This week's blog is in honor of Mexico and the culture that makes me both crazy and in love with everything about this place all at once.
MY plan was that I would move to Mexico a couple of weeks early. Get here and get myself settled and oriented before all of the orientation and teaching business began. Something I have come to learn about myself and know very well is that I very much dislike feeling unsettled. That being said, another thing I have come to understand about myself is that I am probably going to spend a large portion of my life moving and transition... unsettling if you will. Transition and moving is most certainly synonymous with unsettled. You are digging up whatever roots (be them deep or shallow) that you have put down in a certain place, packing up all the things (be them many or few) and starting over in some regard or another.
When I look at those two things that are very true of myself side by side, it seems an impossibility for them to ever coexist. But, since this is the life I have been given and I intend to embrace every aspect of it, I have found ways to balance.
It is true that I am uprooted and moving and transitioning a lot and probably also true that I will continue to be as such for the remainder of my life. Thus, I have learned to make a home wherever it is I land. Despite the size or style or location of the place I am living for a particular season, I am very intentional about making that place feel like mine and feel like home. I suppose it is my way of coping with the parts of me that struggle with all of the things Jesus has asked of me.
Anyways. I say that to say...
I came to Guadalajara decently early so that I could do just that. Practice bussing and figure out grocery stores and make my place feel like home. Because the truth is, everything is going to be new here...including teaching a classroom of three-year-olds that don't speak my language. And I was very aware that if I was not intentional about settling in and feeling at home, I would not be able to focus like I should on my ministry and my kiddos when the time came. I cannot function in clutter and mess. Clutter and mess around me leave my brain cluttered and messy. I am not productive and I cannot focus or think clearly...I can only think about dealing with the clutter and the mess.
You can call it type A or OCD or whatever else you would like, but it is very much a part of me and thus I have just learned to work and obey around it.
My plan seemed to be going, well, according to plan. I arrived on the 21 of July, nearly three weeks before school would begin. Within a day I had been to Walmart to stock my apartment with staples and necessities, the bank to change my money, and the phone store to change over my chip. And, by the end of the week, I had ventured to Tonola with friends and returned home with a car full of handmade, Mexican goodies for my little place. I was feeling great. I had even placed an order for a couch that I LOVED that the school was kind enough to fund for me. All in all, my plan was right on track...I was actually feeling ahead. The couch would arrive in just one week.
I knew upon moving my life to Mexico that one of the areas that would challenge me most would be concepts of time.
Growing up in the States, everything is on a schedule. EVERYTHING. We are all about being efficient with time...making it count..not wasting it. Often times we go overboard with this, but nonetheless, it is our culture. Always we will apologize for lateness...to a meeting, a hang out, a coffee date...I mean for goodness sake, even lateness that is acceptable has a time frame and a name. We may be "fashionably late" to a party usually showing up about 15 minutes after the event was scheduled to start. Time is valuable. Time efficiency and earliness is praised, and lateness is always frowned upon. Though I struggle to be a people oriented person, there are pieces of my culture that have made their way into my brain and my blood and try as I might, they have become a part of me. Add that to the fact that I am naturally a very impatient person and you get a pretty bad combination for living in a place like Mexico...
Where, as Elisabeth Elliot said, "Mañana is always enough." Tomorrow...I have learned in my time here that we have very different definitions of the words "today," "now," and "The party starts at..."
So the couch.
About a week ago, I was thrilled to hear that the couch was coming...and only two days after its projected delivery date...which for Mexico is fantastic. We were eating dinner downstairs at my friends/teacher mentor's house with a new Lincoln family...one of them being a little three-year-old boy who wanted to eat dinner with his teacher to feel better about going to school.
Cue crazy hail storm.
(It's rainy season here....)
Men show up an hour and a half late in a red pick up truck. My couch is in the back (at least covered with a tarp, thankfully). He takes one quick look at the couch and another up at my door and says, "no." (That's the same in Spanish and English)
He then begins to tell me that there is no way that couch is fitting through my door. To which I responded to him and the group, "What should I do?" No one was really sure...and these poor men standing in the rain and hail are eagerly looking at me to tell them what they should do.
I was panicking on the inside a little...no I lied, a lot. Should I have them take it back since it wouldn't fit...but then I would lose pesos...the school was paying but would they be upset that the measurements were not accurate....
These guys were telling me about welding and hoisting the couch through the window....cutting off the legs...(I still want to know if they would have put them back on) In the midst of all of this I am trying to hold back tears and hold myself together for the sake of the little boy who is terrified to start school and NEEDS to see that His teacher at least is sane and emotionally stable.
Anyways. Needless to say. No couch that night.
They left it in my downstairs neighbor's entry way and that was that.
