So it continues to be a hot Summer here in Santiago, with temperatures staying at around 30ºC.
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 is a beautiful place, very similar in a lot of ways to good ol’ Ireland, with its green fields, trees and plenty of rain!!
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.
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 😊
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.
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!