Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Thoughts on a New Adventure

I’ve moved. To the South Bronx. Sometimes I wonder what in the world I’m doing here. But then I realize that the real question is, What is God doing here? That is what is important. It is only then that I can figure out what I’m doing and where I fit. Because to the outside eye, I certainly don’t fit. I am always the only white person on the train, and rarely is there another white person walking around the area. I spent two weeks here commuting back to Manhattan to babysit and barely had time to spend in my new neighborhood. It created a strange sense of tension, having slept in the poorest neighborhood in the US and then going to a 4th grader’s moving away party cocktail party that Sarah Jessica Parker was at. Needless to say, I felt way more out of place at that party than I ever have in my new neighborhood.


Anyhow, on my day off I was able to walk around and get a sense of the area and I realized how wonderful it is. The community here is evident. Instead of sitting inside watching TV, all the kids are out on the street playing.  People hang out outside and enjoy each other. And they’re friendly! I can’t wait to see where God is working. I know He’s working in me and is working through the ministry here. It will be so exciting to get to know the area more and really understand life here. It’s beginning to feel like home. The other interns moved in yesterday and we are all excited to get started preparing for camp!

Friday, June 8, 2012

By the Numbers

Going to bed on Sunday, I expected a slow four days of waiting to go to Colorado for the weekend. The days that actually stood between me and Colorado actually contained quite a bit:

  • 40 hours of work
  • 2 sick kids
  • 4 chapters of Narnia read out loud
  • 3 train tracks built
  • 1 new apartment!
  • 3 loads of laundry
  • 5 episodes of Gilmore Girls
  • 3 time outs for hitting given
  • 17 subway rides
  • 3 hours wandering Central Park
  • 2 hours getting to and from the Hudson River to watch the Space Shuttle being brought to the museum
  • 1394 (estimated) text messages about babysitting schedules and apartment stuff
  • 2 bus rides
  • 100 pages of Mere Christianity
  • 3 puzzles
  • 12 (at least) bumps and bruises kissed
  • 1 good-bye to a friend for the summer
  • 6 games of hide and seek
  • 50 or so times I found myself singing this song. Listen to it:

And now, just a 4 hour plane ride! It will be wonderful to get away from it all for a bit.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

Last night I watched the movie Nanny Diaries. It was cute, but it hit really close to home. While my friends laughed as the kid threw a tantrum in the elevator and locked her out, all I could think was, "Yeah, that has totally happened to me." Now, by no means are either of my two nanny jobs that bad. I don't work full time, and the moms are very involved in their children's lives. But I definitely come in contact with nannies and families who are like that.  It will never cease to amaze me that most families in NYC leave it to a nanny to raise their children, or at least use one to help full time moms (paying them exuberant amounts).

Recently, my nannying experience has brought me face-to-face with some celebrities and their kids. I must say, I am the last person to celebrity stalk. I'm pretty clueless when it comes to actors and for the most part can't even name the ones in my favorite movies. And if someone hadn't been there to point them out to me or if I knew I was looking for them, I could probably walk right past people without giving them a second glance. Luckily, the mom I nanny for gave me a heads up that some celebs sent their kids to the school her kids go to. As I was picking up the kids one day I was brought face to face with Meg Ryan. That was pretty exciting because I can actually name a few of the movies she's in. Then, at the park, Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker's son introduced himself to me. As in he said, "Hi, are you (x's) new babysitter, L? I'm James." I was a bit astonished to say the least. The other day I spotted his mom picking him up at school. It's a strange life.

Sometimes I think that the families I nanny for are just so normal, but really, normal is very different in the city. This week alone I was left watching kids in apartments where someone else (not the mom) was cleaning twice. Another woman was worried about leaving me with all 3(gasp!) of her young boys for a half hour. The baby was sleeping, and I told her that I had experience babysitting four at a time. She seemed surprised that the house was still together when she got back since the baby was awake. The moms I have come to know here all have this same sense of dependence on help. It's not all bad, and hey, if you can afford someone to give you several hours of self-time a week, why wouldn't you. And living in small apartments without a backyard to send your kids to, and having to walk, take the subway, or catch a cab wherever you go adds some difficulty to life. But really, I sometimes wonder.

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Trip on the Q

I wake up, it's Sunday, I get ready to go
Choose out a punjabi top, decide headscarf or no
Walk down the deserted streets of midtown
Hop down the stairs to the train going downtown.

Get on the subway, choose an empty seat.
Most people get off at 14th Street.
Small children with several books in Chinese
Are off to school at Canal street, their parents to please.

Up out of the dark and the sun shines bright
I look out and see the Freedom Tower standing upright.
Across the bridge we move slowly, watching the East River flow
Down into Brooklyn, I've got 10 stops to go.

Very few people move on this quiet train ride
And a few stops later into the sun we again glide.
With all the different people the ride is never a bore
A woman completely covered comes in through the door.

The last sip of coffee from my to-go mug I drink
Avenue J for Jesus, she had said, I think.
He will be working today, I haven't a doubt.
And with that prayer we stop and I step out.

It's a different world than an hour ago
Women wear long skirts, their knees do not show.
Strollers have command of the sidewalks
I take everything in and enjoy the short walk.

I see the women, "Salaam Aleekum" I say
How are you and your family today?
English, the pledge, and writing we teach
But hopefully it's their hearts we will reach.

