There’s no place like home

Wizard of Oz  is my favorite all time movie. Hands down. I can’t clearly explain why, but I had seen it as a child, and then it was the first big theatre production I was a part of. I guess it became something special to me right at the moment.

But I also adore Judy Garland. I also think that I can relate a lot to Dorothy’s character.

Just like Dorothy, I am a small town girl who desperately wishes to do something great, and go somewhere much grander than the existence I have in my quaint town. But also like Dorothy, I have had these experience away from home, good and bad, but there is something special about home that draws me back to it each time I leave. There is just no place like it.

For me, it’s the love I have back at home that I couldn’t get anywhere else. I have definitely missed the quality time with my family and friends, but I have also grown to love the people here like family. But no one could replace my biological family.

So I remembered that I haven’t updated the blog since Monday. To be honest, not a whole has happened. We had our last formal lesson on Tuesday. This wasn’t my plan, but different things prohibited a chance to sit down Wednesday through Friday. However, we continued informal communication in English, as well as, watching movies in English.

She knows a lot more than she gives herself credit for, and I am proud of the progress she has made in such a short time.

On Thursday, we went to the gold museum and shopping. This was an especially fun day. The gold museum was beautiful and interesting, and being in that part of the city was pretty cool.

I saw some things that I had not yet seen while here that broke my heart. I saw a lot of homeless people sleeping in the streets and begging for money. The sight that tugged at my heart the most was a little girl holding her little brother asking for help, no parents to be seen.

So Friday was a wonderful day. I started off kind of sad that it was my last day, but I was also excited to make the most of it. It didn’t begin as an extraordinary day. In fact, we lounged around during the morning then walked to the grandmother’s house for lunch. After a typical Colombian lunch, we went upstairs and watched a few movies.

Then the magic of the night happened. Y’all I couldn’t have planned a better last night here. They ordered American-styled pepperoni pizza and bought me a tres leches cake with the message, “We will miss you” on it. We had a great time. Then two of the aunts and my host brother got me in the car for a surprise.

They took me on a drive up to a mountain to catch a beautiful view of the city. It was breathtaking, and it provided me a great spot to meditate on my month here and pray over the city.

The car ride there and back was also a joy because we danced and sang in the car, not caring who could see us. Seriously, such a fun night.

When I got back to the apartment, I had planned on packing. I ended up getting some more quality time in with the family. The mom had a few friends over. They did their own thing, so I lied in bed with my host siblings and a friend of theirs and watched movies. I loved it because we watched a scary movie, so they were all cuddled up to me. I love being cuddled by kids, even if one is 14 and the other two are 12. 😛 My host sister and her friend also kept me company while I packed at 2am.

I have full of a lot of different emotions right now. Sad because I have to leave these people, but overjoyed because I get to see my family, friends, and boyfriend. They already told me they wanted me to come back, so I guess in a couple of years I will be making another trip here, but maybe not for a whole month.

Thanks again to all who made this trip possible. I can’t name everyone specifically because I really did have an overwhelming support. Thanks to those that have prayed, donated your money, and those that donated time and effort to host a show to benefit my trip.

Next time I write on here, I will be in the US! Unfortunately, I can’t click my heels three times to get there, so tomorrow will be a long day of traveling. Hasta luego, Colombia. I may be leaving you tomorrow, but you won’t leave my heart. ❤

“If you go anywhere, even paradise, you will miss your home.”  -Malala Yousafzai

 

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Last leg

So this will probably be one of my last posts while I am in Colombia. I have just four full days left here, and the fifth will be spent traveling home.

This past weekend was pretty eventful and full of cultural engagement. On Saturday, I attended  a 50th anniversary party for the paternal grandparents of my host siblings. They are Catholic, so the celebration started off with a religious ceremony to commemorate the long-lasting marriage of the precious couple. Because I am not Catholic and not a fluent Spanish speaker, it was at times difficult to understand what was going on, but the smiles and happy tears were enough to touch my heart.

Following the ceremony, we were served a Colombian seafood dish. So I had two problems with this. I am not a huge seafood eater to begin with and even more so if I am not on the coast.Well, we are definitely not on the coast here, so I just politely ate as much as I can. Luckily, there were a few grandkids that didn’t care for the food either, so we ordered Papa John’s. 😛  Just a little fact: They put the pepperoni under the cheese instead of the top.

