Santa María de Chapi, Reina y Señora de Arequipa, ruega por nosotros, sé nuestra fiel intercesora. Virgen María, danos luz para discernir lo que es bueno ante los ojos de Dios y haz que quienes te amamos y te veneramos como Madre de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo, nos acerquemos a Él, solo con la intención de alcanzar tu favor y la vida eterna. Amen.
My relatives in Lima are definitely in the category of ‘favorite people to love’ because I learn so much from how generous they are toward me. In the same category, my family here in Arequipa brings life to each day and each moment we share feels so normal, but at the same time, I cherish it all because it’s such a vivacious, open, spirited time we have together that I know I am blessed with something that God really went overboard blessing me with- this love is really what gets me through harder days! As for my Minnesota family, I love them dearly and am happy to share time to Skype with them, but I know that this time apart allows my growth so we can be a stronger family when we are all together in one place again. As for the children I see in the orphanage three times each week without their own family, I seek ways to add them to my idea of family (related or not), because I want them to experience the love that overflows in my life, yet I know that I deserve none of it and it all is the generous blessing of God! I seek to provide a sense of family for these children, but I am unsure of how I can do this best.
Work // Trabajo
For those who don’t know the details of my work here in Peru, for half a year I have a position working in the field of occupational therapy at a grade school in a community that is wealthy in love and generosity and have little means to accrue material wealth. I take a combi for fifty minutes from the well-off city center until I arrive to the community with no roads, lots of dust, unstable mud huts housing families of ten or more, and stray dogs that have been known to bite strangers. I am not advised to stay in this community after 4 o’clock PM for safety reasons. I go alone and return alone. My cell phone often does not have a connection. Yet, I depend on God, ask questions of friendly community members when necessary, and it is all lovely.
I love my job because of all the smiles and hugs. There is so much energy to go around at our grade school! There are so many accomplishments in each new day for each child, and I hope to help in this process. This work is fulfilling, but it is new to me, so I am learning LOTS with help from the most amazing Psychology director (my boss) to lead the way!
Some days are not lovely, though- due to my own great impatience with my imperfect language skills. My boss is the best inspiration I could ever ask for, as are the teachers and principal at the grade school. Some days I still find it hard to not worry, though, and I think this is because I still have so much to learn. Honestly, I get worried when I see that a child is so emotionally shut away from everyone, and I am very unlikely to understand this child for simple reasons like a tendency of a child to mumble under his breath. I’ve noticed my consistent inability to understand rapid Spanish or uncommon vocabulary, and even someone just looking away from me when talking creates a world of chaos as I try to break the language barrier that I didn’t realize would still hover over every conversation outside of my family here. Finally, I don’t struggle to understand conversations within my family; thank goodness that I have this comfort in my Arequipan home! How in the world did I survive my time in Arequipa for seven months in 2014? (I’ve realized that now is different; I am working 5 days a week with children with learning disadvantages is a new challenge that I didn’t fully immerse myself in the first time. I also don’t have three fellow UST students at my side for emotional support, English speaking, and time to go to the mall or Starbucks and pretend we are in the U.S. again for a few hours. It’s okay, too. I’m stronger now, so it’s not a necessity for my wellbeing like I would argue it was in my last experience. Last year, I was learning survival Spanish to get through seven months, and now I want to really feel comfortable with the language so I can use it for my future career…huge difference!) On a related note…
Faith // La Fe
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Fun fact: did you know that I turned toward investigating many different faiths because I wanted to know the joy and happiness that is the ultimate goal of occupational therapy (through achieving independence in an individual’s life activities)? I searched and ended up where I was raised: Catholic! However, now it’s unlike how I was raised in that I strive to depend on my faith in every second of every day, instead of a few hours each month when I’m daydreaming through mass.
I started using daily mass and Adoration out of times of emotional weakness and hardship in the past year, which was definitely my most difficult year emotionally, yet through leaning on my faith, it was a year of growth and amazing opportunities. I know that without feeling such pain, I could not love to the extent that the Lord gives me the grace to love today. Now, these rare habits of mass, Adoration, the rosary, reading the Bible, and spiritual reading are my sole strength in that I choose it over other important things in my life, because I know what is more life-giving to me. I now know what will keep me going when I personally can’t do it, because God always can!
