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Final Stretch in Chile

November 07, 202315 min read

“We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.” - Carlos Castaneda, Author

T-minus 5 weeks left.. With this last push here would love to get a $1k goal raised for funds to support the rest of the trip leading home. This will be my final request as my last blog next month will be my wrap up to the experience. Again anything helps & especially your prayers for closing out the rest of my time here strong is requested!

Excited to get home to thank everyone personally with my stories, and committed to finalizing my memoir for those who want to read more about my action packed experience. Thank you always for your love & support always! 🙏🏼

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Passing the Half-Way Point

Realizing I was reaching the half way point hit me a little bit harder then I expected. Knowing this experience has been one to forever remember, while also knowing I will be leaving it all soon yet still missing home very much. Mainly feel I'm going to miss the people I’ve grown close to in my short time here. I think realizing you have such a short time almost causes you to charious more of the moments you have in general. Life is temporary in every aspect. But love is eternal & thats because God is Love. True unconditional everlasting Agape. How wonderful that He gives us a timeframe so we can truly enjoy what we do have for the short time we’re allotted here, true JOY (Jesus Others Yourself). It’s about becoming present and not allowing your mind to take you in this place I’m in. Where your reminiscing on the past causing depression & looking into the future causing anxiety. Not only that but simultaneously which is the worst because you’re not at all in the present. That’s a gift in life which is why they call it that.

It’s tough realizing many things are beyond my control. From what I’ve been indoctrinated into from my culture to the environments I was born into. I’ve sought to grow beyond what my limited perspective provides. Being away for this long now as really opened my mind to the many things outside of what I know & have grown accustomed to. It’s not always an easy process though to realize your limitations in certain situations. People tend to get stuck in their ways and don’t care to go beyond it. It shows one’s level of maturity to be able to realize though you may not agree or see another point of view but to hear it out and question within yourself how to understand how they don’t effect you. I’m at least happy that I seek to become more then who I currently am. That’s what it is to be alive though, if your not growing then your dying. Many things I wish I could change but realistically I will always be a cumulation of my environment & society. But I can’t hate who I am deep down, just embrace the parts I do enjoy while I work on the parts I’m not particularly fond of. At the end of the day the process of becoming aware of this to unlearn then relearn should forever be a lifelong journey we embark on. Famous saying that nobody is perfect which we all can agree on, but perfection doesn’t mean without faults. The Greek word for perfect in James 1:4 is teleios, and it refers to a maturing growth. For example, an oak tree is the teleios of an acorn. It is the perfection of an acorn. So when you are discouraged and feeling a little blue, take a look at a mighty oak and see what a nut can do.

For the most part the days here have been pretty good. I can’t say all the time that this experience I won’t genuinely miss. Though I do tend to get down and vent through my writing I’ve made a more conscious effort to want to capture moments of genuine joy. Definitely getting getting over my bed-ridden injury and back in the groove of things helped. It’s crazy how much we can push ourselves beyond what we think we’re capable of until we just need to keep putting ourself in those situations to defy our limiting beliefs. I think that’s what the main thing this entire experience has taught me up to this point and I feel will even more during this.. One word, “FAITH”. Most people simply just don’t believe, not only to God but mainly in themselves. We’ve almost accepted most of the story’s or limitations those around us put or worse, ones from ourselves. Henry ford said it best:

"Wether you can or can't either way you are right."

Now really take a second to let that sink in. I know it can be understood but when you live it that’s another thing.

October had quite a few days this month where I was pretty down. Where things are just feeling much heavier and I can’t seem to understand why. A lot of confusion, brain fog, and just overall feeling down. It’s days like those where I cry because I feel I’m not confronting some of my realities. It’s not healthy to distract or avoid some of your feelings or previous traumas that resurface. Because it’s days like those they become a little overwhelming to deal with and it effects you much more then you understand. However it’s also days like those where the most depth of growth can be made. Pushing through in the darkness beyond past what you feel like or think your capable of. But I still can’t help but feel I’m constantly going in the wrong direction no matter what I do. Only thing that really helps me get through it is Jesus.

