What I’ll miss … and What I Wont

2 12 2011

I’ll be home in 12 days. This seems a little bit crazy, but it is what it is. So here are some things I’m definitely going to miss.

1. Monica and Alvaro. I’m not really sure how to say “thank you” and “I love you” enough or in the right ways to express my gratitude and admiration for them.

2. My new friends. So grateful that social networking sites have made the world a little bit smaller. It’s definitely not the same, but I’m grateful we’ll have something.

3. Hot dogs.

4. My students. This should probably have been listed before hot dogs, since I will miss them more. They made me laugh and taught me, by far, more than I could have ever taught them. so grateful for this opportunity.

5. Vacation. I’m going to have to get a job again when I move back. I will have gone roughly six weeks completely unemployed when it’s all said and done…so yea, I’m going to have a hard time switching out of lazy mode.

6. Juices. They make juice fresh for every meal. And they are all really good. I’m going to miss Lulo juice especially. I just shed a tear over the Lulo.

Now, here are a few things I will not miss.

1. The smell of the soap used in mopping here at the house. It burns my nose 😦

2. Everybody honking at everybody on the road. It really stresses me out.

3. rice.

4. not being able to drive. 5 months without driving is waaaayyyy too long. I’m looking forward to being behind the wheel again.

5. Not being able to understand what’s going on. I like being fully in the loop. That doesn’t happen often when there is a major language barrier.





What a week

18 09 2011

So, this has been one strange week.

Sunday I stayed home from church because my cough had just worn me out. Did the same on Monday and Tuesday. So, I didn’t go outside for like 3 whole days.

Then, Tuesday night I went to stay with some friends until today because Monica and Alvaro were out of the country on a pastor’s trip. Fortunately, I really like the family I stayed with so it wasn’t unpleasant at all.

Wednesday I finally went back to school but was ridiculously ill-prepared. I even forgot my class schedule so I just tried to wing it. I will never do that again! Ever!!

Thursday I went to visit another school and I loved it there too. One of the students there was so impressed by me that she sent a gift for me with her teacher today. Toblerone chocolate 🙂

Also, on Thursday, when I got back to where I was staying, I learned the my Grandpa had died that morning. It is very difficult not getting to be there with my family during this time. It makes you re-evaluate things. And my family has been so understanding of why I can’t be there for the funeral. Their support has made it easier to be so far away. I need to see them more, and before the next funeral.

Friday was the school’s celebration of Love and Friendship Day (Colombian Valentine’s, basically), so the kids were distracted by their excitement and the classes were having parties so it was another weird day.

Today (Saturday), Monica and Alvaro got back. I really missed them. I was glad to have my Colombian mom and dad back.

But then Monica asked for my passport. We were planning on going to the immigration people this week to extend my stay. Well we discovered that I was only given 30 days….I’m on day 66. We may have some issues with that extension. I’m praying everything works out because I’m just not ready to come home, despite the homesickness. If it doesn’t, it looks like I may be deported, or worse: fined.





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.





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.





you know how I love lists

1 08 2011

1. I think the reason I love lists so much is because it doesn’t require a ton of energy and thought to make one.

2. I realize my hair is short, but I’m kind of wanting to cut it shorter.  I think it is because it is so hot. ALL. THE. TIME.

3. Remember when I used to be able to fix my hair?  Yeah, I don’t.

4. I went to the ugliest most awesome beach ever.  I need to go back because I need to take pictures.  I have an idea for this here blog.

5. Mi español is malo.  I’m not even playin’

6. The cord for my computer crapped out.  I hope it can be fixed because I really don’t want to buy a new one.

7. The FIFA sub-20 world cup games are going on in Colombia right now.  Some games are here in Barranquilla.

8. It rained so hard the other night.  It made me realize that I never want to experience a hurricane.

9. I miss my dog.  I think I’m feeling the beginnings of homesickness.

10. I love Barranquilla. The people, the food, the kids at the school – I couldn’t ask for a better situation.

11. That being said, I need to learn Spanish.  I’m not picking it up as quickly as I did Russian. This is frustrating.

12. I love Guava juice. Who knew?

13. I learned to drive a standard – sort of.

14. Other than ten minutes, I haven’t driven since July 12.  I wonder if I will remember how in December.

15. Tengo mucho hambre.





a brief update with some photos!

16 07 2011

My suitcase finally arrived. The airport delivered it to the house. It was a bit strange not going to the airport yesterday, but it was also kind of nice. For the first time in a week, I wasn’t at an airport. I thought that day would never come.

Yesterday I visited the school. It was wonderful. I was introduced to all the classes. The younger kids could not believe that I don’t know Spanish. The older kids were fairly disinterested in me. The middle kids were totally intrigued by me. They had so many questions. When I left the sixth grade class, my translator said the boys were all saying, “bye, my love!” During lunch, I was surrounded by around 15 children that wanted to start my Spanish lessons. They had me saying everything from star to flute. I’m not 100% certain what they were having me say. I was assured it was nothing bad.

I went to the mall last night. This mall is a billion times nicer than any mall I have seen in America. It is four stories in two buildings. It’s classy and awesome. I kind of want to be there all the time.

So, when Monica introduced me to the school and some members of the church, she said that I will be staying for four months….. I guess they only need me this one semester. Perhaps that will change by the time November rolls around. I am prepared to stay for at least a year, so we shall see what happens. I must have misunderstood or assumed or something. Oh well. Four months or a year or ten years: this is an experience of a lifetime and I will take in every minute!

