Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Saturday, May 02, 2009
“God is always speaking to us, and always teaching us, and obviously He wanted you to learn something today. So learn, and don´t look back. Don´t worry about mistakes. No one is perfect, no one has a script. At the end of the story, you´re going to be who you´re afraid to be.”
Those were the words spoken to me in July 2006 by Iskra, one of the girls who would become one of my closest Nica friends during these last 3 years. And I had almost forgotten about them until a timely comment by my friend Dawn brought them back to mind.
God is always speaking to us…always teaching us.
Even though I wasn’t always listening, God has taught me a lot since I left San Antonio three years ago—about Himself, about people, about culture, about development, about strength and weakness, about grace and forgiveness, about community, about love. Each of those deserves pages of reflection, which hopefully will come as I slowly try to process all that has happened in these last three years.
No one is perfect—no one has a script.
Even if I had the script before I started, I never would have believed it. Would I have believed that most fulfilling aspect of my work would simply be talking to Nicaraguans and sharing their stories with the world? Would I have believed that I would have seen ¾ of the country and been amazed by its beauty rather than crushed by its poverty? Would I have believed that I would feel the very farthest from God I have ever felt in my life in the middle of the most intentional time of service to Him? Would I have believed that my roommate would become my best friend—a friend for life?
Living cross-culturally exposed my weaknesses and frailty in ways I did not expect. But for all the mistakes I know I made, the thing that counts is—as I remember hearing long ago—not what you do, but what you do next. I can only hope that what I did “next” is what will be remembered.
You’re going to be who you’re afraid to be.
Fear keeps us from stepping out in faith. Fear keeps us from believing that God’s best is better than our well-thought-out plans. Fear keeps us from experiencing, living in, and sharing the plenitud [fullness] of God’s love. Fear keeps us from accepting our true identity and worth as beloved children of God in Christ.
A year ago, I was living in fear—fear of punishment for sin committed, fear of loving again, fear of being myself, fear that God’s purpose for my time in Nicaragua might never be fulfilled.
1 John tells us that “Perfect love drives out fear.” I’ve written before about how the unconditional love of a few friends and a new community of faith brought a genuine smile back to my face and joy to my heart. But not until this week did I realize that Iskra was right.
As one chapter ends and another begins, I have become the person I was meant to be.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
It's all I have left really--a few precious days to spend with all the people I love in this amazing country---and so that is what I have been doing. In between selling off my furniture and trying to figure out how to fit 3 years into 2 suitcases and organizing files and leaving things in a good place for the person who will take my place, I have been spending every other spare moment with dear, dear friends. And I couldn't be happier.
Maybe I'm still in denial that I'm really leaving, but, in a way, maybe it's better I save the sadness for the other side... when I can no longer look into their eyes and hear their voices daily...when the daily commute no longer involves fruit stands and crazy ayudantes....when instead of endless trees and sunsets, skyscrapers fill my horizon...when I no longer speak Spanish for 6-10 hours a day...when I can no longer buy gallo pinto off the street, when the radio no longer plays bachata, when the fresh green mountains are much further away than a 3 hour bus ride...
When I am home, but maybe never really home again.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
In Spanish, it means "Green Hope", and indeed this farm high in the mountains of Matagalpa was a super green reprieve from the oppressive heat of Managua.
Andrea and I escaped for a couple days just before Easter--probably our last trip to the region together--and we had a wonderful time hiking all over the place, relaxing, reading, and reflecting, and drinking amazing coffee and eating delicious homecooked meals.
Unfortunately, my camera battery died like 3 hours after I got there, but here are some of the photos Andrea took. :-)
Saturday, April 04, 2009
I’ve been avoiding the obligatory “my whole life is changing” post for a while now, but with the one-month-left-in-Nicaragua marker having passed this week, I figure it’s time.
First, I have to say that the last 6-8 months of my life here have been amazing. Even in difficult or stressful work or cultural situations, I am truly happy here. I love my life. I love my roommates, the North American friends I have made, and my Nicaraguan friends in my office and in my church.
I love everything about this country—well, except for the recent oppressive heat, the dust, and the sketchy guys who made rude comments on my way to work—and I would come back in a heartbeat if God opened a door again down the road.
When I think about leaving, I get teary eyed. I think about all the amazing, faith-filled Nicaraguans I have met, people who have taught me so much with their love, their hospitality, their trust in a God who is bigger than the poverty that surrounds them. I think about the people who welcomed me into their homes and gave a bed and a meal without even really knowing me. I think about the breathtaking places I have gotten to see—volcanoes, beaches, mountains, rivers, colonial cities—and how sadly, so many Nicaraguans have never realized the beauty and richness of their own country.
