Leti and I have been busy. Which is a good thing because being in a new place without yet having established many friendships could get boring and lonely. But boring and lonely we're not.
Besides our volunteer positions we've been gardening, going out and making new friends, exploring El Paso and finding out what there is to do around here. Leti is discovering her passion for taking care of plants. We've really done a lot with the yard already and we're hoping to be eating vegetables from our little garden in a couple of months. Leti has rosemary, chrysanthemum, oleander, gardenia, sage, lettuce, and carrots under her care. Some of the highlights of the gardening project for me have been plunging my hands into the cat-scat laden soil, as well as unearthing a hidden key with key chain and a Pepsi can from approximately 1989.
We have also become pretty excited about running and our weekly yoga class. We run maybe three times a week, which has become more fun ever since our discovery of mapmyrun.com :) . And we are loving the physical benefits and the peace that we get from our $5 yoga classes with instructor Jacob. Leti is seriously considering becoming a certified yoga instructor in the future.
I've been doing some reading, some sitting on our front porch, and other odds and ends around the house to make it feel more like home for us.
Last Thursday during work, my coworkers and I were able to attend a seminar given by Franciscan priest Richard Rohr (remember, I'm Catholic now . . .). He is an internationally known speaker and author, as well as the founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque. It was pretty neat to hear his wisdom and ideas. The reason for the seminar was so that local religious and social service agencies could explore how to live in solidarity with the residents of Juarez, without putting ourselves in danger. Other than that, I've been getting to know the people living in the neighborhood where I work through conversation and visiting them at their apartments. Some of those conversations have been eye-opening and very saddening. However, living in the midst of the the brokenness that accompanies their poverty puts my own wants and needs into perspective. It also prevents me from being able to forget about how the majority of the world's population lives: poor and broken.
It's starting to feel a little like we belong here now. Sometimes its hard; working out the kinks of community life, missing the familiarity of Minneapolis, etc. But I welcome the challenges, even if not at first, or second . . . We're making friends and getting to know our surroundings, and perhaps realizing that, most importantly, we didn't come here to be comfortable.
Love you and truly miss you,
Monday, September 28, 2009
Saturday, September 5, 2009
This is our third weekend here in El Paso. It is still wicked hot and dry. We have not seen most places in the city yet but got to see one of the suburbs thanks to a purchase made through Craigslist. It is very different from our neighborhood. I think it was the first time I have seen so many white people in the same place since got here!
Both Chris and I have our hands full at work. Chris is making house visits now as part of one of the projects that the church has. It is quite hard to hear the conditions of the places he has visited and the people he has met. He is also attending the boys youth group meetings every Wednesday night to help out Brother Pete, his supervisor. By helping out I mean throwing the frisbee around, hitting cars and making the alarms go off. Those sort of things that Chris is really good at!
I already began assisting clients in applying for residency and citizenship. It is frustrating not be able to answer every question they make, but hopefully I will get better. I also discovered that I am very slow filling out applications. I had an appointment one day scheduled for 9:30 am and finished at 12:40 pm! I bet you are thinking that you are lucky not be my client. Admit it! It was a pain, literally. In two weeks I will begin the Conversational English and Citizenship classes. I am very nervous about this but also anxious for this to come so I can overcome that fear and nervousness. It's not like it will be my first time teaching!... It's just that these students could be my parents! That is intimidating enough for me.
Last weekend, the parents of one of our housemates came to bring her car. They invited us to dinner (YES!) and we got to hang out in the pool of the hotel they were staying. That is probably the most exciting thing that has happened in these three weeks.
There is also another volunteer at my job that is serving with the Border Servicing Corps. We are trying to get our two houses together sometime soon, it has not worked out well yet. All of us are very excited to meet other people that are doing a similar work to what we are doing.
As for this weekend, Chris and I plan to go to a Puerto Rican picnic (YES!), and maybe to the White Sands in New Mexico. We are still adjusting. There is not really much to do around here with our budget... our creativity is constantly being challenged. We could learn Tai Chi every Saturday for free! I am just not there yet.
Here I post a picture of our community. Thanks for hanging on with us! ;-)