It Hurts Like a Billy-Oh

30 08 2011

This post is very personal.  It’s a bit more personal than I’m comfortable with, but I think that I should share it anyway because people want to know what this whole experience is like, not just the good parts.  Right?

This week was rough.  We’re talkin’ curl-up-in-the-fetal-position-cry-myself-to-sleep rough.

I was lonely.  Not the kind of lonely that made me want to go home.  Not the kind of lonely borne out of self-pity.  It was an entirely new kind of lonely.  It was isolation.  Yes, I have friends here.  Yes, I live with people who speak English.  Yes, I can call home whenever I want.

But I was still lonely.

Have you ever had an experience of loss (a break-up, death, end of a friendship, etc.) ?  Do you remember how it felt like something was literally ripping open your chest?  That’s what this felt like, except without the loss.

I emailed by pastor back home asking him to pray with me and for me.  I told him that I needed an English-speaking friend that was fully, 100% fluent that I could have an easy conversation with (perhaps even a thoughtful, deep conversation) or I was going to have a meltdown.  In typical Chris Green fashion, he encouraged me to embrace the isolation, to lean into God, and to not resent the process.

I’m trying. It’s not easy.  And I’m fairly certain I have some more time in this lonliness before I get the friend I so desperately want…if I get the friend.

Upon reflecting on this time, I was reminded of the book The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis (part of The Chronicles of Narnia).  In the story, there is a character named Eustace.  Lewis writes, “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”

He is not very likeable and he doesn’t try to be.  He resents the fact that he is in Narnia and that he is stuck on the ship, “The Dawn Treader,” against his will.  The crew lands on an island where a dragon lives. Eustace, in attempt to avoid work,  stumbles upon the dragon only to discover that it is dying.  He decides to tell everyone that he killed the dragon.

Now, as we all know, dragons are hoarders of treasure.

With the dragon dead, Eustace finds that he is surrounded by all sorts of gold and diamonds and jewels.  He finds a golden bracelet and puts it as high on his arm as he can so that it won’t come off.  Then he falls asleep.  When he wakes, he discovers that he has turned into a dragon overnight.  This discovery of his dragoned self humbles Eustace and he seeks to make amends with the crew for his behaviour, but that’s difficult since he’s a dragon that can’t talk. It seems that he is set to be a dragon forever now.

But then comes this beautiful scene. Aslan comes to Eustace and tells him to unrobe.  Eustace tries to remove the dragon skin several times, but each time he finds that he is just as much a dragon as he was before.  Finally, Aslan helps him.  The way to remove the dragon skin is deep, painful clawing into the flesh.

This is how Eustace describes it:

“Then the lion said – but I don’t know if it spoke – You will have to let me undress you. I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

“The very first tear he made was so deep and I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know – if you’ve ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.”

“And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me – I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on – and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again.”

All that to say: If I need to be undragoned, so be it.  It hurts like a billy-oh, but it is necessary.  I cannot undragon myself.  If this is part of the process, I welcome it.  I don’t want to be a dragon anymore.


On Spanish, God´s Timing, and Crazy Celebrities

26 08 2011


If you follow very closely on Facebook, you will notice that I’m not catching on to this whole language thing as quickly as I thought I would. Call me crazy, but I really figured I’d be able to hold a conversation by this point.


I do try. Mostly with the kids at the school. Many of the adults know enough for a basic “hi. how are you?” conversation in English. The kids, however, have a million questions for me. And I don’t understand them most of the time. So, I try. I have them repeat themselves and talk slower and I try. Lord, do I try!!! But so far, it’s still uphill. Pray with me on this.

But the 4th graders today told Ana (the other English teacher) that I know Spanish.  That’s encouraging.

God’s Timing:

Sometimes God speaks to us through unexpected people.  And sometimes God speaks directly to things that you didn’t even know were there.  Yesterday, I worked with a wonderful woman named Janet on her English. I’m going to be tutoring her and her daughter a few hours each week.  There were several times that Janet said something that I knew was God speaking to me.  I don’t think they are things that I should share, but I wanted to share that basic experience with you.  It makes me happy when I recognize the voice of God.  I miss it all too often.

