So, I mean to post every Friday, but we were traveling all day this past Friday, and today seems like the best day to post after that.
I could talk for a long time about how great (and completely different) it feels to be back here in Guaimaca, but hopefully you'll get the gist of it from this shorter comment on the day's activities. I have made a commitment, both for my own sanity and your time, to keep the posts shorter than what I routinely wrote last year.
This morning, we met a lot of the parents and saw some of the girls as they came in for a meeting and to receive their final grades from last year. I already knew most of the parents, so it was really nice to see them again and to be welcomed back warmly.
Last year, I felt like I never actually met the parents, at least not until they or I introduced ourselves later and talked about their daughters, soccer, farming, or something else. That was because I had a lot of trouble communicating, because there never was a meeting like this last year, because I felt like a gringo outsider, and because last year I was more nervous and less outgoing.
This year, however, was completely different. I was able to enter right in and converse with the parents, whether it was just small talk or some more meaningful conversations. It really made me realize how much I still love my job--this isn't teaching, exactly, but it's one of the important aspects of the job that I find myself really enjoying. Also, it made me realize again how much I grew over the past year. I not only learned the language, I met and got to know myself and my values, and I am much more confident and centered now. The worries I had (have) about never finding my place and never finding myself as happy as last year are starting to dissipate a little as I live every day, growing to know myself, communicating myself better, and applying myself in ways I never thought of before. But, most importantly, I am much more faithful, and find that life is just better each day because of it.
What was also amazingly great today was seeing the girls who came. There was a mix of all the grades represented, and they were some of the ones I talked to the most and had the most to share with out of all of the girls. Yesterday during our reflection I mentioned that I was a little sad seeing some of the students around town this weekend, because it emphasized how little we relate outside of school. But, I forgot that the girls just generally act differently outside of the school walls (the low self-esteem), and I also forgot that it's only true that we relate little with some of them, but not all. The girls I saw and talked to today reminded me of how much we shared.
Digna, Karla Julissa and Blanca all looked significantly more mature; it makes me feel proud to see them growing. All of them asked for Chris and Cassie, and several, including Meily, Digna and Suamy Paola, were pretty sad not to see you, Cassie. Meily kept sighing and saying that she couldn't live without you. I told them that I have a hug for each of them from you, but that I left it in our house. When they need it I'll give it to them.
One of the parents I talked with was Sandra's father. He seemed very upset, even saying that she betrayed them (the family). He talked to me a lot about it, which surprised me. I didn't think he would open up like that, especially not with the whole machismo thing. However, he also talked about some of their other troubles; it seemed like he really just needed someone to talk to. I told him that I plan on talking with her, that I have graduation gifts for her, and that they can always count on my prayers and support. It wasn't much, but it was all I could do.