15 Things I Wish I’d Known About Grief

This is beautifully written…as someone who has dealt with this (and still is) this completely hits the nail on the head!!

Identity Renewed

After a year of grief, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve also made some mistakes along the way. Today, I jotted down 15 things I wish I’d known about grief when I started my own process.

I pass this onto anyone on the journey.

grief

1. You will feel like the world has ended. I promise, it hasn’t. Life will go on, slowly. A new normal will come, slowly.

2. No matter how bad a day feels, it is only a day.  When you go to sleep crying, you will wake up to a new day.

3. Grief comes in waves. You might be okay one hour, not okay the next. Okay one day, not okay the next day. Okay one month, not okay the next. Learn to go with the flow of what your heart and mind are feeling.

4. It’s okay to cry. Do it often. But it’s okay to…

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I’m back!! ;)

After a very long hiatus I am back to word press. Life has been insane since my last post but I have great news! I was accepted to go on a missions trip to Honduras this October! I am beyond stoked for this opportunity; I did a missions trip in Lempira, Honduras roughly 2 years ago and am so happy to be able to go back. Since the trip isn’t for another couple of months, I won’t have much to write except for maybe the process in preparing for it. Which, by the way, requires a lot of time and commitment. In preparing for this trip I would greatly appreciate your all’s prayers! 

Besitos y hablamos pronto! :) 

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Change in direction

Unfortunately I do not have time at the moment to write what I would like (culture shock, adjusting back to life, etc etc.) but I promise a post is on its way! School is going to be much more intense this semester than I anticipated. But I have been doing some thinking…I do really enjoy blogging and since my adventures abroad aren’t over forever I plan to change the focus of the blog to not just my study abroad experience but to the many more aventuras that I will be embarking on in the near future. So sit down, buckle up, and prepare for a crazy wild ride! ;) 

Hasta pronto’po! 

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Chao’po Chile!

Well it’s off to the airport in 3 hours. I will soon be back in the grand ole US of A in less than 24 hours. I am still completely in shock that this experience is over. Done. Just like that. 5 months! Has 5 months really gone by that quickly??! It is difficult because my heart is breaking at the fact that I am leaving this incredible country. I love Chile. The landscape, the people, the food (sometimes), the micros, and mostly the ability to speak Spanish EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. But this was just a chapter in my life and I am so incredibly blessed to have been able to share it with everyone here. My ISA family and mi familia chilena! No es adios, solamente nos vemos. Los amo muchísimo y los prometo que volveré. 

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mis gringas :)

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mi familia chilena ;)

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tuesday night soccer!

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my best friends. seriously I don’t know what I would have done without my hermanos gringos. los amo muchísimo! :)

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“Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.” -Dr. Seuss

 

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Happy Birthday Dad.

Today is my dad’s birthday. I can’t tell you how old he would be because honestly I can’t remember…either 51 or 52. The only thing scarier and more painful than suffering is forgetting. Forgetting his voice, the way we used to eat ice cream on the weekends and watch cheesy Nick-at-Nite shows until I fell asleep with the spoon in my hand, when we used to go skiing every winter, how he would let me do his makeup, or how he always smelled of cigarrettes and Folgers coffee regardless of how much cologne he wore. (and to be honest I’m not sure if he even wore cologne). My dad was the coolest guy around. The life of the party. His friends told me that “the party didn’t start until Jack showed up!” Now my dad wasn’t the most attractive guy but boy did he have a personality to die for. And his laugh would fill a room, you always knew where Jack was because you could hear his voice from across the room. He worked hard, partied harder, and took advantage of every moment. He loved to travel and do new things but also had no problems spending an entire saturday watching Nascar. (Seriously ALL DAY.)

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My dad being the life of the party- like usual.

