The Hole in my Gospel

I am reading this book, and it is altering the strands that make up the fabric of my world. It is churning my insides and making me stay awake long after my husbands soft, exhausted snores fill the room.

There are so many holes in my gospel. So many things in the Bible that I simply ignore. Its not that I sit here and deny its truth, oh no, Satan is much trickier than that. In the ease and comfort of my life, I simply do not dwell on certain things. I emotionally distance myself form my responsibility to the poor broken and outcast. I emotionally distance myself from past experience with poverty in order that I may not have to deal with their pain.

The first time I think that the true injustices of society really hit me, really brought me to my knees, was during a trip to Argentina. Richie and I spent about eight weeks working with a group of kids in a very, very poor neighborhood. Think slums. These kids hardly had enough clothes to keep them warm, it was the dead of winter, and really the only meal they were guaranteed each day was at a local ladies house who opened up her garage and fed them hot cereal.

It was heartbreakingly sad, and so we blogged about it, and people sent money. The last week before we left for the States, we headed into the bad part of town one last time, excited to give a cash gift to help out this local community that had wormed its way into our hearts. When we walked in, we were confronted with grim expressions and found out gut wrenching news.The night before, a baby had frozen to death because the family didn’t have enough blankets. She was the baby sister of one of the kids we played soccer with just the other day. Here we were with the money to buy a thousand blankets, and we were a day too late. I wanted to run away and hide and never try and help someone again. That pain was too severe. Too risky.

But, I am learning, that is not the Gospel. The Gospel looks and that situation, and instead of running away, it runs into it full force, arms wide open.

There is nothing about Matthew 25:31-46 that is easy for me to swallow, but I think it is pretty simple to understand. The more I allow God to grip my soul and to see the world through His eyes, the more I cannot help but be sure of is this fact: The Gospel is action and the Gospel is service. It scares me how often and quickly I miss the point. How quickly I turn my focus on poor old me, and dwell on all my insecurities, compare myself to all these other people and feel bad about myself.

I am a member of a royal priesthood. I have the power of Christ and the direction of the Holy Spirit. Its time for me to live like I actually believe it. And this doesn’t have to be in another country. It can be tomorrow, at lunch, during work, after class. What corners of my world are thirsting for the Gospel to be exemplified?

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reasons i am no longer ready to leave Bariloche: the waiter at my favorite chocolate shops winks at me when i walk in and already knows i want coffee, not chocolate… i find my spanish prof thoroughly entertaining we found a place … Continue reading

a week.

ok so….

life is an amalgamation of so many different things i am slightly baffled as where to begin. maybe the best place to start would be the main intention of this trip: the learning of spanish. its not going half bad if i do say so myself 🙂 i have a wonderful professor here who i love! her name is Graciella, and she is hilarious and speaks 5 (yes 5) different languages. normally in school we do one level/packet every two weeks, at the end of which we take a test and move on up to the next level. this week we did one level in one week (Gracialla enjoys challenging us americans). successfully! i am  at the point where, if the person im talking to speaks in spanish slowly and clearly i can grasp almost any conversation. now comes the part where i need to be disciplined in memorizing vocabulary and using proper grammer when i speak. a friend here told me its best if you just stop trying to think so hard about speaking “correctly” and just kinda go for it, mistakes and all. sounds so simple, right? well, im trying, and have four more weeks to get this down, i have faith in me!

so my mornings start with a cup of tea (oh how i miss coffee), toast and fruit if i have time, and class. i really love walking to school (well really, walking anywhere here) because it is so amazingly beautiful, when its not pouring rain. but ill be honest, im even pretty partial to the rain as well.

