March 24, 2011

Lifting Spirits

We noticed that we've been getting kind of down on this blog. So, we decided to focus on the positive side of coming back to the US. We originally made the decision to leave Chile for two reasons - 1) For Joshua to be closer to his extended family and 2) for Anna to be able to study. We've decided that Anna will apply to FSU's Art Therapy master's program next year. And, here are some of Joshua's USA highlights over the last two months:

David's family threw Joshua an Elmo birthday party, even though his birthday was in June. He didn't seem to notice that it was out of season.

We all met Joshua's cousin Caden for the first time. Here, the two cousins are enjoying Granddad time.

Sometimes, Joshua even gets to enjoy time with the grandparents all by himself. He really likes reading books with Grandma D.

Our little family took a trip to LA for "re-entry" with the Columbans. Re-entry is a couple of days, guided by an experienced missionary, where the returning missionaries are able to reflect on their experiences, on how the home country has changed and on future decisions. We really needed the time to look back on our experience and put it into perspective, as we shift focus in our lives. Plus, we got to see Hollywood!

David introduces Joshua to one of his comedic idols - Adam Sandler.

Joshua checks out the star of Don Fransisco - arguably the most famous Chilean in the world. For non-latinos, he hosts the tremendously popular "Sabados Gigante" program, airing out of Miami.

Here is proof that Joshua witnessed one of the last shuttle launches ever. Afterwards, he told us that he wanted to go, "up, up, up, to the luna" too.

March 18, 2011

So, we guess this is it...

... the end. It was St. Patrick's Day today - a pretty important date in the Columban world. As we donned our green this morning, we thought of our Columban friends in Chile. They would be preparing for the big dinner at the Center House in Santiago. We also thought of our friends back at our old parishes. Many of them would also be celebrating. While not Irish, they have appropriated the festivities in order to accompany the many Irish missionaries who have shared with them over the years. Today, more than any of the days since we've been back, has been a sad day.

As time goes on, we realize more and more that our time in Chile is over. This is not a vacation. It's now home. But, it doesn't feel like home yet. Reverse culture shock is still going strong. We find everything strange and feel as if we don't quite fit in.

We know that it will pass and that we will soon get used to life in the northern hemisphere. But, in the meantime, as we look at photos of our loved ones back in Chile, and Joshua asks to go "in the plane, back home, to Iquique," it makes us sad. We tell him that we'll go there another day, and it keeps him happy for the time being.

January 25, 2011


We arrived to the U.S. last Saturday. Joshua was pretty good during the flight, and even slept about 5 of the 8 hours. We've been spending this week with David's family and will be spending next week with Anna's family. Joshua has really enjoyed having so much family around. David's family even threw him a birthday party. It had an Elmo theme and the toy trucks abounded. He was thrilled and he'll probably expect a birthday every month now.

It's a little strange to be back. The coins feel lighter. We're already gaining weight from eating all the foods we've been missing. The t.v. shows are pretty ridiculous... Is "From G's to Gents" a real show that people actually watch?

We're not any closer to figuring out what we want to do with our lives, but the Graco Nautilus is working out pretty well for us. So, that give us some hope for the future.

January 19, 2011

The Countdown is Getting Short

Joshua's visa is here, we have official permission from the Chilean department of agriculture to bring the dog to the U.S. and the Graco Nautilus is properly installed in David's parents' car. In 3 short days, we'll step onto U.S. soil, closing one of the most important chapters of our lives.

January 12, 2011

A Foot in Each Country

We're still hanging out in Santiago. More goodbyes have passed, but we're not quite so stressed. Unlike in Alto Hospicio, our things are already packed and we don't have to worry about getting the house ready for a new resident. Joshua's favorite things about his new temporary home are running barefoot in the grass, running naked in the sprinklers and running over to see the fish in the garden's fountain. Since we're staying at the Columban Center House, we have the opportunity to go to daily mass. So, we take turns "watching Joshua" (sleeping in) and going to mass. We're trying to get into a healthy routine of walking at least an hour a day and eating healthy, since every time we go back to the States we double our weight. We're probably scoring about a 50% on that resolution.

