Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Try to love the questions themselves

Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart
and try to love the questions themselves ...
We often don’t like questions. Questions don’t normally give us points on exams. It’s almost always the answers that seem to be more important, but answers without good questions are worthless… I often hate writing blogs now because I feel like I have to share answers… and I don’t have them!!! However, I’m beginning to realize that maybe the questions are just as or more important. Rather that diligently searching for answers that can’t be found in one simple sentence I will push my self to start struggling and wrestling with las preguntas. Well formed or not, here come some of my many questions:
  • What are the systems in place in our world that oppress and how can we work to break them down?
  • How do we play a role in consumerism that negatively affects the lives of so many?
  • How can I help people at home see that the lack of clean water and adequate sanitation is a important issue affecting so many in the world?
  • How can I continue to learn to be at peace with and live with the questions?
  • In what ways can my experiences with hospitality, welcome and love be shared with people back home?
  • What does fighting for social justice look like?
  • What kind of immigration reform will start reuniting families and start eliminating the horrible divides that exist in our US society?
  • How can I use my strengths to be more welcoming and friendly?
  • What biases do I hold without even knowing it?
  • What does it look like to practice solidarity & mutuality with one’s neighbors?
  • How will this year change the way I look at and understand the world?
  • Where will I be next year?
We recently had a retreat with all the volunteers here in Mexico in which we discussed the affects of globalization and let me tell you... that is enough to sending one’s mind spinning… In a moment of my perpetual guilt about everything and anything (if you know me well you’ll understand) I encountered a phrase, a friend and a poem that I would like to share. First was a phrase that we talked about in Orientation: “Sit with the discomfort.” I thought ok I’ll try… Meanwhile I was venting to a friend from back home about not feeling like I was working on learning enough or not searching for answers enough or not “being” enough when she reminded me: “… with time you'll see that you learned more than you know you learned. That's the magic of REAL learning, it's not conscious.” And as a struggle, I remember the poem by Rainer Maria Rilke…

Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart
and try to love the questions themselves ...
Don't search for the answers,
which could not be given to you now,
because you would not be able to live them.
And the point is, to live everything.
Live the questions now.
Perhaps then, someday far in the future,
you will gradually, without even noticing it,
live your way into the answer.

Author of Life, I pray for the current YAGMs and all who are struggling with questions and searching for answers. I pray that we learn to live with the discomfort and without even knowing it you will teach us more than we realize we are learning at the moment. May we live the questions now and gradually live our way into the answers. In Jesus Name we pray, AMEN.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Día de los muertos

I would like to share with you some of my experiences with the celebration of Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead here in Tepoztlán.... A little late, but better than never! I want to preface this first by saying that as in most traditions I can only speak for Tepoz and for my particularly family that I live with. Celebrations, has everywhere, vary greatly pueblo to pueblo and in the different areas of Mexico.

It is traditionally celebrated the November 1-2 and is a fusion of pre-hispanic celebrations and All Saints Day. I have found this tradition to be very beautiful. Thursday afternoon I sat outside of the office drinking my coffee and eating my pan de los muertos and one of my coworkers shared with me more about this celebration (I'm paraphrasing):

I enjoy it more than Christmas, she told me. It’s the smells and the colors. Later in the evening we walked through the zólcalo or town center and saw all the chilacayotes (explained later) and marigolds used to cover the graves and ofrendas. They were selling candles and dishes and food. The perfume of the flowers filled the area and I could see why the colors and smells meant so much to my co-worker.

Many people in the pueblo place an “ofrenda” in their house for your loved one(s). In this ofrenda they include flowers (mostly marigolds), food (that their loved ones enjoyed), fruit, drinks, tequila, papel picado, and a picture of the person. The idea is that at noon on the 1st the loved ones return and stay for twenty-four hours. It’s one day that you get to feel close to your loved ones again. My coworker continued to explain. The first few years are really painful, but then it becomes something that is really beautiful
The ofrenda at the bus station
The ofrenda at a local preschool
The ofrenda at the house
On the 2nd or the next week, they visit the cemetery and decorate the graves with the flowers and candles from the ofrenda. I was very touched to be able to accompany my host mom to clean and decorate the grave sites of the family. It was a way that I could think about where my host family has come from and to thank God for bringing them into my life. I was also able to think about my grandparents. My grandma Byington was always an adventurous woman and so I thought about how interested she would be in how they do things down here. One day when I return I may stop by her grave and put a marigold cross and share with her all the stories I have from my time here :)

The marigold cross I helped place on a family members grave
El pantéon- the cementary
As I have shared in this tradition I was also able to show pictures from this summer when I went to Iowa and visited family members’ grave sites. In a small way I was able to remember my loved ones and share with them how we celebrate those that are no longer with us. 

