ashleyandandrew

Blogging Away!

Social Butterfly October 21, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — AshleyandAndrew @ 2:52 pm
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I love being right in the middle of something and having the power go out. I’m almost forgetting what it’s like to have any sort of consistency with electricity and water as is normal in the US. I think the only times I can really recall that the power goes out in Jacksonville is when it’s storming terribly. Yet here I sit in the reading room, looking out the windows to clear blue skies and a beautiful day outside.

Anyways, as I’ve been looking ahead to my future back in the states, I’ve started making plans with friends and family. I think that makes it an exciting transition instead of dwelling on all the goodbyes we have yet to say here. I signed up for the very first FSM 5k in February. I suppose that means I will need to quite literally hit the ground running when I get back in December if I want a chance at running that. I’m a horrendous runner but I like the idea of being a runner so much that I am willing to keep trying. I’m enjoying the idea of the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping for a few days once I return. I’ll probably do a complete 180 on that sentiment once I actually have to get out there and do all of my shopping in the three-day window I will have to do it in. But for now, it seems like a lovely plan.

There is certainly something to be said about the events that we will be missing out on once we leave here. This past weekend really proved that to me. Andrew and I have been so fortunate to be a part of so much here. We’ve witnessed multiple weddings, birthdays, baby showers, first communions, school activities, etc. Saturday night, we got to be a part of Aschllyn’s quinceañera. The celebration of a girl’s 15th birthday is a huge deal here, similar to the very special sweet 16 in the U.S. Aschllyn’s mother invited us last week sometime and I remember her telling us 6:00 p.m. and thinking immediately that that was the exact time of the FSU versus Clemson kickoff. Likely our biggest game of the season to prove we are national championship contenders and here we have a really important event at the exact same time. In very typical Latin American fashion, 6:00 p.m. actually meant 7:30 p.m. and I got to watch a little over an hour of the game to start. I will just say, this shows how good God is. I so badly wanted to watch the whole game but I knew Aschllyn’s birthday party was more important. And I knew how awful I would feel choosing a football game over her. Therefore, I like to think that God pulled some strings for me. FSU destroyed Clemson and I was content to just come upstairs to check the score occasionally. When your team is beating the #3 team in the nation that badly, you’re not exactly on the edge of your seat. Truth be told, I would have said God had orchestrated the whole deal if FSU had lost so that I wouldn’t have felt bad about missing it. Either way, thank you Jesus! I was fortunate to enjoy a very beautiful quinceañera celebration.

Here’s another fun event we just went to. This one makes me laugh out loud when I think about it. One night last week, Andres came up to the apartment to ask me a question. He asked me if my camera has the date on it of when I took pictures. I said yes. He then goes on to ask if I could tell him when he and Karla got married last year because he doesn’t remember. The real kicker here is that he is convinced that Karla knows and is just not saying anything, which is why he couldn’t ask her. We are midway through October right now. I just want to point that out. I pulled up my iPhoto and scrolled to Andres and Karla’s wedding album from… August 12th. It took everything I had to not bust out laughing. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Karla has definitely forgotten her anniversary as well. There is no way a female is going to just not say anything for over two months. I’d give it a week tops. So Andres then invited us to an anniversary dinner set for last night after church. Again, Latin American planning and timing was in full force. We thought that when Andres was knocking on our door after church that it was because the dinner was ready and he was letting us know. What he was actually doing was asking if Andrew would take him to the grocery store to buy tortillas. After they returned from the store, plus an additional 20-30 minutes, we finally went downstairs to start the evening. At this point it’s well past 8:00 p.m. and I am again thinking the food is ready for us to sit down and eat. When will I ever learn? We walked downstairs to find them putting the first round of food on the grill. It all just makes me laugh now. Sometimes I find myself in these situations and there is no other option for my very structured, type A, obsessive-compulsive personality but to laugh. In all seriousness, we had a great time camped out in the breezeway relaxing and chatting amongst friends while the food was cooking on the grill. It was a good time.

I’ve got my own little event in the works here. In preschool class, we go over days of the week and months of the year. They know them pretty well when said all at once. We are working on getting them in sequence and understanding that if today is Monday, then tomorrow is Tuesday. Likewise, if we are in October, then next month is November. The only good thing I can think to talk about in November is my birthday. The children don’t know a whole lot about Thanksgiving here, and I’m taking that day off anyways! No need to talk about that. But my birthday, on the other hand, is completely worth talking about. I should also note that Mack shares my birthday. So I may or may not have agreed to a little fiesta. The kids consistently ask me if Mack can come do program with us and I’ve finally given in. On my birthday, during our party, Mack can come down to the classroom with us. This is undoubtedly going to be total chaos. I’ve agreed to all kinds of things in the excitement of it all. We are currently debating whether we need one piñata or two. Clearly, they’re pushing for two, one for the girls and one for the boys. Someone got really crazy with it and suggested one for Mack as well. I think we may be able to suffice with just one. I’ve promised them one cake for us and, of course, one for Mack. We talk about the party often and the little ones are so excited that this is a party just for the preschoolers and Mack and I. I would be remiss if I didn’t include this hysterical comment from one of the little girls in class named Cristhel, who I absolutely adore. One day last week when we began discussing what was going to happen next month in November, Cristhel goes “we know Ashley, it’s your birthday,” with the sassiest little attitude you’ve ever seen from a five year old. I’m letting it slide because I know she is going to lose her mind when the day of the party actually rolls around.

