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A week in our shoes

CMS missionaries Chris and Stef Overhall and their family, serving in Chile, are coming to terms with a very different shape to their week.

A year and a half ago our family of five moved to Santiago, Chile. We serve here as part of the MOCLAM[1] team, making Jesus known through Bible training. Our first year was a blur of setting up life and learning language and culture. This year things seem to be settling down a little as we get used to life in Chile.

This year a regular week involves walking our two older kids to school each day, doing the shopping, various ministry commitments and cooking meals. The city is polluted, so cleaning is an unending affair and new bills seem to pop up as soon as the last one has been paid. We experience all the regular ups-and-downs of family life, whilst trying to learn Spanish, and not embarrass ourselves any more than is necessary. So take a peek at a week in our shoes!

Sunday 10:45 am Chris

Our family rushes out the door to church. At 11:03 we are relieved to arrive on time (in Latin American terms) and are warmly welcomed. Eliot and Theodore are happy because today there are lollies! This week it is Stef’s turn to listen to the sermon while I take a tired Nathanael out for a nap in the pram.

Sunday 2:30 pm Stef

We arrive home tired and hungry. In Chile the main meal is lunch and is often eaten around 2-3pm (dinner is also later at 8 or 9pm). Our stomachs are still struggling to get used to this!

Monday 7:30 am Chris

The kids and I are rugged up in jackets, beanies and gloves as we walk to school. We always say a quick prayer before they head into class. I’m back at home by 8.30am to read my Bible and pray. I prepare some MOCLAM notes, as I’m currently teaching a group of uni students on Tuesday nights. The rest of the morning is spent on Spanish homework, replying to emails and paying bills.

Monday 2:30 pm Chris

I catch the metro into the city for a meeting of the Grupo Bíblico Universitario Chile (GBUCh). Our weekly meeting is a chance for the staff workers across the country to chat about how ministry is going, read the Word and pray together. I’m excited about the opportunities I’ll have to teach uni students how to read the Bible with a focus on the person and work of Jesus.

Tuesday 10 am Stef

I head to a neighbour’s place upstairs for my weekly women’s Bible study. A year ago I had no idea what was going on, but now I’m able to read the Bible aloud in Spanish, and join in the discussion. I still struggle to pray out loud, but I always give it a go. I’m so thankful for such a wonderful group of women to share life with.

Tuesday 2 pm Stef

I wake Nathanael and we walk to collect the kids from school. My arrival on foot is a daily disappointment for the kids, who want to be driven home!

Tuesday 8 pm Chris

Tonight I teach a small group of uni students MOCLAM’s ‘Creation to New Creation’ course. I’m excited to be sharing the big picture of the Bible, but I struggle to express these huge ideas and precious concepts in Spanish! However it’s satisfying to be doing what we came here to do, and I look forward to when the words flow more easily.

Wednesday 9 am Stef

I strap Nathanael into the double pram and we walk down to the feria (market). I love the colourful spread of fruit and vegies and the lively atmosphere. We load up the bottom seat of the pram and head home. It’s Chris’s day off so we enjoy coffee and sunshine on the balcony.

Thursday 9 am Stef

This morning I meet a friend to read the Bible together. We chat in English and read the Bible in Spanish. It’s certainly more challenging reading God’s word in another language, but Mel is very patient with me.

Thursday 8 pm Stef

Two guests arrive at our place for Bible study. Despite our small size we always enjoy great discussions as we dig into Romans. Chris is doing a good job of leading the group, and we’re thankful for his in-depth theological training at Moore College. Please pray that our little group will grow and continue to bear fruit.

Friday 9 am Chris

This morning I have three Spanish classes back to back. Last year we studied almost full-time, but this year I’ve been able to step it down a little. I’m grateful that CMS is committed to supporting us long-term with language learning.

Friday 1 pm Stef

Friday Family Fun! The kids finish school early on Fridays and we try to mark the end of the week with something special. Changing country and culture is challenging for everyone, so on Friday afternoons we enjoy a familiar routine from Australia: a movie and homemade pizza.

Friday 8 pm Chris

It’s time to drink a coffee to wake myself up! I drive 20 minutes in traffic to our church’s youth group in a nearby apartment. I politely decline the pizza offered to me, explaining that I’ve already eaten pizza. I don’t think people can really believe that I’ve already had dinner! The youth chat amongst themselves and later there’s a Bible talk. At 11pm I head home. I wonder if Stef will still be up?

 

We hope you enjoyed this snapshot of our lives! Each day, by God’s grace, we grow a little more in our understanding of Chilean culture and our ability to minister here. We live ordinary lives whilst being involved in the extraordinary work of God. A week in our shoes is a fun-filled, stress-filled, faith-filled existence that wouldn’t be possible without the support of CMS (that’s you). Please continue to pray for us and for a Chile that knows Jesus.

Pray

As Chris and Stef have asked, please pray with them for a Chile that knows Jesus. Contact CMS if you would like to request their prayer letters, as well as news from other CMS missionaries.

 

[1] MOCLAM is a Bible training course developed in Australia but now translated and used widely in churches across the Spanish-speaking world.