So I’m setting into a little routine here now, and when I think of what my routine consists of, there is really one recurring “staple” at all parts of the day: juice. I haven’t taken all that many pictures of juice, because it’s not all that interesting, but here’s the few pictures I have of the hundreds (okay, not actually hundreds, but a lot) of juices I’ve come to love:
And notice what everyone has next to their plates at this church meal:
I figure with this post I’ll give you all a little insight as to how my days here typically go: First, I’ll go workout in the morning at 6:30am with my friend David (the one who speaks pretty decent English). These workouts involve going to this free gym type thing (key word here, free!) at a park where they’ve built machines that use your bodyweight as the weight. That, or we play basketball. After that I’ll have my little morning routine of getting ready (which doesn’t involve juice though it does involve a hot chocolate like beverage). From here I’ll head on over to my work at the project. Given the feedback on how much everyone enjoyed the past video of a tour of my house, I figured I’d spoil you all with another one! It’s simple, but gives a little glimpse of my life. Behold, my walk to work!
Once I arrive at work I have an English class at 9:00am. We usually wrap that up at around 10:00am, and the kids have a little snack that I partake in, which usually includes juice. Next I study Spanish until about 12:00pm at which point we all have lunch together. Guess what we drink with lunch? Juice! Then I’ll spend the next hour and a half or so responding to messages from friends and family, and doing other miscellaneous things I may need to do. From here I’ll have another English class at 2:00pm. Once we are done with that, snack time again! You probably get where this is going by now, yup, we drink juice with it. I’ll then spend some more time studying Spanish until about 5:00pm when I head on home.
Now that I’ve made it to my sweet sweet bed with my sweet personal fan, I typically take at least a brief moment of alone time to read a bit. At the end of my work day I am totally wiped out from Spanish speaking and learning, teaching English, and trying to keep up with the extremely high energy around me all day long. I know, I sound old right? So from here my routine has three possible routes:
I spend about 3-4 more hours reading. For those of you who know what I like to spend my free time on, it has never been reading, I mean like never in my entire life. So in all honesty, I find it pretty funny that I am now an avid reader.
I play Monopoly with Carlos and some of his friends. Monopoly is definitely the best $10,000 pesos (a little over $3.00 USD) I’ve ever spent in my life, and for a couple reasons. First, and obviously, I just love hanging out with Carlos and some kids from the neighborhood playing a boardgame. At the same time, I won’t deny that I love winning in Monopoly after a 4 hour grind of building up what I deem to be superior properties. We’ll leave it at I’m still undefeated 🙂
I go to culto. Culto is basically church service. Some of you at this point may be thinking wait, I thought this was your everyday routine you were sharing, and when I first found out how many cultos I’d be attending I had the same type of reaction. There are 5 cultos a week, each about 2 hours long, and the number of those I go to ranges from about 3-5. So yeah, I’ve been clocking some serious church hours. Here’s a culto we shared with another church in a neighboring town:
Regardless of which of the above three paths my day takes, it will always end with some Spanish reviewing of words/phrases/verb tenses I need to learn and a little private bible study sesh. Oh, and let’s not forget dinner! At this point I’m going to go as far as to not say the beverage I have with dinner, because you should know that by now (hint, it’s in the title of the post). If you’re curious what my nightly Spanish studying looks like, here she blows:
Pictured on the left is essentially my dictionary of everything I’ve learned in Spanish WITH little drawings next to the words (it’s supposed to help you learn better), the middle is a pocket sized Spanish dictionary, and on the right is the notebook I take with me everywhere to jot down new Spanish words I learn from people throughout my day. For those of you wondering what is that pink prettiness that I’m doing all this Spanish studying on, they’re my new bed sheets that I had to buy. Just because I want to show off my new pink rose bed sheets, here’s a picture:
Back on track though, for the first time if you asked me how my Spanish learning was going, I’d say quite well. When we first arrived to Colombia I met an American who had been living here for a year and had arrived in Colombia with pretty basic Spanish. I asked him how long it took until he was feeling pretty decent with his Spanish, and he said at about the two month marker he was feeling pretty solid. I’ve hit that point now and would definitely agree with him. Just what exactly is “pretty solid” is hard to explain. I’m no where near fluent, and there’s still tons I don’t understand. But for the most part I can communicate about most anything I want now, and I would feel comfortable just traveling around alone with no one to help me struggle through it.
