Hace un mes

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It’s been a month since I stepped on U.S. Soil after my Chilean Adventure. And it’s still an adjustment. Not really to the culture, but rather of my new self in an old, yet different environment.

“Returning home is the most difficult part of long-distance hiking; You have grown outside the puzzle and your piece no longer fits.”
― Cindy Ross

A friend posted that quote on facebook, and I couldn’t help but think how true that statement is (replacing long-distance hiking with travel). My piece doesn’t fit where and how it used to. I don’t fit in the same space that I did before I left.

Therefore, I’m searching for where I belong in this new, changed reality.

Thank goodness our God is unchanging, never-wavering, always faithful, and always true. I can count on Him to be steadfast and true during this season of change.

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.

– Psalm 46:1 (NLT)

Thankfully, my relationship with Christ is continual and He will always be there for me in times of change and uncertainty.

However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t miss things from Chile.

I miss my friends. I miss my family. I miss sunsets from the dunes. And living in Spanglish. I miss the hospitality and warmth of Chilean culture. I miss last minute plans that turn out to be the best evening of the month. My heart aches for the girls in the home. I miss sharing God’s unconditional love and joy in their lives. I miss the kisses. I miss the hugs. I miss the closeness I felt. I miss having Lisa down the hall. I miss the sense of adventure in the air. I miss the fire that we all had for living. The desire to go wherever, whenever, on a whim. Flexibility. Unscheduled life that just happened. Laughter late in the night. Sharing tears in joy and grief. I miss my Chilean adventure.

Chile will always hold a special place in my heart. A time of joy, change, flexibility, love, peace, and adventure.

As for now, I’m thankful for the adventure I had and ready for the next one.

Café o Té? The Best Cafés in Valparaíso, Chile

My perspective on Cafés in Chile

ISA Study Abroad Student Blog

Jean Rust is a student at Wichita State University and an ISA Featured Blogger. Jean is currently studying with Veritas Abroad in Valparaíso/Viña del Mar, Chile.

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I absolutely love cafés. Especially cute hole-in-the-wall locally owned cafés. Thank goodness there is no shortage of cafés in Chile. I’ve been to quite a few and wanted to share some of my favorites.

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The end of one adventure, the beginning of many more.

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I’m home. I’m sitting in my bedroom. In Kansas. Five thousand and some miles away from the place I called home these last four and a half months.

Returning home is a weird feeling. I had to say goodbye to some people that I have grown incredibly close to these past few months. They were my support system, my friends, my brothers and sisters in Christ. Some of the goodbyes were more like see-you-laters and some had more of a tone of finality.

But one thing is for certain: I’m back from Chile.

And I’m different.

Time changes people. God changes hearts. Experience changes perspective. Travel increases awareness. Study abroad changes lives.

I’m coming back different.

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I’m leaving Chile a different person than when I arrived. I’ve seen God work in my life and the lives of those around me. I’ve grown in my faith and in my relationship with Christ. I’ve met some of the most wonderful people. I’m sad to leave, but I’m also excited to see what God has in store for my life. I’m not sure where He is leading me or what He has in store, but I know that He has the best in mind. And I know I can trust Him. God has shown me that He can do wonderful things through His followers. He can do so much more than we can think or imagine.

Ephesians 3:20-21 (NLT)

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

God’s been at work in my life and in the lives of those around me. He’s shaped me to work for His kingdom. The process hasn’t been all enjoyable. He had to weed out some bad habits and prune back my own desires. But what God has done in my life has all been in love. He’s been working to  shape me into a better follower, friend, and person. He’s shown me my weaknesses and my strengths. He makes all things work together for our good.

Romans 8:28 (NLT):

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

God’s changed me. He’s changed my heart. He’s changed my desires. He’s changed my life.

And now comes the hard part: adjusting to my ‘old’ life with the ‘new’ Jean. The culture shock returning home is harder than the culture shock of going to a new place. When you enter a new culture, almost everything is different, but you expect that. You know that you need to be flexible and open to differences. When you come back, the culture is familiar, but you are the different one. People expect the same person that left. But you have changed. You have grown. Sometimes in ways that you’re not even sure of.

