Friday, June 30, 2017

Colombia #4. Juan

Today I want to share with you about Juan.
 Juan deserves a blog post all to himself  because he put in so much work and effort with our team, and he is an incredible young man who became a very good friend and brother to me.  Let me share a little bit about Juan.

 Juan works for the church, and lives in Medellín. He is also a full time student, studying psychology. He's traveled the world and met thousands of people and had countless experiences with all different ethnicities and religions. He has a story, or more often than not, a song, for everything. And he brings all of that into his passion and expertise.

 I am honestly amazed that as our full time translator, he learned all his English from TV and songs and movies. He is very intelligent. When I was there last year, I would pay attention to our translator to listen to the Spanish, even though I was understanding (obviously) the English. But this year, it was different for me, because now I am in school to do some of the very things that Juan was doing. So I paid attention to how he translated, on what he elaborated or adjusted and his expressions. I watched how he articulated and related to the people, and I took in a lot of culture from those observations. A lot of translating has to do with knowing the culture, and Juan certainly knows his community and country. It also amazes me that here I am studying in college to do what he is doing from self-learning.

 Juan is loved by the people there and by the team members too. I am sure that if you were to ask each of them their perspective, each of them could give you a different story about Juan. He had a way of relating to each person according to that person's personality and abilities. That is a rare quality. He laughs so much and you can hear his voice from clear across the way. He dances and sings and gets silly but knows when the time is right for serious moments just as well.

Oh, and I cannot neglect to share that he became quite known for, when asked to take a picture for someone, turning it around and taking many selfies with silly faces or snapshotting about 50 photos instead of one (it's no wonder my storage got full by the last night and I had to quick delete some things so I could continue taking pictures). He does take good pictures, but not without adding some of his own flare.

 Juan was really good about meeting our team's needs and noticing when things may have been slightly off. He went out of his way to make sure everyone was eating and drinking and learning and growing. When a team member needed something, Juan was quick to find a way to accommodate. The teens there respect him and the kids love him too.

 He worked hard alongside us, not just translating but sweating with us, laughing with us, and letting us cry when need be. Perhaps it was because it was my second time there so my eyes and heart were open to new things, or maybe it is because Juan is different from Paola (last year's translator) but I learned different things from him. I took home a lot of lessons from my interactions with Juan, and I am forever a little different because of his friendship. He became as a brother to me.

 He is observational and puts that into play in how he teaches and shares and loves and laughs and learns. His love for his country and the people of Brisas is evident in his actions and words.

 I admire that he finds ways to translate (which by the way, an unusual occurrence of a team coming in back to back right after us I know had to leave him utterly exhausted because it truly takes so much energy and effort.), go to school, work, have a girlfriend and maintain a life balance. This is why he deserves his own blog post. I am thankful to have a new brother in my corner... and yes, i know that just like my brothers here, he would have my back in a heartbeat. Because that is what brothers do.

Emma and Juan were having a little jam singing session 

Then he added a little bit of dancing to it

Youth Night, Juan translating 

My brother. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Colombia #3. The Brisas Staff

Just like in any church, sometimes the staff rotates. The same applies to the church in Brisas. This year, upon my return, some of the same staff remained, but there were new staff, too. Truthfully, I could dedicate an entire blog to each of these people, as I have grown to love them so much.

 I already talked about John, the contractor who does all of the building projects.

 Today, I will introduce to you Miguel and Pastor Javier, I will tell you about Yuleida, who is the clinic administrator. And The kitchen staff, Delci and Deanna.

 This team went out of their way to make us, their guests, feel special, loved, and at home.

 First, the kitchen staff.
  Let me just tell you, these ladies can cook. And they don't get enough credit. They spend so much time in the kitchen that out of the staff, I probably get to talk to them the least. As a team, we tend to be immersed in the construction or with the programs we do, so we aren't found in the "kitchen" too often.
 Let me tell you what I mean by kitchen.