So this post has been pretty unexciting and is boring you by now I’d imagine, but I figured you’d want to get an idea of what type of “activities” I have going on in my day to day life. There’s still the “thoughts/ideas/challenges/learning/faith” part of my life that all goes on up in the old cerebro (brain), but we have about 9 more months for me to dive into all of that. However, I’ll give you all a little sneak peak into that aspect of my life with my biggest current challenge here: living simply.
On the YAV website, “simple living” is listed as one of the core tenets of the program. When all of us Young Adult Volunteers learned more about this at orientation, it entailed everything you might imagine comes with simple living: limited budget, turning away from desires and focusing on necessities, no extravagant living, etc. In fact, part of the reason I wanted to do this year was to get away from all the “stuff” we have in our lives. I believe that “stuff” interferes with living how God wants us to live. So anyways, I went into my year all excited about getting to live a very basic life in terms of material goods… and I can confirm that I do indeed love it as much as I thought I would. Really the only material possessions I have that I wouldn’t consider extremely “basic living” is my computer and camera, which I need to document and communicate my time here with all of you wonderful people! Outside of that though, I live extremely simple, as you can see in my last post’s video. So while I enjoy living simply in physical terms, there is another aspect of simple living for me here in Carepa, Colombia, that is much more of a challenge for me. I’m going to call it social simple living. By that I mean living my life simply in terms of the activities and interactions I have (in other words, yes, I don’t have much of a social life).
As most of you probably don’t know, due to safety concerns here, I am not allowed to go anywhere alone (besides my walk to work now, whoop whoop!). So that means I need a friend (basically David) or a family member (which can’t be one of my host siblings because they’ve been deemed too young) to accompany me wherever I go. Given these pretty strict restrictions, I don’t really go anywhere or do anything outside of the places and activities listed in my daily routine above. I want to make sure that I don’t give the impression that I’ve been like imprisoned here, completely stuck to the same routine everyday, because the church and the project do take quite a few vacation days away to neighboring towns, rivers, and the beach. So I do still have some days of new activities in new places (which I am very grateful for), but in terms of my day to day life, it has been a complete 180.
Just to paint a quick picture of my daily life in the states: the exact opposite of simple social living. I could go anywhere and do anything at any time I pleased, and I took full advantage of those freedoms. Looking back on my life in the states, I would say I almost aimed to live the most action packed interesting life possible, and boy did I succeeded with flying colors. So to go from that type of lifestyle, to one where I can’t really go anywhere, where I live rather repetitive days, and where I see basically the same set of people day in and day out, has been extremely difficult for me. I’ve always been very intentional about recognizing and being grateful for how easy and great my life really is, but in all honesty I never realized how great the simple freedom of being able to go where you want when you want to is. I guess this goes back to the saying: “you don’t really know what you have until it’s gone.”
Now then, this might be my biggest challenge here, yes, but you better not believe for a moment I’ve let it get me down. For those of you who know me pretty well, I aim to be as happy a camper as possible:
(Yes, I just really wanted to share that photo, but I’m also about as happy as it gets in it too!)
I think the key to that happiness is enjoying every moment that God grants us in this beautifully wonderful life. And how do we enjoy every possible moment?! By finding the light of God in every situation, no matter how small that light may seem sometimes. For me, this often involves looking for the small and simple graces in my life, whether it’s the kids laughing at me when I mispronounce my Spanish, beating Carlos in Monopoly, or even just a glass of juice 😉