March 22, 2009

Highs and Lows

This week, as most weeks, had its ups and downs.  We celebrated St. Patrick's Day with our co-worker priests and nuns in the parish (most of which are Irish). Lunch, evening mass and onces (evening tea) was followed up with the culminating traditional sing-a-long. We should have been prepared, as all Columban gatherings end in sing-a-longs.  However, we weren't and so when we were asked to share a little North American culture through song, we stared blankly at each other and then embarrassingly replied that we had no culture.  An Irish nun present (who lived many years in the US) disagreed and then burst into "America the Beautiful," doubly shaming us as she new more than the standard first verse that we were familiar with.  We offered to blow everyone away with our national dance (the electric slide) but didn't get the excited anticipation we were hoping for.  So, we are now resolved to get cultured and learn some traditional songs.  So far, we have thought of "She'll be comin' round the mountain." Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

On the down side, a little six year old boy down the street from us was killed last Thursday. He was climbing up onto a counter to reach a glass on the top shelf and the shelving fell down onto him.  A serrated knife fell as well and sliced his neck at a critical spot. He lost a lot of blood and died on the way to the hospital.  David accompanied the priest to the family's house for the wake.  Anna stayed home with Joshua.  It was a hard thing to see such a young boy in a coffin and the family was obviously shaken up. The boy lived with his grandparents as both his parents were in jail for selling drugs. The priest went to visit the dad in jail and was impressed by the man's great faith. "I'm at peace," the father told him, "I know that my little boy is at home with his Father in Heaven. He's a little angel now and he will always be with me in my heart."

March 15, 2009

Bracing Ourselves

The summer is quickly disappearing and we're being sucked into the vacuum of the "Pastoral Year."  Things are about to get busy.  Life after Christmas is pretty much dedicated to relaxing and visiting relatives. Nothing happens in the churches because only two old ladies would show up to participate.  Things pick up around Easter and not gradually either. It's like the beginning jump ball in a basketball game and it doesn't end until NEXT December, when it all stops with the final bull horn of Christmas. Luckily, this year we're prepared with experience and are bracing ourselves with creative (and colorful) scheduling:

Don't worry - even if it were large enough to read, it wouldn't make any sense.  It's always difficult to make the various activities we're involved in fit into the availability of the community. Plus, now we have sweet little Joshua, who we would rather not drag around to all of our meetings.  However, we will prevail!  We will continue to creatively and colorfully schedule until it all fits.  Here's a list of the activities that need a time slot for this year:

Anna - Art Attack (crafts for kids), Painting classes at a local women's center, Art as Prayer workshop in the church

David - Basketball workshops for youth and a local drug rehab center, English classes and Drug/Alcohol Abuse Ministry

Shared - Youth Ministry (pre teens and teens) and Family Ministry

Monday is our day off.

March 11, 2009

Around Town

"Auntie Em"
Apparently, there are sand twisters in the desert. We spotted this one near the Chilean/Bolivian border and were much more amazed than the locals.  We were kind of scared to go near them, remembering the wind raging tornadoes from the movie Twister.  But, it passed us pretty close by and was far less threatening.

March 7, 2009


On March 1st, before David's parents left, we had the chance to baptize Joshua. It was a simple and meaningful ceremony, which gave us a chance to understand the sacrament a little more. We prepared ourselves by reading the book Baptism: a Celebration of Life by Benedictine monk Anselm Grun.  It was really interesting and shed a lot of light on the subject.  So, we'll share some quotes that we found to especially touch our hearts.  The quotes are our own translation of the Spanish version we read, so if you read the English version, you'll probably find some differences in wording.

"The task of the church today should be to celebrate Baptism in a way that through it, people sense the secret of their lives and know who they truly are."

"The child is cleansed of all that hides his true essence and is put in contact with the true source of life."

"In Baptism, we celebrate the mystery of the child... We must recognize that he does not only possess an earthly life, but also a divine life, where death no longer has power over him, because he is already part of the resurrection of Jesus."

"The rite opens our eyes so that we're able to see the child not only as the son of his parents and of the great human family, but rather as the child of God, in which God puts a new beginning and in it, something unique and particular shines in this world."

Anna's brother and his wife agreed to be the Godparents, but unfortunately, since we live on the other side of the world, weren't able to be physically present.  We're sure they'll be a great Christian example for little Joshua, as they are already doing a nice job with their own two kids and we're really happy that they accepted the role. Thanks Matt and Rachel!

Finally, after the celebration, David overheard a couple of kids talking about it and this was their take, "Did you hear that the tíos (aunt and uncle) baptized baby Joshua yesterday? Now he can't get the evil eye."  Thank goodness for that!

March 4, 2009

Ghost Towns and Gypsy Curses

After a wonderful 3-week visit, David's parents flew back to the United States yesterday.  It was tough saying goodbye and we're all going to miss them. We did a lot interesting things during their time here.  We went to the beach, visited an oasis, saw 1,000 year old hieroglyphics, and explored an abandoned ghost town.  The biggest event, however, was Joshua's baptism on March 1st.  We'll tell you all about the baptism in a future post, but for now we thought we'd tell you about a funny little incident that happened during our trip to the ghost town of Humberstone.

On our way to the abandoned mining town we stopped at a gas station.  As David was pumping air into the tires, a gypsy woman carrying a bare-bottomed toddler approached the car.  Unsurprisingly, she began asking David's dad for money.  David's dad promptly used one of his favorite Spanish expressions, "No español!".  She then replied with the only English phrase she probably knew "Money!" (which came out sounding like Mow-knee).  David's dad simply shook his head.  Unphased, she turned to David who denied her before she could even begin her plea.  She walked away mumbling under her breath with a sour expression on her face.

So the five of us continued on to Humberstone, a town that was built during the mid-1800's and abandoned about 60 years ago when the mines dried up.  We walked through empty houses, a creepy old theatre, a small-wooden chapel, a tiny little school, and big processing plants.  It was fascinating to see how people lived in a small, closed off community in the middle of the driest desert in the world.  

While the rest of us were taking in the sites, David was busy snapping picture after picture in every dark corner he could find.  He's still convinced that there are actual ghosts living in the ghost town.  See the picture below for his "proof."

Anyway, after several hours of exploration we headed back to the car.  We were busy loading up the stroller, the diaper bag, and all the other million baby accessories we were toting around with us when David's dad said, "Oh, no, the tire is flat!".  We all  moaned in unison.  As David was taking out the spare and preparing to get his hands greasy a sudden truth dawned on one of us.  The tire that David was filling with air when the gypsy had given her spiel was the very tire that was now flat.  Now the gypsy woman certainly hadn't been carrying a knife, but many people in Chile believe gypsies don't need weapons to punish their enemies.  Gypsies here are most famous for the curses they cast. We all laughed at the idea that this gypsy with a colorful skirt and a baby in hand might have cursed us.  Unlike many of the Chileans who believe in these curses whole-heartedly, none of us are particularly superstitious.  But this was a funny coincidence (or was it?).

We successfully changed the tire and made it home without further incident.  Next time a gypsy approaches, we're going to have some spare change on hand.     

Humberstone (with our cool knitted hats, courtesy of David's brother Mark's girlfriend)

Ghostly orbs in the town's theatre.

Hieroglyphics over a 1000 years old