Crazy Celebrities:

Are there any crazy celebrities right now?  I don’t know who I am without a Tom Cruise, Charlie Sheen, or Don-Don “The Comb Over” Trump to make fun of.


Some of my favorite memories of SCU

20 08 2011

I saw on Facebook where a friend of mine had posted a great memory from SCU.  Upon reminiscing, here are a few of my favorites:

1. Any time Cinnamon was caught creeping around on campus. Particularly when wearing OU cheerleading uniforms and cleaning the caf.  I still don’t understand how Gavin didn’t find that strange.

2. Lighting pumpkins on fire and throwing them off the Overholser Dam with Nicole and Alec.  Turns out, it’s illegal.  I’m glad we didn’t get caught.

3. Scaring the sickness right out of Heather.  She was sick in her bed, and I decided to do that creepy stare from my bed to see if she could feel it.  She couldn’t. So I crept over to her bed holding my cell phone above my head.  When she opened her eyes, she screamed and threw her covers over her head while I fell to the floor laughing.  I’m so glad our friendship recovered from that.

4. OKLAHOMA JAVA!!!!!!!  From coming into a gallon of milk all over the floor because Nicole and Nate thought they should play catch with it to donut fights with Tara ten minutes before closing. From having a toddler as a manager (Josh the Black) to playing mixer rodeo with Joe, times were never dull.  Those were the days.

5. That time I had myself convinced I could skateboard.

6. Driving around Overholser with Blake, Justin, and Alec listening to TATU.

7. The first float trip.  Where to start?  My twin nephews waking us up in their underwear.  Five guys sleepin on one mattress in the yard.  James almost dying a hundred times.  Eating all of our food 2 hours into the 7 hour float.  Good times.

8.  Photo shoots with Whitney Light in which I stuffed my pants to look like I had a butt or created a shrine for Aaron Girod.  And that one time we changed the fortunes in our fortune cookies to say what we wanted to hear.

9.  Going to see Santa with DeAsha.

10. The “Not to be Confused With” game.  Why did we stop that?


So, fellow SCUer, tell me your memories!


15 08 2011

Today has been a crappy day. I woke up with a pounding headache that made the sun unbearable. Then my stomach started hurting. Then it started hurting when I would take too deep of a breath. Then I tried to drink some water thinking maybe I was dehydrated. It made the stomach ache worse. Then a friend really hurt my feelings. Which made the stomach ache worse. Then the internet connection isn’t that great so I’m having issues watching my guilty pleasure show The Vampire Diaries.

All this makes me homesick. I just want to curl up with my mutt and sleep.

Tomorrow will be a better day. I’m going to the beach!

The Sacraments

7 08 2011

I’ve been going to church here now for basically a month. Sometimes I have a translator, but mostly I do not. I know some of the praise and worship songs in English. I try to sing along to those, but it is difficult singing in English when they are singing in Spanish. And everyone greets everyone with a kiss on the cheek. I forget sometimes and there’s an awkward half hand-shake half kiss between me and some poor Colombian citizen who was unfortunate enough to try to greet me.

Most of the time I feel very out-of-place and totally confused.

Don’t get me wrong, I really do enjoy it. I try really hard to listen to the words of the songs and sermon. I pray that I will pick up on the gist of what is going on. So far, I am failing. But I have ample opportunity to try again and again.

But today, for the first time, I understood what was happening.  We took communion together.  It was a very powerful moment for me.  Yes, I’ve taken communion in other churches and in another country before, but it was not this meaningful for me.  I noticed my excitement for understanding something in the service.  Then I realized it was an excitement for the Meal.  I remembered something my pastor Chris back home said once: Any Christian at any time should be able to go to a service and know it is Christian by this meal.  Or something like that.

This meal transcends the awkwardness of being a gringa in a Latin church.  It made me a part of this community in ways that I will never understand.  It was the first time that I wasn’t just following someone else’s lead (sit down, stand up, pray, sing, etc.).  I was following the same lead as everyone else. I was responding to the invitation, “Come and eat.”

Then, there were three baptisms.  It was very moving to watch these three officially enter into the family, especially considering my revelation during communion.

