First, and foremost:
Welcome to the world, Cole Bradley Hallum! Congratulations to my brother and sister-in-law on the birth of their beautiful baby boy! We are so excited for your family and to meet him.
This past Saturday we went to the zoo.
Not just any zoo. A zoo with wild monkeys flying around. Well, maybe more like walking, hopping, swinging around, and stealing your food.
We went with a group of teachers, leaving early Saturday morning. We walked down our hill from our apartment to catch a bus to the center of town for a breakfast of empanadas and cafe con leche (side note: the largest coffees here are still very tiny… It would take about 4 cafe con leches to actually jumpstart my day). After our breakfast, we went down to the metro station to catch the train for the zoo. After getting on a train, getting off and on another because we were going the wrong way, we were finally there!
I don’t know what I was imaging about the zoo. Well, that’s not exactly true. More like, I don’t think what I was imagining was quite realistic. I was picturing a monkey calmly sitting on my shoulder, keeping me company, while I walked through the zoo. While the monkey did not sit on my shoulder, it did hold hands with me (a.k.a. our fingers touched briefly while it aggressively snatched food from my hands), and follow us around as we meandered our way through the different exhibits. I like to credit that because of the special bond we made. However, I’m pretty sure it had nothing to do with the connection we made in our hearts, rather, it had everything to do with the fact that we had food in our pockets.
While this activity seemed like a semi-normal weekend event, it meant much more to Brandon and I.
You do not realize how engrained you are in a community until you leave it. The familiarities. The common, and many times ordinary, places that pepper your day. The coffee shop you stop at on your way home from work. The grocery store you go to for that one thing. The park you like to walk through. The restaurants you eat at. The places you go to relax. The streets you run on. These may seem like simple things, but, when dropped in a brand new area, you realize that none of these once “non-thought” items are deeply missed.
Two months in, we’re slowly and gradually building our repertoire of things that decorate our “community”. Whether it’s the coffee shop we go to on Saturdays (you see how many times I’ve mentioned coffee in just one post?), the pizza place we go to after Tuesday soccer (maybe all I talk about is food..), an area of town we like to walk through, we’re tucking these places and things away in the back of our minds.
It’s not the places that are the most important; it’s the feeling of belonging.
With any time of transition, there are a lot of discoveries. And yes, lots of times of feeling silly and victorious with such minor things. For example, the other day at the deli, I ordered 500 kilograms of cheese instead of 500 grams (give me a break! I’ve been using pounds forever). First of all, that would be A LOT of cheese. Second of all, you can either choose in that moment to kick yourself and feel embarrassed that the world just heard you order the equivalent of a cheese elephant. Or, you can laugh with the guys at the deli laughing at you and move on.
I realize we haven’t quite talked about what we’re actually spending a lot of our time doing here: teaching. We are getting into the hang of teaching here, our classes, workload, and students. It is a lot of work, with Brandon and I teaching many different subjects each (Brandon teaches high school Business Math, Economics, Bible, 6th Grade Math, and Typing and I teach: 6th Grade English, Bible, Social Studies, and 7th/8th Grade Social Studies and Bible). However, with more and more time teaching these subjects, we are sinking into regular routines and structure. Also, with teaching different subjects to the same group of students, we are building some awesome relationships with these students. I am thankful for the school community that is so clearly supportive, encouraging, and lively.
Something really exciting coming up in just TWO DAYS is our secondary camp! We (secondary students and teachers) are going to a previous teacher’s farm in the country for all of this Wednesday, Thursday, and half of Friday, with the goal of growing closer together outside of the school setting and to grow closer to the Lord. HOW AWESOME. We can’t wait! Although I’m sure there will be little to no sleep, more bug bites than imaginable, and many “camp moments,” Brandon and I are praying that this would be such a meaningful and life-changing event for students. One of those, “man, remember that one camp in high school?” occurrences.
With two months here, it’s so encouraging to see the places where we fit in and areas where we are growing. Each day definitely brings with it its own discoveries, but, we are learning to embrace them and see them with grace and joy.