I would love to say that there was this one specific piece of advice he gave me that would stick with me forever but I don’t have one. He never really told me anything like that. But his life taught me a lot. The way he lived showed me that its possible to take advantage of every situation regardless of where you may be geographically or financially, his life taught me that every moment is beautiful. His life taught me that regardless of how horrible the situation there is always something worth celebrating and that people will always be more important than things. Love being the most important. His death taught me that life is short, every moment that passes you never get back and that you only have one chance. His death taught me that pain is a necessary evil. His death taught me that nothing is forever. His death taught me that everything has consequences. His death also taught me that love is the only thing more powerful than death itself. Love changes people- completely.

My dad was a hardworking man, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a stronger man then when I saw him fighting every day in that hospital bed. At 14, I didn’t understand why it had to be him and even now at 20 I don’t completely understand why it had to be him. Why did he have to die when so many others get to live? Honestly, I will probably never understand. And that is probably one of the greater blessings of this entire thing. I just trust the One who has it all under control, He has a plan. My pain and suffering isn’t for nothing and maybe, just maybe this whole thing isn’t even about me. Sometimes I wish that I could have one more minute with him, one more dinner, one more evening eating ice cream but then I realize ‘one more’ of anything would never be enough. It never stops hurting, it just gets less frequent as time goes on. But take hope in that; as strange as it sounds.

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I miss you and I love you Dad

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MENDOZA: It’s a funny story really….

Whoa so yeah as I am sitting here looking through a bunch of photos from my aventura in Chile I realized I completely forgot to post about my weekend adventure in Mendoza! Ha silly me :) This is pretty much the story of the weekend:

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Beautiful Mendoza

Wine.

Meat.

Dancing.

More Wine.

Wine Tour.

And shopping.

Did I mention wine…?

No but seriously….that is what we did for 3 entire days. When we finally got there after a long bus ride through the night we walked around for an hour or so trying to find a hostel. Easy right? Yeah not so much – we finally found a decent hostel which was pretty sick. Except for the fact they tried to charge us for a wine tour we never committed too. (For future reference: when in South America make sure you are clear about what is going on. That miscommunication almost cost us over 100 bucks total). We met a guy from Israel and he gave us a real perspective on what was going on in Israel at this point in time. He was in the military for a while so it was cool to get someone’s opinion besides what you see in the news.  He also was telling us about this tattoo he had. We were like what is it of? And he responds “it’s a funny story really..” So we say; “no seriously! whats your tattoo!” Then he says the same thing again. So at this point were all a little frustrated and say “no! Show us the tattoo; whats it of?!” And he shows us his tattoo and says “no really! it says its a funny story really”- lo and behold his tattoo was in fact was the sentence: “its a funny story really…” How hilarious is that?! Then we dropped in on a wine tour with a Brazilian couple who were literally the nicest people ever. As quoted by him “I love to drink and be drunk! It makes everything more interesting”  This guy knows how to enjoy life ;)

If you are ever in Mendoza here are some things I recommend:

1. Stay in a Hostel. Yes I am sure you and your big bucks would rather stay in the Hilton but trust me you will miss out on so much if you do. When you stay in a hostel you have the opportunity to meet and interact with people from all over the world. For instance: we had dinner with a guy from Israel and had drinks the night before with a girl from Korea, two people from Japan, two Germans and a guy from Great Britain.

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Brazilian Couple, Tour Guide and us during our Wine Tour :)

2. Go on a wine tour. The wine here is incredible. We went to Sastres Burgos: Bodega Boutique. The tour here was free and included free wine tasting (yes I said FREE.) Obviously they expect you to buy the wine afterward which, trust me, you will. Its not expensive wine and is riquisimo! (as they say in the vernacular!) I paid between 10-15 USD for a bottle of wine.

3. Go out on the town. Pretty much eat out, go shopping, hit some bars. Mendoza has a very European feel with some latino spice. Its a beautiful city and the architecture is stunning. The people aren’t quite as friendly as I anticipated and their accent is a little funky but once you get pasted that its great. As a woman, just be prepared for an obnoxious amount of catcalls, whistling, and even men literally stopping in their path to check you out along with some witty sentence about how “rica” you are. But don’t worry its a normal part of the culture so don’t be offended. And they aren’t creepy or disrespectful about it either which is a nice change of pace from the States.

