Thursday, December 11, 2014

lattes of summer 2014.

Everyone needs a touch of summer in their winter. 

Every place has a story to tell. Or in this case, every latte has a story to tell (& a few have more than just a yummy recipe).


It was our last night in Ecuador. Most of our large team had decided to stay up all night because we would begin the security process at 4AM. Our day had already been a full one: we were touched by air conditioning for the first time in days, traveled in a bus for several hours, visited an iguana park, a cathedral, walked up & down 900 round trip steps to see the lights atop of Las Penas, said our tearful goodbyes to dear friends we'd just gotten close with, & had an exhausting team meeting on how to share about our experiences back home. I'd just had a fresh dose of extra-strength Tylenol & slipped on my first pair of shorts since the week before.

     We may have been in a rural area serving all week, but just an hour and a half from our new home away from home is the city of Guayaquil, Ecuador. The population is 2.69 million people. The views are breathtaking. The city resembles more of America to me than I have ever experienced in another country, but it has it's remarkable differences, too. The smells can be described, but never truly justified in words. The air was consistently humid even after the sun went down & the people speak at record speed.

     It was right there, in a sleek modern airport in a corner of Ecuador (a country that I didn't know existed until last year) that I walked back with one of our chaperones sipping from my coffee cup slowly at 2AM. I sat in that airport on an uncomfortable string of benches surprisingly energized. I sat there writing in my journal how hard it been to say goodbye to my sweet new friends & how painful (& rewarding) it was to climb 450 stairs. There's no way to prepare yourself fully for flying over a country you've just fallen in love with, not knowing when you're going to return. You're intoxicated by the thought of going home to normalcy, but you lose a part of your heart. Or maybe that's just me. I lost a part of my heart as we flew over Guayaquil, Ecuador at 7 o' clock that next morning. It was left in a tiny little church that is passionate about God's companionship & salvation.  I knew that what had happened that week was something as beautiful as sacred ground. When your cup overflows, make sure to sip slowly. Every experience, every place you take your suitcase, is molding you into the person you'll be tomorrow. Savor every step. 


     It was my last few hours in Uganda. This summer I made a rule for myself: when you're preparing to leave a country in a matter of hours, take less pictures & just soak it in. For obvious purposes, I took several pictures as my trip ended, but I kept myself accountable to sip slowly. I knew that all of it was going to be over all too quickly. I would need those moments where I sat back, looked into the eyes of the foreign countries people - God's people - & say, "This is Uganda". "This is Ecuador" & I've had the privilege to have the pictures come to life. I've made a child giggle & acted as someone risen from the dead here, because Jesus rolled the stone away making way for them to be raised, too. A photo says a thousand words, but that's not enough. My memory would be most stimulated when I thought of how I prayed over the city of Guayaquil as we practically stood on top of it or how I cried silent tears when God spoke to me in the Entebbe traffic.
     We had been driving all day long. The city of Entebbe and the capital Kampala are... loud. There are people yelling, horns being honked, motorcycles weaving in & out of taxi buses. There are people walking everywhere & there are more people on the street corner than inside their buildings. The city is filled with action & it can be overwhelming, but there's not many things I love more than to be in the middle of it all.
     This particular latte is unique, because I ordered it at a coffee shop in a mall in the 'big city' to find that the cups had Greek words written on the side. Greek is a dead language overall. You can imagine my excitement - I screamed when I revealed to everyone around me that my favorite language had been written on this cup. "God loves me" I said, even though this wasn't the proof. I was aching with needing to leave, but God sent me a message on a side of a coffee cup: I love you this much. I care about the details of your life as much as I care about theirs. I'll take care of your family here in Uganda & your family in Ecuador better than you can, even when you're there. I've got these children & wanderers, Emilee. Submit them to me. You'll be back.
     So I laughed hard & sipped slowly & hugged tight. He's got the whole wide world in His hands.


     Using Snapchat for the first time in two weeks can be embarrassingly exciting. I'm coming home, baby I sang. It was a foggy day in London town. (I also, annoying for everyone around me, sang that song our whole entire layover. There were no gates open, so we walked right off the plane on a little stairway with steep mist-covered steps. I had only seen pictures of celebrities walk off planes like that at Heathrow & I was grateful that it all worked out as it did. The only reason I found the clouds even more beautiful is because I WAS IN LONDON. Everything is beautiful when you choose to be fascinated with the smallest details. Heathrow is a huge airport, but I became familiar with the whole place's sense of direction as I finally had the chance to shop around after their extensive security processes. Our group had several hours to burn before we needed to find our gate. I wanted to check Twitter, decided to wait, edited pictures from the Mediterrean Sea sunrise earlier that morning, & SnapChatted friends that were all asleep at home with my 45 minutes of free WiFi. I bought tea & a mug & drank my Starbucks usual. Walking by British people with strong accents was a personal favorite of mine. 
     I may have been heartbroken to leave, but there is nothing like coming home from thousands of miles away. 

Late August

     A new season with good friends. Maxi skirts & memories. Loud Taylor Swift songs & taking detours. My summer had not yet ended, everyone's school year had begun. I sat with my friend AuDrey after our full day walking around KSTATE. Kansas was still warm with only teases of Autumn. I talked with a twinkle in my eye about boys that break hearts without knowing it & love yearned for & C.S. Lewis & being content after mountain-top experiences. We made promises to ourselves that are hard to keep, but worth it.

     A book end.

     An invitation to bring these experiences that God wrote in my heart into a life well lived in this season & beyond.

No comments:

Post a Comment