My typical Easter Sunday includes attending a sunrise service with my family, eating donuts, going home to find chocolate bunnies on the table, and then preparing our Easter meal of ham and pineapple casserole.
My Easter 2017 looked a little bit different. I woke up in a hostel room in San Pedro de Atacama, which I was sharing with three lovely amigas. We got up before the sun to get picked up by a bus that took us to El Tatio. El Tatio is a geothermal field of geysers, including the third largest geyser in the world! (Old Faithful is Number One.) Our toes and noses froze, but we thawed them in the thermal pools of boiling water, warmed by underground magma. Then we watched the sun rise from behind the volcanoes and through the geyser vapor while drinking tea and coffee for breakfast.
Easter is typically one of my favorite days of the year because the whole church comes together to celebrate the simple (yet mind-blowing) truth that Jesus faced, fought, and defeated death forever. He suffered so that we don’t have to know the reality of eternal separation from God. He loved and loves all of His children (us!) so much that He took on human form and suffered under the weight of every sin every committed by any person ever to live in the past, present, and future. He is God, and He is good. Just because that’s how He is. And we get to celebrate that all together, especially on Easter!
This Easter felt very different. The only church I stepped foot into was that of the town of Machuca that we visited on our way back from El Tatio. Machuca has seven residents. Just seven. They have a church, about fifteen other buildings, two goats, three llamas, and four lamp posts. Instead of attending a church service, I got to experience the majesty, vastness, beauty, and wonder of our God in the north of Chile. Instead of eating donuts, I ate a llama kabab and fried goat-cheese empanada. Instead of sharing a home-made meal with my family, I sat around a table with people from Kansas, Arizona, Michigan, and Sweden for the afternoon, drinking fresh juice and eating crepes. One thing that stayed the same was that I got to watch the sunrise — the same sun that I’ve always watched rise. This time, it just happened to be from the perspective of the Southern Hemisphere.
I have to be honest. All day on Sunday I was exhausted, I had a headache, and my stomach felt weird. I hadn’t slept enough, and the altitude changes were definitely taking a toll on my body (2000m to 4300m above sea level). I also may have eaten something not so good for the digestive system…… I’m not sure I was the prime example of great company on that day. I also really missed home. That was the first major holiday I spent here in Chile, and it was hard. I took a few moments to myself to read through the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection and to appreciate where I was at that time.
Just because my life looks different right now doesn’t mean that the Lord is different. He may look different to me, but that’s because I have changed — not the other way around. I don’t know very much, really, but I know that our God is constant and that He is Love. When it comes down to it, that’s all I really need to know right now. I can thank Him for His great love whether I’m in Fallston, Maryland or in the desert of Northern Chile.
What I can’t do in Fallston, Maryland that I can do in Northern Chile, however, is see flamingos in their natural habitat, walk across salt flats created by ancient oceans, dip my finger in lagunas formed by underground rivers of ice-melt, see vicuña (alpaca relative) and desert zorros (foxes) and little desert rodents (I forget their name), climb through caves under solid mountains of salt, and see mineral-dyed earth that paints the mountains with red and green and yellow.
So I will aprovechar de all of this while I can. (Some things are better-said in Spanish.)
Peace and Blessings and Homesickness-turned-into-gratitude x
(From my home in Santiago de Chile)