August 16th, 1985 (my Parents 16th wedding anniversary) we arrived in Chile. We would begin a stint in Temuco, Chile that would last till December 1988. I will only address memories in this time frame in this blog. I was 5 years old when we arrived, and it is at this point that my memories begin to take on more flesh to them. I will not bore you with every single memory I have of this time, but I will highlight a few. I would like to say, that despite the usual sibling arguments,I had a very happy childhood. I am keenly aware that I was privileged to experience so many things that other children my age were never exposed to.
When we first arrived at Temuco, we stayed in an apartment located on the bottom floor of a school building. The ‘Colegio Bautista’ was a very large school that would hold many memories for me in the years to come. Not only did I go there for K-3rd; but this was the location where all the missionaries would meet for one out of the two annual meetings, so it had a feeling of a family camp ground to me.
The fun thing here is that when classes let out, my brothers and I could go anywhere on this enormous campus. To the play ground, the covered gym like patio, or the many cool places where we could hide in a game of hide and seek.
After this short stint we moved into a rental house for a while. We called it the ‘Prieto house’ (that was the name of the street.) My first and worst memory here was that we had not gotten our crate yet. We had no window coverings. My parents but newspapers on the windows; one of the pages in my room was a front page picture of a boy, about my age, who had been bitten by a brown recluse. It was the stuff of nightmares. I don’t know why I didn’t tell them it was there, I’m sure they would have changed it.
This was also the house we were living in when we bought our TV. I guess it had been a while since we had had one, because I came home from spending the night with some other MKs (missionary kids) and was shocked and so very excited! I told the rest of my family to keep it quiet and not to tell my brother Jeff (who had also spent the night but hadn’t made it home yet) anything. I suggested we see how long it took him to notice the TV. Everyone agreed. So, of course, the minute I heard the gate…I ran outside screaming at the top of my lungs that we had gotten a TV!!
This was also the year that I began to notice some things. I knew my family believed in God. I believed in God. I believed in Jesus. But I also knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, that if I were to die, my Parents would go to heaven, and I would go to hell. I was aware of the fact that their life was theirs and that mine was mine. I was solely responsible for my life alone. I was petrified. I remember asking my mom every night before I would go to bed if she thought I might die that night. I was very worried. Finally one night she asked me if I wanted to talk to my dad about this fear. I said YES. Well, he was in the tub, but I would not wait, I had business to take care of! We talked and I understood my need to personally acknowledge to God my short fall; to recognize the work that Jesus had done on my behalf; and I had to personally accept that free gift and then willingly surrender my lie to Him as Lord and Savior of my life. I was so relieved! This was October 5th, 1985.
We would then move into what is still my favorite house ever! The ‘Massmann house’; it was amazing! It was an old country style home. It was very large and we each got our own room. The yard surrounded the whole house and in the back there was a little ‘hill’ that was fun to roll down. This house was on a dead-end street and it had a guard’s station so I was allowed to freely roam the street. It was here I learned to ride my bike; an activity that I would love to do for years to follow. I would ride up and down the street while pretending to be a news journalist.
One year we had a hurricane type storm although we were inland. The winds were unbelievable. Well, because our whole yard was fenced in by a 6 foot rod iron fence, my parents let us go out and play a little. We would go to one end of the yard run a little, jump, and the wind would carry us the rest of the yard! It was a blast. Joel and I would have to run to the inside corner of the house just to breath!
This yard also had a huge pine tree in the front yard. The limbs stretched about ten feet in every direction, but they didn’t actually start until about six feet of the ground. This created a shelter of sorts. It would become a favorite play spot for me.
It was also in this house that my Mother experienced a miscarriage, and then later another pregnancy resulting in my youngest brother, Jonathan. I was almost ten when he was born. He has Downs Syndrome. He has proven to be one of the best things in my live. He has taught me unconditional love, a joy for life and all of its experiences. He has taught me to appreciate the things that come easily to me and to work hard at the things that do not. He is a masterpiece of God and has the ability to teach the world so much about what really matters. I love you, Jonathan!