12/18/2011

Now This Is Life

I haven’t been posting very frequently anymore, and as I was reflecting on that fact a few days ago, it occurred to me that maybe that’s because I feel like I’m really in my life now.  Last year I was in a new culture and country and I needed to share all that was going on in my heart and life.  Now life is slightly more normal, and I’m comfortable just sharing with those around me.

 

I think there’s also something different about being me again.  Last year I was Kayleen the Volunteer Teacher.  I could hide behind that part of my identity and speak from there.  Now I am Kayleen the Kayleen, and talking about living in my neighborhood is talking about me taking full responsibility for my thoughts and judgments and decisions.  This time in my life will be very special—being exposed to inner-city life and culture before I go on the mission field and possibly my last years as a single—but I think the struggles that it will carry are ones that will begin to define who I am.  Problems that I view as struggles here (finding a church family where I belong, being content to live on a limited budget, dealing with my procrastinating nature) will be struggles for me in the rest of my life.  Sharing those things is opening myself up and being raw.

 

But I think the sharing is worth it.  I want my life to be a witness to God’s power, and my weaknesses often best show His strength.  So I think you can count on the next two years.  You can count on updates and struggles and joys.  And after those two years maybe you can read about my travels to another new land, a new people, and God’s power.  May all of the things that I share glorify God can exalt Him above all else.

12/15/2011

Gospel for the Inner City

Quick wonderful story of God's goodness even when life is hard.


Today I walked into a second grade classroom where I work, and one of the students who is often a behavior nightmare was behaving wonderfully.  I sat down and began to talk to him.  I told him that I heard that he used to attend a tutoring/discipling program that I local church puts on.  He got so excited about it!  He can no longer go because his mom doesn't have transportation, but he said he's been keeping up every week and plans on returning ASAP.  


God is the one who's doing a work in this kid's life, and I can't wait to see him back in the program, soaking up the truth of the word and being surrounded by gracious love.


Some days I love my job.

11/26/2011

Giving Thanks

Last Thanksgiving I sat in 95 degree heat with tears streaming down my cheeks as my nieces sang a song for me over Skype.  I was glad to be in Bolivia, but spending the holidays away from my family was harder than I had ever imagined.  I made it through Christmas with not-as-many tears, but this year I have had extra reason to give thanks as I get to spend both holidays in the US with most of my family (minus Heather.  I will miss having her around for the holidays.).
Thankful

thankful 2
Toasting the day with sparkling grape juice

Our Thanksgiving was nothing too special—we went to my brother and sister-in-law’s house and had turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry, and pumpkin pie.  The basics. 

Highlights of the day were:
- Waking up and using my parents’ new juicer.  Our juice consisted of celery, carrot, orange, apple, lime, cranberry, broccoli, cumcumber, ginger, and more I think.  Deeeelicious!
- Getting to see my grandpa.  He just moved into retirement housing, and this was his first holiday without my beautiful Grandma Kay.  We all missed her. 
- Todd and Nicole had prepared a beautiful antipasto which is a  tradition in our family (because of our Italian relatives) that I had completely forgotten about.  It was beautiful, and we all got to finish putting it together.  Eat with delicious French bread that my mom brought made for a perfect appetizer.
- After we prayed, we all went around and said what we were thankful for.  I, of course, was thankful to be in the States.  My brother made a nice speech about being thankful for family that almost made me cry.
- Watching the Packer game!!!  My first full game since before I left for Bolivia (although I am required to keep up on the stats if I want to have significant conversations around here).
- Going home and unpacking Christmas decorations with my mom and dad. 

What a wonderful day!

11/21/2011

On Being Back

My last few months in Bolivia were like injecting my veins with friendship speed.  Every day was celebrating something, and I had no end of cool people to celebrate with because they were coming and going, in and out of my country and city.  That's missionary life.


And missionary life was good for my friendships here in the US too, at least for those last few months.  My Facebook wall was always full of kind notes about people excited to see me when I got home.  Home.  As if that place existed to me anymore.


Now I've been back for just under four months.  I'm just beginning to feel settled into a semi-permanent job, a church, and a house.  And I am not on friendship crack anymore. And it's hard for me.  Maybe selfishly, but I liked being the novelty.  I was the gringa who could speak Spanish to my Bolivian friends, and my friends in the US were willing to excuse my bad communication and forgetfulness because I was serving the Lord in a foreign land. And the missionaries.  They were friends who understood my adventurous spirit and why I was willing to serve the way I did.  But my friends in Bolivia, even if they wanted to, do not have consistent internet access to stay in close contact.   My friends here can see my faults up close and personal, and I am just me again to everyone.  


