The Lord watches over the foreigner.

Thirty years ago I learned a song from Psalm 146. The Lord opens up the eyes of the blind and He raises up those who are down. The Lord loves the righteous, protects the stranger and supports the fatherless and the widow…

For the past month, this song keeps coming to my mind. It’s a song of praise and includes a promise that God will take care of the foreigner if his hope is in Him.

Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help,
Whose hope is in the Lord his God…
The Lord watches over the foreigner.
Psalm 146:5 & 9

The immigration situation for Joey and Pam looked impossible. The requirements the immigration worker gave them were impossible to accomplish. Eric had written him over a month ago asking about the requirements but had not received any response. Joey told us, “If Chile doesn’t want us, we can’t stay.” It looked like they might need to move to Thailand. Pam’s work visa expired in the States, so they cannot return there yet.

Joey had a prayer request before the Lord. He asked for two things to happen if he and Pam were to stay in Chile. First, that they would have an appointment to get their visas to be processed (instead of getting up at 4:00 in the morning to stand out in the cold to wait 8 hours in hopes of seeing the immigration officer who would turn them away again with more unnecessary or impossible requirements.) Second, another worker would process their visas. Joey told us that it was his fleece-of-sorts… an appointment and a different government worker.

That was a big request since the immigration officer did the initial processing of every immigrant in Chiloé and he made all the immigrants come at 8 a.m. to get a number for the day’s appointments. Since his office was open only until 1:30 p.m., that meant that only about 12 people got to see him. So that meant getting in line at 4 or 5 a.m. That’s the way it’s done. By appointment? And to somehow go around that immigration officer?? Two different people have told us that the man is an evil man.

But nothing is impossible with God!

Mireya, a friend from church, greeted me one Sunday morning and told me she was burdened to pray for our family — specifically about visas and the man that works at the immigration office. She had not heard about our situation. But she knew some other foreigners who were having difficulties with the man. And she felt burdened by the Lord to pray for us. Then I told her about the problems that Joey and Pam were having with immigration. She later texted me with scripture and said she believed God was going to lift up our heads in this situation.

Last week, Eric got a text from Gabriel, the director at the music academy. I had told Gabriel about the difficulties we were having. He had a solution for us. He had talked with Rodrigo, a father of two students that go to the academy. Rodrigo is the governor’s chief of staff. Rodrigo talked with the governor and said he would meet with us and with Alex, an immigration officer from Santiago, at 3:00 on Friday. He would help Joey and Pam apply for their visas.

In our meeting, Rodrigo warmly greeted us. He told us that the governor was out of the office and couldn’t be there, so he was there to represent the governor. The application process went smoothly and quickly. It was very helpful that Joey had lived in Chile before. And it was also helpful that they were married in Chile. Alex called his boss in Santiago and confirmed what we had thought — that the requirements from the local immigration officer were false. At one point, when Eric hurriedly shuffled through papers to find the correct items that Alex asked for, Rodrigo said, “Calma” (Relax). He said, “I have set aside this time for you.” They were kind to us and made it a pleasant experience. At the end of the meeting, Rodrigo apologized for how Joey and Pam were treated. And he welcomed them to Chile.

Thanks to all those who prayed for us! Please pray for the immigration officer.

Mini-documentary

There’s a mini-documentary being made about the music academy. It will be aired sometime in September on national TV. The film crew wanted to film a concert in an old church in the countryside which we had tonight. The church was full and the audience gave a standing ovation. The old building was cold (in the 40’s) and we could see our breath. It did warm up a little after the first half of the concert from all the people and some space heaters.

I liked the sailboats hanging from the ceiling.

Caleb and Ayilen played a duet — Concerto in G minor for Two Cellos by Antonio Vivaldi.

