San Francisco to Santiago: The First Leg

Hi everyone, it has now been a little over two weeks since Danielle and I said our final good byes, and were dropped off at SFO by our each of our dad’s. It has amazing how time has flown by! We have seen much of South America’s western coast, met a ton of new friends, and witnessed God’s faithfulness throughout our journey. We have stayed in several cities along the way, enjoyed the culture, seen the sights, shared meals with our brothers and sisters in Christ, struggled with the language, shared the Word of God, joined together in prayer, and much more. I think more than anything God has continued to knit our hearts together with the people in South America, and while we look forward to seeing more of Peru in the near future, Danielle now shares my love for the country of Chile and the people here. I am going to highlight our experiences in each of the places we have visited, and include a few things to pray for us if you would.

(You can find all of our pictures here: Click on the San Francisco to Santiago Albums)

Fort Lauderdale

No, Fort Lauderdale was not a planned place of ministry or even a city we wanted to visit, but (by the will of God) it did become our layover destination as we flew to Lima. Danielle and I had about 11 hours between our flights at gate F10 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We had barely slept the first night on the plane, and lost 3 hours of the night due to traveling east. So, I had my head covered with a sweatshirt trying to catch up on some sleep when I heard screaming voices seemingly right next to me… I thought who could be so rude to scream right next to the sleeping guy? I took off my sweatshirt, and what did I see but our very good friend and sister, Amanda Picart. As usual, I heard her long before I saw her (with laughs). I won’t get into our relationship with Amanda, but we are as close as family can be. We were able to sit with her, and share for over 2 hours, and it was such a blessing for all of us. We had no idea that Amanda was going to be there, and had not planned on meeting her at all. Danielle had just been thinking how strange it was to know that among all the people around us we were not going to know any of them. Yet, by the hand of God, He arranged for us to meet in the same airport in Florida, at the same time, on the same day, even at the exact same gate as us! The odds of that happening have to be so minuscule that they are basically impossible. As Amanda headed for her plane I told her our meeting was nothing but a miracle from God. Yes, miracles still happen.


We arrived in Lima International right around 1 am, and got through customs around 2 in the morning. As we walked out the doors we walked into a mass of people, speaking a different language, in the middle of the night, into the city of Lima (roughly 8-9 million population). To say I was blessed and relieved to see Manolo Matos’ smiling face is an understatement. They picked us up at 2 am, gave us a bed, a hot shower, and his wonderful wife Holly had a delicious breakfast waiting for us in the morning. We instantly loved them both. Manolo and Holly helped us get set up for our bus ride that started at 2 pm the same day we arrived (so 13 hours after we landed on the plane), and got us to the bus station ready for the next step (a 20 hours of bus riding to the border of Peru-Chile.) At the church and Bible College Manolo and Holly were very busy with finals and all the ordinary church stuff, yet still took time to help us along our way. I am grateful for their heart of help and hospitality as they were truly like Jesus to us on our way. We hope to see them again soon. The bus ride to Tacna, Peru was long, but the bus seats in South America are surprisingly comfortable. Honestly, Greyhound should be ashamed of themselves. We spent the night on the bus, and then took a taxi across the border stuffed in a small sedan with 4 other South Americans. The taxi driver was a big help with customs, and everything went amazingly smooth. Praise the Lord for his answer to prayer, and faithfulness. We spent the next night in Arica, Chile because we had to wait until the next day for our bus, and to meet up with Ricky and Mayra Plazas in Iquique, Chile which would be our first real destination in Chile.

Iquique, Chile

After skirting the mountains on a road that was washed out in several places, we arrived in Iquique a few hours later than planned, and we were picked up by Ricky, Mayra, and another brother Omar from the local Calvary Chapel. We were very excited to be off the bus, as we arrived late due to the washouts, and we headed to Omar’s house where he and his wife had an awesome lunch waiting for us. One of the differences in culture in Chile, and all of South America, is that lunch is the main meal for the day, while dinner is lighter. So, we had a large meal complete with ice cream at midday, and a nice time of fellowship getting to know Omar’s family a little bit. After lunch, Danielle and I were taken to the house we would stay at with a young couple, Sebastian and Rocio. They were extremely welcoming, and were having youth group at their house that evening. So we were thrown right into the mix as we joined them for Bible Study and worship. Following that, the men and women split up to different houses for men’s and women’s prayer meetings. We don’t speak the same language or always understand each other, but none of that matters when you pray because God understands all his children. It was a sweet time and blessed experience. The following day was Sunday, and we fellowshipped at CC Iquique where Ricky gave a message on 1 Thessalonians that was really good, and a blessing to the people. We had lunch with several of the people from Iquique, and then went off to see some of the different parts of the city. It was a blessing to get a feel for the city and the culture. Iquique was formerly Boilivian and has been the site of some famous battles. Iquique is located right on the ocean, and we spent the evening at the beach with the youth group and some of the people from church. I was asked to share a devotional, and I spoke about King Uzziah and having a pure heart while Ricky translated. That was the first time I have ever taught with a translator and it was a really cool experience, and a blessing to be able to teach God’s Word in another country. We spent another day in Iquique talking with the church, heading out into the desert to see the sights, and then finished the trip with a BBQ with the church. We made a lot of close friends, and fell in love with the people there. We will miss them, and will be praying for them until we meet again. A few of the group will be heading down to the CC Chile family camp we will be attending, and we look forward to seeing them again.