  It is not a "kitchen" by American standards. The kitchen is built under a cabana type structure. There is no oven, but there is electricity that runs to it from the extension of the clinic/housing/cabana area, so they can and do use blenders. The counters are wood, probably made from boards. The handiwork of the "legs" of the tables in the kitchen is beautiful. Simple, carved from trees. There is nothing elegant about it, but it's hand done and the love behind that does not escape me.
 the floors are dirt. The Walls are also parts of trees, for a lack of good verbiage. The roof is made from palms. They use large pots to boil things and blenders to make juices. Since I am not the world's greatest cook, describing the kitchen is not my forte. But the food that they deliver to our table is exquisite.
 There is truly nothing they made that I did not like. Deanna and Delci do a great job cooking. The meals are huge compared to what we eat, or so it seems. We are told the menu is designed around what our work is for that day. The harder we are scheduled to work, the more grandiose the meal in order to replenish our bodies. Soup, meat, beans, rice, plantains, yuca, fresh juices, fresh fish. Everything tasted so good. I'll just do a different blog about food, but the point is to talk about the ladies who cooked it. These ladies have a semi-thankless job. They go often unnoticed, as they truly spend their whole day in the kitchen. They cook well and they cater to everything the team needs. When one team member didn't like something, much to his chagrin, they cooked him something special. When one team member had a difficult time chewing, they went to the extent of chopping up her food more. Seriously, there is nothing these ladies did not do for us. They are wonderful servants, humble women, lovingly giving to us. They are beautiful.
Deanna serving up the bowls to Mileth, who then brought them out to us

Delci, preparing to serve us

 Yuleida is the clinic administrator.  I will tell you more about her when I write about the clinic. But she is part of the church staff. She lives in Medellín, but does all of the purchasing and tracking of items for the clinic in Brisas. She is a beautiful woman and has grown to become a very good friend of mine. During the week, she and I shared a bed (everyone shares beds there... they do a great job of making the accommodations comfortable.) But she and I slept up in the loft (I will tell you more on that later) and her daughter, Taliana was there during the week, too. Taliana is 3.
 Yuleida and I cry together and laugh together. We share stories of our lives and we bond in a beautiful way. Yuleida works so hard to make that clinic the best medical facility within her ability. I won't say too much more, because I want to share about that in a blog about the clinic. She was the first one when I stepped off the bus to throw her arms around me in love. She is a beautiful soul.

 oh, Miguel.... he is spunky and loving. I knew Miguel from last year, but at that time, he was sort of one of the teens who was in a leadership role. This year, he was the third to greet me off the bus with open arms and loving words. Miguel comes from the neighboring village of Alto de Julio, but is now part of the Brisas community. Last year, we would chat, but I got to spend a little more time talking to him this year. At our first meal, I asked him, "Miguel, tell me what is new" and his eyes lit up and he said so much... and I asked what and he began to tell me about how he is studying to be a pastor now! Miguel, at 18 years old, is now being mentored by Pastor Javier and others, who are helping him to be the pastor he desires to be. To see how far he has come in a year's time, it makes my heart happy.
 He was a huge help with the activities we did and his eagerness to serve and to pastor others was evident. I am so excited to see how God is working in him and will continue to do so. For someone who has grown up seeing so much devastation in his small village, what an incredible story of how God has healed and brought him to this place. He laughs a lot and even though he doesn't speak English and many of the team did not speak Spanish, his desire to communicate through love and efforts of English phrases was fantastic.
I love that Chris caught this photo on our first day (Thanks, Chris) This is Miguel and I chatting when he was telling me about becoming a pastor.

Me, Miguel, Mileth on our last night there.

Pastor Javier
 Now, Pastor Javier really deserves a little more than a paragraph, so perhaps for now I will introduce him and then speak of him more later. He was new to the staff from my time there last year. He comes from Medellín, but he grew up in Baranquilla. He is there pastoring while his family is in the city still, while his youngest child is finishing up high school. But the call on his life to be in Brisas has brought him there, and he is doing a great job with the community. I will discuss him later when we talk about the church service and the church community, but there you have a brief intro to him.

Our last night, Pastor saying a few words and Juan translating

 Doctora Jennifer.
  Doctora is also new, and I think it's best to discuss her along with the clinic, too, but at least let me introduce you to her with a photo. She is beautiful, quiet, and full of love. More on her soon.