The cake looked sooooo good, and I was so excited to eat it. One thing I forget is that for the most part, we use more sugar in our desserts and foods than Colombians do. So the cake ended up tasting very bitter to me, and I only ate the icing. If you know me well enough, you know that usually don’t like icing, but it was my last resort for something sweet. I am sure to them the cake was delish. But to my American tongue, not so much.

My favorite part was the dancing. I am by no means an impromptu dancer. My dancing is limited to choreographed movement. But I managed to catch on to the steps, and I had a great time dancing with the family.

Later during the party, I began experiencing severe sinus and allergy symptoms, so I was escorted to a nearby relative’s apartment to rest. Trying to sleep on that particular night was terrible, because my nose would not stop running and my throat and head were hurting.

On Sunday, I took a trip to the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá with a family friend and a friend to the organization I went through to get to Colombia. It was beautiful and unique to anything I have ever seen before, and I had an overall great trip.

I woke up on Monday excited to start the last week of lessons and communicating with my host sister in English. I was ready to go full force to get as much in as we could. Well, we ended up not having a lesson due to a change in the family’s plans for the evening. I was disappointed, but I have come to peace with the fact that I have done what I can to encourage learning. If the family schedules something that conflicts with the lesson times they gave me, well, that’s on them. And if my student isn’t concentrating or being serious, well, that’s on them as well. There is only so much I can do to facilitate the growth of the English learning.

That’s pretty much all I have for an update. Like I said, I will probably write once or twice more before I leave. Love you all!

“Travel is about the gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown.” -unknown

 

One week

The last couple of days have been long and hard. I think knowing that I am only one week away from being on a plane back home has made time pass by slowly. I am definitely going to miss it here, but I have so much to look forward to succeeding my homecoming.

On Thursday, I got sick. Unexpectedly. I began feeling nauseous right before lunch. Awesome timing, huh? This is a culture where you are pretty much expected to eat whenever the food is prepared and at the table. Also, if you don’t eat fast enough or just enough, they assume you don’t like the food.

I knew I was risking something the moment I sat at the table to eat my food. The food wasn’t bad. The meat, however, was stringy and fatty. Didn’t help my situation. I was halfway through my meal, and then I vomited. I didn’t have to stop it. I was so embarrassed because it went on me, and it was in front of everyone at the table.

The day got a little better. I got a chance to sleep off some of my illness. Later that evening we went to a Zumba class. That was pretty interesting. I am not much of a Zumba-er, but I made an effort to have a good time. Then I got to eat a delicious torta, which is cake with fruit in it.

Today, lessons didn’t go like I planned due to a myriad of factors. I know that as a future teacher, I am going to have those kinds of days, even as a professional. It was still a bit discouraging since I only have a week left.

I have a lot to look forward to for the weekend, though. Saturday I will be going to a 50th wedding anniversary celebration for two of the grandparents, and Sunday I will be going exploring with an agent here in Colombia.

Tonight was the first time I have cried in two weeks. I am actually quite proud that I held my emotion for that long. Homesickness has hit me pretty hard tonight, because right now I am alone in the apartment. The mom is at work, and the kids are at dinner with their dad. I will be okay. I would very much appreciate your prayers and positive vibes during the rest of my stay. Looking forward to a good week!

“You can’t let a bad moment spoil a bunch of good ones.” -Dale Earnhardt

Mi familia colombiana

It’s been a few days since I have given an update on adventures and lessons. The last two posts were written to clear my head. So here’s a run down of what has gone on since Friday!

On Saturday I learned over breakfast that I would be going with the kids to the other side of Bogota to visit with their dad and their dad’s parents. I was pretty thrilled about this because the dad’s parents are the people I stayed with in Melgar. I loved them and grew to be comfortable around them. It was their dad’s birthday that day, so I figured we would eat lunch, hang out for a bit, then go back to their mom’s apartment.

Well, I was wrong. Apparently, we were spending the night at the grandparent’s house. I immediately panicked because I had no phone charger, toothbrush, clean clothes or anything to put my contacts in. I know, first world problems, right? Well, I decided to try and not let it get to me because I wanted to enjoy the rest of my evening. And I did. So the lunch that day was fabulous, and we ate a very yummy cherry ice cream cake.