Concerto in G minor for 2 cellos by Antonio Vivaldi

Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help,
Whose hope is in the Lord his God,
Who made heaven and earth,
The sea, and all that is in them;
Who keeps truth forever,
Who executes justice for the oppressed,
Who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord gives freedom to the prisoners. The Lord opens the eyes of the blind;
The Lord raises those who are bowed down;
The Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the strangers;
He relieves the fatherless and widow;
But the way of the wicked He turns upside down. The Lord shall reign forever—Your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the Lord!

It’s here a little while, then it’s gone.

How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. James 4:14

It’s winter here in Chiloé. The days are very short. Sunrise is at 8:25 a.m. & sunset at 5:28 p.m. We watch the morning fog roll up our hill.

We see fishing boats disappear into the fog.

Sometimes the fog lingers a bit longer over Castro in the distance. The fog reminds me of James 4:14 and the first poem I memorized as a child. I’ve quoted it all my life but now I live in a place where I can see it.

The fog comes

on little cat feet.

It sits looking

over harbor and city

on silent haunches

and then moves on.


Carl Sandburg

The roof blew off

We had a strong Kansas wind a few weeks ago. Chloe and Zoie watched the roof heave up and down from their upstairs window. Then it blew off! Just like fog, it was here a little while, now it’s gone.

Mold

Ever since we moved into our rental house I have smelled mold in the kitchen. With our house closed up more for the winter, the mold has been bothering me. So Eric tore out the press-board cabinets. We destroyed the mold that was underneath and behind the cabinets. Eric built new cabinets. The mold is gone.

Brother time & bibimbap

Joey has been helping Caleb learn to program. They are working on the next version of the game “Snowballz” that Joey had made when we lived in Villarrica 11 years ago. It’s a game of penguins having a snowball fight.

Pam has been teaching us how to cook Thai food. And bibimbap!

Bibimbap — A Korean dish

Like her Thai dishes, Pam’s bibimbap was delicious. We devoured it. It was here a little while, now it’s gone!

Concerts

Last week the kids played for an Inauguration Ceremony dedicating the new building for the music academy.

Important community leaders sometimes attend their concerts. The mayor has shaken hands with our kids a few times and the head of the police department has chatted with them, practicing his English. The governor of Chiloé province was going to be at this concert and we were hoping to meet him. Gabriel, the director of the music academy, said that he would introduce us. Eric and I were hoping we could make an appointment with the governor to discuss the problems we are having with immigration.

Mayor of Castro speaking

A funny thing happened on the way to the concert on Friday night. As we walked along the sidewalk, I was thinking intently about buying a wooden plate at the market and about talking to the governor. As we turned the corner, we passed two men who were standing on the sidewalk in front of us. I took two steps in wet concrete. My feet sank a couple of inches. I turned to look at the two men whose faces were astonished. They were silent. One man put both hands over his mouth. The men had just finished smoothing the freshly poured concrete. I looked at my prints in the concrete. And I stood there not knowing what to say. Finally, I broke the silence by timidly saying, “Lo siento.” The next day I walked down that same sidewalk. My footprints in the concrete were gone. And there were barricades around the new sidewalk.

The governor did not come to the concert.

Fog pictures by Chloe.

There’s a chance of sunshine.

Joey and Pam’s tourist visas are about to expire, so last week they tried to start the application process for temporary residence visas. Joey had filled out the papers and obtained everything needed for the application.

They walked to the government building early Tuesday morning and waited outside in the cold. Just before the doors opened, other foreigners came and cut in front of Joey and Pam. Friends had been saving places in line.

At 8 a.m. the immigration man came out with numbers for those that could be seen that day. Joey and Pam walked home without a number.

So Wednesday morning Joey and Pam arrived at 5:00 a.m. to stand in line in the cold (36 degrees). There were 10 others already waiting. They were hopeful to see the immigration officer. Eric came later to wait with them and be their interpreter. Finally, at 12:30 they went in to speak with the immigration officer. They handed him the paperwork. He briefly thumbed through it and said that he couldn’t accept Joey’s bank statements as proof of his ability to support themselves. He said that the bank statements needed to be translated into Spanish, the dollar amounts converted into pesos, certified by the bank, and then apostilled. This is virtually impossible to do.