People wonder aloud, to my face, how I do very challenging volunteer work, and I wonder just as much as they do…because we have no answers about how I create the virtue to persevere (it’s a trick question, because I don’t)! God gifts it to me! It’s just Jesus using my hands and feet with patience and persistence, because I carry absolutely no special talents with me, but I try relentlessly to be available for God to work through me.
For all of my life, I don’t want to give out love in quite a few situations due to indifference or uncertainty, or in my more messy areas of my vocation to love, because it brings me enough pain that tears could flow forever, if not for the grace of the Holy Spirit and a certain dependence on prayer.
I will never be enough for anyone who worships things of this world—relationships, sports, money, amazing vacations, expensive dining, etc. As freeing as this thought is, please understand that I am new to trying to live with my faith as my priority, so it hurts too. It turns my world on its side to see how sorely I’ve been mistaken about ideas on love.
I’m nothing more than an imperfect human who greatly feels my faults that I was severely blind to before learning about what God has in mind for how humans were created to behave (like Jesus, sorry if it sounds dumb, but that’s where the Truth is), and I realize now that my feelings guide me more than they should. Feelings aren’t great guides (I’ve got a million real-life examples of this for anyone who may find this idea absurd, but if you think hard enough, I bet you know someone in the same boat, maybe yourself— break-ups, material obsessions or addictions, pride, closed minds…they’re all tied to at least one person who is guided mostly by feelings, though of course I will note that there will always be a special case for every example, and that special case is not me).
I am upset because I saw myself choose so much wrong…and now to learn even just a taste of choosing the right way to live, I want this difficult, painful, uncomfortable task of ‘choosing the right’ so desperately for everyone in my life, even if just for the strong community it could provide this needy world. At times, I feel really alone in choosing the right in my life, instead of choosing a decent, comfortable life without making moral decisions apart from what society has already made. I need the Lord to inspire each of my choices, and I hope the Lord inspires others to join my attempts.
I’ve learned a lot in valleys of pain. Pain is surely present (ultimately) in each decision to turn away from Christ’s plan. Something I didn’t expect is how much it initially hurts to turn away from sin; I feel pain and isolation in turning toward God, and of course this is because I’m not doing it perfectly. Yet this still is a surprise!
A lot of work in pain to try to depend only on my faith- is it worth it?
This is where I have only faith that it is worth it. As of yet, there is no empirical evidence. I have only faith to rely on as a solution when I want a loved one’s mind to be open to Christ’s love, and my action is only that I can change myself.
God uses EACH of our mistakes for His good if we give Him the control He has always deserved and likewise we offer our trust to Him over the parts in life we feel we can control.
Now you know what my life is like living and working in Arequipa. I miss a community of great international friends who are no longer here, but I cherish the amazing people who ARE here. I see little things as blessings that went unnoticed before. Great things are happening, but my patience always needs to be practiced. Pray for me and all of my contacts here, that we may lead great lives for a greater good! I promise to pray the same for you.
Also, call me ridiculous, but sometimes I look back on the photos I took during the first month of my first time living in Arequipa, and I feel jealous of what amazing experiences that I had yet to experience so soon after those photos were taken. I can only pray that the Lord will not let me down this time either, and I only scare myself because I am changing my life drastically to serve Him, and I fear isolation and pain because I am deciding not to be mediocre and ‘normal’. We shall see, and until then, I will try to maintain peace over a few feelings of nostalgia, but also be present in the great joy that each day brings me increasingly (it was sohard to transition for the first week!!)!
Algo se reaparece entre mi página de Facebook- una explicación por mi voluntaria favorita de su experiencia en San Lucas, Guatemala- donde nuestro grupo le conoce a esta Kelly, y ella nos trataba con full cariño (las siguientes palabras son de ella):
Something popped back into my life via my Facebook timeline- an explanation by my favorite long-term volunteer of her experience in San Lucas, Guatemala- where our group met Kelly and she treated us with love (these are her words):
Hay muchos hombres buenos en el mundo…y algunos son una parte de mi familia. Solo su presencia la ayuda a cada mujer a saber en lo que ella debe aceptar para su misma algún día, cuando el momento venga a aceptar saliendo para conocer su esposo.
There are a lot of great, noble men in the world…and some are a part of my family. Just their presence helps every women know what she should accept for herself one day, when the moment comes to accept dating to know their future spouse.
