My perspective and misconceptions of El Paso

This post may contain things that you may disagree with. I am writing this from the perspective of a 22-year-old, half-Korean/half-white woman who has only lived here for about two weeks. My opinion may change in the next few months, but here is how I currently see El Paso:

pretty

As I prepared to move to El Paso, I had numerous people caution me of how dangerous it was to be moving here. The most frequent response I’d receive was, “Oh that’s not safe at all. Be careful. Why do you want to move there?” Quite frankly, these responses would make me upset. It felt like a judgment. It almost seemed to come off like, “why the hell would you ever want to move there?!” Definitely not the kind of response I wanted when I was excited about this big transition. But I would smile and say something like, “I feel very at peace with moving there and am excited for the work that I’ll be doing.” I had other people tell me to never enter into Juarez because I would “definitely be mugged or killed,” which also rubbed me the wrong way. I recognize that most people said these things because they care about me, and perhaps they had some very valid reasons for why it “isn’t safe.” Their comments weren’t meant to be upsetting in any way. However, in the depth of my heart, I wanted to reply with, “Well, nowadays everywhere you go it isn’t safe. We just become adjusted, comfortable, and accustomed to what we grow up with. I don’t want to live in fear. And if I am being called to work in El Paso, then El Paso is where I will go. Being a Christian isn’t supposed to be comfortable – Jesus literally tells us to die to ourselves and pick up our cross to follow Him.” (I know that there’s a difference between common sense and plain stupidity… but I felt as though very few people truly trusted my sense of peace with this decision.)

A frequent lesson the Lord has been teaching me is “How far are you willing to go for me?” It’s a tough question to answer. I would love to say, “I will do anything and go anywhere, Lord!” But in reality, if I had to give up the slightest bit of comfort, then it would be challenging to let it all go. I’ve thought about staying here longer than just 10 months. I’ve thought about what it would take, like finding housing, the money to afford rent/food/gas, getting health insurance figured out, etc. It would be so uncomfortable to stay here longer than 10 months, especially since I made plans to come back home in June 2018. But if God wants me here, then this is where I’ll stay. I heard Him tell me, “Don’t worry about it right now.” And so that’s what I’m doing…not worrying. I’ll keep you updated on how that’s going in future posts…

El Paso is a change of comfort, but to be quite honest, I am still very comfortable. I am living in a beautiful home, meeting incredible friends, and being warmly embraced by an awesome community. Life here is pretty sweet. But down the road, maybe less than 30 minutes away, lies the city of Juarez. The Mexican border lines up right next to the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). You can look out from the campus and see Mexico span across for miles. Almost every day I drive past Mexico and see the broken down buildings, streets, and homes. Can you imagine what it would be like to be live in Juarez, look up at the “city upon the hill” and dream about going to college – it’s an arm’s reach away – yet not being able to cross the border? There are some children in Juarez that will wake up early to cross the border just so they can attend school in the U.S. It’s always humbling to me how willing and dedicated children and families are to achieve an education, especially when I went to public school and saw many people not appreciate the free education that was gifted to them.

The city of Juarez and El Paso desperately rely on each other for their economies to function. They are intertwined and everything is connected somehow. A lot of people from Virginia associate Juarez with danger. One woman even told me that her husband had the choice of choosing Fort Bliss (in El Paso) or go to Afghanistan, and he chose Afghanistan because he thought it was more dangerous here! Although yes, there has been violence in the past, there isn’t violence lurking on every corner. And you have to be smart, as you always do in any city you’re going to. The people in El Paso are ridiculously friendly. It seems to be a common practice to approach strangers and strike up a conversation. I typically am a quiet person, plus in Northern Virginia, you are considered “out of the norm” if you start a conversation with a stranger, but here it’s an everyday thing to chat with the people in line with you. The coolest part is that El Paso was recognized as the 2nd safest city in America!!!!!! (check out the article) Does that blow your mind? If so, then why? What pre-judgments did you have prior to reading that? It’s okay. I let certain fears and judgments affect my thought processes too, but let me encourage you to think differently about this city. It’s really quite wonderful. The diversity is beautiful. I was told that the population is about 80% Hispanic or Latino. I think it’s so cool to be in a city where the people who are typically considered the minority are actually the majority!!! It’s a growing city. El Paso isn’t a city plopped in the middle of the desert left to fend for itself. And while yes, there is a very distinguished divide between the rich and poor, I have seen the communities work hand-in-hand with each other.

