Missions for us isn’t just going to a country, it’s a lifestyle. It doesn’t mean living in a third world country. It’s something you do on a daily basis, with your neighbors, at your job, in your church – everywhere. To be a missionary for us is to just do His will in some country or place that He’s put on your heart. Now this is our life, our job and Jesus is our boss. It’s crazy but we love it, with all of our heart.
Here at Hill City we want to celebrate people, where they’ve come from, and what they’ve been through. Claudia and Alonso Contardo are missionaries with YWAM. This is their story.
YWAM (Youth With A Mission) is a worldwide organization with over 1500 bases. Each base runs a DTS (Discipleship Training School), a core course of YWAM about how to get to know God. It’s oriented in missions, with a three month lecture phase and then two months of outreach. The idea is that you set that part of your life aside just to focus on God – to get to know Him, and get to know yourself to find your path and purpose in life. From there, go wherever God has called you, whether that’s here at home, or around the world.
Claudia and Alonso met in Chile in 2010. She had just finished DTS and moved to a new city. He was finishing his degree at school. They started dating and decided that if they were going to invest in each other, they’d be pursuing marriage. They were engaged six months later. “That’s where our story started together. We were just living life as newlyweds, working and paying bills. After about a year of this, we felt that life was not just this – working during the week and just serving at church on Sundays.”
They felt like God was going to call them somewhere. They didn’t know where or when, but they started saving like crazy. Alonso had always wanted to improve his English and one day Claudia remembered her friend who had done DTS and English school in the states and loved it. They began researching places in the states and Richmond came up. In May of that year, they started planning and applying for visas to come to America. They found cheap flights and bought their tickets to the states before they even had visas. “We got our visas, and God sorted everything else out. We just came to the states with our suitcases full of clothes and dreams.”
Claudia and Alonso knew coming to Virginia for English school was an excuse from God and wasn’t their sole purpose in being here in the US. “We were here for more, for another reason we just didn’t know what yet. That’s when we felt that God was inviting us into a season of investing and learning more about missions. We were like ok, now what?”
They ended up going to Bolivia with a YWAM team as interpreters for a DTS outreach. “After Bolivia we were asked to be on the YWAM staff here in Richmond. Now we’re here, serving and doing whatever God leads us to do. God has given us his heart for America.” Now they help run and develop the Richmond YWAM campus, while investing in young adults around the world that are also passionate about missions.
Claudia and Alonso started coming to Hill City around when it started in 2014. Even though they were very involved in their YWAM community, they were looking for a home church. Hill City was comfortable and similar to their church back in Chile. They liked seeing familiar faces and being in a community where they could grow in their knowledge of who God is. “It felt so warm. Like a home. We both thought it’d be a good place to build a family.”
The Contardos plan to stay in the area for a few more years and then go wherever God calls them next. For now, with a baby girl on the way, they are calling Richmond and Hill City home.