Even when you don’t understand the language, church worship can be an uplifting experience. Aldo and Steph Ossa invited us to their church (Iglesia de Cristo Metropolitana) on Sunday morning.
This gave us an opportunity to meet the parents of Sergio Diaz, the father of one of my Emmanuel Christian Seminary students
Sergio, Sr., a deservedly much-loved minister, founded this 34-year-old congregation along with two other leaders. The church has had a real impact, sending out many of its own to serve elsewhere. Although we couldn’t understand the Spanish in the pastor’s sermon, we could easily read his loving body language and the response of the congregation, which reflected his warmth.
We had barely spoken to him before the service when he invited Joy and me to his home for breakfast the next morning. Of course we didn’t hesitate—although on that morning it might have appeared to them we weren’t coming. Their son Habacuc (Habakkuk to you Old Testament scholars) was to have picked us up at 8:30. He arrived after 9:00 after battling Santiago’s morning traffic for an hour before pulling up to the curb. Then another half-hour for the ten minute drive to the Diazes. Remember that dense haze we pictured in our last blog post? Just imagine what multiplied thousands of idling vehicles can do to the air!
It was worth the effort, though. Elisa Diaz had prepared us a proper Chilean breakfast seasoned with good conversation, the Lawsons contributing English, the Diazes Spanish, and Habacuc and his American wife Elizabeth bridging the gap from one to the other. The thoroughly enjoyable morning included a tour of the impressive mission school where Elizabeth teaches.
Joy painted for the rest of the day. I went back to El Oasis for an evening of small group discussions (in Spanish, of course, with helpful translations for the benighted visitor), snacks (with university students, always you have snacks), and English classes (“El Gringo Café”) appealingly taught through songs and games.
Phil Linkous, the team leader, took the day off from his duties to show us a good time in Valparaiso (“Paradise Valley,” to our Arizona readers), about 70 miles NW of Santiago, and its next-door neighbor Vina del Mar (“Vineyard by the Sea”). Before the Panama Canal opened, Valparaiso was the primary port on the west coast of South America. It remains one of South America’s most important ports today. It was sometimes referred to as “Little San Francisco.”
It’s easy to see why. It’s a city built on hills, replete with magnificent vistas, multi-colored buildings, steep and winding streets, and crowds of bustling pedestrians.
Valparaiso is the port city, Vina del Mar the resort town. It reminded me of Miami, with its high-rise apartment buildings lining the beaches—although most of these beaches are rocks, not sand. (There was enough sand, though, for Joy to indulge her ritual. Whenever we’re near large bodies of water she doffs her shoes or sandals, wades in the water, then deposits some of the sand back in the car.) I suspect Vina del Mar is more attractive to tourists than the port city, but I favored Valparaiso as it seemed less commercial (of course it’s still very commercial), more historical, and somehow more “authentic.” Very subjective reaction, I know.
Since so many good wines make their way from Chile to the United States it seems only right to show you at least one picture of where they come from. On the highway from Santiago to Valparaiso-Vina del Mar we passed many vineyards like the one pictured here.
We saw much more, but at some point this post needs to end. It ends, that is, except for…
JOY’S PICK OF THE PICS