Today I don't want to write a formal post. While maybe (or maybe not) there will be some insights to life included here, more so today I am writing just like I'd be writing you a letter.So please forgive the informality, but I hope you can feel the excitement I am experiencing jumping off this page into your day for a brief moment.
You guys.... I leave in 3 days for Colombia. 3 days!!!!
The trip itself is finally becoming real. I have been talking about this for months, and it's finally here! I could jump out of my skin due to pure anticipation . My poor teammates might be ready to say goodbye to me before we even begin.
We meet up at the church at 3:50 am on Tuesday. While they might be inwardly groaning at that early hour, I will be the one who is chatting endlessly most likely. The early hours do not bother me, and the excitement has me even more awake. So teammates, if you are reading this... I apologize now :) You haven't seen this side of me, but beware.
I was asked earlier this week by a co-worker if I was ready to speak the language. I would say that the fact I have been dreaming in Spanish lately is a good indication that it is once again becoming engrained in my mind. When asked if I am nervous about this trip, the answer is still no. However, if anything makes me nervous, it's that I may completely blunder a phrase or two. But hey, you can't learn if you don't make mistakes. (Want to know how I learned how to say the word "hole" in Spanish? On the only other mission trip I have taken, I was speaking and accidentally said I was from a hole! Yes, I did. And I will never forget that word or experience!) I am sure there will be a few moments like that. But you know what? I am so excited to be immersed in the speaking of it once again. I'm as passionate about speaking Spanish as I am about running. (I actually considered pursuing Spanish as a degree, but life's circumstances trumped that idea.)
It has been 15 years since I last traveled abroad, and traveling as an 18 year old is SO different from now traveling as a 33 year old. From the raising of funds, to getting off work, to trying to organize my family's life while I am away... the details are so much more intricate. But each one seems to be falling into place. I am going to miss my family... this is the first experience to really be apart from them for a length of time. But, I think that is going to add to the beauty of the trip. We will all appreciate one another more when I return (I hope!) I have packed and repacked my bag, making sure I have everything. I am a master packer.... my mom taught me well. I have fit crazy amounts of things into my suitcase, and I am excited to leave much of it behind for them when we leave.
Another huge difference in traveling abroad at 18 v. 33 is the fact that at 18, I had not experienced life. I knew nothing. And while that experience at that time was beautiful and shaping, I know that this experience will be life-changing. It already has been, but I know that the experience thus far has just scratched the surface. Getting there is going to be eye-opening. At 33, it's easy to get comfortable with my every day clean, hot water, my readily available Wal-Mart and Kroger, the internet at my fingertips, and instant communication as part of my daily routine. To separate from those things for a few days is going to offer a fresh perspective. Likely challenging at first, but one which I am ready to do. I am ready to be immersed in a new culture and regain the perspective of what matters every day.
I have heard this comparison made when speaking of the Colombians: We (the Americans) wear a watch but have no time. The Colombians don't wear watches but have all the time in the world. I have decided not to wear my watch on this trip. I will feel a bit naked without it most likely, but I want to not worry what hour of the day it is. I just want to be in the moment. I want to fully experience this trip, the people, the team, the village.
Lastly, at 18, while I understood what God had done for me on the cross and I wanted to share that with others, I can honestly say that now, at 33, I truly grasp what grace means. I felt unworthy to be part of this trip, but God tells me differently. And understanding His grace on a whole deeper level means being able to show and share it on a different level as well.
In case it wasn't evident, I am so very excited to meet my Colombian friends in just a few days. And soon enough, I will be sharing with you about the experience.