There was so much happiness and love. It was contagious.The best part is that they included me. I also loved that there was a cousin who spoke pretty good English. After the birthday festivities, I went my host sister and brother and their aunt and cousin to a mall to watch the movie The Secret Life of Pets. FYI it was in English with Spanish subtitles, because they don’t produce movies in Spanish for the cinema. I had a great time laughing and getting sick on popcorn and Coke with them.

I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary on Sunday and Monday, but we did have a great lesson on Monday. They are all pretty great, and I have gotten pretty good at selecting activities that are fun and still benefit her. Some things are not very fun, but I can tell her English is improving.

Our lessons always include working in a workbook. This guides me in teaching sounds and whatnot because I haven’t had classes for that yet. So honestly, this is me just trying things from instinct and what I already know to try and achieve the best results. There is a game that we play that she loves. I give her a whiteboard. I give her one minute to think of as many words that begin with whatever letter. This gives her something to try and improve on where she will see immediate results, and it also allows me to see if her vocabulary is improving. GUYS. She is also writing complete sentences on her own. I am so proud! During Monday’s lesson we listened to the song “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music. Then I had her listen to it again and try to write down as many words as she could. Then after that I had her write down her favorite things in English. Then at random times throughout the week we will communicate in English.

Tuesday made me realize why sometimes in school, our teachers would choose to have a movie day. We went to two different parks today. The pharmacist wasn’t kidding when he said my medicine makes me sensitive to the sun. Who knew an overcast could burn your face so bad? I ended up getting sick from it, and I could tell my host sister was tired too, so we agreed to watch a movie in English in lieu of Tuesday’s lesson.

Each day I am getting closer to the family. I even took my shoes off in a relative’s house and cooked my own meal in the kitchen. My host sister and I have also started ganging up on my host brother. I love that I have got to experience having younger siblings. I also love that I now have a family here.

“Happiness is having a large, loving, close-knit family in another city.” -George Burns

 

 

& the home of the brave

I plan to write a little bit later ausa-flag-hd-desktop-wallpaper.jpegbout my recent outings and lessons, but this post is about something that has been weighing on my mind and honestly, has hurt my heart a little bit.

Y’all, all 5’5 of me is full of southern and American pride. I like my sweet tea in a mason jar, my corn bread from a skillet, “Rocky Top” playing at an ungodly volume, and “y’all,” “ain’t,” and “bless your heart” are all part of my everyday vernacular.

Here’s the thing: I love to travel. I love experiencing everything about an unfamiliar culture: the food, the music, the attractions, and the people
. I mean, that’s a huge reason why I am in Colombia, right? Well, just because I love traveling and learning about a different culture, that does not mean I have to love everything about said culture and value it above my own. And that is okay.

Yeah, USA has its problems, but I would never abandon my birth rights and become an ex-Patriot. That seems crazy to me, but some people do it.

I don’t want to give you the impression that I hate it here, because I don’t. I love it here, but certainly not as much as I love the U S of A. I am not so patriotic to a degree where I can’t appreciate cultural and ethnic differences, but USA is my home. And any attempt to strip my pride or love for my land, is well, hurtful, and I take offense.

Since I have been here for three weeks, it is no surprise that the family has gotten more comfortable around me and I with them. When that happens, each party is more likely to say how they feel, and that can be hurtful. I really do love this family, and I appreciate their hospitality , but there have been some comments made. I am sure they do not realize that they hurt me.

For example, I had a soup with chicken, vegetables, and rice the other day. This type of dish is not foreign to the US. It also did not taste any different than any chicken and vegetable soup I have had before. I simply made the comment that we have a similar dish in the States, then three of the family members kept repeating that it was impossible because what I was eating was “typical Colombian” food. I am sure it is, but it is also something not uncommon to us in the US. I threw up a white flag in this situation like I do in every similar situation because I do not want to come across disrespectful.

That wasn’t the first time something of that nature has happened. Anytime I have mentioned a food I have eaten in the US or Honduras that they have here, someone always says, “Well, it’s better here.” Okay, I get it. Just like Americans have their pride, Colombians have theirs. I have no desire to take any of that pride away from them, and I would never say to their faces that the US has better ____ or we do _____ better. That is all a matter of opinion and should be given respectfully. Heck, I even left one of my favorite shirts at home because it had red, white, and blue plastered all over that sucker. I would not even tell my boyfriend’s mother that Mexico sucks, even if I thought it did. That’s rude, and at one point that was her home.