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Doing what girls do best! Shopping! ;) after enjoying like 3 cones of Ice Cream from different stores.

4. Eat Meat and Ice Cream. Its unlike anything else in the world. Seriously.

In total I didn’t spend over 170USD in my 3 day trip. Which is crazy considering we ate out everyday, went out every night, and shopped all 3 days. If that puts anything in perspective for you guys. And I’m a college student so it’s not like I have money to blow either. But if you are considering traveling to Mendoza and have questions let me know! I’d be happy to help you all out! :) But while you consider if you really want to go check out my photos by clicking on any of the ones here!

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The Reality of It.

I realize that keeping up with a blog is a lot more work than I originally anticipated. I figured I would want to be writing in it but I’ve realized it’s almost exactly the opposite. As much as I love to journal my thoughts and give others a taste of what I am experiencing I also am just enjoying being in Chile. Just ‘doing life’ if you will. And writing a day by day account of what is happening is more tedious than joyful. 

We had a meeting last week about culture shock, since a decent part of our group left a week ago. Honestly, I wasn’t ready for it nor had it really hit me that my time in Chile is pretty much over. It didn’t really hit me until last night when I told mi mamá that I changed my flight to leave a week earlier. Aside from the tears that were shed, I felt like a horrible person. It really is just a lose-lose situation in general. I go back home a week early and get to enjoy some of the Christmas season and see all of my family but I end up missing my family here in Chile OR I stay to my original date of the 23rd and have nothing to do since everyone will be gone and just end up missing home. Either way people are hurt and upset. And frankly it sucks. I want to stay here with mi familia chilena but at the same time I miss my family. The entire feeling is complicated. And let’s be real- I’m also not ready for the 14 hours of traveling I am going to be doing. That long flight is not easy by any means. 

Although my time here isn’t over yet, it’s getting close. And the closer it gets the more checked out i feel like I get. It’s almost like a dream, this is my life isn’t it? I wake up in the morning and I’m still in Chile, I eat lunch and talk with my family…but studying abroad isn’t real life. It’s like an extended vacation. And even though I have plans to come back after I graduate, the hardest thing is realizing that it isn’t going to be like this when I return. When I come back things will be completely different. There’s a chance I will never see some of these people again, or even talk to them again. But then there is the reality that this chapter of my life has ended for good. Culture shock doesn’t scare me..(ok maybe a little bit) but it’s the reality that this incredible adventure is over. And that my friends is a tough pill to swallow.  

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My week as a Translator! :)

About a week or so ago I had the opportunity to translate for a missions team from a Baptist church in Texas. To say that the experience was what i expected would be a total lie. Its interesting actually, how you expect or plan things to be a certain way yet they end up changing…

When I first got the email asking for translators I thought- “yeah how cool would that be! It would be like Honduras all over again; but with less sick/dying people.” Which was fine with me since that stuff normally makes me pretty uncomfortable. So I sent Lorna (one of the lovely ladies who works in the ISA office that was helping to coordinate all of this) an email giving her the days in which I would be able to help. At that point it was official- I was going to be volunteering as a translator! Pretty sick right? My spanish was finally going to be helping someone out besides me! Welp I would have been pretty excited about this entire experience except the day before I was suppose to be translating I conveniently forgot all of my spanish and ended up mumbling like an idiot the entire day- ok, ok, fine. Maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration…but it had still been a pretty rough day. 

The first day of translating wasn’t too bad- I honestly didn’t speak much spanish to begin with which was a relief. I speak just fine until you throw me under a spotlight and say, “ok, ready, speak!” I got to know the group a little bit and get to learn more about what they were doing. They weren’t a huge group and all above 50 years old. Honestly, this surprised me. I don’t normally think of older adults going on missions trips for some reason. They were all very nice and friendly. I learned their church was pairing with a Baptist church on Cerro Placeres wit the goal to start Baptist churches on the Cerros of Valpo. The churches that exist already are Catholic/Jehovah Witness- and that is if there is even a church on the hill. 