Another part of the celebration is “pidiendo calabera” which is when the children go around and ask for candy. The tradition is different from Halloween in that it happens on the first of Novemeber and the children (at least traditionally) do not dress up. They carve their “calavera” (Skull) which is made of chilacayote/Zucchini (not a pumpkin) and walk around WITH it saying “Una limosna para mi calavera” (“A alm for my skull). The interesting thing about Tepoztlán is that they celebrate this twice: first on the 1st of November and then again the next week. I had the pleasure of walking around with the family for almost 4 hours the first time we went out! We had both children and adults of the family and they were very good at making sure that I asked for my candy! 

Chilacayotes at the market
The beginnings of carving my chilacayote
Carving our chilacayotes
Getting ready to go around for candy
These are not very common in Mexico... but I found one!
My host brother with his chilacayote
Walking through the streets to ask for candy 
I heard someone explaining to his daughter once the difference between Halloween and Día de los Muertos. He said that los Muertos is a celebration of death and those that have died. Halloween, on the other hand, is a about fear and terror. I see a lot of similarities with our All Saints Day and Memorial Day, but there are also very many differences that I have enjoyed learning about. There are so many rich smells and colors and a beautiful idea that on these days your loved ones come back to spend time with you. I am very thankful that I was able to experience this celebration this year and to begin to understand a little bit more about how important these days are for many here in my part of Mexico. 

November Newsletter (Site Placement Update)

Monday through Friday I work as a volunteer with a consultation group called Sarar Transformatción. They work with issues involving water, sanitation and closing the nutrient cycle in various parts of Mexico, Latin America and the world. I have been able to participate with el equipo in many different ways: working in the office, observing and helping with workshops in surrounding schools and even getting outside to plant lettuce in the garden! 

At the same time, I am learning a lot about the logistics of working in an office and my understanding of different types of water and sanitation systems continues to deepen. I also hope that my professional Spanish is slowly getting better! My coworkers have been great guides as I learn more about my new home and continue to have moments of “Spanish struggle.” They have taken me under their wings and I am very thankful for their friendship. 

November Newsletter

Love of the stranger
“Hospitality is the practice of God's welcome by reaching across difference to participate in God's actions bringing justice and healing to our world in crisis.” -Letty Russell

To begin, I would like to once again thank all who have supported me. It has been two and a half months since I left for Chicago. Wow! These months have been filled with a lot of excitement, boredom, laughing, crying, hellos, goodbyes, experiencing new things and craving old comforts. I have hit the whole spectrum! But en fin I am extremely happy and content in my new home. 
If I were to summarize what I have taken away from this experience so far the word would be HOSPITALITY. The spanish word for guest comes from the same roots: huésped. To come into a new home, workplace, community and have such a warm welcome is overwhelmingly humbling and comforting. Here are a few of my recent experiences of hospitality:
  • I have started to meet enough people that as I walk through town there is often a familiar face that greets me with “Raquel, adios!” That simple act of walking through the street and being acknowledged can make my day. 
  • One day I left my cell phone at home and it was very important that I make a call. I finally remembered that my family had a relative with a shop on the main street. In desperation I rushed in and asked if I could use her phone. She gracefully handed it over and then later helped me dial when I couldn’t get it to work. 
  • I found myself unsure what to do when I couldn’t quite read the cultural implications of a situation. I thought of running to my country coordinator, but instead I found a family member who listened, gave their advice and in a moment when I wasn’t sure what to do, made me feel understood. 
  • I visited a friend’s house and was invited to join them for some evening warm tea, honey and bread. I knew that it was more than just warmth and conversation, I was cared for. 
  • My host family has been there for me when I was sick, sad, late for work and just in need of some good old distraction. 
  • My coworkers have guided me, taught me, laughed with me and even taken me to Pilates!

