I wish I had a better reason why I haven’t been updating my blog, but I don’t. I think writing always forced to me to organize my thoughts, so avoiding this type box means I’ve been avoiding my brain. Deep right? My lack of blogging is a reflection of a lack of mental organization, hmm here comes the categorizing phase.
I was in Holland until May 12th. I came home to Bonnie and my mom at the airport in Houston. From then, I spent a grand total of 11 days in College Station of a possible 41. My younger sister graduated from high school (there’s a picture of her graduation brunch with our cousins below), and I attended while being in a walking cast do to my bunion surgery that occurred within a week of being home. The surgery was painful and I regretted getting it at first. (eventually my Aunt and Uncle in Pflugerville removed my stitches for me 14 days after and I concluded I was healed and walked barefoot for 7 days… not a good idea). My foot is fine, and after 6 weeks of recovery it’s normal sized and I’ve started to dance on it, but it’s SORE. I also attended my first recital in College Station that I wasn’t completely submerged in. That was weird/hard/good/sad/awkward,but good?/awesome/relaxing all at the same time? I was also on Codeine during the recital so the amount of emotions I felt during the recital may be in part, due to the fact I was probably, most likely, hopefully, or definitely drugged to the point of hallucination. All in all, my feelings at the recital were of the mind set “closing one door in order to go through another”. Deep, yet again.
In special news Angie Burke, my very special friend, had her third baby while I was home. Her name is Maddelynn Grace Burke and Bonnie and I went to the hospital the day she arrived. It’s weird, now that I’m 20 I actually KNOW people getting married and having babies instead of just being drug around by my mom to random people’s weddings. (no offense mother) But seriously! These people are my friends, and they’re living life… it’s not a world of high school tests and after school activities any more. My world is about weddings, babies and life changing decisions. It’s grown up stuff now.
While I was home, I took several trips. I went to stay with my Aunt Donna and Uncle Chris in Austin. They would probably say I was bored the whole time, truth is, it was my favorite part of being home. We watched episode(sssss) of Lie To Me on netflix and ate popcorn and milk duds for dinner. It was awesome. I also got to have really special conversations with them about how their lives were changed drastically while they were married, and God preserved their marriage through it all. Talking to my Uncle Chris about how he’s practically bed ridden due to his back pain, but still has hope, was really awesome too. My Aunt Donna is my number one hero and getting 8 days to just hang out with her was a sweet time. Where they live is special to me, and after feeling like I didn’t belong anywhere because of my “nomad-ness” it was the perfect place to go. I also made them promise to not move until I get married… so that’s a guaranteed 10 years of them staying in that special place ;) Not long after my trip to ATX, I went to ATL. I went to go visit my childhood friend Shelby Sweat who moved to Georgia when I was in 4th grade. Her family and my family go way back. We went to CSK (my private school) together and we did Indian Princesses together as kids. Randomly, we’ve been in touch this past year so I decided to go out there and visit for the weekend! On the way home from Atlanta I stayed a night in Kingwood with my best friends. Petie, Morgan, Sarah and I had 24 hours together for the first time in I don’t know how long. I got real emotional when I realized how long we’ve been friends and what we’ve all gone through together. After weeks of being home and feeling like I had an inadequate amount of friends stateside, they proved me wrong. When I got home, it was back on the road again for Father’s Day. The “House” family (mom’s side) made plans to go to Granbury, TX for Father’s Day weekend. My Great-Grandfather, Grandfather, and Father were all there. In all we had 4 generations represented and spent the weekend boating, jet-skiing, and going to church. It was the perfect end to my time at home… I left for South Africa 2 days after this gathering.
Ohhh where to begin! My American pal Jodi Barrett and I flew from College Station to Durban together. We traveled for over 36 hours and one flight was 11 hours. We flew our international flights on South African Air, and from what I hear, it’s impressive that we didn’t go insane. Our dutch friends flew on Emirates which is notorious for their on-flight massages and spas. Great. Johnny and Jasper picked us up Wednesday night and drove us to the Good New Center (GNC). From previous blogs regarding Bottle Brush and last year’s ventures, the Johns used to be the pastors at GNC but have since relocated to Colorado where they have formed a friendship with my grandparents. (small world, I know). The girls are staying on the GNC property in a house called “The Icebox”. It was dubbed this name due to the frigid nights and the fact that it’s architecture resembles that of, you guessed it, an ice box. “We” make up a team of 7. There’s some people here that I worked with in the KK office in Holland, some from KK year-round teams, and some from America (aka Jodi and I). The seven of us live life with Pastor Dennis’ sister, Mary and her daughter Jasmine. They live full time in the GNC house and Mary is in charge of Bottle Brush feedings. Simone John and her dad, Pastor Dennis are in town for Gateway. Simone’s been rocking my world with her Indian cooking. The past week has been pretty simple, we have been working hard in the office organizing the Gateway camp for this year. Eventually, 10 more dutchies will fly in to help out and complete our team. In between sending emails and making programs, we’ve explored Durban a little bit. All and all, it’s the calm before the storm.
