Tuesday, July 26, 2011

But I always think that the best way to know God is to love many things.

Precious lovelies, I have things to say. I heard someone say the other day that all of our dreams will be fulfilled somehow, eventually, at some point throughout our lifetimes, though likely not in the way, shape, form, or time we had originally imagined. But fulfilled, nonetheless. This came as a relief to me, as I have plenty of dreams. Too many to the point that I wonder if any of them will happen in the particular time frames that I desire. But the good news is that I have, more so than ever before, begun to gain a firm handle on who I am. More and more now, I am comfortable with myself, confident of my own dreams, and certain of what I want and who I want it all with. I am reaching a point now, where even though the next few steps are foggy, I am sure of which one I stand on now.

My recent thoughts and ponderings have been centered on graduation and what next and such, among other things. I have plans. Aspirations I'm in the process of reaching. The big ones, Europe, teaching, moving around, travel. Then comes the "what after that?" And truth be told, I'm not sure. It's a case of "what shouldn't I do after that?" I want to do everything. A few days ago, some of my friends brought up the idea of Boston. Boston? I don't know where that came from, but immediately, the thought of it washed over me so pleasantly, I had no reason to turn my nose up at it. Graduate school is also an option. Alabama has a creative writing program that is phenomenal. If I get accepted, full tuition, two additional stipends, and health insurance. Um, yes please. Then seminary. Honestly, if I had known how much I would love the classes in my minor, I would have gone to a school that allowed me to major in it. But I love the W, and I love English just as much. But more than that, at the moment, I want to travel and teach English as a second language. I want to go everywhere. And ultimately, I want to settle down somewhere in a Nashville-ish area (preferably Nashville) in an old house with a big porch for coffee in the mornings, reading during the rain, and jam sessions at night.

And here's the crazy part, y'all. I'm finally beginning to accept that if I want to do something, I can do it. Over the past several months, it's been like a dimmer switch where I finally realized that I don't have to sit here and let things happen TO me and jostle me and my self around. So much great advice has been compiled by my professors over the years, but this one gem will stick to the forefront of my mind: "If you want to do something, then do it! Quit complaining about how you're too old and too much time has gone by." So. It's up to me to make this happen. I will be hurt, I know. But I will find so much more that will make it all worth it. And if I believe I will find that, I will find it.

I just need to get over this hurdle. Whatever mysterious road block that causes me to clench my teeth to the point that my dentist is freaked out, lose hair to the point that my stylist brings it up, and lose weight to the point that I don't really care so much. Why am I this stressed? I don't know. And not knowing is stressing me. I really do feel fine. Relaxed, even. And when I wake up, I don't feel deprived of sleep at all. But I still have that slight pang greeting me in my jaw and gums that say they've been busy while I dreamed.

For some reason, a certain memory has popped up in my mind in recent days. I have had my heart set on Nashville since I was a little girl. Not sure why exactly. It was just one of those things that's always been in the back of my mind. When I graduated high school, my dear aunt took me to this music city for a few days, and I loved it all. But the evening I adored more than anything, was the night we went to the Bluebird Cafe. Seventeen songwriters, y'all. Seventeen. Each one doing two or three songs. My aunt and I had gotten there late, so there were no tables left, and as I was seventeen at the time, we couldn't sit at the bar. So I took my spot on a cabinet behind the hostess stand, and my aunt had the stool in front of it. That was where we ate our food and watched the show for those lovely long hours. I really don't understand why that has been on my thoughts lately, but I do miss it. I miss live music. I want to go find it again. We were happy together once, and maybe we can be happy together again.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Nothing is ever lost to us as long as we remember it

The days have rolled into a lull. And I am more than okay with this, mostly because I know that this lull will not last. In a matter of weeks I will be back into the routine that I have known and grown to love, a routine that has been mine for nearly four years. It will be the last of this routine for me. Graduation looms on my horizon, and I'm at the point now where I don't know how I feel about it. We've been in this long-distance relationship for a while now, I'm nervous about how well we will be acquainted when we finally meet. I'm excited, though, and I've been waiting and looking ahead this whole time. I know I'll be ready to leave. There may be a pull in my heart towards this place and these years, but there will be no desire to stay.
In every season of my life, I have been as eager to leave when it was over as my heart has been melded to everything associated with it while I was there.

