If you haven’t read part 1 of Living in a Third World Country do so here, Living in a Third World Country (part 1: Another Move)
Leaving the airport that hot, muggy night, I had no idea what was in store for me at that moment in time. I wish so bad I could go back somehow and talk to that insecure and timid 15 year old girl. I would start off by telling her that it was all going to work out and it would be one of the most amazing experiences of her entire life, and to chill out and enjoy every moment while you have it to enjoy, because it would go by so quickly.
I do have to take a brief moment to describe the vehicle we rode in to get to our new home. I am only doing this because this vehicle would become such a memorable character in our lives as much as a living, breathing person does. It was simply known as, the Van. I am sure it had its nicknames that were provided to it by numerous people, but I just referred to it as, the Van. This vehicle was an old white, no nose automobile, ugly as they come. It had rusted out holes where, if you were inclined, you could count the pot holes you where driving over as they went under your feet. Being that the vehicle had no air conditioning, the sliding plexiglass windows had been used to the point of not closing anymore. If it rained you literally held your umbrella open, inside the van, trying to block out at least some of the rain that was coming in. That van holds a very special place in my heart now. It was always an adventure in itself just to ride in it. Thankfully that night it wasn’t raining.
We stayed with another American couple who also worked at the school, for about 2 weeks, while we waited for our house to be ready and for the rest of our belongings to arrive. We brought only what would fit inside two large crates, which wasn’t much. It was like Christmas time when our crates finally arrived. We began to get settled in our own house, which was next door to the American couple we would be working with. I will elaborate on this couple later, as they became like another set of grandparents to me.
Settling into your new home, where you don’t have to venture out and actually interact with people and really come into the full reality of where you are and how different the culture is, was easy. The hard part was actually having to act like some kind of normal functioning teenager, if there really is such a thing, when we did go out. I remember the very first church service I attended. It was an evening service and the people where beyond friendly and accepting. They were so excited to have us there. Oh how I wish I had felt the same at that time. I tried to hide my fears and overwhelming sadness by hiding behind my mom and staying as close as I could to her and my dad.
My little sister, although a little timid at first, was quick to already have several little girls hanging all over her, admiring her hair and the way she spoke. Jessi has always been outgoing and made friends way too easily. I was polar opposite, happy to be under my mom and dad at all times, especially here.
It is beyond difficult to even remotely pretend that you are excited to be here with all these people who are trying to make this transition as easy as possible when you have tears streaming down your face. I just wanted to go home! Not back to the house with some of our belongings in it, but back to Texas, back to my friends, back to where I was comfortable. I was not made to be here, in this place. At least that is what I thought. How wrong I was about that.
After services, the church had prepared a get together with food and drinks to welcome us and get to know us a little better. At this point I started to feel myself shutting down inside, not even wanting to hide my pain, my fears, or even my anger. It was about this time that a girl came up to me, grabbed my hand, and pulled me away from the only comfort zone I had at that time, my mom.
I remember that moment so vividly. I was scared and unsure and it took this person coming over and forcing me to interact for me to actually do it. She said her name was Chrystal and then proceeded to pull me over to a larger group of teenagers who began introducing themselves to me.
To be honest, I don’t remember anyone else who was in that group. I just remember her, at that moment, saving me from myself. From that moment on, she was my person. From that point on, my comfort zone began to grow.