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Catching Up

I really don’t know what to write today, but it’s been a while since I updated this blog. We are enjoying the warmer spring days down here. We also had daylight savings time recently so the days are getting longer. I am figuring this out since October should be the opposite in my mind.

San Marcos is changing over time. I mean that in a good way. When we arrived there were maybe 10-20 people there on a Sunday. The pandemic and the social unrest had affected the church more than we knew. There were many days when we were wondering what we were even doing here!

Now, little by little, we are seeing new faces come and visit and stay. We recently realized that we actually need volunteers to greet people at the door and to help us with serving coffee and cookies after the service. We have a time after church that we gather and get to know each other more than just a casual hello and goodbye. It is good to learn about the people and their lives.

September celebrated “El Dieciocho” or Fiestas Patrias in commemorating Chile’s first national government as a country. The children in each class in every school learn a traditional dance from each region of Chile and dress up in traditional clothes. It’s fun to watch!

traditional dancing of Chile

We also enjoyed eating delicious meals with our friends at their homes or out at restaurants. I am volunteering at the Christian school a couple of days a week, and I am intentional about spending time with the ladies in the church.

Celebrating Mexico’s Independence Day
Enjoying a Peruvian dinner
Celebrating a very special birthday (Daniel)!
Volunteering at the Christian school
Having coffee with a friend

We also went to Argentina which I shared on Instagram. It was a wonderful visit to sightsee and to “work” with another International Church. They were so encouraging to us and really made us want to come home and start praying for “big things” since we have a Big God!

Helping with the Feria de Primavera
Enjoying lots of Argentinian meat

If you have American dollars now is the time to visit Argentina. I feel bad for the people there because inflation is 100%. They make about $400 a month. We only spent about $400 for the week and that included all of our food and cabs, etc. The people were so nice and want the tourism for their work. It’s a beautiful country and the wine and steak are both amazing. Go visit!

If you think of us please pray that we could find an independent place to hold our services. Right now we have a church that lets us meet in their building and they are very generous to do that. However, we have to meet at 9:15 which doesn’t fit well with Chilean culture. It also feels rushed because we need to be out so the next service can start without us being in their way. There is a Seventh Day Adventist Church just a few buildings down from our current place. We are hoping to talk to them about renting their church since they don’t use their buildings on Sunday.

Take care Friends. Until next time…. blessings to you all.

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Update

The last post I wrote was about the Constitutional election that was held on Sunday, September 4. The country seemed to be on edge not knowing how it was going to go. “Apruebo” was the “I Approve” and “Rechazo” was “I Reject”. The thinking was there was going to be social unrest either way the election turned out. We, along with others that suggested it, bought extra food items, toilet paper, and water in case the stores had to be boarded up from looters. We also filled up the car with gas to avoid possible long lines at the pumps.

We went to vote even though Chile rescinded our permanent residency for not coming to Chile in 2018. However, there is a website that citizens and residents can put their RUT (ID) number in and it tells you whether you were required to vote. Surprisingly, we were! The website included the location of where to vote and also the table to look for.

Voting information

The voting process was a dream and one that the US should look in to. It was very secure and fast. The line of voters was around the building when we got to our voting place. We were lead in through the building and told what room to go to. We found table 233. Along with our Chilean identification card, knowledge of the proper way to vote (draw a vertical line only through the line beside your choice), a concealed booth, a specifically folded ballot with a detachable ID code, a sticker on the completed folded ballot that the voter presses on himself, and a signature beside the ID number it took us five minutes. It may sound complicated and involved but it truly was easy.

Everything is closed on Voting Day. The malls, restaurants, coffee shops, etc. close because everyone is required to vote. In fact, they impose a fine on you if you don’t. I haven’t found out how they do that yet.

Around 7-8:00pm friends began to text us that the new constitution had been rejected. It was a landslide win 68-32 so the majority had spoken. Some of the issues that supporters of Rechazo were concerned with were the possibility of no more personal property, the ability to have an abortion at anytime, the pension funds given to the government at one’s death, and the giving of special/extra rights to the indigenous people.