We made our first big commitment and bought a car seat online. David's parents will be picking us up at the airport and unlike in Chile, Joshua riding in the back seat on Anna's lap is not an option. The car seat was kind of a metaphor for the life laying ahead of us: first, we had to research the seats. Which one was the safest? Which one the most user friendly? What does RF, FF, and B mean? Is a detachable cup holder really necessary? It costs how much? So many options... so complicated...

We'll be making a lot of major life decisions soon. Car. School. Job. House. Adoption. If it took us 3 days of serious researching and a good bit of arguing in order to choose a car seat, what's it going to be like making all of those other decisions? Part of the appeal to our lives in Chile has been the simplicity of it all. The "real" world can be an intimidating place.

Here's the seat we finally chose - The Graco Nautilus (yes, it does have a cup holder):

January 4, 2011

Chao Alto Hospicio

Our last night in Alto Hospicio has come and gone. We were saying goodbye to friends until 1 in the morning, got to bed at 4:30 and woke up at 6:30. Yesterday morning, we loaded the dog and the baby on the plane and arrived to Santiago in time for lunch. Gringuita was a little dopey all day from the tranquilizers we gave her for the trip. She was nervous in the car and even more worried when she looked around and saw so much green. She isn't used to trees or grass anymore. Today, she seems to be doing much better and she's getting used to her new temporary home. We're staying in the Columban Center House for about three weeks, while we sort out Joshua's paperwork to come to the States, say goodbye to friends here and rest a little.

Christmas and New Year's was a little tainted since it was shrouded with a melancholy feeling, knowing that each encounter with a friend was perhaps the last time we would see them. We're sure we'll be back to visit some day, but we can't be sure about who will be around when we finally make it. It was also sad to put an end to our ministry in Chile. We've really enjoyed the work we did with youth, as well as families and drug addicts. Hopefully, we'll be able to continue in the same line back in the US.

Arriving to Santiago has helped put a new perspective on our farewell. Last night at dusk, we sat on the porch as Joshua played with the dog in the yard. We were able to pray the rosary together and just sit for awhile, enjoying the peace after so much chaos of packing and goodbyes. It also gave us a glimpse of future evenings in the US, where we'll have our own home and will be able to dedicate more time to our family. As much as we have loved living in Chile, we have to recognize that the lifestyle we've had for the last 7 years has not been conducive to a healthy family life - constant running around, lack of privacy and the general negative aspects of living in a big city, like noise and pollution. It will be nice to focus on Joshua for awhile, and hopefully adopt some more kids. We're looking forward to the future.

Some "goodbye" photos:

This last one is Joshua playing in Gringuita's travel cage. We think that both of them would have enjoyed the flight a lot more if they could have traded places.

December 27, 2010

Last *sniff* Christmas in Chile

Officially, our contract ended in October. But, we wanted to stay on longer so we could finish out the pastoral year, accompany the kids during their Confirmation and spend our last Christmas here with the community. We're anxious to see our family, but we just weren't ready to say goodbye in October. So, here are some photos of our last holiday here in Alto Hospicio:

We like to have a live tree, so we once again decorated our one and only living house plant with a Christmas theme.

We had a packed house for Midnight Mass (at 9:30). It was great to see so many families come together.

We had the kids in the chapel act out the Christmas Pageant during Mass. Joshua was too big for Baby Jesus this year, but we fortunately had another infant to place in the manger. This time, Baby Jesus was a little girl.

At midnight, we followed Chilean tradition and placed Baby Jesus in the manger. Joshua had the honor. We invited a neighbor over for Christmas Eve dinner and got to bed at about 2am. Here, Santa Claus arrives at midnight, after the arrival of Baby Jesus, and so kids can be heard playing in the streets with their new toys until the early hours of the morning.

On Christmas Day, we joined the other missionaries, sisters, brothers and priests in the parish and shared a big turkey meal.

Joshua had on his festive bib for about 5 seconds... long enough for us to snap a picture and then for him to throw it on the ground.

Joshua had a great time running from lap to lap with all of his "aunts and uncles," stealing bites of their desserts.

Once again, we spread the American tradition of gifting Christmas cookies. This year, we totaled 210 cookies and handed them out to about 25 families. Anna did the visiting alone this year, because David was home with stomach problems. It was a blessing to be able to share with so many families in such a simple way and deserves a future blog post of its own.

These are the crumbled, misfit cookies that Anna allowed David, Joshua and Gringuita to eat.