I know I haven’t been posting anywhere near as much as I’m supposed to, and I’m going to try something a little different. I’m going to start writing down little snippets of things that happen and posting (hopefully) a mini blogpost every week. I’m aiming to have each one be fairly short but still thoughtful and reflective. But for this post, I’m just going to share a few other silly and meaningful stories that help encapsulate these past two months.
1. Last week, the day before I was about to leave to take a short trip to Panama, I was monitoring la siesta (the midday nap that every kid regardless of age takes). I’m trying to get through it as painlessly as possible, but there was one group of girls (6-7 years old) who would not go to sleep. My patience had been at an all-time low that entire week, but I wasn’t really doing a whole lot (at least spiritually) to fix it.
So these girls.. there were 7 of them, and each one just HAD to go get water because they had “MUCHA sed” and were going “a MORIR” if they couldn’t go get water. And I usually am fairly against arbitrarily not allowing kids to go get water or go to the bathroom because I always hated when teachers did that. Yet here I am, about to become my teachers (which, to be honest, has been happening already, but that’s another blog post). So I stopped allowing them to leave the classroom, grabbed what what looked like a dry erase marker out of the drawer, and one-by-one proceeded to write each girl’s name on the brand new whiteboard (when they would talk or ask me to "hacer caquita"). I told them that I would erase their names if they were quiet for 5 minutes, or put another strike next to their name if they talked. I was still pretty steamed because of how bad they were acting, but to make a good example out of the one girl who started to shape up, I went to erase her name. However, I cannot begin to describe the feeling of horror when I went to swipe my hand over sweet little Sarai’s name, and it didn’t immediately come off on my palm. I ran to the desk and read the label and it read “mercador permanente”. Now I haven’t mastered the Spanish language, but I knew what that meant without a dictionary. My heartbeat became audible, my hands started sweating, and my brain could not seem to recall those 10,000 “life hack” buzzfeed videos that I had spent hours on facebook watching while thinking “wow this is so helpful, I learned so much.” I honestly went from feeling slightly self-important to being on the verge of tears faster than you can say “dios mio”. I was convinced that I was going to have to buy another whiteboard or have to stare at my ugly mistake every day until they bought a new one.
For my first attempt at removing the marker, I tried using toilet paper with soap and water, and that made absolutely no different. I went from being on the verge of tears to completely hopeless. I started to try and translate "I screwed up and I'm so sorry please don't send me home" to Spanish and reciting Hail Mary's in my head. I can’t really explain what happened next, but I had one of those weird feelings (you know those little God things), and I looked over at the desk and was like "ok relax you can do this, you can figure this out". I opened the desk drawer, and there it was: a brand new eraser. I snagged it and ran to the board and started erasing. Slowly but surely, line by line, the names began to come off. It took approximately 20 minutes of erasing, one-third of this poor eraser’s life, and an express ticket to carpal tunnel syndrome to get the 7 names off the board. All the while, those seven girls just stared, silently, probably thirstily (if that’s even a word), and intrigued nonetheless. One of them fell asleep, the others were quiet and stopped bugging me (and each other) for the rest of the naptime.
I still haven’t really processed what kind of lesson I was supposed to learn from that, but I can definitely say it was a nice reminder that God’s got my back.
2. Today a little boy (he’s honestly a mini man) sneezed directly into my mouth and then laughed in my face.
3. Another girl planted a kiss right on my mouth in the middle of a conversation with a different kid.
4. I taught the bishop how to say “fart” last week.
5. When I went to church last week, I took an uber. The week before had been challenging in almost every way possible. So the uber and I were chatting, and I told him I was a missionary, which usually sends people either to not want to talk anymore or they talk about God. Both are fine, but this uber did neither. He just looked at me with this almost child-like grin, pointed to his radio and turned up the volume, and we drove the rest of the way listening to Christian music in Spanish. I was never really the *biggest* fan of Christian music back home, in that I enjoyed it, but didn't downloaded it onto my spotify account. I can't even remember what song was playing, but I had to turn away because I started crying. I don't know if it was from homesickness or just how much I needed to hear the message of the song or some other combination of the two along with so many other feelings, but wow. I then proceeded to go to church and at the end of the service, while we were praying the post-communion prayer, I started crying again. I don't know what was causing me to be so overwhelmed, but there I was, in our small little church, digesting the body and blood of Jesus, and just overcome with emotion.
The only time that I can really remember this happening to me was when I was on my way to the discernment retreat for YASC. I had showed up in NYC by myself, my dog had just given birth, I lost my debit card, I had graduated college and didn't know for sure what my next step would be, it was Ash Wednesday, and the week after I would be leading my Vocare weekend, and every rude person in the whole city had avoided eye contact with me. I stumbled upon a church after I had walked a mile on my quest to find NY's best milkshake, and I went inside, luggage and all, sat in the sanctuary (just me and the priest), and I cried. It was a really special moment, and in that moment, I felt spiritually rejuvenated a ready for the next step. I still had a lot of work to do to get there and faced a little more than my share of struggle after that, but I didn't feel alone or lost in those struggles. And I think that's what my experience last week was meant to be. I felt renewed, but I definitely limped through the next few days, but I didn't limp by myself. And that made all the difference *
*see permanent maker meets whiteboard meets eraser story at the top haha
Paz y bendiciones!!