Put On Love

The reason for this trip to Chile was, in large part, so that our family might have the joy of sharing in the wedding that our Chilean “daughter”, Elizabeth ‘Mandy’ Arriagada Dölz was celebrating with her beloved, Matias Carrasco Mella.  They further honored me by asking me to share in the preaching of this event.  I thought that readers of this blog might enjoy the message preached in both English and Spanish, as well as a few photos of that event.

Put On Love

On the Occasion of the Marriage of Mandy and Matias

26 November 2016

Santiago, Chile

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (Colossians 3:12-14)


In 2010, our family had the opportunity to make our first visit to Chile. We were so excited to come to see Mandy’s family and community! There were tickets to be bought, clothes to pack, and activities to plan. One thing you should know about my family is that my wife is the “planner”. She makes lists, and usually, our daughter, Ariel, and I do them. So she made a packing list for our trip, and made us promise to bring everything on the list.

One of the items on the list for this trip, which included not only Chile, but some of the rain forests of Peru, was a hat. “Bring a hat that will keep the sun out of your eyes and the rain off your head,” she said.

This is a classic hat.

This is a classic hat.

So I brought a hat. It’s a great hat. I love this hat. It was a gift from some friends in Africa.

And, as you can see, it does the job. It will keep away the rain and the sun just fine.

Except that when we arrived at Mandy’s family’s home, when I unpacked, she said, “What’s that?????”

“It’s my hat.”

“You can’t wear that! It’s not a good hat!”

“It’s a great hat! It does everything a hat should do!”

But she wouldn’t budge. She told Mandy to take me out and help me find a new, better, hat for our trip.

Mandy took us to the market, and I saw all kinds of caps. So many different styles and shapes and sizes.


This is a markedly better hat!

And then I saw this hat. And I liked it. And when I looked at my daughter and at Mandy, they said, “Oh, Dave, you look like Indiana Jones!”

Now know this: I like Indiana Jones. I think he’s smart and brave and creative… But the hat was more expensive than any other hat. So I said, “no… it’s too much.”

And they said I should buy it, but I didn’t because of the cost. And Mandy looked at me and she said, “Listen, Dave: being Indiana Jones isn’t cheap, you know…” And Mandy bought me this hat.

And I LOVE this hat. I wear it a lot. It’s been to Chile, Peru, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Korea, New Zealand, Malawi, South Africa, South Sudan… It’s been all over the world. And when I wear it – even to cut my grass – I feel a little bit smarter, braver, and more creative. The hat helps me to feel, well, a little more like Indiana Jones.

I’m telling you that story, not so much because I want you to know why I wear my hats, but because you know what it means to put on a piece of clothing and be changed a little bit. When you are getting ready to watch a big football match, you wear the jersey for your favorite team. Why? Because it helps you to cheer for them; it helps you to connect with them in some way.

Similarly, when we get ready for church, we often put on special clothes. The priest or pastor wears a number of symbols to remind him and us that we’re in a different place, and many worshipers get dressed in their best clothes to worship.

And look at today: Mandy is wearing a “wedding dress” – a special uniform that says a lot about who she is and who she hopes to be. Mandy and Matias will be wearing rings for the rest of their lives – little bits of gold or silver that don’t really DO anything… but they remind them, and us, and everyone else that they are people who make promises.

When the Apostle Paul was writing to his friends in Colossae, he told them to pay attention to the things that they were wearing. In fact, he asked them to wear compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience – like an outfit. Put those things on as you walk around, he said, and sooner or later you’ll find that just like me wearing the hat makes me feel like Indiana Jones, wearing those things helps us to act like Jesus.

At the end of the day, Paul said, “Put on love.” Make love your garment. Seek to do right by the people around you, and love them.

That’s what we want you to do, Mandy and Matias. You’ve been together for a long time. You’ve known for a long time that this is what you’ve wanted – but for whatever reason, it’s taken you seven years (?) to do it. I know, Mandy, you thought I was taking a long time to pick out a hat back in 2010, but this is longer. A lot longer. So let me tell you: being married isn’t cheap. You may have been smart to give it so much thought and planning. Nobody should just jump into a decision like that.

