Saturday, September 29, 2012

1 year down...

Well friends, it's been a year and a lot has changed.
One year ago, welcoming G37 to the Training Center in Guarmbare
I started out as this chubby nerd from the midwest, and now I'm a scruffy and slightly malnourished nerd living in the campo.  I've learned a lot, done a lot of new things, and I still have a whole year ahead of me!

My parents and me with my community contact and her grandson
I just thought I would do a quick rundown of some major things I've learned in my first year as a PCV in Paraguay.

1.  I consistently underestimate myself.  Peace Corps work is HARD.  Looking back at all that I had to do to get where I am now, it's hard for me to believe all that has happened.  I'm not usually a person who sticks things through for very long.  This whole concept of selling all my stuff and leaving my friends and family behind to move to the middle of no where to a place that I don't speak the language and have no idea how the culture works sounds insane.  But I've done it, and it's made me far more confident and assertive (Not sure I needed to learn to be more assertive...), and even though my language abilities are far from fluent, I can get by.  Integration is a challenge, but I'm making strides every day in the right direction.

2.  I am NOT in control.  While I was living and working in Ann Arbor, I was so independent.  I did basically what I wanted when I wanted, I ate whatever, yadda yadda yadda.  I wasn't really accountable to anyone, and other than having to go to work every day and making sure my bills were paid, I pretty much had it together.  Obviously, God wanted to teach me a lesson about this, so He sent me to Peace Corps.  I have zero control over what happens to me here.  I can't eat whatever I want, I can't jump in a car and go wherever I want, etc.  Even a lot of my work is dictated not by me, but by the people in the community that I work with.  I'll admit, it's in my nature to be a high-strung, tight-fisted, opinionated control freak.  I like to be the boss and call the shots.  I would say that my greatest challenge of being here so far is learning how to let loose and go with the flow.

One of the things I'm hoping to pull from this experience is to be a more balanced person.  I'm a man of extremes.  When I'm up, I'm really up, and when I'm down, I'm really down.  Something I'm experiencing here is learning to ride the waves in life instead of trying to steer every single part of things according to my preferences.  It's okay to plan ahead and be cautious, but sometimes you just have to throw yourself into stuff and let God pull you in the right direction.

3.  God often gives you the unexpected.  Coming to Paraguay, I thought I would find a community of other Christians waiting for me, and that everything would be perfect.  Instead, God put me in a mostly non-religious community, pretty isolated from other volunteers, and not a lot of fellowship.  This has been a really challenge for me, because I believe that as believers, we're supposed to be surrounded by other believers and participate in worship and fellowship together.  Well, I've gone one year without it, and while it's been challenging, it's also been a good time for me to reflect on my own beliefs and how God is active in my life without any outside influences.  That said, I'm hoping that God brings me some fellowship in this 2nd year.  It's a tough world out there, and I could really use some spiritual support.

SO, I've learned a lot more than this, and I'm sure in future posts there will be more ongoing discussion about how working in Paraguay is changing me.  I need to get the videos from my parents' visit edited so that I can finally post that blog.  I have a lot of interesting stories to share. ;-)  Other than that, I'd like to give a shout out to G40 and welcome them to Paraguay!  The new group of Ag and Environment volunteers arrived yesterday!  I'm now a veteran, and it's sorta weird.


Manuel said...

Look at your hair! Paraguay is having you age well sir! Ndeporã! Congrats on your one year mark, suerte with your second, it'll fly by faster than you think!

Aryn Shillair said...

Tim and I were just looking at some before and during/after shots of is hard to believe it's been over a year since the big move. It's interesting to read your reflections. I have been praying for you daily. It's interesting how God has us go through different seasons of life. RIght now I feel like I am in a self-feeding mode...not quite as drastic as you, but I don't have any bible studies I'm involved with, and I rarely catch a sermon on Sundays due to childrens ministry stuff or having to feed Neve'. It's a difficult place to be in. It seems like it shouldn't be that bad...with all the 30 years of feeding I've had from various inputs and fellowship. But it is tough. I will continue to pray for you to find some fellowship and Christian community for you to plug into. Can't wait to see you in just a few months!