This year our children started school a week early in order to allow for one whole week's vacation over the Chilean independence day holiday in September. What a treat! To make the week even more delightful, we were blessed with a very special visit from missionary friends David and Kristi Flinck and their four children: Jordan, Benjamin, Kaylee and Lucas.
It was so enjoyable to wake up each morning to a table full of happy faces! The nine kids really seemed to appreciate each other's company and they got along so well. The three oldest match one another nearly age for age, and the "baby" Lucas was a fun reminder of the joys of discoveries at just-turned age two. Isabel was all too happy to try and "mother" him as much as possible! Eva and Kaylee shared a common love for hamsters and made sure "Cheese" got lots of attention between the two of them. Ian and Alec love company of every age and were thrilled to tag along on the many adventures planned for our week together.
Our one challenge was to pull the three big boys away from the Wii each day, where they spent countless hours of fun battling one another in a Batman Lego game. They must have bonded over the television screen because the three of them became great buddies despite having only met each other briefly once or twice before!
Our outings throughout the week included the seaside park below the Marinero Desconocido; the zoo; the new and improved playground at Playa Brava (pictured below) and of course, Humberstone. Thanks to David's skills with a camera and tripod, we have plenty of fabulous pictures to show for it! (All of the pictures on this post were taken by him with the exception of the breakfast table and zebra crossing.)
The morning we hit the playground equipment (or the "juegos!" as Ian and Alec happily call it) our group just about doubled in size with the planned addition of missionary colleague Kim Spink with four of her kids, as well as the unplanned but pleasant addition of a new friend from Canada. Jenny-Lyn and her two boys just happened to have the same idea at the same time and so I guess you could say the gringos sort of overran the place for an hour! Fortunately we went early in the day before the big crowds arrived and no one seemed to mind too much. I do think we looked rather funny stopping traffic as we crossed the street on the cruce zebra (or the "zebra crossing") and so I couldn't resist snapping this picture of the whole gaggle of us:
watch out, world! we're coming through
This was one of those visits that was truly just completely fun. We seem to have similar parenting styles and that made things easy: for instance when it was bedtime for one, it was bedtime for all! After the kids were settled for the night we enjoyed long talks about first-term missions ministry, challenges and aspirations, even reminiscing about the past (Kristi and I have been friends since the 3rd grade which makes for lots of stories.) David and Kristi attended the same language school as we did in south Texas and also attended the church pastored by Pedro's dad, so we have that in common as well.
What is especially exciting to us about the Flincks' ministry is that God led them to serve in the city of Antofagasta which for many years was our target place of ministry. While we are confident God "detoured" us to Iquique according to His sovereign plan and purposes, it is encouraging to know that He also placed a gifted and committed couple to serve Him in that needy place. We anticipate many trips between Antofagasta and Iquique in the coming years! ... and we greatly look forward to seeing all that God will continue to do in and through our families' lives along the way.