So clashes happen.

People are confused.

You are confused.

But thankfully, God is a steadfast refuge:

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.

– Psalm 46:1 (NLT)

He’s there in times of confusion, struggle, and conflict. But He’s also there to share our joy and happiness.

God is a steadfast companion.

And I know that I can lean on Him.

I’m ready to see what He has in store for me. He has something wonderful planned, and all I have to do is trust Him.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

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Noche de Alabanza (Worship Night)

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This post is a little late. On June 8, The Intercambio team from Union Cristiana hosted a praise night. I was given the incredible opportunity to sing with the English team. The rehearsals were a little rough. We were confused as to what they really wanted. Then, a week before, we had a meeting to understand the real purpose and the real idea behind this night.

It was to be a night to adore our Savior. Our Creator. Our redeemer. It was a night to flow in worship. To be free. To just happen.

We’d been trying too hard. We had taken our American idea and forced it into Chilean culture. And it wasn’t working. Definitely some cultural conflicts.

But we stopped trying. We stopped forcing. We let it happen. We let God be the center and lead us. And it was phenomenal.

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Here’s what I wrote the day following: “Wow. Last night was amazing. Just a time to stand in the presence of God and worship Him. Why don’t we do that more often?”

Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV)

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

“These verses still get me. God can do so much more than we can imagine and HE deserves the glory. …GOD DESERVES THE GLORY. He created us. He created this world. He is all powerful. He deserves the glory.”

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God deserves the glory. Now and forever. This night taught me so much more about worship and so much about who my identity in Christ. Worship isn’t something that is scheduled into a church service. It isn’t a hymn sung with perfect harmony. It isn’t a rock concert. It is adoring our creator. It is thanking Him for his blessings. It’s personal. It’s important.

Psalm 95:6 (NLT)

Come, let us worship and bow down.
Let us kneel before the Lord our maker,

Glory to God.

 

I climbed a mountain!

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Well, almost.

Last Sunday (June 1) I went to La Campana, a mountain semi-close to Valpo and Viña along with 12 others.

And it was definitely an adventure.

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Let me just start by saying that I have never really truly gone on a hike, much less climbed a mountain. So this 7 hour hike up a steep watered down trail was a little above my level (understatement). But I powered through thanks to some friendly encouragement and some tough love.

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But I did it [more or less]! I made it to the mines. After the mines, there is about 1-2 more hours of hiking to get to the top. I was exhausted. And it was technically closed. So I just spent some time with the lovely Lisa and Maria.

We made a fox friend!

We made a fox friend!

It was definitely a beautiful place.

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After a bit, we met up with part of the group that had tried to make it to the top, but turned back at the rock wall. So Simone and Danielle and I headed down the road. We knew it would get dark soon and wanted to avoid the late night woods.

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And we walked. And walked. And walked some more. And then the sun started setting. And we kept on walking. At one point, we used the trail to cut off some time from the road. And we kept on the ‘trail’. But it was a different trail than before. We ended up getting a little lost in the forest. (Chilean trails are not well marked). But thanks to Danielle’s girl scout knowledge and the grace of God, we made it back on the road and made it to the entrance safe and sound.

Then we chowed down on the snacks Danielle still had and settled in to wait for the rest of the group. I’d brought my spanish bible to read when I got to the top (which didn’t happen, but still..) and popped it open to Psalms to read aloud and pass some time. I got to Psalm 1:6 and was a little astounded: “Pues el Señor cuida el sendero de los justos, pero la senda de los malos lleva a la destrucción.” (NTV) [For the Lord watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction. (NLT)] Sendero means trail. I’d been praying that we would find the trail/road to lead us to safety while we were lost. God gave me a nice little reminder that He watches over our path. A good reminder that God is here for us.

New friends!

I love meeting new people. Especially when I’m familiar with the cultural context. And I got to do just that this past week!

The new Veritas girls and the other ISA summer students are here! I’m definitely really excited. I spent some time with them and some other students on Sunday. We went to church, some historical sites, watched the sunset at the dunes of Concon and ended the day on a good note: Bravissimo.

