Monday, September 12, 2011

Thoughts from Chicago

I know that I am already falling behind on my blogging…oops. But here I am attempting to get caught up. Sometimes I get a little overwhelmed by everything that I want to write about, so instead I am going to try to focus on some important things and not write about absolutely everything.  So here goes…

Chicago was a packed week of awesomeness.  Though at times it was a bit of an information overload, it was all good stuff that will be helpful in this next year. But I think the most useful thing that we gained was the strong YAGM community both with our fellow volunteers and with the alumni that were there all week serving as small group leaders and hanging out with us. I have already begun depending on this community as I have begun my time here in Uruguay. It is really comforting to know that I have a solid group of people behind me who I can talk to about struggles and good times here, and who will really understand what I am going through. As supportive as people at home are (and thank you everyone for your support, I love you all!) it is impossible to fully understand this experience until you yourself are put into it.

It was pretty crazy to see how close our community was after only spending a week together! It feels as though I have been friends with some of them for years already, rather than days. The intensity of our time together combined with the strong emotions that many of us were feeling helped to build deep relationships faster than might normally happen. It was really hard to leave that physical community behind.  Because we are serving all over the world we left at different times throughout the day on Thursday (plus Nicole earlier in the week). It was a surreal experience watching other country groups leaving one at a time, moving the countdown closer to my own departure. 

My emotions had been running high the second half of the week, alternating between excitement and freakouts.  I was able to hold it together (mostly) until it was our turn to leave. As each group prepared to leave, those who were still around surrounded the departing to lay hands on them and say a final prayer. That was when I lost it and the tears began to flow. It really hit me that I was leaving this community that already means so much to me behind. I know that I still have them there behind me, supporting me, but being physically separate is a daunting thought. I was feeling very overwhelmed by everything that I knew was coming. Even now sitting here and writing this I can feel all the emotions that were swirling around then.

But obviously I survived and ventured out on the journey. A short flight to Atlanta (where we had a short freakout when we realized we had no address in Argentina to put on the immigration forms), an elevenish hour overnight flight to Buenos Aires, a short line to pay for the right to enter the country, a very long wait to get our passport stamped (where the lady didn’t believe my passport photo), and a taxi ride to ISADET later and we had arrived at our next temporary home, in BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA!

My awesome small group!   
Going Cajun dancing downtown Chicago
YAGMs in the Bean!
Waiting for the L
Leaving our mark on Chicago
Hanging out downtown
Swimming in the lake
One last hug goodbye, miss you guys!

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