I traveled from the southwest to the west coast, then all the way to the east coast, and then back to the southwest in a span of 2 weeks. Keisha and I drove to Los Angeles to check out another non-profit called Lake Avenue Community Foundation (LACF). We were researching new ideas on how to better our programs at Ciudad Nueva, and LACF gave us some great ideas! I feel encouraged, ready, strengthened, and motivated to enhance the middle school program at Ciudad Nueva.
Keisha and I also did a bit of sight-seeing in LA. We went to the Getty Center, Griffith Observatory, explored downtown and saw a few Hollywood stars (not the people, but the actual geometric shape on the ground), hiked up to the Hollywood sign, explored Burbank and walked the outskirts of Warner Brother’s studios, went to Hacienda Heights to hang out with Simon, picked up Bethany from the airport and went to Santa Monica Pier, and endured a bit of LA traffic (it was busier than usual because of the Oscars! I’ve never been physically near so many famous people in my entire life…even though I didn’t see their faces). The day before we were in San Diego, and we went to Coronado Island/Beach. I lost my contacts so I was forced to wear my glasses for the next 1.5 weeks. Since Keisha and I were being adventurous, we decided to spend the night sleeping in the car in a Walmart parking lot. It was definitely a bonding experience.
And just as quickly as we arrived in LA, I soon found myself on a flight from Burbank to BWI where my mother picked me up at almost 1:00 am.
It was truly a gift to be home for a week. I looked forward to it for a long time. I attended Lissy’s wedding (I was a sobbing mess during the entire ceremony), got to be with my parents and have our tradition of Chinese food and movie night, ate brunch with Elaine, hung out with Carrie, reconnected with high school and college friends, and explored D.C. and Northern Virginia.
Time flies when you’re having fun, and the fun ended too soon. As I said goodbye to my mom at the airport, I had to push aside the bitter, burning feeling that arose to the top of my throat. I focused on the process: checking in, dropping my bag off, walking through TSA security, and finding my gate. The feeling came back, so again, I pushed it away and decided to call Sierra because we had been trying to catch up for weeks, and we were able to chat for about 45 minutes. The moment we hung up, it came back again. It’s a feeling that takes awhile to shake off.
Home is easy, safe, fun, and comfortable. Those qualities make it hard to leave when I know the work in El Paso is challenging, daunting, and often leaves me questioning, “How can I do this better? How can I be better?” I know deep in my heart that I am called to live my life outside of my comfort zone. These challenges provide new opportunities for growth and learning, and I fully accept and welcome those changes. As a follower of Christ, I am not meant to live in easy and comfortable environments for the rest of my life.
I have no doubt that I am meant to be in El Paso for now, yet I cannot deny that being home felt good. I miss home. Perhaps I’ll move back to NOVA in the future, but for now, I am content with where life is at – in El Paso. If I were given the option to stay in VA and never go back to El Paso, I wouldn’t take it. The people I know and the work I do in El Paso are very important to me. The Southwest has become a home in itself. I love it, and I always will. Yet, nothing can beat being in the place where you grew up and in the presence of those who have loved you for many, many years.
And so, I am back in El Paso for another extended amount of time. I am sad, but not empty. I am full of hope for the changes that will be happening at Ciudad Nueva, I am encouraged in my faith, excited to continue developing friendships here, and I am motivated to continue loving the community of El Paso!