Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Lessons Learned

About two and a half years ago I spent a semester living in Rome. The adjustment to life in Italy turned out to be quite difficult, and I wasn't sure if I was ever going to fully enjoy it. One day, however, I decided to skip my history class and explore a couple churches and a museum I had wanted to visit for a while. I ended up having one of the best days of my life. As I walked back to my apartment, it hit me: I had fallen in love with Rome and never ever wanted to leave. Of course I had to leave, because my life had to go on. Thank God for that because now, I find myself living in an incredibly surreal and unexpectedly captivating life.

When I came here in January, I really thought I had a lot of things figured out. I knew where I wanted to go in life, what I wanted to do, and who I wanted to be. But as life would have it, I have been tossed this game changer... that happens to be an entire country. And trust me, living in Honduras has taught me lessons that I never knew I needed to be taught:   

1.) I've learned the value of my service here, and the incredible, heart-lifted-out-of-your-chest feeling when you realize you're actually making a difference in the world... or at least to a young girl. 

2.) I've humbled myself quite a bit. I never thought I was very uptight, mostly because I'm normally around people a bit more uptight than myself. Coming here, however, has taught me how much I need to stop, relax, and enjoy the moment I'm in. But let me repeat this: Life here has taught me that, I'm still not very good at living in the moment.

3.) I've taken The United States down from the pedestal I unconsciously put it on. When I first came here, I constantly compared Honduras to the States and thought how much better the States were. I felt bad that Honduras didn't have as good of an education system, a health care system, an economy, etc. But truthfully, Honduras has the same problems as the States, just in different forms. Both countries need an incredible amount of help and support. I realized that by thinking I was above someone else because of my citizenship just put me a thousand degrees below them. This dawned on me once when I saw a woman as old as my grandmother walking down the street, carrying a 5 pound bag of beans on her head. She looked exhausted and I thought to myself, "Wow, if she were in the States, she would probably have a car to drive so she wouldn't have to carry all those beans. And she probably wouldn't have to eat only those beans. She could probably go to the grocery store and get something more delicious." But lets think about this for a second. She probably doesn't know how to drive a car. She probably wouldn't like 90% of the processed crap in the grocery store because she's never eaten it. Her life is in Honduras, and this what she knows. While I'm sure she has struggles in her life, how dare I think that the best thing for her is to leave her life here, and be in a new life she knows nothing about. Even recently when I got stitches (a story which involves our vacation to La Ceiba, a mechanical bull, and the hopes of winning 500 lempiras), I was constantly comparing the medical attention I received to health care back home. While I'm sure no health clinic would pour red liquid out of a gatorade bottle onto your gaping wound (I really hope it wasn't gatorade), whatever they did got the job done because my hand is perfectly fine now. 

The thing is, I could write 10 more blogs just on the lessons I've learned here. And another 10 more about how much I've grown, and how much more growing I have to do. I'm not sure what the future has in store for me, because I'm not sure what I have in store for my future. While it's a bit nerve-wracking to try to find solace in an "I don't know," I know that it's up to me. With a bit more guidance from this wonderful country, my friends and family, I'm hoping that I can take my life into yet another incredible chapter in my life. The point is, is that slowly I've come across the realization that I'm in love with Honduras, my service and my students. And just like my time in Rome, it's going to be really hard to say goodbye. 

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