March 21, 2010

Look Who's Talking

David has a conversation with Joshua, after seeing his hands covered in dirt:

Daddy: Joshua, no. Caca.
Joshua: Eat caca.
Daddy: No!
Joshua: Eat caca.
Daddy: No eat caca.
Joshua: Eat caca!
Daddy: NO! EAT! CACA!
Joshua: (sly smile, hand towards mouth) EAT CACA!! (Hilarious baby giggling ensues)

March 16, 2010

Help an Adoption

We're copying this from our friend Stephany's blog in hopes that they'll be able to raise some money:
"My sister Terri is hostessing a Pampered Chef party next week as a fundraiser for their adoption of Sophia from Taiwan. In lieu of hostess benefits, a percentage of all purchases will go towards their adoption fund. If you would like to order something (it can be shipped to you!) please visit her consultant's website, and click on "Shop Online" then enter the name: Terri Fisher. The deadline to order is Friday, March 26.

Thank you for being a part of bringing a very special little girl home!

PS - If you are willing, would you share this information on your blog(s) and Facebook? I would love to see this fundraiser go the extra mile for little Sophia!"

March 14, 2010

New Year, New Hope

It's one of the most busy times of the year for us. Kids go back to school in March and church activities usually begin with Holy Week. We've been visiting lots of houses this past week, chatting with youth and their parents, encouraging them to participate in this year's activities. For the last two years, much of our time has been spent getting to know the community and building trusting relationships with our neighbors. It was hard in the beginning to get youth involved in activities because they were scared to start something new and they really didn't know us that well.

We've already noticed that things are much easier this year. Instead of dragging kids out of their houses to come to church, we actually had a group of kids show up at our door a couple of weeks ago asking, "When do we get to start?". Today, we had 16 youth show up at mass, without us previously making threats!! At a chapel where when we first arrived, you could find 2 teenagers sullenly sitting at their parents sides on Sunday, this is a big deal.

Lots of times, we don't get to see the results of our labor. There have been countless times that we have felt like giving up on a group, and others that we did give up. That's why it has been so encouraging for us to be able to see these small fruits. It gives us much more energy to start the year off and to work hard even when we're tired. If you hear us complaining in the future about annoying teens or ambivalent parents, then please remind us of times like these, where things actually worked out.

A couple of teens from our youth group.

March 11, 2010

The Tidal Wave that Never Was

It was a bad day to take a trip to Iquique. And that's just what I (Anna) decided to do this afternoon, about an hour after a 7.2 earthquake shook central Chile. As a preventative measure, Iquique decided to evacuate the city in preparation for a tsunami. I wasn't privy to this information when I got on the bus in Alto Hospicio. I made the 40 minute trek down the mountain to Iquique and realized my problem as soon as I arrived.

As the bus entered the city, I was faced with hundreds of people who had left the coast in search for higher ground. Just as I was descending the mountain, these hundreds of people were looking for away to get up! Needless to say, I didn't make it to the post office or to the art store as I had hoped. I wasn't too worried about a tsunami, but it was interesting to see people's reactions and the way they handled the situation.

Lots of people carried their dogs with them. The local convenience store was swarmed with people buying the necessities - bottled watter, potato chips and cigarettes. I also bought a couple of essentials (ginger ale and a sandwich) and walked over to the bus stop to return home. It quickly became apparent that this was not going to happen! There was a swarm of people waiting for buses and taxis, which passed by without stopping because they were already beyond capacity. A few kind souls with private vehicles and space stopped to pick up elderly women, mothers with small children or neighbors. Interestingly though, about 80% of the cars passed by empty, racing by the nervous crowd in order to beat the "tidal wave."

I think that Iquique earned a "Needs Improvement" grade in regards to Brotherly Love. In conclusion, the next time I'm in Iquique during an earthquake or tsunami warning, I'll get started early and walk up the mountain. I'm sure I'll make it to the top before the buses make it through the traffic jam.