I am so thankful for the peace. Our Chilena Spanish teacher told us before the vote that she felt her people were tired and depressed. It has been a long three years for them.

I am pretty sure there is going to be work done on the issues in the future. Hopefully it will be done in a bipartisan way to help the Chilean people.

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The Constitution

A week from today Chile will vote on a new constitution. The choice is either “rechazo” reject or “apruebo” approve.

This current situation started in October of 2019 when Kent and I happened to be here. I was riding the metro and when I walked out of the station there were lots of young people gathering and protesting. I asked a young lady if everything was OK and she told me the students were protesting. Over the next two to three days it turned from normal protests to millions of people gathered together marching in the bigger cities. However, some of the activists began rioting and causing social unrest.

The situation was quite scary for me since I had never seen anything like this before. We were put under a curfew. The stores were all boarded up. There were long lines at the gas stations and grocery stores with a limited number of items you could purchase. Some areas of the city had buildings lit on fire and burning tires put in the middle of roads.

From these events, a constitutional group was voted on and formed to try to solve some of these issues by writing a new constitution. And now almost three years later, the voting day has finally arrived.

Peaceful demonstrators

So far, we have seen signs up and people waving flags on the sidewalks for what side they are supporting. I have only seen peaceful protests with one more week left. However, several friends have encouraged us to fill up on the basics because they believe we will have some social issues next week.

I have an opinion on the constitution and will vote next Sunday. (Kent and I are able to vote since we were permanent visa holders.) And as much as we love this country, it isn’t our country. It’s surreal in some ways. I know the outcome will effect us but it doesn’t seem like it’s real. The effects could be huge because there is an extreme difference between rechazo and apruebo.

Please pray for Chile. It is such a lovely country . Since we started coming here almost 10 years ago it has seen lots of changes. I think the people are tired because covid came right after the unrest and they were under extreme lockdowns. There were months when they were only able to leave their house for food and essential medical appointments. The police would come to check homes and stop people in their cars to make sure they had their pass to be out. They still have a mobility passport that is only available to those who have taken three to four booster shots.

Are there things that need to change? Of course. It’s like that in every country. I wish there was a way to fix every injustice in the world. However, God is just even when we don’t understand and can use everything that happens for His glory. We are just praying that whatever the outcome, He uses Kent, me, and the church while we are here.

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Bible Study

Coffee with friends

Over 25 years ago a group of women started a bible study here in Santiago. It is still meeting today. It used to meet in person at a church but things changed with Covid. When we lived here in 2014 I was part of the group and was happy to come back when we returned.

Now the group meets on zoom. I was hesitant about the online situation at first but after the first meeting I was hooked. It is so well organized and fun. We can login at 9am for social time if we want to and then we start at 9:30. We have an introduction, a group time with a leader, a break, group time, prayer, and a teaching of the text. Sounds like a lot in 2 hours but it is so refreshing.

The women are from all different countries and backgrounds. In fact, one of the “rules” is we don’t talk about the church we attend so we have no idea about denominations. And, of course, we don’t speak about politics.

One of my favorite parts of this study is the women are joining the group from all parts of the world. Most of the women are no longer living in Chile but have moved on to another area on the globe.

The picture above is a group of women that are still in Chile. We met for coffee and for an encouraging time for one of our ladies who recently had a baby. It is good to be online but it’s even better to be together.

We are about to start on Wednesday. We will be studying 2 Timothy and Titus. If you would be interested you are invited! The questions are sent out each week if you don’t have the book and we meet just 2 hours each Wednesday morning for the next 11 weeks. Let me know because we would love to have you!

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Healthcare Part 1

I thought I would share what I have found out about the healthcare and its system here in Chile. I haven’t read formal documents about this but I am sharing from our experiences.

Everyone gets 7% of their paycheck taken for health insurance and they can choose either public or private insurance. Sometimes, if your salary is too low, you have to go with the public. However, I don’t think they are horribly different. I have heard some good things about both types.