You may think I am overreacting, but I hear this stuff frequently. A cousin in the family that knows great English made it very clear to me that she hated the US when she said, “I hate the United States.” Okay, cool. But was it necessary to say that to someone who is from there? I didn’t even ask for her opinion. Like I said, I would never say, “I hate Colombia” to a Colombian even if I did hate this country. But I asked the cousin where all she had been in the US, and her comment lost all validity when she told me she had only been to Florida. Well, I am American, and I don’t like Florida. It isn’t a great representation of American traditions and values, so anyone who visits isn’t getting a full taste of America from Florida. But again, the white flag went up, and my mouth closed.

They did ask me one time why I didn’t get offended when they referred to me as “gringa.” For those who may not know, it is a racist term that means “white girl.” I responded that I do not get offended at racism towards me because I have no reason to be ashamed of the color of my skin or where I come from. That was the only time I ever really defended the pride I have for home.

With that said, I will be in the great nation that is the USA in less than two weeks. It’s bitted2229e3dd35458120d42189851c26e4drsweet because I have cultivated many wonderful relationships here. But I will be excited to embrace my family at home and eat a real cheeseburger. 😉

If anything, traveling makes me more grateful and more proud to live where I do. William Shenstone put into words exactly how I feel about the matter. He said,

“The proper means of increasing the love we bear our native country is to reside some time in a foreign one.”

USA! USA! ‘MERICA! GO VOLS!

 

My mother’s father

By the time I finish writing this and tacking it on to my Facebook wall, time will have crossed from July 21 to July 22.

On July 22, 2014, an incredible man left this earth. He was a loving son, husband, father, brother, cousin, uncle, and grandfather. As hard as it was to let him go, we found relief that his suffering was no longer prevailing over his frail body.

We watched diabetes attempt to steal his livelihood long before he drew his last breath. Even on the days where he felt the most pain and felt the most weak, his love and joy could not be shaken.

It’s still tough to this day, and I don’t think the hurt is ever completely removed. But we have sweet memories to give us comfort.

I also find comfort in the knowledge that my Pa was a lover of Jesus. I’m a theology major, and I feel like I should know what all happens when we leave our lives on earth. I can give you some generic description of what heaven is like. But we won’t really know until we experience it ourselves. We can create our idea of Paradise, but I fully believe that anything we dream up in our heads is nothing compared to what the One has created for us in eternity.

I do know that my Pa is without sickness and suffering. That is enough for me to trust that his current residence is beautiful, peaceful, and full of the immaculate love of God.

I miss his jokes. I miss tickling his chin. I miss sleeping in between him and Granny. I miss Sunday lunches at his house. I miss him riding the lawn mower around the yard while I trailed in the Radio Flyer. I miss sitting in his lap. I miss the smell of his coffee, and I so wish I could have a cup with him right now. I miss the grip of his hands as we prayed together. I miss feeling the rough callouses on his hands formed by many years of laboring on trains and butchering meat at Power’s.  I miss his birthday calls. I miss his phone calls in general. I miss his laugh. I miss him.

I was telling my cousin, Janette, how I never doubted his pride and love for his kids and grandkids. He was such a genuine person.

I know my Granny is lost without him. She is hanging in there, but he took a part of her when he left. I suppose that is how it goes when you love someone that fiercely.

I remember his funeral and visitation. It wasn’t morbid or sad. In fact, I remember that day as one filled with love and laughter with family as we recounted our memories of my sweet Pa. It would have been the type of day my Pa would have wanted us to have.

I will forever celebrate his new body that he received. One without ailments. One that is heavenly. I couldn’t tell you what it looks like, but I know it is gorgeous.

My sister got married this past April. You may be familiar with the poem:

Something old, something new,

something borrowed, something blue,

and a sixpence in her shoe.

Since my Pa could not physically be there, Janette got a charm with Pa’s picture to tie around my sister’s bouquet. I had the idea to get a sixpence  minted the year Pa was born to go with it. So I got on Etsy and bought a silver sixpence minted in the UK in 1943.

It arrived in an envelope, and it was immersed in grime collected over its many years on this earth. I was able to remove all the filth with a brush, baking soda, and warm water. As I fondled the coin after having removed the evidence of its age, I thought about how much the coin and my Pa had in common beyond their birth dates.

Just like the coin, my Pa no longer wore the burdens, stains, and dust of this world. He was made new. He now shines as brightly as the finest silver, if not brighter! That is something to rejoice about!

