Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Day 88

Back in June, on my final Sunday in Harrisonburg, we sang Revelation Song.  “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God, Almighty, Who was, and is, and is to come.  With all creation I sing, praise to the Kings of kings, You are my everything, and I will adore You.” 
The song’s lyrics are based on the eternal words from John’s vision of the end - and beginning! - of all things.  Our music director (who is also a good friend) told me he thought it would be a fitting way to send me off.  He knew how much I love that song – and the book of Revelation!
Sunshine & a clear view of Volcan Agua
greeted me this final day in Antigua.
Fast-forward to today, Day 88.  In some ways, it feels like a lifetime ago since I was sitting in the pew of First Pres in Harrisonburg.  Saying goodbye then was no fun at all.  Heading out without really knowing what (or whom!) I would encounter wasn’t much fun, either!  How could I have imagined all the ways God was going to meet me?!
Today is my final day in Antigua.  This morning was my last day at school.  It was hard to say goodbye to Sonia and all the wonderful people who work there, as well as other students.  Tonight I’ll have to say goodbye to Juanita, Maria and Dona Cristi.  That’s going to be even harder because this is family. 
We’ve experienced all the things a family does – times of laughter and fun (Uno with Dona Cristi, Rosa Maria’s Quinceanera), simple times of being together (like chatting with Juanita and Maria about their families), really trying times (when Dona Cristi was so sick)… Despite the language and cultural differences, these women are part of my family, and I am a part of theirs.  So, it’s going to be rough!
With my sweet Dona Cristi this past Sunday. 
Doesn't she look pretty?!
But, in the midst of the sadness, I have a sense of excitement.  Excitement for the D.R., yes, but also for the ways God has been working in me here in Antigua.  And not only in the Spanish I have learned or the amazing experiences I have had.  I am praising Him for the ways He has been at work softening and stretching my heart. 
When I was at MTI I kind of (well, more than ‘kind of’!) rebelled against feeling forced into community.  I’ve shared some of my struggles during those three weeks.  I was much more spiritually exhausted than I had realized, and I wasn’t able to connect well with the other people in training.  That still makes me sad, because there were a bunch of really incredible folks there. 
Part of me wishes I could go back, because now, after three months of living with lots of other people, I feel much more able to ‘do’ community.  Since arriving on June 25, I’ve had 12 housemates.  Actually if I include Dona Cristi’s amazing daughter and two granddaughters it’s 15, if I include Haley’s mom and godmother it’s 17, and if I include Dona Cristi, Juanita and Maria, the grand total is 20! 
If you had told me that at the beginning of the summer, I would have said it was impossible that a gal who lived alone for the past 10 years could cope with that many new people!
Some housemates stayed for a week or two, others for more than a month.  Some will be friends for life, others had me praying hard for patience.  Yeah, at times I really wanted to be able to go to the kitchen and do some cooking, or relax (alone!) on a couch reading or watching a movie, but overall, I’ve loved it.
Like with Spanish, I’m realizing that learning to live in community is probably going to be a lifelong process.  But, like with Spanish, here on Day 88, I feel much more able to enter into the next new culture, the next new community, the next new chapter of my life, in the D.R.
This past Sunday was my final Sunday in Antigua.  Guess what song we sang at church?  Yep, you guessed it, Revelation Song.  Singing out “Santo, Santo” and “Holy, Holy” to our great God was a reminder of Who it is we serve. 
It was a reminder that our Lord God Almighty is the One I am heading to the D.R. to meet.  The One who met me here in Antigua.  The One who will remain here (and everywhere else!) with those we love. Today is a tough day, but it is a good day.  All praise to the One who was, and is, and is to come!

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