I've never had any trouble attaching myself to people, places, and times. If ever there was any struggle, it was simply in the expressing of such felt attachments. If I could, I would send out a big I LOVE YOU to every soul and moment that so touched my life while I was in its presence. I love you for being gracious in allowing me to be near. In allowing me to sit on your green lawn and cry on your pillowcases under your windowsills. I love you for cooking for me and letting me sleep on your couch and ride with you. I love you for showing me what I didn't know and exposing me to something greater. I love you for holding my hand and paying for my dinner. I love you for laughing with me and at me, and for playing the music for that time of my life. I love you because you know what I don't and see what I don't, and because you love what I'm learning to love. I love you for your smiles and your precious faces. For your innocence and your experience.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

It's time to tell about these tales

Everyone, I completed the first of my world travels in the form of a mission trip, and it was wonderful. For those of you who supported me in the form of prayer and finances and encouragement and advice, I want to do my best to let you know what you did and what you were a part of. Thanks to everyone who contributed, I wish you could know the full extent of what you did, but hopefully this little bit will help.

June 23rd, day 1: We flew out of Jackson to Houston, barely made it on the plane to Tegucigalpa where we arrived at midday sometime (I never had a watch on me). We got to the home of Luis Sorto and his family and were served the first of the most wonderful meals before we went to meet the kids and play soccer. Well, they played soccer. I watched. And the Americans suck. They were no match for ten-year-old Honduran boys.

Everything here was as beautiful as I knew it would be. Before we go any further, let me let you in on who I am. I have always believed that I was meant to spend a time in my life as a nomad of sorts. A world traveler. During these unattached years of my life, I have this constant itch to get out. When I do, usually in the form of road trips with someone I'm related to or best friends with, I always felt the sigh of relief when I returned to my home and my bed because towards the end of the journey I felt a pull back to that place. This time I did not. I love you all immensely, but for the first time, I felt no urge to come back. When I got back, I missed everybody and was glad to be back, but I felt no sigh of relief. This was my first time in a plane, and I was a tad bit nervous getting on that first flight, but it all disappeared immediately. I was meant to do this. I was meant to travel, whatever the purpose. Deep in my heart, I have this dream and desire that I've had for as long as I can remember that involves a front porch and a swing and kids everywhere, kids that belong to me. But a time for everything, right? Anyway, so all that to say that I really did know it was going to be beautiful. I knew that wherever we ended up, I was going to love it because I was meant to do this.

The drive from the airport in Tegucigalpa to Luis's home in Zambrano was crazy, as all Latin American driving is, apparently. I was glad I was so tired I slept the whole way. That was the last time that happened, however, as the bumpy terrain's influence on my tummy did not allow me to sit past the front seat of this 16ish passenger van for the remainder of the trip.

Luis's home was truly a home, and they only made us feel like we belonged. My only objection was the plumbing, and I was grateful when getting back to the States that I didn't have to put the toilet paper in the trash can anymore. And another objection was to me that I didn't know Spanish. How I regretted it. There is nothing worse than having this strong desire to express yourself in the form of communication to these children and to have a language barrier. But they knew no strangers, and they fell in love with everyone, especially Len and Chelvis.

June 24th day 2: We went to a nearby house that Luis was building for someone, and we mixed concrete to lay a floor for the house. This time I really do mean "we" because I picked up that shovel. We had to carry water in 5 gallon buckets from a well at the bottom of the hill and it was heavy. The mixing was probably the easiest, except after a while, Luis told us that two Hondurans would take care of it when it was time for mixing, because two Hondurans could to what it took 8 Americans to do in the same time. Kind of sad, yes. That afternoon, we had our first VBS with the kids in Zambrano, that I led. The format for all these was a short story, some questions, a craft or game, then handing out a snack or something for them to take home. That night I played spades, and I needed my brother.

June 25th day 3: This was the busiest day in that Saturday is church day. We did a VBS that morning, some people helped to pack food bags to give away that afternoon. 500 people typically show up every week. Each of us took over specific areas for Luis and his family, such as the adults, teenage girls, teenage boys, and kids, while they each translated for us. Then we served a meal to everyone who came to the church service which was an interesting experience to say the least. Hectic, but interesting. That night, Luis told his story. He's a good storyteller. I love storytelling. I wish everyone could hear it, but I won't even begin to try to think I could do it justice.

