Well, here it is. The long overdue blog post. So many things have happened since I wrote in SEPTEMBER (sorry), but at the same time, I feel like things have slowed down quite a bit. I guess what I am trying to say is that my everyday life seems less interesting and less worth a blog post to me. But this isn’t about wowing people and showing everyone how exciting and thrilling my life is; it is to share my experience, my feelings and perhaps a reflection or two. I suppose it is important to try to create some objectives so I don’t just ramble on aimlessly for 10 pages (though I make no promises that my writing will not end up doing so).
I am currently sitting at my green table in my cozy home. Its 9:43pm, and the rest of my host family has been asleep for a while. I am writing this by homemade candlelight (we made two today from my extra wax – turned out I know nothing about making candles and my host mom had to basically redo it for me after a failed attempt), since our battery completely sucks. I think I shouldn’t complain though, since it still does well enough to charge my laptop when it’s sunny, like today. We just got done watching Shrek in Spanish. Side-though: you know how there are those people who bring all their electronics with them when you go camping and everyone hates them because they are just like: “man, can’t you just leave that crap at home and not disrupt nature and enjoy silence for once”? I think I feel like that a lot here. I mean my everyday life is basically a glorified version of camping. Regardless, it’s nice to spoil the kids with a movie now and again.
I have passed the last few months in a new type of routine. Staying put in my village has changed into a balancing act for the sake of efficiency involving much more of my time being spent in the “city”. I have been fervently looking for money, getting material lists together and coordinating transportation – all things that are much more easily accomplished down the mountain – all while trying to organize people to start work, collect money and write statues for the water committee. Actually now that I list it all out, my life sounds pretty busy. But it’s not really, trust me. Most of my days are still a lot of sitting, reading, talking and waiting. Oh, and making amazing meals when I go down the mountain. We had Mexican food night at Sarah’s house a few weeks ago (I made homemade tortillas which were amazing) and it was just about the most incredible thing that has ever happened in my life. To emphasize the common lulls in my life, I recall telling someone that I would feel quite accomplished if I got one solid thing done in a day.
Ex) Person: “Josh, what have you been up to recently?” Me: “Well, I talked to Greg today about that question he had, and yesterday I measured where we might put the tank and the day before I called this guy about the pump for 5 minutes. I’ve been pretty busy.” Person: “Yeah, you should take a break and go to the beach for a few days.”
I did, don’t worry. All-inclusives are fun.
The further I get into this process and the closer we get to actually accomplishing something concrete (no pun intended) for our water system the messier I realize this whole process is. Community development is chaotic. You have money promised by local politicians that never arrives, materials that show up late, community members that can’t abide by the “strict” rules because they have no money (or just don’t want to), meetings where the only thing accomplished is a lot of arguing, and heaps of individual situations that I couldn’t begin to understand within 6 months. It’s just hard sometimes. A lot of the time. I want the community to be taking the lead more – to push and encourage me to work harder – but I think that takes more patience than I can usually put up with. Maybe that is my flaw.
I try not to let it all get to me. Sometimes the Peace Corps train blindsides me and I have to look my reality right in the face. Those moments are tough. And often lonely, as I put in perspective the distance from the people I love most, the remaining commitment, and the community I left behind to be here. I am lucky to have Jessica to remind me of the amazing opportunity it is to be here basically every time I speak with here – I believe I am learning to more fully appreciate her amazingness. Sarah, Masa and Rudie, among other volunteers, bless me with their conversation (sometimes I starve for it) and the terrific meals we throw together with limited resources (bacon!). And today, after being completely fed up with my community yesterday due to what I viewed as a completely failed town meeting (arguing, people walking out, etc.), I was reminded of how much I still do love the people I get to spend time with here. It’s hard to stay mad at them. The routine helps too. My daily devotionals have essentially left me with the knowledge that I must be made nothing and Christ must be made everything in me. I hope to actually believe and live this someday.
Love and hugs,
The Las Barreras “Giant”, Josh
P.S. Photos coming soon – the next time I have fast enough internet.