Posted on August 5, 2019 by Matt Postiff

The Fray Jorge Effect

Diane Steward recently wrote:

Suddenly—in the middle of a ladies’ Bible study on May 29—the women perked up their ears, leaped, and raced outside. No, not an earthquake. “It’s raining!” they told me as they ran to rescue the Sunday school display and phone around for umbrellas. Their reaction was a bit like the excited twirling-in-the-snowflakes in Santiago. Now I could barely hear the sprinkle on the pavement—but then, I’m getting deaf 😊…

Rain again interrupted Women’s Time on June 11. But what really surprised Curtis and me was the drizzle last Christmas morning, during the summer. When we commented on it to Brother Dixon later, he said, “Oh, that was the Fray Jorge effect.” Ah-ha! We’d recently visited the Fray Jorge World Biosphere Reserve, an hour’s drive south of Coquimbo, so we knew what he meant. In an otherwise arid area, a dense Patagonian-like rainforest has formed, moisturized by the condensation of fog that rolls in from the ocean. You might say it’s a garden that the Lord waters.

Praise God, we are seeing the desert flourish here in Punta Mira, and we can’t take much of the credit for it. Víctor, Rodrigo, and Dixon planted… Curtis and Diane have watered some… but only God could give the increase in a dry place like this. There’s lush growth where you’d least expect it. Call it the Fray Jorge effect.

Speaking of the weather… Chile as a country experiences many natural disasters, such as the freak tornado on June 1. One of the greatest changes we’ve faced since moving to Coquimbo is the climate. Inland, the Elqui Valley enjoys 300 nights a year of some of the world’s clearest skies, and astronomers from around the globe poured in to observe the solar eclipse on July 2. But here on the coast we see about 50% sun and 50% complete cloud cover. Despite the frequent lack of sunshine, it only rains 2-3 days a year, for a few hours. Very different from Santiago’s cold, damp (though brief) winters, and certainly a world away from the Chiloé Islands where it rains 13 months a year! The cool temps and high ceilings in parts of our house make it somewhat like living in a barn in November (no joke!) but we’re thankful for the woodstove in the evenings.