!


We met the lovely Astrid and Rigo and got settled in their home, had a lovely lunch, then got stuck into preparation for the kid’s club we would be running for the next 3 days.


The purpose of the kid’s club was to make more connections with the kid’s in the community and teach them about Jesus. Chilotes have many beliefs in superstitions, myths as well as a lot being strongly Catholic. This makes evangelism here very different. We planned the kid’s club based on the theme of ‘adventures in the sea’, using stories about Jesus and key verses, as well as games, songs and crafts for the children to take home with them and remember their experience.


We had some great team evaluations after each day, discussing what went well and maybe what could be improved. This was a great opportunity for Neil and I to share a little experience in the field of teaching children ;). The club went really well and we were really blessed with nearly 40 kids every day! There were many stories from people about some lovely conversations and special times they shared with the children and for many children, who came from difficult home lives, the club was a safe place for them to learn about life and have loads of fun.


One experience I will not forget was being able to talk and pray with 3 little girls, aged 8, 8 and 9, who wanted to follow Jesus. Praise God!!! ❤


We had many times of prayer, devotions from the bible and songs together as a team. One of these devotional times on the Friday morning, Neil was asked to share and we had a lovely time of encouraging one another in small groups💕.


We also had some time of evangelism in the centre of the city. This led to some fantastic conversations with people. Neil had a really special experience with a lady who worked in one of the market stalls by the port. He began by giving her some verses from the bible and explaining that he wanted to talk a little about God and the bible. She then shared about how her sister is very ill with cancer and how worried she was. Neil and another one of our team members got to pray with her and give her lots of encouragement. She also explained she didn’t have a bible, so two days later we went to see her again to present her with one from the church. Rigo, also came along to share with her about the services and young peoples activities they run. Great to be able to give her continued support, well after the team had left.

The missionaries, Rigo and Astrid are fantastic. They arrived down in the island 10 years ago from Santiago and moved into the house they are in now. They have been extremely faithfully in prayer and committed to the community, pastoring and starting a church which now has roughly 20 members as well as 30 or 40 other children that regularly attend a kids club every Friday (a lot for quite a small part of the city). It’s been a lot of work for them and their two boys and they need a lot of prayer and support. So it was a blessing to be there, even to help them just a little. We will continue to be in contact with them and perhaps be able to visit them again 😊


Many of the kids that came to the kid’s club we ran, were new faces for Astrid and Rigo too, so this is great for them to make more connections in their community.

We also had three services in the time we were there. This was an opportunity for the parents and carers of the children, to come along and share with their children what they had been up to. One of these services, I was asked by Rigo to sing which was a privilege and each service, one of the young people from our team shared the gospel✝️.


As well as all the fantastic work we got to be part of here in Chiloé, it was an amazing opportunity for Neil and I to get to know some of the incredibly talented and committed young people from our church. This has definitely helped us to feel more part of the church family here, and also started deeper conversations, hopefully leading to some of the projects we hope to start in the next couple of weeks.


The trip lasted just a short and tiring 7 days, but it was a fantastic experience and been a huge encouragement for Neil and I.

Now that we are back in Santiago and the summer holidays are coming to a close, we will be very much focusing on our projects with the community here in San  Jaoquin and in the church community.

We have a meeting with our pastor and mentors on Wednesday which we are really looking forward to. We would like to ask that you could pray for guidance and a clear start from this meeting, that we would know more specifically the roles we will have in the church and be given the authority we need in certain areas to do the work that God wants us to do. We are looking forward to sharing all the ideas flying around our heads and hope lots of them turn into reality in the coming weeks.

Missing all our friends and family back home. Please continue to stay in touch. All your support has been HUGELY appreciated and we couldn’t be here without you all!

Until next time! Dios les bendiga!

 

 

Christmas and sunshine ☀️

I would love to start by saying a very belated happy Christmas and new year  🎉. We have been thinking about you all over the holidays and pray that God fills you with so much of his blessing and love in this new year. 

We have had a very different Christmas and new year here in Chile but it’s been a special one! 

The main difference with celebrating Christmas here (along with the crazy hot weather of course!) is that it’s celebrated on the 24th🎄. We were so kindly invited to spend this celebration with our mentors family – having a yummy dinner then opening presents together at midnight! 

It was really like we were part of the family and we can’t thank our wonderful Chilean family enough💕

On Christmas Day, as it fell on a Sunday, we had a lovely service in the morning. It was a really special time of sharing in the congregation as most of the service was spent passing around a mircophone and people sharing what they were thanking for in 2016. In between times, we got time to reflect through worship and one of these times was when I had the privilege of singing a variation of ‘O come let us adore Him’ in English. I translated the words into Spanish and also had these on the screen for people to follow. 

While I was feeling brave, I also got up to share (in Spanish!😮), and gave thanks to God and the church family for the start of our journey in mission here in Chile and how much God has blessed us every day. What a lot of changes 2016 has brought us!

The week before Christmas we had a Christmas event for the community nearly all the church members came to support and evangelise to the community. Hopefully you remember reading and seeing pictures of this in our last blog. Since that weekend, the week before Christmas also involved lots of preparation. In addition to of course buying the presents, I practised lots with our mentor Nico, the song I sang on Christmas Day and Neil spent a lot of time writing the sermon he did on 29th. 

Well… the sermon went brilliantly. Neil was able to pronunce his words clearly enough that everyone was able to understand and be blessed by God, through what he said. Praise God. It was obviously challenging but an amazing opportunity and God was with him every step of the way. Hopefully there will be more 😊

Since the business around Christmas, it has been quite a refreshing time for us. 

