My wonderful friend Nona wrote this perfect description of our Galician adventures last weekend. Our friendship began when we studied together in Santiago de Chile, so Santiago de Compostela seemed a fitting end to Chapter 2 of our international friendship. Enjoy!
Dear friends and family,
I am beyond excited to be starting this blog anew, as I head off to the Eastern Shore of Virginia for the summer, where I will be employed by YouthWorks, a non profit organization that provides Christ-centered, short term mission trip experiences for church youth groups. YouthWorks maintains relationships with 70+ communities across the U.S. throughout the year, and hires staff to run mission trips in these cities each summer. I have been assigned to the Eastern Shore site, along with three other staff members. Each of us have been hired to fulfill a unique role: Lucy will run the Kids Club (a VBS-type program for community kids); John will be in charge of organizing works projects (painting and light construction); Joseph is our Program Coordinator (morning devotionals, evening activities and worship); and I have been hired as the Site Director (still not quite sure what this means…something along the lines of head honcho and/or organizer extraordinaire). Market Street United Methodist Church, located in the small town of Onancock on the Chesapeake Bay, will be our home base this summer. We’ll be sleeping, eating, serving, working, and worshipping there, alongside the visiting youth groups.
The Eastern Shore is a Spanish-speaking site, which means all the staff hired are proficient in Spanish. Many of the community members are Hispanic, and Spanish is the first language of most of the Kids Club participants. I’m excited for the opportunity to live in a new place and meet new people, and a little anxious about all of the unknowns. But mostly excited!
But before I move to VA, I will be heading down to Birmingham, Alabama (home to Claire Angell and Samford University, woot woot!) for a week of training with all of the YouthWorks staff who have been assigned to the Southeast Region. From there, my staff and I will drive up to Onancock and begin our week of preparations.
My hope is to keep ya’ll updated (see, I’m already adapting to Southern culture! Actually, I have no idea if they even say “ya’ll” in Virginia…but I’ll let you know!) with a blog post once every week or two (or three).
Prayers for safe travels, staff friendships, and community relationships would be appreciated during these next few weeks. Thank you so much for journeying alongside me, on the next great adventure.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3
I’ve been back in the motherland for one week now! Last week Thursday I was greeted in the Grand Rapids airport by my mom, Lydia, and Bryn, who brought me balloons and peanut butter. I had an amazing trip to Peru the first week of December with my three best friends from my study abroad program. We went to Lima, Cusco, and even made it up to Machu Picchu. My last week in Santiago was good, but bittersweet. Lots of hard goodbyes, but I know I’ll at least be back to visit someday.
I brought a lot back to the U.S. with me…
Here’s just a few of the things that I acquired abroad:
- 12 scarves…but most of them are presents! I promise!
- 4 sweaters, 2 shirts, 1 pair of really cute shoes.
- 2 llamas. Obviously not the real thing. I don’t think I could get those through customs, although Bryn would be ecstatic to receive a llama for Christmas.
- Wooden spoons, a stash of reusable grocery bags, 2 mugs, a thermos, etc, etc.
- The Chilean greeting, besitos y abrazos (kisses and hugs), as a hello and goodbye.
- Chocolate bars and packaged cookies.
- A vastly improved (Chilean) Spanish vocabulary!
- Earrings, earrings, earrings.
- A love for “Aqui Mando Yo,” only the best Chilean soap opera (teleserie) ever!
- A bottle of wine, smuggled through customs. Success!
- Upwards of 2000 fotos. And a new way to spell “photos.”
- A family.
And one more thing: In my first blog post, I wrote that my goal for my time in Chile was to dream in Spanish. And it happened! Actually it was a while ago, I think sometime in September or October, but never really got around to writing about it. I already miss speaking (and dreaming in) Spanish, but hope to keep in touch with family and friends for many years to come.