so after school, everyday we hop on the collie (bus) out to “Gotitas de Exfuerzo” our place of work. its essentially the back room of the house of a generous and loving soul who feeds the kids in a very poor local community four times a week. we go help her serve the young-ins some warm milk and cereal, and attempt to entertain the lot of them…which actually is more along the lines of kayla and richie wrestling forty kids to the ground (or do they wrestle us to the ground…its debatable) and then after they eat, we run around like crazy people playing soccer with them. to put it nicely, five year old boys completely own me in soccer 🙂 sports involving athletic equipment have never been my strong suit, but i enjoy it none the less. working there has been a great, fulfilling way to spend my afternoons. however, unavoidably, it is always tinged with humbling heaviness. because i cant (and shouldn’t) ignore that fact that, the little boy who wont stop hugging me has no parents who will hug him back at home, the darling little girl who asks for thirds and fourths on her snack may not be eating anything else that day, the guy who wears the same sweater ever day in fact  has nothing else to keep him warm, and the hooligans who wont stop pestering us about the definitions of english swear words probably heard them from less than impressive role models at home. i continually find myself coming back to the fact that there is nothing more heartbreaking to me than children in poverty. they are so helpless, and so dependent, so needy. it can get a little overwhelming, but i am grateful that im not naive to extreme poverty, it helps me keep my selfishness in check.

(our soccer field)

after our time here, we tromp back home (usually filthy, freezing, and really happy) to eat dinner with our families. other than class and work, there are lots of other fun things that have been happening here. tango classes, hanging out with new friends, card games, reading, movies (toy story 3 in spanish?? indeed.), hiking, playing at the lake, coffee shop searching, visiting our favorite bakery, naps, picture taking, world cup games, talking to friends and family back at home, discussions on what we love about argentina, discussions about what we miss back at home (good breakfast seems to be #1 on the list at the moment), country music sing along hours, and of course, the occasional party. which leads me to the funniest event of the week, quit possibly one of the funniest nights of the trip….

richies “moms” 50th birthday party last night. longest.night.of.my.life. it started at 10pm…only to conclude at 4am. 4AM. yes 50 year olds here party till 4am. richie and i, being the only people our age at the shindig, did what we have both been very well trained in the art of – playing grown up. we chatted up (in spanish) many of the adults there, but did not get fed (much to our dismay) till about midnight. and then proceded to sit through about four hours of singing and speeches in spanish (a language we do not understand at 3am). it was ok though, because after about two hours of pure anger that we were not sound asleep in bed, we turned to delirious laughter, cracking each other up. at one point i do believe a plan was devised that involved richie smashing all the guitars while i ran to open the door for our quick get away. the night then most defiantly concluded with richie singing “hey jude” and “susie q” with a few sixty year old argentinian men (in front of about 30 people), he brought down the house, i was ever so proud of my friend.

so theres snippet of life. lots of reflecting happened this week (refer to the previous blog), and i miss my friends and family, but im really happy. its going to be hard to leave this place 🙂

also, some other random closing points : i just ran out of my deodorant, and really should invest in a new stick, i bought a bright red/orange retro puffy jacket to keep me warm (it matches nothing and so it’s perfect), and i have lost my cell phone, glasses, 200 pesos, my house key, and a pair of earrings. all have which have eventually been found, except for my cell phone 😦

alright bed time!!! night all

a year.

for multiple reasons, this week became one of reflection, mostly over my last year of living, which of course led to list making. between last july and this july i have (to list a few events, but not even close to all):

-Moved ten times

-Over 3.2 different countries (vacation in the dominican counts as .2)

-Spent over eighty hours in airplanes

-Worked two different jobs

-Got hired for a paid internship next fall

-Chose a major I actually love

-Started a blog people read (i think…) 😉

-Lived in a house in the mountains with nine girls

-Lived in an apartment with two of my most favorite people on this planet

-Lived in a dorm room with Sindy, and 30 monkeys 🙂

-Lived with a family that speaks no english

-Gained two little argentine sisters

-Served (serving) in two different, very intense, but very rewarding, “volunteer positions”

-Helped build a house

-Took and passed thirty-five units

-Learned a new language

-Made countless new friends, some of whom i may never see again, some of whom i get to live with in the fall. all completely invaluable and wonderful

-left teenagedom…and entered the ever confusing ever uncertain ”twenties”

-Went on a real African safari, lived in a real Zulu tribe

-Experienced my first “first snow”