These Sacraments are what make me a part of this body, not my ability to speak Spanish or play guitar or any of that.  It was good to remember that.

Oh, so homesick

4 08 2011

I’m beginning to feel the pangs of homesickness. It’s not that I don’t want to be here, it’s just that I’d like to go home for the weekend and then come right back to it. Well, here is the list I made at church tonight of 23 things I miss. It is no particular order:

1. Knowing the language
2. Abelard
3. Driving
4. New English television (I’m getting caught back up on Friends though – oddly enough, I did the same thing in Kyiv…)
5. redbox
6. snacks in the pantry (mostly oreos)
7. Diet Dr. Pepper
8. Eating at normal times
9. my family
10. text messaging
11. Divine Life
12. baby Jack
13. Chick-fil-a
14. being 80% vegetarian
15. receiving a paycheck
16. my books
17. the Greens
18. Divine Life nursery
19. library dates with Lea Anne
20. the other 3/4 of my wardrobe – BTW – if anyone wants to contribute, I really did NOT bring enough clothing with me (I wear about 2 outfits a day because I’m sweating like a man). I could use some financial contributions. But, if not, I will just deal.
21. independence (aka not asking permission to do something…this is new and challenging)
22. Abelard
23. Abelard

There you have it. I miss home.


While I’m at it, I’ll give you the top 10 things I was thankful for this morning. I’m really into lists.

1. my ankles were a normal size when I woke up

2. I was cold last night

3. I don’t have to share a bathroom

4. fans.

5. wireless internet

6. cheese with my breakfast

7. despite my purse’s size, it holds everything I need it to.

8. water

9. the spanish website I found.

10. the very early stages of a tan.

So, there is this beach in Barranquilla…

3 08 2011

…and it may just be my favorite place in the city.

On Saturday, Monica and Alvaro had a seminar at the church so Juan drove me around Barranquilla all day.  After several “what do you want to do? I don’t know, what do you want to do?” conversations, we still had no idea what to do.  Eventually he disclosed the information I needed to make my decision: you can get to the ocean in Barranquilla.  In Colombia, you can’t drive between towns until you are 18, so we were “stuck” in Barranquilla.

In order to get to the ocean, you have to drive through this really ugly, stinky part of town.   It smells like dead fish and garbage.  After we went through that, we had to drive very slowly down this dirt road that was full of flooded ruts (it had rained pretty good the night before).  The road ran alongside the river, so I got to see the river the whole ride.  The further down this road we got, the more rundown things got…which I didn’t think was possible.  At one point, these little kids had put boxes in the road so you couldn’t pass.  They wanted money.  I feel a little bad for not giving them any.  After Juan threatened to run them over, they moved the boxes so we could pass.

Eventually we made it to the beach.  This place is a run down wasteland.  There were dead fish laying everywhere.  Juan and I actually had to determine if they were fish or parts of a mango.  They were really nasty fish.  Then there was this whole row of huts, or what used to be huts.   The frames were all that were left.  There was garbage everywhere.  The river runs into the ocean, and this beach catches most of the trash coming from the river.  Let’s just say, I’m glad I got my tetanus shot before I left.  At one point, we actually found human feces.  Not the highlight of the trip.  Finally, there was a filthy little boy putting sand into a plastic bottle, and a man swimming about 30 feet out.   Overall, this beach is not a tourist attraction, nor would it have been Juan’s first pick of beaches to show me if we could have driven outside the city.

But, despite the surface level ugliness, there was something beautiful about this place.  If you look away from all the garbage and filth, even for just a moment, you catch a glimpse of a breathtaking ocean and an amazing horizon.  But more than that, this beach made me feel something.  And I don’t know how to explain that feeling to you.  All i can say is it was a combination of hope, gratitude, love, and an overwhelming peace.  It was learning that even on the filthy shoreline of my life, God has placed a beauty in me that can’t be compromised regardless of what garbage I throw at it.

I didn’t get any photos and I really regret that I didn’t.  Juan isn’t sure that we’ll be able to go back before he goes back to the States for school next week.  This may be a place that lives only in memory.  But  I hope I can go back.