But now that you ARE married, let me encourage you to wear these things. Sometimes when we get something new we wear it for a little bit and then we come home and stuff it in the closet. Don’t do that with your promises and your hopes and your dreams. Put on love. Wear these promises. Wherever your marriage takes you, seek to act, every day, in grace and kindness and humility and gentleness and patience with each other.

I’m here to tell you that you won’t always LIKE your spouse. And she or he won’t always be right. And she or he won’t always be wrong. Those are the times when you need to be especially careful to put on the love that you’ve had for so long. To wear it. And to allow it to change your hearts so that you both continue to grow closer to each other and to the Lord.

Put on love, my friends. It’s not cheap. But it’s worth it. All day, every day. Thanks be to God! Amen.

Some of the congregation in attendance...

Some of the congregation in attendance…

The Deacon invited me to share in the blessing of the couple.

The Deacon invited me to share in the blessing of the couple.

As the marriage was declared.

As the marriage was declared.

Vístanse de amor

Por lo tanto, como escogidos de Dios, bendecidos y amados, envuélvanse de afecto entrañable y de bondad, humildad, amabilidad y paciencia, de modo que se toleren el uno al otro y se perdonen si alguno tiene queja contra otro. Así como el Señor los perdonó, perdónense también ustedes. Por encima de todo, vístanse de amor, que es el vínculo perfecto. (Colosenses 3:12-14)

En el año 2010, nuestra familia tuvo la oportunidad de realizar nuestra primera visita a Chile. Estábamos muy emocionado por conocer a la familia de Mandy y sus cercanos!. Pasajes que comprar , ropa que empacar y actividades a planificar. Algo que necesitan saber de mi familia es que mi esposa es la “planificadora”. Ella realiza una lista para nuestro viaje y nos hace prometer que llevaremos todo lo que dice la lista.

Uno de los puntos de la lista para este viaje, que no solo incluye para Chile , sino que para las selvas tropicales de perú, fue un sombrero. “Lleva un sombrero que aleje al sol de tus ojos y la lluvia de tu cabeza”, dijo Sharon.

Por lo tanto traje un sombrero: es un asombroso sombrero, amo este sombrero. Fue un regalo de algunos amigos de Africa y como uds. pueden ver, hace su trabajo. Me aleja de la lluvia y del sol muy bien.

Excepto que cuando llegamos a la casa de Mandy y desempaqué, ella dijo: “¿Qué es eso??!!”

“Es mi sombrero”, contesté.
“No puedes usar eso!!, no es un buen sombrero!!!”..
“Es un muy buen sombrero !! Hace todo lo que un sombrero tiene que hacer !! ”

Pero ella no se rendiría , Ella le dijo a Mandy que me llevara a encontrar uno nuevo y mejor para nuestro viaje.

Mandy nos llevó al feria donde vi una gran variedad de gorros. Tantos estilos, formas y tamaños distintos.

Entonces vi este sombrero y me encantó. Al mirar a mi hija y a Mandy, ellas dijeron: Oh, Dave, te pareces a Indiana Jones!!!

Sepan uds. que me encanta Indiana Jones. Pienso que es inteligente y valiente así como ingenioso… Pero el sombrero era mucho más caro que cualquier otro sombrero. Por lo que dije “no… es demasiado caro”

Luego me dijeron que debería comprarlo, aunque no lo hice por el alto costo. Mandy me miró y exclamó: “Mira Dave, ser Indiana Jones no es barato, ya tú sabes…”, y ella me lo compró.

Pues adoro este sombrero. Lo uso mucho. Ha estado en Chile, Perú, Israel, Jordania, Egipto, Corea, Nueva Zelanda, Malawi, Africa de Sur, Sudán… Estuvo alrededor de todo el mundo. Y cuando lo uso -incluso para cortar el pasto- me siento un poco más inteligente, valiente e ingenioso. El sombrero me ayuda a sentirme…bueno…un poco más como Indiana Jones.

Les cuento esta anécdota, no para que sepan por qué llevo mi sombrero, sino para que sepan lo que significa colocarse una prenda de ropa y transformarse un poco. Por ejemplo, cuando están preparándose para ver un gran partido de fútbol, uds. usan la camiseta de su equipo favorito. ¿Por qué? Porque ayuda a alentarlos; los conecta con ellos de alguna manera.

