2015 Chile Mission Update – March 23

Church at El Vergel

We live in a world where communication has become not only a necessity but a pastime, diversion and distraction. We know this is true in the USA. Anybody who has the courage to glance into the car next to them at a stop light will almost always see their neighbor looking at a phone or worse, texting. The same thing is true here in Chile. Everyone has a phone and they are constantly checking their phone. It’s amazing really. I’ve been able to text and send emails from here with very little trouble. What a world! But even as small as the world has become, thanks to all our communication devices, it is still a very big place when we want to meet face to face.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????This weekend I’ve been reminded of the sacrifices our missionaries make to do the work that God calls them to. This weekend John Elmore’s first cousin Tom Ebel came to visit with John. John has been in Chile for eighteen years. This is the first time since John has been here that he has had a visit from a family member. Smart phones are great but there is no substitute for a face-to-face visit from our loved ones. John’s joy at having his cousin here was very obvious.

This morning I accompanied John as he took Tom to the airport to leave. We went to the airport in Temuco. It’s the third largest city in Chile with a population of 350,000. It’s about a two hour drive from El Vergel. All the way to the airport John and Tom were telling stories and reminiscing. As I listened I thought about how important relationships with family members are. I thought about how easy it is for me to see my loved ones face to face to tell stories and remember all the things that families do with and for one another. Most of us can experience that pretty easily. It took John eighteen years to experience the simple joy of a visit from a member of his family.

John Elmore showing us grapes grown in the farm.I’m glad I got to go with John and Tom today because it is sometimes easy to forget the sacrifices that our missionaries make. They (John included) will tell you that it is worth it in order to do the Lord’s work. And I certainly believe him when he says it. But it is a sacrifice none the less. Let us be thankful for missionaries like John Elmore who have heard God’s call to serve and said yes. Let us be thankful that they do so even when it means sacrificing many of the things that we take for granted. May God richly bless John and all missionaries who have answered the call to make God’s kingdom visible in their places of service.

2015 Chile Mission Update – March 20


Rev. Tom Duley PreachingOne of the joys of coming to El Vergel is also one of the most important reasons for doing so. That is to meet people from a different country and culture. By doing so we get to have some limited understanding of what the lives of others are like. When this occurs we gain some Insight into both how we are different from them and how we are similar them.

On our first Sunday here we attended worship at the Emmaus Methodist Church. We received a joyous welcome from the members. Everyone was greeted with a smile, a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Of course, we would welcome with handshakes all around. The sense of welcome was the same as it would be at home but the method of welcome was very different.

The worship service itself had many of the elements of worship that we employ. There was singing, praying, preaching and the reading of Scripture. These elements of worship we hold in common. However, there was no creed recited, no praying of the Lord’s Prayer, no anthem, no choir, no Gloria Patri. These elements of worship which are central to our experience of worship are not a part of their experience of worship. Yet God is worshipped in both churches.

El Vergel churchThen there are other differences that are small but interesting. For instance, when purchasing ice cream you pay and order first, then you hand your order ticket to the server who fills your order. It’s just the opposite of how we do it. Or, when you use a credit card to make a purchase you are asked whether you want to charge it all at once or break it into four separate monthly charges. That’s an option some of us might like but it isn’t available to us. Here, buses play a much bigger role in transporting people than they do at home. There are several bus companies. Intercity buses are coming and going all the time. The buses are comfortable and customer friendly. These are small differences which help us to understand that other people see the world differently. Things get done. They just get done differently.

From one culture to another; from one country to another there are small differences as well as significant differences in the way things are accomplished. But no matter where I go I am always reminded of one thing. The truth of the Christian faith is that we can be outside our own country in a foreign country and still be with family … our brothers and sisters in Christ. We leave our families and churches only to find other family members and churches in a country far away from our own. They may do things differently but in the final analysis there is much that we hold In common. To learn that truth is more than reason enough to participate on an international VIM team.

Property sign

2015 Chile Mission Update – March 18


It has happened again. It happens every time we come to El Vergel, and this time is no exception. El Vergel has absorbed our team like a sponge absorbing water. If you’ve been looking at the pictures (thanks Jan Harris!) we’ve been sending back for the Facebook page you’ve noticed it. There is much to do here, and we’ve been doing a little of all of it. We are in the process of trimming shrubs, scraping and painting window frames, and rebuilding the roof over a large bay window.

El Vergel is administered a lot like United Methodist outreach ministries such as Urban Ministry or the McCoy Adult Day Care Center at home. The ministries are United Methodist, but each ministry is responsible for raising its own funding. El Vergel is a ministry of the Methodist Church of Chile but, like at home, they must raise their own funding.  They have a number of ways to raise funds, each of which supports the work of the High School which educates students that will work primarily in the agricultural industry.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????Like our outreach ministries at home, there is often little money for basic upkeep and repair of existing facilities. Like at home, volunteers are very important when it comes to getting some of the basic upkeep and repair work  done. Much of what we do here is to help with the upkeep and repair of the facilities of El Vergel, which takes  some of the pressure off of their budget and frees up more resources for the school.

Methodists have always been educators. From the very beginning, we have given ourselves to educate children and youth because we understand the importance of an education to success in life. Our educational efforts are both spiritual (El Vergel has a chaplain who teaches Christian education classes) and practical (equipping students for life and careers). Our work here is not so much about upkeep and repair, although that is the work we do. Our work here is about helping our young Chilean brothers and sisters receive an education in both faith and life. It is work we Methodists have always done, and hopefully always will do.

~Rev. Tom Duley

2015 Chile Mission Update – March 16


The adventure began in the parking lot of the church at 2:30pm on Friday afternoon, March 13th. The team was gathered, the luggage loaded, the excitement building. Mike prayed that God’s grace would carry us through. Then, with Fred McDonald at the wheel, the van rolled out of the parking lot filled with the members of the 2015 Chile VIM team. The fact that it was Friday the 13th got mentioned but wasn’t a huge concern for team members.

Cathedral in Santiago, ChileEveryone was delighted when Delta airlines was on time in both Birmingham and Atlanta. At 10 PM Eastern time we lifted into the sky for a 9.5 hour flight to Santiago, Chile’s capital city and home to 30% of the country’s population. We arrived in Santiago at 8:30 AM local time (6:30 AM Central time). The flight at 36,000 feet was smooth and for the most part we arrived none the worse for wear. After negotiating the local bus system, we arrived at the Hotel IBIS, where we were to spend the day before catching the midnight bus to Angol, our final destination.

We spent the day resting and visiting some sights in the city before catching the overnight bus to Angol. As usual, the TurBus Supercama Superior was right on time. This bus is a Double-Decker with sleeping facilities so we had a restful trip arriving right on time at 7 AM. John Elmore, our covenant missionary partner, was there to meet us.

After settling in and having breakfast, we went to church at the Emmaus Methodist Church where we were welcomed by the congregation. Those of us who have been before renewed friendships. Those who are here for the first time made new friendships. It is hard to overstate the graciousness of the welcome that we receive each time we come. The worship service was lively and a boost to our travel weary spirits. We were all glad to have a relaxing afternoon for naps, walks and reading as we prepared to start our work on Monday morning.

Once again we have come to Chile to serve with our missionary partner John Elmore. Our task is the same as it always is no matter where we are… to serve God by doing what we can to make the Kingdom of God known in this place. It is a privilege to be a part of doing that in this place with those we have come to know as friends.

~Rev. Tom Duley