It's been 2 months since my last update, almost to the day. Please accept my sincerest apologies, along with this explanaion.
There was stuff going on. After the 2nd car theft that I talked about in my previous entry, Dona Elsa and Lindsay decided to step back from doing ministry at Los Bordos for 3 months. It was extremely hard to watch them explaining this to the women and children that they minister to. There were few dry eyes by the end, but the women understood our need to focus on the church for a little while, to rebuild there before going out to build other places. I believe we will be headed back there mid to late January.
Everything else sort of fell into a routine. I taught in the mornings, and then hung out in the evenings. I got a few more online jobs, which paid for a computer program that will allow me to make songs and edit audio for videos, and Christmas presents for my family which were ordered and paid for online, and sent directly to their house. I love that I can do that with the internet today. I qualified for free shipping on my order, so all I had to pay for were the gifts themselves.
Here's the main reason I did not update: I was depressed. I didn't want to update because I didn't want to admit how I was feeling. I didn't want to be honest about it, not even with myself for a while. But, I finally realized how bad I really was, and I feel like I need to be totally honest with everyone that reads this, my friends and family that truly care about me. (and possibly some random other people)
I've always been a shy person, and somehow, having great parents and extended family members, years in the public school system, involvment and youth group, and spending years at the camp which was focused on building relationships did not cause me to be very socially adept. Yes, I can maintain a conversation, and I do have friends, but I will rarely start a conversation on my own, and it generally takes some time for me to make friends. I'm sure there's some psychiatrist's word for this, but I always follow the lead of the other person. If they don't talk to me, I don't talk to them. If they're friendly and open with me, I'm going to be friendly and open with them.
So, it's been really hard for me here. It would have been hard anyway going to a new place with all new people and trying to make friends, but the language barrier makes it harder. I don't feel right moving to a foreign country and only talking in English to them, but I don't know enough Spanish yet to feel comfortable having a conversation. So, I just don't talk.
That means that I don't have many friends. There are a few people that I call "friend," and I have had some really good conversations with people who do speak English. But for the most part, I was alone. This made me sad, which meant I pulled away even more, which meant even less socialization, which meant even more feeling of lonliness, which meant even more sadness and pulling away, and so on and so forth. Such was the path that I was on, but I didn't admit even to myself how bad it really was.
Not being able to go home for Christmas to see my family was also a burden. I missed my family, but there's more to just that when it comes to Christmas. Christmas is a time of traditions, where you can expect to do the same things that you've done for years, and it's comfortable to you. It's home.
Last Friday night, I hit a particularly low point, and started talking (to myself and God, I guess) about all the traditions we have at our house: decorating the house, me setting up the nativity, singing Christmas carols together with the living room lit only by the tree lights and candles, going to the Christmas Eve service together, heading downstairs at 8am on Christmas, starting with the stockings which always had mini Reece's cups at the bottom, passing around presents, watching Mom open hers because she always had the most, making donuts together, going to Grandma's house, the huge exchange with the whole family, playing games together, eating Mom's jello salad, Aunt Sue's cheesy potatoes, Aunt Sammie's devilled eggs, and Aunt Elva's chocolate-covered rice crispy treats. Every memory and tradition hit me that night, and I wept for each new thing I would be missing.
I eventually started praying about it, asking for comfort and peace, and for an excitement for getting to experience Christmas here.
The next day, I helped out with a big pastor's conference, helping set up and then greeting people as they came in. It was kind of fun but also fairly boring, especially as we waited outside during the talks, which were mostly in Spanish. Having only gotten around 6 hours of sleep, I lacked the will and concentration to even try to understand. Despite being surrounded by so many people, I still almost started crying when I thought about the crying I had done the night before.
Sunday, I got to go to the English-speaking church. I don't know how, but Terry knew to talk to people about me. In his typical easy-going way, he told several people that I "need to get out of my box." I exchanged numbers with several couples, and talked about being able to do ministry with them or just hang out otherwise, and got to go out with the pastor's family after church. Then, I spent the rest of the day on Skype with my cousin, and went to bed feeling ok.
On Monday, I went to school as usual, and then when I came home, I got online. I wandered the internet aimlessly, reading a number of funny posts on a couple different blogs I found. This continued until around 5pm, as it started to get dark. Dona Elsa came upstairs, and I got a lecture about the state of my living room/kitchen.
The sink was full of dirty dishes. I had run out of clean dishes over a week prior, so was washing them as I went. The island counter was piled high with everything from loose papers to colored pencils to DVD's. I just kept stacking stuff as I was done with it, without even trying to organize it. And the floor was filthy. I don't actually have a broom upstairs anymore, but instead of borrowing the one from downstairs or buying one, I did nothing. As soon as she left, I started crying.
I felt ashamed of the way I had let things get. And more than that, I finally saw why I had let them get that way. It wasn't busy-ness or laziness. It was apathy. I had fallen so far into depression that nothing really mattered to me. I didn't care that food was rotting on plates in the sink; I didn't care that there was a pile of things on the counter that made work difficult; I didn't care that there was a visible ring of dirt surrounding the chair where I sat when on my computer. Nothing mattered to me, and I had lulled myself into a state of total apathy. Then, Dona Elsa shattered that thought that nothing mattered.
As I cleaned everything up, I let the tears fall, and finally admitted to myself that I was sad, much more so than I really thought. When I was done cleaning, I pulled out my guitar, and turned my thoughts and heart to God.
A sense of peace settled over me, and I just knew in my heart that everything was going to be ok. I could feel God's comforting hand upon me, and that mattered. The most of me that felt dead began to awaken, and the pain slipped away.
I'm not going to say that everything is totally great and that I have amazing friends, and can supernaturally speak Spanish now, but things are definitely better. I wake up with a better sense of purpose, and am feeling a little braver with my Spanish. When watching Beauty and the Beast (in Spanish, of course), I pointed out the fact that Chip is Mrs. Pott's son, yet he's a very young boy and she's an elderly woman. When Dona Elsa asked Lindsay what I had said, I was able to communicate it to her, and she also found it funny. God has been showing His love for me in real, tangible ways, (like the PERFECT care package I got from home which included a mini Christmas tree and Reece's bells and trees!) and now I'm excited about Christmas.
So, I can't promise that I'll be updating more often, but I'm definitely making it a priority.