Final Days in Punta Arenas
Posted on May 1, 2018 | Posted by Annie Saunders
Ryana Holt sends a hug and update from her mission’s work in Punta Arenas, Chile:
Reflection is vulnerable. It is a beautiful, complicated and terrifying place that demands honesty about what went well, about what could have gone better, how and why.
As I close up my accompaniment period here in Punta Arenas, I’ve taken the dive once again into reflection and evaluation. It’s hard and rewarding. It has me asking questions like: as a teacher, missionary, and 24 year old woman, how do you measure success? How do you measure failure?
•They could describe the Pixar short I showed them, using some varied vocabulary.
•I wouldn’t call it pretty or effortless, but I did pull my chin up to the bar.
•The number of students dropped significantly over the 9 months.
•They gave understandable and clear directions to find a restaurant downtown.
•I am English teacher gone mentor– I am trusted with what’s really going on.
•Once again, youth “group” consisted of 3, 2 of whom were required to be there.
•He was able to give a summary of Chilean history without looking at his notes.
•I’ve felt lonely but now I realize with many goodbyes I have many dear ones here.
•The restaurant owner asked me to play for an event after hearing me play.
•My send off dinner was filled with kind words, some tears and lots of dancing.
There. I’ve just given you glimpses into the mix of some of my successes and failures which are all more complicated than I’ve made them out to be.
Now, I could try to rate it. But shoot. There’s no number that reaches the depth or complexity teaching and accompaniment demand, or that tells you how well you are “doing life”. Of course, we live in a meritocratic and money driven society. Everything gets processed into numbers and dollar signs eventually but I appreciate knowing I am in a job where stories, transformation, and learning hold weight.
I know I will carry my experience in Punta Arenas forward, just as I carry the previous the months and years of experiences, and will try to improve as I step into a new community with fresh faces and enthusiasm.
After a whirlwind couple of months following my February newsletter, I find myself taking part in lots of
“lasts”. To mix things up, I also made sure to do a couple of “firsts”.
I finally took a trip to the cemetery, a “must-see” that I’ve walked by many times but never ventured into. My friend Monze invited me to go one morning to the regional museum where I learned, among other things, the origin of the name Patagonia. The colonizers discovered that the Tehuelches, indigenous people who lived here, averaged over 6 feet. Based on their footprints they called them patagones (patagon basically translating to bigfoot). Thus, Patagonia means the area or land of the bigfoots. After months of running and walking on the Strait of Magellan, I was itching to take a dip. I convinced the German volunteer and we went with our best support group of church friends to a beach on a brisk 40°
afternoon. It’s not mountain lake cold but it affirmed why no one swims here.
Now I am in my last week, saying my first goodbyes. It feels like not so long ago, I opened up Google maps and typed in “Punta Arenas”. The lines of streets and water and oblong shape of this city meant nothing more than nervous-excited jolts in my stomach. Now I know the streets from months of wandering them, navigating them on foot, bike and in public transportation. I have felt, admired and tasted the water. I know that it holds dolphins, how it white caps under fierce wind and how it changes from grey to dark blue in the sun. I know the oblong shape of this city has imprinted on my heart as I have come to love many of dear people who call it home. With my deepest gratitude, I go. To my community here at the end of the world, to those spread out around the world. Thank you for your support & love.
With an open and hopeful heart, I go, north to Concepción. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers, as well as the community I’m leaving and the communities I will be entering.
Abrazos y paz,
Prayer Requests from Ryana: For the transition out of Punta Arenas. For the transition into Concepción, for all the details, planning, patience and learning it entails. For all who have left their homes, by choice or necessity, that they find peace and acceptance where they are. For us to take the steps to care for creation, to remember it provides for us all, especially after celebrating Earth Day.For our leaders’ decisions as they affect so many. For those living in situations of violence and
Read more about Ryana’s travels and experiences at https://ryanaholt.wordpress.com/