March 8, 2010

Experiences After the Earthquake (English Version)

The following note was written by Alvaro Martinez, Vice-Director of the Region of Chile

Experiences after visiting places affected by the earthquake and tsunami

On Thursday, March 4th, I started my journey with three others - Eduardo, the camera man; Francisca, a journalist for t.v. station UCVTV and Fernando, my brother-in-law who also took photos. Our destination was Pencahue, located in the seventh region of Chile. Inicially, our motive was to bring help to those stuck in the town and to visit my sister who has suffered the complete loss of her house. But, God along with technological possibilities had some additional desires. This was the way that the idea arose to document the damage caused by the earthquake. Even though the original destination was the small town Pencahue, the massive destruction we found caused us to visit more places, such as Pencahue, botalcura, corinto, Curepto, iloca, hualañe and sagrada familia.

The massive destruction of homes, jobs, hopes and dreams mixed together with hopes and dreams of lifting up out of this tragedy. Communities such as Pencahue have lost around one thousand houses, only a parcial count that has been turned in by the local authorities. More than 60% of Curepto was destroyed. The massive damage and destruction in Corinto and botalcura were mainly due to the earthquake, while in iloca, it was not hit only by the quake, but also struck by the tsunami.

There were so many accounts to be told and heard. People slept outside of their houses due to fear, or simply because they had no where to live. We saw babies sleeping in the street and elderly people crying while looking to their faith, trying to find the reasons why an earthquake of such magnitude would occur here. Some of the stories were so emotionally moving that even though the victims held back their tears, it made the heart cry. One such story was when a woman came up to us and said, "I don't want help. Thanks be to God, I am alive and I have what I need to survive. What I really need is for someone to listen to me." How can one not break down, when faced with women fighting over a ration of food, or men and women broken from the weight of the walls that fell upon them. Hearing the screams of children saying, "Hear we are! And we need help too."

I could write a thousand more stories, describing the thousand more faces, or the reuniting of a father and son in Iloca. We picked up this father on the highway and acompanyed him during tense moments looking, asking, demanding to know where his son was, where he was staying, who was caring for him. We finally found the house and they were able to reunite. We witnessed the encounter and the embraces of those that perhaps, we will never meet again. Even so, we will never forget those moments of looking and encounter.

Finally. The earthquake has passed and the sea has returned to its normal rhythm, but today we are able to visualize the first human replicas of the disaster. The post earthquake traumas are now appearing. They are surfacing in the fear of noises, the physical effects of exhaustion, the peoples' inability to tell and retell their experiences. This displays itself through physical signs. The material need is urgent, but we shouldn't forget about these other dimensions of human life. It is necessary to speak and hear the words unspoken and the stories not told. The reconstruction of this country will not only deal with houses, but also with morality. We cannot negate the looting or pretend that it didn't happen. The spiritual and psychological world has also been harmed and need to be repaired.

The truth is that words cannot express what we have felt and lived through. At the end of the more than 1,000 kilometers traveled, Fernando referred to what we have experienced as being stronger than what was shown on television. It was definitely more raw, but I think that the reason is that the television can't transmit the smells or the dreams and stories shared over a cup of tea or a sopaipilla. I think that we went through this experience so that we could touch the wounds of Christ and feel as if we were with Him, the pain of feeling abandoned by His Father, who exclaims, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?." Without a doubt, we were touched by those moments that we were able to share with the Christs of today, but we were also able to share the hopeful words of Jesus, "Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit." As an elderly woman said, "God has given me this experience and I was able to live it with Him."

Alvaro Martinez.

Experiencias Después del Terremoto

Lo siguiente fue escrito por el P. Alvaro Martinez, el vicedirector de los Columbanos en Chile:

Experiencias después de visitar lugares del terremoto y tsunami

El jueves 4 de marzo partimos cuatro personas, Eduardo, camarógrafo, Francisca periodista del canal de televisión UCVTV, y Fernando, mi cuñado que hizo de fotógrafo. El destino fue Pencahue, localidad de la séptima región de Chile. Inicialmente el motivo fue llevar ayuda para los damnificados y visitar a mi hermana que ha sufrido perdida total de su casa . Pero Dios y las posibilidades tecnológicas quisieron agregar otros deseos. Fue como así surgió la idea de documentar el daño producido por el terremoto. Aunque el destino inicial era el pueblote Pencahue, lo masivo de la destrucción nos motivo a visitar mas lugares, algunos de ellos son: Pencahue, botalcura, corinto, Curepto, iloca, hualañe, sagrada familia, entre otros.