Alright, I’ll step off of my soapbox for now. But please please please try to think of El Paso as wonderful. It is not the dangerous city that people make it out to be. Sure, there are a lot of things that need to be changed and worked on, but that’s true of any city. I love this city because of what it has to offer. Even more, Jesus loves the people here. He sees them as worthy. Will you join me in loving this place, too?

Now, if you’re interested in what I’ve been doing day-by-day, here’s a quick debrief of the past few days:

Saturday, August 19 – I realized that drinking water is very vital to the health of my chapped lips. I am always thirsty! I went into Juarez with Keisha, Karina, and Gustavo. We walked across the border and got dinner at the Kentucky Club. I got a cheap margarita and tacos 🙂  Then we went dancing at a place called Chess. It was a bit hectic trying to figure out how to pay in Pesos. In Mexico, they do not split the checks, so if you’re in a group you just have to scramble and hope you have enough cash on hand. Thank goodness for Venmo.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sunday, August 20 – It was raining in El Paso!!! It’s their monsoon season, which coming from NoVA I had to laugh…but apparently, it’s a lot of rain for the desert. I attended the Church of St. Clement for the first time. It was youth Sunday, so they had a lot of the youth students participate in the service. I met Callie in person! We have been texting since late June, so it was awesome to finally meet her. I attended the church picnic after the service and met even more people! Later in the afternoon, I met up with Dianne, who owns a few Jazzercise centers in El Paso and Las Cruces, NM. I chatted with her and Callie about when we could teach Jazzercise. Then Callie and I went to Ross and Target to shop for apartment supplies for Callie. It was so fun getting to spend time with Callie and hearing more about her life.

callie

Monday, August 21 – I had a 5-hour training/meeting for Ciudad Nueva at Sami’s house. We spent most of the time sharing our personal testimonies and why we started working for Ciudad Nueva. It was also the Eclipse!! We had a lot of fun looking through our solar glasses and trying to capture pictures.

eclpise

Tuesday, August 22 – I was introduced at the church staff meeting at 9:00 AM. Then Sami drove me around El Paso for 2 hours. He showed me parts of the Upper Valley. There is so much wealth up there. There’s a stark contrast between the Upper Valley and the East side. There are pipelines where people can flood their lawns just so they can have green grass. It’s insane. We talked about the justice issues of water – we live in a desert, yet people use the water superfluously to water their grass instead of conserving it. Sami then drove me into New Mexico to see Anapra, the border along New Mexico and Mexico. We got up really close to the border, and Border Patrol was watching us very carefully. Then Sami drove me through the downtown El Paso neighborhoods, like Segundo Barrio and the Rio Grande.

I went to lunch with a guy named David at L&J Cafe. David took me to three different possible part-time job interviews, but I didn’t like any of them. They were banking companies and law firms. Most of the places I want to work at (social work and counseling places) only want volunteers. I need a part-time job in the morning because that will help me afford my living, plus it’s part of the Border Fellow program to have a paid part-time job. So…prayers that I can find a part time job! I felt defeated because I had an expectation that the Fellows program would find a job for me and I wouldn’t have to search for one myself. I panicked a little bit, but then told myself to let it go and not worry about it. A job will come because God always provides.

Below are pictures of the border along New Mexico and Mexico and the border highway.

Wednesday, August 23 – I met with Bethany and Simon at Ciudad Nueva and they told me that I’d be working with the middle schoolers. They explained how the program ran and what some of my responsibilities would be. I get to pick up the kids from school in a 15 passenger van! Simon and I drove to a family’s house to get the kids registered for the program at Ciudad Nueva. It was slightly awkward since I didn’t know this family at all and was just chilling in their home for about 30 minutes. But hopefully, I’ll get to know the families soon enough.

