Saludos Desde Chile!
Posted on July 23, 2018 | Posted by Annie Saunders
Ascension’s own Ryana Holt sends warm hugs from Chile. Here’s her latest update:
Friends and family have asked me a question a lot lately: Where are you these days?
I don’t mind the question; I find myself it’s hard to keep up. As of May 3rd, I now live and work in Concepción, Chile. But that may be a poor answer. What does that even mean? Maybe this answer will be better:
These days I’m often under a pile of blankets, looking at a window dripping from all the humidity and cold. I hear the occasional trucks or buses go by, and birds chirping from the wet land channel below. Usually the barks of the multitude of street dogs that live there, too. I sneak my feet quickly into my fleece lined frocs (yes, fake crocs) and run to the kitchen to turn on the electric kettle so I can have tea to warm me up, wake me up. These days I’m often stretching out sore muscles from the last couple of HIIT classes at the gym I joined nearby. It’s bonding, though. I feel I belong in that renovated warehouse next to my new buddies, under blasting music as we willingly suffer through another set of whatever creative exercises Boris, the trainer, thought up. They are the kind of people who allow sweaty hugs and cheek kisses. I like that kind of people.
These days I’m often speed walking to catch a bus, perhaps nodding o on the bus, or staring out the window as we screech past store fronts, streets, and skylines that are becoming more and more familiar. I like the third row, left side, window seat best. We pass over and by the widest river in Chile, through the heart of the city to smaller, more humble areas but regardless there is graffiti to give it a personalized touch. On colder days I’m grateful when someone sits next to me. That body heat is welcome, stranger.
These days I’m often writing on a white board, hopefully with my purple marker and residue from the erasure stuck to my hand. I am standing in front of groups of 4-10 students, explaining object pronouns and asking them to change that sentence into a question and to repeat that pronunciation a couple times more. They are ages 14-65 and I like each one of them. I’m laughing at their jokes, encouraged by their improvement, and generally filled by their presence. The classes have been bigger here than in other places, but we’ll see what month two brings. I teach in six different places throughout the week, mostly in the afternoons, and I travel anywhere from 15 to 90 minutes to arrive. But I enjoy every group I have, so it has yet to bog me down!
These days I’m often sitting at the table, watching my roommates Ale and Soñia make their lunch for the next day as we chat about our days and whatever other topic arises. They show me what hospitality, good cooking, Netflix knowledge, deep cleaning and determination look like. It’s a wonderful space to return home to every night.
These days I’m often in Concepción, Chile but you can also find me in Hualpén, Chiguayante, Coronel or Boca Sur. You can find me having tea or lunch with church members or in a church service on Sunday mornings.
These days I’m often realizing I’m not so new anymore.
I’m not new to Chile, and neither to Conce. I know my neighborhood and the order of streets downtown and where to buy anything from funnels to the cheapest bananas. It was a challenge getting my feet under me and a community around me and classes up and running, but I did it. I did it with the very generous help of EPES Concepción, who even worried enough to show me around the city and check out areas of the city to live in and have a birthday lunch for me. (EPES is largely funded by the ELCA and was founded by my only coworker here in Chile, Karen Anderson. They do amazing work for communities and the public health of Chile.) I am grateful to give back a bit by teaching at EPES and volunteering when I can.
So where am I these days?
It’s not a fast answer but an honest one. Thank you for your support. It’s always appreciated by me, the Chilean Lutheran church, and all my students.
Prayer Requests from Ryana: For the IELCH (Evangelical Lutheran Church of Chile) as they work on communication, organization and unity. For all who have left their homes, by choice or necessity, that they find peace and acceptance where they are. For the oppressed who speak out for change, that we may listen and see that God is among them. For our leaders’ decisions as they affect so many. For those living in polluted and environmentally damaged places, that they made be heard and protected.
To keep track of Ryana’s travels, follower her blog at https://ryanaholt.wordpress.com/