A trip on the Q brought me all this way
And only 2 hours each week will we all stay.
I remember my days in Sudan and Nepal
And know that by my ride on the Q I continue to follow that call.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Why Hello There Life, I Didn't Expect You So Soon!

Pre-Script (I'm not sure if that's actually a term, so don't quote it) : Yes I do still blog! Yes, it has been a while, but I'm still here, writing down my random thoughts once in while just in case you're interested...

I guess there has to come a time in every person's life when they realize,"This is it. This is no longer a dream, it's a reality. I am doing what I wanted to do 'when I grow up'". I suppose for some people this is a rather disappointing moment, for others it brings amazement.

For me, it brought amazement. But what shocked me was not as much that I was actually living life, but it was that I was living life at 21 years old. For a long time, I had dreamed of living in the Sahara desert. Yeah, that's weird. But I've done it. I set a goal in high school to one day run a half marathon, maybe a full. And as of this upcoming Saturday, I can check that off my list. I want to get to know a city on each continent really well (minus Antarctica!). I'm well on my way, with North America, Asia, and Africa already off the list. I knew that someday, when I went to college that I'd want to get a degree in Economics, even though I had no clue how that would help me with any of the sort of careers I wanted. And now, I'm on my way to getting it, along with knowing and understanding where it might fit in my life.

I sit here and wonder, is the life I'm living real, or was it all a dream? When am I going to wake up, and find that I'm still in Loveland,  doing everyday stuff in a life where I feel I'm following a script? But no, I'm not going to wake up. This is real. I haven't had to live a scripted life. I'm living what I dreamed life would be right now. There are still some dreams left, but I've been amazed to see that what I've dreamed, God has already made so many of these dreams a reality. I didn't go off chasing these dreams, I went off chasing God. I knew I was being called to spend time in an Arab nation, and the one He directed me to happened to place me in the desert. I didn't go off looking to find a school with an economics program, I was looking for a school that would help put me in the middle of politics, where I was feeling called. The school I found that had the mission statement and opportunities I needed happens to offer the major I wanted in combination with economics. When I've gone off chasing Him, I've found that He really does give me the desires of my heart, in the most unexpected of ways, in the most unexpected timing.

So, stop for a moment. Look at where you are. You might be living a life that you dreamed of at some point. Sure, it probably isn't quite a rosy as you dreamed it, but stop and enjoy it for what it is- a fulfilled dream.

Friday, December 2, 2011

An Almost-End-of-the-Semester Letter

Dear New York City,

I have quite enjoyed our last several months together. Before I came here, I thought you were just an American city that had a ton of diversity. But I was very wrong. You are, in fact, an international city that happens to be claimed by America. You have no Wal-marts or King Soopers and have very few Christians. I walk everywhere, but I appreciate that it is on paved streets and not in the dirt.  I like that I hear different languages daily, yet everyone understands when I speak. In you I spend my afternoons with the richest people I've ever known and then ride the subway home with beggars. I never expected you to present so many challenges. Although I spend 15 hours a week in classes and even more doing homework, you have taught me the most. You've taught me to only wear sweats in my apartment and that the world is more messed-up than I wanted to believe. At the same time, you've taught me to ignore the people around me and that people are always willing to give directions. Now I'm ready to end this learning curve. I would like a chance for a nice, big deap breath. In two weeks, I'll be looking up at mountains instead of the Empire State Building, sitting at a quiet coffee shop instead of walking to two or three before finding one with an empty seat, and walking up and down the ailes (with a cart!) of King Soopers instead of pushing through Trader Joe's in hope of finding the groceries I need. I'm really looking foward to it, but I know that in three weeks I'll probably be missing you. After I gulp air in Estes Park and get a chance to drive, I'll be ready to come back. So please don't get mad at me for wanting to leave really badly right now. Be waiting for me when I come running back ready to take you on again in January.

Your loving resident,

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

One Year

One year ago today, I began my life-changing adventure in Africa. I've been thinking a lot about what has changed in me in the last year. Most people assume that Africa was life-changing because I saw poverty and a bunch of weird customs. But that's not what changed me. Before I went, I had been in much more impoverished areas and I think I run into more strange customs here in New York City each week than I did in my 6 months in Africa. I didn't change because it was a cross-cultural experience. I changed because of the people I met there.

I quickly learned that life there is hard. I knew it wouldn't be easy, but I didn't couldn't understand how hard life is there. The heat, the isolation, the pressure of speaking a different language when you leave the house, trying to be a light-, all caused days when I just didn't want to get out of bed. I wasn't alone in all of this though. All the ex-pat women who I met there understood. They had gone through the same things. They were going through the same things. And most of these women are still pushing through there. They raise their families there, they make a home and they live lives that show the evidence of the Spirit that lives inside of them. These women taught me hospitality, how to follow God even when it means giving up some of your own wants, and how to love the people around you. They give of themselves each day, making a place home, even when they have no assurance that it will be home the next year. They bend over backwards to serve yet know when they need to stop to take care of themselves. I learned that family are the people who you sit around the dinner table with, who search the stores until they find crackers for you when you're sick, and who invite you to sit and cry and talk when they know that it is what you need.

These women showed me how to be like Jesus day in and day out. They walked out their faith. They are real life examples of  who I want to be. They showed me what being like Jesus looks like and how to continually be going through the process to get there. And that's what changed me.