En particular, hay dos hombres que me ayudan a saber lo que esta aceptable de un chico y lo que no puede ser tolerado con respeto al noviazgo.
In particular, there are two men that help me to know what is acceptable of a guy and what can’t be tolerated in respect to dating.
1. Mi padre // My father
De los acciones de mi padre, he notado que:
Of my father’s actions, I’ve noticed that:
1. Aunque el no me compartió la misma religion para todo de mi juventud, siempre comportaba las mismas valores con mi madre, y por eso, con sus hijas. Valores como la importancia de haciendo trabajo/estudios con excelencia y sin queja, mantener honestidad y integridad en cada cosa (pequeña o grande) y ESPECIALMENTE cuando sea mas difícil, moderación con todo (nunca tomaba ni comía ni hablaba de otros hasta que no fue saludable), la voluntad a hacer una diferencia positiva, y específicamente: el hecho a decir “si” hacia MUCHAS cosas que en verdad, el no le gustaría decir “si”, pero por la importancia de la situación PARA LA OTRA PERSONA (no para el), todavía puede decir si…y mi favorito- el me escuchaba por todo que he querido a compartir con el.
Although he did not share the same religion with me during all of my childhood, he always followed the same values as my mother, and through this, with us, his daughters. Values such as the importance of finishing work/studying with excellence and without complaint, to maintain honesty and integrity in everything (big or small), and ESPECIALLY when it would be most difficult, moderation with everything (by never drinking or eating or talking about others to the point of being harmful), the effort to make a positive difference, and specifically: the work to say ‘yes’ to MANY things that truthfully, he wouldn’t want to say ‘yes’ to, but due to the importance of the situation for ANOTHER PERSON (not himself), he still says ‘yes’…and my favorite… he listens to me about everything I’ve wanted to share with him.
2. Mi abuelo // My grandpa
Mi formidable abuelo tiene un nombre extraño (Burr), por seguro. Pero ademas de su nombre, HAY TANTO que me enseña, la mayoría por sus acciones. Su marida (mi abuela linda) tenia Alzheimer’s Disease para once años, pero el fue a su lado en cada día. El sabia bien sus responsabilidades como un hijo, un esposo, un padre, y un abuelo (y ojala un bisabuelo eventualmente, también). El perdió el día del matrimonio de su nieto mayor por estar al lado de mi abuela en unos de los días de su ultimo año de vida en este mundo. Fue un sacrificio difícil por seguro, pero fue su responsabilidad “en enfermedad y en salud” de quedarse al lado de su esposa, y lo hizo con honor.
My strong grandpa has a strange name (Burr), absolutely. However looking beyond his name, I recognize SO MUCH that he teaches me- mainly through his actions. His spouse (my beautiful grandmother) had Alzheimer’s Disease for eleven years, but he was at her side every day. He knew his responsibilities well as a son, a husband, a father, and a grandfather (and hopefully a great-grandfather eventually, also). He couldn’t attend the wedding day of his first grandchild to accompany my grandmother for one of the many days of her final year of life. It was a difficult sacrifice for him, absolutely, but it was his responsibility to my grandma ‘in sickness and in health’ to stay at her side. He did just exactly with honor.
Ayer, mi abuelo me pregunto, “¿Cómo es que ya no te estés casado…?” (Justo cumple 23 años). Mi abuelo nunca dice cosas así, fue una sorpresa grande…el nunca había comentado en eso con mi hermana mayor (*aunque ella fue en compromiso con su esposo cuando tenia 23 años, entonces bueno, quizás con razón).
Yesterday, my grandpa asked me, “How is it that you aren’t already married…?” (I just turned 23). My grandpa never says things like this, so it was a big surprise…he never commented on this with my older sister (*although she got engaged with her husband when she was 23, so okay, maybe he didn’t speak to her like that for obvious reasons).
Le dije sobre “la situación” con hombres de hoy día. El estuvo en acuerdo, también me dijo, “Creo que los problemas son las siguientes:”
I told him about “the situation” with men of today (breaks my heart to watch all the confusion; I am a part of it still, too). He was in agreement; he also said, “I think that the main problems are the following:”
1. Primero, su crianza y educación en el hogar no es tan fuerte como en generaciones de antes.
First, the style of reasoning and education in the home is not as morally strong (and valued) as in previous generations.
