The GRE Manifesto

A quality that I’ve always admired is purposefulness. Time is something we can never get back (and who knows how much we even have left!), so there’s a real power in being able to confidently answer the question, “Why am I doing this?”

The great majority of my next few days will be consumed with studying for the GRE. (Joy of joys!) I’ve been joking to a few friends that I’ll be cafe-hopping through Omaha over my Fall Break. Except I’m not joking… And I may even hit up Council Bluffs if I’m feeling especially adventurous one day. But though I “just kinda know” this is something I need to do, I looked in the mirror this morning and understood that I needed to articulate my purpose more clearly. My lovely journal began to catch the words, but then I realized that was not nearly honest or humble enough. This was also something that I wanted to own up to publicly.

Therefore, let it be asked, “Why am I doing this”?

Starting with the least important reason, I’m doing this for myself. I’m doing this for the part of Clara that wants to know she can persistently pour herself out into a goal and reap the fruits of her hard labor. Theres’s definitely a dose of the stuff those cheesy motivational quotes are made of running through my veins. It’s invigorating, actually.

Secondly, I’m doing it for my friends, at home and abroad. The amount of support and encouragement I’ve received from my dear friends lately has taken my breath away. If you’re reading this, please know that I cherish those hugs and kind words when the going gets tough. I cannot wait to be there for you when you need the same strength! On a deeper level, I’m doing it for my friends abroad– especially holding in mind my little brothers and sisters whom I taught during Encuentro. I know there are multitudes who do not have as many doors open as I do; I’ve danced bachata with them and been humbled to live amongst them. That is why I embrace whatever small things I’ll have to give up these next few days. What an honor to be in these shoes!  May I never forget the joyful charge: to whom much is given, much is expected.

Thirdly, I’m doing this for my family, my rock. There’s something sublime in knowing you are prayed for. There’s something empowering in knowing you are loved no matter what. (There’s also something really appealing about not living on your couch next year, mom and dad!)

And finally, I’m doing it for Him. I’m doing it because it was His Hands that set me in this place, and His Love that placed these burning desires within my heart. We each have a mission, or as I like to think of it, a heavenly, beautiful story that He writes through us as we journey home. So, even should this next chapter not quite work out according to my plans, I know I’m not the one who knows best (thank goodness!) and I truly believe that there is a peace that surpasses all understanding.

It’s pretty simple, really, this is just me answering Your call with “yes.”

 

(Confession: I had to google “manifesto” before publishing this to make sure using the word wouldn’t make me a comrade…).

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Siempre Estoy De Buen Humor

And I’m not just referring to the fantastic beaches and waves, although the natural beauty here does rock me to the core. This lush ground has already begun to infuse some of its soul into mine, and that is very, very good.

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“If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad.” -Jane Austen

Thus begins my four-month long excursion in La República Dominicana, and I am currently a lovely mess of enthusiasm and nerves. The thought “This will be very good for me” has rung thrice through my mind in these last 24 hours. And I’m not just referring to the fantastic beaches and waves, although the natural beauty here does rock me to the core. This lush ground has already begun to infuse some of its soul into mine, and that is very, very good.

I wish I had words for the grin on my face as I disembarked from the plane early this morning (literally 3am) to find myself caught up in a gaggle of boisterous Spanish voices – voices whose owners were clearly full of the zest of life, even at that ungodly hour. When we experience such unexpected, simple joy, we immediately understand how we ought to make others feel. The Dominicans – and this is unabashedly cliche, I know – have a real grip on the simple joy in the simply lived life. Stripping away life to its necessary components will be very good for me.

Already, I have been humbled. Not only is my grip on the Spanish language so weak that my blunders had Ricardo, our cab driver, chuckling the whole way here, but I am sure that his amusement with my inadequacies will be shared with many other of his countrymen as I continue to struggle through claiming “sí, hablo español, más o menos.” I am looking at copious amounts of copying verb charts and Duolingo-ing up a storm, although I can’t complain since all studies will commence under the glorious Dominican sun to the view of rolling, tropical pastures. Why nap all day when you could be learning a new language? Oh and also, I persisted for a grand total of 14min on my morning jog before surrendering to the heat. Gosh darn it. Adjusting to life in the big and little ways here will be very good for me.

Lastly, there is a pastoral quality to the entirety of life here that is wholly uncommon in the States. Chairs are always pulled out to the streets and from them reign eternal observers.  I think first of our gatekeeper– a lanky, tan man who keeps a sleepy, yet mysteriously watchful, eye on the entrance into “Sunset Valley.”  Side note: he is also quite the friendly and encouraging jogging companion, as I discovered this morning.  Another small example, after some gloriously fresh seafood last night (that certain members of my family ended up regretting late last night), my dad slowly backed up our massive white van as a huddle of Dominican men looked on from their perch outside a restaurant. It was clear that this sort of gathering was a nightly occurrence as their experienced hands handled fat cigars and worn cards.  I have already mentally collected a plethora of favorite characters that I could reference in this regard, but already it seems safe to gather that the Dominicans are generally not a hasty people. Slowing down here will be very good for me.

As the trials of travel are popular for showing the true colors of one’s traveling companions, likewise the curveballs bring out the usually concealed sides of ourselves. My all-encompassing travel advice? Always be in a good mood — as we all know, this involves a whole hell of a lot of “fake it ’til you make it.” 😉

Hasta lugeo, mis amigos!


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Amen.
dom rep sun
Mi vista as I’m penning this post 🙂