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Archive for the ‘following my heart’ Category

Just like every other person on the planet, I go through highs and lows. I just have to remember that this is normal… although I think that Americans like to pretend that things are ‘great’ or ‘fine’ all the time.

On our way home from Antigua yesterday, the traffic was awful. Once we got closer to the accident, we realized why. There on the highway, a man on a motorcycle was killed. His body lay uncovered on the street, with a line of blood leading away from his head. The gawkers in traffic made this an especially long and drawn out process of moving past the accident, even with the police trying to move the cars ahead. The man was young, probably in his early 20’s. I realized that I hadn’t ever seen a life taken like that before. Yes, I worked in the gross lab at Palmer for a year… but that was different. I don’t think that I ever saw the cadavers as people. I don’t think that I ever thought about who their families might be or if they were leaving kids behind. I closed my eyes as we passed the accident and prayed for this man’s family.

There has been a lot of violence happening on the Limon side of the ghetto in the last two weeks. I have been hesitant to blog about it, up until now. After writing an email to Ed, my pastor at Evergreen, I realized that I have been keeping the emotions that I have been feeling about these situations bottled up… causing nightmares and some unnecessary anxiety. No more.

Two weeks ago, while on the top floor of the school we heard gunshots. Big ones. Later that same week, I was assisting a teacher to the playground with her class and there were gunshots close to the playground. We herded the kids to the other end of the playground, as there is only one way in and out of the playground. I was worried about the safety of our kids, as they are the 4 to 5 year olds. Last week, there were two shootings on the street where one of the teachers from Limon lives… one at night, and one during the lunch hour when kids would be heading home from school. This was the day that amazed me… as when we walked to the bus that day, people were sitting in the streets just talking to each other, as if at some kind of reunion. The other night, a young man (not active in gang activity) had his throat slashed on his way home. The mother of one of our teachers heard the screams from this man at her house, as they live close to the Campo where the man was killed.

For the first time in my life, death and violence are all around me. We live a very sheltered life as Americans. We never realize that people, amazingly beautiful and special people, have to live with this violence every single day. Everyday I get to get on a bus, and drive to a safe, gated neighborhood. I get to leave the backdoor open in our kitchen while I cook dinner after dark. I am not afraid.

We drove into the ghetto last night to bring home a young woman, who joined us on our day in Antigua. ‘T’ is in her mid-20’s and is paralyzed from the waist down. All of her older brothers have been killed by gang members. ‘T’ was shot in the back 7 or 8 years ago, causing her paralysis. Later, an infection developed in one of her legs causing it to be amputated. She is mostly bed-ridden. But when I saw her yesterday, she had done her hair and make-up for her day out. She was beautiful. She was proud. Her smile was courageous. The visiting team made a point of giving her a great day out. I was grateful to get to meet her. As we drove into the ghetto to bring ‘T’ home, I realized that some of the members of the team I was with were nervous about going into the ghetto so close to dark. Tita’s van was in front of ours, and I heard a little girl yell “Mama Tita, Mama Tita”. It was then that I felt calm, knowing that I’m part of something that is so respected in this area. I feel safe.

We are fortunate to have some guys on the Mandarina side of the ghetto to work with the gang members. This is so amazing to me. My housemate, Donnie, was out playing basketball (or was it soccer) with the gang members last weekend. He came home charged up and smiley (he is usually pretty smiley). We have plans in a few weeks to climb a volcano with some gang members. Who gets to do this stuff? This is so amazing.

We are hoping and praying for a man to come to the Limon side of the ghetto to do the same work with these gang members. The change in attitude on the Mandarina side, due to the outreach seems incredible to me. I would love to see it on the Limon side too. While I haven’t been here long enough to see the impact on a lot of the community, I know that I am welcomed every morning with smiles and hugs… greetings from men and women in the streets, appreciation from the homeless who come to the school for their meals. These are the things that are affecting me. These are the actions that I see. I want to see the beauty of this community, and I do. I want to see the potential of these children at the schools, and I do. I want them to know that their situation doesn’t define them, and I tell them that.

Yeah, yeah, yeah!
How can you be sitting there
Telling me that you care –
That you care?
When every time I look around,
The people suffer in the suffering
In everyway, in everywhere.

