Wilderness, Blood, and the PNW

Having lived this end-of-July season for four years, I had no idea what it would be like on the other side. I’ve imagined it and in some ways even prepared myself for it, but there’s no way to actually know what it will be like until you experience it. Here is what I mean. This is the time of year when staff begin to return to La Paz, headed back to Highlands to greet new staff, prepare and hanker down into work week, and welcome students and parents back on campus. Social media blows up with stories and pictures about last minute goodbyes, eats, airplanes, and arrivals. For the first time, I’m not joining the crowd. Instead, I find myself sitting in a townhouse in an upscale neighborhood in Seattle, waiting for Summer Session 2 of classes at Seattle Pacific University to start tomorrow. Next Monday I start my job as a Principal Intern/Assistant to the Superintendent at Northshore Christian Academy, and ten days after that I am moving in with a different family about 10 minutes from NCA. Therefore, I thought I would take my last free Sunday night in the foreseeable future to reflect.

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Badlands National Park, SD

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Buffalos in WY!

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Conquered MT!, All 549 miles!

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Lunch by The Sound

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Ferry Rides

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Ecuadorian music downtown Seattle – found my people and a pan flute!

This season has certainly been a whirlwind. I can’t believe June and July have come and nearly gone. I drove 2,000+ miles from Iowa to Chicago back to Iowa to Seattle. Then I said goodbye to dear travel buddies and showed up on my family from last summer’s doorstep. Four weeks and two more grad classes are now behind me, and it still feels like there is plenty of summer left. Maybe because school supplies aren’t in the stores yet, or maybe because the weather has just decided to get nice- supposedly cloudless skies and 80s for the rest of this week! Or, maybe it’s because I’m not stressing about packing 120+ pounds into 2 suitcases and a carryon. And I don’t have a flight to catch in the next week. And I’m not eating all the American food I will miss and making a ton of Target runs. Part of my heart is still waiting. Waiting to see if all of this PNW life is real. Am I really not going back to La Paz this time? Perhaps all of it feels unsettling and unreal because I haven’t really settled and don’t know what my “new normal” will bring. I know that these classes, my current housing situation, my routine are all temporary. In fact, I am still living out of a suitcase and my trunk is still full of many of my belongings.

My this-season church, Bethany Community, has been doing a sermon series on Exodus. I’m telling you, God orchestrated them to do this series just for me! So many good truths have come out of the few week’s I’ve spent there. But the biggest theme is that of wilderness traveling. What were the Israelites doing in the wilderness? Getting to know the character of God. The wilderness means out of our comfort zone and out of control. Is God good? Is He enough? Is this calling He has given me acceptable? Will I choose to learn in the wilderness? Will I know in my heart that God is my provider, that He is enough, that He is good? I’m trying and giving it my best. I’m not going to understand this season overnight- it’s moment by moment, day by day, living inside of the journey. I see God providing for me in so many ways, and take time to celebrate. I keep thinking about when God asked the Israelites to put blood over their door for the passover in Exodus 12. I can imagine there were so many variances of faith. Some putting just a little, and some putting a lot. God doesn’t say “when I see your amount of faith” and instead says “when I see the blood” (Exodus 12:13). Rather than spending so much energy worrying about how much faith I have, I just keep making sure that Jesus is the object of my faith. So, this wilderness traveler continues on the journey, taking big steps of faith and embracing the story God is writing, believing this dream and the passion I have for leading others came from God, and believing that He wants to use a willing wilderness wanderer to make His name famous.

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The sound! Step by step into the freezing Pacific!

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Wilderness aka Discovery Park trails in the heart of Seattle

 

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Tying up Bolivian ends

Friends, as I look back through my blogs this year, the common theme to emerge is noticing that I was late in communicating with you. Things are no different this time around. I guess all I can say is that the South American culture of relationships over efficiency has infiltrated my life and impacted me in such positive ways. Author Shauna Niequist has a new book coming out soon called Present over Perfect. My guess is she will address some of these concepts. I’ve learned that people are more important than tasks, and that stopping to say hello or finishing an important conversation, being present to others and listening well is more important than racing off to the next calendar item.

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Graduating my first class!

My time in Bolivia ended so well and sweetly. I had countless precious moments with friends that were more like family. I also had a bucket list of adventures that I worked through with those in my community, crossing off item after item, making memories and laughing a lot. These moments were rich, and I want to say thank you for understanding that my priority in those times were the people.

