As you may know, I am in charge of Charity Club at the school where we both work. This year we were able to take a trip to the south of Chile and help in a Mapuche community located on the island of Chiloe. This was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. The people were so welcoming and grateful for what we were doing. To welcome us to their land, we had a traditional meal furnished by the local people. It is called Curanto and is completely comprised of seafood and meat, so I wasn't able to taste the dishes. However, the feeling was there, and I was so happy to be a part of it.
Our work started with meeting and teaching the children. We introduced where we were from, set up stations (art, English, games), and gave out the Christmas gifts collected from the generous donations of families from our school. The smiles on their faces was enough to bring happiness to any heart.
We continued our trip with several projects including painting the playground equipment for the school and giving a simple facelift to the Juntos de Vecinos (a clubhouse for meetings). This was hard work, but it felt incredible when it was completed. The people were so grateful that we were able to do it for them, because they said it would have taken them weeks to accomplish what we did in a few days.
Part two will be coming later! In that part, I'll finish the story and share a little more about the experience of meeting the locals. I will be taking the rest of the week to spend time with and welcome my family! I may pop in on Friday, but I don't know for sure. 2015 will be much easier schedule wise!
Happy Holidays, and I hope you all have an amazing time. My family is coming in tomorrow morning to Santiago, and Derek and I could not be more excited to show them around our new city. This weekend we fly down to Puerto Varas, so I will be sure to share plenty of photos and stories. It is advertised at the Switzerland of Chile, so I am expecting some pretty beautiful scenery and buildings. See you next week!