"Before you can search for truth, you must be interested in finding it." -Miroslav Volf

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Santiago, Chile

Maybe not the best photo to represent my Chilean experience...but I thought it was a gem. That is actually the backside of the President's house in the background...but the best image from downtown Santiago was not the architecture, but five dogs taking a nap in one of the main plazas. I suppose there's a metaphor in there somewhere for how I feel at this stage of my trip. :)

My time here in Santiago has been special...it's felt like a sort of "epilogue" stage to my trip, and has been a good time of application, in ways...have had some fabulous conversations with people where I've found myself not merely sharing my learnings from the previous weeks, but challenged to articulate my calling and vision as a (future) pastor, my beliefs and understanding of the Christian story, the reasons I'm drawn to the Christian faith versus other faiths or ways of understanding Truth, life, and humankind's purpose.
Also interesting to observe, once again, the subtle shifts taking place in faith and culture...and to see how, despite a religious atmosphere that one might find troublesome, I feel a sense of momentum and hope for change that reflects new movements of God here and all over the portions of Latin America I've experienced.

$10 for whoever provides the best explanation for what's going through my head in this shot...not sure what my facial expression here is saying. Here I am with Miriam and Paulo, my host "parents." I've been at the house of Ornella, a girl who was a high-school classmate and exchange student in my hometown of Woodland. She was not here, sadly (at Oxford now), but her family was incredibly warm and hospitable to me. One of the highlights, perhaps on this whole trip, has been the opportunity to meet much of their extended family, through multiple all-afternoon lunch gatherings, involving, once again, indulging myself in a bit of over-eating (and maybe over-drinking).

This is Felipe and his mother Rosella...relatives of the family I'm with. Felipe has been a special connection...we've hung out quite a bit, much of our time spent discussing matters of spirituality. Being fairly relativistic and agnostic, as well as humble, gracious, intelligent, and curious, he has made a great conversation partner. We've discussed a variety of topics (he's fluent in English), from the knowability of Truth to the validity of the Biblical testimony of Jesus to how our spirituality informs our views on sex...you could almost make a book out of our discussions--two postmodern twenty-something intellectuals, one Christian and one not, discussing faith and life. (I think a guy named Jim Henderson already did something similar). Though not a Christian, Felipe is a good model of the kind of humility, warmth, open-mindedness, desire to understand another, and ability to respectfully challenge another's views, that I think should accompany the confidence and commitment Christians possess when in such dialogue with others.

A good shot, though poorly lit, of one of our family gatherings.

A shot of some protesters in one of the downtown plazas...as in Bolivia and Argentina, I've seen discontent with the government expressed in such public displays. This was, however, far less violent and much more theatrical...as maybe you can see by the facepaint and the guy (can you spot him?) dressed as Spiderman.

Interesting scene here...on one hand, a fabulous and beautiful glimpse of Santiago and its surroundings at sunset, with the Andes in the background, the moon above, the city below...on the other hand, though it may not be obvious here online, the smog is bad, which most Chileans will admit to, acknowledging the city's poor reputation for pollution.

So there it is...another stage of my trip filled with wonderful new relationships and some fabulous learning experiences. I've been so spoiled by this trip...and am grateful for all of it.

I'm wrapping up a full week here in Chile, and am heading up to Lima tomorrow morning (Monday) on a two-day bus trip, and will fly home late Thursday night.


Barb said...

LOVE the first picture.

Re: what is going through your mind? that would be "hurry up and take it, I have to pee."

See you Friday!!!!!!!!!!! yeah!

ornella said...

Amazing to see pictures of you with my family! Hopefully next time you go to visit, I will be there. Very very happy to see you were well taken care of my my family and that you made a special connection with Felipe, he is indeed a great, warm and admirable person, and I am very proud to be his cousin.
Have safe travels and maybe I will see you in September!

bigmike7801 said...

Re: what is going through your mind?
"Uh, what's her hand doing there?"

catch22heinz57 said...

Wow, awesome, I loved how well you described your friend Felip (spelling?) anyways, how you described him as though having totally different beliefs from you, how he was intellect, and how well you described your blog and experiance in Chile,
have fun! Have many adventures, Matt!