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Staff Departing Party – Jill, Rachel, me

I’ve been back Stateside now for 5 days, and logistical details are pressing in, asking to take over my time. I’ve been able to drive my new to me wheels around, a logistical need I’m thankful has been taken care of! I am still on the search for housing for the fall which could potentially entail furnishing an apartment. Yesterday I purchased new tennis shoes for my part time PE position at Northshore. I had to say “ciao” to my old ones. They had multiple holes and the sole was falling off! Today, though, my Superintendent Holly called and told me that they had done some restructuring and asked if I would like to be her assistant instead of teach PE on the days I am not interning. While I was looking forward to exercise, working more directly with the students, multiple days of athletic wear, and ponytails and french braids, I think this will be a better fit.

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Signing my contract for NCA

Dates are coming up quickly! I am headed out to Chicago to see my dear college friends and pick up one of them to bring them back to Iowa. From there the following week we will leave for Seattle and drive out together on the #outwestepicadventure. Watch out for Facebook and Twitter postings of Nicky seeing western states, some for the first time! Soon after arriving, my summer classes start at SPU and the beginning of August I begin my work at Northshore Christian Academy!

It’s hard to say that my leadership adventure is beginning since God’s promptings are ALL over my story. But it’s true that my Seattle life is starting soon. It is bittersweet to say “ciao” to La Paz and hello to the Pacific Northwest. I covet your continued partnership with me in the meantime. After selling multiple items and returning to the USA with only two suitcases and a carry-on, there are many items I will need to repurchase. Also, with a gap in my insurance and job in the midst of pursuing my graduate degree, I have many financial needs.

NICS will process support for my account, 003505, until August 31, 2016. If you are a monthly automatic donor, your gift will be cancelled when either 1) you tell NICS to stop them or 2) on August 31, whatever comes first. Any support received after August 31 will be returned to the donor. If you feel so led to, I would humbly and gratefully receive your gifts until August 31. All of my gifts will go towards my financial needs mentioned above. If you would like to give securely via the web, follow this link. Make sure to select designation of “staff support” and then either put in my name or project number.

Finally, I ask for your prayers. It is a big transition to live and work in a foreign country, return to your passport country, and feel like you don’t belong in either place. My biggest Ask is for grace and peace as I transition cultures, jobs, and communities. I also need prayer for the remainder of my logistical needs to fall in place. And lastly, please pray for continued whisperings of God as I journey in my leadership, but specifically for his wisdom as I make decisions this upcoming year about what’s next after I graduate June 2017!

I want to thank you for journeying with me during my La Paz season. My goal is to update from Seattle, one last time before August 31! If you are on my postal mailing list, be on the lookout for my paper update!

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Our last wallyball!

February and March Adventures

Friends, somehow February and March ran away from me! I have certainly been busy, and this past week I was able to enjoy Spring Break. My roommate and I were just verbalizing our reality that tomorrow it’s back to work! These last few months – 4th quarter – are going to be a mad dash to the end. Learning last year the goodness of being present, I continue in that mindset, hoping to be alive to the things right in front of me. Here are some of my adventures since the end of January!

I successfully made it to my last Carnaval in this country. My friend Rachel and I headed out to the countryside with a Bolivian family to camp. We had a grand time. Some of the highlights were this AMAZING view of Illimani, introducing s’mores to these boys, football and futbol, and wayyy too many selfies.

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La Paz city lights

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Adriano and I

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Party in the back!

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View of Illimani from our campsite. Simply breathtaking

The Friday right after our camping trip, I headed to Southaven, MS, USA for the Annual Leadership Conference for my organization. Our time was incredibly busy with meetings, interviewing new staff for the fall, and of course networking with other Principals, Assistant Principals, Curriculum Coordinators, and Directors across the world. I was so thankful for the opportunity to go, and truly enjoyed my time with others who have jobs like mine! I had the opportunity to present at our annual job fair in a Cholita outfit and even presented to the directors on a hot topic!

While I was in the USA, I swung by to see my beloved ex-boss, Scott and his family. It was so sweet to reconnect with them. Less than a day into my trip, Scott already had me pranking people and being silly. It truly was like old times, except on a new continent!

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Life with the Frosts! #reunitedatlast

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In my “Cholita” outfit

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My office upon return – I’m not sure people worked a lot while I was gone 😉

I jumped right back into the busy of our school. I don’t even remember what happened those three weeks before Spring Break, but they flew by!

I’ve also been busy finalizing plans for this fall. March 11 I accepted a job at Northshore Christian School in Everett, WA. I will be their K-8 PE teacher, and when I’m not teaching classes, I’ll be completing my administrative internship to finish my degree from SPU. I am continually amazed at the way God leads. I never would have guessed I would be teaching PE, but I’m excited about the opportunity to use things I learned from one of my favorite JU EDU profs – Mr. Haskins! I have such sweet memories with friends as we learned and discussed PE methods, and I’m looking forward to putting them to use, staying active, and minimal grading!

