A little over a month ago, we packed our bags and headed south to Concepción for UBACH’s (that’s the Baptist Union of Chile) annual meeting. We were very blessed to travel with two pastors from Arica, as they are a whole lot more adept at getting around the country and effectively communicating. (Don’t get me wrong, Blake and I can communicate, but whether it’s effective is sometimes up for debate.) We decided that we’d save money by renting and sharing the cost of an apartment and food for the week of the meeting. Marcelo (pictured below) found a two bedroom apartment with two twins and a queen. Perfect.
About a week before we left for the south, Marcelo paid us a visit to collect money for the bus fare and apartment deposit. A few days before our trip, he called to tell us he had good news: the cost of renting the apartment had been split in half. Then he told us why. Five of our colleagues from Arica didn’t have a place to stay. Yes, they’d planned on attending the UBACH meeting for some time, but sometimes handling the details aren’t an Arican’s strong suit. He asked if we minded them staying in the apartment with us. There was no way either of us would consider saying “no” to four missionaries and a teenage dependent with no place to stay, so we told him it wouldn’t be a problem.
To be honest, though, we weren’t really sure what to think. Nine people in a two bedroom apartment is a bit much—especially when there is only one bathroom involved. We fought hard against our Gringo tendencies towards independence and privacy and tried to embrace that we’d be lodging like Chileans. We’ve really tried to make being “normal” a priority here. We know our skin is translucent and that we’ll never speak like native speakers, but we try to fight the urge to lead a North American life in South America. We’re not always successful, but it’s still a big part of our thinking. Trust me when I say that it was not easy to think about giving up the queen-sized bed and wonder where on earth we’d all be sleeping. Part of me wanted to just book a hotel and forget the whole thing. The cheap and determined part of me won that battle and I’m so glad it did.
Was the apartment crowded? Yes. Was the line for the bathroom a mile long every morning? Yes. Were we on time to all of the sessions? Not exactly (most Chileans I know would’ve been late even if they’d been sleeping in the sanctuary of the host church). Was sharing an apartment with eight other people actually enjoyable? Yes!
With a Brazilian couple, a gringo couple and five Chileans we had some interesting conversations in the evenings when we got home. We also enjoyed listening to music in all three languages. Staying with a group of people forced Blake and me to attend almost every business meeting, worship, and workshop that was offered and I think we got a whole lot more out of the experience than we would have otherwise.
We saved money and were able to make the most of the meeting. Win and win.