During her semester studying abroad and doing missions in Chile, Veritas student Olivia Neveu has seen a lot of celebration. From Las Fiestas Patrias, to her 22nd birthday, to the warm hospitality of the local church, Olivia and her fellow Veritas students have discovered what celebration looks like in Chile. Keep reading to find out.
After a full week of attending asados and dancing Cueca to celebrate Las Fiestas Patrias, a group of ten of us—five gringas and five Chileans—from the church I attend here in Chile hopped on a bus and drove 14 hours down to the southern part of Chile to a city called Puerto Montt. This particular part of Chile is not only known for its fantastic mountains and gorgeous landscapes, but also notorious for rain. Months and months of rain.
When we showed up it was, you guessed it, raining. Some people from the little church in Puerto Montt met us at the bus station and brought us to the church. The town as a whole seemed so dreary and dark with rain and thick, black clouds, but as soon as we stepped foot in the church the people’s joy became obvious. They did not allow the joy they have in the Lord and the love they have for one another to at all be deterred by the disagreeable precipitation.
From the moment we arrived we were treated like family. Not just welcomed or accepted, but celebrated.
It seemed the whole trip they did nothing but feed us and we did nothing but eat. They were beyond generous and jut plain wonderful. I have learned much from them about what it means to love.
During our first couple days there, the church had a prayer campaign. We went from house to house asking people if they had any prayer needs, and whatever thing they told us we would write down on a slip of paper.
While this was going on they also had a 24-hour prayer vigil at the church. There, we went through and prayed for all of the prayer requests we had recorded from the house visits. It was a really incredible experience getting to meet so many people, yet overwhelming to think we heard these little snippets of what was going on in all these peoples’ lives and what was on their hearts. And just think—the Lord knew about all those things long before we ever did. Even still, he knows and sees so much more than that! Overwhelming!
The blessings continued with an opportunity to spend some time visiting and praying with some local pastors and other Christians in Chile.
In Puerto Montt, we celebrated my birthday to the fullest. One of the guys from the church took us out for a day of adventuring, and it was absolutely indescribable! For the first time in almost two months the day boasted pure sunshine and a warm temp.
First, we went to a national park and saw the stunning rapids there, then we went to the top of a volcano called Osorno where we took in a view of the valley below and the foothills of the Patagonia Mountains. Naturally, a fantastic snowball fight followed.
In the same day we went to the beach of a gigantic fresh water lake with black sand and enjoyed a lovely picnic lunch. Then we walked through what felt like a jungle to find a huge thundering waterfall enveloped in luscious greenery and looming canopies—simply marvelous! I was speechless the whole day.
Last week, a group of missionaries from Texas came down here to work with a local church. A few of the girls in my group and I spent a lot of time with them to help translate. We all had a great time, and I think everyone walked away mutually blessed.
We celebrated as we recognized how much our language skills and cultural literacy had improved over the course of the semester. At times it can feel as if you don’t know anything at all and that can be discouraging, but this ended up being a rewarding experience for us and another great chance to combine our academic efforts with our spiritual ones. Learning a language and living in a new place is extraordinarily humbling!
Classes have been well, the weather has been getting warmer and warmer, and I continue to be blessed by many incredible people. The Lord has been teaching me much and blessing me to the maximum! My cup overflows!
Olivia Neveu attends Houghton College in Houghton, NY. Celebrate with Olivia and the many Veritas students who have chosen to take a bold step: engage in cross-cultural ministry through combining study abroad and mission work. There’s still time to apply for a spring semester in Chile—the deadline is November 10. To see what other programs Veritas offers, check out our website or contact us for more info. We’ll see you out there.