Thursday, August 24 – I attended the Praise and Worship team practice at the Church of St. Clement. I’m planning on getting involved with the worship team. I had to turn in a copy of my Driver’s License and car insurance to the church and Ciudad Nueva so that I could drive the middle schoolers in the church vans starting next week. Then, I met with Simon and I practiced driving the 15 passenger van. I practiced driving the loop I’ll be making next week. These vans are almost 20 years old…and was told that they break down a lot. That should be fun. Then Simon and I delivered food to a family in the neighborhood.

Friday, August 25 – I met with Steven for lunch at P.F. Changs near the El Paso airport. I am doing some work for him in the meantime as I look for a part-time job. He’s paying me for the work, so that’s a bonus. After lunch, I went to his house to do more work for him on the computer. It’s a lot of data input. Nothing too difficult, and it’s actually fun for me because I can listen to music and jam. In the evening, I went to the Greek Festival with Keisha. There was a crazy thunder storm and many of the roads were flooded. Thankfully, we made it there safely. We got some Spanikopita and a cheese pastry and enjoyed the music/dancing. Then, we went to Ode Brewery to meet up with some people neither of us had ever met. The group was very nice and welcoming. Keisha knew one of the girls through a co-worker. We spent a few hours talking with the group. I had an awesome time chatting with one of the girls who is a Philosophy major and writing her thesis for her Masters. We talked about institutionalized racism, gender and sexism, mixed culture, and pretty much everything in-between. It’s so cool to meet someone who also highly values social and economic justice issues. From there, Keisha and I walked around UTEP’s campus and enjoyed the lovely evening. The rain stopped and left El Paso in the low 60’s – perfect evening weather.

Saturday, August 26 – I drove to Las Cruces, NM to meet up with some old family friends. I haven’t seen them since I was a baby, but they were my parents’ really good friends when they lived in El Paso. It was nice meeting them. They treated me to lunch and drove me around the Las Cruces area (specifically in Old Mesilla. We went to lunch at this place called La Posta. It had really good Mexican food). I spent about 3 hours with them, and they told me that “the choices you make will dictate the life you lead.” Once I said goodbye to them I decided to get my car checked at Jiffy Lube (since there isn’t a Jiffy Lube in El Paso, I had to take advantage of the one in Las Cruces!), and then I came back to El Paso and took a 4-hour nap. And now I’m writing this blog! 🙂

Below are pictures of the Las Cruces mountains, volcano, and the Rio Grande river.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hope everyone is well. Missing my family and friends, but I’m not homesick. Everything is great, and if you want to send me a care-package…I’d never say no to that 😉 Just ask me for my address in a private message! Thanks for reading today’s blog! ❤

 

 

 

Advertisements

Listening Prayer

I want to document something cool that happened this morning because I think it’ll be somewhat significant in the next few months.

*Background context* I went on a 24-hour retreat with three other people (Yoli, Sami, and Steven). Yoli is the Border Fellows director, Sami is a Border Fellow Advisory and the Ciudad Nueva Director, and Steven is also a Border Fellow Advisory and works for La Frontera Youth Program. The three of them make the Border Fellows program run smoothly and are also connected with the Church of St. Clement. Overall, it was a great time of fellowship and eating. We went to a little retreat center called Riverbend (I think that’s the name?). Sami thought it was called “Rivendell,” and I said, “You mean, like in the Lord of the Rings?” I also heard it referred to as King’s Chapel…So who knows…but it was a cute and quaint little lodge in the upper valley of El Paso.

At the retreat, we did a variety of activities. I went over the Border Fellows handbook, took a Myers-Briggs test (according to the test I’m an ESFJ… I’ll post a summary of what an ESFJ is at the bottom), did some Anglican devotions and communion led by Steven, and lastly did Listening Prayer.

I have never done listening prayer before, but I know some people who have. Essentially, it allows God to speak to us in silence. Steven explained that God wants to talk with us. Even in Deuteronomy 6:4 He tells the people of Israel to “hear” what is important. God wants us to listen to what He has to say and is in constant communication with us (unless if He is being deliberately silent, which is still communication! It’s nonverbal communication… #socialwork). Steven said that through Listening Prayer, God can speak to us with words, pictures, emotions, metaphors, and something else…(I can’t remember). Steven said that God doesn’t always speak to us the way we want him to.