Eric told the man that two years ago when we applied, our US bank statements were accepted without the additional requirements. The man said that everything changed on the first of May. He said that the immigration department in Santiago was so busy that they haven’t had the time to update their website with the new requirements.

Eric knew he was lying. He was looking for an excuse to not process Joey’s application that day.

So Joey and Pam had to leave the country. They fled to Argentina!

They took a bus ride to Bariloche, Argentina — a town nestled beside a lake and the Andes.

It’s just for the weekend. They’re coming back tomorrow with a fresh 90-day tourist visa.

Joey and Pam ran into the immigration officer in the Castro bus station before catching their bus to leave the country. Joey said hello! I’m sure he smiled at the man. Joey is not one to get bitter.

But I had to work at forgiving him.

This same man caused us many problems with our application two years ago. He gave us the run around with many unnecessary requirements causing us to return to his office at least a dozen times. We finally got our temporary residence visas when a different person (a lady lawyer) processed it because this man went on vacation. That lady sorted through our stacks of paperwork and laid the unnecessary pile of papers aside.

I was feeling quite frustrated and discouraged the other day. We were experiencing some additional obstacles in life as a foreigner.

Sometimes life feels heavy and gloomy — all rain and no sunshine.

Eric heard God say that He will be Joey’s advocate and that man cannot thwart God’s plan for Joey and Pam. And the scripture about the unjust judge and the persistent widow came to Matthew when we told him about the situation.

We do sense that God is going to turn this thing around — that He will intervene. There’s a chance of sunshine in the forecast when you live in God’s kingdom!

We are praying for this man, that his heart would change. He has caused difficulties for many trying to immigrate. I am praying that he will become honest or that another would take his place.

This morning, Pastor Carlos preached a great message. He talked about Jesus being our refuge from the storm. This was one of his scriptures:

Look, a righteous king is coming!
    And honest princes will rule under him.
Each one will be like a shelter from the wind
   and a refuge from the storm… Isaiah 32:1-2

Our God is all-powerful — Todopoderoso! And He reigns in righteousness and with justice!

Book

One Sunday in February Pastor Carlos preached on Psalm 143:10
“Teach me to do Your will.” He said, “Do what God has told you to do!”
Eric just read that same scripture to our family the day before. Both times the words confirmed something in our spirits.

Years ago, God told us to write down testimonies. We were often distracted and not quick about it, but we finally did it. We wrote a book. It’s our story of how God led us to know Christ as our healer.

The book’s purpose is to bear testimony of Jesus Christ and exalt His covenant name Yahweh Rapha.

O magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt His name together.
Psalm 34:3

You can download a free PDF copy here. It’s also available in paperback book or ebook on Amazon.com.

Eric is presently working on translating it into Spanish. Pastor Carlos has offered to help us phrase things correctly in Spanish.

Bittersweet Times

In February we received a phone call from our son, Joey. He told us that he was coming to visit in a couple of weeks, bringing his fiancée for us to meet! They arrived on the evening of March 6th!

Two days later I got a call from my other son, Matthew. He said he bought a plane ticket to Chile!

It was a bittersweet time. We were all so happy to see Joey and meet Pam. We were excited that Matthew would be visiting also! But my dad was dying. On the morning of March 9th, my dad went on to be with the Lord. I am thankful that I flew back last November to spend 3 weeks with him and my mom.

My dad was a wonderful man. I miss him dearly. But I know I will see him again one day. He believed in Jesus as his Savior. He has the victory over death. I am looking forward to the big victory hug my dad will give me when I finish this race on earth!

But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57

Matthew arrived the next week. It was a wonderful visit. We got one good hike in along the Pacific coast of the island.

Joey and Pam got married on April 3rd at our church.

They plan to stay in Chiloé for at least a year. Joey found a job working remotely for a company in New York City.

