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Spanish is the national language of Chile, though other indigenous languages such as Mapudungun, Aymara, and Quechua are also present. Chilean spanish is unique in the way it drops the final syllables and “s” sounds from words. The Roman Catholic Church is the largest religion in Chile, accounting for about 60% of the population. The LDS church claims about 3% of the population, though many are inactive. Several other Protestant churches are also present, and about 18% of the population is irreligious. Modern Chilean culture primarily mixes Spanish and indigenous influences, though the south also has some influence from German immigrants. A wide range of music is popular in Chile, including rock, hip hop, and traditional folk music. Soccer is Chile’s most popular sport, though basketball and tennis are also somewhat popular and rodeos are popular events, especially in rural areas. Skiing is also practiced in some southern areas of the country. Chile is a large consumer of meat and bread, and rice and pasta are common side dishes. Empanadas and hot dogs are popular fast food items. Other popular dishes in Chile include asado (a type of barbecue, in southern Chile often made with lamb meat) and cazuela (a beef, potato, and pumpkin stew).
Inside the city there is a lot of smog. People are fast paced and often don’t stop to talk. When you move outside the city and head towards the coast, the people aren’t as hurried and the air is cleaner. Typically there are more baptisms outside the city in the countryside and by the beach. There are a tons of hills and inside the city you can see the Andes mountains but they are outside our boundaries. Also a lot of Peruvians have moved to Santiago to work.
The church is very well known in Chile. Most people have heard of the church and a lot of people have listened to the missionaries or at least made contact with them. In Santiago west, there are a lot of inactive members. Most wards have apprx 80 people in attendance each week. Most people there love the missionaries. The members that are active in the church are hard-working and devout.
In general, people eat only 1 big meal a day, usually at lunch. They also eat and evening meal called once which usually consists of bread and butter, maybe an egg. (It’s called once because it means 11 in Spanish, and the meal was traditionally eaten at 11pm; now it acts as dinner.)
Missionaries travel by foot or the public transportation. Buses and taxis go around in the city. Outside the city, colectivos and micros run routes. Colectivos are cars and micros are buses. Most people do not own cars.
There are some dangerous areas in the mission, and missionaries have to use common sense and follow mission rules and safety guidelines. Missionaries should be careful to not to carry valuables with them, and they should stay away from dangerous areas after dark. If missionaries follow the safety guidelines, they should be able to avoid most dangerous situations.
If you aren’t showing your hands when you eat, you are being very disrespectful. You do not place your elbows on the tables unless the head of the house does. It’s considered rude to turn down a handshake. When they greet, men shake hands then hug then shake hands again. Men to women and women to women give “besos” which is a kiss on one side of the cheek. It is considered bad manners to point. If you need to point to something, use your lips instead of pointing with your fingers
There is a lot of local lingo in Santiago. You will pick up on most of it with experience in the mission.
Casilla de Correo 149
Region Metropolitana (Santiago)
What items were hard to get or not available?
“Santiago is very modern; so most necessities were able to be purchased at Lider or any big supermarket. American missionaries always wanted to buy peanut butter, root beer, dr pepper, candy from the US, and maple syrup. All of these items were found in the supermarkets but since they are imported, the price is higher.”
What did you eat the most of?
“Chicken and rice. Chileans also eat a lot of mashed potatoes and soups. In the summer, most of their foods consist of corn. They made “humitas”, which are like tamales, “pastel de choclo” (similar to shepherd’s pie), and a soup with beans called “porotos con masamora”. The deserts are usually just a fruit that is typical to the season. In the winter we eat tons of beans and almost everything is soup with beans. They also bake a lot of fresh bread and have it on the table for every meal.”
What is the craziest thing you ate?
“Chileans like to eat interior organs. The weirdest thing I ate was probably cow utter cooked on a grill. It was so chewy, kinda like gum.”
What was most surprising about the culture?
“Many Chileans want to be blonde and have blue eyes. Many will dye their hair light brown or something and people call them “blondes”. There is a lot of German influence in Chile so almost all Chileans are light skin. They are still short but some are tall. There are natural blondes and brunettes but most have black hair. Some have blue and green eyes but most have brown. They think light eyes and light hair are much more beautiful. You could be one of the ugliest people on earth, but if you have blonde hair and blue eyes… they think you are the most beautiful.”
What advice would you give to someone going to this Mission?
“I would tell them to love the people and eat all their food. They love you if you love their food. They love to feed the missionaries. I acted like the food I ate was the best I had ever eaten every single day. They sacrifice a lot to feed the missionaries but they love doing it because they do believe that they are blessed for it. Work with the members and gain their confidence, they will help you if they like you! If they don’t like you, then they will just dwell on the missionaries they did like. Work hard and don’t set a bad example. It is a baptizing mission, but don’t abandon the inactive members because you can save their souls.”