Recently Justin, an 11 year-old from the U.S. asked me the following questions and I thought the answers might be interesting to post:
What is your church like? Why did you become a missionary? What is life like in Chile?
Our church is made up of about 200 members. About one hundred of those are married couples. The other hundred are singles, campus students and teens. My wife and I lead the campus ministry. We have about 20 students. It is a great church that is very devoted to God.. The people are very hard working and are faithful to God. They have a great sense of respect for God and his will. We meet together on Sundays and Wednesdays. With the campus group we get together on Friday nights to have devotionals. Every one speaks Spanish. The church is made up of people who live all over Santiago, some travel more than one hour (in bus) to come to services.
I became a missionary because God put it on my heart and then opened the door for me to do it. I started studying Spanish my freshman year of high school and I had become a christian right before that. That same year I got to travel to Brazil and be part of a conference with our church. The next year I went to Mexico City also with our church. Both of those experiences opened my eyes to what God was doing all over the world. As I studied Spanish the desire grew in my heart to help in Latin America. My wife and I actually met on that trip I took to Mexico City and we both had the desire to be missionaries. As we dated in college and then got married it had always been a dream of ours. We expressed this dream to friends and leaders in our church in the U.S. and one day one of the ministers asked us if we'd be willing to move to South America to help the churches. After a lot of prayer and seeking advice we said yes. God brought us down to Santiago, Chile in July of 2007 and we've been living a great adventure since then.
Life in Chile is great. Santiago is the capital and the biggest city with over 6 million people. We live in the very center, near the downtown business district. There's a lot of smog and traffic, but that's normal for a big city. Chileans are warm, friendly people. The love to talk especially if they can do it over a cup of coffee or a meal. We've adapted to the chilean eating schedule. In the morning we have coffee or tea with a sandwich of some kind (ham & cheese, butter & jelly etc). At lunch (around 2pm) we have a big meal (sorta like dinner in the US) of something like spaghetti, rice and meat, soup or chicken. The food here is not spicy. They eat a lot of vegetables with their lunch. Then in the evening the normal meal is "once", coffee or tea with a pastry or sandwich.
Life here is a little more simple, not so much technology and very few people have cars. In the church about 25 of the 200 have cars. We walk or take the bus or the subway everywhere. We've learned a lot about the chilean people in our time here and they've also taught us a lot about ourselves. Relationships here are more important than tasks. People are almost always late to any kind of gathering.
We thank God every day for the opportunity He's given us to live our dreams.