December 19, 2004
December 17, 2004
It's officially the weekend, which means I only have one more Christmas party and one Sunday school lesson and about 15 seconds of packing left before Monday. My party last night was a success, in my opinion, at least, and tonight's should come off just as smoothly. I goofed around town this afternoon, trying to accomplish the rest of my shopping. I've decided that I hate the malls here. All the stores seem over-priced and fancy, and to a girl that lives for Old Navy and Goodwill...I just don't fit in. But there are still a few things I would like to buy to bring home, and they are so much cheaper in Antigua. I can't decide if I want to go there tomorrow, though. I'll leave that decision until tomorrow. I have most of the gifts covered, but I've changed my mind about some things and want to get different stuff. I know I'm not going to be happy unless I go get them, so I might as well resign myself to going. It's not like it's a bad drive, but my car isn't great and I don't want to push it on those mountain roads.
In other news, well...there is no other news. My thought pattern is pretty much stuck on counting down the days until I go home and all the details pertaining to that event.
I have been reading these books lately by Brian McLaren, about postmodern Christianity. They are interesting. Probably some of the worst fiction writing I've come across, but there is still enough thought-provoking non-fiction in them to keep my attention. I don't know why he decided to make it fiction, instead of non-fiction...but maybe the story-telling is to make it appeal more to people like me, who probably would have never considered buying it as a non-fcition work. So, congratulations on a good marketing tactic.
More about that later...dinner is ready!
December 16, 2004
Today, I've been at work since around 10, and I have not been at all productive. I wrote emails for the first hour or so, then I half-heartedly did some research for my boss, but then I wandered back onto the internet and I've wasted the last couple of hours reading stuff and looking around. I need to go home. My brain has officially checked out now and I'll be doing good to get anythng accomplished in the next few days. We only have Christmas parties with the kids tonight and tomorrow, so I don't have a whole lot to do thankfully. I should be working ahead on things for next semester, but it's really hard to get the motivation to do so.
I really want to go Christmas shopping, but I just can't convince myself that it's safe enough for me to walk to the store I want to go to. I'm still such a wuss about going places by myself. People did such a good job warning/scaring me when I first got here that sometimes I just can't do what I want to do, even when I've had no problems at all so far.
I went to dinner with my German friend last night. It was nice to hang out with someone who is close to the same age as me, and to actually eat dinner without 3 munchkins at the table. He's a really nice guy and I am looking forward to hanging out with him more when I come back in January.
I almost made it to my goal of not packing until Saturday. But I was doing laundry last night, and it just seemed pointless to put the clothes into drawers and then take them out again 2 days later...so I started sorting things into the two bags: 1 with stuff that is staying here and 1 with stuff that is going home. I then decided that it's a good thing to try and pack things today. That way I will know how much room I can spare for more gifts and things I want to buy for myself. I don't think I will have as much room on my last flight home, so I may buy my bigger souvenirs this time around. I don't know, I haven't decided yet. My car is acting up again, so I don't know if I can make it to Antigua again this weekend. We'll see.
This is a completely pointless post. I'm just wasting time, to be honest. I wish I had some new pictures to share, but I haven't taken any good ones recently.
I forgot that I was invited to a tea party this afternoon. I wonder if that means I have to take a shower. I haven't brushed up on my tea party etiquette in a while.
Ok, enough rambling. I'm going to be productive for the next hour and then I'm going to go buy hot chocolate and attend a 7 yr old's birthday party.
December 15, 2004
I am really excited about going home. By the time I make it there, I will have been gone for less than 3 months...really only little more than 10 weeks. This is nothing compared to the schedules I've had most summers. Even in college I rarely came home unless it was a holiday break. But this is my first time to live outside the States and it has made these 10 weeks seem much longer.
When I interviewed for this job, my boss asked me if I had ever lived outside the US and when I said no, he warned me that the first couple of months are hard. That everyone goes through that depression period during those first couple of weeks, and it really takes a long time to adjust. At the time, I just said, "Ok, I'm sure it does." But in my head, I was thinking, "Yeah, but not to me. You don't know me. This won't be a huge deal for me, and I certainly doubt that I'll get depressed."
I'm arrogant like that.
And, as you know, I'm wrong like that, too.
Moving to Guatemala City has been one of the biggest challenges I've faced thus far in my short life, to be completely honest. It's more than just the frustrations with language, or my car, or living with a family that I didn't know, or trying to adjust to a new boss....it's all of these things and more. It's dealing with homesickness in a way I've never experienced, it's been missing my friends and my community more than I ever have in all my other travels, it's this whole feeling pulled away from the path I've been on for the past 4 years. It's the sadness and depression and anger I've felt at being here.
I came to Guatemala looking for some adventure, and I certainly have found it. Not exactly in the ways or the places I expected to, but there is adventure there nonetheless. I don't regret coming here. I don't regret having to deal with each and every one of those things I mentioned above. I may not like every part about this journey God is taking me on, but I think it will all be worth it in the end.
I'm going home for Christmas, and will return here in January. I won't be back in the States until May of 2005. I'm already worried about those 5 months, which I know is ridiculous and self-defeating. I'm trying to leave the future where it is, in the future and out of my hands. It's hard, though.
