I’m so glad I decided to come on this trip. What a great experience it has been so far. The kids are so fun and joyful, and have opened their hearts to us right away. I am sitting in the church right now, while some kids are playing with soccer balls a few feet away. There is one young girl, Reina, that seemed to connect to me right from the start. I think she is 10 years old. She loves music as well, and gets up to lead a song from the microphone during each of their church services. She also seems to have a good sense of how to help me with Spanish and help me understand. We’ve had some fun times where we sit down and she teaches me words in Spanish. It has been a lot of fun to relearn some of my limited Spanish from my high school days, and gratifying that they can actually understand me most of the time! My Spanish is very limited and very halting, but it is fun to take the risk and try to communicate.
So what have I been experiencing and thinking about so far?
It is good for me to be stretched. I came into this trip knowing that I needed to have an attitude of flexibility, as there were many unknowns. I am someone who likes to be prepared and leans too much toward perfectionism. There is a freedom in needing to just “go with the flow” and do what’s needed. During the day on Tuesday, our coordinator Marshall told me that he would have me sing a song in the church service that night. I said I only knew 2 songs in Spanish. He said, “Sing one of those then.” So that was the plan. No time to practice or prepare. And yet amazingly it didn’t create stress for me. That is a big step for me! I trust that God can continue to grow this attitude of flexibility in me, even in life in Canada. I think we can have a false sense of control in our lives, where in reality we don’t really know what each day may bring. I want to be able to trust God more and more that He will give me wisdom and energy and peace for whatever each day may hand me.
I am surprised by the fact that being in a different culture does not feel as strange as I thought it would. I honestly don’t feel that much different than I would traveling to a city in North America that I had never been to before. Don’t get me wrong – the living conditions are very different than our own. A lovely women named Flor cooks our lunches in a big metal bowl over an open fire, tucked in the corner on a concrete floor. (The food is delicious, by the way!) The church is just concrete – very plain. Buildings and sidewalks are more rundown. Many families travel on bicycles (dad on the seat, mom sitting side-saddle in front of him on the cross bar, child sitting on the handle bars.) But after being here for a bit, it feels more natural. People are people, no matter where you go. We’ve been welcomed so warmly, and I quickly feel a warmth in my heart for the people we are spending time with. Even though our life circumstances are very different, I don’t feel that different from them. I wanted to come on this trip to grow in my love and concern for others in the world. I thought the best way to do this is to go and experience it myself, and I’m so glad I did.