Monday, February 23, 2015

Getting Jostled

I find I have been jostled by Quito. Living in a different place, sleeping in a different bed, walking different sidewalks, eating different food, playing different sports has left me with new bruises, scrapes, and blisters. It seems each day my body surprises me with some new ache or pain. I am being jostled. 

I am learning new things about my body (I didn't know a sunburned ear could do that). I've also developed new calluses and stronger muscles. I am becoming accustomed, and in the process, learning how to live in a new way. I know my physical scars will heal and I will be more prepared for the next physical adventure.

I can commit to never playing soccer in flats or going outside without sunscreen again, but if I don't follow through, I'll just continue to hurt myself. I will continue to be frustrated, and I won't fulfill my potential.

I learn from my mistakes and adjust my behavior, but God does the healing and strengthening. I can't heal my skin, and I can't strengthen my muscles. God does both, and without calling my attention to it. Bruises disappear without my knowledge or effort.

I'm a bit of a klutz, and I pray for a sturdier body.

I find I have been jostled by Quito. As I've encountered new people, new cultures, new expectations, and new habits, I feel jostled, uncertain, off balance. Doubts and hang ups from years ago come back to my mind. Each day surprises me with a new question. I am being jostled.

I am learning new things about my soul (I didn't know fasting could do that). I anticipate new capabilities and strength. I trust my bruised soul will heal, change, and grow. God is making me ready.

I can commit to emailing my brothers or memorizing scripture, but if I don't follow through, I'll just continue to drift and wander. I'll never fulfill my potential.

Every day, I appreciate more and more the power of spiritual disciplines in my life. I read my Bible and pray, but God does the healing and strengthening. The fruit of the Spirit are not the fruit of me. I can't force myself to be patient, and I can't make my soul peaceful. God does both, and without calling my attention to it. Joy appears without my knowledge or effort. We call it maturing, but it is actually a miracle.

I'm a bit too careful, and I pray for a clumsier soul that will fall into new circumstances, choices, and relationships without apprehension. I need to be jostled so I can find my balance, so I can figure out what I'm standing on.

My bruises are encouraging because they remind me that discomfort passes and strength grows. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

A Day in the Life, for now

The view of Quito from campus.
I really want to give you an idea of what my daily life is like, but my class schedule is about to change, so this is a description of what life has been like for the past two weeks. Our team is living on the campus of the Nazarene Theological Seminary of South America with about 20 seminary students. We live in the dorms and usually eat in the cafeteria. The campus is on a hill with offices and homes on the bottom level, dorms above them, then classrooms and the cafeteria, then a church at the top. Beautiful Quito is below and as far as the eye can see. The North Americans have Spanish classes in the morning and the Argentines have seminary classes in the evenings. I'm going to describe a basically empty day because every day gets different activities thrown in.

6:30 My alarm goes off. If you have ever lived with me, you know that this is the signal for the really sound sleep to begin.
?? Change into jeans and a sweatshirt and go to breakfast.
7:00 Breakfast This is definitely the most interesting meal of the day, especially considering that by the time I see my plate I've been awake for about 3.25 minutes. This has been anything from delicious pancakes or ham and cheese paninis and coffee to:
me: ???
Argentine: Do you like it?
me: What is it?
Argentine: I don't know. What is this?
Colombian: I think it's maize. Is this maize?
Ecuadorian: No. It's eggs.
Colombian: No, this is definitely maize.
Ecuadorian: Oh yeah, there's maize in the eggs.
I have a real respect for maize if it can turn eggs that shade of orange all by itself.
7:30 Shower and get ready for class
8:30 Spanish class with Ecuadorian teacher. I'm in a beginner class right now with Ashley (one of my teammates), a foreign exchange student from Nashville, and a couple who are doing mission work here in Quito. Once we get most of the basics down, Ashley and I will move into the more advanced class with the rest of our team. Class has been going really well. Being surrounded by Spanish all the time helps a lot. I am getting better and better everyday, but I have an incredible amount still to learn. I'm grateful we are here for 2 1/2 more months before we start working.
After I took this picture of a "typical" lunch, I found out
that the meat with the potatoes was cow stomach.
NOT typical.
11:30 Devotionals Everyone in Extreme Nazarene is expected to read the Bible for an hour and pray for an hour everyday. If it's cloudy, I like to read my Bible and pray outside (in the shade of a tree). If it's sunny I'd rather hide inside than put on sunscreen.
1:00 Lunch We have soup and rice and a meat or vegetable everyday. If you have any degree of rice intolerance, you discover it very quickly in Ecuador. We also have juice with lunch. Mora juice is the best. Mora berry is kind of like a blackberry. Mora ice cream is better than mora juice because it's ice cream.
1:30 Break This is a good time to continue my devotionals, work on homework, and do other things like writing this blog. We also like to "do homework" in Aric and Kimberly's apartment and drink their coffee.
4:00 Spanish class with American teacher. To help Ashley and me get caught up, we get an extra class in the afternoons. We practice what we learned in the morning, go over our homework, and have a chance to ask our English and Spanish speaking teacher all of our random language questions. Side note: when I came back from class yesterday, I found that my roommate had labeled everything in our room in Spanish because she is awesome.
the drawer/the drawers
6:00 Exercise Sunscreen is often unavoidable at this point. The seminary campus has a cool playground/soccer field that I look at while I'm running around it. At this elevation my lungs get more of a work out than the rest of my body.
7:00 Dinner Usually we get more rice and meat for dinner, but occasionally we get surprises like hamburgers or spaghetti. Dinner gets a hot drink, usually tea or something we affectionately call hot jello. We call it that because it is hot jello. 
7:30 The long wait for the Argentines to be done with class. Possibly more homework or the continual memorization of verbs or FaceTime with parents and friends or hanging out with Ashley and Rachel or reading if they are busy. I've been reading C.S. Lewis and Dietrich Bonhoeffer (If you're a person who reads such things and you already thought, "If she likes Lewis and Bonhoeffer, she should probably read _____" please let me know!)
8:30 They're done with class! If we have nothing else going on in the evening, we like to sit around drinking matte (more on that later) and speaking Spanish  or play Frisbee or soccer outside in the dark without sunscreen.

This empty shell of a day is varied by the following things:
Tuesday: Prayer in the chapel from 4am-6am (and naps later) and a very intense hockey game at 9pm.
Wednesday: The seminary's chapel is from 11:30-1:00. It's great to be a part of it, but having it right after class is language exhausting. Family Dinner! Kimberly cooks something amazing and the whole teams eats and hangs out together in the evening.
Thursday: Team Bible study in the evening. We are taking turns leading, which has been a cool way to get to know each other better
Friday: We have trips and excursions planned for every other Friday. Some of these are weekend-long trips, which impacts the week by pushing laundry and shopping adventures to the weekdays.
Sundays are awesome because we get to go to a neighborhood church and eat lunch at someone's (usually an Extreme administrator) house. The seminary cafeteria isn't open on Sundays so for dinner we usually order a pizza or go get something fun like empanadas. I apologize for making most of this post about food. 

Please continue to pray for our team as we prepare for our work in Argentina. We have a couple more team members joining us at the end of the month. Please pray that God will provide the rest of their funds and get them here soon. I have loved every moment here, but I can't be a fully effective team member or missionary until I am fully fluent. I am asking God for the miracle of bilingualism because I'm still not really sure how that works. Thank you so much for you prayers and support!