Friday, November 25, 2011

2.5 Month Update

I´ve realized that it is really bad when  you think about blogging all the time, but never actually do it. As I´m walking down the road (which I do a lot), I think about what I can say or share, but when 10pm comes, I´m just not up for it anymore. Right now it´s 11:15 and I don´t know how long I´ll last, but I´m going to try to get some thoughts down tonight.
We have been here for 2.5 months now and rubber has definitely met the road! Let´s see.....
One month ago, David started working for a Commercial Builder here in Santiago as a Superintendent. He was invited to do a ride-along one day to see what projects the company was working on and to learn a little about how they do things here in Chile, and by the end of the day, they had hired him. He started that same day on a project that was behind, over budget, and at risk of a lawsuit. Within 5 days he resolved all of the major problems and within 2-3 weeks the upscale restaurant was ready to prepare to open up to the public. The restaurant owner only wants to deal with David and he basically saved the day!...He´s always been a hero by nature. By week 3 with them, they promoted him to Project Manager and now he oversees all aspects of the project at hand.
I have been praying for many years for David to have the opportunity to use his skills and to have the chance to let others see how great he is at directing people, seeing the big picture of a project, and getting the job done. Although I´ve wanted that to happen in the States, and still hold out hope for it to happen in the future, I´m happy to see him have the chance while we´re here. At the company here, they are now all calling on him to take over projects in their final stages to resolve all of the problems at hand and to ensure that all of the details are taken care of before turning the project over. He has managed to earn the respect of the company, the owners of the business they´re building, and the laborors.

In case you are wondering, I do not know how all of this will work out in the long run. I have no idea how we´ll transition out, how we´ll feel, or what it will be like for us when we get back to the states. After much prayer, I´ve just determined that I can not be concerned with that. When we got here, we had no idea how we would transition, how we would feel, or what things would be like for us. We didn´t know where we would live or what we´d be doing, so I can´t pretend to be able to project that for us when we get back. It might not make sense in my mind, but I have no idea what is on the mind of God. I expect that he has things in store that we can not imagine or anticipate, so we just have to wait to see. For now, I hope to enjoy the moment and thank God for his provision. We went almost two months without a pay check here and even then, we were starting out with preliminary salaries. We have not been sure of our outcome since we´ve been here, so there is no way that I can think ahead any further than the here and now.

One day soon I am going to just upload a lot of pictures. I´ve started taking pictures of what I see everyday when I´m walking around. Although this city is very big and there are many different angles to the city, we are living our life in an area that epitimizes the hustle and bustle of a big city. I ride the metro daily, David drives in traffic daily (a tiny Mazda 2 stick shift), and we have to pay to park every where we go. The buildings are big, the people are antisocial and walk fast to where they´re going, and pedestrians have the right-of-way.

I´m fading fast and I think I have to turn it in now. I hope to write all of my thoughts down b/c I don´t want this time to come and go without sharing it with others and documenting it for ourselves.

Good night!

Friday, October 14, 2011

What Are We Doing?

Well, we've been in Chile for over a month, and in a few days we'll reach the one month mark in our apartment. The boys are now settled in a preschool/daycare that is right across the street from our apartment. I love both of their teachers! They are so sweet and affectionate with both boys and I can tell that they really do care about them.

Ty is now saying hello and goodbye with a kiss on the cheek and he is also saying "hola" and "chao" in addition to "hi" and "bye bye". That paired with his dance moves indicates that he is well on his way to embracing the Chilean side of himself. It is too cute! He has started saying a lot of his words in both languages (water/agua, juice/jugo, shoes/zapatos) but he also is saying new English words that he doesn't say in Spanish, like "book", and I'm sure he's saying Spanish words at school that he doesn't say in English, but I just haven't heard him say it yet at home. His favorite thing to do at the park is run up to the birds and scare them so that they fly away, and he gets the most upset when we don't let him push the button to open the elevator door. God forbid Nico pushes the button before he does!!!

