New People, New Experiences, Lifelong Memories

Day 1: December 27th Travel 

We began the day wide awake Saturday at 4 am in the airport...and by wide awake I mean heavy eyelids half asleep but filled with excitement and wonder as to what the next couple of weeks will hold. Fort Wayne >> Chicago >> Mexico City >> Santiago. This was our 24 hour journey.

Luckily the nine hour flight from Mexico City to Santiago had plenty of movies, tv shows, and games for entertainment and the food they served wasn't ALL that terrible. It can easily be hit or miss! Little did we know we had a jungle gym named Francisco. ;) Him and his wife, Julie, are the trip coordinators and these are their two children.

Day 2: December 28th Who Needs Sleep?

After wandering through airports, finding places to eat, and the always entertaining people watching, we finally arrived in Santiago, Chile around 9 am Sunday morning to a beautiful bright day. Sleep was not an option at this point; however I did catch about 20 minutes on the bus.

Everyone was so welcoming and greeted us with hugs and the classic "one cheek kiss". We loaded the bus with what seemed like a hundred luggage bags and packed ourselves in the seats to head to Valparaiso. On the way there we stopped at Francisco's parents house to visit and we saw an incredible view of the bay. Upon arrival to the YMCA we had to carry all of our luggage up 5 flights of stairs. About 20 pounds of luggage each at around 50 pounds was an intense way to get the day started. Thankfully everyone pitched in to help each other...that's not to say we didn't work up a serious sweat in the process.

We attended Church in the afternoon and had the opportunity to serve dinner and dessert to about 50 homeless people in which began with a prayer, song, and a skit. It was amazing to see God working through everyone that had a hand in the process of putting this fiesta together (which was A LOT of people). It was amazing to witness the true appreciation on the tired faces of the homeless. The ages ranged from around 3-70.

The view outside the YMCA window was absolutely beautiful. The view of Valparaiso while the sun poured in and a cool breeze graced the room was a very serene feeling.

Day 3: December 29th Valparaiso Hills

We are on "Chilean time" so we always know that there is at least an extra fifteen minutes or so to get ready for our destination. ;) After breakfast we toured the city and Valparaiso hills. We got quite a workout in climbing steep hills and stairs with multiple beautiful views to look at along the way. The hills of Valparaiso consist of everything from homes, hotels, cafés, shops, etc.

We later went onto our construction site where we will be working for the next two days called Las Canas. The family we are building for is the sweetest. They are also kind enough to serve us lunch and their tea time known as "oncé" between lunch and dinner as a snack time. Valparaiso experienced a wildfire back in April and many were left homeless. We were told that there has been significant improvement with the building of more homes and that the mountains are now slowly becoming more full of homes as it was before; however, most of these are only temporary homes that the government provided. Keep in mind there are some families of 7+ living in a 1-2 bedroom home. Please check out this video of the damage the wildfire actually did to this community.
The view overlooking the worksite is just incredible. Tonight's devotional was about fulfilling the time we have here in Chile and realizing that we are all here for a reason. This applies to anything in life. No matter what situation you're in...good or bad, there is always the opportunity to take that situation and make it as positive as possible. It is not always easy, as most people know. And sometimes it is hard to find the fullness in situations, but trust that it is in God's hands.

Day 4: December 30th Construction 

From about 10 am - 6 pm we constructed the home for the family. We all had our hands into working on everything from insulating to measuring boards for the walls to pulling out the hammer and nails. The insulation is not what we think of back in the states; we used styrofoam squares and measured them to fit into the wall spaces. Let's just say that after as much styrofoam we sawed and worked with, it looked like we were in a snowstorm because it was flying everywhere. We all looked like we had just had some sort of snowball fight by the end. Because snow in Chile is a thing, right? ;)

Devotional at the end of the night discussed how we got here and why we are here. We are all called to do something in this life and it is always a good choice to act upon that. Dig deeper into experiencing things outside of your comfort zone and see how God uses you for service. You may be surprised at how much you accomplish, how many people you will end up helping, and how great the feeling is when your passion and God's calling come together as one.   

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