Even though this experience in Guadalajara is so different from any other experience I have had before, I keep on getting a sensation that I actually have experienced this before. It took me a little while to realize that I was not being reminded of other experiences I have had, but was being reminded of the feeling I got when I went through those situations. Remembering that feeling then reminds me of those old places and experiences.
I have thought of my dear alma mater so many times in the past month. CIU was the first time I left home and this is the second. There are definitely similarities between CIU and Lincoln. Both are multidenominational Christian schools. Both have a heart for making Christ known among the nations. Both have incredible people making up a very special community. It makes my heart happy. There are also differences. CIU is a university, while Lincoln is a K-12 school. CIU is set in the Bible belt of the American South. Lincoln is in the middle of a huge Hispanic city where there are heavy Catholic influences. CIU has all the passion of young people who want to change the world. Lincoln has the maturity of adults who are have already taken the step of faith (a small step for some and larger for others) to serve cross culturally.
What are the common feelings these two periods of my life have created? Well, initially, a feeling of boredom and awkwardness. That might sound a little strange considering how highly I speak of both of these places, but let me explain myself. The extrovert in me gets really bored without an established routine full of people. As I am still getting to know people and developing friendships, my days are not yet full of friends. I remember feeling that way when I came to CIU as a freshman, only knowing a few people’s names. I knew that I could not force a deep friendship, but wished so much that it was possible to fast forward to the part when I could come over to their room at any time or hang out with them multiple times a day if I wanted to. I am once again in that place of sometimes feeling lonely and a little awkward around people I hope will become long time friends. Future forever-friends, I will try to be patient, but I cannot guarantee that I may not jump fences prematurely.
I also have been tasting the feeling of freedom. I have the freedom to choose a church, decide when I am going to go grocery shopping, what my schedule will be, and what I am going to do without having to check in with anybody. I have never minded living with my family and having to fit into their schedule, but it is also nice to feel like an adult. Oh, and since I am debt free, now I also have the freedom of deciding what my paycheck goes toward each month! Okay, some things are not a choice, but after tithing, rent, and food…I can do what I want with my pesos. I also remember that particular feeling that only comes on Saturday night when you realize that you have forgotten to arrange a ride to yet another new church to try on Sunday morning. However, I think the church hunting may be drawing to a close soon!
I am also recalling a feeling of anticipation. I know that my time here has only begun and I have will have so many opportunities to develop friendships, learn about teaching, and bring about the kingdom here in Guadalajara. Even though the first month is probably the month you learn the most at a time from constant exposure, it is really no time at all to actually get to know a place. I have so much time to enjoy and explore! And I know what I am going to do differently from last time around. I do not want to again sense regret that I never got to know the context outside of my community. I want to know and understand Guadalajara when I leave here, not just understand Lincoln or Las Fuentes. I want to have friends from outside of Lincoln as well so that I do not become too inward focused.
Oh, and another feeling, thankfulness. This is (and is going to be) so good. I am glad that I am not the one who has to make it good. I know that He is working all of that out.
Photo is my own.