La destrucción masiva de hogares, empleos, sueños y esperanzas se entremezclan con sueños y deseos de levantarse. Comunidades como Pencahue que ha perdido cerca de mil casas, cifras parciales entregadas por la autoridad local. Curepto mas del sesenta por ciento destruido. Corinto, botalcura masivamente destruidos y dañados por el efecto del terremoto e iloca que no solo el terremoto sino que también fue azotado por el tsunami.

Las historias escuchadas y contadas son tantas , la gente dormía fuera de sus casas por temor, o simplemente porque ya no tiene donde vivir. Vimos bebes durmiendo en la calle , gente adulta mayor llorando y tratando de explicar por medio de la fe lo que les había producido este sismo de tan altas dimensiones. Algunas de las historias movieron tanto el corazón que algunos de los integrantes contenían las lagrimas, sin embargo, el corazón lloraba, como no cuando una mujer se nos acerca y dice “ yo no quiero ayuda , gracias a Dios estoy viva y algo tengo para sobrevivir lo que necesito es que me escuchen” como no quebrarse frente a la historia de mujeres peleándose a golpes por una ración de comida, o mujeres y hombres rotos por los golpes de las murallas que caían encima de ellos. Gritos de niños que dicen aquí también necesitamos ayuda.

Podría contarles mil historias mas, describir mil rostros mas, o el reencuentro de un padre con su hijo en Iloca. A este padre que llevamos desde la carretera y lo acompañamos durante tensos minutos buscando, preguntando, clamando donde esta el hijo, donde esta quedándose, quien lo esta cuidando, finalmente encontramos la casa y se pudieron juntar, reencontrase y empezar los abrazos de estos dos personas que quizás nunca los volvamos a ver. Sin embargo, esos minutos de búsqueda y el reencuentro jamás se nos olvidaran.

Finalmente. El terremoto ha pasado y el mar ha vuelto a su ritmo normal. Pero hoy se empiezan a visualizar los primeros replicas humanas del fuerte sismo. Es decir, los traumas post terremoto están apareciendo , están apareciendo los miedos a los ruidos, los efectos físicos del cansancio, la incapacidad de contar y recontar el momento vivido por las personas en estas localidades, eso empieza a salir a través de signos físicos , lo material es urgente pero no nos olvidemos de esta otras dimensiones del la vida humana, las palabras no dichas y las experiencias no contadas, son necesarias decirlas y escucharlas. La reconstrucción de este país no es solo casas, también es moral, no podemos negar los saqueos o pretender que no pasaron, el mundo espiritual y sicológico también están dañados y necesitan ser reconstruidos.

La verdad es que las palabras no pueden expresar lo que hemos sentido y vivido. Al final de los mas de mil kilómetros recorridos, Fernando hace la referencia a lo que hemos vivido es aún mas fuerte de lo mostrado en televisión. Si era mas crudo, pero creo que la respuesta se traduce en: la televisión no puede transmitir los olores, los sueños e historia contadas al calor de un mate o sopaipilla compartida. Creo que si eso nos pasó es que pudimos tocar las llagas de Cristo y sentir con él, la pena de sentirse abandonado por su Padre, estos son los cristos que claman Dios, mío Dios mío porque me has abandonado. Sin duda, nos dejo tocar ese momento y compartirlo con los Cristos de hoy pero también pudimos compartir las palabras de esperanza de Jesús , en tus manos encomiendo mi espíritu. Como dijo una anciana Dios me ha dado esta experiencia y pude vivirla con Él.

Alvaro Martinez.

March 3, 2010

Act of God?