We started by celebrating new year in Valparaiso, a beautiful city on the coast. Every year they have fireworks to remember and so many people travel to be there. We stayed in a lovely apartment along with our lovely friend seren and had a really relaxing time. 


As January and February are summer holidays and there isn’t much happening in the church during this time, it was a great opportunity for us to take some time for ourselves and explore more of Chile and Chilean culture. So the following weekend we packed up with a tent ⛺️ and headed 9 hours south, firstly to Pucon, one of the many beautiful towns close to a lake and with an amazing view of volcan villarica 🌋 .


We were greeted with plenty of rain ☔️- something we hadn’t seen for a while. We got to do some fantastic adventure activities such as white water rafting…

Beautiful Hurquehue national park… with a collection of stunning lakes!!


And of course, climbing the volcano… what an expierience that we will never forget!!!


After pucon we went to Puerto Varas, a town another 4 hours south. 


More beautiful volcanoes and lakes!! From here we also camped for 4 nights in the beautiful nation park, Cochamó. It’s known as the Yosemite of Chile 🇨🇱. Breath-taking. Photos don’t do it justice… you just have to go 😉😉


This national park was an incredible experience, as the only way to the main campsite is by a 13km walk through muddy forest 🌳. In the middle of nowhere. No phone signal and no wifi. I think that did us a lot of good 😉 

In between times we took rest days to get to know the towns and spent a bit of time in coffee shops (very important!). This also gave us time to brainstorm specific ideas about what we can do here in San Joaquin. Meetings and discussions are on-going with the details so we look forward to sharing more about this next time!! Please pray for guidance and time for preparation and discussion with our mentors and leadership here. 

For now, we just thank God for giving us a special time at Christmas and a refreshing time in the south. It was a great to focus on our marriage and recap on our recent times in Chile and 2016. 

Hablamos pronto!

Dios les bendiga! 💜

Studying and preparing 🐝

It’s feeling very strange at the minute that it’s less than a week until Christmas! We are currently sitting in tshirt and shorts, with the fan going, in 30+ degree heat!! We have also struggled to buy a Christmas tree as they sold out so quickly in the shops…but we do have this beautiful tree 🎄 on our wall! 

 Since our last post we have completed and passed level B1 of Spanish and last week finished our time at school with a week of level B2. It’s crazy to think of how much Spanish we have learnt in such a short period of time. We feel that God really has been with us and helped us in this. Though, we need continued prayer to improve our Spanish through learning more vocabulary and becoming more and more confident in speaking with our wonderful chileno family. We need as much practise as possible! 💬 we will continue to studying and read en español too. 

We have had lots of other events here at church. Two weekends ago, we had an evening for the married couples of the church. This included some teaching on communication and what was your first date like? Then afterwards we shared some food together. This was a lovely time for Neil and I as, with less people it was easier to get to known some of the couples a little more. 

The next day the church held a ‘Feria de las pulgas’ which literally means ‘flea market’. It was a great opportunity for the church to fundraise for a mission trip that some of the members of the church were going on, to Uruguay. This was another great time to work with people to help set up things for selling to the community. 

There have been a couple of changes to the Latinlink team recently. Firstly one of our lovely team members Ramon left to back to Switzerland after being in Chile for 8months. We had a lovely team goodbye party for him. 🎉

There is also a new baby 👶🏻 added to the team! Little Matías was born just under two weeks ago to our lovely coordinator Ruth!

Now that we have finished language school we are thinking and planning about what are projects are especially going to be with Ibi. We have had some great discussions and brainstorming with our mentors and the leaders of the church in the last week. We have shared ideas that we’ve had and will hopefully hear soon what specifically we can be preparing over the summer months. As the summer doesn’t have as many formal programmes we hope to use this time to get to known people in the church better and the community. We are in a great position to particualarly get to know people in the community as we live right in the centre of it! We are looking forward to sharing more about this in the next couple of weeks 😊


This weekend we had a community Christmas event. Beforehand required lots of preparation for activities, not just for the children in the community, but the parents and older people too. It included a stand for health information (handy having some nurses in the congregation), face painting and games for the community. 

I also got to do some Christmas carol singing 🎤 ‘oh santa noche’ (oh holy night, in Spanish, one of my favourites 😊). This helped me feel a little more Christmasy! We got to chat to people and there was a fantastic drama with uv lights and hands!!  (I will upload a video at some stage…) And we can’t forgot… Neil was a fantastic angel 😇 haha!! The main theme was ‘what does Christmas mean to you?’  One of the young people shared the gospel before we shared some food with everyone. Un linda tiempo!! 

Also in the summer we will lose our fantastic housemates, as they move to their new home at the end of December! This will also mean we will need to do a little bit of home-making and make the house our own. 🏡

The final thing to note is that the leaders have asked me to sing at the Christmas service on Christmas Day which I’m looking forward to! Also even more exciting, Neil has been asked to share a 15 minute message during the weekly prayer meeting on 29 December… in Spanish!! So lots of our time over Christmas will be spent translating and practising these things! As always your prayers are much appreciated!! It’s great to feel even more part of things in the church. 

Still feels strange that it’s going to be Christmas so soon 🎄… definitely different here! But we are very much looking forward to spending Christmas Eve with the Toledo family (family of our mentor) for their main Christmas celebrations 🎉 🎁🎄. We feel very blessed to be invited and feel part of their family 😊. For new year we are going to Valparaiso to see one of the best New Years celebration fireworks 💥 with our wonderful Scottish friend Seren💜. 

That’s all for now. We will update you again in 2017!!😮 thank you as always for your love and support and Christmas wishes! 🎁

Feliz navidad y feliz año nuevo a todos!! Dios te bendiga.