I've seen so much here in Honduras. I've felt so much, laughed so much, and hurt so much. I learned how to make coconut bread, how to change multiple diapers at once, how to be patient, how to stick up for myself, how to live alone, how to teach a class, how to catch a gecko, how to speak Spanish, how to wash clothes by hand, and how to ration. I learned countless lessons on humility, honesty, sacrifice, and self-control.
But the biggest lesson I've learned was about love (tell me you didn't see that one coming). I thought that I loved well. I really did. I skipped through life thinking that I was loving people the right way. I would tell you I love you, give you a hug, go to dinner with you, buy you a present, or shoot you a text. And I thought that was good enough.
Well, I was wrong. It's not good enough. Don't get me wrong, there were people that I loved more than anything, and I guess I just assumed that they knew.
Love can be two things: a feeling and a verb. I felt that I loved people, but I lacked the verb part of it. I didn't do it. But now...now I feel like I'm getting the hang of it. Here comes another Blue Like Jazz* reference.... Donald Miller put love like this, "God risked himself on me, I will risk myself on you. And together we will learn to love. And perhaps then, and only then, will we be able to understand this gravity that drew Him unto us."
It's a risk to love. It's a risk because chances are, you're gonna' wind up hurting a time or two.
For example, Betecia. I love that little girl as much as I've ever loved anything in my life. But, since I have loved her, I have hurt. I've felt the extremes of pain, and the extremes of joy. And when she came back one more time, I had in the back of my mind that well...now I'm going to have to say goodbye again. But the moments that I have felt joyful this week, I know far outweigh the sadness I will feel when I have to say goodbye.
All this to say, that this place has taught me to love. It taught me love could be a verb. It taught me who I am. And that person is a far cry from the person I was three months ago. And for that, I will be eternally grateful. So everyone, it's been real, see you on the other side...America, that is.
For the last time, with love from La Moskitia,
Kayla Austin, 18, worked for three months at the Project Send Hope, House of Hope, a home for partially physically disabled children and malnourished babies in Puerto Lempira, Honduras. Ms. Austin was one of 126 individual volunteers trained in 2010 through the General Board of Global Ministries.
Ms. Austin volunteered through The United Methodist Church during her gap year, a popular way for young adults to learn about the world through traveling, volunteering, and participating in social justice.
Individual Volunteers offers adults 18 years and older a chance to serve from two months to two years in placement sites around the world, including the United States, Latin America/Caribbean, Africa, Asia, and Europe. Learn how you can become an Individual Volunteer.
Apply online, get trained, and be immersed in another community in 2011. Like Ms. Austin, you may receive countless lessons on humility, honesty, sacrifice, self-control, and most of all, love.
* Blue Like Jazz: Non-Religious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality
(2003) by Donald Miller