This title does not refer to my sanity: this refers to the state of things as the school year draws to a close here at the Ciudad. As a note, this is being written over several days whenever I have free time, so bear with the choppiness.
(Written on Sunday) We have just come back from Lima Centro after a late morning/early afternoon of exploration. Shelly, our boss, is in town to see what we do and what Lima's like, so we took the chance to be touristy. We went back to San Francisco, which has the catacombs for all of Lima underneath and has a really cool convent and tour. We decided to go in Spanish this time, as when we were first here we went in English. I was surprised that I was able to understand the majority of what he said...without incredible focus. Mighta had something to do with having an idea of what was going to be discussed, but I still was happy. I also really enjoyed getting all of the tour guide's knowledge this time around; the language barrier made the tour last time a lot shorter. There was a lady with our group who was kind of rude and interrupting and probably had a personality disorder, but as the tour guide was explaining the missionaries' assimilation of Incan culture into Catholicism, how the Virgin Mary took the place of the Earth Mother and another god and how the Body of Christ took the place of the Sun, the lady interjected: "Y el Papa en vez de la papa?" or "And the pope in place of potatoes?" I interiorly thought it was a great pun...which I hardly ever laugh at, but will appreciate and find clever. The tour guide was less thrilled.
On the evening of the 12th, 3 brothers got ordained as deacons. It was absolutely AWESOME. So many people were at the church in Chama, the choir was terrific, the Bishop was really cool, and there was a feeling of community like none other! I can't get over how good it felt to be there. What was even cooler was being able to recognize people in the congregation and at the party afterward. I was amazed: people from the Ciudad, a huge number of people who had gone to FestiAsis in Huánuco, some of the leaders from our staff retreat, friars from all over...Seriously, it was awesome.
I can't get over how beautiful people here, either. The women who work here at the Ciudad just overwhelm me sometimes. And I don't just mean those crushes that I talked about several posts back: there is just something that shines through their hellos, their laughter, their moments of anger, and just the way they carry themselves that doesn't quite make my heart flutter in that crush sort of way, but it does make me just think, "Wow, how beautiful, how warm, how kind!" You met people like that? For whatever flaws they may have, whatever guards they might put up, there isn't a bit of guile in them. What you see is them, and you can FEEL it, and it's like hot apple cider on a cold autumn night: it warms you, but in a rich way that goes down to your toes.
(Written on the 16th) The guys overwhelm me, too, because they're just so funny, so knowledgeable, and the earnestness is just...winning. What is the most amazing, though, is the fact that not owing to any virtue or quality of my own other than existing and being here, I'm welcomed, loved, invited, appreciated. It leaves me questioning, "How can this be?" though I already know the answer. In fact, it's more the answer that's awe-inspiring, almost unbelievable: "It's how we do." It's powerful enough, striking enough, that there's almost the temptation to ask the question again in incredulity. The trick for me is swallowing my pride, my arrogance, my assumption that I've got the most important and best interpretation of the world and how it works, and welcome something new.
The school year is over. The kids are recuperating. All of a sudden, there's something I hadn't seen in them. Maybe it's because the end is in sight. But then again, there's the question, "What have I done to merit them missing me? What have I done that could possibly have an impact?" In those moments, I just have to trust that I'll never know the effect of what I do. I'm sad to think that most of the kids I've hung out with these past 4 months will be in a different pabellón next year. I'm glad that they aren't buying so much into macho culture to say things like, "I'll miss you," or show affection, though it's not through hugs or explicitly saying it, like younger kids might do.
It's not snowing, it's not cold, and family's far away, but...it's still managing to feel like Advent.