Hola a todo el mundo, en dos semanas, voy a Costa Rica para cuatro meses en la tierra de la Virgen de los Ángeles.
For those who didn’t know yet… SURPRISE! I am so blessed to be able to study abroad in Heredia, Costa Rica. I will be living with a host family, studying at la Universidad Latina, taking five courses all in Spanish, and immersing myself completely into the language and culture of the Ticos (the lovely term by which Costa Ricans refer to themselves).
Since the celebration of the birth of Jesus, my winter vacation has been largely focused on preparing for this trip. I mean, how will I fit four months’ worth of living into a school bag, a hiking backpack, and a suitcase? Sound a little scary? Maybe. Sound like a challenge? Probably. Sound incredibly exciting? YES.
One thing I have been doing to prepare is looking over the country handbook that I have been provided with (okay, I’ll be honest, I only started looking at it two days ago). I’m finding that there’s a whole lot to know about a place before you move there for a small but important chunk of time. (Weird, right? Who’d’ve thunk?) Anyways, by looking at the handbook, I am realizing that I am going to have to majorly get over some pride while I am there, because I have so so so much to learn about the culture I will be entering into. So there’s part one of my prayer for myself these next four months:
Live, breathe, ooze humility – I am not the expert on the way these people live their lives. My job while traveling is to listen, to soak it all up. To listen everyone, everywhere! Of course not to be tricked by scams or to lose the parts of my identity I already have found in Christ, but to expand my heart, to grow my mind, to become more fully myself, and most of all, to love God more.
Also, this year is also the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Hm. That’s tough. Why can’t this all happen when I have hours to sit before the Eucharist, in quiet contemplation, working out my salvation through prayer and acts of Penance? Weeeeell, because this is real life. And it is the wonderful, beautiful, full-to-the-brim life God has chosen to bless me with. To start contemplating God’s mercy in a deeper way, I have been inconsistently (but with good effort) following a Magnificat book of daily reflections. Though I kick myself for not spending more time in Adoration, prayer, and reflection, I have this incredible opportunity before me now to learn how mercy is practiced universally, and how I can bring a new perspective on mercy home. In an effort to grow in mercy, I pray to be more conscious of recognizing the way God’s never-ending mercy touches my self-absorbed little Erin-world. So something else to add to my prayer:
Search for God’s mercy in each moment. The Costa Rica motto is “pura vida”, which translates directly to “pure life”. To seek God’s mercy in each moment…I can only see that as purifying my life! After all, blessed are those who are pure in heart, for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8)
I’ve also been thinking lately (dangerous, I know!). My family, loved ones, boyfriend, friends, professors, and basically everyone in my life has been nothing but supportive of me, helping me fulfill my dreams of learning Spanish by immersing myself totally in it. My parents have offered every sort of love, practical advice, helpful planning, focused encouragement, material luxury, and organized help that they could. For that, I must add another piece to my prayer.
Thankfulness with each breath in; praise with each breath out.
Finally, here’s something I learn every time I go even slightly “off-the-grid”. It is so important to BE PRESENT. (Shout out to Lisa Slobodzian for reminding me of this often!) If I am not present in the here-and-now, how much do I miss out on? The answer, anxious readers, is SO much. To not be in the moment is to steal from God what He has given generously: time. To not be present in each moment is to live a life that misses the point. I don’t want to be absorbed in technology or obsess over drama, no matter how new, enticing, or distracting. I want to live, and to live abundantly! (John 10:10). So the final part of my prayer is this:
Act with purpose, knowing I am not promised another breath. To know the beauty of the gift of this life – and this life is pure gift, by no merit of my own – I am opened to receiving God’s Will all the more. And what better gift than to receive God’s will, to be in union with my Creator, to live my life fully and abundantly on the narrow and joyful road to Heaven? Nothing greater than this, my Lord, than to live in the light of Your Way!
Goodness, this is all so exciting! Goodness, this is all so scary! Goodness, this is actually happening!
My friends, I am so excited for these next few months. Though it has been going since October, the real countdown begins now: I am under two weeks until departure, and I have a lot of preparation to go. I can take care of the packing and the organizing, but my heart is surely not ready for the glory God is going to reveal!
So, dear friends, will you pray for me? It is the best thing you can do, if you’re feeling like supporting me on this journey!
Will you ask God to grant me the humility to wait for Him to show me this new world before I try to tell Him what I do and don’t like about it?
Will you pray with me that God would show us His mercy? It is infinitely beautiful, infinitely available, always ready to be showered over us. Will you pray that I may see Him in every interaction?
Will you pray that I may hope in God, trust in Him, turn to Him, adore Him, love Him, that He may show me more mercy than ever before?
Dear, dear friends!
Will you thank God for this life we live? Thank Him now with me! Thank Him for waking us each morning, for seeking us each moment, for forgiving us each mistake when we come to Him with sorry hearts!
Thank Him with me, and praise Him, too!
Finally, will you invite Him with me, again and again, into each present moment? Can we together recognize how He loves us, and how His gift of time demands to be lived with great joy and full attention?
Friends, if you would like to be in contact while I am away, please do not text me, as it’s dang expensive for both of us. I’ll check for Facebook posts (sometimes), and I will always find you, my loved ones, in the Eucharist, in the Word made flesh, in the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I will miss you, and I will be excited to share myself with you when I return!
Until then, hasta la vista and pura vida to you all!