In an effort to reflect on what this last year has meant to me I dug in to the nearly three journals I´ve filled since arriving a year ago Tuesday (writing has been a very important part of my reflection here). A year gone by, I see these reflections in a different light, or sometimes they do more to inform my present questions and conflicts. I hope to be a little more active this year in sharing some of these thoughts. First, however, I wanted to sum up the last year. Turns out, that’s impossible. I did find something I wrote during our MISO training, before I even got here, that did a pretty good job of expressing why I’m here and what’s been happening within me since arriving.
“Reflection Exercise 2
Part B (yes, my journal has subheadings): What is your message for yourself:
No matter how hard it gets, remember that God has led you here. Remember the feeling of clarity and peace when you withdrew your JVC application, and again when you received your final placement after initially declaring you’d go anywhere but Bolivia. You have been invited to participate in something far beyond your comprehension. As a finite individual, you cannot stop injustice, or offer salvation, or soothe pain you don’t even understand. Your job is to humbly receive the abundant love of God and offer it back in this place. This love has beautiful and challenging consequences- we must face our own insufficiency, honor the “belovedness” of our neighbors, trust our Lord completely. We must settle, and strive, to simply live well day to day. Make peace with the challenge of existence and revisit your only worthwhile goal: to love better every day. By God’s grace you can do it.”
That’s a lot to respond to all at once and I hope you’ll allow me to leave much of it standing alone. I do want to speak briefly to the very first part: the idea that God led me here.
I don´t generally make decisions on a hunch or a whim or a gut feeling. I’m not very attuned to what some might call the “whisperings of the Holy Spirit,” but my arrival in Bolivia was very irrational. I swore I would go anywhere but Bolivia, mostly because I was afraid of having to learn Spanish (the sisters and I sit around the dinner table and laugh about this story as I retell it over and over…in Spanish). I withdrew my application to JVC, my only “back-up plan” before I had actually been officially accepted by the SLMs because I felt certain that God was calling me to the Salesians, whom I’d never even heard of until about six weeks prior. Then, as I was practically packing my bags for India, having decided on the Ferando Speech and Hearing Center, I was slammed with an inexplicable feeling that I was heading in the wrong direction. Well then, God…where am I supposed to go? Cochabamba, Bolivia. My inital answer cannot be repeated here out of sensitivity to my youngest and/or purest readers. But I came, and now I’m glad I did.
Ita Ford spoke in an interview about Chile the same way I would speak about Bolivia.
“There’re a lot of things that are very uncomfortable about being there, but it’s like the right place to be. It’ like you intuit a place. This is your place right now. I can’t say it’s my place forever and ever. Right now, I recognize this is where I should be.”
Bolivia is “my place” right now. I can’t put my finger on what exactly made it so when God sent me, against my will quite honestly, a year ago, but I am infinitely grateful to Him for it now. This is still my place. I wish I had a more eloquent way of explaining to my friends and family why I’m spending another year here. Perhaps, like this last year, those reasons will be revealed over the course of time.