How do I learn to be me, without a ministry or a cultural barrier to cover the parts of me I'd like to hide?  How do I exist exactly as God intends me to in this normal life?  This life means some nights at home with a book, and some days without phone calls. I like those things, but I'm not used to them.  Call it reverse culture shock, call it my third culture, but adjusting to do.

11/15/2011

Life is not poetic

In case we become discouraged because our lives seem ordinary.

“The colored sunsets and starry heavens, the beautiful mountains and the shining seas, the fragrant woods and painted flowers, are not half so beautiful as a soul that is serving Jesus out of love, in the wear and tear of common, unpoetic life.”

- Faber (from Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman)

11/12/2011

Being Watched

I have hardly lived in my new house here in the Phillips neighborhood for two weeks now, yet in the last few days I found out that two of my students live on the same block as I do.  






Having students so close to me is a privilege and also a responsibility.  Apparently little second graders have lots of time to peer out their windows; they've both mentioned seeing me go out to my car or check my mail.  I want to be the teacher that leads these kids to the truth, that tells how they can live to their potential.  I guess now that my every move is being watched I need to make sure that I'm setting that example.  Is my life speaking Christ?  Are my actions showing that I'm not content to fit the mold that society says I was made for?  


Pray for me, that I would be bold to speak when the time calls for it, and that my example, even from car door to house, would be a light that shines for all to see.

11/09/2011

I Won!

I have been entering blog giveaways for quite some time, thanks to Amy, my blogging friend who seems to always win the coolest things.  I am proud to announce that today I won a really cool book!



I entered a while ago on Noel Piper (my pastor's wife)'s blog, and had forgotten about the giveaway.  What a pleasant thing to come home to!

Especially now that I am living in a neighborhood where poverty is a daily reality, I think Aaron Armstrong's book will be good for me to read.  Can't wait to open it up and dig in!

11/08/2011

Not All Daisies and Roses

I have had this dream of living in a lower-income urban neighborhood for several years, and I didn’t choose it to be my dream because I thought that each day would leave me feeling like all was right with the world.  I was well aware of some of the struggles that I would see and hopefully eventually be able to help with, but thinking through things and living through things is different.

 

Seeing students take home packs of food at the end of each week so that they won’t go hungry (on school days many students eat breakfast, lunch, and a snack during the day).  Never being able to talk about but knowing that some of my students have hard home lives (sometimes they choose to share things with me that break my heart, and it’s hard to know what I can and can’t say to comfort them).  Hearing the neighbors fight.  Noticing judgment in someone’s eyes just because of the color of someone’s skin.  These things make my smile a little plastered on sometimes in school. 

 

How do we live with this?  How and what do we fight?  I’m here now, living where I thought I’d be useful.  Just how do I become useful?

11/06/2011

Insider Outsider

This weekend I was made an offer that I couldn’t refuse for a gym membership in the ritzy neighborhood just a few miles away from my house here in Phillips. I’m glad for this opportunity because I do need to get in shape, and winter in Minnesota isn’t the best motivator for outside workouts.  The gym is really nice and I think that I get healthier just by walking in the door.

 

But this new identity that I have, member of this gym, makes me feel a little more like an outsider in the circles I am working to be a part of.  I have the extra spare change per month that my membership will cost—families I know are struggling just to put food on the table (which was me last month, but with only myself to support and no debt, my financial situation didn’t take very long to become semi-stable).  Why didn’t I use this extra money to help out those families?  What about the time that I will spend at that gym instead of building intentional relationships with my neighbors.  Was it really worth it?

 

How do I live in this world but not be of it?  Where is the line between being a responsible young professional and living an abandoned life of grace?  Is there even a line?  Can they possibly flow together for this missionary-wannabe?  I challenge you to pray for me as these questions become a part of my daily struggle, and also to examine your heart to see where your motives are for seemingly inconsequential decisions that you make each day.

 

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.

- Psalm 130:5-6

11/04/2011

I’ve moved!

After two months of the daily commute, of living over 30 min. from work, school, and church, I am happily settled in a beautiful house in the middle of the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis.

 

DSCN1476

 

Yesterday when I got home from work one of my new housemates had also just gotten home, and she invited me to go with her to walk to the local Somali mall to get a cup of chai.  On our walk it was clear that our neighborhood is far from perfect—our house has just been remodeled and is in good shape, but several need lots of TLC, young kids walk themselves home from school, and threatening graffiti is a reminder that we need to be cautious.  However, this area is wonderful, too.  Our two white faces in a sea of black at the mall, friendly greetings from people who recognize my housemate on the walk, and people flying by in the bike lanes before it is too cold to run errands this way.