Right now, I have a dear friend back home who is experiencing the same type of loss. She just lost her grandpa rather unexpectedly on Thursday night. I wish my words were eloquent enough to ease the hurt in her heart, but I know only the Lord’s embrace can cushion that blow. So Stephens family, I am praying for y’all. Praying that y’all will be given peace that passes understanding and strength to carry you through his time.

To my family: I wish I could be there to remember Pa and love on each one of you to help make the day a little easier. Just know I am praying and thinking of all of you as we observe an anniversary that forever changed us. But I think the absolute best way to honor my Pa’s memory is to continue to live my life to its fullest. So I will try not to be too sad today, but to live in joy for the life that was my Pa’s and the life that is mine right now.

I shared this quote two years ago after I found out that my Pa had left this life and entered rest before his journey to the next life.

“They that love beyond the world cannot be separated by it. Death cannot kill what never dies.” -William Penn

I see this in the way we all still love my Pa so much. I know how much he loved us when he was here, and I know it is still alive in our memories. I also know that the prayers he prayed are getting answered and will continue to be answered, even though it has been two years or so since he last uttered a prayer in the flesh.

As I sit Indian style, a tear drop hits my ankle as I type these last few words.

If you are missing someone, that’s okay. Just try to remember the good that came from their existence and remember that they are just a sweet memory away. ❤

 

Entitled

To be honest, writing a blog takes a lot of discipline that I don’t seem to have at the moment. So this blog is kind of forced, but I promise that there is a lot of neat stuff I have to tell you about. 🙂 I also couldn’t come up with a catchy title so that’s why I titled it the way I did. 😛

Monday I went with my host sister and her aunt to a place called Adventura de Colombia. It was a very tourist-y place that showcased various cultural things about Colombia. Dancing, food, crafts, music, animals-the whole nine yards.

On Tuesday, we had an incredible time of English lessons. Before I came to Colombia, my mother and I found some little workbooks at Dollar Tree for Phonics and whatnot. I was not for sure how helpful they would be or if my host sister would like them, but Y’ALL! She really enjoys working in the workbooks I bought. SCORE. They are also helping.

So Tuesday she worked in the workbook with my assistance. We continued learning about different blending sounds. We also do word searches then talk about the unfamiliar words and their meanings, so Tuesday we did a couple of those. I taught her about the short and long A sounds and the short and long E sounds, then had her do activities with that.

I brought a white board and some markers, so I tried a game with her to see if it would be beneficial and engaging enough for her, and she ended up liking it even though it was challenging. I gave her sixty seconds to write as many words as she could beginning with a given letter. The results were about what I expected, but it is something we can do frequently. Doing so will give me an idea of the type of progress she is making, as well as giving her some kind of goal to achieve.

She is also writing in compete sentences in English. Nothing complex of course, but I am VERY proud of her. Getting her to converse with me in English is still a task, but she will do it some. I can tell she is becoming more comfortable with it, though.

So Wednesday was July 20, which is Independence Day for Colombia! I went with my host sister, her mom, two aunts, and two cousins to Lake Guatavita. We walked around a village located there, ate lunch, and enjoyed the views of the lake.

Our lunch was typical Colombian food. I enjoyed fish(that still had its eyes), rice, fried plantains, and potatoes.

So a cool historical fact about Guatavita: If you know anything about the El Dorado legend, then you should know that Guatavita is allegedly the center of worship and the place of ceremonies that gave rise to the legend. It was incredibly to be in a place with so much history, myth or not. I will make a post later in my trip or when I am home with a bunch of pictures, so you can see just how breathtaking it was.

Since it was a holiday, I saw a lot of people out with their loved ones. I loved seeing that. I loved seeing families made up of all ages, and I loved seeing young couples enjoying their time together. Love is something that isn’t absent from any culture. It definitely made me ache for home, my family, my friends, and my incredible boyfriend, but I am also kind of sad that I only have 16 days left here in Colombia.

I can’t decide if that is a long time or a short time, but whichever, I am determined to make the most of it!

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”

~ H. Jackson Brown

 

 

Live, Laugh, Love and Learn

The beginning of this week started out rough and left me feeling anxious and discouraged. I was not for sure how the English lessons would go, and I was not sure how much I was going to thoroughly enjoy my time here. I did not want to feel like I wasting my time, my money, and other people’s generous donations.