Steven gave a few guidelines to follow. First, you have someone sit in the middle. Steven jokingly called this person “the victim.” We would start the prayer by asking God with his authority to kick Satan out of the room, ask God to clear our minds, and then ask the Holy Spirit to be present and speak God’s truth to us about the person in the middle. We would have 1 minute of silence where we would focus on what God was telling us. Then we’d regroup and share. Steven challenged us to be willing to make mistakes. We could feel, hear, or see something that may be totally incorrect to the person in the middle, and that’s okay.

Steven gave a few ways to discern whether what was said by other people within the group is from God. There would be an internal and/or external affirmation of what was said to the person in the middle of the circle. For example, you’d either feel deep down and be absolutely sure it was from Him, or have a few other people tell you the exact same thing over a course of time. It would also have to be biblical. (I may not be explaining this in the best capacity. If you have questions, please ask and I’d love to chat with you more about it).

I was the second to go in the middle. I was nervous because I wasn’t sure if it would “work.” If it did work, I wasn’t sure what God would want to show Yoli, Sami, or Steven about myself. After the 1 minute of silence was up, Yoli shared first. She said she pictured vast openness and blue skies. She said I was like a blank canvas, ready to grow and take on anything. Steven saw me as a young ballerina with my arms above my head, on my tippy-toes, while I wore a pink leotard and tutu, enjoying life. Sami saw me as a younger girl running through an open field, joyful and free.

It’s crazy that Steven saw me as a young ballerina because I used to do ballet. And the pose he described is the exact pose I made in an old photo I have back at home. And they all said the same thing – that I am joyful, excited, open, and ready to be in El Paso, and that God is excited for me to be here.

So wild…because that’s exactly how I feel. I just know that I am meant for El Paso. I feel so open and ready for whatever comes my way. It is yes and amen. I feel so comfortable around the people, and it is only day 2. I am exceptionally joyful to be here. I’m not sure why God wanted the three of them to know that, but it’s exciting to know that God shares my excitement! I really cannot wait to see what is going to happen in the next 10 months. I just have this feeling that something crazy cool will happen, either in my life or someone else’s.

Sami, Yoli, and Steven also received interesting messages from our time of Listening Prayer. I would share them with you, but I’m not sure if they’d be okay with it. So for the sake of their privacy, I won’t. But, God is cool and He answers prayers!

Anyways, maybe this didn’t make any sense. Maybe it did. I highly encourage trying Listening Prayer. You may not hear God the first time you try it (I didn’t when we were praying for Sami…), but that is okay! God is always trying to talk to us, it is just whether or not we are paying attention to the different ways He is communicating with us and if we are listening. He doesn’t always speak to us the way we want Him to.

v

^ The living room where we did Listening Prayer. You can kind of see Steven walking into the room.

b

Sami, me, and Yoli in front of an El Paso sign. Steven was half-asleep in the car. He was jet-lagged from traveling back from Germany where he spoke at a conference. We took this after getting ice cream at Coldstone Creamery 🙂 Sami and I also talked extensively about doing a Tough Mudder near El Paso with a big group of people from the church and Ciudad Nueva. I think that would be SO fun.

The text below is from this website. It will help explain my Myers-Briggs personality type (ESFJ). *I disagree with the Extraversion… I do not gain energy from being around people haha People are draining, but I love them ❤ *

The ESFJ acronym represents Extraversion, Sensing, Feeling, and Judging.

  • Extraversion: ESFJs gain energy from interacting with other people. They are typically described as outgoing and gregarious.
  • Sensing: ESFJs are more focused on the present than on the future. They are interested in concrete, immediate details rather than abstract or theoretical information.
  • Feeling: ESFJs tend to make decisions based on personal feeling, emotions, and concern for others. They tend to think more about the personal impact of a decision rather than considering objective criteria.
  • Judging: ESFJs are organized and like to plan things out in advance. Planning helps people with this personality type feel more in control of the world around them.