Well, I’m going to spend the last few minutes of my lunch break trying to fill up my water bottle for the afternoon. The power came back on but the water went out. Unbelievable! Here’s to hoping that comes back on soon!

 

American Dream October 18, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — AshleyandAndrew @ 5:06 pm
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Ah, the sweet sounds of rain falling on the tin roof. The only thing I can hear over it would be the obnoxiously loud soccer game we’re airing right now for the teenagers in the church. I’d probably only ever watch a soccer game if it were a part of the actual World Cup. In fact, that’s the only time I can recall watching soccer with even the slightest degree of interest. That was back in college at Florida State when they would show the games in the student life center on the big screen. Soccer to me is kind of like the Olympics. I’m all about it once every four years but have zero desire to follow the sport otherwise. But when in Rome, do as the Romans do. So I find myself sitting here listening to the teenagers go nuts over this game between Costa Rica and Mexico. I would have never guessed this being from the United States, but Mexico is one of the most hated teams in Central America. Apparently, they think they are better than everyone else. A group of elitists, if you will. Does that sound at all like the Mexicans we know in the US? Anyways, as I type this, all I can hear is screams and the famous GOOOOOOLLLLLLLL! Viva Costa Rica! Beat Mexico!

Anyways, I was upstairs talking to the woman who cleans the church and apartment the other day. Her name is Xiomara and she is Nicaraguan. We’ve talked several times about her life and journey to live in Costa Rica. Here’s a woman who has come to this country and is perfectly legal, she works her butt off to provide for her family, and has zero desire to take advantage of the system. Yet time and time again, she shares with me snippets of the prejudices that she has experienced in the time she’s lived here. Given the endless opportunities, people will never cease to disappoint you, this much I am sure of.

Xiomara and I started to talk about the differences between life in the US and life here. She told me she has a cousin that lives in the US and has been there for probably twenty years or more. Xiomara said she would love to go to the US like her cousin and work but she just can’t leave her kids until they are all older. As she started to describe to me the life that her cousin lived in the US, it became clear that she didn’t know what she was really hoping for in going to the US to work as well. She described a well educated woman who left her job as a professor in Nicaragua to go to the United States of America and live the American dream. She talked of how smart her cousin is but what a better life she has now. I guess that statement would be better worded if I said what a better life that Xiomara assumes that her cousin has now. She began to tell me about the job her cousin now has in the US. She serves food to students in a school cafeteria. I immediately thought of how many wretched kids make fun of the ‘cafeteria lady’ in their schools as if they aren’t real people too. I also thought of what a low-paying job that is. Xiomara said that her cousin sends money back to her family in Nicaragua because she makes so much more in the US than they can in Nicaragua. While this is true, I explained to her that it costs so much more to live in the US than in Nicaragua. We talked a bit about all the people that move to the US for a better life and to make more money to send back home. The only problem with this is then they are stuck. No one can ever leave that situation. People will work themselves to death to provide enough to live off of for themselves and whatever they can manage to send back to their family in their native country. Of course, when Xiomara told me that her cousin lived in a something like a truck that could move from place to place, in a neighborhood full of other trucks, I quickly put together that she was living in a trailer park with her family. In truth, living in a small trailer is probably not any greater than living in the house that Xiomara currently lives in. Do you think she’d ever believe that? That her house is just as good as the trailer her cousin has in the US? Probably not. Living in a trailer park is nothing to be ashamed of, but it’s hardly the glamorous life that the people in those native countries think of when they tell people they have family in the US. Adding United States to your address doesn’t make all your dreams come true.

Maybe for some of us, we are living the American dream. I know I was and will again. There’s no doubt that it’s easier for some than others. Maybe Xiomara’s cousin doesn’t have the easiest life out there, but by raising kids in the US and then having the next generation be brought up there, they will certainly have a better shot at the life we have come to expect as normal and what others outside the US have come to know as glamorous. I do wish it were easier though for people to understand what it means to live and work in the US as a poor immigrant instead of just constantly hoping for a life that they truly don’t understand. I’m not saying I understand it all based on one conversation with Xiomara. For the record, my grandparents and father are immigrants. I’ve heard all my life how hard my grandparents had to work and for so little. They too sent money and things back to their  families in their native country of the Ukraine. It was worth it to them to work that hard as it is to so many others who do the same. I guess seeing the flip side of that being here in the foreign country with the people who look to a life in the US as if it’s something that it’s not has just opened my eyes a bit.