Nico is also doing really well. It has been harder for him to embrace some things because he gets really shy, but when you catch him in the moment and he doesn't know that anyone is watching, he follows suit with everyone else. He's hysterical because although he is advancing with Spanish and already producing more than ever before, he still thinks and plays in English. Therefore, he'll be playing in the park with his new school friends and he just talks to them non-stop in English, and when they speak to him in Spanish, he just looks at them and says, "I don't understand Spanish, so I don't know what you're saying" and they just keep on playing like nothing happened. Then, he'll walk up to his friend's mom or dad and start talking to them non-stop in English. He's being super polite (in English), but no one has any idea what he's saying, but they smile and nod and he just moves on to playing some more with his friends. The funny thing is that his entire day is in Spanish. His class, teachers, friends, everything! So...I'm just waiting for the day that he busts out in full conversation in Spanish! haha!

In Nico's class, he's learning to write his numbers and letters. He's also learning to identify words that start with certain letters. He has had homework two weekends in a row, but we don't call it homework; I've just called it craft time because he is excited to do all of the activities. I don't want it to seem like a chore. Since all of his letters, numbers, and words at school are in Spanish, I've been doing activities at home in English. Tonight he asked me if we could spell some words and make some sentences. It's so interesting because he is doing that at school in Spanish, it is obviously interesting to him, and then at home he is asking for more, so I just do it in English to reinforce both languages. Tonight he read the sentence "The dog is fun". And he read the words "Dog", "Cat", "Yes" and "Man"....which are all words that he picked out to spell and read. I have no idea what is age-appropriate, but I'm excited because this is new for him! I'm so proud of him!

On my end, I am teaching English classes for a company that offers private personalized English classes. I have a pretty full schedule now, so that is good. I just finished my 2nd full week of working for them and I think I'm about to take on my last class before my schedule is full. I currently teach a neo-natal doctor, an endocrinologist, a non-profit agency director, a physical therapist, a technical engineer, the Syrian consulate, his wife and son. I meet with the consulate's wife and son every day and I meet with the other people two times a week. It has been very interesting so far and I'm happy that I was able to start working so quickly.

In many aspects, David is still in a holding zone as far as work is concerned, so I won't go into much of that right now. But, last week we had a big scare with David's health. It turns out that he has a kidney stone in his left kidney and he's been on medication all week to help him pass it. Last Thursday night some severe pain set in and traveled up his back. Unfortunately the pain was so intense that it caused his body to tense up and restricted his breathing and mobility. It was very scarey at first because we did not know what was wrong and he went to the emergency room at 11:30 at night. Thank God we had a friend that could stay at the apartment with the kids so that I could go with him. Once the pain subsided, then he could better identify where it was originating from and a MRI confirmed the kidney stones. Since he was discharged, he has been doing really well and we believe he's passed some of the stone without any pain.

David got his Chilean driver's license (the one from the States is only good for 3 months) today, and he got our Chilean bank account (checks and debit card) a few days ago. We are also in the process of doing the kids' citizenship paperwork for them to have dual citizenship. Since we will be here longer than 3 months, we have to do legal paperwork to stay here. Once the kids' paperwork is submitted, we will file my paperwork to get a visa or residency. In addition to taking care of all of our "business", David has also been working with him brother who just bought out the business next to him and expanded his small business. It's been great for David to be a part of that with him.

This past Tuesday David's mom came to Santiago to stay with us for the first time since we've been here (She lives 2 hours away). She sayed Tuesday night and David and I went to a 10pm movie, which was a lot of fun. We are looking forward to visiting her at the end of the month and also in November because she has a big garden and Nico is going to go to her house when they pick all of the vegetables from the garden. He will also help them plant the new vegetables for the next season. He is so excited! I'm anxious to spend more time with her because I want her to teach me how to cook some of the traditional Chilean meals. One of my goals while we are here is to learn certain parts of the traditional culture so that I can help carry on some of those things in our home in the States as our children grow up.