Igual que cuando nos preparamos para ir a la iglesia, generalmente nos colocamos una tenida especial. El cura o pastor lleva varios símbolos que nos recuerda que nos encontramos en un lugar distinto y muchos de los adoradores se arreglan con sus mejores tenidas para rendir culto.

Y miren hoy: Mandy está usando un “vestido de novia” – un uniforme especial que dice mucho de quién es ella y quién espera ser. Mandy y Matías llevarán unos anillos por el resto de sus vidas – un poco de oro o de plata no hace mucho en realidad… Pero les recuerda, y a nosotros también, así como a todos que son personas comprometidas.

Cuando el apóstol Paul, les escribió a sus amigos en Collossae, les dijo que pusieran atención en lo que estaban usando. De hecho, les pidió que llevaran compasión, amabilidad, humildad, gentileza y paciencia- como una prenda. Dijo: colóquense estos cosas como en cualquier ocasión, y tarde o temprano, encontrarán que – tal como yo con el sombrero me siento igual a Indiana Jones- al llevarlas puestas nos ayuda a actuar como Jesús.

Al final del día, Paul dijo: vístanse de amor. Hagan del amor su prenda. Hagan lo correcto con las personas a su alrededor y ámenlos.

Esto es lo que queremos que hagan, Mandy y Matías. Llevan mucho tiempo juntos. Han sabido por mucho tiempo que esto es lo que querían – pero cual sea la razón, les ha tomado siete año (?) hacerlo. Mandy, sé que pensaste que me demoré mucho rato para elegir un nuevo sombrero en el 2010, pero esto es mucho más. Entonces déjame decirte que estar casado no es barato. Seguramente has sido muy minuciosa en pensarlo y planificarlo. Nadie debería simplemente saltar en una decisión como ésta.

Sin embargo, ahora que ESTÁS casada, déjame alentarte a llevar estas cosas. A veces cuando obtenemos algo nuevo lo usamos un rato y luego volvemos a casa y lo guardamos en el clóset. No hagas eso con tus compromisos, tus esperanzas y tus sueños. vístanse de amor. Usen estos compromisos. Donde sea que su matrimonio los lleve, actúen cada día, en gracia, con bondad, humildad, gentileza y paciencia el uno con el otro.

Estoy aquí para contarles que no siempre te agradará tu esposo/a. Y ella o él no tendrá siempre la razón. Y ella o él no siempre estará equivocado. Esos son tiempos en los que deben tener cuidado en vestirse con el amor que han llevado por tanto tiempo. Llévenlo puesto. Y permítanle que cambie sus corazones para que ambos continúen creciendo para acercarse el uno al otro así como al Señor.

Vístanse de amor, mis amigos. No es barato, Pero vale la pena. Todo el día, todos los días. Gracias a Dios. Amén.

I am not the only one who thinks that's a snappy hat!

I am not the only one who thinks that’s a snappy hat!

Mr. & Mrs.!!!!

Mr. & Mrs.!!!!

Instead of place cards at the tables, the crowd was called out to stand for a photo with the couple, then ushered to their seats.

Instead of place cards at the tables, the crowd was called out to stand for a photo with the couple, then ushered to their seats.

The wedding ceremony started at 9 p.m. We arrived at the reception venue just prior to 11 p.m., and the party lasted until 5 a.m. Lucia made it until about 3 a.m.

The wedding ceremony started at 9 p.m. We arrived at the reception venue just prior to 11 p.m., and the party lasted until 5 a.m. Lucia made it until about 3 a.m.

Hats Off to Santiago!

As we prepare to leave Santiago and head north to the next leg of this journey, it occurs to me that we really haven’t talked much about the city where our adventures are taking place: Santiago, Chile.