We found a cute apartment for them that overlooks the bay of Castro. They can walk to town so they are going to try to get by without a vehicle.

2019 has been a busy year so far and full of changes.

Blackberries in My Life

Summer is here!

Our thermometer read 95 degrees this week which is very unusual for Chiloé. There’s no air-conditioning in Southern Chile and we don’t even own a fan. So we cooled off in the channel that’s in front of our home.

We Kansans are amazed at how easily we float in the ocean.

It’s tourist season. Santiagans head south. Southern Chile becomes packed with traffic, backpackers, and long lines at the grocery stores. Chile’s road structure has not kept up with the increase in vehicle numbers.

Last night the police were out directing traffic at 10 p.m. as we were leaving Castro after church.  We go to Castro as little as possible in February.

The European tourists buy all our high-fat plain yogurt… leaving us only with the sugary options.

On the positive side… the blackberries are ripening. We ate our first blackberry pie yesterday for Zoie’s birthday.

Last night, we sang a song at church called “Mora en mi Vida.” It means “Dwell in my life.”

Mora is also the Spanish word for blackberries.

The first time I heard the song 2 years ago, I thought it was saying “Blackberries in my life.”

But the real meaning of the song is about the atonement of Jesus on the cross – that which brought forgiveness of our sins and healing for our bodies (a reference to Isaiah 53). Some of the lyrics translate to this:

What a great price you paid on that cross for me. 
With your blood, you washed me!

With your wounds, you healed my wounds!
How could I even think about wanting to let go if you guide me.
You are my reason for living!

Several weeks ago was the annual shorebird census for southern South America. A reviewer for ebird.org from Valparaiso invited Caleb to go birding with him and a marine biologist and a veterinarian.  Caleb knew Chiloé’s birding hot spots well and was even helpful with directions. He got to spend 12 hours birding that day. He was happy.

Chloe has had opportunities to share her faith in Christ with several friends from the music academy.

Eric and I still get asked why we moved to Chiloé. Eric’s answer is, “It’s a long story.” Sometimes they reply that they have plenty of time. Then I usually tell them the story. I told my son, Joey, that sometimes I think we have a ministry to realtors. Joey replied, “Realtors need Jesus too!”

A few days ago Eric and I were running errands amidst the hordes of people. First, we went to Lider (owned by Walmart). I must have looked bewildered as I weighed my french bread because a kind man came over to help me.

Eric and I shopped a while, then snaked our way through the store to the long lines at the checkout. As we were checking out a man behind us told me that I needed to go weigh my bananas first. I was surprised it was the same man that had helped me at the bakery. He laughed. Sometimes I am such a gringo.  (I forgot the bananas needed to be weighed at Lider. We usually buy our fruits and vegetables at the market.)

After that, we jostled with the traffic through Castro dodging the pedestrians and headed north to Sodimac – a hardware store that’s just outside of town. We got the items we needed and went to one of the self-checkouts. Again at the checkout was this same man! We were all surprised.

I asked him, “What’s your name?” He replied, “Cristian.” I asked him, “Are you a Christian? Do you know God?”

I told him that God must have directed our steps and I invited him to our church. He said he would come to visit it.

We walked out of the store together to the parking lot beneath the store. We discovered that we had parked right next to each other!

It’s Just Temporary!

Before Abigail flew back to the States, we made a trip to Chiloé’s west coast. We wanted to make the most of her short stay.

We hiked at a local tourist trap that has some beautiful views of the ocean. The sea was exceptionally calm that day.

When we returned from our hike, we found this little guy trimming the grass behind our van. Caleb commented, “Kansas has feedlot cows. Chiloé has parking lot cows.” 

In  Chiloé, they don’t use lawn mowers – they use lawn moooers.

Next, we stopped at one of the rocky beaches along the coast. Our favorite spots are where rivers empty into the ocean.

The kids spent the afternoon building a dam. The small river was a few feet deep in the middle and had a strong current. The kids moved a lot of rocks.