I think about how my own faith has been challenged and stretched, strengthened and confirmed. I think about all the things I never thought I would ever do that God allowed me to do—from little things like ride a horse to bigger things like build trust-filled relationships with Nicaraguans. I think about the concrete things that maybe I am leaving behind just a little bit better than I found them, and the intangible things I may be leaving behind that I will never know about.
I think about how God has protected me—from serious illness, injury, crime and/or accidents. (Hmmm, except there was that one time with a motorcycle….). I think about how He has been faithful when I have been faithless.
And the most recent evidence of that faithfulness is the news two weeks ago that I was accepted to graduate school. For much of the last year, I wasn’t sure what I was going to be doing when I went back home, but now it’s settled. For those of you out there who didn’t see my Facebook message, I’ll be pursuing a Masters degree in Latin American Studies at the University of Texas in Austin beginning in August.
So, on May 1st, I will get on a plane back to Texas and begin a whole new chapter. And while the transition—which has already begun—will be hard, emotionally, spiritually, physically, and in all other ways—I am also happy as I prepare and look forward.
For I know in Whom I have believed, and I am confident that this story has a good, good end.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
En el barrio la Carpio cerca de San Jose/In a Nica neighborhood in San Jose we met Maria Jesus (green shirt) and her husband Alexis (a mason) and her family. Even though they've been living in Costa Rica over 10 years, life is still hard. Still, Alexis says, "Por que voy a quejar? (Why am I going to complain?) Dios me ha dado el aire sin limite. (God gives me air to breathe without limit).
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Today my heart walks in deep shadows and justice seems far off.
Justice IS far off for Beatrice—a woman who represents thousands unnamed others. A woman I met as the golden light of late afternoon bathes the western horizon, A woman who has been abandoned by her husband, and who is looked after only by her teenage daughter. A woman who lives in a partially constructed house on a hill in a dry northwestern pueblo, separated from the elements by a roof and a thin layer of plastic. A woman whose feet carry the dust of a dozen weekly trips to the clay-rich hills. A woman who spends all week making pottery to sell in the nearest market town Saturdays and Sundays, making $5-6 on which to feed herself and her daughter.
A woman whose conversion to Jesus has put a smile on her face and joy in her heart, but whose pain of rejection remains ever present, palpable in her faraway gaze. A woman who, together with her daughter, carefully guards the hope of a better future. In this future, her caring and servant hearted daughter Genny can go to school, can become a teacher, can fulfill her dreams. But this dream, which seems so simple--a mere $20 a month would cover her daughter’s travel and course materials—remains far off. Genny’s love for her mother shines in her eyes, in the tender way she holds her hand as they sit together on the hammock, and she will never pursue this goal while her mother needs her help to survive.
So, yes, tonight, I look for light, but my soul walks in deep shadows….thinking of Beatrice and Genny.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
But, for the moment, all I want to do is treasure every special moment in my heart, look at each person I meet deeply to remember every feature of their face, listen ever so carefully to every word spoken by friends, smell (almost) every odor that wafts through the air I breathe each day, and experience every second as if it truly could be my last in this land of lakes of volcanoes that I love so much.
So if you don't see much of me around these parts between now and May, please be patient with me. Many of the stories of these last few months may just have to wait to be told face to face.
2 JOHN 12
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
(More blessed am I than a tree)
Porque este es apenas sensitivo,
(For it's barely sensitive)
Y más que la piedra dura, por que esta ya no siente
(And more than the hard stone, for it already does not feel)
Pues lo mas grande de ser vivo
(For the greatest part of being alive),
es que el dolor, no me quita lo vivo
(is that pain does not take away my life).
Y el mayor agrado es tener una vida consiente
(and the highest pleasure is a conscience-filled life);
Ser y saber quien soy
(to be and to know who I am),
por que existo y cual es mi propósito
(why I exist and what my purpose is)
Y la satisfacción de haber sido y un futuro seguro
(and the satisfaction of having been, and a secure future)
Y el sentimiento tranquilo pese a estar mañana muerto
(and a peaceful feeling despite being dead tomorrow)
Y disfrutar la vida, y su amanecer y lo que conozco
(and to enjoy life and its waking and what I know)
Y en lo que creo
(and in what I believe)
Y la vida que ofrece sus frescos racimos
(and life which offers its fresh clusters)
Y la tumba que aguarda hasta el día que vaya a mi breve descanso
(and the grave that waits for the day that I go to my brief rest).
Y saber a donde voy, y de quien vengo.
(and to know where I am going and from whom I come)"
-Ruben Dario, Nicaragua's most famous poet