If you are the kind of person who wants maps, details, and statistics, you can read more about Santiago and its environs.  We were very surprised by the immensity of this city.  The population of the metro area is about 5.5 million people, which makes it a touch bigger than, say, Philadelphia (metro area of about 5.2 million).  It is nestled between the western base of the Andes mountains and the Pacific Ocean, and while I´ve been in large cities before, I don´t know that I´ve been in one that has felt this sprawling.  Mandy and her family live near the center of this metro area, and we have remarked time and time again as to how much time people must spend in their commute.  Every road seems to be congested. The major arteries have three or four lanes for traffic and two for buses and taxis only, and still, it’s always crowded!  Yesterday, as we drove from a shopping center in the north of town to a site in the center of the city, after we’d been on the road for about forty-five minutes, I asked JuanK if we were close.  He looked bemused, and said, “No, not really.” I have never – anywhere – driven for an extended period of time in such traffic.

Santiago at dusk from the hill of San Cristobal

One of the reasons for this may be the fact that if the city has a series of beltways or parkways, we haven’t discovered them yet.  Every trip is marked by endless stoplights and lane changes – which makes driving this minibus a real adventure.    A side effect of the traffic is the tremendous amount of smog that envelops the city each day.  In the photo below, you can see the Andes – just barely.  Chileños have commented as to how nice it was to get out of the city to a place where we could see clearly – as we did the other day, when we visited a park about two hours away.

Another view of town with the Andes barely visible through the smog

Ariel & Mandy at the Rio Clarillo National Park

The Rio Clarillo, simply begging for a trout fisherman...

Uncle Eduardo and JuanK with HALF the meat that was ordered for our party of eight!

Monk Parakeets are an invasive species from Argentina and common throughout the city.

El Zorro - one of two foxes to greet us at the National Park

After telling me that "Being Indiana Jones isn't cheap", Mandy bought me the hat!

No matter what we say about the city itself, we are very grateful for our Chilean family.  Last night Elizabeth and Juan Carlos hosted a farewell party in our honor, and it was a real treat to meet (or reconnect with) so many of Mandy’s family.  There were probably thirty people there, and  while very few in attendance were bilingual, we had a blast!  Delicious food, wonderful beverages, a few speeches, a lot of one-cheek air kissing, and great laughter made the evening truly memorable.  Juan Carlos and Elizabeth have told many of their friends of our visit and this blog, so most of the people there had heard the saga of the yellow hat.  As Ariel said, “You know, nothing rescues a party from a language barrier like a little physical humor!”  We tried to capture some of the spirit of the gathering.  Take a look:

If the hat fits...our South American family gets in on the fun!

So later today, we’ll head to the airport having said hasta luego to Juan Carlos, Elizabeth, Mandy, JuanK, and the rest of our friends and family here.  We’ll get on a plane and head north to Lima, Peru – but more about that tomorrow.  For now, we are grateful for having had this opportunity and eager to see what will grow from the seeds that have been planted.

You know, when I left Pittsburgh, I threw the yellow hat in my backpack because I didn’t want to be another American in a baseball cap viewing the world. And, I thought, maybe, the hat would keep the rain off me.  Who knew that it would be the source of so many jokes and laughter?  Look for pictures of Ariel in it in the days, weeks, and months to come.  And when Mandy caught me eyeing up the new headgear, and threw in a comment about Indiana Jones, well, I thought that it would make interesting fodder for reflection as to who gets to decide who I am.  How wonderful that a part of who I am now includes these memories and this laughter.  I am grateful for the gift of growth and for new opportunities to become a new person.  You´re a part of that, and I appreciate it.  For now, we’ll sign off from Chile and say thanks for your prayers and support.

The Winners in the 2010 Hat Poll

Los Peces:1 Dave:0

My first visit to the southern hemisphere was in 1995.  I went to Malawi then, and every time since then, hoping that someone would offer me a chance to go fishing.  I hung around guys with nets, I took rides in other people’s fishing boats, heck, a couple of times I even asked.  The thing is that not many people go fishing for fun.  If you fish, it’s because it’s your job.  And every time I went to Malawi, whenever it was “bring a mzungu to work” day, I hung around with the pastors.

But not this trip, baby.  This time, I’m on sabbatical.  This time, I’m making my own schedule.  This time, I’m going fishing.

Mandy and her family said that they would do everything that they could to get me out on the water.  Just to be on the safe side, I brought my own emergency back-up fishing equipment, including a telescopic fishing pole, a reel, and a few lures.  Just in case.

