As much as possible, Dave and Terri were willing and desirous of being used in ministry during their ten days in Iquique. Because Terri already speaks Spanish, she had the advantage of being able to jump right in and so she did! Despite weariness from travel, she stayed up late the night of their arrival to participate in an ESL Bible study. The next day she taught the ladies of Iglesia Bautista Misionera and was an impromptu judge for their culinary competition. On Sunday, Dave shared his heart briefly with the church and was warmly welcomed.
|Terri teaching the ladies at Iglesia Bautista Misionera|
|our colleague Jon Sharp had fun taking a picture of Dave speaking and Pedro translating on Sunday morning|
In true Iquique style, our team meetings have become late night affairs. Dave and Terri experienced this on Monday night (hopefully the yummy snacks including torta de merengue de lucuma helped make up for the lack of sleep!) It was encouraging for us to hear their testimony of God's work in their hearts and lives to bring them to this point. We trust it was also encouraging for them to learn more about His work among our team members to direct us now to the FLORECE ministry and in the future to another church plant.
|Dave & Terri in front of the FLORECE prenatal and family counseling center|
Northern Chile cannot be truly appreciated without a visit to the "interior." This implies a drive some distance up and beyond the coastal mountain range into the desert itself. One popular destination for those in our region is the tiny oasis town of Pica, known for its thermal springs and citric fruit trees. Because our colleagues Jon and Pam Sharp had yet to visit since arriving in Iquique earlier this year, on Tuesday they joined our family and the Fishers for an overnight trip. Our first stop was of the archaeological sort, to the pintados (geoglyphs) left by ancient civilizations on the desert mountains. The kids really enjoyed braving the piercing sun alongside their Aunt Terri and Uncle Dave!
|Garcia kids with Aunt Terri & Uncle Dave at the final stop on the walking tour|
|the "pintados" - geoglyphs on the Atacama hills|
|Ian and Alec with Uncle Dave|
Two small but clean and accommodating cabins welcomed us to Pica. After a lengthy wait, we enjoyed a delicious meal at a local restaurant before settling down to rest from the journey. Tired as the adults were, the kids still had energy and enthusiasm to visit the legendary thermal cocha and eventually they convinced the men to accompany them. It was a decision regretted by some when night fell and they climbed out of the warm water into the frigid desert night air! Pica was only a brief visit, but a memorable one. Perhaps the highlight for the guys was a quick drive up a mountain to see the brilliant stars against the pitch-black backdrop of what has been called the world's clearest skies.
|Silas with Uncle Dave and Uncle Jon|
|a group picture on our little plot of land in Pica|
On Wednesday's return trip to Iquique we stopped in the town of La Tirana to visit and photograph the Catholic church there. It is a shrine for hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who pay yearly homage to their "Virgin of La Tirana" in the month of July. This tiny, desolate town has no other claim to fame other than its ornate cathedral which stands in stark tribute to lavish faith. Statues of various saints lined the walls, and on this day Saint Lorenzo - the patron saint of miners - was poised on a candle-encircled display at the front of the sanctuary. Nearby statues of Jesus portrayed Him as either the small child of His revered mother Mary or the suffering Savior bleeding on the cross. Across the street from the church, relics could be purchased for a price. For us it was a somber place where ritualistic religion and pagan tradition blended to create a false hope of salvation. Human works can never fulfill what is found solely in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ in His cross and resurrection!
|this ornate stained glass window displays a traditional dance to the Virgin Mary and Christ child|
Although Dave and Terri's primary purpose for their trip to Iquique was ministry-focused, definitely a side blessing for our kids was to spend time with an aunt and uncle they do not see often. In between the next few days they spent getting to know our other missionary colleagues, we cherished the moments we could spend together as a family. Our boys were thrilled by a movie night with Uncle Dave, and the whole gang spent one evening down at Cavancha beach exploring the artisan crafts and enjoying crispy hot churros with powdered sugar and manjar. On the Fishers' last day, a final round of fresh fruit juices preceded saying goodbye and heading to the airport.
|Uncle Dave with nephews Owen and Ian|
|Aunt Terri and the gang enjoying fresh churros at Cavancha|
|Uncle Dave's fresh fruit blend was the first to arrive|
It was a bittersweet ride to drop the Dave and Terri off at the Iquique airport knowing their hearts were torn between reuniting with their children back home and returning to Iquique with God's timing yet unknown. As Terri later wrote in their prayer update, "Suffice it to say ... that our hearts are now firmly entrenched in Iquique and we long for the day that we can return and be actively involved in the ministry there to which God has undoubtedly called us and uniquely gifted us."
|a family "selfie" to say goodbye|
We thank God for the privilege of sharing a heart for ministry and specifically for Iquique with members of our own family. For many years, Dave and Terri were personal supporters of ours as we prepared and departed for the mission field. Now God has called them not only to "send" but to "go." Please pray that His perfect timing and provision would allow them to see their own support needs quickly met and their return to Iquique soon realized! It was a privilege to welcome the Fishers here.