Say: na-na-na-na-na (na-na, na-na!):
We’re the survivors, yes: the Black survivors!
I tell you what: some people got everything;
Some people got nothing;
Some people got hopes and dreams;
Some people got ways and means.

Na-na-na-na-na (na-na, na-na!):
We’re the survivors, yes: the Black survivors!
Yes, we’re the survivors, like Daniel out of the lions’ den
(Black survivors) Survivors, survivors!
So I Idren, I sistren,
A-which way will we choose?
We better hurry; oh, hurry; oh, hurry; wo, now!
‘Cause we got no time to lose.
Some people got facts and claims;
Some people got pride and shame;
Some people got the plots and schemes;
Some people got no aim it seems!

Na-na-na-na-na, na-na, na!
We’re the survivors, yes: the Black survivors!
Tell you what: we’re the survivors, yeah! – the Black survivors, yeah!
We’re the survivors, like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego
(Black survivors),
Thrown in the fire, but-a never get burn.
So I Idren, I-sistren,
The preaching and talkin’ is done;
We’ve gotta live up, wo now, wo now! –
‘Cause the Father’s time has come.
Some people put the best outside;
Some people keep the best inside;
Some people can’t stand up strong;
Some people won’t wait for long.

(Na-na-na-na-na!) Na-na-na, na-na-na na!
We’re the survivors
In this age of technological inhumanity (Black survival),
Scientific atrocity (survivors),
Atomic misphilosophy (Black survival),
Nuclear misenergy (survivors):
It’s a world that forces lifelong insecurity (Black survival).

Together now:
(Na-na-na-na-na!) Na na-na na na! (Na na-na na na!)
We’re the survivors, yeah!
We’re the survivors!
Yes, the Black survivors!
We’re the survivors:
A good man is never honoured (survivors)
in his own country (Black survival).
Nothing change, nothing strange (survivors).
Nothing change, nothing strange (Black survivors).
We got to survive, y’all! (survivors) ~~ Bob Marley

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During my last meeting with Bill and Cherie, I was alerted to a new “speed bump”. I would also call this a “project”, as I usually do better with any type of project, once I set my mind to it.

This is going to sound trivial… and those of you who know me best, please refrain from calling me to yell at me about this. Bill wants me to APPLY for a placement with LI. For the record, I’m okay with this. But that little voice in the back of my head is starting to yell not so nice things at me. I can’t help but be reminded of all of the paperwork and the two interviews that I had with Oasis. After having dusted myself off, when they dropped me like a hot potato, I gained my perspective back. I need to remind myself, that this is barely a speedbump.

Today, Ed spoke about Mother Teresa. We heard the story of how she was being called by God to go to Calcutta, but The Church kept telling her ‘no’. She wrote letters and met with people for years before she got the ‘go ahead’ and finally made it to Calcutta. I’m not comparing myself to Mother Teresa… because that would make me insane. But, I do believe that you have to fight off all of the “no’s” and “not yet’s” that come your way when you believe that you are truely following a destiny. I know that I have found my place in this world, and now I just have to learn how to be patient until I get there.

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People who followed the old blog have been contacting me very concerned… “What happened to India?” First of all, I want to thank everyone for their concerns, prayers, happy thoughts, and support throughout this last year. It’s been completely insane at times, and very rewarding at other times.

Just for the record, I did not abandon my thoughts of going to India. India will always have a place in my heart. Maybe someday, I will be lead to go to that part of the world.

When I decided that I wanted to follow my dream of living and working in a third world country, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. I was in a very spiritual place when I made this decision, and have followed my heart in saying that I would go wherever I was lead to go. In the beginning, it was India. In the process of applications, interviews, and criminal background checks (no, they didn’t come back with anything!!), I got completely wrapped up in the process of going “somewhere”, rather than going and doing what I had originally planned… I wanted to work with children. I wanted to live with the team of people that I would be working with, to ensure and encourage team relationships. It all sounds simple. I have found an amazing organization who encourages these things, which warms my heart and encourages me to move forward with my plans. This whole thing wasn’t supposed to be about India, it was supposed to be about me fulfilling a dream, and being the person that I know I am.

India will always be there… I have not abandoned the idea of working with victims of human trafficking. But right now, I am being lead in a different direction. Your support and encouragement means the world to me.

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