Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I Don't Have a Favorite Color

Nearly two years ago I embarked on an adventure that changed me and the steps that I've taken since and will continue to take. I went to Guatemala and learned to love it so much that, when I left there March 2010, I was entirely ready to re-pack my bags and commit my life to living in Guatemala fully living from my Chapina soul (Chapina is Guatemalan slang for someone who is Guatemalan). When I returned to the US I started looking for year-long opportunities that would allow me to live and work in Guatemala. Several options came up; they all fell through, but, even before they fell through, something told me that I was supposed to give Guatemala back her Maker and go to Africa. And I, characteristically, was super excited to go to a new place. Little did I know that I would lose my heart to Tanzania just as thoroughly as I had already lost it to Guatemala, that I would discover that my soul is at least bi-racial consisting of a Guatemalan portion and an Africa portion and who knows what else. Or that I would learn from the experience that maybe I'm not supposed to love just one place. Maybe it's okay that I can't pick a favorite color let alone one country to dedicate my life to. Maybe I'm supposed to go all over the place and love places and people and cultures and languages until my heart breaks. Maybe that's why I want to travel the world anyway!

Now I'm getting ready to go to Nicaragua for 10 days in January, and I'm fairly busting at the seams! I'm so blessed and excited for the opportunity to join a new place and to learn to love Nicaragua like I already love Guatemala and Mexico and Tanzania. Please pray as we go.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


In reading through Oswald Chambers' My Utmost For His Highest one line really stuck out to me. He said, "Never make this plea: 'If only I were somewhere else!'" Ooops. I might've done that a time or twelve this year. And, the worst part is, I justified it every time. I've not left the country once in all of 2011, and that has been something with which I've struggled. How many times have I thought to myself about how I'd rather be in Africa or Guatemala or Mexico or any number of other places? I mean, I've been called to go, so where is the going in all of the staying that I've been doing?! And this Chambers guy has the audacity to say that I'm not supposed to feel this way? But then he goes on to say that we've been Chosen...present tense. Right here. Right now. Exactly as we are, we've been chosen. So, all of this has gotten me thinking about borders and how maybe I have gone this year. Maybe borders don't just separate countries. Maybe borders are also being torn down by two people and two suitcases that deliver healthcare to homeless people. Maybe borders are being crossed when small children can lean up against their nurse's knees and say "Me gusta estar con ti!" even after that nurse pricked their fingers to check their hemoglobin levels. Maybe I'm crossing borders every day. Maybe I'm not less called just because I've been in the same place all year. Maybe I can be used here. Maybe you can be, too.

I still want to go. I'm still called to go. I'm going to Nicaragua in January for two weeks, and I'm beside myself with excitement! And I can't wait to see where I get to go after that. But I think I'm learning that I'm underestimating the One who calls me to go when I take for granted that He can use me here...when I forget that His borders and my borders aren't always the same.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Peace and Stuff

The power of the mind has always fascinated me; this has been especially true since nursing school. The fact that sometimes medicines "work" because we are completely convinced they're working is incredible to me. On the flip-side, the fact that we can convince ourselves that we are sick and in pain when the results of every test say we aren't is astounding. That's power! But sometimes it's not good power. This was reiterated to me last week.

I have been praying for guidance and wisdom for the last several months, knowing what I want but not wanting to just run ahead of my Leader and do my own thing. And, in the midst of these prayers, I've found peace. My Father has told me exactly everything I need to know for right now; He has reassured me of things to come; and, above all, He has reminded me that He knows His plans for me and that His plans are to prosper me...to give me hope and a future. But, within a few hours of finding this peace and being reminded of God's faithfulness in keeping promises, my mind would kick in and start analyzing everything again...totally independently of my heart, where the peace was residing, thus shattering the peace and leaving me feeling a bit lost and confused again. And the thing is, I'd be so wrapped up in wondering "WHAT DO I DO?!?!" that I didn't even notice the progression of how I got from peace to panic (ok, not literally panic) so suddenly. Until this weekend when a friend of mine pointed out that, while my heart had peace, my mind was generating confusion. We can't generate our own peace, but we can destroy the peace we've been given. So, now it's my job to choose the peace and to trust and follow the Peace-giver. And maybe try to not let my analytical mind take over quite so much.... That's a little scary sounding...and THAT'S a whole different topic.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Hanging On to the Best

I sometimes read the blog of a nurse who was working in West Africa with Mercy Ships. She’s now moving on to other adventures after spending several weeks in first world countries catching up with friends and family. Anyway, something she wrote recently caught my eye and put words to a lot of what I’ve been feeling during my time in the US this year. I don’t know what’s legal and what’s not as far as “publishing” what someone else has written when it comes to blogging, so I’ll paraphrase what she said instead of quoting it exactly. She said that she’s more afraid that she’ll lose her acute awareness of how out of touch with perspective so many in the first world are than she is of having to live with that awareness (which she referred to as guilt, actually); she said that she’s afraid she’ll become like so many who walk our streets and spend so much time and energy worrying about how many calories are in that over-priced latte and never once think about how many pounds of rice that money could buy in the third world (note: I am not judging people who buy over-priced lattes as that would be terribly hypocritical considering I have a definite weakness for delicious coffee myself; I’m talking perspective here). She said that losing this awareness would be losing the best part of herself.

I’ve now been home one month, and I’m determined to hang on to this awareness that I first really and truly experienced in Guatemala and then developed more acutely in Tanzania. And, you know, I really don’t think it’ll be too terribly hard for me to hang on to it; I actually think it would be harder for me to get rid of it because it is part of me now—part of who I am and part of who I want to be. I want to think of Bahati every time I make chapatis, my host family in Carchá every time I play Dutch Blitz, and my host family in Mexico City every time I sing “Caminemos en la Luz de Díos.” I want my first thought when someone says something about the game Follow the Leader to be of Sonnie, Cody, and the streets of Chichicastenango; I hope cemeteries always lead to thoughts of the bullet hole-ridden tombstones of the National Cemetery in Guatemala City in front of which people who crossed those in power were executed during the 36 years of civil war…and then I want those memories to lead to thoughts of the landfill and Zona 3 which neighbor the cemetery; playgrounds will always make me think of the hours spent pushing children on the swings at the City of Hope; I hope worship services without heart-felt dancing won’t ever seem quite complete; I pray that the song “Days of Elijah” will always take me back to a jeep filled with new friends bouncing down an unpaved road in the jungle of Alta Verapaz, Guatemala and that “Come Thou Fount” will always remind me of a welcoming church in the middle of that jungle and the circle of children who played with bubbles with us; no stunning sky will ever be able to compete with the one God spread over Tanzania, and I don’t think there could be more beautiful mountains than the ones in Guatemala. And I pray that hospitality will always remind me of the people and places who have stolen my heart--the many, many people who have so little and give so much, from welcoming, friendship, love, and acceptance to chai/coke and chapatis/tortillas, and I also pray that I will always offer that same hospitality to the people I encounter.

And, above all, I pray that all of these memories will not only stick with me close to the surface but will also make me live more intentionally no matter where I am and that God will not only allow me to make more memories but will also give me opportunities to share the memories.