Today was one of the best days of my life. Yes, that's a very bold statement. And yes, it's true.
Let's be honest, I did not want to go teach today. Not a single fiber of my being wanted to be awake this morning, much less going to teach. But I had no choice, so I found the strength to drag myself out of bed. When I got out of the shower, Sarah was here with Dunkin Donuts coffee. She is so good to me. How can you not be happy when you have coffee, even on a Monday?
I talked to Juana for about 45 minutes today. And by talk, I mean actually conversed. Almost like people who speak the same language. Only once did I have absolutely no idea what she was saying but understood as soon as she explained some of the words. It was awesome. I enjoy her so much. For the first time I didn't find myself trying to plan what I was going to say. I didn't have to concentrate on her every word and put forth a ton of effort. I just understood and responded. It was awesome. We laughed and talked about the students and which ones have a hard time and need more help and what she does to help them. Have I already said that it was awesome? Because it was.
Juana and I taught Linda some Spanish, which is always hilarious because I get to be translator so I know what each person is saying before the other person does. I love translating. And, once again, it was so easy. It just happened. The kids played with Sophie (they are slightly obsessed with her) and I taught them The Moose Song.
Everything was going great... until Juana left. But this time she was literally only walking next door and promised she was coming right back. But that's all it took. Esteban kicked Narichel in the face and by the time I got to Narichel and talked to her through the tears to find out what happened and turned around to talk to Esteban, he was punching Javier. And by punching, I mean are you in 7th grade or 2nd grade kind of punching. I grabbed Esteban by the arm and jerked him right out of that room. Insert teacher mode here. It was kinda cool, let's be honest. Home boy is scared of me now, and that's the way I like it with him. Don't you kick my girl Narichel in the face and then punch another kid. No, sir. Juana came back right as I pulled Esteban out of the class thankfully an then it was time to go. Oddly enough, I still thought all of that went pretty well.
For class today we were supposed to go to this day care kinda deal on campus and help out. Day care is the only way I can think of to describe it, but it's really a lot better than a day care. The babies were sleeping at the beginning of class, so we went to see where we have to give our presentation (ps- we have to give an hour long presentation as a group to all of UDELAS and some other schools are coming. cool, huh?). We ended up sitting down and just talking with our teacher about our experiences. Once again, I found myself actually communicating. I didn't hold back my opinions because I was too afraid to talk. Please keep in mind that this teacher has basically been acting like she thinks I'm stupid because apparently my resting face exudes confusion and she thinks I never understand anything. Well today I showed her what's up.
The day care was so much fun. Those babies are just precious. We danced and played for the rest of the afternoon.
We spent our time at home just working on homework and we went to the the pharmacy to get some stuff as presents for our teachers. Real excited about the basket I've made up! Everyone but me, Sarah, and Joanna went to the movies (we're going on half price Wednesday!) and so it was just us here with Linda and Sophie. Sophie came into our room for a long time and cracked us up. As we were listening to her tell stories and braiding her hair, all I could think about was the day that I am doing the same thing with my own daughter. I will braid her hair to keep it out of her face while she runs around outside. I'll fix her dress every time it gets messed up, even though I know it will be messed up again in 5 minutes. I'll keep every pictures she draws for me and be so proud of each one. I will listen to her made up stories, laugh when they're not really funny, and bask in the beautiful sound of her laughter filling the room.
This is the first time I have gone to bed having said, "this has been a good day," all day long. Every day that I am here God affirms more and more that I belong... somewhere else. Where? I have no idea. What I do know is that it is not in the United States. I don't miss home. Sure, I miss a few things and I miss being able to talk to people, but I don't miss the States. I don't belong there. I belong here. I have known that for a very long time, but now I see one more piece of the puzzle. I can do it.
All day I have just been so happy. Genuinely, truly happy. And full of joy like I have never experienced before. This feels like home. Maybe not Panama specifically, but this culture. This language. This life. This job. This ministry. It all feels like home to me.