Tuesday, February 28, 2017

What Is New and What Is the Same // Colombia 2017

 The sun is brighter here.

 There are flowers and green grass in the middle of February.

 And the air is thick with pollution. It smells like cigarette smoke, exhaust fumes, and other smells all foreign and unfamiliar.

 But especially in the mornings, the smell of fruit just sliced will break through the smog. 

 I touch each palm tree as we walk through the busy city, and it feels smooth and fake, so unlike the rough bark of the trees at home. 

 I touch the flowers, these magical winter flowers, and they are the same softness of petals I recognize. 

 Things that are new and things that are the same.

 At times, I forget what is new and what is the same. 

 The pineapple is the same, but so new, so juicy, so unbelievably fresh and sweet. 

 A city is not new, and lying in my bed, I almost forget this foreign city is new between the horns and the gunned motors and the city that is incapable of sleep- until an unfamiliar Colombian melody blares. 

 Streets that are clean, streets full of garbage. 

 Then a man walks up-hill, a full garbage bag larger than his body strung across his shoulders and almost trailing the ground. 

 Then another man opens his door and water floods onto the narrow side walk as he mops his entryway. 

 And I am wearing shorts in February. 

 "We're right above the equator in Medellin," people say. "That is why it is warm in February." But it is still magic, just like it would be magic for them to visit us and see the white snow and frost and feel the cold and see their breath. You can see your breath. But not here. 

 It's magic. 

 New magic is palm trees.

 Old magic is seeing my breath and the clear point of icicles. 

 Spanish words dance around me and I touch another palm tree.

 Each finger on a palm tree is a kiss for the Colombia that I may never see again. 

 Almost three thousand miles away, and there is the same moon and there is the same sun. 

 Almost three thousand miles away and they sing Amazing Grace and Holy, Holy, Holy, and request songs from Sovereign Grace. 

 We rotate from singing in Spanish then English- new then the same, but really all the same worshiping the same God. 

 This same sun, new but the same but new, is so bright I can feel it warm my icy being. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

My Birthday Prayer // Colombia 2017

 How do I pack for a week in a foreign country where I won't know what work I'll be doing or what I will need? 

 I'm not sure.

 How do I prepare for the rest of my life where I don't know what work I'll be doing or what I will need?

 I'm not sure I can.

 Cause I'm trying to do both.

 I'm packing nice clothes for church and being tourists, work clothes I can get paint on, work clothes I don't want paint on, t-shirts and sweaters, shorts and pants, flip-flops and sneakers. I hope it's enough.

 I got a bachelor's degree so I can have a well paying job and an internship to gain experience for a well paying job. Since the age of fifteen I've been babysitting to practice taking care of children, cooking to learn how to feed my family, blogging to practice writing and building an audience, writing short stories to prepare for a novel. I know it wasn't enough since I now wrap chocolate for a living.

 The leaders of the Colombia trip have all been saying one thing: be flexible. 

  Flexibility, both in my body and in life have never been my strong points. But I can be flexible for one week. I can be flexible serving my Colombian brothers and sisters. Just call me Elastigirl, because I will do whatever is needed and be wherever they want me. 

 But what about in life? Can I be flexible and just go with whatever God plans for me?

 Confession: Saturday mornings when my mom asks me to go to the store with her, I freak out. I don't mind going to the store with her. I want to go to the store with her. But I had planned to shower, clean the bathroom, do other cleaning stuff, and then write. Or do something else that needed to be done. But going to the grocery store was not part of the plan. It messes up the plan.

  That is how inflexible I am. Going to the grocery store can ruin my day.

 Confession: Today I turn 23, and by now I had planned to be married and to have written and published a novel.

 Confession: I am not Elastigirl, as much as I want to be perceived as a girl with a free spirit. The free spirit part of me is internal, not external and certainly not ready to go to the grocery store or be single for only God knows how many years.

 I mentioned in a previous post that in 2017 I want God's agenda to be my agenda. I need to be flexible. I need to let Him take me to places I did not plan.

 Colombia itself has already been a lesson in flexibility. There were rumors in my church of a trip to India, and that is where I wanted to go. But it's not India. It's Colombia. And I'm already falling in love with this place I've never seen.

 So can I fall in love with all the other unexpected things in my life?  A job wrapping chocolate? 23 years of singleness? A future that seems very foggy and dark to me? Being unclear about what state to live in and what job to pursue?

 It won't be as easy as falling in love with Colombia, but it will be my birthday wish, my birthday prayer, today, to fully believe that the life I wanted, the 23 I imagined, is not, could not have been as good as the 23 I have now, simply because it is what God wanted for me.