Saturday, August 31, 2013

Taking the Leap

A road in rural Nicaragua, near the mission center.
As I was sifting the internet for interesting blogs, I stumbled upon a blog post by Girl Meets NYC. She was writing about a decision she made, to take a step away from the materialistic culture we've grown accustomed to. In most western countries, there is such a huge emphasis on money. People seem to be constantly worried about how to get more money to buy things they probably don't need, or do things that aren't necessary.
I've been struggling with this truth lately. Moving to Nicaragua has done a lot to open my eyes to the fact that the wealth I've been blessed with is not commonplace. I don't somehow have a right to it. I didn't realize until recently how much I hold on to my possessions. I've always considered myself fairly generous, and not too concerned about money. But the truth is, I never had to think about it because it was just always there. I took it for granted because I thought it was normal, and I subconsciously felt it was a right I had.
I want to change all that. I don't want to live my life on some sort of pedestal, living in Nicaragua but never really engaging. I want to live life more generously, with not just my money, but my time and energy too. I want to live a life filled with fewer material possessions and worries, and more of God's love and joy and life! I know that God is calling me to be His hands and feet, and to be honest, it scares me to take this leap. But I think it would be more frightening not to.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Creative Writing: 50th Wedding Anniversary

Weaving through the crowd, she stops now and again to exclaim over voices she loves but rarely hears. She’s beaming radiantly, and I’m reminded of another day, another time when her eyes weren’t veiled in darkness.

As I removed my hands from her eyes, she gasped upon seeing her new home. I dawdled after her as she fluttered this way and that, calling back to me, “Henry, come see the garden! This will be so beautiful!” Then coming to the crest of a hill, she stopped. Her long, wild, brown hair was free and moving with the wind. Silhouetted against the glistening lake, she was breathtaking. As I approached, I saw her hands were over her mouth and tears were glistening in her eyes. She looked up at me and smiled, with all the joy and hope in the world in her eyes. “Thank you,” she whispers.
I wake up from my daydream and find her only feet away, feeling for another object to touch, another hand to guide her. She has aged so gracefully, with creases speaking of a joyful spirit. As she feels her way closer, I reach out to her and grasp her soft hand in mine. A familiar smile creeps onto her face, and I pull her into my arms. She holds me close and I know that this is where I will always be meant to be.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Playing a Bit of Catch Up

