I'm back! I just spent 10 days in Chile on a life changing connections trip with my church. I don't even know where to start, there is so much goodness and God moved in such mighty ways with the people of Valpraiso. We took a red eye flight that landed in Santiago in the morning and we hit the ground running as far as work went. There is a coastal town about 3 hours north of us that was devastated by fire and wiped out many homes. Our purpose for the first half of the trip was to love on 2 families and help them rebuild while building relationships with the locals. I wasn't sure what to expect at the job site, I actually thought it was a staging area when we arrived or maybe temporary housing. This part of Valpraiso is very poor and the construction of homes is basically made up of plywood, corrugated tin roofs and styrofoam for insulation. Way different than in the US.

I worked with half my team on the front house for a family of 3, with a fourth on the way from the teenage daughter. It was rainy, FREEZING and was probably in the high forties most of the time. The women worked just as hard as the men which, at times, proved to be difficult with the language barrier. We used broken Spanish, they used broken English and lots of sign language in between. It's actually kind of surprising how much Spanish I already knew with being part Mexican and all. Armando was the man who lived in the house I was working on, he was such an extrovert and knew everyone in the neighborhood. I wondered why he was home all the time and not working, turns out he is a fisherman and it's their off season. He was a crack up and insisted we address him as "This Armondo". He was very impressed by my mad miter saw skills.

Our days were long and we worked hard building, cutting, measuring and talking. After our days up in the hills, we would drive down into the city where we stayed at a local hostel and came home to a hot traditional Chilean meal cooked by one of the local pastor's wife. It's customary for the guests not to refuse any food that the host puts in front of you, which was hard sometimes because they're very into white bread {pan} with every meal. What's up with that?

Staying in the hostel with the team was a little bit like going away to sleepover camp. This is where some of the best team bonding took place. In the morning we would do it all over again. Load all the tools into the vehicles and drive to the job site. Once the houses were built, we headed back to Santiago, actually Maipu while the electricians wired the freshly built houses. In Maipu we were introduced to our host family and went home with them at the end of the day. The church was our hub and meeting spot while in Maipu so since we were there, we worked on adding an extension onto the youth building. Soccer is very big in Chile and there is an artificial turf field on the church property that they open up to the neighborhood kids. We had a blast playing with them.


My host family was the best! They gave up their master bedroom for my 2 team members and I to use while the parents bunked up in one of the kids rooms and the 2 kids shared a room as well. Whereas we all shared 1 bathroom, that was fun. Poor Victor {the host dad}. The communication was limited, however, we still managed to play card games and have some good conversations at night {over bread}. We spent Sunday as a family with the host family going to church, watching the Men's World Cup Soccer and ate a traditional meal for Sunday dinner.


After about 7 days, we had a day of rest. Well, sight seeing in downtown Santiago. It was gorgeous with rich history, fabulous architecture and lots of people and more food! Good thing we walked about six miles... the rain.... {no really, we did} because we also ate Empanada Rapido for snacks and had traditional Completo for lunch, which was a hot dog {on white bread} with the works! Not no downtown LA street dog, this hot dog was the best thing I ever ate my whole trip.

We headed back to Valpraiso to put the finishing touches on the houses and to present the families with their new homes. That was the highlight of my trip. "This Armondo" and his wife took some of us to see the neighbors horses while they were cooking outside on their stove some fresh Pan. It was so humbling to share bread with someone I just met. "This Armondo" then took us on a short hike to see the devastation all along the hillsides. The trees were mostly black sticks shooting from the blackened soil with a smell of a beach bon fire hanging in the air. We collected some burnt wood pieces to bring home to make a cross and commemorate the trip. It hangs in my office to this day. 

...If our buildings are knocked down, we’ll rebuild them bigger and finer.
If our forests are cut down, we’ll replant them with finer trees.” Isaiah 9:10 (msg)

God is good, working in the hearts of the locals rebuilding their faith, strength and homes. I'm the one who feels blessed to have had the opportunity to go to Chile and serve the people than it was for me to build a house.

As they say in Chile, Ciao.