June 26th day 4: We went to Tegucigalpa to the Valley of Angels for shopping, and it was really a neat place. Sort of a strip mall with outdoor markets. We learned how to watch out for the tourist-y places as those were the most expensive. But I got what I came for: coffee. It was fun, I'm glad we went. That afternoon was a marriage conference, and those of us who didn't do that went with Carolina (Luis's oldest, who coordinates the children's ministry) to hand out shoes to some older girls who are regular church attendees. It was a bit emotional to say the least. And now a trip to the back-story department: The day before, as Bo preached his sermon for the adults, he noticed (because he has eyes) that out of the 150+ adults in that room, maybe 5 of them were men. He asked Luis about this, and Luis says, "Well, you see a boy and a girl hold hands, and then you see a baby, and then you never see him again." And that's how it is with Honduran men. This caused Bo to want to tell these girls a thing or two about what they really deserved from God out of life. So after we gave them their shoes, Carolina encouraged him to say what he felt he needed to for these girls. It was beautiful.

June 27th day 5: We went to the village of Proteccion which was pretty high up there in the mountainous/hilly area. Very rocky, but positively gorgeous. We got to walk around a bit before Luis led some singing and then the kids went with us while the adults got to listen to a sermon. We did another VBS of sorts in the same format as we had done. Then when it was over, most of the others proceeded to play soccer with the kids in a field of cowpies. Because their cows and such run free. That afternoon we had nothing on the schedule, so we went on a hike of sorts to see this waterfall that Luis had heard of but never been to. It wasn't so much of a hike as it was a rock climb (or rock slide, it was for me at times). We ended up at the top of this waterfall, and there were some other Americans there jumping in the water and being American who told us we'd have to go down this really dangerous cliff to see that waterfall. So of course we went down this really dangerous cliff. I had never really done anything like that in my life, but oh my goodness, it was one of the most exhilarating, invigorating, refreshing things I had ever done. And then when we got to the bottom and look up to see this (at least) 200 foot water fall, it was so worth it.
Then that night we all stayed up late with our sunburned, aching bodies laughing and telling and listening to stories in loopy, spacy, caffeinated bliss.

June 28th day 6: We went to the village of El Espino, and did basically the same thing we did in Proteccion the day before, except we did not play soccer. This landscape was not as rocky, and there was a lot more agriculture and farmland nearby. We handed out food bags as we did the day before. And for some reason, I feel like I connected with these kids a little more than I had any others. It was a good morning. That afternoon, we did more food packing and a VBS back in Zambrano. Then that night, we did another VBS/church service for the Zambranians which I only made it halfway through before my allergies kicked in like a rock and made me ready to drop dead. That didn't last long, however. One Zyrtec, 2 ibuprofen, 3 cups of caffeine, and I was feeling much better and found myself awake and thoroughly entertained for the better portion of the evening. More loopy bliss, as I like to say. But that has always been my favorite setting. Some guitar in the background with lots of laughs and stories going around the room.

June 29th day 7: Last full day. Most of us went to another house to work on more concrete floors, while I and a few others got to go to the school to do a short Bible story, a song, some coloring and passing out a snack. We only spent an hour here, my shortest time in any spot so far, and there was a pull that I had not had before. For some reason, being in this place, this school, it affected me differently. My heart has always been in education and simply eliminating ignorance, so maybe that has something to do with it. I don't know. But I had a harder time leaving the school. "Knowledge is power" may be a strong statement, but if only everyone knew how many problems could be eliminated by simply educating people. I don't know. Perhaps it will be a while before I understand fully that feeling I had.
That afternoon, we walked around Zambrano for a bit before we played with the kids one last time. Saying goodbye wasn't easy. But I hope it's not for good. I doubt it.

June 30th day 8: As I said before, I did not want to leave. We stopped at the grocery store before the airport so everyone could stock up on that heavenly coffee and other things. Then of course the battery dies in our big van, so we all pile up in the mini-van to go the the airport. Some were not so lucky to be squashed as we were:

But we made it to our plane, we made it home. So thanks. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will be talking and posting about this for a while to come, so I hope you'll journey back to my messages from the wayside!