AYC Chile 2010
It was a sacrifice. For almost every person on the trip, it was a sacrifice. Many had stories of how God opened doors financially for them to go to Chile. It was a lesson in faith even before the trip began. But it was a privilege to spend ten days with seventeen other young people, our host missionaries—Brother and Sister Barkley and Brother and Sister Hayes and their kids—as well as the people of Chile.
Our churches host missionaries often; but visiting their homes, riding in their Sheaves for Christ-sponsored vehicles, going with them to a class taught at the Bible college, listening to their stories, and feeling their burden in their words and tears, gives you a whole new insight into the term missionary.
Our group visited a total of eight churches. We prayed with the saints there, sang and worshipped with them, split into small groups and passed out tracts, fellowshipped with the church members and pastors, and—what must be a universal rite of passage for all Apostolics—we ate with them. I had my first and probably only hotdog topped with diced tomatoes, guacamole, and mayonnaise, not to mention empanadas, and jugo de frambuesa (raspberry juice).
Not all of the churches have the kinds of luxuries our churches do—like heat, carpet, dry wall, and padded pews—but they have the same Spirit of God and an amazing willingness to give (oh, and great music!). The churches treated us like royalty. They fed us, gave us embroidered scarves (since it was winter there), and took many, many pictures. Spending time with saints of God in a foreign country was really precious; and also, well, interesting, since there was a language barrier. My Spanish is so-so, as was most of their English. In one mixed-up Spanish-English conversation, I couldn’t tell if the lady I was speaking to was telling me she was pregnant or moving to the US to go to college (lol).
It was also a lot of fun getting to know the group I was with. The first day in Chile I realized I didn’t really know anything about these people I would be spending the next ten days with, so I made it my goal to find out everyone’s story. I’ve been guilty of making snap-judgments about people, and I didn’t want that to happen this time. So throughout the trip I sat with each person and asked them what their story was, why they came to Chile, and goals they had for the future. I was surprised at the emotion it evoked in people when they talked about their lives, some even moved us to tears. And though each story was vastly different, there was a common thread. Even through heartaches, failures, and uncertainties, everyone had a desire work for God. Many in the group had already overcome great obstacles to be there, and no doubt will see God use them in great ways in the future.
The most poignant memory for me was when we visited an enormous statue of the Virgin Mary. Below the statue was an area set up for people to light candles and send up a prayer to the statue. Brother Barkley gathered us all into the area and told us how it was a sacred ground for the Chilean people—had even been visited by one of the popes. But, through tears, he told us how it broke his heart that they lit candles and offered prayers to a statue that could never hear or deliver. His words still ring clearly in my ears, “Pray for Chile. When you go home, don’t ever stop praying for Chile.” And then he said, “Let’s pray.” And, as one member of the group kept reminding us later, “We prayed an Apostolic prayer on Catholic grounds.”