A friend who is from and lives in another part of Mexico texted me before I left and said, “I hope you are not sad, because there is another family waiting for you here in Mexico.” It was comforting to hear then, but now I am very blessed to have found this to be true. 

I have only read an excerpt from Just Hospitality: God's Welcome in a World of Difference by Letty Russell, but its now on my reading list. I’m thinking about this passage and I invite you all to contemplate it as well: “The word for hospitality in the Greek New Testament is philoxenia, love of the stranger. Its opposite is xenophobia, hatred of the stranger. The ministry of the church is to be partners with strangers, to welcome those whom Christ welcomed, and thus learn to be a community in which people are made one in Jesus Christ..."

Even as I write this newsletter about hospitably, I must confess that I have found myself struggling to show welcome to someone I recently encountered. Hospitality is not always easy. It’s never as pretty or simple as chocolate mints on a clean pillow.  However, as I find myself living in an ever-present state of receiving hospitality I am contemplating more and more about how I can emulate the love and friendship that has been shown to me, even when it is not easy. 

Today I am thinking about and praying for those who have made similar journeys as I have made. People who have crossed borders and left behind family: our brothers and sisters who are extranjeros in a new land and who are in need of that sense of family.

I am also thinking about and praying for those who have not crossed borders, but people who do not feel welcome in their own home or school: our brothers and sisters who are searching for love and acceptance.  

“There are a lot of 'missing persons' in our world today whose situation of poverty, injustice, and suffering makes God weep. These missing persons are not strangers to God, for God already has reached out to care for them. Yet they are strangers in the world who need to know God cares through the witness of a church that practices a ministry of hospitality and justice on their behalf.” - Letty Russell

God’s work. Our hands.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Carmel Rolls

Carmel Rolls. 

Need I say more... 

Mom sent me a picture of all the baked goods she was making for the Mt. Olive 5K and instantly I knew that I wanted to make carmel rolls. Now the interesting thing is that those who have lived with me know that I really don’t ever bake. I just munch off my roommates’ baking frenzies. Well in the absence of Hannah’s, Elizabeth’s and Mom’s wonderful yummies... I discovered I wanted to bake! Its something I can do that brings the taste of home here. Since most of my food is prepared for me, it also allows me to feel like I have some of my food independence back. Lastly, I get to share my favorites with those around me who are always sharing their favorites with me!

In an article shared by another YAGM it talked about how “planning a trip” is something that can make you really happy (even if you don’t actually take the trip). Its the anticipation. (Article. Simple Thing #8 that will make you happy) For me it was planning on making these rolls that made me really happy. I talked about and planned this Saturday of baking for a long time! It was the excitement of planning it and finding all the random things I needed that gave me something productive to do and something great to look forward too. Even though it seemed almost impossible at first to describe corn syrup, with the help of various friends and the family, I didn’t fail at my first attempt at making mom’s carmel rolls by myself. Quite the accomplishment I would say! Things YAGM does to us... like turning me into someone who wants to bake. :)

I have some left over flour... I’m already thinking about my next adventure!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

La familia

Llevo tres semanas aqui en mi trabajo y con mi familia tepozteca. For three weeks now I have called Tepoztlán home. 

And I have to apologize because I am still struggling with this blog thing! The one thing I thought I would be very motivated to work on... is proving to be very difficult! But I’m here now and I’m not leaving the computer until I have a entry!

I think today I would like to share with you some things about my wonderful family. With all of us together we are 11 people. Whenever we talk about going somewhere together they say, “Somos un tribo.” “We are a tribe.” And apparently according to Tepoz tradition, if you invite one of us somewhere... we are ALL free to attend! And there are a lot of festivals here in Tepoztlán. I have only been here 3 weeks and the first weekend was the celebration of the christian baptism of the tepozteco king, the second weekend was Independence day weekend, the third weekend was my aunt's birthday and a baptism celebration at the neighbor’s, this weekend was the Dia de Elotes (corn) on Saturday and the celebration of San Miguel today. Then next weekend is a big birthday party for Tadeo who is turning two. I’ve also attended three birthday dinners. When I first arrived they told me that it is always a fiesta here in Tepoz. They weren’t joking!

