Friday, June 20, 2008

Oregon comes to a close.

I didn't tell you guys! Last week we went to a Mexican circus and it was freaking sick! There were trampeze artists, tons or horses, 5 was nuts. It was a lot of fun. And I got to go out with this group which was fun. I hope there's cool people like that with each group. I need to escape and have my own life while I'm here. One night we went to the movies, another we went to get ice cream. Nothing too exciting but it just gets me away from the same old same old. And it makes me feel like I'm not in Mexico. But I've realized I'm very picky with my friends. I can get along and be nice to anyone but for me to actually hang out with someone takes a lot. So it's going to take special people to keep me happy! There was especially one guy Tim this week who made the week a whole lot easier. He's married so don't think anything funky about it. It was just good to have someone like me to talk to and goof around with.

This week with the first group was definitely hard but so much fun at the same time. I wouldn't call the first couple days fun but once I got in the groove and knew what to expect each day things got better. And everything looks rosier when you look back on it right? You forget the not so good things. It's just so much work here. Everyday is about 14 hours go go go and I don't get a break until I come home. I might get a morning off here or there but that's it.

But I met some cool people this week. There were quite a number of kids under 12 on this trip. But they were a big help. We did a park clean up (pulled weeds, painted the playground and curbs, painted the guard house thing, and put up swings). On the last day of the clean up everyone went to the park and we had a party with snack and two pinatas and musical chairs and a couple other games. I would guess that about 60 kids came out. It was fun to see them running around and playing in this place we worked on so hard for them. That playground is in the neighborhood of Ruben who holds his church in his house. So this was a big step in reaching out to the community. It's a middle class community in Ensenada.

The team also did 7 VBS's. We split people into multiple groups. Divide and conquer. Some would go to VBS and some would go to construction. Blah blah blah. I get tired of the talking and organizing. Who's going where and when and why. I just want to leave sometimes and if people come they come. But that wouldn't really fly. About 25 kids accepted Christ into their hearts this week. Praise God!
The team of course built a house. They painted it a very bright shade of green. I like the color a lot. The house is for a married couple at Faustino's church. They were very sweet. They cried when we gave them the keys. I think most families do. It makes sense.
Is anyone even reading this?

Come on guys. Give me some love!

My attitude has gotten a little better. I still need to pray about it and I need God's help with it a whole lot. But I've made improvements. I think my biggest problem is my struggle with starting conversation. I'm just not good at it. I try to think of things to talk about and they're all lame and not things I would want to even talk about so I just keep my mouth shut. I don't really like the small talk. So I need to work on that.
Please keep praying for me down here. I love you guys!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Personality and Culture Collide

Day 3 of Week 1.

The past couple of days have been a bit of a drag. Sunday was the first full day the team was here and I felt really good. I surprised myself by how social and joyful I was the whole day. On Monday, the something clicked and my attitude changed.

I've been really tired the past couple mornings. And not social at all. Which is normal for me. If you've ever been around me before 11am I'm not a very fun person to be around. It takes a few hours for me to wake up. But that's just not ok here. One because I have to work with teams and I can't just tune them out until noon. That's been ok in positions I've had before now. People adapted to my behaviors instead of me adapting to my surrounding. It's also not ok for me to tune everyone out in the mornings because that's just not ok in Mexican culture. Here, if you're not involved in the conversation and have a smile on your face, they think your sad. I've been asked if I'm sad or tired many times by the pastors the past two days. They just can't understand that I'm tired or just don't want to talk.

Tonight, Ricardo (one of the Mexican pastors) said, "Why has your attitude changed? You weren't like this on the first day. Is it something emotional or physical?" I didn't know what to say because I didn't have a reply. This is just me. It's my personality. I like to listen more than I like to talk. I like silence. I like to tune people out. I don't mind sitting by myself. Later his wife came up to me and told me I need to be happy all the time. I told her I probably won't. (Mind the language barrier between all of this so these are pretty interesting conversations!) I told her there's nothing wrong with silence. And I don't want to be fake. I don't want to wear a smile on my face all of the time. I know people like that and they hit me in the wrong spot. I don't like people who are happy all of the time. She said if you have Christ in your heart you should be happy all the time. That I should pray more for a better attitude. Which I totally agree with and I will.

I actually did talk about my mellow personality/attitude with Rick & Tammie and the interns before Dan last Friday. It's something I've been thinking about. Because it takes a lot to rock my boat. I rarely get mad. But also, I rarely get excited. I don't really experience extremes. But I don't really have control over that. Like I said I don't want to be fake. This is what I feel and who I am. I could voice my feelings more. That's a start. But I don't want to do it just to please others. To make myself come off better. That's not what it should be about. But I do think I need to find more joy in my life. And express it. Not just hold it inside. I think where that can start is being grateful in everything. To thank God in all things at all times during the day will help me to remember His prescence and His goodness.