Antofagasta, Chile

Our next stop was Antofagasta, Chile, and we were picked up by a friend of Ricky and Mayra’s, and a sister in the Lord, Lorena. Unfortunately, her husband Cesar was working in the mines so we did not get to meet him, but he will be visiting us in Santiago in January. Antofagasta is a fast growing city that is being supported by the vast mining being done near by there. Lorena took us out to lunch the first day and shared with us that her husband is teaching a small Bible study in a near by building that has mainly just a few of their family members attending. She said they have been persevering, and they will be in mine and Danielle’s prayers.

Lorena truly has the gift of hospitality, and although Danielle and I were a little travel weary, we really enjoyed tea and coffee time each evening. The meals we shared with Lorena and her brother in law Miguel were a sweet time to talk with them, and get to them. Danielle has had some ear infection problems that we were not able to get diagnosed before we left for Chile, but an unexpected blessing was that Miguel is a very talented doctor. He was able to give us some more info on what the issue was, prescribe some medicine, and tell us what to do next in regards to a specialist. Your prayers are appreciated as Danielle is hoping to see a specialist in Santiago next week.

Lorena also took us to the beach one of the days, and it was really refreshing. The interesting part of the ride was that I was the driver. Lorena’s husband has a car but she does not drive, and Ricky and Mayra don’t have licenses while they wait on permanent residency, so that left me as the only one who had a license and could drive a manual. We all survived.

At the beach, there were young guys diving with snorkeling gear for crab, and they came back to shore with a whole sack full of about 50! I was wishing I had my dive gear. We swam, ate, and talked. It was sweet time of fellowship and fun.
We were in Antofagasta for three days and two nights, and we are blessed to have got spend time with Cesar and Lorena’s family, to the see people and the city, and get a feel for Antofagasta.

La Serena, Chile

Our last stop before Santiago was La Serena, Chile. La Serena is beautiful coastal city with a lot of culture and history, and is a popular place for people to vacation. We were picked up by a brother in the Lord, Manuel who drove us to the lunch and then to the apartment we had rented. We got a really good deal on a small 3 bedroom apartment for only $50 per night for all four us, so that was a blessing. Manuel was very kind, and easy to get along with. He made us feel very welcome.

After we got settled in, he drove us in his taxi to La Serena’s sister city Coquimbo to see Fort Coquimbo, the Catholic Millenium Cross, and a beautiful view of the bay and both cities. Coquimbo is a bit more blue collar and industrious, while La Serena has more of a touristy feel to it. Later that night, we were welcomed to Manuel’s house where is wife prepared an awesome home-cooked meal for us, and we got to meet their two little boys. We got to know their family over dinner, and just have a blessed time of fellowship. We got to hear a bit about the church in La Serena, and really there is nothing at the moment. We will be praying for Manuel, his family, and the people there.

The following day, Ricky, Mayra, Danielle, and I walked the beach and found a quaint little coffee shop to sit at, and just share our hearts for ministry, missions, and the Lord in general. I think that time was a gift from God, and it was a blessing to hear the experiences of missionaries and dear friends as we are just starting our journey in South America. There is much to do in Chile, and all of South America, and we are not sure of our role, if any, but we trust the Lord will reveal that to us in time as we seek Him in prayer.

We were again sent off with a BBQ our last night, and we really enjoyed the family time spent with Manuel and Leticia. I was challenged by the chore of putting on a rather contrary 3 year old’s shoes, while Danielle was kept busy with the baby, but we had a great time, and we will miss them and be praying for them.


Finally, after non-stop traveling through different countries and continents we arrived in Santiago. On the plane, Danielle leaned over and said, “I love Chile.” I understood the feeling.

We are settling in nicely here in Santiago. Ricky and Mayra are such a blessing to us, and we love spending time with them and helping them with different things around the Bible College. Ricky and I built a custom Chilean Calvary Chapel backboard for the basketball hoop out back, and Danielle and I have been helping with inventory for the Bible College.
We have been able to catch up with old friends, see different parts of Santiago, and yesterday we went to Vina Del Mar with some of the youth group and spent time at the beach swimming, walking, and sharing in the Word of God.
This morning Danielle was helping with the little kids, while Ricky gave a great message on 1 Thess 2. I was especially blessed to see a little girl I got know about 3 years ago, and talk with her awhile.
Oh, and today was the first official day of summer… 3 days from Christmas. So weird. We are getting ready for Christmas eve service this Tuesday night, and are just so thankful to God for all he has done. We miss and love everyone back home, and you are in our prayers. We are so grateful to be able to spend this time in South America and Chile, for all the wonderful people we have been able to meet, and for the work God is doing throughout South America.
Thank you for keeping up with Danielle and I, and for praying for us. We are so grateful.

We do have some prayer requests if you would remember us in your prayers:

Service: Please pray that Danielle and I would have servant’s hearts while we stay at the Bible College, and that we would be a blessing to Ricky and Mayra while we are here.

The Church: Please pray that the Lord would bless his church here in South America, that people would be brought to the Lord, and that the Word of God would be taught throughout. Also, keep Ricky and Mayra in your prayers as they run the Bible College here in Santiago, and lead the church.

Direction: Please pray that Danielle and I would have an intimate walk with the Jesus, and that we would be directed by Him in all of our affairs in South America.

Love: Please pray that God would put a deep love in our hearts for the people of South America.

Ministry: Please pray that we would be faithful and filled with the Holy Spirit in all our work.

Language: Please pray that Danielle and I would be able to learn the language a little more each day, and that we would be patient with the difficulties that can come from not being able to freely communicate.

Health: Please pray for our health, and especially Danielle’s ear as I mentioned above.

Thank you again for your prayers and love.

In Jesus,
Cory and Danielle