That's me, telling fish stories to a guy who does it for a living. Sometimes I annoy the heck out of myself.

We got to the beach house in Laguna, just north of Viña del Mar, which is just north of Valparaiso, and, true to their word, they introduced me to a real-live fisherman, Eduardo.  The man earns his living by fishing those waters.  Except in the winter.  “Nobody fishes in the winter”, he told me.  He had to go to his construction job.  However, I did trade him a jar of home made apple butter for a rig he said was sufficient to catch a few little ones in the lagoon that emptied the river into the Pacific.

Nobody was happier than I to get up and hit the water.  The rest of the family all slept, but not me.  I had a date with destiny.  Fishing in South America.

That's me. Fishing. In South America!

Turns out fishing in South America, so far at least, is a lot like fishing in Lake Arthur – which is to say, it’s a lot like fishing in the Dead Sea.  Nada.  Zip.  Zero.  Zilch.  Couldn’t buy a bite.  But man, it was a good day.  I was alone in a beautiful place.  I added at least a dozen new birds to my “life list”.  Then, Sharon joined me and we took a walk.  We saw more birds.  On the way back, four dogs came out of nowhere and walked with me for half a mile or so – running and playing in the sand and making me wish that our old dog Betsy was still around.

Then, we went back to the beach house and attended worship.  Our hosts were joined by Mandy´s aunt, uncle, and two cousins, and we had a delicious barbeque with more meat than I’ve seen in six months.  During the meal, we watched the World Cup finals game, and at the end of that, we were able to view an eclipse of the sun visible in the Southern hemisphere.  We didn’t even know that the eclipse was coming, but we were in a great spot to see it.

Juan Carlos, Mandy, Ariel, and me preparing for a great meal

As I said in an earlier posting of this blog, there’s a reason it’s called “fishing” and not “catching”.  This weekend, I didn’t catch a thing.  But I was fishing.  And that made it a great day.

The eclipse, viewed through 3 pairs of sunglasses. The latest technology.

A man and (not) his dog.

The group of eclipse and cup-watchers: L-R Juan Carlos (Mandy's dad), Mandy, Ariel, Me, Eliana (Mandy's cousin), Consuela (Mandy´s cousin), Aunt Isa and Uncle Carlos

A Bristle-thighed Curlew

Rufous-collared Sparrow

Vote Here in the Hat Poll!

OK, gang, here’s where we need your help.  Pronto!

Click here for some inspiring audio

You know, I think, that I’ve been thinking about a hat.  Something along the lines of this one:

Hey, lady, you call him DR. Jones!

The thing is that I have been dithering about whether or not I actually need a hat for the rest of the Sabbatical.  Why? Because I have had, for almost ten years, a hat that was, well, hard to imagine wearing most places.  But when I thought about needing a hat that provided shade from the sun and protection from the rain, well, my mind immediately turned to a fine piece of haberdashery that was a gift from Malawi many moons ago.  So I packed this hat in the expectation of wearing it in the rain forest, to Machu Picchu, and then carrying it on to the houseboat and to the Holy Land.  One member of my family supported me in this idea – in fact, she encouraged it.  The other member of my family has strongly encouraged me to buy something, anything else to wear for photographic posterity.

So tonight at dinner, we were sitting with Mandy’s family and we decided to show the hat to them.  They had, shall I say, mixed reactions.  Then we started to pass the hat around and see who looked best in the hat.  Now, it´s up to you, the readers, to decide.  Who wears the hat?  Vote (by means of commenting on this post or by e-mailing me at dave@chup.org or by sending me a message on Facebook) by NOON, Eastern Standard Time, on Wednesday, July 14.

If you think that I look the best in the hat, I wear it to the Amazon and beyond.  If someone in Mandy´s family gets the most votes, I leave the hat here, buy myself an Indiana Jones lid, and accept the consequences.  If Sharon or Ariel wins, then they will wear the hat for a full day in each successive sabbatical location (and I buy a new one).  Get it?

Here are the nominees:




JuanK (Juan Carlos, Jr.)

JuanK (Juan Carlos, Jr.)