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I’m so exited to get to know everyone more and see the wonderful things God has brought us together to do.

Viña and Valpo didn’t give them the best welcome: it’s been pouring the past few days. Nothing like walking through flooded streets. It’s supposed to clear up tomorrow. I’m so exited to hopefully see some sunshine!

San Pedro de Atacama

Our Lovely Hostel Group!

Our Lovely Hostel Group!

Fuimos a San Pedro de Atacama! The driest desert in the world. And it snowed. And rained. And our hostel leaked. And the power went out. And I showered in cold water by candlelight.

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But it was absolutely GORGEOUS.

Just a glimpse of the beauty I saw.

Just a glimpse of the beauty I saw.

During this trip, I could not help but think of how the mountains and the scenery screamed of a heavenly creator.

The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
The skies display his craftsmanship.

Psalm 19:1

There was so much untouched beauty in this place. I literally felt so close to God in the moments when I just absorbed the splendor of His creation and praised Him for the work of His hands. We were able to see for miles and miles of just nature. No buildings. No signs of humans. Just pure natural beauty.

And it was amazing.

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I climbed mountains of salt. I soaked in hot springs. I watched snow fall over geysers. I hiked to a mirador (viewpoint) near Incan ruins. I saw flamingos in a lake with snow covered mountains in the background. I floated in a lagoon 5 times saltier than the ocean. I ate llama. I stood at the point where the Tropic of Capricorn intersects with an ancient Incan trail. I saw the moon and Saturn.

Floating in some salt water.

Floating in some salt water.

I experienced God’s marvelous creation.

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Homesickness

It’s funny what makes you miss home. 

A guy playing guitar and harmonizing along. 

Your host-niece screaming downstairs. 

The first rainy day of the season.

Graduation at your old high school. 

A song that comes on the radio. 

Karaoke night. 

Looking at facebook or the photos I brought that hang on my wall, talking about the States. Those things don’t make me homesick. They don’t make me miss my home. Homesickness hits you when you least expect it. It comes from the face of someone that reminds you of so-and-so. It comes from the guy singing on the micro as the rain pours down. It comes from the time you spend with your new friends. It comes when you aren’t even thinking of home. 

I love being here. Absolutely love it. But sometimes I miss what I know. I miss familiarity. Being in Chile has taught me so much about who I am and who I have the opportunity to become. 

But sometimes, just sometimes, I’m homesick. 

Fantasilandia!

The best group :)

The best group 🙂

Chilean Amusement parks are a lot like American ones.

Minus the safety restrictions.

Basically, there is a ride, Tacada, that spins in a circle, slows down and jumps up and down. Without seat belts. You end up flopping all over the place and holding on to the bars behind you for dear life. Apparently some Chileans like to dance in the middle. Asi es la vida… I guess.

The craziest ride I have ever seen in my life.

The craziest ride I have ever seen in my life.

Wednesday, May 1st was the Día del Trabajador (Labor Day). Therefore, we did not have class. Chileans take it so much more seriously. Almost everything (minus public transportation and this amusement park) was closed. Even all of the supermarkets. Definitely a cultural shift.

Anyway, I went on my first ever real roller coaster! It went backwards and upside down. I think I blacked out, but I’m not quite sure. Definitely an adventure.

Before and After. I was a mess.

Before and After. I was a mess.

It was a great day filled with friends and fun and food. Going to Santiago was a great break from life here in Viña and Valpo. I saw the sun set over the Andes. Hope and I met some random people. I enjoyed the day I’d been given.

Sometimes you meet people on amusement park rides.

Sometimes you meet people on amusement park rides.

It was something completely different, and completely awesome.

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Reaching the Halfway Point of My Chilean Adventure

Another ISA post! More reflections on making it halfway.

ISA Study Abroad Student Blog

Jean Rust is a student at Wichita State University and an ISA Featured Blogger. Jean is currently studying with Veritas Abroad in Valparaíso/Viña del Mar, Chile.

It’s finals time. For everyone, it seems, except for all of us here in Chile. Everyone is talking about the end of the semester, summer plans and a break from the daily grind, but we just hit our mid-point.

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