With all the uncertainty I feel about my life and my direction, it's very easy to worry my way through the day. Some days, I pretend like none of it exists and I use denial as a way to make it til bedtime without going insane. Most days, the uncertainty just eats away at the back of my head. I don't know what to do. I spent some time the other day online looking at seminaries, and then I spent some time looking at full-time camping jobs in the States, then I went and looked at international youth ministry opportunities in Europe. After I'd wasted an hour, I realized just how crazy I am. I'm not even sure I want to be in professional ministry anymore, but the idea is so ingrained into me that I can't even really think about anything outside that box.
A wise friend of mine asked me the other day what part of my job as a youth minister did I like best. I thought for a few seconds, and I realized, I don't really like any of it especially well. I can do it all fine...but none of it really gets me going. I don't have trouble speaking in front of people and I often enjoy coming up with talks, but I don't get really pumped about it. And I have fun coming up with crazy games and playing around with kids...but it's definitely not my favorite thing to do. I do enjoy talking to kids and getting to know them and helping with their lives...most of the time I feel like I am grossly unequiped to help the way I should be able to.
In reality, I like helping. I like making sure everything is ready to go, and that all the trash gets picked up and the chairs are put back at the end of the night.
I like serving. And I'm beginning to think that may have more to do with my calling than teenagers do. I don't think I'm made to be in the spotlight, especially when it seems I work so much better as the backstage crew.
But how do you make a life out of that? Being a volunteer certainly doesn't pay much. I'm going home in May and then what? Where do I get money for insurance and rent and gas and my overdue fines at the library?
It certainly would be nice to marry some nice guy who wanted to pay for all those things...but that obviously isn't in God's plan for me just yet, so what do I do in the mean time?
I don't mean that I'm waiting for a man to show up and solve all my problems, cause I definitely am not.
I don't mind working and taking care of myself, but at this point, I just don't know how I'm supposed to do that.
Maybe Santa will leave the answer in my stocking.
December 8, 2004
I had felt slightly guilty about ditching work, but it was such a refreshing time for me, that in the end, I think it was totally worth taking the day off and spending some time falling in love with Guatemala. I really have judged this country unfairly since I've spent so much time in the city with all it's problems.
It's hard to really get into the Christmas mood when I'm more worried about getting a sunburn than anything else. I'm really trying. I'm listening to all the Christmas music I can get my hands on, and I'm trying to figure out the rest of my Christmas gifts. I even helped the people I stay with decorate their house. But I don't think I will really get into the spirit until I am heading home.
Less than 2 weeks now...
December 2, 2004
Santa Catalina Arch and Volcan Picaya
When I was a freshman in college, I discovered what life was like with a fast internet connection and hours of time to goof off. My roommate always went to bed hours before I did, so I would stay up late and surf the internet by the glow of my computer monitor. We had this routine for almost 3 years...I wonder if she had to adjust to sleeping without the tap-tap-tap of my keyboard to lull her to sleep once we left school. I'll have to ask.
Anyway, it was during that first semester that I stumbled onto the newly emerging tend of Weblogs, back before Blogger was owned by Google and still had days when their server would crash and people would freak out because they couldn't publish right away. One day, the people at Blogger put up a new section called Blogs of Note, where they posted their favorite blog of the week or of the day or of whenever they got around to picking one. It's from that column that I found Solbeam. I began to read her blog and I have followed her on her travels around the world for the last 4 years. It sounds kind of stalkerish, but I merely appreciated this woman's spirit and enjoyed reading about her life. That first year, she ended up in Antigua, Guatemala and I was fascinated. We had been learning about Antigua in my Spanish classes because of the activities that happen during Semana Santa. (Holy Week during Easter) While I'd been watching stupid videos in the dreaded Spanish lab, this girl was actually there, seeing it all first hand.
This past weekend, I got to go Antigua again and this time I got to explore it some. The first time I went, it was only for dinner and it was dark by the time we left so I didn't get to see very much. This time, I actually spent most of Friday and Saturday afternoons there. We checked out the markets (which is where all of your Christmas presents are coming from, FYI), and ate lunch, and walked around the streets, and even went into some of the churches and ruins. It was a good time. I wish I had taken more pictures, but I hated looking all touristy...which is totally a pride thing, so I promise to get over it and do better next time. We even went into this hotel called the Casa Santa Domingo...there aren't even words to describe how incredible that place was.
Anyway, while I was wondering through Antigua this weekend, I thought about Sol and her adventures and the crazy way things happen. I didn't come here because of her or her weblog, but I think maybe it helped spur on the idea in my head to go somewhere and just try something new. And here I am, 4 years down the road, walking along cobblestone streets that I saw in her pictures. I don't think I will be following in her path the rest of the way because her case of wanderlust far exceeds anything I can even imagine, but it is fun for me to think about the way our paths are all intertwined. Antigua is full of backpackers and people from all over the world, and you can see it in their faces that they are people that get it. They understand just how amazing this world is in so many ways that have nothing to do with money or power or television or Gap jeans.
And I really like that. A lot.