Our View

One of the perks to this apartment is that we have a great view of the Andes mountain range. If it weren’t for the apartment directly between us and the view of the mountains, our view would be panoramic. Although the building interrupts our panoramic view, it also blocks the rising sun for the first 6 hours of the day, which keeps our apartment much cooler on a hot day, and we like the building obstruction for that reason. Anyway......each day when I wake up, I pull back the curtain to see what the view looks like on that day. It's really a treat because when we were in the states I thought, "Could you imagine if we ended up in an apartment with a view of the mountains?! That'd be amazing!" And here we are with this view!

I always say that my favorite part of being in Santiago is that you're always surrounded by enormous mountains. In such a big city with so much commotion all of the time, the mountains offer such a comforting and peaceful backdrop. I told Nico before we came to Chile this time that one of my favorite things about Chile is the view of the mountains. Then I told him, "The reason I love the view of the mountains is because it is a constant reminder of how big God is and how small I am." Since we've been here, he also has been fascinated by the mountains and he always gets excited about a beautiful view. I'm so happy to see him appreciate creation and to begin to understand how big the world is around him.

I have taken pics of some of the breathtaking views that we've come across so far.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Our new apartment!

I'll go ahead and tell the story of how we got into this apartment in this post because it really was a blessing that God had in store for us at just the right moment.

When we arrived in Chile, we decided to go straight to Vina del Mar, which is a coastal city about 1.5 hours away from Santiago, but only about 20 minutes away from David's sister and mom. We had some leads that there may be work there for David and we felt like we had to give it a shot. We spent 4 days in a temporary apartment that was spacious but sub standard in it's amenities. During those 4 days we searched for an apartment to rent and for a school for the kids. Right when we found a school and a potential apartment, David had a meeting that indicated that he'd need to be in Santiago to pursue the work he was interested in. That same day, we packed a few bags and headed to Santiago to figure things out there. We left most of our luggage behind at David's sister's house. We arrived in Santiago without a plan, or a place to stay for that matter. After sitting in the upstairs of McDonald's (which happens to be the nicest fast food chain in town and all stores have 2-3 levels and an espresso/ice cream cafe attached) for a few hours, we eventually found a temporary apartment that was very comfortable, but not in the best part of town. That apartment was available for 3 nights, which was our time frame to find a place to live in Santiago. Thursday night would be our last night in that apartment and by Wed night we still had no potential apartments. We found that an apartment in the area of town that interested us and that we felt safe in would be way over budget for us....not to mention we were hoping to find a furnished apartment.

There were no apartments that even came close to our wish list: certain part of town, close to the metro but not on a main street, furnished, with a parking spot, preferribly with a storage space, safe for the kids, and it had to be within budget. Thursday morning was difficult for us because we were down to the wire with no direction yet. We had been praying and believing that God was going to open the doors and provide a place for us, but by Thursday morning doubt crept in and we started to feel desperate and discouraged. I believed still, but was starting to doubt and fear that we might not find anything that we could move into the next day. It seemed somewhat impossible at that point. The good thing is that God is a God of the impossible.

David made call after call to agencies that list apartments for rent and then we got a bite! The agent said that she had an owner that was renting her apartment for much more than our budget, but that she said she'd really like to have a family rent her place and maybe she would go down. We set up an appointment with her and found out that the apartment had been rented until the day before, but that the person backed out last minute from moving in. If we had called even one day beforehand they would have never mentioned this apartment, but since we called Thursday morning, we were the first to the punch once it became available. When we arrived at the apartment, we quickly saw what a fabulous location it was in; Residential, but w/in walking distance to the metro, and in the part of town we preferred. The owner agreed to rent the apartment to us for $400 less than what she had intended to rent it for....and furnished! She left everything! And....she agreed to move her stuff out and let us move in the next day!