 

5 days of traveling and I’m finally here

Hello from El Paso! It is currently 10:11 PM here, which means it is past midnight back in Northern Virginia.

If I could sum up the last few days in a few words, here’s what I’d use:

-incredible, exciting, all of the nerves, incredible journey, fun adventure, laughter, music, friendship, drinks, food, coffee, and more drinks&food&coffee.

Oh. My. Gosh. I could not have asked for a better trip to El Paso. Lissy and I had the best time. It rained a lot, but the rain didn’t stop our parade. I told Lissy that even if I end up hating El Paso (which I highly doubt will happen), then the road-trip here was worth it. I’ll put a summary of the itinerary at the end of the post. I cherish my friendship with Lissy, and I think this trip just made our bond even stronger. I appreciate her so much. When we were in Dallas (our last stop before El Paso), I started to tear up because I realized that she would be heading back to Virginia soon. When I dropped her off at the airport earlier today, I started crying and sobbed for a bit in the car as I pulled away from the airport. She was the last bit of home that I had with me. But now it’s time to say goodbye to what is comfortable, and embrace the crazy and overwhelming newness of what El Paso has to offer.

First off, El Paso is freakin beautiful. I was expecting a tiny town in the middle of the desert. Boy, was I wrong. The mountains are breathtaking. Every where I turn there is a good view. And the sunsets are to die for. I thought Harrisonburg was amazing (it still is), but El Paso is on another level. El Paso is pretty extensive. There is a lot here and it is all overwhelming. And secondly, the drivers here are worse than Northern Virginia. So aggressive…a little scary. I saw my life flash before my eyes about two times today because I was quickly cut off and someone slammed their brakes without warning. Please pray that I don’t get in a car crash.

After I dropped Lissy off at the airport (and after I managed to pull myself together), I drove to the Church of St. Clement to meet up with Yoli. She gave me a tour of the church where I met Keisha, a Border Fellow from last year. Keisha is staying another year in El Paso, which is good for me because I can pick her brain when I have questions. Keisha joined us on the tour and then showed me Ciudad Nueva. The three of us got lunch at The Mustard Seed Cafe. I met a lot of people there at lunch, and feel bad that I already forgot most of their names. The cafe is super cool. It is a not-for-profit community cafe that serves delicious and nutritious food with a commitment to treat each person with dignity and honor. Guests may volunteer an hour in exchange for a meal or may choose to pay what they can on a suggested price for their meal. Some pay the suggested price, others pay less, and some pay more as a donation. Check it out: www.mustardseedcafe.org

de

After lunch, Keisha and I got in my car and she guided me to different spots in El Paso as I drove. We went to a scenic overlook and I got a great view of the city. Then we went to Chamizal, a national park along the U.S.-Mexico border that commemorates the peaceful settlement of the Chamizal boundary dispute.

Then we drove to Yoli’s house to prepare for the welcome dinner Ciudad Nueva and the Church of St. Clement was hosting for me (ahhhhh so sweet of them!). Yoli, Keisha, and I went to a local grocery store to buy some food for the party, then headed back to Yoli’s house to prepare. A few people came and it was nice meeting them!

Ya’ll, I am overwhelmed by the friendliness and kindness of the people here. I have been warmly embraced by everyone I’ve met (even at the coffee shop Lissy and I went to this morning). I am so excited to start working. I’ve been told it will be hard, but I know I can do it.

Tomorrow I am going on a one-night retreat. I may be going into the city of Juarez on Saturday. Who knows? Each day is different and an adventure.

Overall, I am overwhelmed. It was information overload, but I know I’ll get the hang of it. I met a lot of people, heard about a lot of new places, and will be doing a new job. I’m living in a new home in a new area. I have no family nearby, and I came here knowing no one (I know a few people now, so that isn’t a concern anymore). BUT God has already been so faithful. I got here safely and I feel comfortable getting to know the people here. Lord, I’m ready for whatever.

