Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Write of Passage 2 -- Eleven Months of Legwork

September 2011-June 2013
El Yunque Rainforest
Like I said, Hannah and I turned many a stone over, trying to find the perfect fit for her Rite of Passage. Below are just a few of the ideas we kicked around during the 11 months prior to  leaving for Puerto Rico. Some of these ideas were explored in great detail, others were nixed within 24 hours of conception---like the trip to Ghana, when we found out plane tickets would cost well over $2,000 a piece---way beyond our budget, if Hannah hoped for any financial help with college from her parents!  For 11 months Hannah and I would close in on a particular geographical area and type of volunteering, only to have our hopes and plans dashed for one reason or another. Time and time again, our research and ideas were wiped clean, much like an eraser being swiped over a chalkboard drawing. But with every blank board we faced, Hannah and I would start anew with determination, despite our disappointment.  
  • Mayan region of Mexico
  • Branches of the Vine--Ghana, Africa
  • Turtle rescue in Guatamala
  • Casas por Cristo Missions
  • Forget Me Not Ministries
  • Peruvian orphanages
  • Student International, Dominican Republic
  • World Servants, Puerto Rico
World Servants finally met all of Hannah's criteria--a mission trip that would lift us up and off the continent of the U.S. and place us on "foreign" soil; a trip that wouldn't feel too much like a vacation but would work us mind, body, spirit; and an adventure that would include a team of volunteers from all different ages, races, and varying backgrounds.  The bonus for me in having Hannah pick Puerto Rico was that it was (and is!) a territory of the United States.  I would no longer have to worry about taking her out of the country, relying on passports for entrance and exit, with intensive/extensive customs to pass through. Although the culture would be new and exciting, and the language barrier a bit of a challenge, we wouldn't have to "leave" the U.S. to experience any of it.
All of that meant great peace of mind for me.

After several more email exchanges with Patty Juarez, our contact leader at World Servants, Hannah and I finally booked two spots on their team leaving for Puerto Rico, July 28-August 4. As the weeks passed, information began trickling in via snail-mail, and one day a huge white envelope arrived with our names on it. Inside were our registration forms, applications, flight information, and packing lists. In the days ahead, I sifted through all of it, eventually going online to reserve our round-trip flights. I decided to pad an extra two days into our itinerary at the end of our week, so that Hannah and I would have a chance to breathe and reflect upon all that we had seen and done. This decision meant renting a car and finding an additional place to stay. But I knew that these two days would become just as valuable as the work we would be doing, and that we'd need the one-on-one time after we said goodbye to the new friends we would be making.
So, with our flights booked, I began searching for a place to stay those extra two nights. I finally stumbled upon Sue's Place, a little loft located near Puerto Rico's El Yunque National Rainforest.  For years, Hannah and I had talked of seeing and hiking through a real rainforest, and here was our chance to do it! Making this a part of her Rite of Passage was a dream come true--and after calling Sue to reserve the room, I thought we had locked the final piece of our long-awaited puzzle into place.  

Powerful Words

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable. ~Kahlil Gibran