At the time of this writing, our furlough countdown says that in 1 month and 1 day we will be stepping onto an airplane (actually a total of three airplanes) and heading back to the United States of America. It will be here before we know it! We have been gone from the States for nearly 4 1/2 years this term.
In preparation for re-introductions upon returning stateside, this post is a simple overview of us - who we are, where we are, what we do. The idea for this post is not original to me but I recently admired it on another missionary blog and thought it would be fun to imitate. I also hope it might be a helpful refresher for anyone interested!
Where do we live?
Continent: South America
City: Iquique (pronounced EE-KEY-KAY)
We live in the Chilean city of Iquique which has approximately 200,000 inhabitants. Added to the neighboring "bedroom community" of Alto Hospicio and several smaller towns, our immediate vicinity numbers close to 350,000 people. Iquique is culturally diverse, home to many immigrants from nearby Bolivia, Peru, Argentina and Colombia but also to numerous Indian, Pakistani, and Chinese business owners. Due to its desert surroundings, the weather in Iquique is dry and temperate but the city rests on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. The primary language spoken throughout Chile is Spanish.
Personally, we live in a three-storey duplex home. Most houses in Chile are made of concrete to withstand the regular seismic activity. Our house is the bright orange one on the far left of the picture below. It has three bedrooms and like most houses in Chile, is protected from theft by a large metal gate and metal bars on the first-floor windows. We have rented our home in Iquique for eight years and are thankful for the stability God has graciously allowed us to enjoy as a family in one place for all this time.
What do we do?
It might be easier to explain what we "did" and now what we "do." Over the course of the past 4 1/2 years, so much has changed! From January 2009 until last year, we were part of the leadership team of the Iglesia Bautista Misionera where Pedro functioned in a pastoral role. Ministries included preaching, teaching across all ages, individual Bible studies, monthly men's/women's/married couples' meetings, counseling, etc. In January of last year, however, our church "graduated" to independence and called a full-time Chilean pastor. We rejoice at this step and our desire upon returning to Iquique after furlough is to participate in planting a sister church in another part of the city that does not have a Gospel witness.
Meanwhile, God has us fully invested in the ministry of the FLORECE Prenatal & Family Counseling Center which opened its doors on October 1, 2016. After many years of praying, preparing and pursuing the dream of a pregnancy center in Iquique, God allowed this desire to come to fruition last year. Already many lives have been touched by the hope of the Gospel through this ministry and we look forward to continued involvement and growth in the years to come!
Who are we?
Long story short, once upon a time a boy from Michigan (Pedro) met an MK girl from Chile (Stephanie) while both were living in Pennsylvania. Twenty years of marriage and six children later, this August marks a decade from our initial arrival in Chile as missionaries. However, more interesting than us and those who have changed the most during recent years are our children, so they rightly deserve a more detailed introduction.
Eva is 16 years old and in 10th grade. Her hobbies include writing, photography and research (mainly related to animals!) She loves horses and dogs. Recently a neighbor admired her training of our dog, Whittaker, and this landed her a job walking and training our neighbor's puppy. She's only sad it came just before leaving for furlough!
Isabel is in 9th grade and will turn 15 years old less than a week after we arrive in the States. She loves to read (mysteries are her favorite) and listen to music. She has enjoyed guitar lessons and recently excelled in a Chilean sign language class. She is very social and is a dedicated "junior volunteer" at FLORECE.
Owen is 12 years old and in 6th grade. He has done almost all of his schooling in Spanish in Chilean schools. Sports are his favorite thing: soccer, track, handball, basketball among just about every other variety! He is fun-loving and keeps our family laughing.
Ian will be a 3rd grader in the fall and is 9 years old. He is creative and dramatic. He is an exuberant big brother to Silas and can always make him smile! He loves to ride bikes and he loves the beach. He is also an avid Hess toy truck fan.
Alec is also 9 years old (four months younger than Ian) and entering 3rd grade. He dreams of being an American football player and enjoys wrestling with his brothers. He is smart and tough, but also sensitive and deep thinker. He likes Legos and electronics.
Silas is 1 1/2 years old. He is smart, observant and adores his older brothers and sisters. He loves clapping and dancing to Hi-5 songs and figuring out how to outwit baby gates. He enjoys long walks and beach days!
See you soon!