schools in chile end around mid-december and don’t start again until march, which means it’s summer break over here. i’m still surprised when i see posts on social media about snow because we’re sitting around in shorts and slathering on sunscreen. nate took the youth group on a service project and we’ll do things like watch movies and go bowling, but we’ve had a break from the weekly activities which has been much needed. since august, our schedules have been full with figuring out how to do life here, getting adjusted to a new job, meeting new people and running youth programs every weekend. for an extrovert like nate i think it energizes him and causes him to process methods of outreach, the role of the church in communities, how to improve church community, how to drive spiritual growth, etc. i’ve had a much harder time finding the energy to engage mumbling adolescents and figuring out how to prolong dead-end conversations. while most of the parents are supportive, few are actively involved or able to help with hosting or providing food which means we are also cooking for about 25 kids every week in a tiny kitchen with a stove that can barely boil water.
my parents have been visiting for the past couple months, which has made it much easier to be at this corner of the globe over the holidays. we’re benefitting from home cooked meals, a cleaner apartment and an extra set of hands. emi loves to go into their room and chat with them, dragging her toys back and forth. my brother arrived this week, and she’s been over the moon about him being here. my grandparents were older when i was growing up and there were major language and cultural barriers to communication, so it’s been fun to see how clementine is able to interact with my parents.
one major hurdle we’ve hit is applying for our visas. beaurocracy is never simple, but the process over the past couple months has trumped every other application i’ve ever had to go through. bottomline being, we’re about 6 months in and have been unsuccessful in getting our application approved. this means no bank accounts, no healthcare, no schools, no travel, no rewards card at the grocery store! part of the difficulty has been having to navigate the process by ourselves since the staff at church either went through this 40 years ago, were born in this country, or work for multi-national companies with fully staffed HR departments. nate has been googling, running from one department to another, and mostly finding out that we’re going in circles because few people seem to know what we actually need to do and there are ridiculous requirements like getting documents stamped in your country of origin by the department of foreign affairs…we’ve made some progress and hope that we can wrap things up in the next month, but it hasn’t been without much frustration.
overall, we’ve continued to gain in language acquisition, slowly being able to hear individual words and not just guessing based on context and a few nouns that slip through. i still sound like a bumbling idiot, but at least we’re rarely completely at a loss. i enjoy so many things about this city, but it is still a big struggle to really connect with anyone. everyone has been incredibly welcoming and kind, but it’s not quite the same as being able to sit around with friends who know you well.