Wrapping up 2020

As we wrap up 2020 we are so extremely grateful to God for all of His blessings, many of which have come through our family, friends, and supporters. It has been a challenging year in many respects, but also a year of growth. Our heartfelt thanks to each of you for helping to make our mission possible and for going above and beyond to make sure that we are comfortable and have what we need. As I write this, just before Christmas, I am reminded, of course, of the generous birth of our Lord and Savior. He left some of His divine privileges to take on human nature and live among us. We know that His purpose in being born was to prepare a body that could be sacrificed on the cross, to be the atonement for our sins. That message was present from before His birth as the angel told Joseph that the baby to be called Jesus and known as Immanuel would save the people from their sins. This season is a time to reflect on the gifts God has given us, and primary among them, the salvation offered exclusively through Jesus Christ to all who would receive Him. We see God’s generosity to us in this reflected in your generosity toward our family and the mission here.


It will come as no surprise that 2020 has been a very different year from what was planned. At the beginning of the year I was excited to be working on a seminary project and brainstorming how to adapt to the new political situation in Chile. Covid restrictions have pretty well ended that endeavor for the time being. Class participation has shrunk. I still have two small groups active, but continuing will require major adaptation. That said, part of the adaptation is already in place. I started offering stand-alone classes with lower, shorter-term commitment and received much interest. Moving the classes to an online format has also allowed people from around Chile to be part of the classes, people too far away to be physically present. So, while my plans look little like what I was aiming for a year ago, the classes are progressing, and people are learning.


Our church group has gone through the same thing. We have been online since March as government restrictions prohibit gatherings of any kind (sometimes totally, sometimes just on the weekend). We moved into a more relaxed phase and were able to meet in person for two weeks, and then all of Santiago went back into the weekend lockdowns. So, our church services have moved online, through Facebook and Zoom. We have, in addition to Sunday services, two weekday Bible studies (one of which I teach) and a weekly prayer meeting. The church has seen some baptisms as a result of the online services, once again in areas we would not have reached otherwise. We have seen people coming to the Lord and growing in spite of the obstacles. Of course, there are challenges too as people feel isolated, struggle with economic and health fears, and don’t get the fellowship time that I think we all need.


Tabi has been striving hard to make progress on her translations while also practically homeschooling Lydia and taking care of a rambunctious toddler. Lydia is enrolled in a school, but the schooling has consisted in the teachers sending text messages with some assignments each week – not enough to challenge or teach Lydia, or really follow up on her progress. So, we have had to do that, but also supplement to make sure that she continues growing. Caleb is enrolled to start preschool next March but has some stuff we need to work on to get him ready for that. Still, somehow Tabi manages to get that done and work on her translation and is done with the first section of a Romans commentary she is working on with LATM.


With the uncertainty generated by Covid and the accompanying restrictions, Chile’s November vote to repeal its constitution (the new one is supposed to be written in 2021 and 2022) and continued social and political unrest (as the US embassy phrases it) it is hard to know how to approach plans for 2021. The plans we do have are for Tabi to finish her part of the Romans commentary, to figure out the kids’ schooling situation, to continue working in the church and continue with the stand-alone classes I have been doing online. I plan to rent an office space in January to try to increase productivity since working from home is difficult. We also need to figure out our furlough schedule (navigating quarantines, limited flights, and churches that aren’t doing physical meetings) and if/when furlough will be worthwhile. We appreciate your prayers for these situations and for wisdom as we look forward to working together in the Lord’s field in 2021.

Hello? Anyone there?

Holy moly!  Is it almost March already?  Let’s fast-track this and do a photo journey through the last few months.

So, we came back to Chile on December 31st.  IMG-20181231-WA0002

Boy, was it good to be home!

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But before that . . . waaaay back in November, we went back to Mike’s mother’s house from the ICOM.

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We enjoyed the holidays with family, and discovered that Lydia has a surprising talent for playing Jenga.

We also got to visit a different church every week, to update and present about our mission.  If you want to see more pictures of that, there’s an album over at our Facebook page.  You can find them in the Mobile Uploads album.  Feel free to follow us there, because we update that pretty regularly!

We even got to do something special at Cornerstone Christian Church in Alliance, Ohio (our sending church)!  Tabi and Lydia sang a very special song, and then Mike preached.

We stayed in touch with our church back in Chile, and (at their request) even sent videos with greetings and short messages!

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On Sunday, December 30th, we went to our last church of the furlough.  Mike preached.  Then we had to hurry over to the airport to board our plane!  Which brings us back to the beginning of the post– Boy, was it good to be home!

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Getting back to Chile at the beginning of summer vacations means that church attendance is down, and classes are out.  So . . . that’s the time to focus on friendships and learning more about Chile’s beautiful countryside and culture.

Have you ever had watermelon ice cream?  Lydia has!