Travel Itinerary:

Friday, August 11 – Attended Jazzercise at 9:45 AM in Gesher with my mom to say goodbye to the ladies one last time. I love those women! I came back home to shower and eat a quick lunch, said goodbye to my dad, then left my mom and I left the house around 12:30 PM to Fauquier Hospital (mom and I drove separately). Mom came to play the harp for Lissy’s grandma. I spent a few minutes with Grandma Tropea, and then Lissy and I left the hospital around 1:45 PM. We made a coffee stop in Lexington and ran into a lot of traffic because it was raining/car accidents. We arrived in Roanoke, VA around 5:40 PM and met Sam and Rebecca at Tuco’s Tacos for dinner. The tacos were so yummy. After dinner, we went to Rebecca’s house to unpack, and then she drove us into the Grandin area to look at the neighborhood and for ice cream at Pop’s. We went to the Roanoke Star and later watched a tribute band to Van Halen. We came back to Rebecca’s house and watched a few episodes of The Office, and went to bed around midnight.

Saturday, August 12 – We woke up around 7:30 AM and got breakfast at Scrambled in downtown Roanoke. After breakfast, we walked around the farmer’s market before leaving Roanoke by 10:45 AM. Lissy and I made a lunch stop in Knoxville, TN at a barbeque restaurant. It started to downpour rain as we ran inside of the restaurant. We got coffee at Honeybee Coffee in downtown Knoxville and then continued on our way to Nashville. We arrived in Nashville around 6:00 PM, but didn’t find parking until closer to 7:00 PM. Nashville on a Saturday night is WILD. So many bachelorette parties. I spent $30 on parking, but in the long run, I think it was worth it. Lissy and I walked on Broadway street and found a bar where we ordered some drinks and enjoyed live country music. I was able to meet up with Marcus and his friend Ria, and we walked around and got dinner together at 8:00 PM. Lissy and I drove to Franklin, which is about 30 minutes outside of Nashville and spent the night at Kelly and Frani Matthews apartment. We stayed up until 1:30 AM just talking and catching up. We talked about minimalism, bourbon, music, and life in general. They set up a SWEET air-mattress and it was so comfy.

Sunday, August 13 – Lissy and I got coffee with Kelly and Frani at the Frothy Monkey in downtown Franklin. Lissy and I then went to 12 South in Nashville to walk around and got Nitro coffee at a juice/acai store. We left Nashville around 11:00 AM and headed on to Little Rock, AR. I had to pee SO bad and almost didn’t make it to the rest area. Lissy did most of the driving this day. We stopped in Memphis to get lunch at the Blue City Cafe. We arrived in Little Rock around 6:30 PM and went to dinner with Mr. and Mrs. Butler, some old friends that my family has known for many years. They treated me and Lissy to pizza and ice cream and drove us through downtown Little Rock. We had a great time catching up and it was a very restful evening. Lissy and I fell asleep pretty early.

Monday, August 14 – Mrs. Butler made me and Lissy breakfast, and then took a few portrait pictures of us before we headed out. I made a quick stop to Jiffy Lube to get my car checked out and get a top-off. By this point, we were about halfway through our trip. As we got onto I-30, it started to rain SO hard…it was very dangerous. We were only 20 minutes into the drive before we decided to pull over and wait for the rain to settle down. Lissy and I waited in a coffee shop. Once the coffee settled down, we left and were on the road again. We made a lunch stop in Texarkana for Chick-fil-a and then drove about 2 more hours before we arrived in Dallas, TX. Lissy and I listened to verrryyy interesting podcasts and music. Lissy and I arrived at our Airbnb in Deep Ellum around 5:00 PM, and then took an Uber into downtown Dallas. We got appetizers and blood orange margaritas. Then we took another Uber to Deep Ellum to get Chinese food, which wasn’t that good. We seriously almost got a tattoo together, and we even walked into the tattoo parlor only to realize what we wanted to get would be more expensive than what either of us were willing to pay, so we decided against it. So since we didn’t get a tattoo…we got more drinks! As we sat outside of the bar, this was when I started to tear up a bit in front of Lissy. It started to finally feel real that I was moving and I got a bit sad.

