Different is Hard; Hard is Rewarding

Back in Guatemala again, settling in to my international home of Antigua. Gearing up for another 3 months of growth and adventure in this most beautiful country. I must say though, that because I am comfortable here, doesn’t mean there won’t be challenges of all kinds this time around. In fact, my first lesson of the trip: it’s not going to be the same “this time around.” And that will be a GOOD thing.

I am at a different home-stay where things are done differently, I have no side-kick or person I experience all this newness with, Calvin isn’t in town, I have to forge my own way and do my job with only a clue of how to go about it. For the first day, that’s a lot of change to take on. But realization thankfully set in pretty quickly. No, I’m not housed with the students– maybe that’s a good thing, so I can have my own space and keep a professional friendship with all of them (and maybe escape every now and then!). Yes, I am in a different home-stay– that comes with whole new relationships, lots of new stories, different food, different perspectives on the families of Antigua, and so far, lots of laughs! No, there is not someone at my side to constantly do things with– how great is that?! I get to plan my days, am free to wander and explore what peaks my interest, and make a whole new community of friends in my fave town. And a new job? Bring it on. I am ready to be flexible, learn, and be a resource to the students.

Yesterday we did orientation here in Antigua and took them up to Magdalena so they can see the community with which we work, and the real rural Guatemala (not the Antigua bubble). I was asked so many questions, and I had many answers to give — I have been here before, know these people, can rattle off Guatemalan slang, and give confidence to those who are new to this all. But oh, how I am blessed with such an AMAZING group of students. World travelers, all competent and excited to learn and be here. And such fun! I can’t wait to see what adventure lie ahead for the next few months, if I am this happy with the first few days!

The view from my room; balcony included!

The view from my room; balcony included!

Speaking of adventures, last evening at around 6pm an earthquake, 6.5 on the Richter scale, hit near the coast and sent some amazing trembles and waves to us here in ‘Tigua. I was on the top floor of my house, and the whole world started pitching and swaying. It felt like I was surfing. At the time I was skyping with my parents in the states and my brother in China, and started shouting about the earthquake. They became concerned, until I stared laughing and getting WAY too excited. “This is so fun!” It was one of the biggest I have felt here in Guate, and for sure not the last this trip. Conversation at the dinner table turned to the bigger and more fatal earthquake of 1976, and my host dad, Jose, started telling us of the many bodies he had to carry out of the rubble in Antigua when he was only 16 years old. Guatemala is so prone to natural disasters and doesn’t have the infrastructure to really stand against it all. So when things hit– they hit hard, people loose their homes, loved ones, and everything they own. So even though I get a little too excited about the fun waves, it is sobering to know the history and continued struggle of Guatemala. Let’s pray for just the little ones from here on out!

Y Tu Pina Tambien!

Y Tu Pina Tambien!

B Boy Chicky, makin' some delicious cafe

B Boy Chicky, makin’ some delicious cafe

Here I sit, in my favorite coffee shop, Y Tu Pina Tambien, connecting with old friends, drinking great Guatemalan coffee, and feeling at home once again. But there is so much more yet to learn and experience and uncover in this amazing place. Come along the journey with me!!

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Muse-lings – The Seedlings of Change

I suppose 2 am is a good a time as any to let in the tiny thoughts and seeds of change. Sure it invites a feeling of craziness, but that helps keep the harsh judgement of daylight to a small whisper. Newness begs to be drawn out, change is tired of waiting its turn in the corner of the room, and ideas seem plausible with freedom egging them on.

What I am getting at, is that the feelings of a person are validated. Whether that be at 2 am after quite an absence from writing, or whether its just another 20-something BA graduate with too many emotions to keep to herself. Its validated due to my humanity; my person-hood.

So, how much can a person change and in how much time? A solid friendship be stolen away by a disease that changes a person more rapidly than I had imagined possible– that’s change. But that is the kind of change I am aiming to avoid and deny. The change and 2 am ideas I am grasping at here lead to newness, to being shaken up, clean out, pumped up with passion, and revamped in a still, small way, with all the loudness of a soul at peace. I say grasping. Grasping will not work with something as intangible and vaporous as what I’m dreaming up.

What does the morning bring with it apart from the reliable pink horizon of another day? Resolve. A dream memory of the vapors and wishes of change and drive. Live into it. Deny comfort and see the results. Don’t like it? Don’t dwell, move on and journey on to shaking up the next part.

We are never broken. We are all ok, its the journey we must cling to.

How bitter sweet, this, would, taste

I want this to be a closing of a chapter. Please, please let me move to the other side of this. It sure feels like it. Bittersweet, tears and hope.

I wrote a letter. I needed to be honest with myself; not trying to justify my feelings to others to mold them to how they “should” be. So I wrote out that ball of hurt anxiety in me and it felt good to pour it out through a pen and stain my fingers with it.

