Saturday, March 29

I Am Completely Different

My fellow Mission Intern Hillary Taylor recently shared this poem on her blog.  I loved it and thought I would share it with you, too.

“I Am Completely Different”
I am completely different.
Though I am wearing the same tie as yesterday,
am as poor as yesterday,
as good for nothing as yesterday,
I am completely different.
Though I am wearing the same clothes,
am as drunk as yesterday,
living as clumsily as yesterday, nevertheless
I am completely different.
Ah …
I patiently close my eyes
on all the grins and smirks
on all the twisted smiles and horse laughs—
and glimpse then, inside me
one beautiful white butterfly
fluttering towards tomorrow
--Kuroda Saburo—

Monday, March 24

Shakin' Your Booty Looks a Little Different Throughout the World

As a means to try to begin branching out to my new community, as well as get some exercise, Diamond, my new co-worker and co-missionary, and I went to a Zumba class in a local recreation center. The rec center we went to is located in a town called Franklin which is about a 30-45 minute drive from Hayesville- my new "home" town. I am slowly learning that almost everywhere or anything takes at least a 30 minute drive, which if I considered everyday travel in Managua, it would take me about 30 minutes to walk to the bus, wait, get on, switch buses and walk to the office. Also, I love that there is never traffic around here. :)

Well.... so back to the Zumba class. Diamond and I arrived to class after wandering through the small halls of the rec center. There were about 4 ladies already seated in a room with a lot of open space. At least 5 more women showed up. All of them were at least 40 and older. I am only informing you of their ages so you can get a good picture in your head- I love to hang out with people of all ages, so no hatin'. The instructor informed us that she got certified last year to teach Zumba classes and she was proud of herself for becoming certified and teaching a dance class at 50 years old. She is a rock star!

Finally the music started and we all found our own space to be able to move around well. Many of the songs were familiar to me from the dance exercise class I participated when I was in Nicaragua. However, there were several moments I had to giggle to myself because I was no longer surrounded by Latinas who could almost all shake it like Shakira. Instead, I was surrounded by middle-aged white women who danced with lots of passion and enjoyed themselves, but let's just say... there was some lack of smooth hip movements.

I've had many moments, such as my new dance class, comparing my new community of North Carolina to Nicaragua. On our campus, we have an outdoor chapel area, but you have to hike a little ways to get to arrive to it's location. As we were hiking up the hill through the trees and crunching leaves with our feet, I has a flashback to the many times in Nicaragua I had to hike just to arrive to someone's house. I remembered how many people have to hike to go to school or hike to go to a hospital or hike to get water for their homes. As we hiked for entertainment, I remembered the hardships of others.

As I learn more about my new community, I want to try not to always think of the differences between Nicaragua and North Carolina but instead issues as well as blessings that are similar. I mean both places start with the letter N so there's a start. No, but seriously I've already noticed there are many food banks located all within a small area of each other and food security is something Nicaragua is constantly concerned about as well.

In this new part of my journey, I will happily "dance" within a new culture and with new people while using my past and present to learn and grow.

Peace, Whitney P.

Sunday, March 16

Emotions & Lessons Learned

Look at my new home in Hayesville, NC!

I said goodbye to dear, dear people in Nicaragua…

I spent 12 days at “Mid Terms” with fellow Mission Fellows in NY reflecting, celebrating, sharing and mourning our times spent outside of our home countries…

I squeezed each of my family members and tried to soak up every minute of my short time in McKinney, TX…

I visited several churches that allowed me to share about my personal experiences in Nicaragua…

I arrived 4 days ago to Hayesville, NC and have begun settling into my new community and job…

I feel like my whole transition from Nicaragua to the United States was a blur at times.  I’ve experienced a variety of emotions from feeling

sad- to leave people and a country
numb- many times I didn’t feel anything. When I might have cried or felt overwhelmingly grateful, I felt numb instead.
Joyful- to see loved ones once again = amazing
Disgusted- Yes, at times, I’ve felt disgusted with materialism, excess of things, attitudes of people, people’s priorities, etc. This is an intese emotion that I do not wish to feel, but instead wish to feel less hateful and simply acknowledge my opinions of these situations with respect for others, yet live differently based on my opinions.
Challenged/questioning- mid-terms allowed me to converse with others about those social issues that are really affecting the areas where we were working- what can we do? How are we called? Why are things this way? (My parents were also wonderful people with whom to discuss the hard stuff- thanks padres)
Humbled/inspired- all the churches I visited are so open to hearing about missions and gave so generously of their time and money to my program
Unsettled- I had to think about a word to describe this particular emotion I’ve been having, but I sometimes feel like an outsider looking in on what’s happening and a desire to perhaps to be living once again in a Nica-like culture
Blessed- There were several moments I would be looking at my nephew or sitting with my parents or siblings & I just wanted to stare at them, soaking up the moment.  I also had time to spend with extended relatives, after missing the death of one of uncles and an aunt while I was working in Nicaragua. I definitely have so much more appreciation for my entire family.

I share these emotions with you so perhaps you can have a new perspective of thefact that it is tough to face one’s home country again, after living in a different reality.  Society expects you to just fit right back in again, but what are we fitting into?

It was great speaking at churches and actually pretty healing to get to share pictures and stories about my adventures. I do, however, want to share a few reactions/opions/what-have-yous that made me realize, hmmm, perhaps I did not share certain perspectives thouroughly.  I am not trying to criticize, cause’ let’s be honest- I’ve probably said some of these things in the past. I simply have a new perspective now and want to challenge you, too, to think a bit differently about some of the following things that were said to me.   

“so we can learn from this presentation just how blessed we are to live here”
Is this the lesson you learned..and the only one? Uh oh. Yes, large majorities of people in the US have access to health care, clean water, safetly, food, etc. which are blessings everyone deserves and should have. Yet, if we keep going, in my opinion, those other  “blessings” we have, own, drive, live in, prioritize are many times a sign of living in too much excess or waste. Those extra things we don’t need, yet feel we deserve, often cause injustices throughout the world. Perhaps it’s better to learn from my Nicaraguan experiences …how we need to share those “blessings”? … learn that we too can live with less? …learn that we have too much?

they are poor, but they seem really happy”
For me, this statement isn’t seeing those “poor people” as dignified human beings. Of course they are happy. They are also sad sometimes, possibly mad, grumpy, energized, joyful, silly, and tired- just like YOU. I’ve come to realize that “poor people” do not exist. Nope. Only people, children of God, who are living with the issue of poverty.

“aren’t you just so glad to be back in the United States?”
This one makes me kind of sad. I know people are just trying to relate and create conversation, but it makes me question their question. Perhaps, these people are just trying to ask if I am happy to see my family, because, oh yes, to be able to see my family was amazing, as well as, friends. Yet, I wonder what this person thinks of Nicaragua or of other countries or my wonderful friends that I met in Nicaragua. As US students and children, we were raised to believe our country is the best. God bless America. Elitism and competition do not help create the kingdom of God. I am not saying we should dislike the US, but instead try to take on more global perspectives, uderstanding and acceptance. Oooh, also appreciation!

Today I hope I challenged you some. I know it was heavier stuff, but that’s what’s on my mind and what we are called as Christ Followers to think about.

Thanks for your continued support!

Peace, Whitney

Special thanks to…
University Christian Church: Fort Worth, TX
First Christian Church of McKinney, TX
Wesley Foundation TCU
First United Methodist Church of McKinney
Grace Christian Church: Prosper, TX

Lion’s Club of McKinney