The next two weeks were spent getting bits and pieces of messages, information, phone numbers.
It was a struggle for me because I am so used to being so independent. I find the people I make the call, I get things done.
But this left me powerless. I don't know a welder, I don't know how to talk about things like welding in Spanish (although I thoroughly believe they should add that to high level Spanish curriculum.) I hardly know anyone here let alone men who are able to lift a large, heavy couch into a second story window, and even if I did get people here to help, I had no idea what to tell them to do once they were here....Then of course there is the timing issue...trying to have the people here to help get the couch in through the window while the welder is still here so that he can weld the bar back on in the same evening...because after all if it's taken this long for him to come in the first place, it would be best not to risk letting him leave with my window torn apart.
So. You can see where that type A/planner streak in me was losing my mind. BUT at the same time, I realized that this was all part of the process. Part of learning to trust Jesus and to let go more and more and more. Be it a couch, or the plans and direction for my life. It's really all the same. It's really all about losing...no, giving up control and letting Him take over.
Okay. So that brings us to last night and to this lovely photo.
Lincoln's little puppy face says it all.
Just when I had resigned to the fact that my couch was probably not getting through that window...at least for a while anyways, and started putting my attention and energy into other things...Once I was willing to accept that the timing of this settling in business was really out of my hands...Once I finally let go and decided to embrace the time and the space for what it was...
That's when the breakthrough came.
On a regular old Thursday, all of a sudden, there was a confirmed appointment and time with a welder. Now all we needed was the man power...
I collected some new Lincoln (that's the school I teach at NOT a bunch of my dog's new pals) friends and decided we would just figure it out together on the fly.
5:00 came and there was no sign of him. Honestly I had already been preparing myself for that scenario. Then a phone call from a lovely Lincoln lady. She said she heard I was having a blacksmith at my house and asked if I could send him her way when he was finished. I quickly explained that he wasn't there but also that I was slightly panicked because I didn't know what to do when he did arrive (if he did arrive) and also I didn't know if anyone was showing up. It turns out that super handy Aurelio was at her house. I had heard he was unavailable to help with his truck that evening. BUT by the grace of God we connected. She sent Aurelio and his big red truck my way. The darling Mexican window welder man offered to help with the couch. Poor thing was stunned and quite entertained by the situation I had landed myself in. "Silly American girl," I am sure is what he was thinking.
They backed the truck under my window. Stood the couch up. Gave it a few good shoves and then finished pulling it in from upstairs.
And just like that...in 20 minutes flat, the couch was in my living room.
Just like that my vision and my definition of "Two Men and a Truck" forever changed.
Sweet welder man finished putting the bar back in place. I thanked them both relentlessly and insisted they take some pesos and then spent the rest of the night on the couch with Lincoln.
(I really wish I would have taken more pictures. I wish I could bring this whole fiasco more to life for you, but it all just happened so suddenly and I was so enamored by the whole thing that I ended up just taking it all in. )
Oh. The spiritual application here for me is so clear.
If only I will let go and relax and stop trying to take control and take the lead and insist on my own way and my own timing...then...THEN life can really happen. My time and attention and energy can be poured into other things...present things, rather than the things down the road that I am trying to rush on to. The reality is, I only thought that my couch was an essential. I convinced myself that settling in was on hold until that issue was dealt with. I spent energy being anxious and worried about how it would workout. What I would do about it....And I must shamefully admit that I do the very same on a daily basis with Jesus. I insist on my own timelines and desires and I just won't give up control. I worry and fret about things that are really not my issues or concerns and things that are really not essentials. And how often do I fail to step back and reevaluate and reflect because we are so caught up and distracted by the wrong things!? Take it all in. ALL.
I am so guilty of not enjoying the process...the journey...the unfolding of it all. For example...I want my place to feel like home and look magazine editorial ready like yesterday...But that is not the way that a place becomes a home. That happens slowly, with time, with love. We collect things and stumble upon pieces that we love and we fill our home with life and laughter and memories along with those things. It is much the same with us. We do not become who God needs us or designed us to be all at once. It happens with time. It is a journey, a process, an unfolding if you will.
Mexico before Africa, my couch crisis, these are all just pieces in the process of the unfolding of me. Of His greater, lovelier story! So I just keep telling myself to chill out! When in Mexico, do as the Mexicans do! (They really are the kindest, most genuine, generous people!)
How thankful I am for my couch crisis and for this beautiful culture reminding me to slow down, gain perspective, and willingly...gladly hand over the control and my insistence on independence. And along with it, worry and anxiety and stress.
Mexico is driving me insane in a gloriously, beautiful, life changing way. I am forever thankful and indebted to her, and her gracious people for that.
With love from my couch,