2. La exposición problemática con la media y publicaciones con ideas malas y inadecuadas, hasta al punto que estaría bien difícil para un joven hoy a decir ‘no’ a todo malo en pantallas hoy (he encontrado que lo mas que ahora yo digo ‘si’ a estar afuera para un paseo o un te con un amigo o lo que sea, y lo menos que yo digo ‘si’ a pantallas que obviamente van a tener cosas malas a veces, me ayuda a VIVIR mas feliz, es algo verdad- en mi opinión, es lo que perdimos por no estando presente en el día).
2. The problematic presence of media and publications with inadequate ideas– to the point where it would be extremely difficult for ‘a young one’ to say ‘no’ to all of the inauthenticity on screens today (I have found that the more that I now say ‘yes’ to be outside for a walk, a tea with a friend, or really WHATEVER, the less that I say ‘yes’ to screens that obviously will provide bad images and messages sometimes; this helps me live more fully and happily– I agree with my grandpa that we lose a lot by not being fully present in each day).
3. Hombres (o chicos) de hoy no tienen un sentido de sus PROPIOS responsabilidades en la vida. Es demasiado facil en la cultura de hoy a pensar solo en sus mismos y guardar los responsabilidades como “metas a cumplir en mis treintas…o luego”.
3. Men (or guys/boys) today don’t have a sense of their own responsibilities of life. It is too easy in today’s culture to think only in one in the perspective of selfish gains and save responsibilities for later as though they are ‘goals to complete in my thirties…or later…”
Entonces mi abuelo y yo estamos en acuerdo que es bueno que estoy esperando para el hombre que vale adjuntándose con la familia que ya tiene tantos hombres buenos, y uno mas solo va a añadir a la felicidad (o esfuerza para los momentos tristes) que tenemos juntos.
Therefore, my grandpa and I agree that it’s good for me to wait for the man that can add to a family that already has so many noble men; one more will only add to the happiness (or strength in the harder times) that my family shares together.
(¿Sabes que tenemos mujeres buenazas en nuestra familia también? Les diré mas sobre esto tema muy pronto.)
(Do you know that we have amazing women in our family, as well? I will tell you all about this topic very soon.)
Bueno, en serio, también cuando mi padre empezó a actuar hacia su fe y esto le importa mucho, la misma cambia vino para mi. Entonces ejemplos son importantes…gracias, Dad y Grandpa míos.
Good, but seriously, when my dad started to act out his faith and this meant a lot to him, the same change came for me. Examples are important…thank you to my dad and grandfather.
**For my readers who would like an AMAZING article on what I reviewed above, please check this out (found via a Facebook friend who is SO GREAT, Ali!): http://www.faithit.com/stop-kissing-my-wife/
También, este libro cambia mi vida por perspectiva (gracias a Marie para dándome eso libro): READ THIS BOOK TOO (it’s cheesy at parts, but the main message is important and TRUE): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/When_God_Writes_Your_Love_Story
Also, this book changed my life through a new perspective (thanks to Marie for giving me this book):
Una cosita más a notar: he leído que es el trabajo y hecho de CADA mujer a insistir tranquilamente en las expectaciones altas para cada hombre a cumplir segun las formas de respeto y bien compartamiento hacia cada ser humano, y en cualquiera situación. Mujeres: necesitamos a poner nuestras expectaciones altas para CADA hombre entonces tienen algo grande a alcanzar! El fracaso de cumplir nuestra responsibilidad los dejan a los hombres sin nada pura a alcanzar. El respeto empieza con nuestras expectaciones que sean como alto que Dios quiere (que benditas que somos que Dios nos manda a tener solo expectaciones altísimas para respetando la dignidad de cada ser humano).
One little thing to note: I read that it is the work and mission of EVERY woman to calmly insist on high expectations for EACH man to complete concerning the forms of respect and good behavior toward every human being, in every situation. Women: we need to place our expectations way up HIGH for EVERY man so they have something big to reach for and achieve! The failure of completing our responsibility leaves men without anything pure to achieve. The respect begins with our expectations that must be as high as God wants (and how BLESSED we are that God asks us to only have very high expectations for respecting the dignity of every human being).