domingo, enero 22, 2006

Missions


DSCF0958
Originally uploaded by erostkowski.
Ryan, Caitlin, Roy and I spent the first two weeks of the new year with high school students from St. George College (a holy cross school in Santiago) in the south of Chile on missions. At first, I have to be honest, I was a little nervous about the whole experience. Missioning is something that is really common in Chile, whereas in the States, it's usually associated with Evangelicals, Mormons, and Jehovah's Witnesses. Eighty percent of Chile's population is Catholic. The goals of missions do not include conversion. It's about spending time with people, praying together in community, and learning about one another's lives.

The typical day:
7:30 Wake up(I usually woke up at 7:55 since my primping time has been reduced to 5 minutes since moving to South America)
8:00 Prayer
8:30 Breakfast
9:00 Set off for missioning. We would leave with a backpack of ''prayer supplies'' which consisted of a Bible, candle, prayer cards, and the 2006 St. George Mission Calendar (oooooh). Each group had 2-4 people and we would set off in different directions going door to door asking people if they had a few minutes. In the 8 days that I went out missioning, my group was only turned away once. It was crazy to me how willing people were to welcome us into their houses, make us tea to warm us up (the south of Chile is cold and rainy even in summer), and share their lives with us. It was beautiful.
The area where we were was just gorgeous. Green, with rolling hills and a montòn of cows and pigs. Some parts reminded me a lot of my home in Bel Air.
1:30 Lunch
3:30 Play with kids in a Bible school-like thing that we put on
5:30 Onces (the Chilean afternoon snack-meal)
7:00 Mass
8:00 Jovenes (young people) get-together with activities
10:30 Dinner
11:30 Prayer
12:00 Dinamicas (games, activities for all of us)
2:00 Bedtime

All and all, it was a great experience even though I have to say that it was one of the hardest times I've had here so far. I had only been in Chile two weeks when we left for missions. I'd say that the most difficult part was being alone. We were all split into different locations which was okay, but was at the same time rough. The Spanish in Chile is very different than the Spanish spoken in Bolivia. People joke that they don't speak Spanish, they speak Chilean here and it's so true. There are so many sayings and slang terms here that we actually have a book in the house that deciphers them all (How to Survive in the Chilean Jungle). The young people, especially speak so quickly and drop all of their 's'es that they are pretty difficult to understand. It was good to be thrown into a situation where I was forced to speak in Spanish the entire time, but at times, was so frustrating for me. I definitely want to go back next year, because hopefully by then I will have more confidence in myself and I will be better able to communicate.

domingo, enero 01, 2006

First Chilean Christmas


DSCF0854
Originally uploaded by erostkowski.
I have survived my first Christmas away from home. The HCAs celebrated in Pocuro this year, my home. We live in the middle of wine country and it's absolutely beautiful. Summers in this region of Chile are fantastic. It's hot,sunny, and dry during the day and cools of considerably at night. We have been taking advantage of the great weather by eating under the grape arbor that past Associates constructed in our front yard. I set the table using all the skills I've picked up from the home decorating magazines that I am addicated to. My sister sent the snowflake ornaments that we strung from the vines and the candy canes that made our place settings.
In Chile, Christmas Eve is a bigger holiday than Christmas. We went to Mass in the Chapel that is right next to our house. Everyone eats after mass and midnight, so we followed with the tradition. In the morning, we gave the gifts that made for our gift exchange and spent the rest of the day reading, playing cards, and listening to Christmas music.