Thursday, September 4, 2008

One Year

One year ago today you probably woke up a bit groggy, not wanting to get up for school or work. The holiday was just too relaxing, too short. You were excited for the short week ahead, but wished that it could be even shorter.

One year ago today I woke up groggy. I wondered where I was, and then my eyes immediately filled with tears when I realized that I was on an airplane, somewhere over South America, destined for a place that I thought I knew but really didn't know at all. I wished that the plane would make a U-turn and just dump me back in Miami. I cried and cried when I realized that I wouldn't be having any family dinners any time soon where Kelly and I laugh at things our mom said, and that I was going to have to make friends all over again, and that I was going to have to figure out how to speak Portuguese, and that when I got off the plane I couldn't just turn on my cell phone and text "I made it." For the next year...or two...(or 3 months, I thought, in my state of despair) I was going to have to build a new life, all by myself. What had I gotten myself into?When I finally got to Natal after 30 hours of travel (it may be beautiful but it is NOT easy to get to!) I stepped off the plane and looked for the nearest bathroom-- I thought I was going to throw up. I couldn't stop smiling but I couldn't contain my nervousness. Were these people going to like me now that they were stuck with me? Was I going to like them now that I was stuck with them? Would I be able to communicate? Would I be good at my job? Would I have enough readers? I got my bags and stepped out the doors. I saw the missionaries and we took this awkward picture:

The last year has done everything and more to completely dash all of those scared, nervous, anxious expectations. I have learned more, grown more, served more, been served more, shared more, loved more, been loved more, been humbled more, made bizarre mistakes more, lived simply more, laughed more, experienced true JOY more, than in the previous 22 years of my life. The last 12 months, the last 366 days (leap year, remember?) have exceeded my expectations in every possible way. I could never have imagined that day that in just one quick year I would be an entirely different person, a person who cries at the mere thought of ever having to leave this place. God has blessed me beyond all measure with this experience, and it is my prayer that as He continues to bless me here, He continues to use me to bless others in His work. Words don't do the past year justice, but all of you know that I sure will try. :) Thank you for your prayers, encouragement, support, contributions, blog comments, Facebook messages, photo comments, and stories from home. The year has been wonderful, but it hasn't been a breeze. Without you and your prayers I literally would not have made it. I'd like to leave you with a few photos of the past year, highlights from each month. Thanks, again, for your support, and please continue to keep me and the work in Natal in your prayers! More next time on my plans for the Natal. :)

SEPTEMBER 2007Reunited with friends!

Becoming a part of the Signoretti family at Roberto's birthday lunch

OCTOBER 2007My apartment!

The original advanced English group class...RIP.

NOVEMBER 2007Youth retreat in Joao Pessoa, also my first time to speak only Portuguese for three straight days...

Thanksgiving feast for readers

DECEMBER 2007Sarah's baptism!

Christmas at the beach

Fernanda and Caio passed the Vestibular, the Federal University entrance exam, and celebrated by shaving half an eyebrow (girls) and his head (boys)

Family vacation with the Signorettis

Apparently I didn't take a single picture in February. I guess I was recovering from the previous 5 months...

MARCH 2008
ENOCA conference in Sao Paulo

Meeting up with childhood friends from Brasilia

APRIL 2008
My first Brasilian wedding! (One of my readers', NOT my own!)

Advanced group class meeting for breakfast at my apartment

MAY 2008
Dune buggy ride with the Jewells and Toni

Duck Duck Goose at the LST Birthday Party

Celebrating my birthday LST style!

JUNE 2008
My parents and Jacob's LST team with the missionaries!

LST Baseball party, teaching the Brasilians the wave!

JULY 2008
Great turnout at one of the English worship services

Family dinner the night before my American family went home. :(

Francisco's baptism!!!!!!!!!!

Westover LST team in front of the church building with the missionaries


Wase... said...

Cris, I am so proud of you. What you did a year ago was not an easy thing. You are missed. And, don't worry we tell Jack stories about you:)

Mark and Kelly said...

Yay! I'm so happy to know that we'll be included in your pictures of year #2 some day. I know that for sure because Mark got his visa a few days ago! Woo-hoo! The Brazilian consulate is officially on my good side again!