Lynchburg: My Own Little Magic Town

I loved living in the big city of Guadalajara, but I also loved the opportunity of using it as a launch pad to go visit other places in Mexico. There is currently a tourism promotion in Mexico called Pueblos Magicos. These “magic towns” are quaint little places with historic interest or natural beauty. I was able to visit a few of them and have linked my posts Mazamitla: Colder Weather Calls for CabinsMarkets and Churches in San Cristobal, and Contradictory Ecotourism in Palenque.

Coming back to Lynchburg has reminded me that I am a small-town Virginia girl. Though it is small and a lot of it seems “ordinary” compared to exotic Guadalajara, I think my time away has helped me love it even more.

This weekend, I went to an annual event that promotes our downtown area. Because my family now lives in the historic district, I just walked a couple blocks to Get Downtown. Walking around, enjoying the architecture, listening to music by local musicians, and looking at photography and artwork by local artisans made me feel like a tourist. My own little city  has immeasurable charm. I am so proud to be from Lynchburg and to call it home. Don’t miss the “magic” in the small, old, or ordinary. If you ever want a tour guide around Lynchburg, I would be thrilled to show you places of interest, share the stories I have learned about it, and introduce you to the people who make it so special. Come visit us!

Photos are mine and Laura Barnwell’s.

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Home Again

Today is the day we had to send Lincoln School our official letter of intent for next year. As most of you know, I think about things a long time, but do not speak until I am absolutely sure or am required to speak so that new circumstances can be accounted for. I finally sent in my letter earlier today.

I have been so thankful for the opportunity to live in Guadalajara the last year and a half. I had lots of goals when I came and I see nearly all of them met. I have grown as a teacher. I have written curriculum, learned how to write effective lesson plans, figured out a classroom management system that works for me (Class Dojo is amazing by the way!), found a method that works for me (The Daily 5) and seen my students do really well on their fall standardized testing.

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I have learned about cross cultural ministry. I am a part of two different Mexican house church networks. One is led by Mexican nationals and one is in the process of transitioning to Mexican leadership. I have been able to observe how they make decisions, what kinds of problems they run into, and what kind of blessings come from their efforts. I have also seen my landlady’s life completely change, which is an incredible source of encouragement to me.

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I have lived on my own off of the money I have earned. I have figured out grocery shopping and am much better at cooking now. I can now make a good dinner without following a recipe each time! I am really looking forward to the next several months as my new housemate and I have decided to share cooking responsibilities and I will be learning more new recipes and how she likes to cook.

I have enjoyed an incredible cultural experience! I have become much more fluent in Spanish and enjoy communicating in another language. I have learned how to salsa dance (and some other Latin dances) and get to enjoy that usually at least once a week. I have traveled to some beautiful places, participated in Mexican holidays and traditions, and enjoyed all forms of traditional art, including folkloric dance and the beauty of the architecture.

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I have really enjoyed all of this, and I will be sad to leave it. However, I can also look back on it and be contented that my goals have been met and it is time for me to move back home and begin preparing for whatever comes long term. I am very thankful that I will have another nine months here to continue to add to my experience. Thank you to each one of you who has been a part of it. We have another nine months to enjoy! I’ll conclude with a stanza from one of my favorite poems, Home Again by Henry Van Dyke, which has been running through my head recently.

So it’s home again, and home again, America for me!

My heart is turning home again, and there I long to be,

In the land of youth and freedom beyond the ocean bars,

Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars!

Photo of the baptism belongs to Carola Venegas. Photo of dancing belongs to Glenn Skala. Other photos are my own.

How the Hobbit Got Back Again

I have been fortunate enough to have a nice amount of free time recently and have been looking for some good books to fill my quiet evenings, so it seemed appropriate to choose a dependable book I could trust for enjoyment. I was not disappointed by The Hobbit. While reading and relishing, I noticed a theme I had not paid much attention to before. Perhaps circumstances have given me a keener insight into this particular theme.

After going home for Christmas break and then returning to Guadalajara, I again began thinking about the balance of the beauty and wonder of the world contrasted by the pleasure and familiarity of home. Or perhaps they really complement each other after all.

Either way, Bilbo’s character represents this tension well. He does not want an adventure, resents the adventure much of the way, and happily returns from the adventure. Yet he does accept the adventure of his own will and completes his purpose in it admirably, and even goes beyond his duty. His Tookish side leads him to accept the appeal of the adventure and when all is done, he is weary, but not regretful. He has friends among the race of dwarves, has been named elf friend by the Elvenking, and been hosted in plenty by many good and wonderful people of various kinds. He has also suffered much, feared much, and sorrowed much for his trouble.

The alternate title is There and Back Again. The “back again” section of the story takes up only one short chapter and an additional couple of pages, yet it seems quite important that Bilbo came back again. The whole story points to his return as he constantly thinks of his comfortable chair, his sitting room, his tea, etc. “not for the last time.” The part of him that thirsted for adventure has been satisfied, well, for 60 years anyway. He is satisfied with home and indeed “the sound of the kettle on his hearth was ever after more musical than it had been even in the quiet days before the Unexpected Party.” Yet the adventure has left a strong mark. He began writing poetry and he would visit elves and be visited by them and other “foreign” people. He also loved to share about his times abroad, though most of his stories were discounted by the skepticism of hobbits.

I love to travel. I love to experience new things and talk with people who have different perspectives and backgrounds. I like to see beautiful and unique things in person and not just through a picture on Pinterest. I am enjoying my overseas experience now and hope I will be able to travel to many more places in my lifetime. However, something about my little city makes my heart happy and contented. I hope that I will also get much more time there and that it will be said of me, she “remained very happy to the end of [her] days, and those were extraordinarily long.”

Photo from unsplash.com