Thursday, November 16, 2006

Aren’t you ready to come home yet?

This question, asked by my mom yesterday, has been on my mind lately. Now that our return trip to Chile has been booked, scheduled for 3:00pm on December 16 and making today one month until I am officially scheduled to leave Cochabamba, this question seems even more relevant. Am I really ready to come home yet?

I didn’t have an answer for my mom at the time, but I did tell her that thinking about the option of going home is something that I simply cannot let myself do, as I still have 2 years ahead of me in South America. Since then, I have realized two things:

1. Although I have enjoyed my time here thus far and have a good chunk of the language under my belt, my work has not even started. The life that I am experiencing here in Bolivia is nothing like what I will experience in Chile, and if I were to leave now, my mission and what I came to South America to do will be left unfinished without even giving it a chance to start.

2. Without any offense to my mom, I wonder what exactly she and we mean when we say “home.” Do I really have a home? Is home just a place where you grew up and where your immediate family lives, or is it “where your heart is” according to the famous phrase? With the first definition, I would call Parkville and Kansas home. With the second, I would call Parkville, Kansas, South Bend, Washington, DC and Bolivia home, hoping to add the pueblo town of Pocurro, Chile to the list; thus, it is simply not possible to return “home” and returning to any of those places would only be going to just a part of “where my heart is.”

Despite the answer, I do have to say that I am experiencing a lot of emotions about my return trip to Chile. I am excited to once again see the current HCA Chile group, who I consider friends made during that first week in South America. But I am also anxious about my first “real life” work experience after college. Will the experience in Chile be all that it is cracked up to be? Will it meet my expectations? Will I be able to fulfill what I am called to do? Only time will provide the answers and my last month in Bolivia will definitely be time to prepare me for what I can only see is an amazing journey ahead.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Aubrey Lynn Drummond

It’s a girl!! Yesterday, November 10, 2006 at 9:19am, my baby sister Maegan gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, 6 lbs 12oz. and 19 inches Aubrey Lynn Drummond. Mom and baby are both doing great, Grandma and Aunt Melissa were able to make the trip up to Nebraska to be with Mom and Dad as they welcomed their first baby as well as the first baby to enter into our immediate family in quite a long time (13 years!).

I am quite excited to officially be “Aunt Michelle” – so much so that instead of “Aunt Michelle,” I am thinking of asking all of my siblings to have their children call me “Tia,” which is “Aunt” in Spanish. :-)

Although reality has set in a bit and I am starting to feel old (this means that I can have a child too…but don’t expect that anytime soon, haha), I do have to say that when I received the news via email that my sister finally had her baby, it did not seem like reality. I knew my sister was pregnant…after all, I saw her when her belly first started to show way back in July and we all knew that this day would someday come. But it is really craziness to think about it: someone, with almost the exact same genetic makeup, same blood, and only 15 months younger than me, had produced a child with parts of the same blood and same genetic makeup that we both share. God truly is amazing and life is a wonderful gift.

I am sad to think that I will not see my little niece until just after her second birthday, but I am comforted by the fact that my family went through the exact same thing when Maegan was born. When Maegan was born, my Mom, Dad, and I were living in Berlin, Germany (my Dad was in the Army and was stationed there). The four of us did not return to the U.S. until just after Meagan’s second birthday and thus, no one in my family saw Maegan outside of pictures for the first two years of her life. Although there were missed opportunities of watching a child grow, this amount of time did not have an affect upon Meagan’s relationship with any members of the family. This being said, I am truly looking forward to not only keeping in touch with my sister and receiving pictures of my new niece, but returning to the States to meet Aubrey and see the wonderful mom that my sister has become.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Just call me "THE DESTROYER." It´s "mí vida."

The Destroyer. This is the name that I have given myself within the last month or so here in Bolivia. For those who know me well, it comes as no surprise that I maintain my clumsiness here in Bolivia, sometimes at the expense of certain items that belong to my Bolivian family.

My family first got a glimpse of my inelegance within the second week of my stay here in Cochabamba. One evening I was walking with my Bolivian brother, Jorge, who had picked me up from fellow HCA Associate Natalie’s house so that I would not have to walk home by myself in the dark. We were talking and I tripped over a large crack in the sidewalk, scraping my wrist up pretty bad (photo is in my online Bolivia photo album). Now I have small scars on my wrist – but I guess that is the price you pay for the first “recuerdo” (souvenir) from Bolivia. In all fairness, it was dark and the sidewalks in Bolivia are nothing like the sidewalks in the US, torn to pieces due to lack of maintenance and earthquakes. This excuse worked with my family for a while…that is until I cut my foot on a rock just last week while walking in pure daylight, haha.

Since then my family, not my “cuerpo” (body), has suffered the effects of my inability to be cautious, careful, or just conscientious of my own strength or the largeness of my body. I have broken the showerhead in my bathroom (causing my family to buy a new one), stained a beautiful tablecloth due to spilling soup and Coca-Cola (both on separate occasions), pulled out a door handle trying to get a door unstuck (causing Jorge to work 2 hours to fix it), and scraped off a large portion of Teflon from the bottom of Juana’s pan while cooking no-bake cookies, not realizing that I should have used an older pan because melting and stirring sugar in a pan would cause such damage (she was not as forgiving about this one).

The worst and probably the most embarrassing moment of clumsiness and unawareness of the largeness of my body came last Thursday when we visited the Cementario for Dia de Los Muertos. It was not a terribly sad day, as it is not supposed to be, but it was the first year that my family would be visiting their son in his final resting place (check out my October 28 blog if you do not understand). Our first visit was to the permanent niche of my Bolivian “abuelo” or the father of Nestor, my Bolivian host father. Upon arriving, I discovered the customary practice of cleaning the name plate along with changing the flowers that had been placed there the year before. Deciding to be the good “hija” (daughter), I told Juana that I would help her take off the thorns and petals and cut the stems of the roses that we had bought for the niche, helping her place them in the now clean vase. On my second rose, I had cut the stem too short and thus, one less rose in the vase (oops #1). Reaching for another rose, my butt graced the vase, knocking it over and breaking it – a vase that had been used by the family every year for 25 years since the man had died (BIG oops #2). To my horror, I cried out loud all the Spanish I knew to ask for forgiveness and to tell them that I was sorry. To my surprise, all my family could do is laugh – their response: “Es tú vida.” Translation: It’s your life.

My family assures me to this day that the incident at the Cementario is okay, the vase only cost one or two pesos (about 12 or 24 cents), and that it was a blessing in disguise because the day was fun as I continued to provide a bit of entertainment for them. We ultimately bought a new vase, said a small prayer, and continued on to the final resting place of their son. We took the short rose along (what we had named by this time “my accident”) in order to place it in the son’s smaller vase along with beautiful white flowers that we had also previously bought. What did I do while walking? Dropped the damn rose on the ground (oops #3). That’s right, and I nearly caused three or four people to fall down as I stopped the large flow of traffic in order to save this rose from being trampled. As I stood up, my family just gave me a look and all I could say is “Es mí vida.”

Needless to say, I was not allowed to touch the vase, or anything else for that matter, for the remainder of my time at the Cementario. Now, it’s is just a matter of time until THE DESTROYER strikes again.