So yes there has been a lot of comida de fiesta or celebration food! But besides that I have felt welcomed and loved in this new place. I have been taken in as a member of the family and I know that I have people looking out for me. I am surrounded by my Tepozteca host mom, three host aunts/sisters, and an uncle/brother. Then with the “kids” there is Tadeo who will be turning 2, Angie 4, Dariana 13 and Herme who just started college. Also two extranjeros that are like grandparents as well (and with whom I can speak english!), and then myself. 

With members of the family I have climbed to the top of tepozteco for the evening celebration, climbed to the cascades, watched Tadeo ride in the Independence day parade, learned to make cappuccinos, played a lot of UNO, and danced. Oh yes, I must share with you about dancing! Three days a week we have had a family friend come to the house to teach us. In the courtyard members of the family and community are learning to dance Cumbia. What a better way to spend the evening than dancing with the family?! :)

The view from the rooftop (where I dry my laundry)

Our first night in Tepoz,
Herme helped Gabe and I climb to Tepozteco for the evening celebration

Reenactment in el zocalo (center of town) 

Roasting Elotes (corn on the cob)
Sept 28th is the Dia de Elotes
(But I think I've had roasted elote at least 6 times since I've been here)

Angie :)

Tadeo riding in the Independence Day Parade

Independence Day

At the Casacadas with Dariana

Dariana, Herme & Me
We made it to the Cascadas and higher :)

There have been some difficult and homesick days (that maybe I’ll write about later), but over all I have been blessed with the presence of some amazing people who have taken me in as their own and begun to share their lives with me. For that I am eternally grateful. 

I shall try to write again soon. Perhaps I’ll talk about my volunteering or so many other things I have to share, if I can just get myself to write!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

En todas las cosas, sea Dios glorificado

In the time that we have spent in Mexico City (aka distrito federal or DF) during our orientation we have been staying at a convent with some pretty wonderful nuns. We have been constantly reminded through them and our host families in Tepoztlán what hospitality means and how it can warm the heart of a traveler far from home. They have graciously cooked us wonderful meals, practiced their english with us, welcomed us with big smiles every morning for breakfast and shared stories with us. 

Interior courtyard of the convent

Hermana Faviola, who has become particularly special to us, has shared with us her knowledge of history, language, La Virgin de Guadalupe, the political situation in Mexico and her experience with inequality here and from her time living in the United States years ago. But there is one particular conversation that took place shortly after we arrived at the convent that I really value.

After talking about many challenging things our world faces, our country coordinator asked her: What keeps you going? What gives you hope?
Hermana Faviola said, well of course it was Jesus, and she went on to share that Jesus gave the disciples the commandment to love their neighbor as themselves.
She used her hands to illustrate:  with her palms up she held them at unequal heights as if she was a balancing scale. Then she slowly brought one hand up and the other down so that they were equal. She explained that Jesus brought God down to us and into each and everyone of our neighbors. She pointed to each of us and then to the other guests at the convent who were there. “You have a lot of work to do,” she told us. 

Ealier today another hermana joined us for our closing worship service together. She also joined us for our ending “group hug.” At the end she pointed to the altar. She called our attention to the fact that Jesus is holding his hands out (it reminded me of the hug we were in!) and that he looks like he is ready to tell us something: “Proclamen a todos el reino de Dios” (Proclaim to all the kingdom of God) it said above. 


Across the world and across denominations and religions I have felt the church alive, vibrant, loving and welcoming. 


Sometimes the gospel is written in very subtle ways in the world. Other times it is spelled out for you. 

“What gives you hope?” 

“Jesus, of course!”

En todas las cosas... sea Dios glorificado. (In all things... may God be glorified.)

Monday, September 2, 2013

How do you eat your corn?

Coming to a new country I knew that there would be things that would surprise me. I also knew that many things that I do would be strange to other people. I did not, however, expect how I eat my corn to be one of them. 

I have been around enough mexican food in the US to know that corn on the cob or elote is often eaten with some combination of mayo, chili and or cheese. Not quite my favorite yet. But I learned through my temporary mexican host family in Tepoztlán this week that lime and salt is also a very delicious combination (and probably a lot healthier!). I was sitting at the table with the family and my YAGM roomie Rachel when we tried the lime (imitating our 7 year old “host niece”). We commented on how good it was and that we really liked it! Then I went on to explain that at home I love corn on the cob but that I typically eat it with “mantequilla y sal.” I did not expect the jaw dropped, perplexed look that came over my host father and mother’s faces. I turned to Rachel to make sure that mantequilla was the word for butter! It in fact was and they replied that they would have to try it sometime. 