 There are a few nurses there, who unfortunately I do not have photos of, but they serve just as diligently. There was a quiet, humble woman who worked hard for our team in all of the cleaning she did. Here name is Rosario. She got no praise and we did not have a lot of contact with her. But she diligently emptied our trash (which, mind you, was not wonderful, because all the toilet paper goes in the trash and not in the toilet!), cleaned the bathroom, made our beds every day, including folding our blankets and pajamas we left all over the bed, swept the floors and made sure we were in a clean place. Here we are in the middle of a forgotten little village, and there is a beautiful woman, seeking no praise, cleaning up after us! I heard Emma, the youngest member of the team, take note especially of this task.  I will forever remember her face and her acts of love.

 This small staff worked hard to make us feel at home. And they succeeded.
Tomorrow I will dedicate a page telling you about our translator, Juan.

 So many stories.... this will take a few weeks to share, as I told you...

Monday, June 26, 2017

Colombia 2017 #2

As I am still working on collecting my thoughts from my time in Brisas, I could write so many pages about so many things. I want to share with you about my team, about the construction, about lessons learned, about the staff in Brisas del Mar and about new experiences.
 I don't know what to share today. I am trying to find normal again, as I am back to work and back into the swing of the kids' schedules. But after a trip like that, what even is "normal" anymore? It will never cease to amaze me how the travels and being in a third world area give a person perspective. I still have the same worries and struggles here, and yet somehow they feel different. It's a beautiful gift I pray I can hang on to.

 Today I will share with you about the construction. I don't want to talk this blog out day by day necessarily because sometimes a day was packed full with multiple activities. So let's break it down... Today: Construction.

We went there as a construction team.

John is the contractor there, and he really does know what he's doing. If you put one of us into his position we would mess it all up because we don't have the concept of how the construction needs done in their country like he does.
 John does an amazing job at guiding us, communicating when he doesn't speak English, and knowing what needs done. He is so encouraging to us, too, always telling us good job and thanking us. We look at it and feel like we've barely scratched the surface of what needs done, but to him, to their community, what we get done helps propel them forward.
  I will show some pictures at the end of this blog to compare what I saw and did last year to what we came into and worked on this year. To many, and to most, when viewing the photos, it's easily said "That's all that got done in a year and a half??"  But to those of us working there, or those of us who had seen it before, we thank God for the progress it has made!

 You see, construction there is a very slow process. Mostly it gets worked on when teams come in, so the more teams we can get in there, the better off Brisas will be, the quicker the building can be finished. Rains hinder the process, too. We saw that this year. We lost a whole day on the site when there was a storm all night and so the site was too muddy to be worked on.
  I was so excited to see that walls had been built!! That was huge progress for the building.
 By the way, they don't go buy the blocks... John makes them. Literally his handiwork is all over the process of building this church. Yes, they make the cement blocks by hand. He has some helpers, but honestly, can you even imagine here in the states making every block by hand, how long that would take?? It's truly a process one cannot imagine without seeing it for themselves.

 The first day we were able to get out on the site, we divided and conquered. Ginnifer and I spent several hours cleaning up rocks. There was a section inside the walls that had rocks all over the ground. Everything gets repurposed, reused. Including the rocks. Emma and Ashley helped us. Cindy and Barb, too. Rocks were shoveled into the bucket, and the bucket of rock was emptied into a large sac. 2 loads of rocks per sac, then the sac would get wheeled off to another area. Eventually we used up all the sacs, and began just dumping the rocks into the wheelbarrow itself. It was hot and they were heavy. But we pushed through and got it done! The rocks would be used to be mixed with sand and make cement eventually.

 Ashley and Emma also worked on digging a "trench". I can't think of a better word to describe this. But water had built up on the inside base of the walls, so a little space was dug to drain the water to the outside.

 Ed and Chris and James were working on a digging project on the outside of the walls. Ed and Chris were the construction "leads" from our team, having the most knowledge in that area, so they spent a lot of time closely working with John and putting things into action. Michael filled the gaps between people's needs, shoveling dirt. The event was a true team effort.