A week ago today, my friends Sam and Morgan and I left for Potosi and Sucre. Potosi was the richest city in South America a ways back. With the silver long extracted from the mines, it’s now a very small, quiet mining town. We headed on a tour into the mine, Cerro Rico. My heart broke yet again for this culture that is convinced that the god of the land blesses them. Turning off our head lamps and sitting in the pitch black in one of the mines, I couldn’t even see my hand as I waved it in front of my face. It is spiritually and physically a very dark place. As the guide ceremoniously thanked “Tio” the god of the underworld for blessing him, I prayed and begged for God’s light to truly penetrate and shine inside the mine. Soon after, we were on a bus to Sucre, the city in which Bolivian independence was claimed from Spain. This city used to be home to all government before transferring some of it to La Paz.  We learned a lot of cool history about the country including how they chose their flag, where the typical ladies clothing came from, and saw some dinosaur tracks. This park is home to the most extensive dinosaur tracks in the world! Around 5055 individual dinosaur footprints of at least 8 species and 462 continuous traces are combined in a cliff of 1,500 meters long and 110 meters high, while remaining unscathed. Before you get too skeptical, because we live on a fault line, the cliff used to be the ground, and due to movement of the Earth is now a cliff! We also ate some delicious chocolate and enjoyed the sunny life a few thousand feet lower than we are used to. Upon my return, I also was able to enjoy spending time with families of two of my really good friends who are here to visit for Spring Break, and last night I hosted what has become a traditional “Bolivian Easter Dinner” with ham sandwiches and some yummy sides. This break has been restful and full of people and adventure.

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view of Cerro Rico from the mineral processing plant

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About to enter the mine!

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me with the dino tracks!

As I gear up for the homestretch, I would really appreciate your prayers as I close out a 5-year chapter of life in La Paz and transition to Seattle area. Even though I have a job for the fall, there are a lot of other items that haven’t fallen into place yet, and I’d appreciate your prayers as I wait for them, specifically around housing for the summer (close to SPU) and fall (close to internship), a car, and of course community! And, as I have information, I’ll pass it along to you for what it looks like for you to transition out of NICS and HIS with me! Happy Easter from South America. He is Risen!

MLK and water balloons

First, this post is a little late, which also brings me to my apology to you, my readers! My desire to articulate my life this year has decreased as my homework has increased. It’s harder to pick up my iPad and write for fun when my professor’s 45 minute lecture, absurd amounts of writing and reading, and an interview summary over research loom over my head. And when I do get time our internet is being flaky-such is life in La Paz. Some days you don’t win, but today I did! Two food presents from teachers and the sun shining SO HOT that makes me regret my black pants and be thankful for the flip flops and tank top dress that I’m rocking. Needless to say, I found my perfect weather place. But I digress!

After school on Monday I made my way into San Miguel, better known as the War Zone these days. In preparation for Carnaval in three weeks, water balloons, foam, and teenage boys lurk in the park and drive up and down the streets with their windows down, waiting for their next target, armed with countless water balloons. It’s no secret to anyone that my street anxiety sky rockets during this season, therefore I employ more taxi drivers in exchange for peace of mind. In the name of self-care, I can’t even say I will or won’t taxi here or there. It’s more like, if you’re caught in the middle of the war zone or a potential battle arises, I forget the fact that it might be good for me to exercise and walk the few blocks home. It’s worth it to avoid the unknown-are they going to hit the white girl (the million dollar target) with their ammunition? I wish I could wear a sign that said I didn’t want to play, but that’s not how it works around here. The police do their best to keep the balloons filled with water, and the latex remnants on the streets are evidence of hours of fun already passed.

Sunday, Willow Creek Church did a phenomenal job bringing awareness and a charge surrounding Martin Luther King Jr. Day. After an interview with a sister church in Chicago, Bill Hybels asked his gang where they stood on a continuum of racism-active racist, passive racist, beginner reconciler, and advocate. My life has really come full circle. The northwest farmland of Iowa doesn’t scream diversity. Then all of the sudden I was in a college small group with Filipinos, Colombians, Puerto Ricans, African Americans, and oh yeah, like two white people. Chicago says you’re welcome. My four years in Elgin opened my eyes and helped transition me for living as a minority in La Paz for the past 5 years. 