 

There are many here from people groups who are completely closed to the gospel.  I pray that the light of our house will shine beyond just the front porch and into the hearts of those who need Good News.

 

I am feeling so content to be where I am right now.  I live within walking distance of the school I work at.  A walk around the neighborhood makes it clear that I am the minority, and the young women I live with are excited to be here as well.

 

I just want to clarify that I don’t want to write about where I live without leaving out the cultural and racial diversity that exists, here, but I never want to sound or be prejudiced in my words.  I am here to create justice and equality, so if my words ever sound prejudiced, please leave a comment!  After growing up in Scandinavian Wisconsin, I’m still learning how to correctly express what’s on my heart when it comes to the racial injustices I see in the world.

10/22/2011

Setting Stereotypes Straight

Small Thought for the Day:


I love it when a refugee comes in to the coffeeshop I work at and orders a latte, and I am sweeping and mopping the floor.  To me, in a very small way, that is some kind of social justice.

10/18/2011

Bilingual





For years since my Spanish has been decent I have struggled to label myself as bilingual.  Regardless of how good I sound to an English speaker,I still have conversations with Spanish speakers where I leave saying, "If I didn't understand what I think I understood, we could be in trouble."


But three weeks ago I took a test and was hired for a job which has bilingual right in the title.  And suddenly, regardless of any hesitations or doubts I might have, I have been thrown into the world of required fluency.  Kids in classrooms are calling each other names in Spanish that I have to catch, I am expected to listen to English words and write them down in Spanish, and tonight I interpreted for parent/teacher conferences.  These experiences have been blowing my mind!


Language is a powerful thing!   There is a reason that God gave us language confusion (and also linguistic beauty) when our heads were getting big at the tower of Babble.  Speaking a second language is like having a bridge where there used to be only a gorge.  I love that my language bridge, which used to be safe for personal use only (you've gotta stick with the analogy here), is now substantial enough that others-- students, parents, and teachers-- can be supported by it when they need to get information across.


Tonight I responded to an emergency interpreter call to a classroom, and when I arrived, the teacher had been trying for ten minutes to get a message across to a parent with the few Spanish words she knew.  The parent was giving her blank stares.  I walked in and sat down, and suddenly the conference flowed.  I was astonished. I am so glad that I studied this phenomenon of sounds, words, and ideas, but not only parent/teacher conference purposes.  There is beauty in the fact that God allows language bridges to be the route of transportation for the delivery of His word to every tribe, tongue, and nation.


Picture from here

10/10/2011

Be Her Guest

I guest posted again, this time on my friend Amy's great blog! You can check out my blurb on living out the gospel as a single person here.  Enjoy!

10/08/2011

Fall in Wisconsin

A collection of pictures I may or may not have taken while driving.
DSCN1453DSCN1458DSCN1465DSCN1474DSCN1475

10/06/2011

My Big News

I have a job!  And I will get to use my Spanish daily in my job!  After months of searching, applying, interviewing, praying, working at a coffee shop, more applying, being rejected, being offered jobs that I didn’t want, being frustrated, and then accepting God’s timing, I finally was offered the exact job that I wanted.

 

Last week Wednesday I received a call from Minneapolis Public Schools offering me the job.  God’s timing was perfectly perfect, allowing me to become established enough at the coffee shop that I can stay on for a few hours a week, but also giving me this job just before I was offered another job that I didn’t want as much.  I see His grace and provision in every step of the last two months.

 

I will be a Bilingual Associate Educator at an elementary/middle school in the Phillips neighborhood of South Minneapolis.  This school is almost 80% Latino, and I will be doing a variety of jobs from bus control to ESL groups to lunch duty to testing students.  Maybe this doesn’t sound like a glorious job, but I will actually be helping people!  I will be using my Spanish so that it improves and becomes less rusty, I will be able to make a decent living, and I think it’s a perfect job for the place I’m at in life right now.

 

Today was my first day, and I am exhausted.  I think that I met over one hundred first and second graders today.  Praise be to God, who gives us all we need for grace and glory.  I can’t wait to see how this year turns out.

9/30/2011

Wow!  I haven't written all week.  Maybe waking up at 3:30 every morning to be at work on time had something to do with it, but whatever the reason, I am sorry.

I have some big news that I might share next week if everything works out!!!  God has been answering my prayers in His usual unconventional ways, and I am so grateful.  It is a good story.  (And no, for those moms reading, there is no cute boy in this story).