 As we worked, the teen girls of Brisas were servants and filled our water bottles diligently and would bring us drinks of water. A true picture of the verse that says "I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink." These girls served us. There wasn't one of us that that fact has escaped.

 As the week went on, I can't even tell you all of the work that went into the construction. Very much of it involved digging and dumping dirt, moving it from one part of the worksite to fill in the other. We were working on leveling out what was inside the walls. The air was humid, and sweat dripped off of us as though it were actually raining!

 John had a compactor that ran with a belt and gas (forgive my lack of technical terms here) but unfortunately, the machine needed a new belt and while we were there, we could not get it to work. So as much as was possible, a hand compactor was being used.

 On another day of the construction, the community came out in full force. Literally. It was a beautiful event. The women wanted to shovel, the teenagers wanted to dig dirt, the young kids wanted to push the wheelbarrows of dirt from one location to another. Everyone was hands on. There were not enough shovels for that, but of course it was exciting to have them working with us, so we all took turns. And in between we spent time chit chatting or offering a hand to the others. Again, true team effort.

 By the end of the week, there was a little bit more foundational walls inside the building and so much dirt had been moved to begin leveling out and creating the space needed on the outside for what they will be doing out there.

 The process of this building is long. It is my dream to one day see the completion of it. There is no telling when that might be, but we are all praying for that day. This building has had so many hands involved, so many people invested in it, so much love and sweat poured out through each phase.

 To explain the construction process is a little challenging. We Americans (or, as they would correct us because they live in South America they view all of us-them and us- as Americans. Thus, they say we are from the United States. Sorry, that was a total side note.)Anway, we have a tendency to be so used to our ways that we believe our ways are the right ways. But when you are in another culture, it is imperative to adapt to their ways. This is a challenge, I think especially when it comes to the construction aspect. We see ways that can make it all faster or better... and maybe sometimes it will... but the reality is they have different soil, different economy, different abilities, different tools and different lifestyles.
 Therefore, explaining the construction to others is TOUGH. For that matter, trying to sum up what we experienced or felt or learn is tough all around. But I am trying to do that.
 All in all, I believe we accomplished some good work. To the naked eye, it probably seems we did nothing. But to those of us shoveling dirt for the last week... we get it.
 Here are a few photos. Take note that there are a few included from my trip last year to try to show you the progress that was made.(Also, please note... I don't have a collage photo maker. I will work on this so that I don't have so many large photos in one blog, but for now...sorry.. )
  The next blog I will tell you about the staff in Brisas.








By the end of the week, these mounds of dirt had been pretty well leveled off and moved to another area

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Colombia 2017. Brisas del Mar Day 1

Buenas Días. Voy a empezar hoy escribiendo en español porque pienso que eso es parte de que está en mi corazón, pero aquí en Ohio, es mas difícil hablar el idioma. Parte de mi experiencia en Colombia es hablando español, porque eso es una passión en mi corazón. Una cosa que Dios me dio. Entonces, se parece mejor que empiezo el blog con eso.

 (Good Morning! I am going to begin today writing in Spanish because I think that is part of what is in my heart, but in Ohio, it is more difficult to speak the language. Part of my experience in Colombia is speaking the language, because it is a passion of mine in my heart. It is something God has given me. So, it seemed right to begin the blog with this....)

 I just returned from another incredible trip to Brisas del Mar, Colombia. And so you will bear with me over the next couple of weeks as I share pieces of the time we experienced as a team, what I felt as an individual, how God used the time to reshape me once again.
 Heading into the trip, as you know, I was not certain what it would hold, since I had been once before. I knew God would do amazing things, as He always does, but I wasn't sure what it was that He had in store for me this time. I am still processing and digesting everything, but I want to share over the next few weeks about the people, about my experiences, about my heart. Because let me tell you, the last time I visited there, I left a piece of my heart with that country, those people. This time, I believe they took an even bigger chunk of it. I am in love with that little village. Completely enamored.
 Today, as I sit down to write, I don't even really know where to begin, as is the case when an event so grandiose occurs. Words can't really describe the emotions floating through my soul. But I want to share, I want to explain to you about the trip and I want to digest through my writing the lessons I am bringing home with me. I will tell you about the construction and the teenagers and the kids and the staff. I want to share with you about the climate and the bugs and the conditions. I will pour my heart out until you can feel what I experienced a little bit through my words. The depth of such an experience never escapes me. So, I will do my best to invite you into this with me for a couple of weeks.