I came home from work and felt like it had to be now or never. There is such a finality about marriage that conjured up this anxious feeling in me. So I called. It rang. I finally spoke to him. And after all these months it was ok. I said my piece and even wished him the best. There was no anger in our conversation. There was feeling.

So now I let him go. I have been trying so hard to, for so long. Now that this chapter is closed, he is getting married and I was able to hear closure, I can really heal for good. I know I will find who I am supposed to find, and they will be perfect for me. And so stems hope from this too. Bittersweet.

Adele will tell you the rest–

Peace and Blessings on you all,

Namaste — Kira

One Day at a Time

Let’s look at a pearl of wisdom from my mother tonight:

“We can only do our best, and we can only take it one day at a time”

No more than that.

–We can’t do more than our best, or it wouldn’t be our best.

–We can’t take things on more than a day at a time, because we can’t control time like that. We are given the day we are in and we deal with it as it comes. Yes, making plans is good, but when it comes down to surviving the chaos that life throws at you sometimes, the best way is to take it one. day. at. a. time.

What has today meant for me? Nothing extraordinary…until I look at the little blessings and challenges I actually faced today. I cried tears on the phone. I ate a mountain of frozen yogurt. I got through classes and midterm grades. I wore my hair down. I ran in the hail. I studied and worked and pushed through. I took today with what I needed to do for this day.

Tomorrow I will do the same. One day at a time. String it all together and you have a life. My life. With all the simplistic, overwhelming, beautiful, extraordinary, up an down days.

Autumn in the Rainy City

Seattle is doing what it does best right now, and the feeling of Fall is seeping deeper into my skin. I love this season for so many reasons, and as I look out the window at the rain while I drink my hot cocoa and try to focus on homework, I am reminded of newness in this season of fading.

The newness of having my own home, starting another year of studying what I love, and even feeling out new mindsets for myself. One of the classes I am enrolled in is making me probe my beliefs about faith as I would a loose tooth with my tongue; gently, a bit scared, but knowing the outcome will be better in the end.

I love this city and I am so happy it feels like home. Making my house feel like a home was hard work too, but I think I am there along with my girls.

I am hoping I motivate myself to write more songs, since I have gained from their therapeutic creation now twice before. I want to explore with lyrics, to put voice to the uneasiness of my mind. I also hope to continue down the path of ridding myself from a poison that has been slowly leaving for too long. It’s source is gone, but the pain that lingers comes up every once in a while. I am just thankful for the Love I have in my life now…for the people who hold me, walk with me, sing with me, smile with me.

And just for the fact of love alone, I know that God will always be faithful to me. Here is to the decaying newness that Autumn is so fond of, and in turn, so am I.

Wisdom

This week was a very rough start to Spring quarter on my lovely flower-filled campus of SPU. It involved being plummeted back into due dates, paperwork for my summer in India, stress for living plans next year, juggling a crazy work schedule, and how to handle my various roles as student, SMC, small group leader, friend, SPRINT leader, and Global Development Major. There were tears shed over stressful Indian Visa applications, waiting in line at the DMV, textbooks were scrambled for, homework pressing in, and schedules were figured out. But amongst it all were gems of the joy I am finding in the springtime: breathing in God’s peace in yoga, hanging out with SMC people at interviews, starting the Quest process, and meeting with my lovely small group and getting to see how we have grown together over the quarters.

But what I really want to write about is this weekend. I have gotten so much wonderful wisdom from some beautiful sources….

On Friday, I was faced with a rough reality of the challenge of one of my courses, “Political and Economic Development of Nations”. The reading is graduate level, my classmates have solid, educated opinions, and I feel as if the teacher hasn’t taught us things yet. So as I was amidst my struggling and nigh panicking, I look to my left over at the girl next to me and her computer: on the bottom corner of her fancy Mac-book was a quote from a woman I hold in high esteem, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt herself. It said exactly what I needed to hear at that precise moment,

“You must do the things you think you cannot do.”

This encouraged me immensely (as did crying it out to Hannah while sitting on her lap). I have to put a lot of effort forth in this class, but I have to keep looking to what it will enable me to do: better the world around me, close the gap between the over-privileged and the oppressed, and to fully understand the systems that power this world we live in.

After that, I was able to shed the classes and stresses of the week to start off my weekend with a bang by hanging out with the world’s best RHMC, miss Hannah. We got gourmet ice cream, talked about my SMC evaluation, got free Jones soda at the factory, and even gave blood together. It was my first time to give blood and I am surprised at how well it went, and at how happy I felt afterward to have helped save a life (or four, if they are babies!) Sure, it was tiring to loose a tenth of my blood, but I am blessed to have some to spare! Another huge chunk of my weekend’s wisdom came from Hannah, during our great conversation about my work as an SMC on 3rd Moyer. She reminded me that I am being refined by God. That there is such potential in me and I am still on my way to learning that potential, and using it to serve God and the people around me in the best way I can. Yes, I am human, I make mistakes, I feel like I am constantly stumbling, yet look at where I have come since last fall. Even since winter break…God is molding me still, teaching me always, and holds me so perfectly in a state of constant refinement.