For those of you who are curious, I do have an air conditioner in my room. I only run it at night to save costs. Right now, I’m in my room and I have a fan going, but I’m probably melting. All I know is I won’t be complaining in Oklahoma (at least not for a while). Here are some pictures of mi casa.

my bedroom

my dining room

my living room

So,I was thinking, when this is all over, I can start my life in the states back up wherever I want. I will have so much freedom of choice! What are your thoughts? Where should I go (Stilwell is not an option, sorry!)?





Oh, how things change.

9 06 2011

It’s weird to think about how things have changed in my life in the last year. And how happy I am that they have, even though I fought the process every step of the way.  Let’s go back to 2010.

January 2010 was the first time I ever met my brother, sister (in-law), nieces, and nephew.  It seems strange that it hasn’t even been 2 years since we made contact.  It is like we didn’t miss out on anything.  They are my family and I’m constantly amazed at how unforced the developing of our relationships have been.  God really did know the timing for us to meet. 

Then in February I started dating this guy (for the sake of this blog, let’s call him Monty).  Monty and I had a long distance relationship and it had its ups and downs, but, overall, it was a great experience for me.  I don’t regret dating him and I look back on our time together with fondness.  Monty is a good man.  But our lives were going in different directions.  He has a daughter and what’s best for her trumped what’s best for “us” any day of the week – and rightfully so.  I could never ask him to choose between us.  Finishing my education is non-negotiable.  And that could take me anywhere.  One of us would have had to give up on something  that is very important to us – and we both felt like that was only going to breed resentment if we tried to continue our relationship.  So we ended it, on good terms.   I don’t talk to Monty much anymore.  He’s seeing someone else now and they seem very happy together.  And I’m moving to South America – something that couldn’t have happened if we had stayed together.

In August, my youngest nephew was born.  Landon Rhone 🙂  Oh, how I love that baby.  I was totally shocked when my sister said she was pregnant, but this precious little boy has definitely brought us closer as sisters.  I do hope I get to see him before I move since I’ll be in South America on his first birthday.  I guess I’ll just have to get him something awesome from Colombia as a gift.

In October, I was unemployed for a month.  That was actually not that scary.  My bills were all paid and I saw people being generous with me all the time.  Unemployment, though seemingly scary, ended up being a time of prosperity and encouragement for me.  I’m so glad I went through that.

Last November, I had to move. I was living in a townhouse owned by some friends of mine.  I had told them when I moved in that if they ever found a buyer to just sell the place.  The sold it in November.  So, I moved to the highlands – where I currently reside. 

Since my unemployment and my move, my budget has been getting steadily more restrictive.  I have felt like every time I pay a bill, I was using borrowed money.  I have felt trapped by my financial obligations and I have been praying for months for a way out of them.  I didn’t expect it to be Colombia as the answer, but I’ll take it 🙂

Then, sometime in the fall, we found out my oldest neice was pregnant.  She was very young – very.  It was world shattering at the time.  I had no idea how to respond.  I remember adamantly refusing to call it a “mistake.”  I never want to think of my precious little Addilynn coming into this world as a mistake.  She was a surprise, for sure, but no mistake.  Our family had a hard time adjusting to this new development, and an even harder time learning how to respond to it.  But, despite Kendra’s age, she’s handled this parenting thing like a pro.  Addilynn is the best thing to happen to our family in a long time.  If she’s not one way that God intends to restore and heal my family from the things that try to destroy us, then I don’t know what is.  She is redemption. Period.

she is fat, also.

And through all of that, there was the thesis.  That nagging little assignment that was the difference between a degree or wasted energy.  I was convinced that God had good things in store for me when I finished.  Not because he was holding out on me, but because the thesis writing process was making me who I needed to be to receive the good things.  I was right.

A lot of other stuff took place last year, a lot of really painful things, a lot of really great things, a lot of really personal things that are just none of your business. 

When 2010 was over, I was ready for 2011.  I ended 2010 exhausted, broke, and very unhappy.  After the break up with Monty, the moving out, and the budget crisis, I felt hopeless and faithless.  Good thing my faithfulness has nothing to do with God’s faithfulness to me.  I remember talking to my pastor Chris and telling him I thought that my faith in breaking it off with Monty, quitting my job, and moving to a new place was going to be rewarded with a season of good things.  I was so mad at God for me being in a worse financial situation than before, by being alone, and by not giving me a job in a school like I had prayed for.  I was so sick of 2010 by the end of it! 

The first couple of months of 2011 didn’t really start out much better.  My budget didn’t change, my anxiety of doing it “alone” only increased, and I was still working insurance – not teaching, which is the dream. Where were my good things?  I’m glad I didn’t know then what I know now. 

I had to learn to trust others with my money.  I had to learn that living alone and being single does not mean I’m living this life “alone.”  I had to finish my thesis.  I had to learn the value of my family.  I had to recognize the things God has called me to and be willing to pursue them no matter the cost (i.e. ending things with Monty).  I had to learn to live on very little, trusting that God will provide for my needs – and trusting that if it’s not provided, it’s not a need. 

In short, I had to grow up.  Yes, there is a lot more growing to do.  But I am convinced that those lessons must be learned the hard way – only this time in Colombia.  Hopefully, I won’t fight them as much this time.  Hopefully, I will trust that God is in control even when I don’t understand the way it’s happening.

So, I’m moving to Colombia.  I’m excited, terrified, nervous, exhausted, happy, sad, and invigorated all at once.  It’s a weird place to be in.

Until next time…