Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mud Run

 Let me start out by saying that a few years ago I started a “Life List.” Super creative name, I know.  It’s kind of like a bucket list, except I’d rather focus on the living part instead of  the “kicking the bucket" part.

Anywho, there’s not a ton of things on it yet, I try to put only things on it that I really want to do, but there are a good handful.  Some serious, some not.  For example, one of the items on it is to go shark cage diving in South Africa.  I LOVE sharks. Another is to, at some point in my life, live in a place where horseback is a normal form of transportation.  And no, I don’t plan on living with the Amish to check that item off my list.  I’m thinking like a jungle in Cameroon or South America or something. 

Anyway, one of the lamer things (or easier to achieve) on my list was to do a MUD RUN.  I’ve seen pictures, and they just look like amazingly dirty (as in dirt) fun.  So when my housemate Tavia mentioned that there was one in Irvine coming up, I jumped on it.  My housemate and fellow nursing student Emily and I ended up putting together a 6-person team of our classmates (we’re all in our 5th year of nursing school so don’t really have any other friends). Our team name? Victorious Secret. 

We got placed in the afternoon heat, which was perfect, because I could go to the 9 o’clock service at my church, Southlands, where we were also having a blood drive to raise money for the church in Cambodia we’ll be partnering with on our upcoming trip.  But, back to the run. 

I was SO EXCITED.  As Emily and I were running around the house getting ready I told her “Today is a day that dreams come true!”  Ok, so I was being a little dramatic.  But I was seriously excited. 

We drove over to the girls house, and had the first of what would be many photo shoots.

How legit are we? 

I’d had the girls over a few weeks before so we could tie dye our shirts, and Jenna found those awesome sweat bands online for super cheap. I am all about the neon.

We piled in Emily’s awesome car, Mable the Sable, for a rockin, slightly squishy ride to the Irvine Lake (which by the way is BEAUTIFUL).

We got there, duct taped our shoes (you wouldn’t believe how many people came through the finish line shoe-less), checked our bags, and headed over to the starting line to stretch and find our wave.  

(These photos are all thanks to our lovely fans and supporters who drove all the way to Irvine to cheer us on!)

 I think we all got sunburned while we waited for our heat, but FINALLY, we got to the starting line.  And we were off! 

Seriously, the first mud pit was maybe 100 yards into the 3.8 mile race.  Now, I knew that running through mud was going to make it harder, but I was not prepared for HOW HARD it was going to be to run with sopping wet, muddy shoes and clothes.  Lets just say we walked more than I anticipated having to. 

We jumped over walls, crawled through mud and sand pits, ran up mountains, slid down muddy hills and swam thru mud pits (well, Emily swam anyways).  I have to say my favorite part was the mud fights.  We’d camp out in a mud pit and wait for the other girls to come and attack them with mud.  Gross, but awesome.

We may have had the worst race time on the planet (I think people 2 waves behind us passed us), but we had a TON of fun.  I think it's safe to say that was the dirtiest I've been in my entire life.  

And I can check one item off my life list :).

Friday, April 8, 2011

Gloriously Ruined

I’m new at this whole blog thing. I’m not quite sure how you’re supposed to start or what you’re supposed to talk about, so I’m just going to start with something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. Hopefully it will help give insight into who I am, and won't make you all fall asleep.

January 2009, I had just finished my first semester of clinical nursing. Myself and 6 other students from Biola University flew down to Honduras and El Salvador to hang out with orphans, and try our best to show them God’s love. 

We partnered with a great organization called Orphan Helpers, and spent most of January at several government run orphanages and three privately run halfway homes (for orphans who have aged out of the government system).

I could tell you so much about this trip, because it shaped so much of who I am, what I’m passionate about and what I believe God is calling me to.  But I want to tell you about one 4-year-old boy God used to change me forever.

Meet Eduardo:

Isn't he precious? Eduardo lived (and probably still lives) at Nueva Esperanza (which ironically and tragically means “A New Hope”) in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.  Because Honduras is so poor, and there are so any orphans, the government can afford few workers for their orphanages.  I believe there were about 5 workers at any given time to take care of the 100+ kids at this orphanage. There were 30-50 babies in the baby room, and only 2 workers at any given time.  It's heartbreaking.

Each day we would spend a couple hours with each of the groups of kids that were separated by age.  We normally went to the 3-5 year olds first thing in the morning.  These kids were sweet - young enough that they hadn’t become calloused and aggressive like many of the older kids who fought constantly (one time i saw a kid pick up a piece of glass and attack another child with it). 

The first day we were there, Eduardo caught my eye.  The other kids were mostly engaging with our team, coloring, getting piggyback rides and playing games.  Eduardo was sitting by himself. 

I tried to get him to play or to color, but he was seemingly uninterested. My gringo spanish couldn't even make him laugh (seriously, i'm so bad). Every morning we’d hang out in his class, and I’d try to get Eduardo to play with me.  It had become my goal to get him to smile. We were at Nuevo Espiranzo for a week and a half, and for most of that time Eduardo didn't let on that he was having any fun. 

The last day we were there was so hard. None of us wanted to leave these kids we’d grown to love.  We went into Eduardo’s classroom, and I sat down with him in the corner and began to play cars with him, trying to engage him one last time.  And for whatever reason, for the first time I saw Eduardo come out of his shell.  I saw him laugh, have fun and be full of life.  For over an hour we played.  We developed this game where he would climb up on a desk (super safe, I know), and I would pretend to not see him and hide behind a bookshelf.  Then I would saunter by, still pretending to not see him, and he would jump on my back (like I didn't know he was going to do it) and I would give him the world’s best piggyback ride. I never got tired of it, even after the 35th time.

This little boy taught me so much. That hour we spent together, laughing and playing, was one of the best hours of my life. I saw a freedom in him that I hadn’t seen all week.  It was such a victory, I can't even begin to explain how excited I was. And it made it that much harder to leave, to take that bond that was built between us and throw it away.

I can’t even explain how much it breaks my heart that I can’t go down there and get him.  Sometimes I think about just picking up, driving down there and making the government let me adopt him.  I know, a 22-year-old girl adopting a now 6-year-old Honduran boy sounds like an awful idea.  But even the little I can offer is so much better than what he, and all those kids, are getting down there. 

Here’s a few more of the many children that touched my heart at Nueva Esperanza:

It’s been 2 and a half years, but these kids are still very much with me.  I’m sure many I wouldn’t even recognize now. But I love them, and think about them and pray for them frequently.  God used my experience in Honduras to develop within me a brokeness for kids like Eduardo. I will never be the same person I was before I met Eduardo. I can't go on living my life the same way I did before I saw the tragedy of what life looks life for orphans. I’m ruined, gloriously ruined, and I wouldn't change it for the world.