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Let’s try something.

Pause and think about your favorite meal. Go ahead. Really think about it.

Got it? Ok, now, think about the wonderful smells of that meal. What does it smell like? Does it smell like home? Does it remind you of your childhood? Does it remind you of your grandmother? I have a feeling that the food you’re thinking about has a feeling of home in some way.

For me, that meal is charquicán. It’s pronounced char-KEE-khan. It’s a traditional Chilean dish that tastes so much better than any photo would ever lead you to believe. Take a look. See what I mean? But, I can assure you that once you’ve tried some charquicán, you’ll feel the same way. Photos just don’t do it justice.

So what is it? It’s a stew made from chunks of potato and squash. It has several vegetables like corn, green beans, and carrots. And the best part is the meat.

Thinking about charquicán brings back memories of 3rd-grade-me living in Midland Park in a house with my Abuelito (Grandpa) Alejandro, my Abuelita (Grandma) Gloria, my mami y papi (mom and dad), and my three siblings. My abuelita was the one who always cooked this meal for us and I remember getting home from school, eating the soup that she had ready for us, and then seeing her cook this meal so that we could all enjoy a family dinner around the table later (much later) that evening.

Food is only one of the many, many things I love about my Chilean culture. I have so many other memories: going to church in a Spanish congregation, having family gatherings where we ate lots of seafood and danced la cueca, and speaking Spanglish (a mix of Spanish and English) to my parents telling them about my school day.

The most beautiful thing about this is that my Chilean culture is just one of many cultures around the world that people connect to and love. God created us to express ourselves differently from each other, so we worship God in different ways. But we are one body of believers worshipping the same God. Our spiritual theme this school year is “Every nation, tribe, and tongue,” based on Revelation 7:9.

9After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; 10and they cry out with a loud voice, saying,

      “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” 11And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12saying,

      “Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”

What a powerful image. We have a promise that one day, people from every nation, every tribe, and every tongue will stand before God and worship Him. How beautiful that will be! And how beautiful that can be on this side of Heaven. This is our hope for this school year. With this spiritual theme, we want to be intentional about being part of the global body of believers. This means embracing many cultures and languages in our worship to “God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” (vs. 10).

I am excited for all the new and diverse ways we will be able to worship our Savior this year. Because all people of all cultures were created in the image of God to reveal Him uniquely, experiencing and embracing diversity will broaden our students’ perspectives of our God. We were created to live in community, not only with EC, but also with our brothers and sisters around the world.

Belen Araneda

By: Belen Araneda

Belen is a high school math teacher at Eastern Christian School.

Read More Articles by Belen Araneda
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