Well it’s taken me long enough to get around to letting you all peer into my life again. I’ve been trying to figure out how to share Chocó the most effectively and the rest of my life happenings. Missions is hard to share with people on the outside. I’d compare it to getting a piece of cake with no frosting, you get the gist of it but not the full experience. There’s not the creaminess of buttercream frosting left on the roof of your mouth or the smell of chocolate twisted into your breath. You cannot fully comprehend. But, even without the frosting, it’s still important to share the cake. So here’s to cake, and I hope someday you go for the adventure that includes frosting, too [not necessarily Colombia or Chocó, but somewhere].
What does simply common mean? I haven’t entirely figured that out, but it seems like a good title and I guess we’ll get to the point as I write. I’m sure you’ve noticed that I don’t really proofread; I just write and publish. I aim for everything I say to be real and raw; I think if I reread it I might change my mind on what I say. Cheers for sloppy writing! It seemed common. That is the trip, it didn’t seem like something spectacular or out of the norm [but it was spectacular]. I’m guessing that’s because I live in Colombia, because to some extent the crazy stuff is my norm. Maybe it’s because it resembled camping in some sense, and I love camping. Maybe it’s because you could feel Jesus in the air and that mixed with the wildness gave my heart sweet palpitations of joy. Maybe it’s because this is always what I imagined. But there must’ve been something completely uncommon about it. Because I’m laying here on my couch particularly bored, I think I figured out why. We’re going to bed at eleven and waking up at six but it didn’t matter the amount of time we slept, we were so tired, but there was so much to do that it didn’t matter that we were tired. I was completely stimulated all the time. And in that sense it was so breathtaking. I want to continue to live my life like that. So alive that the tired doesn’t phase me [I still want full nights of sleep]. We wandered into an indigenous village, we played a lot of fútbol, my hair was braided 8 million times, I consumed a lot of rice, I told my testimony and preached, I created friendships, I practiced Spanish, I jumped up bridges [hell yeah], I sang, I worshiped, I danced. I was able to work through frustrations and not let them consume me, I was able to smile and to laugh and just be filled. I wore dirty clothes. I thought I had lice, several times. I didn’t talk to my mom for two days. And that didn’t stop anything. It was lovely. It was stunning. I journaled a lot. I hate the word diary but the only word for journal in Spanish is diario, ugh. So it always made me cringe when someone asked if I was writing in my diary, gross. We had fish one day for lunch, and contrary to the missionary rules [what?] I passed it along to one of the hungry boys, bless his soul. We rode in boats in a river, which means we encounter naked people – that was interesting. We swam in some gentle rapids. Real question here, how do I get burned every single time I go into the sun? It’s OK because of turning into a very pleasant tan. I’ve even been called cinnamon a couple of times, it’s a compliment.
So this whole theme of common is a double theme. There are parts of the trip that seem so calm and so normal, but like I said it was exhilarating and exciting the entire time. I didn’t have time for anything else. But in the same sense it was so exhilarating that I come back to my “common” and now I’m bored. So the challenge for myself, and, for you I guess if you’re into being challenged by a curly headed 18-year-old living in Colombia- absolutely never settle for anything short of breathtaking. Even though it’s not quite as wild as jumping off bridges and bathing and rivers my life in Medellin is still breathtaking. Today started off slow with translations and working from home, but then I went into the foundation where I got to rock a baby to sleep and see some of my fútbol kids, one of which is my fake nephew. To you, it might sound fairly boring; it’s not. Absolutely not. And I do miss jumping off the bridge and being with a ton of people my own age, being with people in general but this is still amazing. I’m pretty sure I’m right in the middle of what God has for me. While this week has felt somewhat boring, it’s also been a good time to catch up on sleep and binge watching Netflix and getting excited to return to home number one [TWENTY NINE DAYS!!!].
Did I tell you that I’m living absolutely alone, my roommates in Peru and so it’s just me. I feel like it’s been my big test of the adulthood. And i’m passing. I go to the little produce stand every night and bye-bye bananas for the morning and sometimes the piece of bread from the bread joint next-door. I lock my door three times before I go to bed. And the apartment is still clean. There’s a special type of freedom that comes from going to the bathroom with the door open. However, I am not quite certain that I’m not super fond of living alone.
So about the bridge. When we got to the town they told us that this was something we’re going to do the last day. Right away I was on board! Even though I was on board I still definitely question to the safety. And I may or may not of written a narrative about it. Which means I did. And I’m going to share it with you.
this is jumping.
Your toes are hanging off the edge of the boiling yellow bridge that your feet are glued to. Glued because you’re still making a decision. You’re on the edge of yikes; assured safety or rushing wildness. The sun has cooked the bridge just enough that you’re not in crippling pain, but you’re pretty sure you could cook a chicken breast on the yellow metal structure. Your knees bend and your hands let go of the structure as you fling yourself off of the bridge and plummet fifty feet or so, plunging into the cold river running through Chocó. On the way down you don’t know if you’re thinking at all, but you’ve completely forgotten that there’s a small chance you could hit one of the huge rocks underneath and [at worst] die. You hit the water but don’t remember the sting because you’re hurling down, down, down; Until, at some point, your kicking legs propel you upwards. and you begin to rise from some unknown depth. The actual four seconds it takes for you to surface feel like minutes, and in those minutes everything is quiet; your only mission is to breathe again, all you need is the surface. You know you’re near that next breath of air when, even with your eyes clamped closed, you seem to feel light beaming at your body, locating it among the bubbles of your released breath. And then you break the surface and your lungs are full of that sweet breath. You never thought air had a flavor until it was the one thing you needed most, but once you gasp in that life sustaining oxygen-hydrogen combination, it’s the sweetest flavor. And then you swim yourself back to the shore, adrenaline is coursing through your blood stream and your hands are a tad bit shaking and maybe your legs won’t hold you up but you have to do it again. You practically spring back up to the bridge where you do it all again, these next five times without fear because you know you won’t smash into rocks and lose your life, you already survived once. You made it and now you can make it again and again and again. Which I did.
An author and human I admire to some extent, Bob Goff, once said that God wants you right on the edge of yikes. That’s exactly where I want to live my life. Sometimes it’s exhilarating and sometimes it’s paralyzing, both of which I’ve experienced in the 107 days that I’ve lived here. Both bring growth. Both teach you about your boundaries, how far you can push yourself, and at what point God has to catch you. And they both bring experience, the kind that makes it so you can do things again and again. Like jumping off bridges or moving to Third World countries. I can do both of those now, almost without thinking. But living on the edge of yikes takes trust. And trust is a muscle. Sometimes you can strengthen that muscle with tiny steps into the waves. And sometimes you need to max out work out where you plummet into the complete unknown. So, go for it. Whatever it is. If it’s the degree, the move, the conversation, the Bible time, just go for it. Build your muscle. Let yikes become your common and let every second be breathtaking [I really like that word].