While researching about others’ study abroad experiences in my preparation time before coming to Chile, I thought some of the aspects of “culture shock” I read were absurd. One in particular said that at some point, you might even resent your home country for being the way that it is. I didn’t understand that AT ALL before my trip…but now I understand it perfectly.
It isn’t to say that I resent the United States. Obviously it is my home, and my ethnicity and identity are both rooted in that culture. However, Chile is becoming my home as well. At this point I have begun understanding and adjusting to the people, the food, the climate, the language. There are still struggles, but overall I feel pretty “at home” here in Valparaíso. Then I remember that I have to leave in 80 days. 80 days is all I have left here in my new home, and that literally hurts my heart. How can you open yourself up fully to a completely different lifestyle, become accustomed to it, make new friends and family, and then have to go back to the States? To be honest, I never want to leave.
One main reason why I dread the thought of going back “home” is because I know the problems I will face when I get back. Americans are so comfortable in their lifestyles, in their luxury, in their churches, and in their sin. The body of Christ in Latin America is alive and well, and the people here are allowing the Spirit to move in and through them. This flows into all aspects of their lives. Upon arrival, I found the Chilean concept of time very odd: they were always late. To EVERYTHING. But then I found out why. It’s nothing that they can explain to you, but I have learned that they culturally believe in finishing what they start. They believe in being there for your friends and family. They believe in spending quality time with one another and investing in other’s lives. And THIS, my friends, is an example of how they allow the Spirit to do its work: by not rushing things.
I found another demonstration of the movement of the Spirit simply in making friends with Chileans who are my age and spending time with them. I have known these people for a month now, and in this one month I can already say without a doubt in my mind that they love Jesus with their whole entire being. They walk in Christ’s freedom in a way I have never known. In America when we think of Christianity, we think of going to church, reading our Bibles, praying, and trying to avoid sin. (Of course, I am generalizing, but I think it holds true for the typical American Christian.) But Christ came to bring FREEDOM from the law. He came to bring FREEDOM for the captives. Galatians 5:1 says “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” We aren’t slaves to “don’t do this, don’t do that, avoid this, and then you’re a good Christian.” WE ARE FREE IN CHRIST. And I feel like the comfort that we have in America dampens our view of freedom. We are “land of the free” but yet Christians in the States are the furthest thing from free. We live as slaves to a routine and a calendar. This brings me back to my statement about how the concept of time is different here. Chileans aren’t rushed to the next activity or task. They allow time to spend with family and friends and literally NEVER look at their watches. This gives room for the Spirit to move, which in turn multiplies the fruit of the Spirit that is produced. They walk in freedom, experience freedom, and I believe have a fuller life in Christ because of it.
Therefore, when I think about leaving in 80 days, I get really sad. I am learning SO much here, and have made some great friends in the past month. But then, the Lord reminds me of something else. It doesn’t matter where I am on this earth, because this place is not my home. James 4:14 says “why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” And thinking about that makes me long for my true Home I’ve yet to know, but where those who are born again in Christ will reside with each other forever, worshiping our incredible Jesus. From every tribe, tongue, and nation. And I’ll be homesick for that place until the day that I die.
Marissa Morgan, Veritas in Chile Spring 2013