Friday, June 16, 2006


Sorry I haven't been updating much on my blogs. I'm not even going to write much now, which is why I stuck in the picture. It's from Panama, and one of my favorites.

I've been spending a lot of time focusing on my humanitarian work, my new job (teaching ESL), church responsibilities, and especially on Dan. It's all worth it:

I'm madly in love with Dan, and enjoying every moment we spend together (thinking and analyzing books and life and relationships and God, forgiving and being forgiven, learning about new things, appreciating music and nature, playing games and sports, etc.) I love how supportive he is, and diverse our relationship is, and how we can talk about everything. He's an incredible person, and I think it's amazing that it took me so long to recognize what was already in my heart and to follow it. I feel lucky that he was still around, though it took me so long. And I feel really lucky that he loves me despite my quirks and things.

In addition to that, I love teaching ESL. It's such an exciting environment to teach in, and I find myself really feeling inspired in adapting to the needs of the students. I love being fluid in my teaching, and finding ideas and breakthroughs come to me in the very moment that I need them (or the student's need them, I guess). Anyway, I've enjoyed seeing the light of understanding come into their eyes, and to help them in this montrously overwhelming task of learning a new language and adapting to a new culture. It's a big responsibility sometimes, because it has such a direct impact on their quality of life, social interactions, family interactions, and employment.

The humanitarian work is going well. I returned from Panama in relatively good health, and once again, felt enriched for being able to be a part of another culture for a short time. I loved seeing the beautiful (though difficult) island life on Nargana in the Kuna Yala islands of Panama. One of my favorite occurances was making friends with some of the hospital staff and the prison inmates who were helping on the project. Alfredo de Mayo was my favorite of the workers (besides Jiovanni - a church volunteer), when he started showing me all his tattoos, including one that had his mother's name, and another that was a skull with a snake crawling through it. He'd come to watch me paint and smile shyly and try to communicate (with my terrible Spanish). His friendly tenderness was endearing, after judging him by his tough looking exterior.

Being RS president is so out of my comfort zone, but the best part is getting to know everyone individually and feeling like I'm able to help them as I get into one-on-one conversations or as I see their faces respond to some testimony I'm sharing in class. The hardest part is always feeling like I'm not doing enough.

Anyway, I just wanted to apologize and say that I'll get better in the future, and I love keeping up on all your blogs, even if I haven't done much writing on my own.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Play, Exercise, and Doing Nothing...

So, Dan and I have developed our own versions of sports. We have now created “basket-nis” and “soggis”, two very different games both originating from our frustrating efforts to play tennis against a distinct lack of cooperation from the outside world. (Once due to no courts being available and so we found ourselves on the elementary school basketball courts instead…the other when the courts were wet from a rainstorm. We also attempted to play a form of racquetball-tennis against the side of the elem. school building, but quit when I hit the ball onto the roof).

Anyway, these games became a bit like Calvinball, where we get to make up the rules as we go along. ( The best part of Soggis was by far the Scottish accents that we were required to converse in (Dan’s much better at this than I), and the way the “sogging” ball would spiral out water when you’d hit it. I also enjoyed the lightning rule, and the way we could throw the word “sogging” in front of everything. The most defining moment of the game had to be when the bagpipers kicked in with the background “theme music”, really bringing the game home to its Scottish roots. (With a name like “soggis” what did you expect?)

I was, once again, reminded of the importance of play. Sometimes I think I take myself far too seriously and Dan helps me with that. I can be so relaxed with him that I can have a fantastic time playing around like a “sogging” kid. (side note: What a blast it is to date a friend! I highly recommend it.)

So, the other reminder I had last night, which relates to this idea of “play” is how critical exercise can be…not just physically, but spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. I hadn’t realized that I was carrying around so much pain, until I got to the gym and started running and sweating and stretching and straining…and feeling the tension and the stress (mental and emotional as well as physical) ease out of me. It seemed to bring everything into clearer perspective. More in balance.

I remember when I was at school in Logan, and I started getting into the habit to take a few minutes a day to just lie down on the ground and do nothing but look up at the sky and breathe, (and maybe think). It would only be a few moments, but I could feel the tension ease away. How often we rush from activity to activity…with the next thing to do lined up, and as soon as we’re finished with one thing, we’re off to another. Even when that thing is supposed to be “sleeping” or going to the movies – there’s something different about taking a few moments to just sit. Breathe. Think. Do Nothing.

I’ve gotten out of the habit lately, but I want to start again. Maybe I’ll try to get back to watching the sunset again.