Tuesday, August 15 – WORST night of sleep we ever got. I got horrible stomach pains and spent quite a bit of time in the bathroom… The Airbnb owners made a very fragrant dinner at 1:00 AM that made it difficult to fall asleep to. When my stomach finally felt somewhat better, I was kept awake by the loud trains, car alarms, my incredibly small bladder, and stiff bed. We had to wake up by 7:30 AM. I think we got a total of maybe 4 hours of sleep, and of course, this was the day where we had to drive the longest. We got coffee in Dallas before heading out. We got McDonalds and Dairy Queen because #yolo. By this point, we had already driven over 20 hours, and still had another 9.5 to go. Driving through Texas is an experience…there is an intense sulfur smell through the oil parts – lots of oil wells and tanks. The rain FINALLY stopped about halfway through Texas, and it went from 75 degrees to 95 degrees. The drive was straight, and the speed limit was 80mph… Wowza. There were beautiful mountains during the last 2 hours of driving, and driving into El Paso was both incredible and sad…it meant that I had to say goodbye to Lissy soon, but also hello to the next 10 months of my life. We arrived at my host family’s house and she took us out to dinner with Yoli. We ate at Avila’s Mexican Food where I got a Chicken Mole and Sopapilla. Then Linda took us to Whole Foods so that I could pick out my groceries. She is SO kind and generous. I settled into my new room and Lissy helped me unpack.

Wednesday, August 16 – Lissy and I made breakfast in Linda’s home, then went to Hillside coffee. I dropped Lissy off at the airport around 11:15 AM and hugged her goodbye and cried. Miss you already, Lis!!! ❤

Processed with VSCO with a3 preset

And now, you are up to date on the past few days! 🙂

Time to head out

I’m writing this at 11:00 PM on August 10, 2017. Tomorrow, I am picking up Lissy in the afternoon and then we are heading out to Texas!

Ya’ll…I can’t believe the day is here. When I was accepted into the program in January, the month of August felt far away. Yet, here we are. Am I prepared? Ha. I’m as prepared as I’ll ever be. I am fairly impressed with how light I packed (and hoping that I packed enough). Minimalism is coursing through my blood.

Lots has happened in my preparation for Texas. I have many feelings…is there a word for super excited, yet simultaneously sad about all of the “goodbyes” I’ve said recently? In the past three weeks, I spent more time with my friends than I ever thought possible. I wish I had more time to spend with my parents. Tonight we went to dinner at the Villagio in downtown Clifton, got ice cream at Peterson’s, and watched the new Aliens movie (which, let me tell you…was a little too intense for me to watch all the way through). peterson's ice cream

I found out who my host family was about a week ago. I will be living with a woman named Linda. I am excited to get to know her better, and be able to create a home inside of hers.

Jazzercise is still going well. I taught my last class in Virginia this morning at the Police Gym at 9:30 AM. It was a very big class; I’m guessing there were about 30 ladies there! I’m not great at estimating…so take that number with a grain of salt.

I had to say goodbye to Jax today.  😦 I love this puppy. He has become my best bud. I mean, c’mon! Look at his sweet face!jax

And I guess I’ll also miss my doggie, Sophie. She’s pretty cute too 😉sophie

I got a call from Lissy this morning. Her grandma was diagnosed with cancer and is not doing well. Her grandma is like family to me. I’ve known her since I was about five years old. It’s incredibly sad news, but God is greater than sickness. We are praying for peace within all of our hearts. Lissy is still going to drive to El Paso with me, but I am sure there will be moments of mourning even within all of the excitement of moving. Would you please pray for comfort for Lissy’s family? God is stronger, greater, and His plan is good.

I am sad to be leaving home. It is incredibly difficult to know that I will not physically see my parents and friends for awhile, but I have to remember it is only 10 months. Just temporary. I still have confidence and a deeper peace that I am meant to be in El Paso, for whatever reason.

Tomorrow’s first stop is Roanoke. Lissy and I will be spending the night at Rebecca’s house. From there we will go to Nashville –>Little Rock –> Dallas –> El Paso!

Finally, here are some highlights from the past three weeks!

This doesn’t capture all of the wonderful people I’ve spent time with, but Praise the Lord for such sweet friends. ❤