In other news, I am slowly advancing in Greek, and it is so exciting!  To be able to lose myself in grammar and vocabulary again reminds me why I chose to study linguistics.  I pray that Greek is not the last language that I learn.  

Work has physically exhausted me.  My feet feel like all the blood has pooled to them, and my hands are a picture of all the coffee drinks I have handled in the last week.  However, I am feeling more emotionally tired than anything else.  With four interviews in the last two and a half weeks and so many other changes happening in my life, I knew I needed to do something.  My solution to my weariness is...to go visit my nieces and nephews in northern Wisconsin this weekend!  I will try to take and post pictures.

Ok, that's my quick update.  Much more information about wonderful news pending the Spanish test of my life.  Pray for me!

9/25/2011

Community

Today I am going to a potluck with the Latino ministry of my church.  I am just getting to know these people better after being gone for a year, and I’m always a little nervous as I take my imperfect Spanish and white face to hang out with people who are at least related to a Hispanic person if they are not one themselves.  But they never make me feel out of place.

 

So, as I bring my little pasta salad tonight, I’m praying that God will provide good community for me through these people.

9/22/2011

Sermon of the Field

fall harvest

 

Fall is here—the season of harvest and plenty.  I love fall because of the beauty that can be found and the beautiful crispness to the air.  I am also so very glad to spend this fall in the Midwest where there are actually seasons instead of one season—hot—in Santa Cruz. 

 

But this has also been a season of scarcity for me as I start a new job and learn how to live on my own on a barista’s budget.  I am so ready for another job, but until God provides, I’m trying to enjoy all that He’s teaching me.  These words from Streams in the Desert yesterday were perfect for me.

 

Sermon of the Field.  This is its solemn word to me.  You must die in order to live.  You must refuse to consult your own ease and well-being.  You must be crucified, not only in desires and habits which are sinful, but in many more which appear innocent and right.  If you would save others, you cannot save yourself.  If you would bear much fruit, you must be buried in darkness and solitude.  My heart fails me as I listen.  But, when Jesus asks it, let me tell myself that is my high dignity to enter into the fellowship of His sufferings; and thus I am in the best of company.

I love the line “not only in desires and habits which are sinful, but in many more which appear innocent and right.”  I have to examine my heart and ask myself if my desire to help those in South Minneapolis is solely for God’s glory, and if it isn’t, then I must weed out every selfish desire until it is a pure desire, fueled by God’s heart and accomplished for His purposes.

 

I am grateful for this season in which I must lose myself to gain Christ and thus to help others know Him.

9/20/2011

Purpose

I am sitting by my phone, waiting impatiently for a call saying whether I got some jobs I interviewed for.  Since I have another job where I am getting more hours to work each week, the reasons for me wanting these other jobs so badly are not just financial.  I also want to have work with purpose.


I know God can use me at the coffee shop where I work.  I know that my purpose there is not at all in vain and that this season is growing me.  I want to serve with a smile, and I love getting to know my co-workers.  However, I am also SO ready to have a job where I am helping people with more than their coffee addiction.  My heart is to help the hurting and oppressed.  This morning I read these verses, and they are the reason I am so eager for my phone to ring with good news today.



Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
   maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.

 Rescue the weak and the needy;
  deliver them from the hand of the wicked.


Psalm 82: 3-4

9/15/2011

Ready for Stability

Have I mentioned lately that I love the women I'm living with right now?  They are so godly and are teaching me so much about trusting in God's timing, a lesson I'm finding harder and harder to put into practice.


As much as I love living with these ladies, I can't get over the commute.  Over thirty minutes to get to my current job at a coffee shop.  Exactly thirty to get to the place I interview at tomorrow, and thirty-five to get to where I interviewed at today.  So why am I working/looking for jobs so far away?  These places are all in South Minneapolis.  I wish I could describe to you why I am so drawn to this area.  Let me start with my commute.  Everyday I go into the city, my first fifteen minutes are listening to John Piper and traffic-weaving.  Then, I round the corner by exit 25 and the startling skyline of downtown Minneapolis greets me.  The towering skyscrapers are my goal as I coax my little Ford Focus up to 70 to get past a big truck.  Just when I could exit right to get to those skyscrapers, I instead stay left to take 55 to skirt around the craziness.  A few blocks south and east, I turn right, and there I enter another world.  Suddenly, most people I see aren't the same color as me.  Houses are bright colors, driving takes on a fight-for-survival feel, and life slows down. I wouldn't walk alone in Powderhorn at night, but during the day Latino families stroll down the sidewalks and shops sell Halal meat and special rices.  Signs are in Spanish and English and/or Arabic or Amharic.  There is also need in this area.  One neon sign on my way to work proclaims "Metal detectors sold here."  Some houses are unkempt, and it's not uncommon to see a person holding a cardboard sign asking for food or money.  


