Goodbye to Chile

Goodbye to Chile

Note: Elena Huegal has been serving as a Global Ministries Missionary in Chile for many years, working with the Conference's mission partner, the Pentecostal Church of Chile. Elena is now ending her time in Chile. She will be touring the UCC before her next assignment, and will be available to visit Massachusetts Conference churches from Sept. 15 to 30. To request a visit to your church, contact Karen Methot.

by Elena Huegel

A Pueblo prayer:
Hold onto what is good,
Even if it is a handful of earth.
Hold onto what you believe,
Even if it is a tree that stands by itself.
Hold onto what you must do,
Even if it is a long way from here.
Hold onto life,
Even if it is easier to let go.
Hold onto my hand,
Even when I have gone away from you.

There is a rock outcropping at the Shalom Center overlooking the waterfall, the tops of the coigue trees, and the Lircay River far below. This is the end of the Shalom Trail and one particular rock juts out in a way to make a seat for me.  I have sat on this same rock for over fifteen years.

Feelings flit in and out of my soul like the mountain breeze and clicks of the hummingbirds.  One nearly flew into my nose a moment ago; I had to close my eyes and blow hard to shoo her away!  The lizards, some turquoise blue fading into emerald green, others brown and yellow striped, share the rock with me.  They are so used to me that they don´t mind when  we enjoy the same sunlight and shadows.

In the midst of good-bye parties, parting rituals, and tears, the forest is also bidding me farewell.  Today the fox trotted down the road in front of the Welcome House while I ate my breakfast, stopping several times to take me in before wandering across the circle of logs and into the berry bushes.  Yesterday I spotted the orange and black tadpoles of the "Venusto Toad," beautiful and endangered.  As the forest and I say farewell, so I also say goodbye to twenty years of life and ministry in Chile. 

In Spanish we say "adios" to say good-bye.  It literally means "unto God."
Unto the pastors and pastoras who have encouraged me and opened their churches for the different activities I have led over the years.
Unto  the participants and staff of the Shalom Center who have heard the call to build the Shalom Kingdom with truth, justice, mercy, dignity and peace.
Unto the people of Chile, neighbors, bus drivers, post office workers, cashiers, and shop owners who have greeted me with a smile and a wave.
Unto the children of Chile who share with me their play, laughter and learning. 
Unto the mountain ecosystem which has intertwined its essence in my being.
Unto God... to each of you.  I carry you in my heart as precious treasures to cherish and share with others in faraway places.

I ask for your prayers as I discern the next steps in my life.  During the next six months I will be visiting churches in the United States and preparing for a new assignment.  Please pray that God might prepare the path before my feet.
A missionary's job is to work herself out of a job.  That means that farewells are an inherent and anticipated part of the ministry. These good-byes are particularly painful when balanced with the other half of a missionary´s job: integration and complete participation in the host culture with a commitment to deep, transformative relationships.

I have worked hard to form  the good-byes from Chile into experiences of  learning and growing for those around me as well as myself.   As C.S. Lewis says in the movie "Shadowlands", "The pain now is part of the happiness then. That's the deal."  So also these farewells open doorways to fresh hopes, dreams and possibilities.  Fare thee well, my friends!  

I remind you that the the Roots in the Ruins: Hope in Trauma activities and other news will be posted on the new "Fan page" on "Facebook".  It is called "Retoños en las ruinas: esperanza en el trauma."  You can also follow me, in English, on my blog "From the ends of the earth."  En Espanol:
Thanks for your prayers and for being a part of my ministry, always!
Centro Shalom

"Aun si supiera que mañana se terminaría el mundo, hoy plantaría un árbol."
"Even if I knew the world was to end tomorrow, today I would plant a tree."  Martin Lutero



Elena Huegel

United Church of Christ Missionary working with the Pentecostal Church of Chile.

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