I has been a long while since I've written, which is a shame because so much has happened! It also frustrates me because I know that the only way to become a better writer is to read and write a lot. I've been failing at that lately, but it's never too late to start!
At the end of June, I had my high school graduation, which was bittersweet. I was so overwhelmingly glad to be finished, but at the same time I didn't want to leave my friends and the only world I had ever known. It was especially hard for me because I knew that I would be leaving for Nicaragua soon after.
My dress was fiery orange and red, just like the girl on fire. Not that the choice was intentional. However, when I made that comparison, I didn't mind one bit! It was fitted to the hips, with zipper for decoration, and it had a full skirt of tulle. Being around all my family and friends that day, all hugging me and congratulating me, was a great reminder of the way God always sees me, an.d the kind of love I should be sharing more throughout my life
After the ceremony and banquet, we went to the grad parties. Now there are two official parties hosted: Safe Grad and Dry Grad. Safe Grad involves the consumption of alcohol, so I naturally try to avoid that scene. The other I helped out with, by designing a logo with my friend, so we decided to go to that one. The thing is, we could only stay for a few hours. Her dad was driving the two of us, at three in the morning, to meet the rest of our mission team going to Chicago. So it was a long day!
The Chicago trip was amazing! There were close to 30 people from our church and youth group going, and there were a lot of people I didn't know very well before the trip. It was really cool to get to know them better and develop those bonds. A few times, we were given alone time for devotionals, and I felt God speak to me so directly. It was an amazing feeling, and God taught me so much! We were doing inner city missions, so we met a lot of homeless people. What a cool experience! I had originally been a little afraid of them, for whatever reason, but after having a few really inspiring conversations, I really came to appreciate them. In many ways, I think they are better off than me. One man, who was battling cancer and had no money to pay for treatment, told me he's glad he's homeless, because it forces him to depend on God more. Every single meal he eats was miraculously given to him by God, and he appreciates it so much. That is one thing that I have lacked in my life: thankfulness. I don't think one can be that grateful without such hardship. I am so thankful that God gave me those experiences, and I shall cherish them forever.
When I got back from the mission trip, I didn't even get home before my family and I were off again on marvelous adventures. We travelled around 8 hours to my aunt and uncle's house to visit them for a few days.
We've lived in Nicaragua for around 3 weeks now. I am really enjoying it! It still feels somewhat like a vacation, but I know eventually that will change. We are learning Spanish, and it is going a lot quicker than I expected. It'll be a while before we are fully conversational, but after 2 weeks of classes, we can have a basic conversation if we're patient.
Another missionary family chose our house for us before we moved here, and it used to belong to another missionary family, who just moved into the capital. The house is a lot bigger than we expected, and it feels so empty with our few possessions. We're hoping to purchase a few more pieces of furniture so the place doesn't echo so much.
Another reason we want a few more things around is so that our friend, Senor Geco (Mister Gecko in Spanish), will have some places to hide. Geckos are very good to have in the house, because they eat the bugs. The other family we are working with in Nicaragua told us that geckos become like family. So of course he needed a name.
We've been having some really good theological conversations with one of our Spanish teachers lately. He seems to be really seeking God, and while we aren't sure exactly where his heart lies (I'm not sure anyone but God can truly know that about a person.), he seems to be looking for something. One day, our homework was to pick a theme and explain it in Spanish. My mom wrote about forgiveness, and I wrote about love. After we finished reading them, he sat there for a while, not saying anything. Then he told us that the night before, he had been struggling and asking God some really tough questions, and that he didn't expect God to use our homework to show him the answers. How cool is that? God is truly working in his life, and it's cool to get to see that. We invited him to come to church with us, and he said he would really like to, so hopefully it works for him to join us sometime.
Anyways, that is a very brief summary of what I've been up to lately, and what God has been doing in my life. I can't wait to see what else He has in store!

A Bitter Farewell

I have found that the best way to practice writing is through creative writing prompts. This eliminates the stress and pressure of trying to write a full story, because you can write as little or as much as you like. It's just for practice, so instead of feeling overwhelmed and losing the creative juices, you can relax and let it flow. Here is one that I wrote the other day:

Not a sound could be heard in the tiny, run down house, save the sound of forks on the ceramic plates, and the ceiling fan humming. Kain sat hunched over, scowling at his thin stew, as his mother tried once more to talk to him. “Kain honey, I just don’t understand why you would do this. Throwing your life away on drugs and petty crime? I never would have thought I would get a call from the station about you. I’m used to it with your father, but I thought you were better than that. I had such high hopes for you!”

Kain didn’t look up. His dark eyes continued to stare bitterly at his plate. His mother sighed. The lines and wrinkles on her face told a long tale of worry and hard labor. She still wore her work clothes, and her grey hair was falling out of the elastic that held it up. She gazed out the window and leaned back in her chair, deep in thought.

“Life’s a lot more complicated than you think, Ma,” he muttered. Then looking up he held her gaze, and said more strongly, “I’m not doing this because of you, okay? It’s never been about you. I just did what I had to do to survive.”

She didn’t speak. She watched his face for some time, searching him out. He didn’t back down; his pride wouldn’t let him. Finally she turned again to the window and bit her lip, fighting tears. Kain leaned back and watched the ceiling fan for a moment or two before he spoke. “I thought of all people, you would understand.” She watched him rise to his feet. “But I guess I was wrong.” At that he strode quickly out the kitchen door and never returned.
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