Diversity meets need.  My passions (cultures and languages) meet my desire (to help those in need).  This is why I want to live in South Minneapolis, and that is why, as much as I love my roommates, I want to move soon to a house in South Minneapolis to live with other wonderful girls from my church.  I'm ready to stay put in one place for a few years.  I'm ready for stability, and I'm ready to have a neighborhood to call home and share Jesus with.  Pray with me that all of  this happens in God's perfect timing.

9/13/2011

Greek to Me

I am an official Greek student!  Last night I started taking a weekly class through my church’s school.  I can’t express how nice it was to sit at a table and waited calmly for my teacher to start the class—no responsibilities and I got to be the student.  Teaching last year made me appreciate my moments as the student so much more.

drawgreek

Here are some reasons that I am taking this class:

- I want to know God better, and reading His word in its original language is a good way to do that

- If I become a Bible translator this class will not not only helpful but essential

- As a linguist I am excited to know Greek for two reasons

     1. Professional development

     2. When asked me how many languages I speak I don’t have to say “only two” anymore! Smile

- This class is a great way to know people at my church and become more involved

- I feel as though God is calling me here

 

Over the next nine months you will hopefully see me refer to the Greek I’m learning once in a while.  I hope and pray that the new things I learn about God through this class will permeate all areas of my life.

9/10/2011

Cruising in the Right Lane

I don’t know exactly what my expectations were… that the perfect job and house would fall into my lap, that I would cease to struggle once back in my native country, that I could pick up right where I had left off over a year ago.  Whatever my perceptions were of moving back to the Twin Cities, they were off. 

 

The “perfect house” that I want to live in is full.  There might be a room for me in two months or there might not.  I love the girls I live with and the house I live in here in the suburbs, but it does not fit my dreams of urban living with Latino neighbors. 

 

And my job.  Where to start?  I applied diligently for dozens of jobs during the month of August.  I worked on my resume, I dropped it off at the jobs I really wanted.  I’ve had three interviews so far, and the job I have right now is working part time at a coffee shop.  Not very glamorous.  Handing $5 drinks to people who can afford them doesn’t really make me feel like I’m working for the good of humankind. 

 

When I think about it, it makes sense that it should take me awhile to get established here, that maybe God is easing me from Bolivian culture into what He has for me.  But lately I have been chomping at the bit.  I want work NOW.  I don’t like haven’t weekdays off where all I do is stare at the computer screen, scanning job sites and reworking my resume.  I think I expected the Autobahn and what I got was right-lane traffic during rush hour. 

 

Thankfully I can trust in God’s word.

 

The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.  Do not forsake the work of Your hands. 

Ps. 138:8

9/08/2011

My New Home

You might remember a post I wrote back in February about living in South Minneapolis.  That is still my dream.  I want to live among and work with the people there.  I don't yet feel a call to one specific country to do long-term ministry, but I do feel called now to this neighborhood.  I have a house all picked out there, wonderful girls to live with, and a job lined up working in the area.  But the house I want to live in is full right now.


I can't live in a full house.


So, I found a wonderful solution.  Until a space in the house opens up, I'm living with my friend Ellen in her beautiful house north of the Twin Cities.  There are four of us Northwestern grad (or current workers at NWC) ladies living in this house, and it's wonderful!  There are walking trails nearby, it's in a great neighborhood, and it's in driving distance of my job.  






Praise God for in-between seasons.

9/06/2011

Who writes on their own blog anymore?

I posted for Volunteer Card one more time.  I promise an update on my life here in the Twin Cities soon, but for now, read this and leave a comment about how great the blog is for my friend Lacy who runs it.  :)

9/01/2011

Visit

Today, instead of reading my blog, you can check out my guest post on the Volunteer Card blog.  My friend Lacy runs the blog, and she let me write!  It's about my year in Bolivia, and it was great for me to process my year a bit as I wrote.


http://www.volunteercard.com/2011/09/volunteer-story-teaching-in-bolivia/

Thanks for checking it out!

8/29/2011

Little Joys

It was cold enough this morning for me to enjoy a sweater.  I love Wisconsin weather.