As I think back to those nerve-racking few minutes in San Miguel, I can’t help but be thankful for the gift of my time in La Paz. The boy in the red sedan undoubtedly saw the fear in my eyes as I quickly jumped behind a car as he fake pumped his water balloon at me, laughed, and sped away. I wasn’t laughing even though his game is harmless, and found myself beyond thankful that this is my last year to experience this ridiculous holiday. Why do you have to attack innocent pedestrians? Why is this game fun for you? But I wonder how the world would change if every majority was forced to live as the minority. What if you were everyone else’s favorite target? Would we be more conscious of the water balloons we fill, carry around, throw? Maybe you, like me, didn’t even realize you were part of the game by just walking the streets. Would we consider the person before we launch sayings or phrases or cast judgement? I think about what makes me the most angry here-and it’s getting cheated because my light skin and hair communicate so much, especially money. But this is nothing compared to the things I know my minority friends deal with so frequently. I have so many lessons I’ll treasure as a result of my time here. My minority friends, I’ll never completely understand your life, but I’m so glad you’ve invited me to be part of yours. One of the best ways to bridge divides is through relationships. You’ve given me a gift.

Would you be willing to take this pledge with me? Will you pray and ask God to break down the barriers to make room for more of His character? Will you take a risk, find courage, and step out into something that might make you feel uncomfortable and join the army that is rising up to break every chain? Today, I celebrate diversity, and pledge to use the story God is weaving in and through me to empower people to embrace who God created them to be.

  

Waiting

The very beginning of my day began with a parent telling me at morning drop off, “Have a great Thursday!” I didn’t even question it for at least 30 seconds, and then I found myself asking, is it already Thursday? While I discovered that it indeed is Wednesday, I feel like this theme is ongoing in my life as I check my calendar and realize December is almost 1/3 of the way gone and the days before the end of the semester are rapidly disappearing. With staff counting down the days, waiting im(patiently) for break, I find myself stopping more frequently than I used to to breathe, celebrate small and big moments, and be present to the here and now.

Life lately has been all inclusive, a full throttle whirlwind of big things, except for Thanksgiving break. I wouldn’t want to embarrass myself with my sleep numbers, but I’m so thankful for the long weekend to rest. During that time I also ate a lot of calories and yummy traditional and nontraditional North American Thanksgiving food, made memories with staff members who didn’t travel, and finished my last bits of homework and assignments for my class through SPU. It’s hard for me to believe that was just 10 or so days ago! So what happened last week (or this)?

Last Tuesday I had my first interview for my internship for next year. I can’t believe conversations already reached this point as I was expecting to wait until at least March for any movement. All 20 minutes went really well. I left hearing talk of a possible paid internship and send me your resume. I received a follow up email today from the superintendent with a lot of enclosed excitement about moving forward. I’m also talking to three additional schools, and while I’m hopeful for leads and information from them, in the waiting, I’m trusting that God is excited to reveal His plans for me and will when it’s time.

My roommates and I are again awaiting an official move date as December 15 (the we kick you out date) quickly approaches. We celebrated our current apartment so well, only to find out the following day the contract we thought we had fell through. Today got word of an almost finalized scenario with another place. My friend asked me if I was excited to have an apartment and a new move date, but was honest with her and said I’m waiting for signed paperwork and keys to know if we can for sure move in! Totes are stacked high in our living room, waiting to be packed. Friday I’m going to get my Tetris organizational game face, friends, and get to work! Saturday is supposedly the new move date. Nothing like waiting until the last minute…to pack OR find an apartment!

 

telepictionary and pizza houseparty remnants

 
On a less serious note, I’ve been waiting what seems like all semester for Kraft Mac and cheese to reappear in the grocery store. I looked every time I went for endless weeks. Sunday as I was walking to my friends apartment, I got a call from another friend standing in the imported isle wondering how many boxes I wanted! I couldn’t believe it. I was JUST at the grocery store a few minutes before, and in my hustle didn’t look down the imported isle. I was distracted by my own agenda and missed it.

 

just look at that glorious import sticker!

 
Today I met with the high school girl I disciple, and we looked at Lamentations 3:26, “so it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.” Salvation has come. We don’t have to wait any longer. But, the first part of that verse reminds us that it is good to wait. There’s something about waiting. Something it does in us. As the question of where I’ll be living next semester soon gets answered, there are so many other aspects that I’m waiting for as this transition to Seattle season unfolds. For a girl who values efficiency, waiting is wasting. Yet here we are in Advent season, the ultimate season that reminds us of the value in waiting. I don’t want to miss it. I’ve recently found something special about soaking up, embracing the scenery, experiencing the journey because even if I’m waiting, He’s always working, always orchestrating everything for my good. And to begin to really believe that at my core, finally, cuz shoot, I’ve been waiting a long time.