I’m glad I have people around me that have taught me so much through my life, but especially during my time here. People who I would’ve never thought I’d become so close with that I must say I will definitely miss once I’m gone. I’m beginning to realize how much more of this is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity that I’m beyond blessed to get such a different perspective of not only myself but the world around me. My time here though it’s had some rough patches has for sure been worth it and I’m glad that I made the decision to do this no matter how bumpy the road gets. But I can’t say I enjoy having so many barriers it does become frustrating & tiresome. Other times I feel they are valuable for my protection. But barriers & boundaries are to be respected. I’m finally beginning to understand the true importance to both and learning how to most of all respect my own boundaries. I tend to cross the lines in a moments notice with not enough self control to reel myself back in. But I’m realizing more now how that ultimately just leaves me feeling worse and wondering why. Perhaps because I’m forgetting to keep my word to the most important person, me. I’m just glad I’m able to have these revelations now while I’m still young enough to make the changes, yet old enough to realize I still have a ways to go in growing up to into who I want to be.

Tony B. on top of Atacama Dessert

My Trip to Mars Provided an Altering Perspective!

My recent trip to the driest dessert in the world, where they test the mars rovers in North Chile called Atacama, was truly a paradigm shifting perspective! Born & living in a dessert my whole life I never saw the attraction to it, land with extreme harsh conditions yet attracting people from all over the world. This was an included school trip that was provided to me, I was blessed being able to go to one of the most unique places in all of Chile (besides Rapa Nui of course)! I believe I definitely grew more appreciation for home experiencing this desolate place. Be sure to catch my video linked below for some of the amazing captures from this month.

I couldn't help but contemplate many things towards the end of my trip. From how the program has gone, to how and who I was throughout it. From noticing the tendencies I had during it to realizing this would all be over very soon so how much of it was manufactured vs real. This began sending many realizations of how I felt I was only showing a version of myself that wasn't fully me, being inauthentic. I realize now so much more now about tendencies I have, things I still need to be shed of in the light of only our God who shed His blood for us.

Growing up in a Western Judeo-Christian culture, though the society may not seem that way now, I’m realizing more how much I appreciate how many around us live certain ways, especially the love for God in the USA. We don’t even have to all agree on the semantics but at least there’s a greater understanding for the Love of God. I mean even in our pledge of alliance says “one nation under God”, which I’ve learned to appreciate more now in my latter years mainly because my grandmother was Jehovah’s Witness so I got indoctrinated to never do it nor appreciated what it really meant.

However there's times I feel as though I’m still not being who I really am deep down, a façade that I put on to hide or protect the little boy inside from all he’s endured throughout my life. I just felt like lately I was only showing a part of myself, not fully revealing all of who I really am or what I honestly believe in certain situations. Not in a necessarily bad way, but in a way we usually put up a front or morph how we are to further connect with other individuals. But I don’t really like that, I’m becoming more aware now of how I also tend to do that back home as well. Like I’m catering the line and not boldly admitting the faith I have in God’s word for what I’ve come to know as true. In a secular world we tend to dim our voices due to the feel we need to navigate it through it. Or perhaps it’s my lack of understanding how to present the information in a way which they can understand it the way I’ve come to know it. I mean when you’re surrounded by differences in many ways beyond what your use to it’s not usually the simplest conversation to have. A great quote I saw on social media recently encapsulates what I’ve been experiencing as of late..

"Don't be afraid of losing people. Be afraid of losing yourself by trying to please everyone."

I feel as if I’ve been slowly losing the progress I’ve made to fit my old ways of pleasing others. It’s something I’ve struggled with for a while, going against who I know I really am in order to stay face with those around me. But that’s why I become so unhappy because I’m not living my true identity. I’ve allowed the world to pull me back into old ways instead of breaking free into who God’s called me to be. This is a scary realization honestly. To defile not only who I am deep down but who my Heavenly Father sees me as. His work in me is not yet complete, and for this I am glad. To know he lovingly cares so much about me that I get His attention & assistance to become more than I currently am. Nothing in this world is worth losing myself & especially God. I know in my fallen state I will struggle with many things, but it’s by the grace of Jesus I’m able to stand up again in His righteousness not my own. For nothing I ever do will make me right besides accepting His gift of salvation & repenting by becoming a living sacrifice for His will be done, His kingdom come in and through me.

