Friends and family~
I recently returned from our annual “Re-orientation, Dis-orientation” retreat, which we were fortunate enough to share with the Peru volunteers up in Tacna, Peru. Cati, Adriana and I flew to Arica in the North of Chile and crossed the boarder to Tacna where the nearest other JVC volunteer community is located. We spent a week at the beach with the volunteers from Tacna and Andahuaylillas, processing the year and sharing experiences and struggles. It was a really wonderful break for all of us, and certainly helped us recommit to the values and commitments which we choose when we first applied to become international volunteers. The retreat itself was well done, but for me the highlight was simply being with other volunteers, laughing, sharing stories, and especially recognizing that the struggles I’ve faced this year with language and teaching are not unique to me.
Returning to Santiago has been bittersweet. On the one hand I come with renewed energy and also have recognized through the time away that it is really wonderful to have something to come back to…relationships that are meaningful, work that I value and a house which has become my home. On the other hand, we are entering now what will probably be the busiest part of the school year. Students will shortly be in the midst of end of the year evaluation, which means tying up loose ends, writing semester tests and submitting grades, as well as our end of the year evaluations of the academic year. Meanwhile, Adriana and I have begun planning and preparing for the arrival of the new volunteers, Emily and Carlos, who will be arriving to Santiago, December 8th (on our one-year anniversary). Between coordinating their welcomes at work sites, finding home stay families, and figuring out a plan to help orient them to live in Santiago we have our hands full. We are, of course, supper excited to receive them and return the welcome which was showed to us upon our arrival to Santiago.
There is so much to be grateful for as I wrap up my first year in Santiago and prepare to begin anew with a new community and a second chance to be a better teacher and better volunteer. I would ask that you continue to keep us in prayer and I have a couple of special prayer requests during this time:
1) For Coni Carvajal, my host sister. Cony was diagnosed earlier this year with lupus and has been really up and down with health issues over the last several months. She is going to be hospitalized tomorrow to undergo some more testing which involves lowering her immune defenses, so she will have to stay in the hospital for a bit. She also may have to repeat the school year because of time lost. She is a wonderful girl with a very bright future, but she is facing some real challenges right now so please keep her in prayer.
2) For the arrival of Emily and Carlos. Planning in-country orientation for the new volunteers has taken me back to the feelings, hopes, fears, etc. I had when I fist arrived. Please pray for a good transition for them and that their idealism and excitement bring renewed energy for our community as well.
Thats all for now. Know that I think of you all often and keep you in my prayers from the other side of the world! Enjoy these pictures from Re-O Dis-O in Peru. The other volunteers are Asheln, Rose, Mo, Seamus and Greg (Tacna) and Sam, Mateo, Mallory and Cara (Andahuaylillas).