8/27/2011

Respite

Less than a week to go before I move into my next house-- near the Twin Cities, living with two wonderful ladies until the house in Phillips I want to move into opens up.  I've spent a lot of time in the last few weeks in South Minneapolis, handing out resumes, dreaming, looking at houses.  


In case you've noticed (or not noticed), during these last few weeks I've been a very poor blogger.  Lots of things have been brewing in my mind.  They just weren't ready to come out yet.  So you're not in the dark, here is the plan:


- Move into the Twin Cities
- Get a job (this is looking hopeful)
- Settle for a few days
- Start blogging about urban (or suburban for a few months) living.  Tell my readers and write for my sake what I'm seeing, what I'm thinking, what I'm experiencing.  How does the gospel reach Latinos in South Minneapolis?  How can I reach the people I'm working with, hanging out with, and seeing?  How does a girl who grew up with corn and hay in her backyard learn to exist in the big city? 


These questions and more, pondered on this blog beginning in just one week.  Thanks for allowing me my respite; I've been learning a lot and can't wait to share.

8/21/2011

Jobless self-esteem

I am unemployed.  I'd say it will be official in about 7 days,when I will have actually been back in the country for a month.  I was under my missions' support through July, but I have been income-free for this month.  I planned for this, and I think it's fair to say that I could take a month to "get settled" in this country and find a job, but at the end of this coming week my month will be over.  I have applied for tens of jobs, but the market is tough right now.  I'm finding that a bachelor's in linguistics doesn't exactly equate to highly hireable, especially in non-profit organizations, which is mostly where I'm applying.


Honestly, the hardest part of transitioning back has probably been my dependency on those around me, and spending more money than I'm bringing in.  I've had to invest (albeit the thrift store type of invest) in professional clothing for all those interviews I'm supposed to be getting.  I've made more phone calls in this month than I probably made all year in Bolivia.  I've searched for contacts, I've used connections, and I'm starting to get tired.  I'm also starting to panic and question.  Am I really doing God's will?  Should I follow this dream that I had, that I felt called to, if not all the pieces are falling into place?  Is God strengthening my faith by making me wait for employment, or is this a sign to turn around?  


Well, this morning I realized I had run out of time to casually bring this problem before God and ask for wisdom.  It was time to pray hard, because I was driving to my church in Minneapolis to become a member there.  Living in Mom's basement and driving two hours to church each week is a bad idea.  So, I thought, I prayed, and I remembered why the Twin Cities is my next step-- to further the gospel.  I knew theoretically, and after Bolivia know experientially, that I can be a much better missionary with more training and more experience living cross-culturally.  I'm ready to live in the urban setting of South Minneapolis as I study my Bible, work with those in need, and step forward in faith. Lord willing, I'll be moving to the Twin Cities on September 1 whether I have a job or not.  I am walking on a path, and ahead of me is only fog.  I can't tell whether the ground is rocky or smooth, I can even tell if I'm walking off a cliff.  But walk I will.

7/31/2011

Coming Home

The following is semi-stream-of-consciousness writing about my transition.  It's written more for me than for people who read my blog, but posted for posterity.  


It's 11:17 p.m.  My nieces are spending a few days with us and want to sleep with Auntie Kayleen, but I was watching movies with friends and didn't get home until 10:45.  I just lay between them holding their hands until they fell asleep, but I won't let myself sleep until I set aside some time to process being back here.  Process having two little seven year-olds always wanting to play with me and hold my hand.  Process shopping malls and English-speaking friends and dishwashers.  My world in Bolivia was not living in a mud hut with no outside communication.  I had friends who spoke English, I could shop at supermarkets, I even ate Pringles.  But life is different here.  There are different expectations, different priorities.  


Today at church was hard.  As I walked up to the door with my mom, she greeted the girl holding the door for us, but only by saying hi.  I was actually startled by the fact that there was no hug and kiss like is traditional in Bolivian culture.  Lots of people gave me hugs when I came in  because I was home for the first time in ten months, but it was different from hugs in Bolivia, which are all about finding out how you are and just letting you know you're loved.  Hugs in Fall Creek are wonderful, because they say "You've been gone a long time and we've missed you," but they are different.


Also, tonight I hung out for the first time with non-missionary, non-Bolivian friends.  I was a  little nervous on the way there.  They are friends that I haven't known for a long time, and I worried that I wouldn't be aware enough of pop culture or even of how to be a friend in a North American setting to fit in.  Things were fine in our meal and movie, but I was very quiet, observing a lot more than I talked.  


