Sarita

I arrived to Colombia on Tuesday, spent one night in Bogota, then had to travel to Melgar on Wednesday. I stayed with the grandparents and aunts, uncles, and cousins of the children I am staying with full time. There were ten of us staying in the finca (vacation home).

My first day in Melgar was terrible. It had nothing to do with the family. I was just overly exhausted. I spent most of the day in bed and only got out to have meals. I felt bad for the family because they probably thought I did not want to be there. That night I went on a walk with the women and children, and things started looking up. They also began calling me Sarita and did so the rest of the week. This term of endearment definitely helped to ease my mind and heart.

The rest of the week was enjoyable, except that I experienced my first wave of traveler’s sickness. I haven’t started English lessons yet, so this vacation week allowed me to rest and get acclimated to the culture. I learned that there are foods I like and do not like at all. I discovered that the center of Melgar is not pleasant. We got out a couple of times to get ice cream, but it is not a place the family likes going to often. Too many people. Too many crazies. The family was so wonderful to me. I was spoiled for sure. They gave me royal treatment, and my comfort was something they prioritized. We had tons of fun together as we swam in the pool and played many games of Uno. Communicating became easier throughout the week. The grandmother was like any grandmother and wanted to see me eat more than I could bear, but that told me she really did care about me. I left Melgar today. I was kind of sad because I had gotten comfortable there and grew to love the family, and I knew when I got back to Bogota I would have to do some readjusting again.

I got to Bogota a few hours ago, and I was ready for a nap. I did not sleep well last night because of the neighbors playing loud music until 6:30 this morning. I still haven’t napped. Needless to say, I am a little bit grumpy. I have a lot to do before tomorrow’s first English lesson, though. I am very excited to put something into practice that I have been working toward and something I am very passionate about. These children have a desire to learn because they know they will have more opportunities in the workforce and in academics if they know English. They also desire to travel to the US and possibly live there because life is much easier, or so they are told growing up. So I hope to be a big part of their English improvement that will set them up to be successful and active members of the global community.

I am not even a week into my journey here, but I have already learned so much about the One who brought me here, and the One I have devoted myself to. He called me to this a few years ago-to travel and do works that will be for His glory and the betterment of others. I have to remind myself whose daughter I am, so with His strength, I can muster up enough courage to step out of my comfort zone and allow Him to use me for something so much bigger than I.

Currently clinging on to the prayer in Psalm 62 and meditating on God’s goodness and the mercy He has given me and will continue to give me throughout this experience.

Also to you, O Lord, belongs mercy; for You render to each one according to his work. -Psalm 62:12

 

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Don’t worry

I should probably be asleep considering I spent most of my day traveling. This morning I struggled with leaving home for month because I have never been away for that long. Mom reminded me to be a big girl, which honestly was hard to do as I choked back tears while going through airport security. I got to Miami with no issues. However, I mistakenly sat in the wrong terminal for five hours and realized it thirty minutes before my flight for Bogota was supposed to take off. I had to run across the airport, and I was a nervous wreck.

Long story short, God has a funny way of making things work out for the best. Because I got on the plane a little later than most, I arrived to see that a woman was in the wrong seat, so I ended up getting a window seat. Cool, huh? But even better I got to sit next to two other young women. One was a Colombian and the other was a Venezuelan who lives in Colombia. We laughed and talked like we have always known one another. They gave me much needed advice and even gave me their contact info. The oldest (the Venezuelan) could tell I was very nervous, so she kept telling me not to worry. I am so glad God allowed me to sit next to her on the plane because she also ended up helping me through customs, immigration, and finding my host family at the airport. She hated flying so anytime she got scared, she would grab my hand. I truly feel like God allowed us to be each other’s angels today.

Once I met up with my host mom and my agent in Colombia, everything felt surreal. I really did feel like I was dreaming. It is a strange feeling to leave what is familiar and come to a place that is totally different, no one knows you, and there is a language barrier. I felt trapped in a Spanish television as I sat in a room with complete strangers who did not know English. They pretty much completely relied on Google to communicate with me. I was able to speak some Spanish with them, and I appreciated their patience and understanding even when I said something wrong.