I’m coming to an age now where it’s time to grow up and beyond who I am. I can’t keep living the way I do expecting different results. That’s why I believe in the end this experience will be the most monumental for my overall life development. Towards becoming who I really want to be. As a son, friend, brother, lover, & hopefully one day a father. I’m glad I’m able to experience this now so it provides so much wisdom I can not only have for myself but those around me. Wisdom only comes from experiences and usually those are scars that turn into valuable life lessons we remember forever.

This overall experience has helped me process many things I’ve maybe not realized in my daily life I have. From my friendships, relationships, especially most important my own interpersonal communication. I tend to have destructive thoughts of insecurities which is truly your ego. People misconstrue confidence for being egotistical, however having limited belief or fears is truly what your ego does to you. A great acronym you may have heard is:

Ego = Edging God Out

God made us with unlimited potential, the only barrier is the ones we put on ourselves. I mean look at how many things that were “impossible” became probable once someone had the FAITH & FOCUS. Roger Bannister who ran the first 4 minute mile for instance is a great story to use for this concept.

I also learned not to have your family send you packages unless it’s absolutely necessary.. I didn’t realize how absurd the shipping fees are but thankfully my sister works for the government obtaining a massive discount or it would not have been worth it. To feel my family’s love though from so far away in something that can seem so small as a simple care package they’re sending me on the outside, but it really has me understanding the lengths people who love you are willing to go. It makes me more emotional to know that & the fact that they would do anything for me as I would for them. Imagine how much more we are loved by our Heavenly Father to provide His only begotten Son today down His life as a sacrifice for us. There truly is no greater love than for one to lay down their life for those they love. As we would do for our family, God has adopted us all into His family through the love that was shared from His blood that was shed.

Santiago Main City Cemetary

Living as if You Know it's Coming to an End..

This is an interesting experience to say the least. It allows you to become extremely present in most of your experiences and try to savor the moments while they last. Things that may look seemingly insignificant on the outside but during are amazing stories to forever have. I find my self savoring moments more when I understand the temporal status of it. Now what if we lived everyday that way? We tend to get stuck in our routines and planning for another day, and it's the beauty in everyday moments we tend to miss.

During my time of reflection on living a temporal life, I was happy to visit the main city cemetery in Santiago to really help bring everything into perspective. How do I want to be remembered when I'm gone..? I saw a beautiful ceremony from a family coming to celebrate one of their family members who passed years ago. It made me a bit emotional to think about who would still come to my grave like that to remember the good times and how much I meant to them in life. Beauty comes more when you realize you won't have something forever. Life can truly be lived this way once we get out of our daily rut to realize how precious our moments are and what we do with those moments to shape the world around us.

As my time here is wrapping up, I can’t help but feeling like if I could have done more this experience.. Did I give it everything I had? I’m glad I still have a month left to help me feel as if I don’t leave without feeling like every stone was unturned. Having a desire for certain outcomes is what also gets you through the tough times and especially the whole motivation vs inspiration. Seeing the finish line definitely helps when running the race. Knowing how far you have left in a short time to push yourself in the direction of your goal. I know I am more committed to finish what I started to the best of my abilities so I am satisfied with myself and all I could do in the end.

-Tony Benton

To See Some of the Moments I Captured Click Here

Prayer Requests:

Your continued support & prayers are always appreciated thank you!

  • Continual provisions of God's work through serving here & in my life

  • Health & healing from my past tramuas getting in the way of my experience here

  • Final push for support & prayers to finish out my time away secured

  • More organic opportunities to share my testimony & the gospel with others

  • To witness another sinner's salvation in accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord & Savior

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Tony B.

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