I was prepared for the way that they eat this particular favorite food of mine to be different. I however did not expect them to be so stunned by my way of eating it!

Culture is the rose colored glasses through which we see. We often don’t notice that we have them on, but every now and again we catch glimpses of what our glasses look like and how they tint our world. During orientation in Chicago we had the opportunity to listen to Sunitha Mortha talk about Cross-Cultural Competency and how Culture is our response to “How do we do life?” This experience with butter on corn is just one small example. I’m excited and a little scared for all the ways I will be challenged to experience new ways of life and see my own ways of living more clearly this year and bring you all along on the journey. :) 

Monday, August 26, 2013

The beginnings

Well, I definitely intended on writing a blog before now, but there has been so much going on and so much I would like to write about that I felt like couldn’t do the experience justice... and in the end never wrote anything! So I have decided that I will just sit down now and write.

I was blessed to spend a fantastic week in Chicago with a wonderful group of 60 other YAGMS (Young Adults in Global Mission). We had important sessions that were designed to help us this next year, we were able to talk with alums of the program, we drank a lot of coffee, and we cried and laughed a lot together. There is a certain bonding that happens when all of you find yourself on the edge of a life changing experience and you are jumping in together. 

YAGMs hanging out at LSTC

I wish that I could share ALL that we learned, talked about and shared during that week. But since I can't, I'll share one interesting exercise that we did in small groups. We went around and told in depth stories about what has brought us to where we are today. We were free to share our stories and knew that our stories were valued and heard. What surprised us all was the diversity of our stories. It was a small glimpse into the lives of the people in the group, beautiful stories I wouldn't have seen coming. 

My awesome small group

During this exercise we used the “Covenant of Presence” that included some important points that I challenge you to use and will serve all of the YAGMs well this next year as we build relationships with those in our host communities:

Author your story. We all have a story. Some might say, “I don’t have a story,” or “a story worth telling,” but you do and the world is in need of hearing it. You must claim authorship of your own story and learn to tell it to others to they might understand you, be inspired by you, and discover what calls you to be who you are, do what you do, or love what you love. 

Turn to wonder. If you find yourself becoming judgmental or cynical, try turning to wonder: “I wonder why she shared that story or made those choices?” “I wonder what my reaction teaches me?” “I wonderful what he’s feeling right now?”

Hold these stories with care. There are many people who will benefit from the stories they hear during our time together. Imagine listening to another as you could listen to scripture - attentively, mindfully, and open to the holy. 
The Full "Covenant of Presence"

Then on August 21st I left with Rachel, Liz, Anna, Gabe & Jake to begin our journey in Mexico for the next year. So far our time in Mexico (which feels a lot longer than it has been!) has only touched the surface of what the country and people have to offer. We visited the “Zocalo” (Main Square) of Mexico City and the Basilica of La Virgen de Guatelupe. We have had some very informative and touching conversations with our hosts at the convent in Mexico City. 

Inside courtyard of the convent in Mexico City

Outside my window this week in Tepoztlán!
Now we have moved to a smaller city about an hour and a half outside the capital called Tepoztlán for a week of language school. We have walked around town, climbed the Tepozteco mountain and eaten the “exotic” ice cream flavors the town is known for. Through this time in Mexico our country group has grown pretty close. We are all looking forward to entering our site placements and meeting our host families in a few weeks, but in the meantime we have become each others family as we adjust to this new culture. 

Arriving in Mexico City

Alameda Park in Mexico City

After climbing Tepozteco (We are over looking the city I'll be living in this next year!)

That is just a quick overview of my last few weeks. Hopefully I’ll fill in some of the other stories and details soon and stop procrastinating! 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Remembering The Old and Making Room for The New

FYI: If you make it all the way through my ramblings you will find out my placement information or you can just skip to the pink lettering :)

I just returned from a run/walk around my college campus that started out as a way to stretch my legs after spending 14 hours in the car after our cross country journey home. It turned into a walk down memory lane. (For a visual inside my mind think Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me”). As soon as I took my first steps into the hot August night air, it felt like the beginning of a new year and moving into the dorms on campus. I turned my music on, began to run and around every corner the was an old memory. It felt as if I could give a specific memory for almost every square foot on that campus. At first it was a feeling of sadness because I know that in a few weeks students will return to campus and I will not longer fit as an undergraduate. Gradually, however, the sadness subsided and was replaced by happy nostalgic feelings. My feet traced the same steps that I had walked countless times with so many different friends. I passed places where I studied for tests and procrastinated from writing papers. My mind remembered all the times that running would help clear the worries from my head and my heart remembered all the joys from the last four years- all on these same paths. 


