Sixteen hours on a plane was enough by the time we reached our destination in Santiago, Chile. All twelve of us escaped the plane and made our way through the everlasting airport security. Not being able to speak one word of Spanish, this required patience and practiced hand motions and gestures. The people seemed friendly, yet we all felt somewhat uneasy and unwelcome. After making it though the security, fees, and other tests, we all loaded a bus and drove sixty miles per hour on a one-lane highway that was converted to adapt two-way traffic. We finally arrived and were dropped off on the street corner of a whole new world.
The place we had to stay was considered to be a wealthy household but it was more along the lines of what we would consider poverty. There were plywood walls and broken wooden ladders connecting the two floors of the house. Although we had fresh fruit and homemade bread while we were there, it was a risky trade. The faucet was not drinkable, so we had to boil it before drinking it. Also, we had to be careful where we shopped for fruit due to the possibility of it being rotten or contaminated. Although this was difficult to get used to, it wasn’t the main aspect of our trip.
Our group traveled to Chile in order to help people. Our mission was to build a church for one of the local pastors in the community. I had no idea what in the world prompted me to be on this trip, but I knew I was supposed to be there, and later found out why. When we arrived at the church site, there was a concrete slab around the perimeter of the property and some unevenly laid bricks built up and acting as walls. Construction wasn’t exactly my strong suit, so I mainly just did whatever I was told. After nine days, I had nailed trusses together, laid floorboards, poured concrete columns, and much more. Our group of twelve had built a two story building in nine days. Although it wasn’t completely finished, it was an amazingly productive experience.
On the last night we were there, we had a worship service held inside of the new church. We had singing in both English and Spanish and we shared testimonies and life stories. Even though there was a language barrier between many of us, there was an instant connection due to the one thing we had in common, God. To see the smiles and the tears of joy on the people’s faces made me realize what one person can do for someone else in ten days. I was blessed immensely by the appreciation that was given, and I took more away than many of the church attendants. This was why I was on this trip. ‘By giving, I was also receiving’, this I believe.
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