Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Transition

My journey back to the States was interesting. My flight from Buenos Aires to Houston had the worst turbulence I've ever experienced. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I was legitimately scared. My hands were shaking and the lady next to me had to pat me on the arm and tell me we would be OK. I've flown a lot, so I'm not sure why it bothered me so much but I was breaking out the Hail Mary's/Ave Maria in both English and Spanish while I clutched the rosary bracelet on my wrist...Luckily it didn't last too long and I was so tired that I was able to fall asleep a while later. 

In Houston my flight to Albuquerque was overbooked, so I volunteered to catch a later flight for a free flight voucher. Love when that happens! The only unfortunate part was that unknown to me, Matt, my boyfriend was waiting to surprise me in the Albuquerque airport. When I finally did arrive in Albuquerque, seeing him waiting there with a sign welcoming me back to the U.S.  was just what I needed to set the tone for a happy re-entry. 

I spent the next week in Albuquerque talking with Mary and the sisters about my experience, how I was feeling and how I should prepare for the transition back to life in the States. I was able to spend relax with Mary and even visit her hometown of Los Alamos, spend a day with Sr. Marilu in her kindergarten class, visit the kids and workers at Casa Angelica, visit with the sisters in both houses, go to Mass for our Lady of Guadalupe at San Jose parish and visit with the youth group at San Jose and impress them with my Spanish skills. It was a wonderful week and I think a good thing for my transition process. 

Near Los Alamos, New Mexico
Being back in the States, at least for that first week, felt a lot more normal than I was expecting. While I was still in Paraguay I imagined myself crying nonstop for the first few weeks. When the tears didn't fall I think I almost felt guilty. I was surprised at how easy it all seemed.

Leaving Albuquerque and the buffer of the VOICA house and sisters behind, life in the U.S. started to feel more real. I'm so happy to be seeing my friends and family, and I can't wait to see everyone I haven't had the chance to visit yet (I haven't even been home for two weeks and already I've been to my cousin's 30th birthday party, my cousin's daughter's baptism, to visit friends in Chicago, to visit a sister/brother-in-law in St. Louis, went to a caroling party with the parents, went to Springfield for Christmas with Matt's family, and celebrated Christmas with (most of) my immediate family, and celebrated with the Smith family),  but the reality of how long it will be until I see my people in Paraguay again is sinking in, as is the fear that I'll forget the things I learned while there. Living your faith is so much harder when you're back in your own element and face all the distractions of life in the United States.

 I now find myself crying the tears I didn't have in Albuquerque more often, but I'm determined to reintegrate into my old life while not forgetting the many things I have learned and experienced over the past year that have helped me become a better version of myself.  If you catch me on a teary day, I'm sorry and please don't think that I'm not happy to be seeing you. A huge thank you to everyone that supported me in my journey as a VOICA volunteer whether it was through your donations, thoughts, prayers, e-mails, letters, Skypes or reading my blog. It meant the world to me and helped me more than you'll know.

Un gran abrazo,


Las Despedidas (The Goodbyes)

As my grandpa informed me yesterday, I kind of fell off the blog the last few months. My only excuse is that I was too busy actually living my Paraguayan life, so I can't be too sorry, although I am sad that I wasn't able to share more about my beautiful goodbyes until now. 

Each goodbye I had was difficult, but I know in my heart that I will be returning to Paraguay (worst case scenario 2-5 years) so it luckily wasn't a forever goodbye. The friendships I made with the sisters, my coworkers and friends from youth group aren't just things I can leave behind. I treasure the relationships I made and the people I met because they helped me through the challenges and helped me become a better version of myself over the past year. I'll always miss them...

Goodbye party with JOMICA

Las tres amigas. Delma, Gabi & me
Ester & me. This girl is amazing! She works with the sisters almost as much as I did.

Goodbye in the tutoring classes with the adorable signs they made me.

For Hiliary with lots of love...
We love you Hiliary. Thanks for teaching us!
Showing off their end of the year gifts from the sisters and teachers and the coloring books I made.
Goodbye to my favorite little girl in the world, Nati
Some of the other girls from the home
Hna. Graciela, Sandra, Gladys, Lidia & me

The one and only Victoria...

Farewell lunch with the sisters

Me and the sisters showing off the bags I made
On our way to the bus station to head out

Goodbye to the sisters in Berisso in Buenos Aires!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Me voy...

I can't believe I'm leaving Paraguay today. The last 10 months have flown by, and quite honestly I'm not ready to leave. I'll be taking a bus tonight from Posadas, Argentina, to Buenos Aires. I'll spend a day and a half in Buenos Aires with the sisters there before my flight leaves for the States on Thursday night. From there I'll spend a week in Albuquerque with the sisters and Mary from VOICA for debriefing, readjustment and evaluation. I'll be back in Missouri December 14. Please keep me in your prayers in these last few weeks of my mission. Thanks for everything and see you soon!