Watching the news and hearing people's personal experiences of the earthquake has given us something to think about. We can't help but make comparisons, as CNN has done, between Haiti and Chile. While this quake was 100 times more powerful than the one in Haiti, the devastation has obviously been much less. Over 200,000 were killed in Haiti; in Chile, the count is just over 800. Better infrastructure, preparedness and a very organized government reaction can be cited as reasons for Chile's less devastating outcome. But, we would like to point out something more general as the differentiating variable, and that is injustice.

With natural disasters, we often lament that nothing can be done, that it is an act of nature that can affect anyone. While true, the devastating consequences have much more to do with poverty than with randomness. Haiti is a poor country with a highly corrupt government. Chile is the most economically successful country in Latin America and prides itself on very little corruption. Personally, we think the difference in consequences has more to do with apathy than with God's will.

As US citizens living in another country, we are reminded daily that we are economically privileged. Jesus clearly teaches that believers with wealth have a great task ahead of them, "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." (Matthew 19:24). We have a moral responsibility to use our wealth wisely, to fight injustice and together with all Christians, to help build God's kingdom here on earth. What happened in Haiti is proof that we're not doing our job.

Our apathetic attitudes towards our neighbors in destitute situations has its consequences. We saw the same thing during Hurricane Katrina. Those who suffered most were the poor and marginalized. No one can prevent natural disasters, but we are capable of lessening their negative impact. The fact that Haiti suffered so much more than Chile is a result of our sinfullness and should serve as a reflection during this lenten season... Are we personally responsible in some way for the suffering of others? If so, how can we work to create a more just world?

March 1, 2010

Personal Accounts

We received these two reports from Columban priests working in Valparaíso and Santiago this morning. We are so thankful that we had no major injuries or damages in the Columban family.

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Earthquake in Chile

(report by Fr. Derry Healy, the director of the Columbans here in Chile)

We are all well and alive, just the shock of the whole experience. All the Columban group are safe and haven´t suffered major damages. Most of the contents of the houses were turned over with the shake. I was not long in bed and was woken up to what I thought was someone trying to break it as the woodwork creaked and the front door vibrated. Soon I felt the whole house shaking and I just and ran for it and up on to the street. Our house is wooden and on stilts on the edge of a ravine. I felt like it was never going to end. Many of us spent the rest of the night on the street with the people. Here in Valparaiso, we gathered the people around, clear of building and electricity wires and got a fire going and made a 40 litre pot of tea. Luckily we has a supply of cups in the Ecological Centre.

I managed to contact all the Columbans (lay missionaries, Associates, Sisters and priests) by yesterday afternoon. Mobile phones were the first to get back the signal. he Centre House in Santiago has suffered minor damages. Also some of our chinches presnet some cracks, but nothing major. Communications, water and electricity are being gradually restored. Since the last major earthquake on March 3rd 1985, strict anti-sismic building regulations have been put in place in Chile and this has prevented a major disaster. This earthquake was much stonger than any experienced in rcent years.

Yesterday, Saturday, was like a "Holy Saturday" just contemplating suffering and vulnerability and in a limbo situation. Today Sunday the gospel of the the tranfiguration gives us new hope and wonder and while the little Christian community would like o stay on Mount Tabor, they are now chllenged to become envolved in the wider community and keep hope alive amid so much disaster. Today there has been here movement and people are trying to get to normal. There are still some tremors as I write this. People around here are still on the street and won´t go back into their apartments yet.


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Report by Fr. Dan Harding, an Australian Columban working in Santiago

This earthquake at 8.8 at the epicentre on the Richter Scale was one of the most powerful in history, or rather since recording earthquakes began. It was the fifth most powerful earthquake ever recorded in history and lasted almost 3 minutes. Even though the city of Santiago is several hundred kilometres from the epicentre, the level of intensity for us here in Santiago was 8.5 on the Richter scale. Remember the Haiti earthquake was 7.0 on the Richter Scale. The largest earthquake ever recorded was in Chile in 1960 at 9.5 on the Richter scale. 
Speaking personally it was a terrible shock to be awoken from deep sleep at the beginning of the earthquake. I was awoken by my small dog barking and birds outside fluttering wildly. I thought to myself that a neighbours' cat must be at the birds. So I got up and turned the light on. Just then the earthquake started in great intensity and all the electricity cut out. I was lucky to get outside and hold on to a fence in the darkness as the earth, trees and buildings around me shook wildly. It was an extremely frightening experience. One is completely helpless, not knowing what is going to happen and trying to catch one's breath. Luckily none of us in the Columban Centre House were hurt and there was only minor damage to the buildings. After an earthquake everyone goes out onto the street for fear of after shocks. I spent the rest of night with hundreds of neighbours out on the footpath in pajamas in the cold morning air. 

