It was a different summer for our family this year, especially when the time came for our annual trek to Santiago for medical appointments. Knowing that "the cousins" (our affectionate title for my sister's family who lives in Santiago) would not be there due to their furlough in the United States, we were lacking our usual landing pad while visiting the capital. But thankfully, we were able to reconnect with some special friends in their stead. This was a girls + baby Silas visit only (more on the big boys' adventures in another post!)
We actually arrived and departed to/from the home of our dear Chilean friends Cristian and Betsy. To my chagrin, I later realized we took no pictures together on this visit! (But pictures from their 2013 visit to Iquique can be found here.) Our greatest entertainment came from seeing their son Santi and our Silas getting to know one another. Santi, like Silas, was a happy surprise baby and his twin sisters are college-aged. So sharing space and toys with a toddler was a bit of a stretch at first, but in the end Santi did quite well. He has trouble pronouncing the letter "S" so it was sweet to hear him calling for "Tee-lah!" However, most of the time he couldn't even remember Silas' name and just constantly inquired, "Como se llama el amigo?" ("What is the friend's name?") Too cute.
One highlight of our time with the Ormeño Oyarce family was the opportunity to visit their church's Spanish school for Haitian immigrants. There has recently been a tremendous increase of Haitian immigration to Chile, and many have arrived to the community in which the church is located. What is special about this is the fact that we attended this church while commencing the process to adopt from Haiti. Our friends accompanied us in prayer and support through the ups and downs of nearly two years of waiting, with Cristian and Betsy even investigating the possibility of adopting from Haiti themselves. So the seed of concern and care for the Haitian people was planted long ago, yet now God allowed it to blossom into a ministry which grew to 60+ students (they had to close registrations!) What a blessing to see it first-hand!
After a couple of nights in San Bernardo, our medical appointments began and led us to stay with Australian friends in Lo Barnechea (another suburb of Santiago on the other side of the city, close to the hospital we regularly visit.) It was a joy to reconnect with Paul and Vikki Kay, with whom we shared many special memories during their time living in Iquique. We were so sad to see them go when Paul's work transferred them to Santiago! Our only disappointment on this visit was not having our boys along to catch up with theirs, but Toby and Karl seemed to enjoy our girls' company nonetheless. They introduced Isabel and Eva to berry picking outside the parcela where they live, to new games and many books!
Our appointments took us away for much of each day, but we enjoyed returning to the lush green grass and beautiful flowers around their home in the evenings. Vikki graciously provided healthy, yummy meals for us and even babysat Silas during one morning of doctors' visits. Our visit would not have been complete without a competitive round or two of Ticket to Ride, so we made sure to include that as well!
Having paid our dues to multiple medical professionals over several days, we returned once again to San Bernardo where we enjoyed two fabulous experiences. The first was eating Betsy's amazing pastel de choclo, a meal which has become a traditional gift she generously bestows on us when we are together (she even brought her own corn in a suitcase to Iquique once just to prepare this favorite dish!) And the second was an invitation to the amazing man-made lagoon and beach in these pictures. It still boggles my mind that someone built this beautiful paradise in the midst of clustered cookie cutter homes in something like suburbia!
I should give honorable mention to other enjoyable aspects of this visit to Santiago such as: frappuccinos at Starbucks and sweet honey biscuits and spicy fried chicken at Popeye's (neither establishment exists in Iquique); a lovely evening with missionary colleagues Dave and Ruth Ann Rogers and their daughter Andrea; and meeting Austin and Kayleigh, a young couple serving at the missionary school short-term. Santiago is never lacking for things to do and we always make good memories, but we were happy to return home to Daddy and the boys after a week away!