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It’s been a summer of record-breaking highs.  We’ve reached 104°, which is unusual for Santiago.  Staying hydrated is very important!

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We’re still working, though.  Since we were gone for three months, Mike has taken over the preaching at our church, Iglesia de Cristo Maipo, for a while.  While we were in the US, Tabi bought Lydia some Sunday School material to work on during the sermon.  She has also found some good websites online.  Any recommendations for further material (especially in Spanish!) are welcome, though.

Also while we were on furlough, Tabi picked up another translation project.  We are very excited about this one!  She will be translating half of Cottrell’s Commentary on Romans!  She has already started, and has been working alongside LATM and Susan Calderon to make sure she delivers a quality product.

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Along with this, she has continued the upkeep of the various websites associated with Cornerstone Chilean Mission.  They are all listed at the end of this update, if you would like to check any of them out (or better yet, share them!).  She has a series on baptism coming up in March, and she’s very excited about it!  She enlisted the help of several authors– preachers, teachers, and missionaries.  We appreciate prayers for this project.

Mike has continued to work tirelessly toward setting up the institute.  Although it is vacation time, and classes are not meeting, he is still calling, visiting and talking to all the ministers associated with the project.  He’s still looking for teachers, and would appreciate any prayers and recommendations you can send his way.

We have a separate blog update reserved for this, but we wanted to go ahead and share a little bit about this.  At the end of January, we did our yearly retreat with Jaime Escobar (and family).  This year, there were 80 people in attendance.  Mike preached, and we did a meal setup for that.  It was different, and people were intrigued, but liked it.

Perhaps most exciting, though, was that three people asked to be baptized.  And while we were there, we asked if anyone else was ready to take that step, and a fourth came forward!  Praise the Lord!  They have all been attending church faithfully since then, and we are so grateful for more brothers and sisters.  We ask for prayers for the continued growth of the church and His Kingdom.

Thank-you all for reading this update, and for supporting us financially, with prayers, and with encouragement.  We feel privileged to be able to work here, and are so grateful.  We pray blessings for you all.

In Him,
Mike and Tabi
(and family)

Cornerstone Chilean Mission
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Dosis de Doctrina
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Preguntas Teológicas
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El Discípulo Cristiano
Blog     Facebook

Supporting Your Missionary: Exchange Rates

By: Mike and Tabi

P1350678Let’s talk money.

We aren’t complaining or suffering. Things are a little tighter right now, and we thought we would explain something most missionaries deal with.

But why?  You send your money to our sending church, and they pay us our salary.  It’s always the same amount, and no changes are made unless they’ve been discussed in full by our missions board.  We’ve been doing fine so far, so there’s no reason why we should be struggling now, right?

Well, not necessarily.  Because the salary we get paid does fluctuate; not in dollars, but in pesos.Supporting your missionary coins

To get an idea of how exchange rate impacts our budget. Earlier this year we were near 700 pesos per dollar. We recently dropped to near 610 per dollar. Now it has rebounded a bit to about 630 per dollar. Below I use 690 for the before and 620 for the after.

Our rent costs 253000 Chilean pesos (this is really, really good!). A couple of months ago it was $370, now it is $408

A monthly grocery shopping trip might cost 100000 pesos. It has gone from $144 to $161

All our utilities together come to about 100000, so about $144 to $161

Our health insurance costs about 170000 pesos a month, so $246 to $275

IMG_20171003_101508417_HDROur public transport, cellphones, gasoline, doctor visits, clothes, diapers, and other expenses all do the same thing. We are easily looking at a 10% variation in monthly expenses. We also had a stretch for a couple of years after we got to Chile where it was at or below 500 pesos per dollar.

Let’s pray it doesn’t go back there!

A time to wait, and wait . . . and wait

Written by: Mike

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Well, after having my car vandalized the other day, I decided to go file a police report in case they happened to find the guys. So, I looked up online the police station nearest to where the incident took place. I wrote up a summary the same night to make sure to have all the details I could remember written down in an orderly fashion.

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So, Wednesday afternoon, after working on sermons and lesson plans a while, I went to the police station. I asked about filing a report and was told to take a number. I got 99. The screen showed they were on 92. Not too bad. Until I figured out there was only one desk attending the public. After about half an hour, the officer at the desk called 92. Two people went up to say that they had been skipped.

I stepped outside and was chatting with another officer. He informed me that they take between an hour and an hour and a half per report. Doing the math, I decided to give up. They told me that the best time to come in is between midnight and 6AM. Sure… I bet it is. But, another option, he told me, was to go to another station in a less busy part of town.

The next day I went to another station. After waiting a while an officer asked me what I was there for. When he heard that it was for a case of vandalism and that I would not be able to identify the culprits I was told not to waste time filing a report. Nothing would be done for such a common, insignificant crime, so there was really no point. So, I wasted several hours over two days in trips to and from police stations and waiting in line to accomplish absolutely nothing.