Here is how creative my RHMC is….

My final pieces of wisdom and hope come from the most trustworthy of sources: My Abba Himself, God. This sunny Sunday morning, I went to Quest church with a few girls from my floor and was so blessed by the verses that were selected for the teaching. It was Colossians 3:12-15,

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful!”

These verses spoke to me in how God was gently reminding me that my worth is ultimately found in Him. That means don’t fuss over how I look, model myself after Christ in my actions, love all people and put energy into building loving relationships, and know that peace will come over me if I trust in God’s will and in Christ being the ruler of my heart. I have to listen to God when He points out something to me that goes against His will, or when I realize something in my heart has gotten bigger than Christ. These gentle reminders were so amplified when I went up to the altar to take communion. The strength from God’s sacrifice of flesh and blood for me is what helped me realize I need courage and prayer if I am to fully follow God’s will and listen to the wisdom of people in the church and those that care for me. I took that need for courage to someone who prayed for me over my specific struggle, and I was so blessed by a stranger’s love for me, who met me where I was and helped me reach out to God for what I need to do, how I need to be refined.

Overall, I am thankful. Wisdom has reassured me that there are struggles, and we overcome and move on. This weekend has helped me move onto the next week of the quarter, hopefully not feeling behind before I even start! I know I will start off the week with something new: a new “do” for my hair! Short, sassy, and oh so curly. Even this had to go through a process of refining until I was happy and confident about my “freed” hair (as Hannah likes to put it!). So thanks, Hannah, for your talent with scissors and vision, and most of all, wisdom!

Blessings to all who made it through this overly-long post; I pray some wisdom was passed on through this conduit of internet blogging.

Namaste –Kira

Note of Encouragement to Myself

A friend told me today to make sure that I write a note of encouragement to myself. I had been writing an entire stack of them to the wonderful girls of my floor to help them get through this too tough week. I have had a few people in my life point out to me that I am too hard on myself…and I think it is taking its toll this quarter. So here are a few words of lovin’ to that curly haired, hot-mess of a girl Kira:

Dear beloved one,

You are blessed! Here it is, one of your favorite seasons of the year: Fall and Advent, and you are beating yourself up because you have too much to do, you don’t know how to go about finishing your overwhelming group project to present on friday, you think you don’t have any close friends, and you worry over crying too much and not being a good SMC. One word: Stop it.

Enjoy the beautiful blessings God has given you: the smell of crisp air, the pale winter sunlight, the beautiful Christmas music playing in the bathroom, the soft bed you get to sleep in each night, the hugs you get from the many girls who care for you, and the listening ear of your mother on the other end of the phone.

Savor the good times of feeling at home in Moyer. God has placed you here for a reason, and is doing great work through you; not matter what view you have of yourself or where you think you are in your spiritual walk. Trust, Kira. Trust the One who knows you better than me. He will lead you through all things, and give you comfort through these hard times.

I pray peace upon you–in every aspect of your life. Over this week of school, over your restlessness for the future, and for your heart to be deeprooted in Christ’s ever-flowing peace. All you have to do is take on this time day by day, through God’s strength.

I know your heart is good, and you desire so much greatness, always striving to be better. But know that you are growing even now, and that this part of your life is so important. It is not just a time spent waiting to get to a better, more perfect Kira. Life would never be lived then. Accept yourself, let God lead you to change and growth, and relish the beautiful time and life you have been blessed with now. You are truly beautiful, in so many senses of that word. Embrace it. Radiate it. Be the radiant, encouraging, light-filled girl I know you to be. Breathe past the hard moments, cry through the overwhelming times, and push on as your wonderful self. Drink in this life, this time, like you drink in the full moon rising in the crisp, clear sky above Tiffany Loop.

Be at home with yourself. I love you.

yours forever– Namaste,

Kira

And so it begins with rain…

“Every time it rains, I listen to the sky, I wonder what’s so great about sunshine; Everybody lives, and everybody dies, and no one’s gonna love you like I do.” –Charlotte Martin

Here I sit, looking out the window at the soft rain pattering against my window, listening to good music, drinking Chai tea, and starting a blog of growth and newness. How appropriate then, that the rain is falling as I write, feeding the earth, flowing to things growing in the ground. It starts with water falling from the sky, just as I cannot grow or live without God’s mercy falling from above. I need this growth, this change, this newness not of my own strength.

I am happy when it rains, if only because it reminds me that I am living in the wonderful, quirky city of Seattle. There is a peace about rain, and the smell of freshness is one of the most precious to my olfactory senses. So here is to a new adventure, to hope in growth, and to the expressiveness of the written word.

namaste