Thursday, March 27, 2014

3/27/2014: Don't Blink, no really, don't

Just past my 6 monthiversary and I can’t help but think of the Kenny Chesney song “Don’t Blink.”
“Trust me friend, a hundred years goes faster than you think, so don’t blink”

Ok, so it hasn’t been a hundred years, but time does go faster than you think!

I posted some numbers on my Facebook, I’ll share them here for those of you who are not my friends on Facebook:
8,346 miles, 2 new villages, 150 new students, 30 books, multiple new languages, countless pounds of xima, 50 marriage proposals, who knows how many new friends, and 1 new kitten.
No worries, I said no to all the proposals because they all went more or less like this: “if you buy me a beer you can marry me.” I’m not the biggest romantic, but I do require a little more than that…like knowing my name, my favorite color, my family, and a ring would be a nice touch.
I was talking to my roommate the other day about changes that occur, as I’m in my first 6 months and she’s in her last 6 months here. We realized we sit a lot more. We were making hard boiled eggs and just sat and watched the cold water run out of the faucet. I was watching a snail crawl across our veranda window one afternoon. I sit in the schoolyard and watch the classrooms full of learning. There’s a lot of watching. I never really observed my world before, not unless forced to for my Nature Writing class. Even while studying biology I never really just observed the whole world, I would just observe the fish or plant in the lab. I don’t sit and watch because I’m bored, I do it because I can here, time moves differently here. No one thinks it’s weird if you aren’t always doing something.
It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster of 6 months as most of you know. There have been days where I just wanted to get on the next plane back home and get back to my life before all of this. There have been times I hated my job and felt helpless and scared. There have been thunderstorms that have made me think I was going to die in Africa thousands of miles away from my family. But what is life without the lows? Without those moments, I wouldn’t appreciate the fact that all of the mamas in the market call me amiga, my students get upset when I miss school or I’m sick, my roommate and I pile so much activity into a weekend in Maputo that when we get home we are exhausted but laughing, or I get to take an adventure through this beautiful country and visit a beach. I can’t even begin to imagine/comprehend/explain everything I’ve learned and grown to appreciate in just the past 6 months. It’s one of those things that literally renders me speechless.
I’m positive the next 2 years…no 21 months…will continue to be a rollercoaster and all I can do is try to not blink and take it all in.

Monday, March 17, 2014

3/17/2014: Oh, To Feel Loved

A really wonderful, heartwarming, energizing experience occurred today.
Sometimes I think my students hate me. They mock my accent, talk during class, have moments of being indisciplinos and not listening. But I kept going because I'm not going to let me them break me.
But all changed. They still mock my accent and talk during class and don't always listen but I know they love me.
After being gone a week because of flooding I walked into the school yard today and within 2 seconds of being spotted a horde of students ran over hugging me and screaming "teacher jess! We thought you left us!!" And I realized they don't act the way they act because they hate me. They act this way because they're kids and they've never had an American teacher. But at the end of the day, I know from personal experience you only get excited when a teacher returns when you love them. And now I know my students love me as much as I love them, and somehow that makes a world of difference.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

3/14/2014: Rainy Day Inspiration?

Just some continuation on my last few blogs...a little inspiration for all of us.

"Your job at any given moment is to bring all your gifts, all your talents, all your propensities, and all your passions into this thing called life and believe that they are good enough to produce the fruit that is expected of you" -The Resolution for Women

"He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten for us to do, work we have better be doing"
Ephesians 2:10

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

3/12/2014: Enter Minor Panic Attack about January 2016

“Give your entire attention to what I am doing right now, don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” –Matthew 6:34

