Despite the many cultural differences I have experienced thus far during my time abroad, one comfort that has resonated with me the most is the automatic link I have with Chileans who have a relationship with the Lord. Even though we may not be able to understand one another perfectly, we have a common bond in our love for God. It has been an incredible experience to raise my voice to worship the same Holy God in a different language. This uniting faith was particularly highlighted for me this past weekend with the celebration of Easter here in Chile.
For me, the most memorable part of the Easter weekend was an evangelism outreach activity with a local church on Friday. I must admit I had a lot of nervousness and apprehension about even being a part of this activity. I really was not sure what we would be doing to evangelize but I am not very confident or practiced in my Spanish and felt like I probably wouldn’t even be able to say anything that would make sense anyway. However, despite my misgivings, God had other plans and made sure I went. We met as a church at a beach pier and split up into small groups. I joined up with two of my ISA friends, and we took a deep breath—we were three little American gringas, nervous to share the gospel in a foreign language to complete strangers. But by God’s grace, we readied some key phrases in Spanish, and began to approach people with the question, “Personalmente para ti, cual es el significa sobre Semana Santa?” (Personally for you, what is the meaning of Easter?). Some people didn’t want to stop and talk to us, but for the most part, people were willing to share their opinions and beliefs. I couldn’t always understand people’s responses, but thankfully the other girls I was with knew more Spanish than I, and God allowed me to understand just enough to respond with a few phrases about Jesus’ death and resurrection, and God’s desire for a personal relationship with them. Although nothing earthshattering happened during our conversations with Chileans, I felt the presence of God with me and the joy that came with planting seeds of truth. It was an incredible experience that I will not soon forget.
I was also able to experience some family traditions that accompany Pascua here in Chile. On Saturday, my host family had an asado—a Chilean barbeque. Filled with family and food (mostly delicious grilled meat) the day was also a celebration for my host mom’s birthday. I talked to my family about some other Easter traditions such as attending church and having Easter egg hunts. In Chile, parents hide chocolate eggs for their children to hunt for, rather than the plastic ones traditionally used in the States. As a chocolate lover, I was excited to reap the benefits of this tradition. J
Since Catholicism is prevalent in Chile, I also witnessed some interesting religious practices leading up to the Easter weekend. Walking in front of a Catholic church, the sidewalks were lined with vendors selling flowers and baskets woven from palm branches on Palm Sunday. Also, people in and around the church were carrying large palm branches that had been blessed in order to bring good luck for the following year. Another Catholic Easter tradition here is to go on a certain walk on Good Friday, putting oneself in the shoes of Christ as he carried the cross to Golgatha.
All in all, I loved being united with other Christian Chileans celebrating our risen Savior, as well as being a part of and learning about various traditions that surround Semana Santa.
Lisa Crayne, California Baptist University, Veritas in Chile 2013