Much of the central part of Chile with over 80% of the population has been badly affected by the earthquake and the following Tsunami along the coast. Over 2,000,000 people have had their homes damaged or badly affected. Since the earthquake at 03.34 am Saturday morning local time, we have received over 90 after shocks which will continue for months ahead. Some of the after shocks like one at 8.30 this morning (Sunday) were in themselves small earthquake at 6.5 on the Richter Scale. The death toll is at 708 and climbing with dozens of disappeared. 
The epicentre of the earthquake was only 90 kilometres from the city of Concepción, which is 500 kilometres from Santiago to the south along the coast. We Columbans do not work in Concepcion. There has been massive damage to Concepcion, its twin city Talcahuano and other cities between Santiago and Concepcion such as Chillan, Talca, Linares and Rancagua. In Concepcion, a 14 story apartment block fell over backwards and snapping into various parts. Rescue teams are still working on this building with over 40 people still unaccounted for. Continuous after shocks hinder the rescue work. 
Today Sunday, police and now the military are trying to hold back looters in Concepcion and Santiago from looting supermarkets, shops, banks etc. Few supermarkets are open here in Santiago today for fear of looters. The metro is not yet functioning. There is a sense of panic in the air with large lines at petrol stations and the few shops open. This afternoon when I had to travel through the older part of Santiago, I saw hundreds on buildings damaged, burst water mains and families with a few pieces of furniture living out on the footpaths.
The Terminal at the International Airport in Santiago was severly damaged and only now are a few flights arriving from overseas. People wanting to leave Chile have to travel over the Andes to the Argentinian city of Mendoza and from there fly to Buenos Aires. In the city of Chillan, south of Santiago, a wall in the local jail collapsed and over 200 prisoners escaped. 
The earthquake at 03.34 am Saturday morning, was followed 20 minutes later by a Tsunami along the Chilean coast up as north as Valparaiso, which is on the coast near Santiago. Giant Tsunami waves entered the coastal cities of Talcahuano, Constitucion and many coastal resort towns such as Ilorca, Duao and on the island of Juan Fernandez, washing out to sea hundred of house, buses, cars and people. As Chileans are used to earthquakes and Tsunamis, many people from the coast managed to escape to higher ground before the arrival of the Tsunami. At this stage, it is not know how many people were drowned by the Tsunami, but it is estimated that at least 150 people were drowned in the city of Constitution alone. In one coastal town, a Ferris Wheel was dragged upright from a small fair by the Tsunami wave a distance of 250 metres. 
It is Sunday night here as I write this email. Hundred of families are sleeping outdoor in Santiago alone because their homes have either been destroyed or seriously damaged and are dangerous to occupy. Most damage in Santiago is in the older colonial part of the city. In this area, there are families sleeping in all the parks, plazas and outside their damaged apartment buildings. Many beautiful old colonial style churches have been damaged or destroyed. All around Santiago and on the main highway to the south, overpasses have collapsed effectively destroying much of Chile's advanced highway system. Thousands of people in Santiago as well as in the south do not yet have electricity or water connected. 
We Columbans have asked the people in our parishes to pray and to help as much as possible the victims of the earthquake and the Tsunami. We will most likely be organizing special masses and collections and fund raising activities in all of our parishes. 
Chile is one of the most organized countries in South America and especially well prepared for earthquakes and tsunamis. All schools have earthquake practice and for those near the coast, tsunami practice. Chilean rescue teams played an important role recently in Haiti. In less than two weeks, we will have a change of government which will complicate somewhat the recovery efforts.
Please keep the Chilean people in your prayers and we Columbans serving here. We thank God that none of us were hurt in any way.