Moving Things

The past four weeks have been filled with adventure, excitement, and very few dull moments! HIS has had visitors out our ears, starting in the middle of September with the Spiritual Emphasis Week team that came from Texas. Friday we finally said goodbye to our last visitors, retired ladies who came to electronically catalog our entire library, and I’m hoping for a mostly regular week before the crazy of the Holidays hits!

In the middle of October, I had the opportunity to chaperone the High School Takesi Trip. Takesi is an Incan Trail that starts about 2 hours outside of the city, crosses the Cordillera Real Mountain Range, and dips into the jungle! It was quite the hike with 40+ High School Students and my coworkers. In my opinion, my friend Emma who teaches High School Science, was the best backpacking partner I’ve ever had. According to her fitbit without our 20-30 pound pack included, we burned 6,385 calories, took 74,656 steps, went 26.6 miles, and were active for 539 minutes. I reached my highest ever altitude, too, around 15,000ft! We definitely got moving! If you want to read more about the actual trail you can here! One of our students is a photographer in the making. You can check out the experience of the Takesi through her eyes!

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The week and weekend following that trip, I spent nearly every free moment working on my class for Seattle Pacific. I had to get moving on it to beat the Bolivian unpredictability of a possible move at any time! The risk, laughs, fun, adventure, and movement continued the following weekend as three other friends and I headed to Coroico, a jungle town about three hours from La Paz. I celebrated (nearly) finishing all of my school work with a three hour hike to Bolivian waterfalls, poolside reading, and zip-lining for the first time. The company boasts speeds up to 50mph, 5,100 feet of wire suspended hundreds of meters above the valley. It was awesome!

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All suited up for superman style!

All suited up for superman style!

Erin forgot she was wearing flip flops...who knows where the other one is!

Erin forgot she was wearing flip flops…who knows where the other one is!

Upon returning to the city, I watched God move by answering my apartment’s prayer for an apartment within a 3 block radius of where we currently live. I am so excited that God is giving me and my roommates the desires of our hearts. We will be moving December 11, one week before the end of the semester, into this home! Lots of negotiating, prayer, and conversations went into this deal, and I’m so thankful that at the end, the owner saw our need and is “willing to compromise to bless us”. It’s also fun to see that God has a sense of humor in all of this. The apartment doesn’t have a full size fridge, and after all the drama with our last one, I’m hoping that we have one when move in day arrives!

Bigger than my three block move, after many conversations with the Lord, I believe he is calling me to move to Seattle starting in June 2016 to finish my Educational Leadership degree at Seattle Pacific University. I remember a conversation with a friend my first year here, her words, “I’m here until the Lord calls me elsewhere” still ring in my ears. This statement now rings true for me. I am beyond grateful for my experience here at HIS and with our organization NICS. I know and believe that God is on the move, already preparing what’s to come! Please be in prayer for me as I serve the rest of this year and for details to come together for Seattle, specifically…
• An affordable car (do you have one you want to sell or give away!?) phone, and apartment
• Community and/or roommates who love the Lord and encourage me to be chasing after Him
• A paid internship – this is perhaps the biggest prayer need. I will be taking 4-7 credit hours per quarter on top of a 15hr/week internship. This doesn’t leave a lot of time for a part time job, so I’m ambitious to think that God could take care of my financial needs through a paid internship!

I’m praying that you’ve seen the movement of God in your life recently, too!

Living in Acts (and maybe wanting an axe)

I’m really into Willow Creek things in this season. Back in March they did a series on leadership, and knowing my job was about to require more of this, I got sucked into the Sunday teaching series. In addition to having 3 available live streaming options (which I wish you could understand the importance of to missionaries who are living overseas and miss their church), they’ve also started sending out accompanying devotionals. I loved that I could think more deeply about the topics throughout the week, especially leadership! Nehemiah has come and gone, but I guess like a lot of other things you put your email down for, the devos keep on coming!

On Thursday it was called “Life Together” and was from Acts 2:42–47; 4:32–35. “These two passages give us a picture of the church—a new community of Jesus followers who were committed to being taught by the apostles, sharing life together, breaking bread, and worshipping together. Imagine what it would be like to be a part of the community described in these passages. Does this kind of life together seem possible? What would the benefits be? What are the barriers?” As soon as I got to this statement and question, my heart broke for my friends all over the world who have never experienced it, or who have and long to see this become true again. Then I was so thankful for the truth that I don’t have to imagine. Go read those portions of scripture. Do it. I’ll wait for you.