I guess this is just something God is going to work through with me this summer. I will be surprised if my personality changes a whole lot. But I do want it to. I do.

Please pray for me in this. I don't know exactly for what but just pray for me as I work through this. And pray that I would be sensitive to the Mexican culture. One of the pastors apologized to me tonight before he left for saying some harsh things about me always being tired or sad. One thing he said another pastor wouldn't even translate to me. But Ricardo left still seeming frustrated with my attitude. So please pray for me. And please ask me about this in a week or so if you think about it. I know I'll probably forget but I'd like to look back and see if anything changes.

Thanks guys. I love you!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Here Goes Nothing!

Thank you guys for your comments. It's really good to know people care enough me to come on here and read this and are thinking about me.

We went up to San Diego yesterday morning. Ran some errands and went to this sick restaurant for dinner. It's called Rocking Baja Lobster. If you're in San Diego ever you should totally check it out. The lobster tacos are so good!

At 4am today we took Dan (one of the interns) to the airport. It was sad to see him go but I know this summer will be filled with goodbyes.

And hellos! Our first group came in today. The summer has officially started! There are actually two groups. One from Mo-something. I want to say Modesto, OR but I know that's not right. The other is from Eugene, OR. I have been put in charge of going over chore stuff during orientation and carrying that stuff out through the week and leading VBS teams this summer. I'm pretty stoked on it. At first I was nervouse because I don't feel like I have strong leadership qualities and it made me nervous that I was going to be expected to tell all these people what to do this summer. There will be about 350 people coming through here in 3 months. But with a lot of encouragement from the Romano's and the interns I feel a lot better about it. And I'm excited to work on my leadership skills and improve in that area.

Please pray for health and safety as we begin hosting groups. It takes a lot of time and energy and running around. Also pray for relationships between us interns and the Romano's and the teams. Not that there are any problems but just that we would all be one in purpose and that we would work together as a healthy, unified body of Christ.

Thank you guys for your love and support.

I love you guys!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Rehab Center & Campo Almos

Yesterday I went with the boys and we started to put up a fence around a rehab center that will open sometime this summer hopefully. Freaking sick! It's in the middle of no where. The drive down there was beautiful. Winding roads through green hills/mountains. It's way more green around there than here in Maneadero (the name of the town I'm living in). The rehab center is pretty small. I would say one large room and six small rooms. But I'm sure they will have three or four people in each room at least (bunk beds!). They're also building a room where men will go who are just coming off drugs. With no windows and padded walls so they don't hurt themselves when they go through withdrawls.

Today Tammie took me to see Campo Almos (Camp Almos-Almos is the name of the guy who owns the fields) which is around the corner from their house except you have to drive through the fields on dirt roads quite a ways. It probably took about 10 minutes from the main road. Camp Almos is where the harvesters stay in the middle of tons of farming fields. They walk to the field they work at. We saw people harvesting radishes today. I've also seen asparagus and green onions growing around town. When we drove up I was surprised at how small it was and how few homes there were. I thought no more than 50 or 75 people could live there. Most of the homes were made using tarps. I asked Tammie how many people live there and she said a couple hundred during the summer! There are 10' by 10' rooms in which usually about 6 people live in. Pretty nuts what people have to do for a buck. Rick and Tammie have gotten to know a man named Beto who lived in that camp. He teaches at the school there ($100 per week). In August, one of the C&MA churches is starting a school and he is going to go over there to teach. And he's getting a raise so that's good!

It feels good to be here. I know I've only been here for a couple weeks but I could totally see myself staying for a while. But we'll see how I feel at the end of the summer. It's definitely hard to be away from people I love. I feel good right now but I'm afraid of getting really sad and homesick as the summer goes on. God is going to have to keep my heart refreshed!

I haven't gotten sick yet which is surprising because I think all of the other interns have. I definitely don't want to be in their place. Thanks to all of you guys for reading and praying for me.


Monday, June 02, 2008

Crazy fun!

On Saturday we went to the Baja and a couple of us went kayaking. The Baja is an off roading race. There was all sorts of cars like bugs, hummers, pick ups and dune bugs. It was a fun and needed day off! I wanted to show you guys some pictures!

The two guys in the kayaking pictures are my Mexican homies. Dan is on the right in the bottom picture. He's an intern here from Redding, CA. He'll be here for another two weeks. In the middle is Rafael. We call him Rafi. He's the brother of a Mexican pastor here. Both of these guys are freaking hilarious so it was a blast to go kayaking with them.
We work hard and play hard!
ps. How do you like my stunner shades?