Step Week 1
Hola everyone! We have had an amazing first week in Chile, learning more about the people and their culture every day. This past week we have been overwhelmed by the generosity (mainly in the form of food!) of the people we have met so far and feel so blessed by their kindness. We have gelled really well as a team and are looking forward to supporting one another on this amazing adventure over the next 4 months together.
After the 13 hour plane journey, we were greeted at the airport by the Striders in Santiago, Jenny and Neil who have already been here for a year, and Benja who lives in Temuco with Ruth our Short-term Coordinator, who bought us a much appreciated lunch, told us about their own experiences in both Argentina and Chile, and prepared us a little more about what to expect upon arrival. The nine of us and Benja then boarded the plane to Temuco on which we had amazing views of the Andes and Chile’s beautiful countryside.
From the airport in Temuco we were driven to the church and our new home for the next seven weeks where we were welcomed by some of the church members who had prepared a traditional Chilean dinner (La Cena). Their overwhelming warmth and interest in us as a team made it so easy to settle in. We then spent the remainder of the evening unpacking and getting to know the area a bit better.
Wednesday was predominantly spent with Ruth and Benja, who had prepared our ‘in-country’ orientation giving us more of an insight in the practical side of living in rural Chile! We were also able to see the inside of the church building and started removing the furniture in preparation for demolition. In the evening we met the children from the neighbouring school and communicated using the universal language of football. The following evening some of the team participated in a friendly (yet very competitive) Chile vs Inglaterra game which the children most definitely won.
Thursday was our first full day of working on the building site. When we started at 9 o’clock in the morning the whole team was decked out in coats and thermals, but about half an hour in the weather turned and it wasn’t long before we were all applying sun cream and delayering as much as we could! We were in charge of pulling up the floorboards and taking down the walls, and then removing the nails from the planks of wood in order for them to be re-sold by the church.
The building work overall has been really successful despite two days off because of the rain on Friday and Saturday, and we’ve almost completely removed the building’s outer structure. The project is led by the leader of the church, German (pronounced Herman), who is a builder by trade and has blessed us with his knowledge of building and his willingness to serve God.
When not building in the evening our time has been spent talking to and visiting other people in the local community. On Wednesday we visited a lady called Juanita, who lives about a 20 minute walk from the church. Because she lives on her own, Juanita has to maintain the land that she lives on by herself and since the deterioration of her health this has become increasingly difficult. German helped us remove an overgrown tree from her garden and pick up the dead apples in front of her house. Although Juanita is not a regular member of the church, she asked us to pray for her upcoming operation on her brain and we would really appreciate if you could continue to pray for this matter and that she might find comfort in the knowledge that God is in control of her situation.
On Sunday morning we were welcomed by the whole church in their morning service which started at 10:30(ish). Before the service started officially, German asked us if any of the team were musical and handed out instruments accordingly. Although both Morwenna and Ben had no music to follow, alongside German’s two sons, they were able to join the very relaxed worship band on guitar and piano. Previously in the week German had heard the song ‘This is Amazing Grace’ playing whilst we were working on the project and asked if we could play it for the congregation in English on Sunday. Along with this we also sang ‘blessed be the name’ and introduced ourselves in Spanish. After this Ellie then very bravely shared her testimony to everyone, in Spanish! Despite the whole thing being completely in Spanish, we all felt extremely blessed by the both the worship and the message behind Benja’s sermon. Even though we are on another continent, in a completely different community and culture, we feel so at home whilst sharing our love for God and all he has done for us. Many of us also felt moved by the enthusiasm and passion expressed by the congregation that morning as they sang about the wonders of God and thanked him for all that he has done in their lives.
Thank you so much for all your prayers, we have felt extremely blessed over the past week and felt God’s presence in all that we do. We would love it if you could continue praying for us; that we would be able to grow together and serve God through our work here. But if you could also continue to pray for these few specific things:
- Juanita’s health and upcoming operation
- Spanish learning and evangelism to the local community (which should hopefully be occurring every Saturday with other youth groups from Temuco)
- That the weather allows us to continue working on the church building.
- That relationships with the children from the local school and within the church family would continue to grow.
And to thank God for…
- Good relationships within the team and good health.
- German’s Skills, generosity and commitment to us as a team.
- The warm welcome we have experienced by everyone we have met so far.
- The progress we have been able to make thus far on the church building.
Love from the Step team!