….

….

Did you do it? Often when I’m back in The States people want to know what it’s like to live in La Paz. It’s like that passage. It’s real fellowship. It’s praying and supporting your friends and feeding them while they do laundry at your house because their washing machine is broken because it’s absurd that they’d go to a laundry mat (I can’t imagine there were any on the street corners in the times of the apostles!). It’s using your neighbors across the street or going over to your friends’ house to use their internet when yours breaks for the 100 time. It’s thanking God for the favor he has given you at your ministry, in bringing an amazing team together to serve the Lord alongside of each other. It’s valuing unity and being of one heart and soul and sometimes believing you should scrap your staff retreat 3 weeks before you’re supposed to go on it and recreate it all over again. It’s seeing and responding and fulfilling needs (and sometimes even wants) of the people around you by knowing that your roommate won’t care when you give up your hair dryer for a week to the visiting Spiritual Emphasis Week team that just brought 21 suitcases of love to you and the people at your school. 

September was a hard month. Because October is notorious for this in my time at Highlands, I cringed when the crazy hit early. Certainly it’s easy to focus on the negative, but sometimes a lot of things happen all at once that completely interrupt your grove…

…My course schedule for my Educational Leadership degree changed four times in two weeks after the class I was supposed to take got cancelled. I registered at the last minute with one available seat left in another class. Thank God I hadn’t ordered textbooks for my other class and the textbooks for my new class were all available on Kindle. Things could have been interesting! 

…Nearly every person on our staff (and students) took sick days in September or should have taken sick days. When you have zero substitute community and a bunch of willing but half-healthy staff, finding coverage becomes your worst admin nightmare. Thankfully, I didn’t have to find a sub for myself when I participated in the crazy and caught a bad cold that led to high and low grade fevers. After nearly passing out from nausea at the school, I went home to rest. And then my phone rang, waking me up from my nap. It’s my landlord and he’s coming over in an hour because he wants to sell our apartment. We have 90 (and now something less) days to move.

…Our brand new router is already dying. And after we lived without internet for a while and then got it fixed, our water got shut off, and then our freezer in our refrigerator popped and now we have a gas leak (Which still isn’t fixed. I’m hoping he technician actually shows up tomorrow). 

Does it mean the crazy is going to be going on for an extra amount of time? Will September be the new October? Lord only knows. Unfortunately we have no current move date, so it’s possible that October will be more of an adventure than we expect. But as I was so timely reminded on Wednesday, while the community here has its barriers, the blessings (or benefits) of life together are real, too. Kindness, compassion, love, care, help, support, encouragement came rushing out of mouths as soon as the news spread (which if you think you live in a small town or went to a small school, try a SUPER small community. I told a few people, and before I could even tell one of my roommates she knew!). People were offering to look for apartments for us, to pack with us, to celebrate fun times in our house with us, to have an apartment warming party once we get to our new place, etc. I was so thankful for everyone’s response. Saying goodbye to the only apartment life, routine, comforts, memories I’ve known while in La Paz is excruciating. My apartment was supposed to be the God given grace of consistency as I changed bosses, jobs, friends; and just like that it’s gone, too. I’m choosing to believe that despite the instability, the presence of life in community can make up for it, that God is still leading us towards what He believes is best, and that He promises us Himself during the crazy.

I’m praying that as October rushes in, this would become true as I serve in this always adventurous place, “and the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

Let me ask you a question…

To my friends who might have wondered if I’m alive, I am! I’ve been saying for weeks now, I should blog. 90% of the time I say that, I end up taking a nap instead. Thanks for understanding my need to nap instead of write to you. Today on one of my favorite days of the year in Bolivia, Pedestrian Day, the quiet of the city has energized me to live outside of this place and connect with you! It’s a day when vehicles stay parked in garages and people come out on bikes, scooters, rollerblades, with their dogs, etc. Because I live on a busy street with poorly made apartment windows, I thrive on this quiet. It takes me miles outside of the city without moving my apartment! Too bad every day can’t be Pedestrian Day! 
I’m sharing with you some questions and answers that have been flying out to people like crazy lately!

How was your summer?

My summer was a whirlwind! I was at my dad’s house for a measly 7 days. In that time I hit up my brothers for a cookout, celebrated two birthdays, and spoke in my home church.

I went out to Chicago for a week. While normally this time is mixed with going to my literacy conference at Judson and seeing friends, the conference conflicted with my classes at SPU, so it was a leisure/fun trip only. I had a blast. Because I had more time and space in my schedule, I was able to connect with different people. God used this week to fill me up and send me out to my new adventure in Seattle. 

outside of Portillos in Elgin, my favorite hotdog place!