Through out the week we went to one of the schools and played with the kids and held a banquet for the teachers. We did prayer walks through Cerro Placeres and had a marriage counseling/encouragement dinner (something like that). Durning the marriage counseling/bonding/whatever it was, I got to translate a game they played. We finished off the week by taking the women around Viña and getting them some typical Chilean food :) 

A couple of things that happened that would have to be the highlight of the week. First, translating (clearly). I learned that in order to translate effectively you need to know the entire context of the situation. Just translating a word doesn’t always work. For instance, we were at lunch one day and Larry (one of the leaders) turned to me and asked “how do I say to keep?” And I replied, “guardar” which literally means to save but depending on the context could also mean to keep. However, based on what he was talking about it made no sense (I realized this after the look on the chileans face was utter confusion.) What he was trying to explain was that his oldest daughter was not able to keep her children due to an illness, but in spanish it would translate to, she couldn’t care for her children because she had an illness. The differences between languages is really interesting. The second thing that was really exciting was being able to think in both Spanish and English at the same time. There came a point when I couldn’t even differentiate between Spanish and English because they sounded the same- which was weird but exciting! Also, being able to help two people communicate that otherwise wouldn’t be able to is an experience that is difficult to explain.

One thing that really struck me overall was that my God is amazing. He created every language that exists on Earth and can understand every single one. I remember being in Quebec and thinking “I don’t get any of this.” Which is overwhelming and frustrating- it is interesting to worship in a language you don’t understand at all; but an experience I believe everyone should have. Being here in Chile durning the service and being able to understand both sets of languages is pretty sick. I thought “so this is what it must be like for God, except He understands all of the languages.” 

MIND.BLOWN. 

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MIL TAMBORES

Yes, yes, I know that I have been horrible about writing blog posts lately- I’m sorry! School picked up like crazy this week and I was also translating (which I will talk about later). But oh my gosh there was this festival in Valpo….2 weekends ago October 12-14 (wow it really was that long ago) called Mil Tambores, which means a thousand drums. It was a celebration started by the people celebrating the culture, art, and music of Valpo. It is really similar to Carnaval- not that I have been but from what I have seen in fotos and stories from others. The people dress up, play guitars and drums, dance y toma claro que si- it was so much fun! Literally one of the best cultural experiences I think I have had in Chile thus far. The festival has only been around for a few years and when I asked a couple of people what the point of the festival was I got a range of different answers but pretty much the general consensus was what I stated above. Click on the photo below so you all can have a taste of Mil Tambores as well :)

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Vacaciones en Atacama!!

Goodness this post took FOREVER…aha but finally here you go! I apologize for the awkward spacing at some parts- I’ve been trying to fix it for the better part of the day with no success so I’ve just decided to let it be awkward. Normal is boring anyway, right? ;)

San Pedro de Atacama was absolutely incredible. Diez blissful days of vacation touring one of the most extreme landscapes on Earth (it was like taking a vacation while on vacation!) que buenaaaa ;) San Pedro was breathtaking, ever aspect of the entire trip was just as interesting and enjoyable as the next. Since we were there for so long we took our time touring things we planned more or less one trip a day. Our tour guide was absolutely amazing- if any of you ever travel to San Pedro look up Eco Andino tours they will hook you up- he gave us great deals and if they didn’t have a specific tour we wanted they directed us to the tour company that did.  He even met with us one night to go over hiking Torres del Paine!

The first day we were there we toured around San Pedro (la ciudad es muy lindo) and booked all our tours

View from the top of Quitor!

then it was off to go horseback riding in Pukara de Quitor y La Garganta del Diablo. The landscape I couldn’t even begin to describe it was so drastic. Annalyse ended up getting stuck with a free-spirited horse that practically bucked her off the side of the mountain, but aside from that it was a relatively smooth trip. While biking this would also be incredible, I personally recommend horseback riding. You get to see more than if you just biked it and at the end you get to go down a GIANT sand dune on the horse. It was terrifying  our guía just walked over to the edge of the mountain then said “Sígueme” and stepped off the side. Not going to lie we all had a panic attack but talk about a rush!! I felt like I was in Aladdin (childhood dream achieved).

