My life right now is like living on a raw diet. And by that, I definitely do not mean it’s boring! I mean that sometimes the food is hard to take and it is certainly not comfort food, but you end up feeling a lot better and healthier in the end. And no, if you are wondering, I have never actually been on a raw diet, so I am just going off of reports. Maybe the people who do those kinds of diets just make up the benefits to get other people to suffer with them? No, probably not. The benefits are real.
I came to Mexico because I wanted to challenge myself, wanted to learn new things (teaching, Spanish, how to support myself, cooking, salsa dancing, etc.), and wanted to trust God more. All of those things are in process as I type. I think most of you know that I am always thinking ahead. This is sometimes good because I am rarely caught unprepared. However, I can think through endless future scenarios before making a decision about something. So basically, I just do all of my worrying ahead of time. With the help of my future-oriented mindset, I was very mentally prepared for the challenges of this kind of trip (or move). I have read, talked, and thought a lot about culture shock. I prepared myself for dealing with inconveniences and differences of lifestyle by setting low expectations, which for the most part have been far surpassed in the beautiful city of Guadalajara. I practiced my Spanish as much as I could before coming and did many other things to help ease my transition.
So far, I have been adjusting really well. I really do like it here and am trying to understand and relate to Mexican culture. There have been some frustrating or confusing moments, but nothing awful or totally disheartening has happened up to this point. Teaching has been hard. It might surprise you that I am struggling a lot more with that than I am with Mexican culture. Many days I leave school feeling inadequate and unprepared (unprepared as far as not being a teacher’s ed major or having student teaching or that kind of thing). It seems like a lot of the other teachers are way more creative and productive with the time in the week than I am with the same amount of time. It is very humbling to feel like I have so many major things I need to work on to improve my teaching. Flexibility in schedule is also really important here. Sometimes the internet goes out just when I sat down to spend an hour or so researching strategies or entering grades online. I also have to flexible in order to get places. To get around, I’m dependent on other people with cars, public transportation, or my own feet. People don’t always arrive on time or the bus arrives late and you can’t make very concrete plans.
I am also trying to budget for myself and cook for myself for the first time. I am actually teaching myself to cook, because I’ve never actually cooked until coming here. If you are totally confused because I might have made dinner for you or something like that before, I am awesome at following directions. I have always followed recipes exactly unless a cooking authority (like my mom, Nana, or Carrie) told me to change or substitute something. Following a recipe doesn’t count as cooking because, before, if I had all of the ingredients I could hope for and no recipes, I would probably have gone hungry. So now I am changing recipes and even trying simple things on my own from an idea in my head without any recipe. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t, but it has been fun to play around with food.
I have also been reading a book called 7 by Jen Hatmaker. It has been a really good book to read at this point because it about fasting in more areas of your life than food. As I am about a month and a half into this experience, I have already started a mental tally of things I “need” to bring back with me at Christmas since I cannot find them here or couldn’t fit them into my suitcases this trip. Reading this book has made me pause and think, “Wait, I just essentially got rid of all of the excess when I moved here. I reduced my possessions (practically speaking, since I technically still possess them in Virginia) to… still a lot more than most people around the world have. And I already am trying to add to them again because it feels normal to have everything I might want or possibly be able to use around me?” I kind of got frustrated at myself, especially as I remember my truly poor Mexican brothers and sisters in Baja. It has been good to have fewer things to turn to. I even have fewer people to turn to and fewer activities to turn to because I am still settling in so I have more time open for reflection and for fellowshipping with God. Oh, on the possession note, I’m pretty sure my camera is broken so I may not be able to post any more pictures. I’m so sorry. Feel free to look through the ones I am tagged in on facebook if you want some visuals.
And in all of this learning, and struggling, and messing up in multiple areas, I feel so blessed and my times with the Lord have been so sweet recently. You can thank Him for that! He is generously rewarding me for my faith and sacrifices (again, quite small compared to many dedicated Christians around the world) and giving me joy and a deeper trust in Him. So even with the hard parts, I am so glad that I am here. The growing is hard, but it feels so good to be out of my comfort zone and actively having to trust Him and lay things down for His sake. I am going to keep on looking for the areas I need to grow in so that even this does not become so comfortable that I lose my dependence on the One who deserves my life and my everything.