My turnaround time from Chicago to Seattle was less than 24 hours, and my friend from Tacoma greeted me at the airport. I’m so thankful for her presence in the PNW, and I like to think that God divinely sent her to that foreign land to help me as my adventure is just beginning there! She dropped me off at my temp-home while I was at SPU where I got my study on and lots of rooftop deck time. The classes I took were wonderful, and perhaps the best classes I could take as I enter into this year. They truly prepared me for my job. God really showed off during these four weeks, from free housing to a car to drive around to a church community to a friend in my classes. I joyfully watched God answer every need and request I had been praying for since January. 

my gorgeous Ballard neighborhood

From Seattle, I went to Huron to see my god family. These people are true treasures. It was encouraging to be able to spend some days together. Lots of laughs, tears, naps, and selfies marked our days.

My goddaughter Vera, her lambie, and me

From Huron, I was home for two days and then flew out to La Paz! After a horrendous 69 hours of travel, I finally made it to my apartment.

So how was my summer? It was eventful, but restful. Each part was unique in its own way. It was really hard to come back to my uprooted world, especially without Scott/Tammie and Scott/Sarah being here, but seeing the students on our welcome back day filled me with life and joy for this upcoming year.

Do you like your new job?/Do you miss the classroom?

This combo question seemed to never stop the month of August and proved challenging to answer. After all, how can you really know after only trying something out for a day, a week, a month? The first week back in country, work week, was busy, and then came the first week with students and this upcoming week is midterms! I’m not sure I can answer this question now, but what is true and what I do know is that I enjoy what I’m doing. I love the freedom in my schedule. I love being able to work alongside of teachers to help them teach effectively. I love being in the classroom and watching them in action and the students responding to their instruction. I love developing the new team of Lead Teachers. I love encouraging the great team we have here in La Paz. I love leaning into the community that God has given us!

For now, I don’t really miss the classroom. But I’m in so many classrooms every week, and I’ve also been substituting for teachers who are off doing visa work. And because I used to teach, I still have relationships with many students. I don’t miss bus duty after school or grading papers or lesson planning. 

When do classes start at SPU?

I registered this week for my first online class which starts the last Monday of this month. It’s a research class, and I’m not incredibly pumped about it, but I hope that it proves to be somewhat helpful and a positive experience. I’m beyond thankful that I get to continue my degree, and I still feel like God set this school in my lap. I can’t wait to see where He/this degree takes me.

What is God teaching you?

If you get my snail mail newsletter, it talks a large chunk about trying things on. I could spend my life analyzing and trying to figure out what God is doing in this new since June season-leading me to SPU and giving me an assistant principal position! Is this the right degree? Do I want to be a Principal the rest of my life? If my heart is for leading, should I just start my own NGO and be in charge of that? Go work for another NGO? But I have newfound joy and peace about resting in the truth that God knows what He is doing. He’s calling me to be present to today, to the gifts and talents He has given me, to the season he has me living inside. It’s messy and mysterious, but I am confident that God will share more information with me about this whole process when I’m ready. 

Will you pray for me this year?

I’ve updated my Top 5 and would love for you to thank God for the things that he is doing in my life and pray for my ministry here.

Mayday!

May has arrived! For me, this month’s anthem is the same that I’ve been singing since January. It just seems that I am singing it louder and more often. We were created for relationship and God calls us to live in the present. Alfred Lord Tennyson said, “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” Relationships are hard in such a transient community, but I don’t think I’ve ever agreed with this quote more. Right now we’re all in, friends and students, as we end this season together.

Present adventures: friends
This past weekend I adventured to the jungle of Bolivia. Three other friends and I enjoyed hiking the trails, sleeping in hammocks, taking naps and reading by the pool, and sitting around the table playing games, eating, and laughing. This was such a much needed break for me. It was great for this Iowa raised girl to get out into nature and rejuvenate before the crazy of the end comes!

Our cabin and yard in the jungle!

Our cabin and yard in the jungle!

My good friend Maegan is back in La Paz for a bit. It has been so good to reunite and see her and connect with her. Of course, things got a little crazy when all of us “oldies” got together.

hangin' out with Mego!

hangin’ out with Mego!

Present adventures: students
My students continue to bring me so much joy. This past week I had a student show up with binoculars since her current prescription has expired. I also found notes on homework…see below. And yes, this is completely their creativity and execution. And no, unicorn wasn’t on their spelling list.