When you decide your plan the first choice is the hospital that you want to use. Typically, you choose a hospital closer to your home. Once you decide the hospital you choose the amount of coverage. For instance, 70% of surgeries, 80% of doctor visits, etc. We are fortunate because we live near a fairly new hospital that is only about 2-3 miles from our house.

The employer pays part and the worker pays part of the premium each month. Sidebar: I have also found that talking about wages here are usually in monthly terms. For instance, I was having a conversation today with a Chilean man and I said something about someone making x dollars per year. He replied that he wasn’t used to that and let him take a second to figure that out in monthly terms.

Once the plan is chosen, the agreement is processed and the person places their pointer finger on a small machine to get the print. (They do this at banks too). Then when you go to the doctors office you place your finger on the machine and the computer figures out your percent of the visit you are responsible for. You pay the amount and you are done. No more paper work. No more dealing with the insurance company.

I have only been to one doctor visit which was a yearly exam with a gynecologist. Our friend Valerie called the office of her doctor for me to set it up. I was expecting for it to take a few weeks to get an appointment. Surprisingly, she asked me do you want the appointment tomorrow or the next day? The next day I waited in the reception area and the doctor walked out to get me. I went to her office and we talked at her desk. She spoke English because she had gone to college in California. She had an exam room attached to her office. She did the normal exam and also added an ultrasound of my uterus. She also asked me to get some other tests done so she would have a baseline of numbers for my folder.

The main difference I saw in the visit was I didn’t see any nurses. I think they must mostly work in the hospitals. Another difference in the healthcare is all of my friends have their doctor’s names and numbers on What’sApp so they can text them anytime. I want to ask a doctor exactly how that works since they can’t be on call all the time. I will the next time I go. Also, there is no referring to a specialist here from a primary care physician. You start with the specialist. Lastly, the pricing here is very reasonable as well and I will share with you about that on the next post about my lab experience.

Next post, mammogram and laboratory.

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Friends

Ministry Friends

When we arrived in Chile on Thanksgiving Day, we didn’t know if we were going to be staying. Kent, not only had never been a pastor, but he was not ordained in the Presbyterian Church. This was a problem for the leadership (presbytery) here and they needed to vet Kent.

Through this process, we met some new friends that we have grown to love.

Our friends

This is Dagmar and Pato. They have been in the ministry for many years. They also speak perfect English which is very helpful. They are hospitable and sooooo fun!

Jane and Pato
Dagmar and Kent

As I mentioned, we have never been in this church role before. We are learning as we go. They have been so authentic with us and helped us so much.

They live in Vina del Mar which is on the Pacific Ocean about 60 miles from us. It is beautiful over there and they open their home to us which is so comfortable.

Welcoming us with a Chilean drink- Pisco
their front yard- grill, patio, and pool

We love them and their 4 kids. We are so thankful for them!

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Durian

Last week a friend and I went in together to buy an expensive fruit that comes from countries like China, Thailand, and Indonesia. I had never heard of a durian before, but was intrigued when my friend from Thailand was telling me about it.

a durian

This fruit reminds me of a hedgehog.

Durians smell. Really bad. I had been told they smell like a combination of feet, trash, rotted food, and more… so I was excited to smell it for myself.

My friend delivered it to me on a Friday, but my “co-owner” couldn’t open it with me until Monday. I put it in the refrigerator, and I admit it did stink up my fridge. However, it didn’t smell as bad as others said but it was a little unpleasant.

the meat of the fruit

The inside of the fruit that you eat is the meat of the fruit. It is the messy white and yellow part in the picture. The brown parts are seeds that are fairly large. There are 4 sections of the fruit that have this meat in it so it’s actually a lot of food.

My assessment- it tasted OK. Inside, the pieces of the fruit had the consistency of creme brulee. I was so confused eating this food. I wanted to like it, and I think I did. However, the smell and the look of the durian was taking away from my enjoyment.

Maybe, you already knew about it? My mom and dad had tried it before in their travels, but I had never heard about it.

I am glad I tried it. I am always open to learning as many new things as I can about different cultures. But, I don’t have to do it again. Have a good week!