Next images from the last few weeks of visiting the Midwest filled my mind as well. I thought of walking the streets of my hometown in Wisconsin with a childhood friend and passing the home I grew up in and the church that raised me. Later I made the three hour journey that my family used to take into Iowa to see extended family. As I drove the road I soaked up the familiar landscape that is so different from North Carolina. I drove past my grandparents’ farms and sat at their grave sites. Each visit came with a flood of memories.

(Now remember- I’m still walking around campus!) Lastly new images of what my new home might look like started to share space with all these other memories. One year from now I may be taking a similar walk around Tepoztlán, Mexico, retracing my steps and receiving a flood of memories. (As I write this entry there are several 2012-2013 YAGMS that are in the process of doing just that.) I can’t wait to start creating these memories.

My old memories began to slide over and make room for my hopes for new experiences and together they both share a place in my heart. Communities from all parts of my life have helped shape me into who I am today and I thank all of you that have been apart of my development. My move to Mexico will be similar to my other moves in that there will be new faces, new traditions and new memories in this new place... and it will find a place in my heart no doubt. 

It has been both the approaching date of my leaving and the news of my placement that has sparked all these thoughts. Perhaps you're interested in hearing what I will be doing while I’m in Mexico? Well you’re in luck I found out yesterday! :) I will be working with SARAR (http://www.sarar-t.org/) in a town called Tepoztlán which is just south of Mexico City. I was told that I will be doing “un poco de todo” (a little bit of everything). There will be a combination of office work (which may include learning about and working with things such as grant writing, reporting, social media) and environmental education in the community. They just started a new project that is focused on preschoolers and elementary school age kids. I’m pretty excited about this site! Most people who I have shared this information with have said that it sounds like a good fit for me. The cool thing is I never told the program coordinators that in that childhood home in Wisconsin is a memory of a young Rachel who wanted to be a botanist when she grew or that walking those paths around LR I contemplated a major in environmental science.  

Lastly, as I finished my time on campus I wanted to sit on the arch and stare at the stars like I used to do with my roommate. But because Elizabeth wasn’t there I thought it might look a little weird... so I refrained! But from wherever I look at the stars, I know and am thankful that the same sky covers all of the communities I have lived in and that the same God is present among all of us... wherever we are! And with that knowledge I will take the first steps of my new journey.

“Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven you are there; if I make a bed in Sheol, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast.”

-Psalm 139:7-10

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Horizons Beyond Seeing

"Imagine this: You're looking at the horizon of your life and spot your future self coming back toward your present self. Strangely, that as-yet-unfamiliar person gives you only a slight smile and heads to the opposite horizon. There, the 'future you' meets your past persona, gives you a hug and a weeping 'Thanks.' The future you now retraces steps and comes back here, back to now. This time, the hug and 'Thanks!' are for you, with one addition: The future you extends a hand and says softly, 'Come on ahead with me.' You grasp your own hand and stride toward the horizon.

"That's what's going to be happening to you, now that you've decided to embark on global travel. You know this, don't you? Nothing's ever going to be the same. What you'll experience in your coming travel--including getting ready--will forever change your ways of seeing, eating, 'helping' and conversing. Your sense and conscience will be sharpened, your sense of life purpose will unravel and become more certain, both at the same time. Your new weepings will come from both deep joy and deep sorrow.

"Welcome forward, friend!..."

-Excerpt from Welcome Forward: A Field Guide For Global Travelers which was put out by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA!).

I think in some ways that is how many new experiences are for us. I know that in my life some of the things I have feared the most have been the best experiences. In less that 2 months I will begin my year long journey of living among the people of Mexico. I pray that when my future-self looks back at my present-self it will be with a smile, a thanks, and a comforting hand to do it all over again!

I thank all of my family and friends in advance for joining in the journey with me :)