This is Summer {#50}

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The view from right here
is a bright dining room and
some bright kitchen, too.

~Natalia

Because

Because I went downtown this afternoon, and willed myself to see the detail, to see the beauty, on my train ride back.

Because it’s Vacation Bible School every morning this week, and I’m rather tired.

Because I can never wrap my finite mind around the way God orchestrates occurrences that we might otherwise label as “coincidence”.

Because I’m watching the Olympics.

Because it’s been too very long since I read my Bible, and I’m parched for the Word of God.

I have for you, a sweet five year old on a beach.

Glendy, taken August 2010.

~Natalia

This is Summer {#49}

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It’s someone else now
I guess Kat’s little sister
had my camera, too

~Natalia

Dear Freshman

You’ve got three weeks left, and I wonder what you’re thinking, what you’re feeling. Are you sad? Looking around at your family, your job, your life right now and suddenly feeling your heart squeeze kind of sickly, because in three weeks time, you’re leaving this.

Are you excited to come to school? Catching yourself imagining what it will be like to live in the big city, what kinds of things you will learn in classes, who you will befriend? It’s a different kind of heart squeeze now, an excited one. Hold your breath and shrug your shoulders up, because you’re happy inside and can’t hold still.

Are you nervous? Laying awake at night, thinking about what should be packed, what left behind. Worrying about who you will hang out with, what people will think of you, if you’ll understand what you’re learning in classes, or if you’ll get lost in Moody’s (in)famous tunnel system? Stomach twisting nervous, shaky breath, worried about this.

Maybe you’re a mix of these; three weeks seems so long and so short, all together at the same time. You’re eager, excited to see what school will be like, what it’s like to live in a dorm. You’re excited for classes, and curious what the Moody community will really be like for you. You’re sad to leave the life you’ve lived for the past years, trying not to think about saying goodbye to family, friends, house, home. It’s a mix and a jumble and you’re not sure what to make of it.

Three weeks.

At the end of last semester, just a handful of months ago, I sat around in a large circle with the girls on my floor. We had been assigned to write out three pieces of advice, aimed at an incoming freshman. I sat in The Commons and crunched tortilla chips and stared at a blank 3×5 card.

I wrote seven words and then scratched them out.

I flipped the card over, wrote two complete sentences, and then crumpled up my card.

I couldn’t think of anything to say. I had, just then, no advice for you. I was distracted and caught up in the rush and twist of life in the last couple weeks of school, and I had, for that moment, nothing to say to you.

But you’re arriving on campus in three weeks’ time, and I think I have something to say. Things I’ve heard and things I believe, and things I think you should hear.

It’s okay. It’s okay to be overwhelmed and scared and confused and sad, too. It’s a big city and a new school, and every face is a new one.

It’s okay to be sad, lonely, worried.

I know it’s hard sometimes. I know the SDR is loud and crazy. I know Bro/Sis events are a little awkward at first. I know going into a classroom where you know absolutely no one is not something people line up to do. I know it’s challenging, draining, rough.

I know. And whether your transition is relatively easy, slipping almost seamlessly from a home atmosphere to a school one, or more challenging, battling to adjust, to become accustomed; things change.

Slowly, the SDR becomes not such an overwhelming place. It’s still loud and the chairs are still scattered around the tables haphazardly at the end of the meal, but the voices ringing out begin to sound familiar, and there’s a rhythm, a pattern, to the movement in that basement dining room.

As the months go on, the floor you live on gradually stops being a collection of people who Res Life assigned to live on the same floor, and begins to become a family. Eventually, the elevator dings on your floor, and suddenly you’re not going back to your room, you’re coming home.

Later, you suddenly realize that you know more than half the people in your class by name. You’ve been around a month, two, five, and faces and names, at first a confused jumble of people, oh so many people, suddenly belong to each other. You know who he is, and who she hangs out with, and you have three classes with him.

It’s not like that at the beginning, but things change. Stick around here a week, a month, a year, and strangers become friends, scary becomes familiar, and anxious becomes comfortable.

You’ve three weeks until life flips upside down, and a new part of your life begins. A challenging, exciting, oh so wonderful new part of your life.

See you soon, freshman.

~Natalia

Quoted: While You Were Gone

While you were in Mexico, Mommy let me sleep in your bed a couple times.

Oh, yeah? How was that?

Well, it was big and I was kind of alone. But sometimes, I pretended that you were there, too, and that made it better.

~Natalia

This is Summer {#48}

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The littlest sister
is a sneaky little one.
She found my phone, see?

~ Natalia

Watching Dinner

Dinner’s been served, and I’m not in the kitchen anymore. I don’t know why, actually. Usually, after serving the food, I stay behind the long, white tile counter. I lean my elbows on the high counter and watch the meal unfold.

But not right now. Now I’m just outside of the reach of the countertop, leaning against the pale green wall of the dining room. I’m still watching, still listening, I’m just not in the kitchen.

Two tables over, directly across from me, she sits silently. She dutifully eats her food, wordlessly scraping arroz con leche out of the beige dish in front of her. I watch her, and I’m not the only one, but she avoids my gaze, her dark eyes fixed vacantly on the bowl.

The scraping of metal spoons on hard plastic gradually diminishes, and the rush and murmur of conversation begins to grow. Dinner is done, but we’re still here in the dining room. Still standing, still sitting, still here.

Suddenly, a voice to my right calls our attention. Hermana Tere steps out from behind the counter, moves into the open space between the sliding door and the five long tables. She begins talking, but my eyes remain riveted on the girl across from me.

Hermana Tere continues. She’s talking about the same girl I watch. Tells the littles ones that the girl’s received some bad news, that she’s hurting, she’s sad. My eyes flick briefly to Hermana Tere, then back to the girl. Head down, tears glisten in a wet path down her dark cheeks. I can’t see her eyes, but I know they are red; I saw them this morning.

Hermana Tere’s words are the only sound heard in the kitchen. That and the soft sniff of a girl who’s cried much that day. In front of the room, Hermana Tere reminds us what we are. We are a family. We are a support. We love each other and encourage each other. Hurt for each other and pray for each other.

Soon, she’s done talking, and slowly, the dining room begins to move. First one, then another, then a whole table, stands up to make their way over to the girl. The room is filled with the scraping sound of chairs being pushed back across tiled floor.

Little ones stand on tiptoe to wrap their arms around her neck, and older ones, her siblings and friends, lean down to where she is seated. Hug her. Whisper words of encouragement. Tell her they love her. Build her up. Wrap her even tighter in the blanket of God’s love and sovereignty.

A line forms, and I’m not leaning against the wall anymore, I’m in line. Beki’s in front of me, and ten more are in front of her, with that many and more behind us.

After my turn, my turn to show love, support, family, I slide into the empty seat next to her. Hermano Manuel’s speaking now, the kitchen once again hushed to stillness. He speaks, then RubĂ­ joins him in front of the gathered group, the gathered family. We’re going to sing a hymn, he explains. God Doesn’t Make Mistakes, it’s called. You all know it, right?

And we sing. Next to me, she sits, eyes lifted now. Watching. Every so often, a blink sends tears overflowing over lids and other wet path is traced down her cheeks.

Blink, drip, slide.

Tear. Cry. Sing.

God Doesn’t Make Mistakes.

~Natalia

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