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This past week was also my “identity in Christ” week. If you’re a regular on my posts, you probably remember how I spend a week going through what it is, who I am, what I am here for and what my purpose is, and what my life should look like – all if our identity is in Christ. This year, I was privileged to see the truth of these lessons fall on good soil in so many of my students. Many of them said despite hearing this truth each year, it’s sinking in more than it did before. For a few students, deep lies from the enemy were pulled out and replaced with truth. Please pray for these few-that in the midst of their heartache, the truth would be forever buoyant. Pray also that as the other students continue to reflect and think about this past week, that lives would be forever changed.

Future adventures: accreditation
This upcoming week a team from all over the world will be at HIS, “grading our school” as I explained to my students. Please pray that peace would flood our campus in this stressful time and that all of the work that has been put into this would be well-received. Pray that as the team comes they will adjust to the altitude and would be inspired and encouraged by their time in La Paz.

Future adventures: tying it all up
The phrase “let me check my social calendar” escapes my lips all too often these days. Please pray that I would have sweet moments with my friends who are leaving the country for good. These people have really defined “life in La Paz” for me. It breaks my heart to see them go, so of course we have to live it up and be present to each moment God has given us!

Please also pray that I would end well with my discipleship girls, Natalia and Anna Fay. Anna Fay is leaving Bolivia and as I’m transitioning into admin and a masters degree, this season as we know it is coming to a close. Pray for sweet moments with them, too.

Future adventures: Seattle Pacific University
Details continue to fall into place for this summer as I start my masters. God has provided free housing for me, and now I’m asking for a free bike so that I can save money on transportation to school! I’m all registered for my classes and as I communicate with my advisor, I get more and more excited for this new chapter. I’m still praying for LOTS of finances and for God to raise up a community and a church while I’m there.

Overall, the reality of these days feels incredibly chaotic. On the way home from school today, I asked my roommate to remind me to breathe. In my humanity, I’m copiloting a crashing plane screaming, MAYDAY, and in His grace, God’s gently saying, I’m flying, I’ve got this, I’ll sustain you. Please join me in prayer or even simple reminders to breathe. These are my “top 5” – so enjoy! You are loved and appreciated!

The Undertow

Last Friday before heading out for spring break, my boss Scott said to me, “Can you believe it? It’s already spring break. The last two months are going to fly.” My response to him, “I don’t want to talk about it.” Because I really don’t desire to think beyond the moment that is right here, right now.

The following day, my friends and I bussed our way over the Andes mountains into a small desert town, Arica. It sits on the shores of the Pacific Ocean in Chile and gives us the excitement of sea level, soft sliced bread, delicious sandwich meat, and the best vanilla yogurt. We enjoyed falling asleep to the ocean waves, drinking coffee overlooking the Pacific, and hours in the sun.

Crossing the border..elevation over 5,000 meters or over 16,000 feet

Crossing the border..elevation over 4,500 meters, or almost 15,000 feet

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My coffee-in-hand view every morning from our balcony

My coffee-in-hand view every morning from our balcony

A gorgeous sunset

A gorgeous sunset

During one sunny, hot afternoon, my friends convinced me to join them in the freezing waters of the Pacific. As I stood knee deep, I was surprised by the undertow. From a mere glance from the shore, the ocean seems to just be waves crashing in and receding back into vastness. But, where the water coming meets the water leaving the shore, a strong force, a push and pull exists. To stand in this exact place was complicated. Millions of sand particles are tossed about, water is churning, and your balance can be thrown if not for intentionality to remain focused.

In this moment, in the midst of this beautiful place, my heart ached for the ability to remain present in the remaining few months. A friend of mine recently told me about a friend who was determined to notice everything red while she was driving. Within only a few minutes, she had already forgotten that she was doing this. The distraction of the radio, the traffic, the landscape was real. Staying present is hard. We are masters at avoiding grief. Reality is hard. There is mystery in the present, a push and pull in the here and now.

And yet, the push and pull between the future and the past are meant to keep us in the present. There is grace to dream and get excited for a new season-grad school and a summer in Seattle and an admin position. And there is grace to embrace the final moments in this current season with these people I love; bosses, students, friends. And best yet, there is grace when the tension is too great and we jump out of the undertow.

So for these last few months, I ask you to join me as I pray for lots of grace. I will continue to sing my mantra I’ve been singing for months, a song of presence in this season God has given to me. I pray for patience and peace as I wait in the unknown of what the next two, four, even six months will look like. How we’ll live it up in La Paz, who will be our principal, who will take my position in middle school, where I will live this summer, how I will return in August to a La Paz far different than I’ve ever known. I pray for intentionality-to stand in the undertow as the water and sand swirls about.