 Today I will simply share about Day 1 of our trip.
First of all, as I said in my last blog, I went into this event not really knowing the team. I have come out with stronger bonds than I ever thought possible once again. An experience like this as a unit does that for you. I will talk more about the team in a later blog, but they were an incredible group of people. We met at the airport at 5 am, and it was raining hard as we drove our way there. But it let up fine for our plane to take off on time. We flew to Atlanta and I enjoyed my chats with the team members along the way.

 As we landed in Atlanta, we hurried to our connecting flight just in time to make it in line to board. We then had an almost 4 hour flight to Cartagena, Colombia. I spent the flight talking.... imagine that ;)
    As we landed, the blanket of humidity swept over us and it was clear we were not in Ohio any more. We passed our way through customs quite easily and I earned a new stamp in my passport. After moving through customs, we met our in country host, our translator - Juan.
 I'd had a little contact with Juan over the months, but minimal. He knew some of the others, so I wasn't in direct interaction with him immediately in the airport. But who was there to greet me was a girl who grew very special in my heart during my 2016 trip, Mileth.
  Mileth was one of the teenagers in the village. She graduated in December (Their school year only goes to 11th grade, and they graduate in December rather than June like us.) When she graduated, she moved to the city. She'd asked if she could come to Brisas on the bus with us. That doesn't always happen, but in this circumstance, it became possible.
  And so we embraced. Somehow, although a year and almost 5 months have passed since I was there, it felt like just yesterday I'd said goodbye to her. I think that's what strong bonds are. I feel sad or distant when we are apart, even though we stay in touch, but when we meet again, it's like no time has passed. It's a beautiful thing and the fact that I have that in 2 countries is even more beautiful to me.
   We did just minimal money exchanges and then we loaded the bus to head out to Brisas.

 Now, it is the rainy season in Colombia, and therefore, we were unsure if we'd be able to travel out there on our arrival day or not. Remember, roads there are not like here. In the city, yes, they are paved. But as you get half way into the trip, it's dirt and dust. So, our translator (I will just say Juan from now on out) had been concerned, but he'd heard from the village and it was ok to go on out.
To give you an idea of the roads there during this time of year, here is a photo. I will write more on this later, but this is a glimpse of the experience. Now... imagine taking a bus full of suitcases and people through roads like this!! I have to say hats off to our driver, who did a wonderful job navigating through this mess. We didn't get stuck once! Almost... but we did not. Total God thing!

 That being said, I sat with Mileth on the bus. As she often times would have her hand on my leg or my hand (don't forget, Colombian culture is so much more touchy/loving that what we can be here in the States... and it's beautiful) we would converse. She would tell me about the plants as we drove by them or we would talk about our families. I was warming up to speaking the language full time again, since she doesn't speak English. I felt a little rusty, but little by little, it was all rolling off my tongue again. Along with learning new words along the way.

 Now let me tell you about when we arrived in that village. As our bus pulled into view of the clinic, my heart swelled. And as i sit here and write it, the memory is as fresh as if I am stepping off the bus now.


 Yes, sounds strange. But it's how I feel there in that little village.
I stepped off the bus, and Yuleida was one of the first to say my name and come to embrace me hard.
 Then came John, the contractor.
 Then Miguel, one of the (former) youth, now studying to be a pastor.
Then Pastor Javier, whom I'd not yet met but who welcomed me as though we'd been friends for life. (He is a new pastor there since I was last in the village, and there is much to share on him in blogs to come as well.)

 Truly, I wept. Happy tears. This village is my family as much as my village at home. And as it was with Mileth, I felt like it was yesterday I was there in how they welcomed me "home".

