hola, que tal

I’m living in Madrid now. I’ve been here for a little over two weeks, and it’s such a beautiful city. Everyday I wake up and feel as if I am living in some dream. I have met so many kind people, got lost in the metro, and even visited an Egyptian temple. I’m a little lonely and homesick even though I don’t really want to go home. Some days I have tons of adventures with all the new friends that I am meeting, and others I would give anything to be back in the Pacific Northwest rain.

One of the things that I have so appreciated in my time here so far is my host family. They welcomed me with open arms and have been so helpful in making the transition to Spain. The girls that I take care of may fight a little as all siblings do, but we have so much fun playing games and trying and failing to make food. I am grateful for everything in my life that has lead me here, and I hope to make the most of Madrid.

I want to write more about what has been going on but for now I’ll leave you with a video that I made about my first week here.

spain week 1

 

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i still think of you

even when he is holding me
my head buried in his sleeve
smelling of some spice i can’t name
some pine, some citrus place

i still think of you
how looking at the stars
was as intimate as kissing
your collar bone
he pours me wine
walks me home
the night is divine and clouded

it is almost 3 am
we push and pull
you never did that

even as he whispers in my ear
spanish phrases i barely hear
cause i still miss your lips
your lying tongue
yet his fingers graze my hips
i am undone

respect now that’s punk rock

reminisce about a time I don’t remember
flea market vintage clothes from when i wasn’t alive
that jean jacket, twenty-five
house concert with punk rock feminist bands
everyone sways and dances, reverent
blasting guitar and drums, expectant
cheap beer
cigarrettes
slowly killing bodies
it’s a choice to hurt
lungs, liver burnt
it’s underground
hope the world will turn around
make the system go down

vignettes: july 30 – august 4

I spent a while in East Tijuana at Unidos por Siempre orphanage with María and some of the kids who live there.

One night Angelica was telling a story about how there is an evil spirit in her house. I fake pretended to be a ghost and said “espíritu” in a spooky way, only to be corrected very adamantly to not taunt the spirit and if I was going to say the word to say “espíritus” not “espíritu”, because if you say the singular form the spirit will come and haunt you. I also learned that you can tell if a spirit is malicious based on whether it moves objects and whether it will show itself at night or daytime.

I took a couple hours everyday trying to teach Fernando and Stefany the alphabet, as neither of them could read. Probably the most important texts that I have received for a long time were from my uncle (who used to be a special needs teacher) through María’s phone as I had no internet connection, giving me a few tips. After my first tries, much frustration, and feeling hopeless I cut out an extra set of letters to match with my first one. I told the Stefany and Fernando that we were going to play a matching game with a few of the letters and both immediately became more interested in the letters and by the end of my time there though Stefany could barely get through A-F, Fernando sometimes could do almost the entire alphabet. I do not know if I am cut out to be a teacher, but I certaintly learned a lot about patience from the experience. Progress was slow and uncertain and I had to stay calm even when Stefany would forget a letter a couple seconds after she had learned it, or when Fernando would run outside to see what the other kids were doing.

My spanish is good enough to understand most of what is being said and to read simple children’s books, but according to one fourteen year old boy my speech is “cuatro por diez”, or in other words I speak like an eight year old, which may or not have added to why he was so interested in my romantic life. However, language is not the only way to build friendship. Letting a little girl sleep in your bed at night because she is afraid of the dark, or the crowding around of two kids playing connect four can do as much to build relationships as long conversations about why someone’s dad only takes one sibling home for the weekend.

Most of my days were spent playing cards, helping with odd cleaning jobs, lazily reading and laughing at dumb jokes. This week was sabbath living. I was more fully a human being, and less of a human doing.

god was already here

god was already here before groups came from baltimore
from seattle
from chicago
god was already here before I came
i do not need to be here
i am not an integral part of the work being done
the houses that are being built
are they miracles of god?
or white savior trim on blue, green, lurid walls?

i heard a preacher ask “what is god doing through us?”
as if we were the most important part of the story

i saw a post thanking an organization
for the opportunity to recognize the humanity in the people of tijuana
as if her validation had made them human

god was already working in tijuana before tony built this orphangage
god was already here before doxa began
god was already here before gringos came down to build the first house
god was already here before the spanish came and invaded this land
god was in the americas before columbus came
before the inculturation theology westernized and destroyed

someone asked me if i was lonely
how could i be lonely?
there are so many people here
more than you can ever see
more than i will ever see or know
if i chose to be with you and the other americans
it is because i want to
not because you are the only people i know

I always believed that there was something special about the city of Tijuana, and there is, but I idealized the city because I was here with my church, I was here with friends, with a support system. I see now how small my sight was. My idea of the city was just the two blocks around the orphanage. I knew nothing except what I had done, what I was doing.

god is already expanding my vision

god has already made me in the image of the divine
jesus has already died for my sins
the holy spirit has already breathed in me life

and I shouldn’t come down with the idea that I am doing something
god is already doing the work
of making heaven on earth
and I just get to see a little bit of it

a vegetarian outside the united states

I do not think that is common to be vegetarian in Mexico. I am not sure that is common to have dietary restrictions in most countries other than the US and a few other places. This is not based off anything statistical or empirical, just on the reactions of people from other countries that I have visited. It is confusing to locals and often an inconvenience for whomever is cooking.

When I travel internationally, I am often forced to consider whether my ethical reasons for being vegetarian are more important than the culture that I might be disregarding. Food is an important part of a country’s culture, and I do not want to be impolite and refuse what is offered to me.

I think that it might be time, after a year of being vegetarian to reflect and consider my choice. It might be wise to veer closer to veganism in the United States so that when I travel, I can consume meat and experience cuisine more fully. In any case I am eating fish here in Tijuana, for the first time in a year and I did not miss the taste, nor was I disgusted by it. Food is one of those topics that is so personal; it is tied to our early memories, and important moments in our life, but can also be just mindless eating, or pre-packaged and cheap. Food is life, and community, and a daily ethical practice. So let us consider what we eat, and how we eat, and what happens when our choices crash into one another.

vignettes: july 17- july 22

I am constantly in awe of the creativity of the women who help Rosa out with Day Camp. On Wednesday and Friday we revamped these old coke bottles using egg shells that the kids had brought, glitter and string. The children got to chose the colors that they wanted and when their parents showed up, many were super excited to show them.

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On Thursday, the summer camp took a field trip to CECUT, which is an entire cultural experience distilled into one campus area. There is tons of art, a history of the Baja California area, a small aquarium, and something similar to an IMAX theatre. I wish I could have spent more time wandering around the exhibits, especially a series of black and white photographs from the last seventy years.

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Friday night Alex took the preteam from Christ Church of Oakbrook out to their housing sites and I tagged along. My grandma (and recently passed grandfather) go to Oakbrook and getting to meet their youth pastor and other leaders was a very God-inspired moment of connection. We got tacos and shared some stories before digging into the logistics of house building and staying at the orpha.

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These first few days have been overwhelming at times and a real exercise in being an outsider in a tight knit community. Walking the streets with Rosa, everyone says hello to her and she knows everyone in the colonia. At the materiales store as she went to pay for a part for a sink the vendor said that it was a gift for La Profe. It’s incredible to see the relationships that she has and the ways that Doxa is integrated into the community.