Monday, April 11
Before I went I had no idea what to expect, except from stories that my sister had told me of previous mission trips. I was excited, happy, and nervous...but mostly nervous. Up until this trip I had NEVER been outside of Canada before (I had been on a plane before so no worries there) so I really was embarking on a new experience.
Our flight had a layover in Toronto, so it was 4 hours to Toronto, a 2 hour layover, and then a 10 hour flight to Santiago, Chile. Needless to say I was absolutely whacked by the time the plane landed. In fact, I was so tired that while standing in line to pay the reciprocity fee (don't ask) I actually sat down on the floor (crazy Canadian tourists) and nearly fell asleep. I couldn't be bothered to care about the wondering looks I received because it felt so good.
Walking outside of the airport was like being hit by a sledgehammer of hot air and humidity. I have to ask, why the hell does anybody live in Calgary when they could live, I dunno, somewhere warm???
Chile is beautiful. It's green and mountainous and hilly. It has flowers and palm trees. The sky looks blue it you kinda don't look at it to closely (smog). The sun shines and it's hot and humid. The drivers are pretty crazy, but it just adds to the general atmosphere of being in a foreign place. The first day we got to the house that we were staying (it was quite nice, in a gated compound where the Legion of Christ had several houses), we went for a walk (I had Chilean ice cream for the first time!), had dinner and showers, and went to bed at 7:00 pm. I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow...having had zero hours of sleep the night before is better than a sleeping pill. Our morning wake up call was 6 am so this was probably a very good thing.
We went to a state school on the next 4 days. All of the kids were quite poor, most had parents who were in jail or had no parents at all. Many of them were single parents themselves. There was a nursery where they could drop their babies off during school and pick up wasn't until 7:00 because they all had to work. But despite all of these hardships in their lives they were incredibly happy and smiling and generous. They couldn't speak English and we couldn't speak Spanish but it didn't matter because all they wanted was to have somebody who would listen and love and care.
While we were their we basically just interacted with the students, playing games and singing songs. With the older ones, we actually joined their English classes and helped tutor a little. For the most part, though, we spent the majority of the time talking, or trying to, which was even funner.
The last day of the mission we went to a house for the mentally disabled. I can't even describe the beauty of the people who lived their. It was almost heartbreaking how loving and smiling they were. They had nothing, no parents and no family but they were SO happy. All they wanted from us was to hold our hands or to see our smiles. We played with them and sang songs and just that little bit of our time was enough to make their whole day for them.
Our very last day of the trip we went to Valparaiso and Vina del Mar. They are town on the sea. At Valparaiso we went on a boat ride and we saw sea lions. At Vina del Mar I went swimming in the ocean! And I got sand absolutely EVERYWHERE! The ocean is terrifying because it crashes into you and pushes you off your feet and then it pulls back out and pulls you along with it. For the first 5 minutes I was pretty convinced I was going to drown.
And then we hopped on our plane for 10 hours...I got ZERO sleep...we got to Toronto at about 3 am and had about a 1 hour layover, then we got on our 4 hour plane ride to Calgary. And then home :). I was really sad to leave but home is nice. I think I will go to Chile someday again because I've never had the feeling that I felt when I was there. I really can't describe it but it has something to do with forgetting about yourself, seeing your problems in perspective and having to put all of your trust in God to get you through the day.
Wednesday, April 6
Unblemished and without a wandering stain.
My soul rejoiced in the Blue so high,
But joy is never allowed to remain.
Into the cathedral-like sky drifted a tiny cloud,
Disturbing my dreams as though it had yelled aloud.
Dancing and twirling across the sacred ground
Which I had worshiped only moments before,
It disrupted the peace, though it made not a sound
And it ignored my pleas, striking me to the core;
Pulling fluffy, tulle skirts together,
It cavorted across the sky; light as a feather.
Singing along in this impromptu dance,
The wind joined into my private show
Which now held me bound in a timeless trance,
My earlier anger long forgotten; watching the music flow.
Hours and years seemed to pass me by, though only a few seconds
Lasted the dance, until the cloud dispersed and my doorway beckoned.
Now every time I stare into the perfect Blue sky,
I see a phantom cloud dancing there ,
The way it danced, that day it danced so high.
Now a perfect Blue sky seems so cold and bare.
No cloud now dances to brighten my day.
No cloud so happy now dances my way.
Thursday, January 27
I love this story cause...well, I think you will be able to figure that out for yourself. I wrote it as an English assignment and it's less of a story and more of a scene sketch. Enjoy. (I think you will really like this Gwen, it should speak to you romantic soul ;))
Outside it was cold and chilly. The wind howled and the snow fell. Inside was warm and cozy. Logs crackled and a book beckoned. Alicia laughed and closed the curtain gently. No chance in heaven or hell she was going out tonight. “I wouldn’t be surprised if Hell is frozen over,” she said, smiling gently. Displacing her cat, she snuggled into the high backed chair, positioned her cup of cocoa carefully for maximum reach and picked up her book, well aware she was in for a satisfying and pleasant evening.
Two hours faded slowly into the past and Alicia’s head began to nod, until at last she gave up her struggle, the book fell away, and she snored gently in contented sleep.
A rapid fusillade of knocks jerked Alicia awake. She sat up abruptly, spilling cat and book out of her lap. She stood uncertainly in front of her door, trying to determine if she could have dreamed so loud and abrasive a sound. A sharp staccato confirmed her fears and, groaning inwardly, she slowly heaved the door open. On the front step stood a young man of uncertain age but certain beauty and his car stood some yards outside her front gate. In the darkening night and gathering storm Alicia could just make out the deserted road with the city in the near distance.
He smiled apologetically, following the direction of her eyes. “Sorry to bother you. I would have stayed in the city tonight but my car broke down just outside of your gate. Worse luck for you of course, but an absolute god-send to me.” He smiled engagingly has he said this and Alicia blushed slightly.
“Oh! Of course! Come in please and take off your jacket. It’s an absolute stinker of a night and I don’t grudge sharing my fireside with a stranded wanderer,” she said as she ushered him inside relieved him of his impedimenta, and waved a hand to a chair near the fire.
Inside she was grinning to herself with glee. “Out of a storybook really…tall, dark, handsome. Like something from Hans Christian Andersen perhaps, although his tales were always a mite depressing. This story will have a happy ending of course, with him sweeping me off my feet and riding off into the sunset etc.” Alicia thought all of this in a matter of seconds as she prepared a cup of cocoa for her “mysterious stranger”. He was really very handsome and as she bustled around the kitchen, Alicia made sure to tidy her titian hair into some semblance of tidiness and brush the extra cat hair off her shirt front.
Meanwhile, the “mysterious stranger” was appreciating his own good luck. His hostess was quite the beauty and she seemed to be quite intelligent to judge by the choice of her reading materials. Shakespeare was right up his alley. He settled comfortably into his chair anticipating the return of both Alicia and his cup of cocoa. The evening was going to be entirely enjoyable and satisfying.