Update #6 from Temuco

6/15/09

Family and friends,

Hello from Chile! All is well as we approach the final two weeks of our work here in Temuco. The team has shared many adventures since the last time I wrote you.

Last Thursday, we spent the majority of the day teaching three classes of English at a small country school. It was for this particular school that Tom had raised the necessary funds to send a team to build a home for the care taker and his wife about a year ago. The material we covered in each class varied from colors and numbers to complete conversations about prepositions, as the students we taught varied in age from 5-14. The two most difficult challenges of the day came with attempting to hold the five to eight year olds’ attention spans with colors and numbers and keeping the 14 year old class clown in check. After class, we played soccer in the back yard with teams divided between guys and girls. When the busy and draining school day was over, we turned home. Yet originally, our plans after school had been to head to Chapod to teach American Football to the boys at Pastor Luis’ church; however, our session fell through due to a lack of interest on the boys’ part. Although I was excited about coaching basic football skills in Spanish, I was somewhat relieved when I heard the news because the day had been a long one.

On Friday, after finishing teaching the students the final verses to “Onward Christian Soldiers” and conversations about likes and dislikes, we spent Saturday visiting Pucon again, this time accompanied by Freddy and his family friends, Mr. Eduardo Kehr and Mrs. Ingrid Alvares. While Andreas and the rest of the group took a ride up to Volcan (volcano) Villarrica, Heather and I caught a bus that took us outside of town to experience the thrill of the “Canopy” ride (in English, we would say “zip line”). The cables stretched across a five kilometer course, sending riders sailing over the breathtaking landscape in a tight valley between the volcanic mountains of the Pucon/Villarrica area. At certain points, Heather and I were floating over two hundred feet in the air at a maximum speed of about 40 miles per hour. Once again I was amazed by the beauty of the landscape, but it was the wind in my hair and the thrill of the flight that won my heart this time. We flew over forests of evergreen trees and bamboo, a lazy river, grazing mountain goats and cattle, and scorched pastures from the extinguished fires of the past but no sight of the day could compare to the rush of adrenaline Heather and I experienced (Maybe I’ll try my luck at skydiving next time!).

On the ride back to Pucon, Heather and I met a lady named Lily Sanchez. Lily had spent 23 years of her life as a Chilean diplomat and teacher in New Jersey, and she spoke fluent English with a strong accent. A New Jersey accent, that is. She was very interesting and intelligent, and we learned that she was a professor of political science at the University of Santo Tomas (Saint Thomas) which is a private university right down the road and across the street from the Wall Street English Institute that Andreas applied to a few weeks back. After chatting about possible opportunities to serve as a diplomat to Chile in the future, I invited her to lunch to learn more about the application process. She agreed and then asked if Heather and I could help some of her students practice their English Tuesday morning before we went to lunch. Once back in Pucon, we regrouped for “onces” in the car on the same beach where our team had launched the rowboat two weeks before. Onces is a Chilean meal adopted from the British 11:00 tea time (literally translated it means “elevenses”) simply taken in the middle of the evening after work and school. Usually, Chileans have tea or coffee with a quick snack to tide them over until their small dinner, but more often than not, the 7:00-9:00 onces replace dinner.

On Sunday we visited the 4th Alliance Church of Temuco, where we had been invited by one of my students, Nicolas Ramos. Nicolas is a Psychiatrist who recently graduated from the Alliance Seminary after moving with his family (Lorena and Nicolas JR) to Temuco from Ecuador, some five years ago. At the 4th Alliance, Nicolas serves as the Associate pastor, and works with the youth group. During the college Sunday school class, I sat next to a 19 year old law student. After expressing similar interests and ambitions to serve the Lord either in the political field or the in ministry (in broken “Spanglish,”) Alejandro invited me to spend Tuesday afternoon in his law class at la Universidad de Catolica de Temuco (the Catholic University of Temuco). After exchanging phone numbers, we parted and my team headed back to the seminary for an afternoon of lesson plans and house chores.

Once again, I cannot thank you all enough for your continued prayers. I would like to ask you all to pray for my team, that we would be able to best utilize our time, funds, and contacts for the Glory of God as our time comes to a close. I look forward to writing you again, but until then, Dios les bendiga! (God Bless!).

In His service,
Ben

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