-Read an unfathomable amount of books. Wrote an equally unfathomable amount of papers.

there are so many other things, but this is just a few of the big things. i read this and i think back to last july and realize: both nothing about me, and at the same time everything about me, has changed (i know, so confusing, but i don’t know how else to explain it). i was told before i left for africa by one of the directors that i would be “ruined for the ordinary”. i think this whole year has ruined me for the ordinary. because it showed me that nothing has to ever be ordinary. even making a cup of coffee can be the most excellent escapade if done with joy. people think traveling is the adventure, and home is somehow stagnation. but really, shouldn’t life itself be the adventure? do not get me wrong, traveling is incredibly thrilling, but i also want this next year of life, even if mostly lived in azusa, to be just as momentous. and it can be, because it’s all a state of mind: being willing to learn, not settling, and embracing change. stagnant, i hope and pray, will never be an adjetive in my life.

about a week ago (and honestly i cant believe it has been that long ago, the week are now officially flying by) we went hiking up to…get ready for it…more mountains and lakes. but this one was just as beautiful and i … Continue reading

snow! im in love with it, i can no longer imagine a life without it. its beautiful and magical and cold.  and peaceful. so many adjetives, i cant pick just one. breathtaking. and peaceful.

kiwis are my new favorite fruit.

The mountains here sing. I know it sounds crazy, but I don’t know any other way to explain it. They jet out in unique and awe inspiring ways, always a different color, constantly evolving with the weather. Daily I step outside and rarely am I disappointed. Most recently they have been belting out a warm and safe tune underlined with a deep sigh of peace, as rose tinted clouds envelop them. I love the mountains, ill never tire of them. Some of my favorites here are the ones near this little town me and Richie have begun volunteering in.Four days a week we take a bus out to the edge of town and play with forty(ish) spirited youngins. The town is heartbreakingly poor; shacks lined with broken fences face muddy rocky roads where scrappy little dogs meander aimlessly around. But surrounding this place is literally the most magnificent set of mountains I have ever seen. Whenever my heart feels like it can no longer handle the weight of once again being immersed in such poverty, I look up and the mountains, they sing to me.  Either that, or I glance over at the seven boys pelting Richie with snow balls…their laughter also sings to me.

 As I enter the halfway mark of my time down here, I have been doing a lot of personal reflection. Its been about 5 months since I’ve “lived” in the states, and I find myself hitting the inevitable wall of homesickness. Do not for a second take that the wrong way though. I LOVE how much I’m learning, I am making some unique friends full of quirky character, and I can now say with (slight) confidence that I can hold my own in Tango. I would not trade my time here for anything, and I am trilled I still have a month left here, but my heart misses my home. My friends and family and good coffee. Moving out of the country requires a lot of trust in my relationships back at home, that they will still be there for me when I get home, that they will be patient with me as I process through the last six months. My heart is quite possibly the most vulnerable it has ever been, cracked open by the grief of constant poverty. But I want to thank those of you in my life who have been there for me. THANK YOU. The lesson I talked about in the blog I wrote in Houston, about being wonderfully dependant, still holds true. I need my support system, and they have been there. Encouraging me in my walk with God, listening to my hurts and frustrations, and making me laugh uncontrollably, even from thousands of miles away. Especially Ricky (as people here call him, cause Richie is really hard for them pronounce). I am so lucky to have him as a travel buddy, we take care of each other, laugh together, and I thinks its safe for me to say we are both learning a whole forms of patience and thankfulness that is required of two people living together in a foreign country.

 Argentina is nothing like I expected, but everything I had hoped for, and exactly what I needed. This culture is unique and fascinating, so dynamic and vibrant. Even the Spanish has its own flair. Bariloche suits me I think, beautiful and weird and diverse. Not overly friendly but always welcoming. So I embrace my next five weeks here, but I also look forward to a little slice of california summer, when I get to move into my apartment, and start the next season of my college journey. I trust Jesus even though at times it seems hard, because I know he is teaching me invaluable life “songs”.