Juan Carlos

Juan Carlos

Your vote is critical!  Who wears the hat? What happens for the rest of the Sabbatical? Is Chile ready for a hat like this? Vote- once per person, please – before noon (EST) on Wednesday.

Being Indiana Jones Isn´t Cheap.

That´s what Mandy, my Chilean AFS daughter, said to me as we walked the streets of  Pomaire, Chile yesterday.  We had come to visit this small village renowned for its pottery and clay artisans, and we visited stall after stall full of  beautiful pots, wall hangings, and other crafts.

Main Street, Pomaire

For some reason, I had it in my head that maybe I´d like to have a wide-brimmed leather hat.  I don´t know why I thought that, as I´ve never in my life woken up and thought, “You know, my life would have more meaning if only I owned a rugged-looking, waterproof, broad-brimmed, hand-crafted leather hat.”  Yet as I passed shop after shop featuring this very item, I began to try them on.  They sure looked good.  They felt good.  And, I will confess, I was hearing a certain theme music inside my head as I looked at the mirror.  Sharon and Mandy said, “Go ahead,  Dave – buy one.”  But the price seemed a little excessive.  I have never worn anything on my head that cost $40, and I wasn´t sure that yesterday was the day to start.  I mentioned my concern, and that´s when Mandy said, “Being Indiana Jones isn´t cheap…or easy, Dave!”

And it occurred to me that she had hit the nail on the head.  You see, in some way, I want to be Indiana Jones – smart, urbane, inventive, rakish, and, of course, the ultimate “good guy”.  I want to look cool in that hat.  But is that who I am?

That was a question that rang in my head as we observed the craftsmen throwing the clay on the wheels and shaping it.  Who gets to tell me who I am? Who decides who I turn out to be?  A couple of themes from the scripture echoed through my head:

A foot-operated pottery wheel in action

“Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ ” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? (Romans 9:20-21)

Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the LORD, who do their work in darkness and think, “Who sees us? Who will know?” You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, “He did not make me”? Can the pot say of the potter, “He knows nothing”? (Isaiah 29:15-16)

Now, hear me…I´m not saying that I believe that whether I choose to spend forty bucks on a hat and pretend I´m Harrison Ford finding lost treasure is a matter of God´s eternal preoccupation, but I am wondering how the choices I make inform the person, the character, the me that God is calling me to be.  And I am also conscious that I am not usually the only one that I let “vote” on which me I am becoming.  What you think matters.  What that man in the leatherworking shop thinks matters, at least in the moment.  What my wife and daughter and the community that I want to love, and hope that loves me – it all matters.

I guess what I´m thinking this morning is that it´s important to remember that what God thinks matters, too.  That a part of my day – not just my Sabbatical day, but my every day –  ought to be giving the Lord a chance to remind me who he made me to be and how he intends to use me to accomplish some measure of his purposes in the world.  The question is – am I ready to be who I am called to be, and to act on that, or do I get lost in my fancy-hat wearing daydreams and forget to be me at all?

We ended the day with a trip to Isla Negra, the home of famed Chilean poet Pablo Neruda.  While I would invite you to read some of his beautiful work at the poetry of Pablo Neruda in English, I will close this morning´s lengthy post by telling you a story that challenged me.  Neruda´s home is built right into the coastline, and is full of all things nautical.  Ships in bottles, figureheads from a dozen or more sailing vessels, steering wheels, lights, buoys, and more all adorn the walls.  The doorways are all tiny, as if they are on a ship.  Huge windows face the Pacific.  And in the garden, looking towards the sea, is a small sailboat mired firmly in the rock.  Our guide indicated that although he loved the ocean, he feared it.  And so when Pablo Neruda had guests over to visit, they´d sit in his boat and have drinks – surrounded by the sea, but not actually in it.

Pablo´s boat - moored firmly on the rocks at Isla Negra

Is that a sad story? One of a man who is fascinated by what is at hand, but afraid to dive in and experience it?  Or is it a heart-warming story of a man who is so comfortable in his own skin that he can enjoy the beauty of what he loves without needing to possess it?  Or both?

