I absolutely LOVED my short time in the Chile Concepcion Mission. Chile is such an interesting country with a really rich culture!
No hay NADIE como un Chileno!
BUUUTT…. As we all know, preparing for a mission can sometimes feel like you are walking blindly towards a cliff in the dark, right? Especially if you are going somewhere foreign. You have no idea what the culture will be like; i.e. the food, the holidays, the types of people, etc. You have no idea what the weather will REALLY be like… (despite how many stupid blogs you read, I promise it’s a lot different when you’re there!) And no matter what you’ll never REALLY know what it’s like by living through other people’s stories!
So knowing all this, I thought I’d put together my REALISTIC list of things to expect from a mission in Chile.
**Even if you’re not serving in Chile, don’t worry, these things might help you too.**
- Your outfits do NOT matter. I know… after all the Pinteresting and blog-reading and Facebook stalking super cute RM girls we know…. we all seem to think that before the mission. And while it’s nice to have cute outfits, it REALLY don’t matter. I promise. Your cothes will get dirty, stained and stretched out after walking all day. And even if your wardrobe consists of only Nordstrom and J. Crew… you will hate your clothes after 6 months anyways. I pinky promise. So. My Advice: Don’t bring ugly clothes! We all feel better when we are clean and look presentable. But don’t spend all your time and money getting the perfect clothes either. I’d say bring one or two pretty dresses or skirts that you can wear to baptisms and zone conferences, but don’t stress too much about it all. Focus more on shoes and being comfortable than being cute. If you can do both… KUDOS
- Rain clothes. Okay, so if you are in the north of Chile, this might not apply. But from Santiago on south…. Chile is very very rainy in the winter. It just is, okay? And you work, rain or shine 🙂 Let me paint you a picture: I bought some “awesome” rain gear at Burlington. A super cute turquoise raincoat and a long trench coat for really rainy days. I didn’t buy rain boots because I didn’t want to weigh down my suitcase, so I bought some in Chile. But on the first rainy day, I was soaked through to my G’s after just an HOUR. So that stunk. After some torturous wet days of work, we went to Sodimac (Chile’s Home Depot) and found some hardcore construction worker rainjackets that were literally plastic. They were ugly as heck but I was so happy to have those. Umbrellas don’t work because it’s windy. So the ugly jackets were awesome to have. My Advice: I’d suggest if you bring rain gear, make sure it is REALLY waterproof. As in, plastic. Otherwise, don’t waste the space. Usually old missionaries will leave jackets in the office when you get to Chile, or you can buy them there like I did.
- The food! Okay I’m going to be straight up. Like I warned you, this is my REALISTIC list. So this is my opinion on Chilean cuisine. Right off the bat I’m gonna say it’s not my favorite. I read a lot of blogs and talked to a lot of people that said they loved it. But I wasn’t the biggest fan. IF you are picky though, don’t fret too much! For most of my meals I had chicken and rice or chicken and potatoes. It’s pretty dang good. Chileans put oil on a lot of things though and they love mayonaisse. They eat it with everything. Some Chilean dishes that I ate a lot include: Bistec a lo pobre– steak with fried eggs and onions on top and french fries… Humitas– Basically really good tamales…. Ensaladas- Chilean salads which are just tomatoes with oil, vinegar and salt poured on top…. Pastel de Choclo– a kind of shepard’s pie type thing made with ground corn, meat, hard boiled eggs and olives….. Completos- Hot dogs! THey put guacamole, tomatoes and mayo on them…. Porotos Granados– FREAKING delicious bean soup stuff….. and Empanadas- fried bread with meat, onions, olives, hard boiled eggs and sometimes raisins.
- Superstitions 🙂 Chileans are really superstitious. I love it 🙂 They have a big thing about going from cold temperatures to hot or vice versa. They think you’ll die if you drink a cold drink when you’re hot, or if you drink hot tea when you’re cold. They think they will get sick if their face touches the cold. So during winter a lot of times you will see them walking with scarves covering their mouthes and noses! And they cover their mouth and nose when they open the door too if it’s cold!
- Cheek kissing 🙂 Another fun one… Chileans greet by kissing on the cheek and a half-hug. Men don’t usually greet men that way, but sometimes. I think it’s SUPER cute and makes life so much more personal. Unfortunately as a missionary we can’t greet men the traditional way. To get around it, I did one of two things. One was what I call the stiff arm. When you shake their hand, if they come in to kiss you, hold your arm straight and don’t bend it. It will keep them from kissing your cheek most of the time. It might seem rude at first, but they usually are just fine when you explain it 🙂 Two was just saying right up front before even shaking hands! It saved awkwardness a lot of times.
- DOGS. Oh my furry Batman dogs rule the streets of Chile. They are everywhere. But I’m crazy and pet them all the time. I loved them and thought most of them were so cute! 🙂 But don’t be like me because….
- PULGAS 🙂 You know what pulgas are? Well they were some of my closest friends on the mish. We knew each other intimately. That’s right, Fleas!! I probably got them from petting stray dogs… but all Chilean missionaries get fleas at least once. They live in your bed and no matter what you do they do not die 😉 ENJOYYYYY….
- Long talkers. In lessons, you can find ALL types of people from all walks of life. But sometimes you will get the little old lady who talks until kingdom come about every topic imaginable. Something that was hard for me to grasp at first was being bold. Sometimes when this happens as a missionary, you kind of have to grab the reins a little bit and ask the person to please pay attention and listen. I guess from this My Advice: Be prepared to be bold and straightforward sometimes. You have the power from God to do so, and sometimes it’s necessary for your own sanity 😉
- Friendliness up the wazoo. Um, yeah. If you are anything at all, be excited. Because Chileans truly are the sweetest, most open and loving people I have ever encountered. They would give you the clothes off their back and they love missionaries 🙂 You will be taken care of if you are in Chile. Plus, the members are AMAZING 🙂
I know this was a long post, but I could go on a lot longer than this. I hope this helps some of you to feel a little more prepared! If you have any questions or other worries, comment and I’ll try to answer them as best as I can 😉
Que tenga un buen dia 🙂