I am happy to tell you all that my week is ending with me feeling hopeful and excited for the next three weeks that I have here. It is so crazy to me that I will have been here for two weeks on Tuesday!

So Friday’s and Saturday’s plans got messed up due to rain, but that didn’t stop us from having a great time this weekend.

I spent my Friday morning watching movies in my bed. It was nice to get some R&R. For those of you that may not see my Facebook posts, I have a bacterial infection. Thursday was the most painful. We went to the botanical gardens that day. It was nice and relaxing but required a lot of walking. So Friday morning I did not want to do much.Then Friday afternoon we had a three hour English lesson complete with practicing phonics, blends present in English but not Spanish, i.e. “ch,” words and their meanings, reading short paragraphs and the children’s book, The Kissing Hand, and watching the movie, Beastly, in English.

We covered writing, reading, and listening skills in three hours, so I was VERY pleased. I hate that she is so nervous to say certain words and sounds. She is scared of sounding funny-I totally get that. Hopefully, I will get her to a point where she is not so afraid of being wrong and sounding funny when she speaks.

On Saturday we ate lunch at a German restaurant (yes, German) to celebrate a cousin’s birthday. After that we went to Abuelita’s house for an afternoon of salsa and meringue dancing. We also ate some yummy cake from a local pasteleria here.

Later, we headed back to the apartment. The kids were listening to music on Youtube, so I suggested singing karaoke. It ended up being a great activity to get the whole family engaged with the English language. I sung songs in Spanish. Everyone else sang in English. I laughed so much with them. It was definitely the most fun I have had since I got here. 🙂

I also got to eat pineapple pizza again. Rad.

I love this whole family so much. They treat me like their own, and that has been the biggest help in my adjustment. They show very much enthusiasm in taking me places and cooking me new foods to try. I really can’t explain how perfect this host family has been for me, despite some annoyances and miscommunication.

I mentioned in my last post that I got to speak with my Mama on the phone. Since then I have also got to talk to my grandma, my boyfriend, my nephew, and my mom a second time. Y’all, it warms my soul to hear these familiar voices. I plan to make more phone calls soon.

I would appreciate continued thoughts, prayers, and vibes as I enter my third week  here: for safety, healing, protection from other sicknesses, and patience and wisdom as I teach lessons. I have lots of plans for the next three weeks. I am not sure how many of those will fall through, but I will continue updating via this blog and Facebook.

If you are someone who desires to travel, even if it’s just stateside, do it! You learn so much about yourself and others. Staying in a comfort zone will not give you experience necessary to better understand the world around us. Even on the hard days, I do not regret taking this leap of faith. You won’t either should you decide to hop on a plane and go somewhere foreign.

An unknown genius once said,

“A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.”

‘Till the cows come home

No, this post isn’t about cows. Although, I have seen cows here, and they are incredibly skinny (which probably explains why I don’t like the milk here).

Anyway, you’ve probably heard the expression, “I could ____ ’till the cows come home.” Well, that pretty much says how the past twenty four hours in Colombia have been. If every night could be like last night and every day like today, I would not have anything to grumble about. I know, I know. I really shouldn’t be grumbling about anything because this opportunity alone should be enough to keep me pleased. Unfortunately, grumbling is an ongoing battle between my spirit and my flesh.

So last night after going to mall and eating Burger King chicken nuggets, I taught my first English lesson. So before you go on thinking it was some type of formal grammar lesson, it was not that at all. I am sure some days will feel more like school, but last night was a chance for me to kind of set the tone.

We watched the movie Coraline, since the both of us love it. We watched it in English with Spanish subtitles. Eventually, I will have her watching movies in English with English subtitles. I can tell she is nervous, so listening to English is enough for right now. While watching the movie, we would pick out unfamiliar words in Spanish and in English (I’m also trying to work on my Spanish). Then we would talk about those words and their meanings. We had to finish the movie today due to internet connectivity, but I was pleased with how that activity went. After watching the movie last night, we worked on phonics. To be honest, that is pretty scary for someone who speaks a language where the phonics are very different. In the English language we have certain sounds that are not present in the Spanish language. I could tell she did not like this exercise as much because I had to correct her often, which is totally okay and the reason I am here. As much as she did not like it, I could tell it was helping her. We did the same exercise today, and she seems to have already made some type of progress.