I feel I just blogged on this topic and yet just days later, I have a confession. I may or may not have had a minor panic attack during my time in Maputo…WHAT AM I GOING TO DO NEXT??
I have always had career ADD. Ask my dad…it always depends on my present job. Trail crew: “Dad! I’M GOING TO WORK FOR A TRAIL ASSOCIATION!”; American Eagle: “Dad! I’M GOING TO MANAGE AN AMERICAN EAGLE!”; Environmental Protection Agency Internship: “Dad! I’M GOING TO WORK FOR THE SUPERFUND!”; Peace Corps Volunteer teacher: “Dad! I’M GOING TO TEACH!” or lately: “Dad! I’M GOING TO WORK AT PEACE CORPS HEADQUARTERS”; Watching Devil Wears Prada: “Dad! I’M GOING TO RUN A HUGE COMPANY AND BE FEARED LIKE MERYL STREEP’S CHARACTER!”; and for the times I’m in between and totally lost and confused: “Dad! I’M GOING TO HAVE AN ORGANIC FARM AND COFFEE SHOP AND MAKE MAPS ON THE SIDE!”
So that’s the background with the problem. Fast forward to now. Obviously having career ADD makes it very hard for me to figure out what to even do in Graduate School. How do I know what to study if I don’t even know what I’m going to do??
Insert my panic attack this morning.
With access to internet and copious amounts of free time (because in my evacuation I didn’t think to grab all of my text books so I can’t even lesson plan) I have been catching up on my NPR Environment Podcast (I mean…I gotta stay sharp in Environmental Policy just in case I end up…well anywhere actually as that’s my main passion…hence the 4 years of college in Environmental “stuff”).
Why does any of this matter? I guess it actually kind of doesn’t. Except I finished the work I was doing for a friend and now have time to think and blog…always a dangerous mix.
Sometimes I just wish I could have a flash of inspiration and know what I want to do next. I could study for GREs, apply to graduate school, and know that after Peace Corps I will be moving on to my “dream job.”
But in the middle of panic attack, I decided “hm. I didn’t do my devotional for today yet” and just like God’s perfect timing… I get “Give your entire attention to what I am doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow…” Jesus Today by Sarah Young.  And then I remember the promise I made during my first few days of venturing into The Resolution for Women. I will spend more time being in the now, being the best PCV I can be, the best 23 year old I can be, the best teacher I can be. Because that’s my life for the next 2 years and I don’t want to miss it being so concerned about my job ADD and my lack of concrete inspiration for a career. I’m 23 years old living in Africa…do I really need to know exactly what I will be doing by January 2016? No. I need to experience this life I have right now. 
Sometimes I just need to remember, when the time comes, I’ll know what to do and along the way I have one of the most supportive families behind my back to help me achieve what ever it is I want to achieve and help do whatever I need to do to get there.

No need to have a panic attack about career ADD when I’m only 23 years old and I HAVE a job.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

3/8/2014: Building Our Ark

I have learned that I really feel my village is home.
How do I know?
We got evacuated for an undetermined amount of time for flooding and now I'm not in my house and I don't know what's going on and all I can do is fret. Because that's my house.
I know, I know, I'm safe. And that's a blessing. And we're well taken care of. But it's never easy to leave behind your house and your kitten to evacuate. 
But we are bracing ourselves for we don't know what and enjoying the time in the city as best as we can for however long we will be here. Thank God for emergency action plans and people looking out for us and our little ark! 

The road by the bank and the market
Some factory housing...thankfully not my house!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

3/4/2014: Every Moment Counts

i just started doing an independent faith journey study reading The
 Resolution for Women. Reading only one chapter made me feel so convicted about how I have been living my life. I’m always looking at the next chapter trying to peak ahead. In elementary school I just wanted to feel the independence of middle school, in middle school I just wanted to get to high school and be an athlete, in high school I just wanted to move on to college and get away, in college I just wanted to be in the Peace Corps already. And now here I am, having not been fully emotionally present for a good portion of the previous TWENTY THREE years and I’m living the dream I thought I’ve had since I was 8 years old and all I can think is “what am I going to do when I’m done here??” Part of that is our culture, everyone always ALWAYS asks “so what is your plan after Peace Corps” and I supply an answer. But really when I think about it, all I want to say is “woah man! I’ve been in country for 6 months, let me relax and enjoy my job for at least a little bit!” But that’s not what I have been doing. All the questions made me start thinking “well Jessie, what ARE you going to do? Are you going to go back to school? Are you going to go back to SCA? Are you going to go back to EPA? Are you going to try to teach?” Only to realize now I’ve been here for 6 months and it’s already a blurred memory. Because I haven’t been focused on being emotionally present. Here I have the greatest blessing I could ever get, I have the one job I have always wanted living on the only continent I’ve always wanted to visit. Here I am with my dreams a reality by the grace of God and I’m not even allowing myself to be present for the experience.
Don’t fall into this trap friends. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, pause. Breathe. LIVE. Here it is, life happening, 23 years accomplished. I can’t go back and relive those memories and remember everything. What’s done is done and there are some memories I will never have back because it took me this long to get wise. But the good news is I still have plenty of new memories to make because now God has opened my eyes. This is my life and I’m just trying to peak ahead and see what’s next. But why does it matter what’s next? I’m in this little village in Africa for 2 years, does it really matter what I’m doing when I leave or does it matter that I remember as much of this experience as possible? So today, I resolve to be content where I am and thank God for every blessing I receive and LIVE IN AFRICA. I resolve to remember and be an active part of my own life and take the days as they come so I no longer have to look back and think “hm. What DID happen when I was there?” I resolve to remember my experience in Africa and let it change my heart how it will and create memories how it will and map out the course of my life how it will.