I was quite shocked with how much Spanish I used tonight. A man (Jorge) even told me I was doing well, and that made me feel more at ease. He could tell I was experiencing discomfort, so he told me not to worry.

They decided to grab hamburgers, and I requested only cheese on mine. It ended up with everything on it, so as much as I hated it, I had to tell them I wouldn’t eat it. They didn’t mind, and the host mom ended up making me a grilled ham and cheese. I probably made them feel awkward because I started crying to which Jorge told me to not worry. That if there was anything I wanted or did not want, it was okay to tell them.

Tomorrow I leave for Melgar for a few days. I am not sure if I will have Internet while I am there, so that is why I wanted to write tonight even though I am exhausted.

I am nervous. I am unsure. I am still excited, though. I honestly have asked myself why I am here because I have been weepy tonight. I’ll be okay though. No need to worry.

Cast your cares on the Lord, and He will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. -Psalm 55:22

 

 

Even in my weakness

10390170_4313080002085_7377028717591837907_nIf you are reading this, you are most likely aware that soon I will be traveling to Bogota, Colombia to teach English for a month. Some of you are possibly questioning why I am doing so and what it is exactly that I will be doing. I plan on using this blog as a means of updating everyone who chooses to follow my experiences in Colombia and whatever else I decide to use this blog for. To get started, here is a little bit about me and why I made the decision to go to Colombia.

I am a junior at Lee University in Cleveland, TN where I major in Theology and Teaching English as a Second Language. I am possibly going to add a Spanish minor. In high school, I participated in a tutoring program for English Language Learning students. In my community, the majority of the ELLs are Hispanic. I began to fall in love with these students and their progress in the English language, but I also fell in love with their culture and their native language as I began to get to know them more. However, I never thought about teaching ESL at the time.

Upon graduating high school, I planned to attend Lee and study Intercultural Studies. I should have known that I would end up changing majors when I traveled to Honduras for a mission trip June 2014. While on this mission trip, I was introduced to a bilingual school that would open the upcoming fall. I was completely enamored by the culture, the people, and the heart behind the planting of the school. Even then, I never considered ESL.

I decided on ESL during my second year at Lee. The two classes I took for the TESOL program and the hours I spent tutoring ELLs both during high school and the spring semester, was enough to convince me and compel me that this is what I needed to pursue.

I never wanted to wait until I was grown to travel. I never wanted to wait until I had a degree in hand to do the ministry and practice the trade that God had called me to. After a recommendation and much research, I decided to plan an excursion to teach English through Cultural Homestay International. I decided on Colombia because I could work on my Spanish, and I have been told my many Lee friends that Colombia is an overall great place to travel. I did not have a lot of time to save money or to enroll in the program, find a host family, and make necessary travel arrangements, but God has provided.

He never fails me. He continually amazes me. I have seen His hand at work through this whole process of planning and saving and raising money. I admit that through this season I haven’t been the most diligent or obedient, but God has still worked through the weaknesses that I struggle to overcome every single day. I see God at work through the generosity of people who have known me and loved me for years, but I have also see Him through the graciousness of strangers who slip me $5 and $10 tips while carhopping at Sonic. I saw God at work when I submitted my paperwork to search for a host family, and in just 48 hours time, I had a family. I’ve seen God’s mercy in the willingness of two music groups who agreed to play a show to help fund my month in Colombia.

And I feel humbled, because somewhere in my heart, I feel like I don’t deserve this opportunity and the kind of support I have been receiving. I haven’t prayed enough. I haven’t genuinely sought God enough. I haven’t lived in an honorable way enough. I am a failure.

But I guess that’s what makes grace, well, grace. It’s undeserved. It’s unrestrained. It’s not an excuse for me to continue in failure, but a catalyst to respond with obedience, thanksgiving, and worship to my Heavenly Father who is making a way for me to learn, grow, achieve dreams, and accomplish His will.

I leave in two, short weeks. I have become flooded with paperwork about travel and teaching. What was excitement is now nervousness. Even though I am beginning to stress out, a part of me is at ease knowing that I have a God that is there to guide, protect, and love me.

My Jesus is so good. And tonight I am so thankful. I am amazed at His love for me even when I least deserve it.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  2 Corinthians 12:9