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That’s how life goes sometimes, I suppose. Now, I’m off to waste time with the insurance company.

Allergies and Vandalism

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It’s that beautiful time of year when everything blooms, the days get warmer, and allergies make everyone miserable!  Why is it particularly bad in Santiago?  Well, because of a tree called Oriental Plane.Atlas_de_poche_des_plantes_des_champs,_des_prairies_et_des_bois_(Page_144)_(6022048467)

It’s a nice-looking tree, fast-growing and shady.  Which is why landscapers decided to plant them all over Santiago.  It’s also highly allergenic.  Wherever these trees are planted, they compose a significant percentage of allergens.  And now they’re blooming.  Our go-to website for checking allergen levels showed the following levels for this week:

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So basically, they consider any levels higher than 70 grains per square meter a high level.  And, as you can see, Oriental Plane is at 647 g/m, out of 864 g/m for all tree pollen.  Yes, we are sneezing our heads off right now.

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On other news, adding insult to injury, yesterday Mike was driving home from work and some guys vandalized his and other cars.  In his own words:

“Last night on my way home I was waiting at a traffic light, in the left turn lane, when a car flew by in the median with a guy hanging out the window with some piece of metal scraping all the cars in the turn lane…”

So now we have a long scratch on our car.  The good news is that it wasn’t worse.  Still, it’s unpleasant, and we hope these young guys learn some respect for others.

Fiestas Patrias

\And lots of photos.

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September is an interesting month in Chile.  Spring is just coming in.  The cold days are warming up, the sun is shining, and the flowers are blooming.  It’s the perfect weather for parties.

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For the most part, people are gearing up to celebrate “El 18” or “Las Fiestas Patrias” or “Las Fiestas Dieciocheras”.  There’s a lot of games, fairs, music, dancing, and revelry.

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The few days that are the exception to this are the days surrounding the 11th.  This is the day that Chileans remember the “Golpe”, the day of Pinchet’s military coup.  These are often troubled days, and so we usually stay indoors, or at least are home early.

Once these days are past, though, the celebrations begin in earnest.  Music plays everywhere, dancers take to the streets with their cuecas, and the sky becomes a murky gray from all the “asados” (BBQs) going on.  It’s a time for family, for parties, and for fun.  Work basically comes to a grinding halt during these days, and people from all walks of life find a way to enjoy the holiday.

We have, so far this year, been to two asados (BBQs), and gone to two fondas (a fair).

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Padre Hurtado

The first asado was at a church in Padre Hurtado on Saturday.  What you see above are called “anticuchos”, and they’re basically kebabs.  Down at the end, there are sausages, for the traditional “choripan”, which is two words smooshed into one: chorizo (sausage) and pan (bread).  We also had empanadas, which are the Chilean version of a pasty.

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This church has a lot of Haitians who have started attending.  They love Caleb, and Caleb loves them.  We did a lot of dancing.  Goodbye, uncomfortable shoes!  Eventually, Lydia got tired, so we went home.

 

 

Jesús es el Camino (JEEC)

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Our second asado was programmed to be at the park near our home, on Sunday.  You know, this one.  However, when Mike went over early in the morning, it was already full.  So, the asado was moved to our house.  We prepared meat and grilled it.  It was a wonderful time of fellowship and laughter.  We took Communion sitting around the table together.  And then we sang songs.

 

 

El Quisco and Algarrobo

On Monday, we went to the coast with our friends, Jim and Kari Hurley (and family).  We stopped by the beach, first, to let the girl climb on the rocks for a while.

We then went to the fonda in Algarrobo, where we got some food.  We ended the day at the beach, the adults playing a game while the kids played in the sand.

Fonda Buin

Finally, on the last day of celebrations, we went to the fonda in Buin, just for a few hours.  Lydia had way too much sugar, and got to jump on a trampoline.  We had way too much sugar and grease.  It was a good time.

So, the celebrations over, we now turn our attention back to work.  Mike goes back to working regularly at the Institute, and I go back to being a SAHM, and keeping websites updated.  Ahh, life.  Isn’t it wonderful?

Snow in Santiago

By: Tabi

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Lydia looks at the snow.

It snowed in Santiago.  It does snow occasionally in the parts of Santiago that are nearest to the Andes, but I’m told it hasn’t snowed like this in the rest of Santiago in 40 years.  Although it knocked out our power for the rest of the day, it was still nice to watch.  The city of Santiago, though, is not equipped to handle snow.  There were quite a few car accidents, lots of smashed plants, fallen branches, and slippery streets.

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The snow crushed and broke our canopy, and may have killed off our poor lantana.  Nevertheless, it looked nice.

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The cacti in the front yard seemed to do just fine, though.

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Fallen branches and leaves littered our street.

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By the time nighttime came around, things got pretty dark.  We pulled out our emergency lights and used those until the power finally came back on, around 8PM.