 We proceeded to unload and do greetings and get settled. The people of Brisas del Mar go to wonderful extents to make us feel comfortable in their village.

 After we'd settled a bit and eaten and chatted, the village had a special program prepared for us. Everyone comes, they circle around the cabana in the chairs or sit on the edges of the cabana to be a part of the welcoming program for us. I cannot even begin to share with you how special that moment was.

 Pastor Javier and the staff had worked hard to prepare a time to make us feel at home. And wow... it was beautiful. They did a welcome (Juan translating) and then they began. First, they started with singing their national anthem. I had never heard it before, and to see them sing was heart-warming. They belted out the words with pride. I watched their faces, as they sometimes closed their eyes and sang, sometimes pushed words out with more expression. I could not understand much of it, and I came to learn a little later that it was written a long time ago, so much of the words are in "old Spanish" meaning, spoken in such a way I probably haven't learned that aspect of it.
 But surprisingly as theirs ended, ours began. And so we all put hands over our heart and sang proudly, too.
                               Two culture were blending as one.

 Lastly, the teens gathered in the center of the cabana with a tall pole with long strips of cloth tied to the top. They were red, white, blue, yellow, blue, red. The colors of the American Flag and the Colombian Flag. The two cultures blending as one, as the girls weaved around one another, essentially braiding the colors together.

 What a beautiful act of love.
    What a special sense of welcoming.

Brisas del Mar was telling us Ohioans that while we may live in two countries, two cultures, we are brothers and sisters in Christ. We are one in faith and in love.


 Then, as they finished, everyone walked around hugging us, welcoming us, loving us.

 So. Much. Love. 

 Words cannot describe how the people of Brisas welcome us. Words cannot describe what this does for my heart. But over the next few days, I will share about our experiences and about our week in the village that passed like the blink of an eye. I began by telling you that I'd left a piece of my heart there last year. Well, they held onto it well because my heart swelled with fullness upon my return.
  I tell you now that as I left their village on our last day, I left more of my heart there this time.
Brisas del Mar, Colombia is a special place, tucked away in a forgotten corner of the country, and I am blessed to be a part of the teams that have "found" it and get to work alongside them to help them grow and learn. Except the truth is, I think they teach me more than we go in teaching them.

  Day 1 of Brisas del Mar trip just begins to scratch the surface of the beauty in which I was engulfed for a week's time. More stories to come....

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Journey to Colombia 2017

At this time tomorrow, I will be sitting on a plane on my way to Colombia for the second time!
 It is almost surreal. I have been thinking about ways this experience has been different from the first time of going, as much as I can see similarities, too.
  This time of preparation to go has flown by, I think in part because of how busy my spring was. The last time I went, I went in February, which is a much slower season of life for me. So it has made some of these details a little fuzzier.
 But God is in the details. Every one of them. Whether I see them yet or not, I am certain that in weeks to come, I will see more of those details.

 Getting away from home, from the every day, from work and routines, tends to open the eyes on many levels, and it is my prayer that my eyes will be opened once again, however the Lord would like me to see. Getting out of my comfort zone has a way of reshaping me and growing me yet again.

 What do I most look forward to? I think right now, as I sit and write this, I most look forward to reconnecting with the people in the little village of Brisas del Mar, who have become an extension of my heart. I can't wait to sit face to face with them again and converse and share. (I hope that my Spanish hasn't gotten rusty.... although it is my major in school, I have to get all these basics out of the way, and haven't had the opportunity to immerse myself in it yet) . I look forward to getting to know my team more. When I went last year, I didn't much know my team, since I lived an hour away from them. I don't know my team much this time, either. A few of them, yes. But not the full team. So I look forward to seeing how we work together and how God uses them in my life.

 What am I most nervous about? Well.... probably giving the youth lessons. Teaching is not my gift, really. Getting up in front of all the kids isn't really, either. But I will be giving youth lessons twice. I pray that my words would not be mine, but God's through me. that it would touch the youth. I think I am nervous as I leave my family this time. Strange... I didn't feel that way last time. But this time around the kids have so many activities going on and our family is awaiting some answers on a few things as well, so parting ways with them this time is harder for me.