Jodi and I weren’t best friends before this trip, but in the last 10 days she’s grown to be a sister. An experience like this forces a lot of “fast forwarding” on life. Our friendship is just one example. Cultures are colliding left and right. We have American, Indonesian, Dutch, South African and Indian cultures all in the same place… divided into 11 persons. That’s a lot of, well, I don’t know what it’s of. But it’s a lot of something. Being with Bethany and Tamara in Holland for 4 months taught me one thing (of many things) ADAPT. I’ll be the first one to say I needed help when I got to Holland, but I was basically “fast forwarded” into being “Dutch” in order to cater to my students and co-workers. It seems easy, but it’s not. So many people ask “What’s so different?” or “What’s so hard about that?” Until you’ve LIVED LIFE with another culture, you will never understand. Going on vacation for a week or two in the Bahamas or taking Spanish for 4 years in public school doesn’t mean you know a thing about how to live with someone who comes from a different place than you. I never thought I’d be in this place, but watching Jodi adapt and sometimes struggle has made me realize how much these opportunities have forced me to grow. I’m happy to be on the other side of “culture shock” so I can help Jodi as much as I can. She’s fit into our semi dysfunctional family flawlessly though. They think she’s “something else”. Her personality came out within hours due to the fact she saw our shower consisted of a bucket. Yes, a bucket. They’ve accepted her just like all the other Americans, which I’m sure for them has been a “culture shock” as well. Needless to say, we are both learning life lessons again and again and again and again, in many different languages.
I’m aware this entry is ridiculously long. But as cliche-ishly usual, I saved the best for last. I convinced Johnny to let Jodi and I sneak off to Bottlebrush yesterday afternoon. Yes, the place I’ve continuously blogged about for the past year. I finally got to go back, after almost a year. Every week, three times a week, GNC feeds 800+ kids in the Bottlebrush slum. Jodi and I got to go to the feeding and pass out the packages ourselves. We arrived and watched the GNC feeding distributor preach in Zulu to a huge group of kids (ages 2-8). He told me “this is the main group, and whatever is left we give to them” by “them” he meant the kids that were older than 8 or showed up late for the feeding. There were at least 200 kids outside the gate. There’s never enough.Right then I thought back to the $8,000 we raised in February, it seemed insignificant. The need is too big, the cost is too high, the corruption is too far gone.
That night Jodi and I had a long talk with Auntie Mary. We talked about buying GNC property for an orphanage, a medical center, a home for Mary, and place for teams to stay. I called my grandparents to tell them I was serious about investing in this for the rest of my life. Pastor Dennis came home and we jokingly brought up how Jodi and I were going to buy the 2 million dollar property for GNC and build all these things on the land. He non-jokingly replied saying that’s what the vision has been for years. People have prophesied this over Bottlebrush, that eventually, there would be a place to help these children… full time. Most of the kids in the slum don’t even have parents, they live with friends because there parents either died of AIDS or left, and never came back. A year from now I want to bring a team of Americans, and have money raised for a GNC property. 5 years from now I want to bring my whole family back here. 10 years from now I want to be adopting my future family member from here. This is it, forever.
Today I called my mom to semi-vent to her about some of my frustrations. In the midst of it I brought up the fact that I’ve realized that the things that were so important to me now, weren’t even on my radar a year ago. These kids aren’t the only kids living like this. A year ago I would’ve bragged about how my family owned 2 houses, had 5 cars, has iPhones and have 7 flat screens including 1 outside and so and so on. It’s just all crap. All the vacations I complained about going on for all those years, I should’ve been complaining that we weren’t adopting a child or paying for an orphanage to be built. That’s what I want for my future family. I want to invest in life and love all the days of my life. I now know that in order for me to put my brain to good use, God had to kick me in the butt and send me to a place of “uncomfortable” in order to make His expectations for my life, my expectations as well. Cheers.