Sunday, November 17, 2013

Part of letter to Dale's sister Virginia dated 16 Nov. 2013

We are having so many experiences that are so unique, and cool, and spiritual.  Just walking down the street or going into someone's home is always an experience. 

I am amazed at all the plants here.  Dave would have a blast seeing them all and just walking around looking at peoples gardens in their little courtyards. Plants that only grow indoors in the states are in everyone's gardens outside or growing naturally.  For example, geraniums, in a million different colors and sized and shapes and leaf colors and variations are everywhere.  They never die back, and are used as hedges and walls or borders around property, growing up against walls or into a wire fence, 10' high or more.

The succulent plants that grow along the cliffs and bluffs next to the ocean are also pretty cool, and come in a million sizes, colors and shapes.  I've never had any idea there were so many  kinds of jade plants and trees.  We thought our 35 year old jade that blooms every year was big and special. Ha ha ha.  It wouldn't merit even noticing here.  I've seen jades with trunks a couple feet in diameter.

This is semi-arid country where we are.  The mountains come right down to the ocean.  The vegetation changes wildly from shoreline, to mountains.  The mountains parallel the cost in series of ridges from being pushed up as the tectonic plates collide.  The sides facing the sea breeze are complete different from the sides not in the flow of the cool humid air.

And get this, the oceanside towns, like where we are now in Los Vilos, are about 20-25 degrees COOLER than the towns up in the high mountain valleys, like Illapel (where we were the first 2 months).  I always thought about going to the mountains to get cool.  Here it is a well know fact that the opposite is true.

And the mountain towns always have clear sunny days with no wind.  The coastal town where we're at almost always is very cloudy or foggy and very cool with a stiff wind. The Humbolt current, off the coast of Chile is very cold and keeps the coast cool all year round.

The mountains and hills are covered with a mix, depending on which slope you're facing, of cool-looking cactus of all kinds, to scrub oak, or mesquite or creosote-like bushes, similar to the Arizona and New Mexico deserts.

The ravines and canyons have pine and eucalyptus trees.  The valleys are fertile and cultivated with mostly avocado and orange and walnut trees and grapevines.  They use drip irrigation.  They collect the water from small foot wide and deep irrigation ditches from high up in the canyons, and they don't waste a drop.

The hillsides, roads and highways are grazed over by goats and an occasional sheep, horse, cow, mule or donkey.  The fresh goat cheese is delicious by the way.

It hasn't rained since we've been here since beginning of July.  When we got here, the mountains and hillsides were luscious green (I guess it rains at the beginning of winter).  Now they are brown interspersed with the green desert shrubs, cactus and trees, kind of like what the southern california mountainsides.

Our view out our windows is gorgeous. A lot of the shoreline here is rocky and jagged like S. Calif., so it lends to lots of changing and interesting views as the tide and wind changes.  There are big rocky islands here and there off shore that sometimes break the waves and shoot white water up70-100 feet in the air.  One of them is called Isla Fantasma (Ghost Island) because at night when you see it all you see is a white, spooky plume way out over the ocean that appears and disappears.

We see miracles every day.... what some might call little "coincidences", but many of them that consistently all come together all at once, at just the right time, and coincidentally, just so that the work of the Lord moves forward most efficiently, bringing the gospel or help to people just at the right time.  At first we just used to shake our heads and laugh about it, and just say wow.  We now know it is just the way it works here in the mission field, and we hardly notice it is so common.  But there is no denying whose work this is and how He uses His servants to get done what He wants done.  That we know and testify.

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