 What will I learn?  Who knows... only God does. But you know I will come back and blog all about it.
  I will dance with the kids and not care how white American I seem.
    I will speak the language and learn new words and probably make mistakes but I will laugh at myself in the process.
      I will get dirty on the construction site and be grateful for the little bit of water available to shower myself.
    I will have an open heart and mind to what God wants to do.

 The rain there has been very bad, which may or may not affect our construction. But I am anxious to see what is there this time compared to last time I was there.

  This journey to this trip has been similar and yet so different. And in about 10 days I will sit here and share with you all about it. In the meantime, I will take in lessons and moments one day at a time....

Thursday, June 1, 2017

What I Learned this Spring

I'm linking up today with Emily and talking about what we learned not just in May, but the last few months, since we do this post once a quarter.
 The Spring has been full, I can honestly say I have learned many lessons. If I had to pick one word to sum up Spring it would be Busy. So, here are a few things I learned- some simple, some deep.

1. I have completed one year of college!!
 Seriously, this is a happy dance statement! It's not really something I "learned" per say (that I finished a year of school), but what I have learned along the way has been monumental. Educationally and about myself, too. And the fact that I am finally on this journey is some days still a little unrealistic. But, one year down... so many more to go. Because one year is really like half of a year in regular terms because I can only take a couple of classes at a time. However, One Year Down! :)

2. Gladiolus is my new favorite flower.
 A gladiolus is the flower of the gladiator. It represents strength and integrity and passion. It also represents Never Giving Up. The flower has many shades and it's beautiful. It stands tall, with spear like stems, also why it is known as the gladiator's flower, representing a sword. It feels like a flower meant for me.... and I totally love these flowers!

 3. I like trail running. It's pure and beautiful and fun. I may not get to do it too often, but I love it.

 4. I will eliminate the word slow from my vocabulary, when it comes to running. I'm working on it. You can read why  here if you want to catch up on that.

 5. I really like LuLaRoe clothing
 It has taken me a year to finally jump on board this train of  the fashion of leggings. I still am not quite confident 100% in how I look in them but they are so soft and comfy it doesn't really matter.

 6. Bed and Breakfasts are quaint and special. They aren't made for every day life, but that's what makes them unique.

7. God is in every Detail, Even When We Can't See.
  Sometimes it is hard to see the evidence of God. But that is one reason I write. I spent some time the last few days going through some of my old writings from the last year (since my last travels to Colombia). Many times I have prayed about something important to me. There are some things that do not have answers. But there are more things that do. But I forget this many days.
 God is in every detail, whether I recognize it or not. And when I read back over prayers and desires and events, His hand is written in the pieces I miss all too often.
 Let me give one small example. When I came back from Colombia a year ago, I desperately wanted to return there. As time passed, I accepted the idea I probably would not see that happen. My family had a hard time with it and finances were a piece and it just seemed out of reach. But God had other plans. Sometimes I have to let go of my ways in order to accept His. I pursued one trip, which didn't work out. Then another, which also did not work  out. And guess what happened? The team leader for the Colombia team for June gave me a call and asked me if I would attend with their team. Everything fell into place. God is in the details. And here I am going back in just 2 short weeks. Wow. when a year passes, I forget sometimes that I've prayed about something or how it all plays out. When I read back my own words, it's like God's voice speaking out loud saying.... "See... I was here all along. You just have to be patient."
 Not every request or desire works out that way. But let me just share with you that one thing He has taught me this spring is that even if I don't see an answer as I want to see it every time or even right away, when I look at how He has answered many things in my life, I know He is with me in every detail, whether I recognize it or not. Those answers He does choose to give me give me a glimpse of His listening ear and His love and His presence. He really is in every detail of life.

 I am confident that I have learned many more things along the last few months, but for now those are the immediate ideas in my mind. As I am about to step into a new Colombia adventure and as I take a speech class this summer, I am sure that I will have many more cool things to learn the next few months.
 Keep on growing and day at at time!