So I don’t care for public transportation. At all. I was one of those kids who rode the school bus seldom and for field trips. Well, I rode the bus for the first time here today. Not gonna lie, it gave me terrible anxiety but a wonderful view of the city!

Also today, we went to a science museum. That was pretty fun. I do not have much to say about it because it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, but I still had a good time. I also tried fresh avocado from some street vendors. It was sooooo much better than any I have tried in the States. I hate avocado when I am home. 😛 We also went to a mall where we ate chocolate-covered strawberries with sprinkles. Seriously, why aren’t gourmet chocolate vendors everywhere in the States?!

Then we did lessons, and then I got to eat my favorite kind of pizza. PINEAPPLE. It wasn’t Papa John’s quality, but it wasn’t terrible.

The biggest treat of my day was getting to talk to my sweet Mama on the phone for two hours. Mama, if you are reading this I LOVE YOU SO MUCH, and I miss you dearly. Thanks for believing in me and encouraging me to follow my heart.

I know every day won’t be like today, and that is okay. I am here to learn, grow, and teach. Those things are not successfully done without difficulty along the way.

“Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.”

—Joshua J. Marine

 

Just an Alexander day

Today I woke up with the expectation that I would teach my first English lesson. Well, things did not go exactly as planned. That had me feeling defeated. To be honest, I felt like a total loser. It was mainly miscommunication that kept us from being productive.

Here is something else you need to know: culture shock is a real thing. It gives no warning, and it wrecks you. So today, I experienced the bitter taste of culture shock. It comes and goes in phases. Typically one would experience the honeymoon phase first and then things would get tougher. I, apparently, skipped the honeymoon phase and entered a state of mild depression. I spent pretty much the whole day asleep and on my phone. I was grumpy, and I had the most negative attitude. I became terribly sick for home. I even emailed my agent and half-jokingly threatened to go back home. My mentality was just that messed up.

On top of that, nothing was going my way. If you know me well enough, you know that I am overly obsessed with the show One Tree Hill. I don’t by any means Netflix binge, but watching the show became a nightly routine my sophomore year of college. Well, today I thought watching a few episodes would lift my spirits and make me feel a little bit more at home. Come to find out, Netflix Colombia does not have OTH. Y’all this devastated me more than I really care to admit. (Shout out to Janice Qualls for finding a url that has episodes of OTH) 🙂 Oh, and the water has been terrible for my skin and hair, so that had be bummed out today as well.

So yeah, today I was pathetic. I felt broken and inadequate. I was deeply wounded by the thought that maybe teaching English was not for me- that I had wasted a semester of taking classes for a new major, hours spent tutoring English Language Learners, and a rooted passion for seeing progression made in the English language. I know how imperative it is that refugees and immigrants have intermediate comprehension of the English language. In all reality, it’s their survival. It’s their opportunities. It is their future. And I want nothing more than to be a part of that. I desire to be a part of something greater at work. Ladies and gents, I can’t think of a whole lot that would be as significant as equipping someone with a language that they can carry with them and use for the betterment of his or her life.

So in those dark, few hours, I convinced myself I would never be a part of that. And that sucked.

I had to have a very tough conversation with the host mom about why nothing was accomplished today. I was worried that she would also feel like I was inadequate and wasting my time here. She was understanding, however. We came up with an itinerary complete with fun activities throughout the city. For example, we are going to a science museum, and Thursday, we are going to a  gold museum. I was also able to share with them how badly I felt today. I told them I was homesick and having issues with adjusting.

Do not get the impression that my time here has been all bad. I have had a few awesome moments like watching movies with the family and sharing laughter with them. They are hospitable and loving. I gave them t-shirts that said Manchester, TN on them, and their reactions were more than I expected. They loved them.

With all that being said, tomorrow I will start my lessons. After some fun at the science museum, of course. 🙂

Feel free to use this as a means to ask me any specific questions. I tend to not write in full detail, but I will be happy to write about anything you may be curious about.

On Facebook today, there was a quote going around. I needed that today, because it reminded me that I have a purpose here in Colombia and here on this earth. I also want you to remind that you also have a purpose here in this life. And our purposes are not so that we will get glory and happiness, but so God gets glory and others receive blessings through us. The quote says:

You were created to make some body else’s life better. Someone needs what you have-your smile, your love, your words & your encouragement.

*The title of this blog is in reference to one of my favorite childhood books called Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.