Hello, friends! It’s the end of November and one of the things I’ve been realizing lately is how much I rely on the changing colors of the leaves and seasonal drinks at cafes and Christmas music on the radio to tell me what holidays are coming up. This past Thursday, otherwise known as Thanksgiving, came and went without much thought and it was such a strange experience.
It wasn’t strange in a bad way, although I thought it was going to be. I had managed not to think about one of my top 3 favorite days of the year up until the day before. I facetimed my family to see them all around the table with my best friend and her dad for dinner and I had not realized how left out it was going to make me feel. I may or may not have shed a few tears after that call, but my spirits were rather quickly lifted. In the other room, my two site mates, Ann and Grace, were peeling sweet potatoes and listening to Christmas music as they got started on prepping our contribution to a group Thanksgiving with other volunteers/missionaries in Cochabamba that we would be attending the next night.
When again will I be able to say I spent Thanksgiving in Bolivia with other Americans (U.S.) who were in Cochabamba for the same reason as me?
In the morning we managed to get the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on our phones and it truly made it feel like Thanksgiving (and the girls loved it!). Then we were lucky enough to be given the afternoon off to celebrate this oh-so-wonderful day with about 25 other volunteers who are all doing different things in the city. And that Thanksgiving celebration absolutely exceeded my expectations. It was a beautiful day, we celebrated the mass (in ENGLISH... which I didn’t realize I missed mass in my own language as much as I did), and we ate to the point of food comas (is it Thanksgiving if you don’t? No). Topped off with great company and hilarious table talk, I had a really wonderful Thanksgiving. It was everything I needed on a day where I was feeling a little down about not being with my family.
On Saturday (today), in an effort to bring some Thanksgiving fun to the girls at the hogar as well, we decided to make apple crisp with our gals! I had a handful of helpers in the kitchen, and I’ve found that baking is my favorite thing to do with the girls when we have some free time. They are always over the moon to help and this dish came out wonderfullyyyyy. Dump in a ton of sugar and what can go wrong, really?
Life at the hogar is truly insane-- not a single second can be predicted and there are a lot of days that honestly just end in frustration. But I still can’t help but yell from the rooftops “thank you, Jesus!!!”. It blows my mind the number of experiences that God has led me through in 21 years of life, and through the highs and the lows I am just so thankful to be here. I’m thankful for the way the girls look up at me and say “Te quiero harto” with their kind eyes. I’m thankful for the girls that bring me to my boiling point and teach me the importance of patience. I’m thankful for the way that my Spanish has improved since I’ve been here. I’m thankful for the community of other volunteers in the city that I’m able to spend some of my free time with. I’m thankful for the way that Bolivia and life in the hogar is teaching me to be more flexible and “go with the flow”. I’m thankful for how demanding the girls can be, thereby teaching me how to give more of myself (however uncomfortable it may be). I’m thankful for how brightly the stars shine from this area of town. I’m thankful for video calls with my family that make a hard day better. I’m thankful to have my own bedroom to recharge in. I’m thankful for the tiny shop that’s a 30 second walk from the hogar and is a quick fix for an ice cream craving.
More days than not, I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. But I am just thankful to be here, assured that God will make sense of it for me.