Being Indiana Jones isn´t cheap, of course.  And I mean that there´s more than the $40 headgear.  Giving yourself to an identity – choosing to be known, and to know – these are acts that cost your very self.  May the Lord give me, and you, this day the chance to grow into the creatures that he knows that we can become.  May we speak well to each other, and remind ourselves that while we make decisions every day on who we are and how we are perceived, it is the Lord who forms us for a purpose.  Thanks be to God!

When the Rules Change

Bienvenidos a Chile!
This was the sign that we saw hanging from the drapes when we arrived at the home of the Arriagada Dolz family in Santiago, Chile on Tuesday.  We spent a LONG day traveling; first as we drove from Pittsburgh to Washington DC, and then as we flew from DC to Miami and ulitmately to Santiago.  We arrived at Santiago to a cold, gray day…although the snow-capped Andes Mountains were clearly visible as we drove one SWEET 12 passenger Kia minibus (standard transmission, steering wheel on the left) out of the airport parking lot.

From left: Juan Carlos, Elizabeth, Mandy, Sharon, Ariel, and Juan Carlos, Jr. In rear: Our sweet ride.

Once here, of course, we had to explore.  So we climbed on board the Kia and headed into the afternoon traffic, eager to visit Cerro San Cristobal in Santiago. Although it was cold and rainy, we wanted to take the trip.
As I was driving an obviously unfamiliar street, all of  a sudden the traffic signal in front of me turned from solid red to blinking red.  At the same time, I noticed that every lane of the road was filled with oncoming traffic, some of whom were flashing their headlights at me in obvious irritation.  My three Chilean hosts all said, “Turn here! Turn here!  It´s 5 pm!”
Good to know: there are some streets in Santiago where, at 5 pm, the traffic pattern changes.  What was a two-way street becomes, suddenly and automatically, one-way.  I think of myself as a pretty good, relatively experienced driver – but this change in the rules had me floundering.
Then I remembered when our plane landed and Mandy and her family were there to greet me.  I went for a handshake, and started getting kissed.  You know, the cheek-to-cheek “air kiss” that isn´t quite so common in Crafton Heights.  Well, I thought I had that one down, so I greeted Mandy in what I thought was an appropriate manner: air kiss right cheek, air kiss left cheek.  She held my hands and said, “Only one cheek, Dave, we´re Chilean, not Italian.”  Good to know.
Sabbatical is, in some ways, all about changing the rules.  Or at least about living inside some different rules for a while.  We are learning how to communicate with Mandy´s parents (neither of whom speaks English, which is, coincidentally, how much Spanish Sharon and I have!) and eager to see this part of the world.  We count our money differently, we dress differently, and we clearly spend our time differently.  What a blessing that is – especially for me, as I can get too comfortable in the same old, same old.  I need to remember that the rules I use are not the only ones that there are, and that there may be some things for me to learn as I watch someone else.
Some of you may be interested in details: yesterday it was cold (muy frijo) and rainy.  The temps when we woke up this morning seemed to be about 35.  Good thing that grandma´s bed comes equipped with an electric blanket!  We´ve enjoyed meeting Mandy´s parents, brother, grandmother, fiance, aunt, uncle, and cousin so far…and it´s only been a few hours!  We enjoyed a sumptuous breakfast (grandma made a peach tart!), a delicious lunch (giant mussels and steak) and a light supper (home-made sopaipillas!).  Today (Wednesday) we anticipate a trip to downtown Santiago; later this week we´ll visit a pottery center and tour a vineyard.  The time in Santiago is exactly the same as it is in Pittsburgh – we are just due south.

Starting Sabbath with an old friend…

Sharing our country with Mandy

The Journey begins with a reunion in Santiago Chile. Some of our friends will remember the year that we hosted Mandy Arriagada Dolz when she was a senior at Schenley High School. Mandy came to us through the offices of the good people of AFS, and we enjoyed a wonderful year introducing her to various aspects of our lives, including family holidays, tubing on the river, Primanti sandwiches, and so much more!

This one didn't get away. You didn't think she was here for a year and NOT fishing, did you?

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We are eager to meet Mandy’s family (including her fiance, Mathias!!!) and learn more about her life in Chile. We will be in and around Santiago for about ten days – not nearly long enough to take in Chile, but we hope it will be plenty of time to get a taste of her world (and expand ours a bit).

Atop the Washington Monument