Saludos Desde Chile!
Posted on January 2, 2018 | Posted by Annie Saunders
Ryana Holt offers “un abrazo” to her Ascension family from Punta Arenas, Chile. Below is an excerpt from her newsletter reflecting on all she’s experienced this past year. If you want to learn more about what good Ryana is doing and the adventures she’s having, please visit her blog at ryanaholt.wordpress.com
In the back quincho, an indoor grill and gathering space typical of the
region, we shared cheviche and chupe de centolla (my sea food heaven) at
the end of the year dinner for the women’s group. Despite being summer,
wind was beating a hilly rain around outside. Vero, sweet and sassy, asked
me out of the blue but in genuine interest, “how was your year?” I was lifted
out of the quincho and was taken for a moment to my living room on Christmas
Eve night, lit by the Christmas tree as my dad asked similar questions
How was my year?
My first answer is that it’s been a year of change. I moved once again to a
different country, taking this job in Global Mission. Last year I was at home
looking forward to this move while in a state of stressed survival mode as a
cashier at Target. This year I am further south than I ever imagined I’d live,
enjoying endless hours of sunlight and explaining quirky English grammar
rules and pronunciation. A bit of whiplash in that big of a change.
My year has been a year of learning (I would argue more learning than
teaching!): how to understand and naturally use Chilean Spanish (¿cachai?),
how to accompany difficult and dramatic situations, how to advocate for
myself and when to let things go. May the learning never end.
My year has been full of challenges. I expected nothing less, however, when
I left for Chile. I was able to anticipate some (how do you effectively teach
English? Where will I make friends? How will my Spanish be? What will this
new presidency bring?). I was not able to anticipate others.
My year has been full of joys. People who were strangers
to me a year ago now hold a special place in my
heart. I’ve gotten to visit amazing places, see progress
in my students’ English, have my mind and heart
opened by great conversations, knowledge and perspectives.
I’ve been able to dance, run, and learn new
music– all things that feed my soul. I was able to
celebrate my brother Aaron’s wedding and the 500th
year of the Reformation. I have been taken in by the
Chilean church here and am so grateful for it.
For many, 2017 was a rough year but I would bet your
year was a lot like mine; in addition to the challenges,
it came with changes, learning, and joys. It can be
worthwhile to take a moment to meditate and reflect
Maybe the hardships of 2017 can help set our sight
more on the meaning of Jesus’s birth. Gustavo, my
dear colleague in Argentina, asked me in our last
meeting where I perceive the arrival of Jesus after I
mentioned it didn’t feel like Christmas to me. Isn’t it
the arrival of hope in the middle of chaos and brokenness?
Isn’t it hope in humble and vulnerable places?
Isn’t it hope arriving in a form we may not be expecting?
An advantage of not being a place weighed down by
the commercialization of Christmas (at least to the
extent of the US) was getting to let go of my idea of
the holiday season being defined by winter, over-decorated
trees, lights, carols and cookies. I was left to
reflect on Gustavo’s question as I continued to work
with the church here in Punta Arenas.
I hope as this year comes to an end, as you take down
Christmas decorations that you don’t close your eyes
to the hope and light that is Jesus arriving in the world.
Even more than that, I hope you keep striving to be
that hope and light whenever you can. It doesn’t need
to be around December 25th.
May the peace, hope, and light accompany you and
flow through you in this chaotic and broken world.
Un abrazo grande,
If you wish to support Ryana through prayer, she’s currently requesting for: the ability to serve & accompany this community the best she can, more to join in taking action in 2018, positive change, protection for the vulnerable & oppressed, and all those in zones of conflict.
Buena suerte Ryana, as you continue to do God’s work!