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Transient

Transient

What does transient mean? According to Merriam-Webster it is “passing through or by a place with only a brief stay or sojourn.” Transient is a word I have heard many times living as an ex-pat in Chile. I never minded the word because I was the one that was coming and going. I was the one being transient. Until now….

Chris, Saxony, Wyatt, and Micah

Saxony and her family are leaving Santiago this week and headed for California for her husband to do a 10-month graduate degree from Stanford. They are in Chile with the US Embassy and have had many adventures abroad these last few years. It will be nice for them to have some time back home in the States.

But, for some background.

Jane, Dawn, Pati, and Saxony

Meet my friends – Dawn, Pati, and Saxony. We have been trying to meet together weekly for the past few months as we are doing a study on the Trinity. With all of our schedules, it’s usually 3 together and one of us joining by zoom. We are in our 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s. We have young children and grandchildren. We enjoy being together, studying, and drinking coffee. This group has been a source of joy, peace, and growth. It gives me the sense of feeling at home.

Our husbands are doing the same study but they meet together in their own group. Even though we have all been Christians for a while, this study has taught us a lot as well as reminding us of the basics.

Last weekend, Chris and Saxony invited us over for a last meal in person. It was so fun and bittersweet as we had to say good-bye. We wish them the best as they continue their journey in what God has for them next.

me, Kent, Cristian, Dawn, Jorge, Pati, Chris, and Saxony

WE LOVE YOU GUYS!

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Snow, Kids, and Friends

I have complained a lot this winter but it is beautiful to look up at the mountains and see the snow. It rarely rains here (they’ve been in a drought for years), but we have had a little bit of precipitation. Each time the rain ends there is a larger covering of snow on top of the mountains.

The Andes

I’ve been visiting a children’s home every other Saturday morning. The kids are really fun, and they like me because I’m a gringa. They try to speak a little English that they have heard on tv. I try to speak my spanish with them and they are very patient. We will play games or do art projects together.

He gave me the picture as a gift
Many have not painted before

God has been so kind to us. He keeps me busy so I am less homesick. We have friends that are here with the US Embassy. It’s funny because they lived in the town next to us in Texas so we know a lot of the same roads, churches, etc. when we talk about the Metroplex.

We have enjoyed good meals and conversation with them. And we went to see Top Gun which I really liked!

Texas Friends!

Just a short post to keep learning how to do this!

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The Dentist

Kent and I went to the dentist this month for the first time in Chile. It was interesting to see the differences.

We arrived at the clinic and checked in at the main desk. We were brought upstairs to wait. About five minutes later the dentist walked over to get me to go first. He looked so young! Which he is, but as I get older that seems to be the norm. He introduced himself as Benjamin, and he also spoke English which was very helpful.

Then, we spoke about my teeth, and he did not ask about taking x-rays. I was so glad because I always felt pressured back home to get them and they were so expensive. He cleaned my teeth himself (surprised there was no dental hygienist), and he did a great job in about thirty minutes. I was a little weary when he finished so soon. I had gone to the dentist in Scotland and after 15-20 minutes they said they were done and my time period was over. I did not feel like I had gotten a thorough cleaning then. (Sorry, Scotland friends!) But, Benjamin cleared out the plaque and my front teeth felt clear and defined without the covering that builds up over time.

Benjamin asked me if I had brought my toothbrush with me to the appointment. I had not because I did not know that I was supposed to. He said he wanted to watch how I brush. I told him I knew how to brush with the curve of the brush toward the gums, the circular motion, and the flossing process.

I also told him I was aware that I needed to use an electric toothbrush but I had not bought one. It seems that every dental hygienist and dentist in the past had strongly recommended using one. He responded that he only suggests an electric toothbrush to the disabled or the elderly who could not brush properly. So, then last weekend we were at a dinner party. There was a dentist there so I thought I would ask him about the electric toothbrush and his opinion. He said the same thing- it’s for the disabled and the elderly that need the extra help.

This is Benjamin, a very nice young man who we will see again in December. Oh, and the price was about $70 for the cleaning. I’m not sure how that compares- I can’t remember.

Until, next time!