There is no doubt that I miss Bolivia.  I miss my friends there, the work I had there, the tranquila culture, but I am glad to be here, too.  I start my exciting new adventure soon, and I'm ready to start looking for jobs and a place to live.  I'm ready to renew some friendships here.  I'm ready to serve Christ in a new way again.  I just pray for strength for the task and trust in God's faithfulness.


Song I've been loving my Matt Redman- Never Once

Kneeling on this battle ground 
Seeing just how much You've done 
Knowing every victory 
Is Your power in us 

Never once did we ever walk alone 
Never once did You leave us on our own 
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

7/28/2011

Highlights- Week 6

Ok, so this post is a little late, too, but after getting back on Saturday, I have had nonstop goodbyes until last night when I climbed the stairs of Viru-Viru and said goodbye to very dear friends.  One year since I left (with one quick trip in-between), I set foot on US soil this morning and heard, "Welcome back," from the customs officer in Miami.  




However, in between helping host a team of 21 and saying goodbyes I escaped to the city of La Paz to be a tourist in Bolivia and see the beauty that this country that stole my heart has to offer.  It was SO good for me to take a step away from the city where I've lived for a year before flying back to my home country.  I think some of my pictures should show why it was healing in some ways.




This is the only picture of all of us that we took.  From left: Andy, Esther, Yenny, me, and Daniel in Los Yungas biking down the road of death.  Yenny and Daniel left after two days.
Here we are in front of the presidential buildling in La Paz.  Evo really is in the building behind us!
Beautiful Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon)

Shadows in the valley

7/23/2011

Highlights- Week 5 (one week late)

I arrived safely home from La Paz this morning, and just as promised, I will fill you in on the second half of the Arrowhead team's time here. 


I went for a goodbye meal with Samantha, who has served here with me for five months.

The team finished working and debriefed with ice cream.  Yum!


I will miss my big sister!

Orange chaco picture that I really liked and had to include.

Ellen!

Huge highlight!  Abby (who has sent me care packages before) sent me one in March that I just got now.  Hello crasins!  Hello deliciousness!  She also sent the shirt that I'm wearing in various pictures.

Then I had to say goodbye to friends I have grown close to.

:(  Had to go back to dentist's office for work on my root canal.  :(





7/16/2011

Wait for me

I am leaving for LaPaz in a few minutes!  No time to post pictures, so wait for next week for highlights of two weeks.  Think on this: Proverbs 4:25-27

7/12/2011

Highlights- Week 4

It really is crazy to think that I only have two more weeks of Bolivia goodness to post after this update.  I don't think that I will really be able to sit down and put into words all that God has been doing here in the last four weeks until I have some time to sit and think.  For now, life is going at full speed.  The Arrowhead team is doing a great job here, and I have taken a morning off to quickly get many errands run and tasks done.  Here are a few pictures of the last week to keep you updated, along with a few highlights I don't want to forget.


The team arrived late Sunday night, so while they were sleeping Monday morning I sneaked out to have coffee with my church friends.  I will miss them so much!  They have let me be one of them even though I'm not, and their love has helped me make it through this year.  I will miss them!

I will get to go to La Paz with these wonderful ladies.

Since the team came, we've been plunging toilets...

...playing with cute kids...

....saying goodbyes to kids I've gotten close to

...being goofy...

...and working REALLY hard to give them a better place to live (these pictures were taken at two different orphanages, even though we're mainly working at Cristo Viene)
Other highlights of the last week:
- Running errands for the team often, which I love.    
- Running errands with Ellen, who I love.
- Watching and helping high school boys dig a giant trench with joy and a heart of worship
- Having good talks with so many of the team members here. I am emotionally exhausted and restored at the same time.
- Serving mate, a traditional drink, for the first time to team members.




Look forward to highlights with the team this Saturday and a trip to La Paz with North Americans and Bolivians the week after.  


Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.  I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.  For great is your steadfast love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.
-Psalm 86:11-13

7/07/2011

Highlights- Week 3

Ok, so it's Wednesday and I haven't updated yet.  This will probably be my only post this week because having teams is CRAZY!  So, here are pictures with labels:


I stayed in my first hostel in a mountain town not far from my city.  It was very cute!

View of the city from a beautiful garden!

Tea that was part of a delicious meal at same garden

Cute and FREEZING breakfast at cute hostel.

We went to a refuge for abandoned animals and had monkeys sit on us!

I took a picture with a pig because the monkeys weren't behaving.  :)

For the US Independence Day we had a North American celebration with brats!

Then I tried my hand at making Bolivian food for a special goodbye service that the church had for me and one other boy who was leaving.  This is the beginning of Sonzo, which is a Bolivian appetizer with yuca and cheese.