In front of the apartment complex there is a plaza with a playground for the kids. There is a little boy playset and a big boy playset. The apartment complex is gated and has a 24 hour consierge. The owner rented the apartment to us with an assigned parking spot and a storage room!. She left EVERYTHING in the apartment for our use. We have not had to buy anything! It is literally everything that we had on our wish list!

The space is very small compared to the states, but adequate for big city living. It's probably 300-350 sq.ft. total. There are two bedrooms and two baths with a balcony that overlooks from the 6th floor towards The Andes mountain range. In the kitchen there is a compact washer to wash our clothes. There is actually sufficient closet space, but you just have to close one door to open the other since all of the storage is in a corner behind a door somewhere. There is no central heat/AC, but that is standard. Basically you just open or close the windows. We won't be here during the winter, but during the summer it will be hot on some days.

We are very thankful for this apartment and we already feel very comfortable here. I will be thankful when we can afford to put up a protective screen on the balcony because then I can leave the sliding doors open and that will give us another 50-75 sq.ft. for the kids to play. Right now the balcony wall is too low and it is not safe to let Ty go out there. We have to have a screen installed to make it safe. Luckily the owner is not opposed to us having it installed eventhough she does not intend to use it. Other than that, we need to figure out a bed/sleeping arrangement for the boys because they will not be able to share a bed the whole time we're here, and I really want a coat/bag rack to put at the door....details. Haha!

Pretty cool, huh? It's amazing what will come along when we're not in control but God is!

*Note: These are the pics I took the first day. We've since rearranged a little, but you get the idea.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What I Miss The Most

Apart from my family, friends, and the space in our house, what I miss the most is our dryer and our dishwasher.
Luckily we have a washer for our clothes (it's in the kitchen under the sink), but we don't have a dryer. The clothes dry within about two hours hanging outside and it's not even that hot outside.
We're having serious issues with keeping up with our dishes. We have to figure out another system! Ideally we'd each have a glass and a plate and that's all we'd use, but with kids that gets difficult. Especially because the kitchen is a seperate room with a door, so it doesn't lend itself to washing dishes while you watch the kids or while you talk about the day. You have to be close din the kitchen to get the job done.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Chile Adventure 2011

Well, I have been an utter disappointment to the blogging world. I was pretty sure that I would not be very successful before I even started, and my inclination has proven to be true. Once again, I am going to give it a shot. The Cabrera family has embarked on a new adventure that I would love to document and maybe blogging is the way to go. We'll see!
Two weeks and two days ago, on September 9, 2011, we arrived to Chile for an 8 month stint. How we got to this point is another post, but here we are. We are now in a two bedroom apartment in Santiago, we're driving a 4-door Mazda 2, and we're ready to see what God has in store for our next 7.5 months.
Although I do want to document the really important stuff, I also just want a place to put the funny things that I come across on a daily basis.
What has impressed me the most so far?
ANSWER: Parking garages!
These people have parking garages down to a science!
  • They are all under ground. Under the mall, under the city streets, under the hospital, under whatever (I mean, they even have a turnpike that is under a river!)
  • Every parking spot has a sensor above it. When there is a car parked in the spot, a light that hangs above the end of the spot turns red. When the car pulls out, the light turns green.
  • At each intersection there is a sign that indicates how many available spots you can find in that row. When all the spots on that row are full, the sign turns into an X.
  • There are pedestrian walkways in the parking garage: Instersections where you cross, lanes that you walk in, etc. (This makes sense b/c people drive crazy and you could easily get side swiped if you're not standing in the right spot)
  • There are car washes in the parking garage. If you need a car wash, oh...just park in the car wash corner! For an extra $4 you can get your car washed while you shop!

Not to metion other cool things like the magnetic grocery carts that you take up an down the moving sidewalk ramp. Or the grocery store/wal-mart entrance that you have via the mall. Talk about a one-stop-shop! The mall, dinner at a restaurant, the grocery store, oh...and a car wash....all in one!

I'll take pics and post!