Yesterday marked the first day of my classes here in Chile, and although I was a little apprehensive at first, I ended up loving that fact that I was finally free to take the micro by myself and navigate my way around the city, rather than being herded around with a large group of Americans. Even though I am blonde-haired and blue-eyed, I feel like I can blend in a little more when I’m by myself, at least better than I can with a group of gringos. When my class ended in the afternoon, I decided that I was not quite ready to go home. I bought an ice cream bar and headed to the pier close to the university. As I sat gazing out at the sparkling ocean, I was completely overcome by God’s goodness and His presence within me.
Unfortunately, the familiar things of home—friends, family, food, music, you name it—tend to block out the voice and presence of God. Back in the United States, it is so easy to just get caught up in the day and my life and everything that is familiar to me, and not feel the need to draw near to God. But here in Chile, everything is different. I can’t communicate easily with people, I don’t get to enjoy foods that I’m familiar with, and no one here really knows me like people do at home. Even though I am surrounded by people in the cities of Valparaíso and Viña del Mar, I feel alone. Everything and everyone is new and different. But I am starting to realize that in the moments when I feel the most alone, God’s presence overwhelms me.
I experienced such a moment when I sat alone in the sunshine, eating my ice cream, looking out at the ocean. I felt the sea breeze on my face and in my hair, and God flooded my heart with peace. I am thousands of miles away from all I have ever known, but God is still here, right beside me. It’s because of His presence that I can be completely ok with all the changes and unfamiliarity of this country. Since arriving in Chile, God has been teaching me that He is all I need. When I feel alone, it is then that I draw nearer to Him.
Despite the difficulty of adjusting to a new culture, it has driven me to run to my Lord and is teaching me that He is all I really have, and all I really need.
Lisa Crayne, California Baptist University, Chile Spring 2013