Did you know people don’t mind honking their horns in Santiago? Since arriving here, I’ve even found myself reaching for the horn, something I never do in the States. In a city like Santiago, traffic stops and starts all the time, so if you’re driving a stick, you’re constantly shifting gears. Add to that all the pedestrians crossing the street whenever they want, the cars parked all over the side of the road and half in the roadway, and the bicyclists who think they own the road, and it makes for a very interesting place to learn to drive a stick shift. I was calm, cool, collected…and absolutely terrified I was going to total this rental car by the time I had to return it.
For the next couple of days, I honestly dreaded driving. Yet because of all the paperwork to be filed, the money to be exchanged, the bank account to be opened, the appliances to be bought, it seemed like all I did was drive. But, slowly, little by little, I started to get the hang of it. I’m not saying I became a pro by any means, but by the time we purchased our car (an automatic, by the way), I was to the point that I could drive comfortably by myself and was stalling much less. Still, when we pulled into the airport to drop our rental car off, I felt so relieved. I somehow managed to drive a stick shift for five days in Santiago without wrecking it.
My wife Leslie actually learned to drive a stick several years ago, and while the knowledge was there, the experience was a little rusty. She did great driving here, with the exception of the one time she got stuck on a hill and had so much smoke flying they almost called in the fire department. Still, I was really proud of Leslie for driving in a big, unfamiliar city and doing what needs to be done.And that’s a lesson I’m learning about the mission field–the importance of getting out of my comfort zone, jumping in, and doing what needs to be done. I never would have dreamed of driving a stick shift through Atlanta for my very first time, but here in Santiago, what other choice did I have?
The day we arrived in Chile, we went to midweek service at Liberty Baptist Church, and I was thrilled to see several friends I had previously made when I interned here for six months. What a blessing it is to finally be in the country we’ve been longing for these last four years and to be with the people God has given us to love!