Our next tour we did was Gesiers del Tatio! We got up at 3 am so we could walk 25 minutes into town to

the sunrise alone was worth getting up at 3 am (CLICK ME TO VIEW PHOTOS FROM THE ENTIRE TRIP) 

start our journey at 4am. The elevation gain was pretty intense so they advise you to sleep on the ride up, which would be totally possible if you weren’t being thrown around during the drive. It was rough but no where near as bad as when I was in Honduras- those roads were insane! Anyway, I’ve never seen geysers before so it was pretty cool, seeing the sunrise through the smoke and dance across the mountains was by far my favorite part of this trip. Then we proceeded to the hot springs to bath in the naturally occuring hot water! After freezing our tails off and drying off it was back on the bus to check out a little town named Machuca. With a population of 8 (yes 8 people) the town houses llama herders as they journey across San Pedro. You MUST eat the food when in this town. They had some of the best sopaipillas in all of Chile and we even ate llama kabobs! It was súper ricísimo! Afterwards we headed home to get some much needed rest and prepare for our longest tour of the trip….

LAGUNAS ALTIPLANICOS! This was easily my favorite tour, the views were stunning. They would literally leave you in awe and speechless. Never in my life have I been speechless due to nature but at

Travis taking in the incredible view of Aguas Calientes

points we were literally standing there with our jaws on the floor. We visited Lagunas Miscanti, Miñiques, y Chaxa (this is part of Salar de Atacama and very distinct from the others) Miscanti y Miñiques are sister lagunas and both incredibly beautiful, las fotos don’t do them justice. From there we headed out to see Pierdras Rojas (red rocks) unfortuantly literally it was just a bunch of red rocks. The drastic change in landscape was shocking to say the least. You went from a luscious green landscape with bright blue water to a desert with nothing. It was insane!! Then we stopped at a mini oasis thing that had flamingos and a beautiful view of the mountains. From here we went to my favorite part of the tour which was to Aguas Calientes. Never have I seen something so beautiful in my life. The water was so clear and blueish green that when I would take pictures with my camera the color wouldn’t even come up. It was like being in Hawaii but so muy more beautiful (if you can even imagine that).

Then Fiestas Patriass!! The majority of Chile celebrates for an entire week, but due to our budget we

Proving that Gringas have rhythm! ;) [photocred to Annalyse Pierce]

limited the celebrations to one day- the actual day 18th of September. But celebrations didn’t commence until the evening. During the day we went to Laguna Cejar, which is a salt lake that you can float in (think the Dead Sea but wayyy prettier). Then it was out to the mountain range to watch the sunset while enjoying Pisco Sours and Wine. That evening we went to a bar called Barros where they have live music a couple of days a week. The musicians even let us join their show! (I was jamming on the maracas!) The it was off to dance for a little bit before heading back home to get some sleep.

Two of the girls in our group headed off to Bolivia for the next four days while the rest of us stayed in San Pedro. We decided to go bike riding through Valle de La Luna. It literally looks just like the moon its insane!! It was pretty liberating bike riding through the desert and just being free. While this bike ride is

So we actually took a trip to the moon believe it or not.

hard I do suggest doing this instead of taking a tour, you get the chance to actually explore everything and can go at your own pace which is nice. But If you could I would split it into two days. The first day ride all the way to the end of the trail and make your way back. Then the second day ride out to where you left off the day before and then ride back. Tours can be great but the experience is much more worth while if you have to work for it ;) We finished off the week with an easy paced hike through Valle de Jeré which is a little lush oasis in the middle of the desert.

Phew! That was a lot to say and I’m sure I left out quite a bit. But if you are traveling to San Pedro and want to know more feel free to email me and I’d be happy to talk to you! Also check out all the picture from the trip!! Heres the link to the photo album on Facebook, disfrutálas! :) Sorry you have to copy and paste I can’t figure out how to link this and I’ve been working on it for like an hour…

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