Eric said, “Next time we come we’ll see if their dam survived the forces of the river.” It was a reminder to me of how temporary this world is.

almost finished

At sunset, a couple and their young daughter and their little white fluffy dog came to set a fishing net.  The dad put on a wet suit and carried an anchor and net into the ocean. They told us they’d return in the morning for their catch of fish.

I’ve always seen the beauty of God’s creation as a mighty display of His power and glory.  It comforts me to have a glimpse of how great our God is and know that He will one day make all things “new” or “fresh.”

Chloe taking sunset pictures

It’s just temporary!

I was talking with my oldest son a few nights ago on the phone. He could hear the discouragement in my voice. He told me that I was perplexed. He was right. I had been feeling very perplexed lately.  He asked me to read 2 Corinthians 4.

After reading it, I called Matthew back. Among other things in that chapter, he helped me to see that sometimes as we endeavor to follow Christ we are perplexed. “…we are perplexed, but not in despair;” vs.8

Matthew helped me refocus on the eternal. In this life, certain sorrows and perplexities are always with us. Matthew emphasized to me, “But it’s just temporary!” I can still hear the excitement in his voice.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:4

 

The opera’s not over ’til the fat lady sings

It’s been a month of ups and downs.

On Monday, we had an appointment with the notary’s office to sign for a property which we were to have possession of by the end of this month. We were very excited! But the night before, the owner called us and said that they decided they didn’t want to sell.

We were very disappointed. I’ve been packing. And we even had a good builder ready to start in March! That in itself seemed like an answer to prayer…

Numerous hurdles had been overcome to get to the point of purchasing land while our visas are still in process. The man behind the desk in the tax office told Eric “no” at least three times. He said, “Imposible!” But… God came through and Eric walked out of that office with a smile on his face and the papers he needed in hand.

It had seemed that property was for us. But the door closed.

Hope in Christ does not disappoint

I am thankful that there is one thing that will never disappoint us.

Romans 5:3-5 And not only that but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;  and perseverance, character; and character, hope.  Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

So we’ll continue to trust God and wait for His perfect plan. He is faithful. He’s the Good Shepherd.

A picture Zoie drew of an alpaca on the land we wanted to buy.

I am still hopeful. As the old saying goes, “It’s not over ’til the fat lady sings.”

Another Hope… Abigail Hope Marshall

Abigail is spending her winter break with us! We are visiting some of her favorite spots on the island. On Saturday we drove south to Queilen.

Abigail sunning on a beach on a peninsula on a South Pacific island

Bridget sunning

Chloe sunning

It was a sunny day and 65 degrees! After they went swimming, Zoie buried some of her cold siblings in the warm sand.

We saw dolphins, penguins, and sea lions close to where the kids swam. The sea life stared at us as they swam by.

Bridget captured a penguin’s view of us.

Fishermen honked and waved as they passed by.

Zoie didn’t want to leave. The water was not too cold for her!

Puñihuil Penguin Colony

Last Friday we visited a penguin colony on a small island just north of the main island. It’s the only known place in the world where Humboldt and Magellanic penguins nest side by side.

Magellanic penguin

Humboldt and Magellanic penguins

Juvenile penguin

Abigail will be flying back to Kansas in a few days to finish up her time at KWU. We are planning another hike before she leaves.

We hope for a blessed new year for you all… His kingdom come and His will be done in all of our lives.

Righteousness… Peace… and Joy in the Holy Ghost -that’s the kingdom of God!

…for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:17

 

A Dream Come True

I’ve always dreamed of owning an outhouse. They’re super cute… especially when hollyhocks grow beside them. But I’ve never been able to convince Eric. That dream never came true.

But last year about this time, Bridget had a dream (the kind one has while sleeping.) In her dream, our family was looking for a property to buy and then we walked into a large old church building. There she sang in a choir with her dad.

The dream made her happy.

She has missed singing in a choir. She loved singing in the Messiah and the homeschool choir. Leaving the annual Goldenbelt Vocal Festival when we moved was a loss for all of us.