This is the worship team I have been a part of all year!  I will miss these wonderful people!




People came up front and said words of encouragement (the way I am most loved!) to Steven and I.  I was very blessed by this time.
So, overall, last week was the calm in-between the storms.  I rested, I enjoyed time with friends, and I was able to begin ending my time here well.  


This week things are crazy, but God is being very good to me.

6/29/2011

International

Short story about God's work in Bolivia:


Just today I began to realize what it means that I taught at an international school this year.  One of my students who is half Korean and half Bolivian and his Korean mom took me out for lunch.  His mom is a missionary with Child Evangelism Fellowship here in Bolivia, and our lunch was delightful.  We ate lots of meat, and a waiter in a vest came and poured sparkling water into my glass.  We chatted about the weather, our plans, and the previous school year.  


True to Bolivian custom, we didn't actually start talking until we had finished our meal and had only a Coca-Cola in front of us.  Then, my student's mom started telling me her testimony.  Raised in Korea, Borneo, and Bolivia, her story starts with a Buddhist grandfather who was highly respected for having many wives and lost his fortune supporting his many children.  Her grandmother beat her because she ate bread that a missionary once gave her.  She went to VBS in Borneo, but didn't begin to trust God until a Bolivian Catholic priest shared the gospel with her.  


Cross-cultural, common thread.  God's word followed her through three countries and all kinds of religions and cultures.  I have been filled with joy in the way God works.  I am seeing how teaching this year has prepared me more to continue to do God's work of sharing His good news with the nations.



6/26/2011

Highlights- Week 2

God has been faithful to me again, just like he always is.  This week I spent many hours with wonderful high school students and got to see them grow in their faith and be challenged to live for God at all times.  


I was not as faithful.  In taking pictures, that is.  However, I like to try to make up for my faults.  So... I, the artist (snicker snicker) drew you pictures on Paint to show you the highlights of my week.  Please enjoy.


This is at BASIC with high school students.  The students are happy because they learned so much about God.  Their hair is curly and wild to represent their youth.  I am happy because God taught me more about Himself.  My hair is straight because I am an adult.
Then, the students left on Friday, and I began my week of long and hard goodbyes.  First, I brought my friend Ally some coffee at her house.
Note the steam coming from the cups.  Picture not quite to scale.
On Saturday I had the opportunity to go to a cancer hospital in the city to share the gospel with some of the patients.  It was one of the first times I've had to share the gospel with so little context and in Spanish.  I loved the experience and hope to try again before I leave since we tried to bring some toys for the kids but were told to come back another day for that.
This is me holding a Bible and sharing the gospel.  
Today I had a wonderful (also pictureless) day at church and with the team who is down.  


Look forward to (with real pictures): A trip to the mountains with the team, more goodbyes, and moving out of my room.


And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.
- 2 Timothy 2:2

6/24/2011

My Big Sister

My cousin Anton came down to visit us in January.  He made an amazing documentary of Heather’s work here in Bolivia, which can be seen on his Vimeo site.  I’ll let the video speak for itself.

Chiropractic On Mission from Anton Seim on Vimeo.


How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
- Isaiah 52:7

6/21/2011

Culture

One of my minors in college was Intercultural Studies.  I love observing culture, being a part of it, trying to fit in (however strangely) in different cultures, and looking at cultures from a biblical perspective. 

 

Recently I’ve been writing some of my observations down and posting them on this new page in my blog.  I hope to continue adding to it in my last few weeks in Bolivia and then as I return to my “home” country.  I think that after my year in Latin America I will never really “fit in” in the US again. I am so glad that our eternal home is in heaven.

6/20/2011

Highlights- Week 1

The next five weeks are my last in Bolivia (gulp, throat swelling, tear).  They are going to be CRAZY BUSY!!!  So, starting with last week (which will make for a total of six weeks), I’ll be posting a weekend (hopefully) post with some pictures and maybe a few words about my week.  The rest of my posts will be ones that I write whenever I have time and schedule to post throughout the week. 

Look forward to:
- Lots of high school and college students learning about and serving God in Bolivia.
- Goodbye dates with friends here.
- A trip to La Paz, Bolivia!

Last week and this coming week I am working with high school students from the school I taught at this year.  A team from my camp back home has flown down to lead a discipleship camp for them!  Here’s an idea of what our first week looked like.


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Delicious fresh papaya from the garden
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Loved this face too much to not include
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Team-building activity
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Fancy banquet after our day of service
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The wonderful leaders I'm working with (minus a few)
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A few students
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Hello dessert that tasted United Statesy!