One year later, Bridget’s dream came true.

Last April Chloe, Caleb, and Zoie came home from the music academy and told us that their orchestra would be accompanying the Castro community choir. We didn’t know one existed but Eric looked into it. He and Bridget started going to their rehearsals.

The people in the Castro choir were very welcoming and Javier (the director) was excited to have additional singers.

They had concerts three nights in a row this week in old church buildings. (In Chonchi, Dalcahue, and Castro.)

The choir sang several old Spanish and Italian a cappella songs from the 15th & 16th centuries. And the orchestra accompanied them with selections from Vivaldi’s Gloria.

The old church buildings are wooden. In Dalcahue, some of the wood was painted a faux marble.

 

Bridget & Eric in Chonchi

It was a first

This was the first time the Castro choir had ever been accompanied by an orchestra. And it was the first time for the orchestra to play with a choir.

On the final night, people filtered in from the street until the place was packed. The audience gave an immediate standing ovation.

On two of the nights, a dog wandered in through the open doors.

We drove home each night all wound up, thrilled, and exhausted.

Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

YouTube links to some of the songs

Vivaldi’s Gloria and Cum Sancto Spiritu  Youtube link

Vivaldi’s Domine Fili  Youtube link

Vivaldi’s Gratias Agimus Tibi & Propter Magnum Gloriam  Youtube link to Gratias & Propter

St. Paul’s Suite 1st movement  Youtube link

Castro choir in 1 minute   Youtube link

A Broke Cellist

“A broke cellist and his Lutheran wife from Hamburg are coming to Castro!” Caleb informed us the other evening around the supper table.  This brought a humorous image to my mind.

The chuckles coming from Caleb clued us that he probably meant “A Baroque cellist and his luthier (by profession) wife from Hamburg are coming to Castro!”

Years ago there was no orchestral music on Chiloé island. The schools on the island do not offer any music education. About 11 years ago Gabriel and Paula moved from Santiago to Chiloé to start a music academy.

We are thankful they did… and that they allowed our kids to participate. The program is growing.

Villarrica Trip

Last week we drove up to Villarrica. The music academy’s orchestra was invited to participate in an event along with 3 other small orchestras from southern Chile. On the last evening of the event, each orchestra played 5 or 6 pieces.  Then they combined as one large symphony and played the final piece. There were about 120 students total. The auditorium was packed, exceeding its capacity.

Saturday (concert day) was a long day. We woke at 7:00 am and headed to Volcán Villarrica for an outing. We drove 15 kilometers up the volcano, hiked a little bit, and had snowball fights.

(Caleb is in yellow)

The Chilean kids said that our kids had an advantage because we were from the US where there’s snow and therefore had experience at snowball fights.

Eleven years ago we skied on this volcano.

It was a new experience for the Castro children. Many of them had never been off the island before. The local news station had a cameraman present. They were filmed as they got off the bus, filmed as they ate, and filmed while they rehearsed.

Meeting North American Christians

While up in the Villarrica area we met several North Americans who had moved to Chile. We met a couple in a grocery store. And a different North American couple invited us for dinner. They moved to Chile three years ago. I enjoyed conversing in English for a whole evening.

We stopped to buy some wooden flowers in Pucon.

We drove home Sunday. It’s a beautiful drive all along the Pan-American highway from Villarrica to Puerto Montt.

Other concerts

Javier, the orchestra director for Castro, receives many requests for presentations, especially on teacher appreciation day.

Javier

Their small orchestra played in the new cultural center. It was part of a solemn assembly honoring a man who had just died.

This man was a long time resident of Castro who did a lot to develop the community. Castro has come a long way in recent years. Our neighbor told us that when he was young, the Pan-American Highway was only one lane. That was about 20 years ago. Without a center line, you had to make room for an oncoming vehicle. There weren’t many cars back then.

The kids also played for a tourism fair in the new Castro gym.

Tired after a long day of activities.